Thursday, August 20, 2009

Madden 10 Slider Update: More Stopwatchery

Obviously, I have a problem with compulsion when it comes to testing sliders and sports games. I fully acknowledge that timing virtual football players in their virtual 40-yard dashes is a long way from normal.

Having said that, though, I do quite enjoy it.

I received some very interesting e-mail after the original slider post. In particular, there were some excellent e-mails on player speed and how times at the scouting combine translate to speed on a football field. After several of these discussions, I realized that the idea of using combine times to establish top player speed was problematic. There are two huge advantages to using combine times--they're readily available, and the conditions are the same for everyone--but trying to calculate the proper adjustment to "football speed" is very subjective.

So let's try something else.

Again, I know I have some kind of slider disease and need an intervention, but I spent a good part of the morning looking for clips of Devin Hester on YouTube. In particular, I found this:

That video shows every kickoff and punt return for touchdowns by Devin Hester in the 2006-2007 NFL season. I wanted to see how quickly he could run 40 yards--not from a standing start, but when he was already running at or near top speed.

You can take a look for yourself, and damn, Devin Hester is fast.
1. First clip in the video, a punt return against the Packers. He doesn't run in exactly a straight line, but it's fairly close. Time from his 40 too the Packers' 20: 4.31 seconds.
2. At the 3:40 mark in the video, indoors against the Rams. Time from his 45 to the Rams' 15: 4.15 seconds. This is the clip where he's closest to running all out from the start of the timing window.
3. At the 5:40 mark, his time from the 40 to the opponent's 20: 4.35 seconds.

I found one more clip on an additional video and timed 4.35 there as well.

Okay, so we now have indisputable proof that Hester can run 40 yards on a football field, in pads, in 4.35 seconds (or faster). However, he's already running at speed (or fairly close) when the timing starts. So is there any way to duplicate this in the game?

Fortunately, for all of us who share this kind of disease, there is a way.

I went back onto the practice field, but this time, instead of timing Hester from the Line of scrimmage, I timed him from 10 yards into his streak pattern--he wasn't quite at top speed yet, but he was close, and it's a good match for what I saw on the video.

Here are the times (yes, I timed him multiple times at each game speed):
Very Fast--4.25 seconds
Fast--4.40 to 4.45 seconds
Normal--4.6 seconds

I think you can make the case, since he was running an absolutely straight pattern in the game, that "Very Fast" is probably the closest match. However, "Fast" is very close as well. I think it's more a question of personal preference in terms of how you like the game to look and feel.

If you haven't played the game, you may be thinking that a difference of .15 seconds in game speed can't really make a noticeable difference. Believe me, it does--I've been playing on Fast, and it is significantly different from Very Fast.

I've also been timing the pass rush (again, intervention needed), and I've discovered that the CPU quarterback, with my current settings, actually has less time to throw than he would in the real NFL. Again, it's not a huge discrepancy (only about .2 of a second), but it definitely makes a difference in his effectiveness, and the CPU offenses need to be more effective.

Oh, and yes, I watched Adrian Peterson run 200 dive plays in a row to see how often he fumbled.

My problem, however, is all to the good, because I'll have updated sliders next week that will be more accurate.

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