Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Madden: The Very Smart and the Less Than Smart

Madden's two-minute A.I. is nothing short of remarkable. Considering it was crap last year, that's quite an achievement, and whoever rewrote that code should be congratulated.

Here's an example. I was watching a game yesterday where the team was ahead by three points, with twelve seconds left in the game. They had the ball on the opponent's 28 yard line, and it was fourth down. The opponent had no timeouts left.

That's a tough situation for any A.I.

The team lined up to kick a field goal, which is defensible as a decision, but then the offense drew an illegal procedure penalty. Now it would be a 50 yard field goal.

Normally, if the penalty takes the kick distance outside range, then the decision toggles to a punt. In this case, though, considering the time remaining and no timeouts for the opponent, the smarter decision would be to run a play. An outside handoff, in particular, to run a few seconds off the clock with almost no risk.

I've never seen an A.I. do that in thirty years of playing football games.

Then the offense lined up--and ran a play. An outside running play.

The opponent took over on downs, but didn't have enough time to get into position to kick a field goal.


So the two-minute A.I. is fabulous, but in other places, the game is rough. There so many pass coverage busts that have nothing to do with reaction time (making them not adjustable by slider settings) that the number of big plays is far too high. It completely unbalances the game.

I'm confident that the pass coverage will be adjusted in a patch, but it's frustrating to have something like this crop up every year. It seems like I wait for months to actually play the finished version of this game, and by the time it is finished, I'm not interested anymore.

So I'm in the strange position of working on Madden sliders in some depth, but spending all of my actual playing time with Backbreaker.

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