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Madden NFL 11 Catching Tuning

  POSTED March 24 |   VIEWS 4278

This is the first of many blogs EA Sports will release in anticipation of launch of Madden NFL 11.  This week Madden creative director Ian Cummings  talks about everyone’s favorite aspect of Madden NFL – Gameplay. More specifically, catching.

 Screenshots Gallery

"As developers, catching has always been one of the hardest and most frustrating areas of our game to tune because of the sheer amount of possibilities. When you start to try to account for all the different angles a pass could be coming in to a receiver along with the difference in his body position, it is always a difficult problem to solve. In years past, fixing catch problems has taken countless development hours to try to track down and address the issues. With that in mind, one of the first tasks we started addressing after we shipped Madden NFL 10 was to create a more user friendly catch ‘debugging’ tool. One of our talented software engineers, Kasey Keltner, created this tool which allows us to figure out why certain catches triggered, what other catches could have triggered, why some catches play more frequently than others, and helps identify angles where no animation is available. This tool has already helped us enormously by being able to see why certain things happen in Madden NFL 10.

One of the first catch issues we addressed was to force receivers to run through particular passes instead of triggering jumping catches. This was often seen on deeper passes like Streaks, Corners, and Deep Posts.Instead of slowing down and jumping up to catch a pass, a receiver in open space will try and catch the ball in stride now. These types of catches will only trigger, however, if there is not a defender in the path of the route or in a position to make a play on the ball. We want the Larry Fitzgerald/Calvin Johnson type receivers to really go up and fight for the ball and come down with spectacular catches if there is a crowd of defenders around them.

Another area of focus we have been working on is tuning the frequency for when “aggressive” types of catches can trigger. In previous years there have been situations where you could sometimes see a receiver playing a catch where he runs back towards the ball. These could sometimes be seen on Curl/Hitch/Smash type routes as well as Screen routes behind the line of scrimmage. There is nothing more frustrating than calling a 5-yard route on 3rd and 4 and having the receiver catch it moving towards the QB and get tackled for a 2-yard gain.

Well, this year, the receiver won’t play those types of catches (unless of course there is a defender between him and the ball). If you are running a 10-Yard Curl and the defender is behind you, the receiver will always be forced to match a ‘standing’ catch so he can try to backpedal into the defender for extra yardage. Also, we eliminated the likelihood that a receiver that is behind the line of scrimmage (e.g. WR or HB Screen play) would play a running, aggressive style catch if he is in open space.

Finally, we have gotten sideline and back of the endzone catches to trigger in the appropriate situations. In previous years we have seen some situations where a receiver tries to make a catch near the sideline without making any attempt to get both feet inbounds. This was most commonly seen on flat and out breaking type routes."

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