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Dynamic Player Performance Features
Posted by Wes Reinhart at 13:12PM on Thursday, June, 02, 2011

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Welcome back fellow Maddenites!

Wes Reinhart here, designer and engineer, overseeing the Dynamic Player Performance feature for Madden NFL 12. I have been at Tiburon since '07 working on various Maddens as well as Head Coach 09. Like you, I am a huge NFL fan and I love any feature that blurs the line between the NFL and Madden, which is why this is one of the most exciting features I have ever worked on. It adds a whole new level of intrigue and strategy to each and every game mode.

Believe me, I already know what you're thinking; "...just another gimmick..." or "Haven't they tried this before (weapons of Madden NFL 08)?" Let me set your mind at ease; this is NOT a marketing ploy and this is like nothing we have ever done before. Dynamic Player Performance is an in-depth, yet subtle, new system that will capture the real essence of NFL players, resulting in the most realistic Madden ever. With this new technology we are able to manipulate many different aspects of gameplay, ranging from player specific AI to consistency or even being able to dynamically affect player performance throughout the course of a game.

Each and every player in Madden NFL 12 will have a genuine and noticeable gameplay style, resulting in more divergent AI and skill sets. Mike Vick will no longer just stand in the pocket waiting for a receiver to get open as you continuously rush three and drop eight. Ed Reed and Ray Lewis will no longer react to a pass in the same way. Ed Reed will seek every opportunity to cut in front of the receiver and pull down that big interception, while Ray Lewis will look to punish those receivers who dare run routes over the middle.

Overall, across all positions, there are a total of 18 new traits that will define each player's style of play. Let's go over each one and I'll explain how they work.

I'll start with the universal traits that affect all the players on the field. Most of these traits were designed to capture the intangibles of the game. These are the traits that will attract the attention of perennial winners like the Patriots, Colts, or Steelers on draft day, in addition to raw talent.


Confidence and Consistency are two traits that work together to produce a single result. Consistency defines how MUCH players are affected, while confidence describes the DIRECTION (positive or negative) of the change in comparison to his base ratings.

We will ship Madden NFL 12 with every player having a confidence level of 3 out of 5 stars. This means the consistent players will play right at their expected level, while inconsistent guys will have random variance. An inconsistent player will have a noticeably different skill level from game to game, even when he is at an average confidence, and the variance will only increase as his confidence reaches the extremes.

As the NFL season goes on, Donny Moore's weekly roster updates will adjust the confidence level of all the players in the league based on real life performance. Similarly, Franchise mode will have dynamic confidence adjustments after each game based on the stats of the game. Players with a 1 or 2 star confidence rating will play at a lower level and those with a 4 or 5 star rating will play above their expected level. Since the affect confidence has is drastically lower for consistent players, you might choose to focus on building a consistent team rather than having to roll the dice that your 85 overall rated QB isn't playing more like a 75 for week 17 when you need a win to get into the playoffs.


The Clutch trait will be a coveted attribute for a player. This rare trait is reserved for the likes of Peyton Manning and Troy Polamalu, who are known to step their game up when the game is on the line.

High Motor

The High Motor trait determines how hard the player will work throughout the play, even when they seem to be out of it.

Example – Dwight Freeney vs. Albert Haynesworth: Freeney will continue to chase and attack on every play sometimes making tackles 10 yards downfield, while Haynesworth was seen watching a play from the ground after being knocked down by an offensive lineman. And did I mention that was during a Monday night game against the division rival Eagles?

Next I'll go over the QB traits that will help define the different styles around the league.

Throws a Tight Spiral

The Throws Tight Spiral trait determines if the QB throws a tight spiral and will help separate out the guys like Aaron Rodgers, who are known for throwing tight, accurate passes, compared to Tim Tebow, who has thrown some of the ugliest passes you'll ever see.

Senses Pressure

The Senses Pressure trait allows us to fine tune a quarterback's internal clock. There are five different levels for this trait: Paranoid (Alex Smith), Trigger Happy (Tony Romo), Ideal (Tom Brady), Average (David Garrard), and Oblivious (Ben Roethlisberger).

Paranoid & Trigger Happy will feel pressure early. Blitzing these guys may not result in a lot of sacks, but it could force some bad throws.
Average & Oblivious are for those guys who hold on to the ball too long as they wait for the perfect pass to present itself. Blitzing these guys could lead to some big sacks.
Tuck & Run

The Tuck & Run trait defines how often the QB will scramble for yards when the receivers are covered or the defense leaves running lanes open. You will notice a difference between playing against Mike Vick versus Peyton Manning. Peyton will almost always stay in the pocket and let his receivers find holes in the zone, while Vick will take advantage of a cover 4 defense by using his legs.

Throw Ball Away

This Throw Ball Away trait determines whether or not the QB will be more likely to throw the ball away or hold on to it. Players like Brady or Manning are all about self preservation and ball security, so they would much rather lose a down instead of taking a hit or risking a throw into coverage. Other guys like Cutler or Big Ben will rarely waste a pass.

Forces Passes

The Forces Passes trait has three levels and is very much a risk/reward type of trait. The more conservative quarterbacks, like Alex Smith, will shy away from longer throws, even if their receiver has an advantage. Aggressive QBs, like Jay Cutler, won't hesitate to throw that deep post route even if there is safety help over the top

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Your defense will now need to adjust to each quarterback's strengths and weaknesses. Let's go over the rest of the offensive traits.

Covers the Ball

The Covers the Ball trait defines what decision a ball carrier will make when coming head to head against a defender. Some guys will try to truck or evade all but those really hard hitting linebackers, while other guys will make ball security a priority, even if it is a skinny cornerback waiting to be run over.

Fights for Extra Yards

The Fights for Extra Yards trait will define how a ball carrier reacts to an attempted tackle. Does he accept his fate and get on the ground to avoid that costly fumble, or does he try anything he has in his arsenal to break it for a big play?

Makes Sideline Catches

The Makes Sideline Catches trait determines if a player has the skill to make those tough sideline catches. While most veteran receivers have mastered the art of making that catch and getting both feet down, some running backs or less experienced receivers will be susceptible to dropping those passes. It will be pivotal to know what type of players you have when throwing to the sidelines late in the game.

Drops Open Passes

We could have just called the Drops Open Passes trait the Terrell Owens or Braylon Edwards trait. Receivers who have this trait will have an increased chance to drop those wide open passes. It's been enough of a reason for plenty of teams to pass on guys like this in the draft or free-agency; will it be enough for you to spend a little extra time scouting receivers to make sure they don't end up on your team?

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That wraps up the traits for the offensive side of the ball, but we also have some traits that will differentiate players on the defensive side as well.

Pass Rush Moves (Swim, Spin, & Bull Rush)

The Swim, Spin & Bull Rush traits are for special pass rush moves that DL or LB use to beat the offensive line and get pressure on the QB. Some players, like Dwight Freeney, will have the ability to perform all three of these moves, while others aren't as well rounded and will only attempt the moves they know.

Big Hitter

The Big Hitter trait is for those players who love to put those bone jarring hits on unsuspecting receivers. Players with this trait will use hit stick tackles much more often. This could lead to more fumbles and dropped passes, but deciding not to perform a safe wrap tackle could spring the ball carrier, resulting in a huge play.

Plays Ball in Air

The Plays Ball in Air trait has three levels and defines how the defender will react to a pass that is thrown in his direction. Conservative defenders that aren't really known for getting lots of interceptions will take a route that sets them up to lay a big hit on the receiver, potentially knocking the ball loose. On the other end of the spectrum are the ball-hawking DBs who love to jump routes and cut in front of the receiver to get that momentum changing interception. Neither of those approaches come without risk, however, as an over aggressive CB can get burned and give up a big play while a conservative LB could get his zone picked apart by an accurate passer.

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And with that, you have the complete list of the 18 new player traits that will be in Madden NFL 12. But traits aren't the only thing that makes up Dynamic Player Performance! NFL players are not robots, and Madden NFL 12 will mimic both the conscious and subconscious adjustments they make over the course of a game. We all remember that infamous dropped ball by Bills WR Steve Johnson in OT against the Steelers. (see it again here). But how many of you remember the hit Troy Polamalu laid on him with under a minute to go in the 4th quarter? Do you think he might have been hearing footsteps as the 55 yard pass sailed through the air? The Steelers are known for their bruising hits and receivers throughout the league are known to have more drops against them. Those drops are a direct repercussion of the enormous amount of big hitters on the Steelers' defense.

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Even NFL players are susceptible to getting rattled and thinking a little too much. QBs react to consistent pressure. Some scramble more. Others might force more passes, or just throw the ball into the third row instead of waiting for a receiver to get open. How does a running back adjust to a fumble? All of that and more will be a factor in adjusting players' traits on the fly during the game. Aggressive DBs might need to tone it down a notch after getting burned trying to jump a route. Big Hitting LBs might need to do the same after a broken hit stick leads to a big play for the offense. Oh, and one more helpful tip, you might want to consider getting those receivers known for mental lapses, like Terrell Owens, involved in the gameplan early or you might find out that they won't be there for you late.

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All of these things combine to create a whole new level of strategy in Madden NFL 12. There might be games where you will need to adjust your play calling because your inconsistent QB just didn't to show up for that game. Franchise mode will feel more authentic than ever when you when you have to adjust your game plan each week based on your opponent's personnel. That win in your online ranked match will be more rewarding when that hit stick you laid on Garcon in the first quarter causes a key drop in the forth. It's all here - from the ball hawking, sometimes too aggressive, Troy Polamalu, to the wild and radical Jay Cutler.

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