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Dynamic Player Performance Examined
Posted by Aaron Boulding at 10:52AM on Friday, June, 03, 2011

Madden 12 Blog Dppexamined_656x369

“In the NFL, no player performs the same in the fourth quarter, as he does in the first.”

That quote from John Madden sums up the intentions behind Madden NFL 12’s new Dynamic Player Performance feature. Simply put, things happen in football games that change the way players behave and Madden NFL is going to reflect that. There are a lot of parallel systems at work in Dynamic Player Performance (DPP) that contribute to different player behavior during games, from one game to the next and from one season to the next. The end result is the 20+ players that you’re NOT controlling in Madden NFL 12 will be reacting to each other now, as well as reacting to what you’re choosing to do.

Separate from a player’s ratings, DPP introduces player traits that are position-specific and have only a handful of potential “settings”. Understanding these traits and what kind of on-the-field events trigger them and in what direction is key. As the most important players on the field, quarterbacks have the most traits including ones like “Senses Pressure” and “Tucks and Runs”. The Senses Pressure trait, for example, can come up as Paranoid, Trigger Happy, Ideal, Average and Oblivious. A “Paranoid” quarterback, like a rookie, will look to throw the ball as quickly as possible to avoid a hit rather than waiting an extra beat for a receiver to break open. At the other end of the spectrum is a guy like Ben Roethlisberger who is oblivious to pressure and will wait forever before delivering the ball, sometimes taking sacks, sometimes creating a play that wouldn’t be there otherwise.

The most important points to understand about traits is that they only change over the course of a game based on events that happen during the game. Roethlisberger is “Oblivious” when it comes to sensing pressure but if he gets hit often enough, if his late throws lead to interceptions, eventually he will look to deliver the ball sooner when he feels pressure coming and maybe he moves to “Average.”

There are traits for all positions on the field –defensive backs can play a pass in the air Aggressively, Balanced or conservatively—but what might be more important to understand about Dynamic Player Performance is that it will contribute to A.I. behavior more often than anything. Staying with the Roethlisberger example, if you’re playing as Pittsburgh, you’re still in control of that offense, making the decisions of when Big Ben is going to deliver the ball. So how does DPP play there?

What we didn’t tell you is that all traits for all players are “in play” and can be affected at all times during a game. So while you are sensing the pressure as Roethlisberger and calculating how many milliseconds you have to fire the ball or when you’re going to tuck the ball and run away, Roethlisberger’s Tight Spiral trait may switch from “Yes” to “No” after a few hits. After he’s gotten to you a few times the pass rusher’s Big Hitter trait may switch from “No” to “Yes” now that he smells blood in the water. A linebacker or defensive back may have his Plays Ball in the Air trait switch to “Aggressive” since he’s seen you throw so many wounded ducks due to pressure and now he wants to go for the pick. The whole point is, A.I.-controlled players will be the ones most influenced by the new Dynamic Player Performance system rather than the players you’re controlling. You’ll be able to understand Roethlisberger’s tendency to hold the ball or tuck and run better when you’re playing against him than when you’re using him.

With that established, now we can tell you it gets deeper. A player’s ratings, those numbers that we all salivate over and complain about each year, can change as part of the Dynamic Player Performance system too. A few dozen players in Madden NFL 12 will have a “Yes” setting for their Clutch trait. These are guys who will experience a ratings boost (such as deep throwing accuracy or tackling) during a game when the moment calls for it. We’ll have to see if it’s possible, during the run of play, to knock a guy’s Clutch trait to “No” thus saving you from heartbreaking defeat.

All players in Madden NFL 12 have a Consistency trait and a Confidence trait, each on a five star scale. Rather than get into a metaphysical discussion about what those words mean, we can tell you these traits influence hot and cold streaks for players from game to game when you’re playing in Franchise mode. In one-off Play Now and head-to-head online games , Consistency and Confidence traits will be huge as it will allow for variance amongst players each time you play without having to update your rosters. Our man Donny Moore—Madden NFL “Ratings Czar”—won’t be getting off any easier though as he’ll also be tweaking player traits now in addition to player ratings.

Dynamic Player Performance is much more under-the-hood work on Madden NFL 12 than can be explained here. The fact is, however, you will notice certain trends throughout a game now with similar things happening around certain players that you’re not controlling and then other players that you’re not controlling reacting to that. The DPP system takes steps to set up you the player as the X factor in every game of Madden NFL 12, which is how it should be.

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