To See Or Not To See; That Is The QuestionShawn Drotar

Posted on October 25th, 2007 in Gaming, Playstation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, News, Opinion by Shawn Drotar

I’ve received a request from the Madden development team for feedback regarding the QB Vision Cone; a creative, “sim” feature that’s been in the last few iterations of of the football franchise. Despite the fact that it adds more realism to the game, it has seemingly been used less and less over the years, to the point where EA Sports is now considering removing it.

I really like the QB Vision Cone in concept, but in execution, it can be problematic. First, Madden’s a fast and furious game, and using the right analog stick to simulate moving your eyes is doubly hard… since you’re already darting your eyes around the field to find an open receiver. Second, when controlling great players like the Colts’ Peyton Manning, the cone’s not necessary, as he can usually see the whole field at once - an extraordinary advantage, especially in multiplayer games.

Now, I’m aware that tossing the ball around with Manning is an extraordinary advantage in real-life, too - but the new “Weapons” system does a good job of making the Super Bowl MVP plenty formidable already.

In a nutshell, the QB Vision Cone is a great idea, but it adds an extra level of complexity that makes playing the game less enjoyable. And, frankly, there’s no easy way around that. Since it appears that the Vision Cone is seeing diminishing returns over the last few seasons, it seems sensible that the team should scrap it - if there was something better (and more intuitive) to replace it with on the right analog stick.

So what do you think? Should the QB Vision Cone stay, and why? If not, then why not - and what would you replace it with?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and so would the Madden team.

EDIT: A patch is forthcoming for Madden, as well. Click here to see what’s in it.

9 Responses to 'To See Or Not To See; That Is The Question'

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  1. John said,

    on October 25th, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    I like the Vision Cone, but the clicking in the stick to turn it on has to go. I liked it better when you could toggle it on or off in the settings.

    I agree that the timing is tough, but if they improved line play and made the receivers get through their routes faster the five seconds or so wouldn’t be an issue. In fact, the cone made me a better Madden QB as I keyed on specific players and went through my progressions as intended…it’s just clicking the stick is terrible.

  2. Terry said,

    on October 25th, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    I think it should stay. But, to me, if they want to include the extra dose of realism, they should make it use a progression system. Since your right thumb can move the R stick to free look automatically, they should use the Left Trigger to move through progressions, and Right trigger to throw.

    Include an audible at the line to set progression priority based on what you see on the field, and make everybody’s vision cone roughly the same. What you can do is make Manning’s vision cone snap from receiver to receiver much quicker than Rex Grossman’s, who’s vision would progress very slowly. It would allow 1-read quarterbacks to play like 1-read quarterbacks.

    Perhaps allow clicking on the R stick to instantly focus on a dumpoff in the face of pressure.

    If they did that, the vision cone would be the ultimate dose of realism in a game that constantly looks for it.

  3. Terry said,

    on October 25th, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Also, the trigger would allow a deeper throw velocity system. Barely tap it for a rainbow, squeeze it fully for a rocket, rather than a “how long I hold the button down” system.

    Sorry, forgot to put that in the original.

  4. Shawn Drotar said,

    on October 25th, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    I really like that idea, Terry - I’ve often thought the same thing myself. I especially like the idea of using the trigger for touch passing.

    The only question is whether its too “sim” for the less-sophisticated “Madden Nation” types that drive so much of EA’s sales.

  5. Terry said,

    on October 25th, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    I think it would have the added benefit of teaching the less-sophisticated guys why the game is played how it is.

    If you’re using Rex Grossman, have his vision cone plod around and actually search for a receiver. Have Manning’s snap to it instantly, simulating his “see everything, know where all receivers are on the field at all time” ability.

    Now, if a good player that understands football knows that’s the hindrance he has, he’ll run more. Just like the Bears (when they’re successful). It will teach “video” football players why you can’t go 5 wide and expect to find an open receiver every time with no protection. It will also require a reworking of the rankings…

    If a player is constantly taking the Jets and winning games with Pennington and no weapons at tailback, but being competitive, that should reflect in that player’s overall rank. If they’re 10-35 against the Patriots all the time, then that’s 10 more wins than the real Jets would have, so his ranking should be boosted.

    Bottom line is, they could tweak the scheme, make it more “sim” and actually manage to bring along some casual fans who learn more about the game through playing. You’d hope that would be the NFL’s ultimate goal as far as licensing goes…it’s up to EA to step up and do it.

  6. Jared said,

    on October 25th, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    I agree completely that the vision cone was a bad idea, since you’re essentially replicating what you’re doing visually (switching attention between various receivers) using the right analog stick. It’s much more intuitive to just attend to your receivers while using the sticks to move in the pocket.

    (If they haven’t already, the Madden developers should watch someone playing Madden with and without the vision code using an eye tracker, and observe what I would guess is a huge difference in behavior.)

    It’s understandable that the Madden developers would want to represent QB vision in the game. My suggestion would be to take a QB vision and tie it into two parameters:

    1) Primary vs. non-primary receivers. This can be implemented in a variety of ways, but essentially make it so that there is a decrease in accuracy when throwing to a non-primary receiver. However, this accuracy decrease should be a function of QB vision, such that when Manning throws to a non-primary receiver there would be virtually no accuracy decrease, whereas someone with a poor QB vision rating should lose more accuracy when throwing to a non-primary receiver. (This penalty can also decrease as the QB spends time in the pocket, mimicking the time to see every receiver.) Also, if doing this, one should be able to change the primary receiver on the play at the line of scrimmage (I’m not sure if that ability isn’t there already.)

    2) Tie it into QB position on the field. When the QB is in the pocket, no penalty. But when the QB is out of the pocket, use the vision rating as a variable to decrease accuracy for passes to the opposite side of the field.

    Both of these would make the vision rating useful and realistic, without adding an extra, unnecessary level of complexity to Madden.

  7. Shawn Drotar said,

    on October 25th, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    Good stuff, Jared - I’m all for under-the-hood modifications that add realism.

  8. Clay said,

    on October 26th, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    While I am a fan of the vision cone and have been since the beginning, I think that the Madden team implementing a refining a feature to find the receiver is not the answer to realism. Like they say so often, you give a quarterback long enough - he’s going to find someone. What needs a deeper look is what comes next — getting ball there.

    I love TC’s ideas of using progressions, but what I’d also like to see (and this might go nicely with T’s trigger usage) is challenging the gamer to “put the ball in the right place”. Whether it’s the proper touch or simply leading the receiver. The whole “throw to a spot on the field” concept has yet to really be implemented. More skilled QB’s should be able to make those tighter throws between defenders. You should be able to throw that ball in the endzone where either your guy is going to get it - or no one is.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is add depth to the step between the Vision Cone and the Receiver v DB AI. That’s what’s missing.

  9. Terry said,

    on October 26th, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Good point. You could perhaps use the Right Stick as the “precision” point, altering the target location for a pass as you’re pulling the right trigger. You’d still have to allow the user to manually look around with the R stick, so maybe pulling and holding the LT while maneuvering the R Stick could do that, while not holding the LT would let you move the vision cone in a small “orbital” pattern around the intended receiver, so you could pinpoint passes more as you’re pulling RT to throw.

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