42 Things EA Needs to Fix for Madden 18

Fixing Madden CFM Mode

I buy each new Madden as soon as it comes out every year, and I play the game pretty much every day. There is no video game I play more and really nothing that consumes more of my life than Madden. (Oh god what is wrong with me...) And all of this because of its Connected Franchise Mode. 

But for as much as I love the game, I have a lot of issues with it. Since Madden 18 is just five short months away, I've put together a list of things I think EA needs to fix to make Madden a better game.

Because I don't play any other mode (not gauntlet, not Draft Champions, not even MUT - sorry, EA shareholders), this list is only going to focus on Madden 17's CFM mode. More specifically, the experience of playing in an online CFM with 31 other human owners. Some of the features and/or bugs may not matter so much when you are just playing the CPU, but they stand out like a sore controller thumb in a humans-only league.

Onto the list, in no particular order...

1. Let Leagues Do Play Testing

Do this with CFM pls

Do this with CFM pls

I have personally been to EA headquarters at least three different times (you can ask for my autograph at the end of the article) and have play tested different versions of Madden, so I know there is at least some quality control happening. The problem is the focus of these sessions is typically dedicated to one of the following topics:

  1. MUT
  2. MUT
  3. Whatever new gimmick is being introduced that year
  4. MUT 

There isn't much in the way of polishing existing features, and I can't imagine there has ever been a single play test with a league full of 32 human players. A lot of the things I talk about in this article (regression, free agency, stat tracking) probably would have been caught if EA had a test group that ran through even a single season of a group CFM. 

Here's an example of a bug I found in the game on the very first day of playing that caused CFM leagues to be delayed for weeks and made head-to-head matches a nightmare. I guess what I'm saying is, just let my league test the game before you release it!

2. Show Wind at All Times

The wind meter should be a permanent fixture. (That's a flag, by the way.)

The wind meter should be a permanent fixture. (That's a flag, by the way.)

I can't count the number of times I have been on offense, coming up on a critical point in a close game, and realized I didn't know whether I had the wind at my back or in my face. Sometimes coach suggestion will throw you a bone, but more often than not, you come out to kick a field goal only to realize your kick will land around the 10. Considering how many games in Madden are windy and how powerful the wind can be, this is a pretty big deal. Why not show a little wind meter in the scoreboard like in my professional rendering above or somewhere on the play calling screen? At least show it on 4th down when you have to decide whether you want to kick a field goal, punt, or go for it. 

3. Save Game Progress

A single season of Madden has 523 games including playoffs. That's 523 opportunities for games to disconnect or desync or just die for no reason, meaning all progress is lost forever forcing the opponents to replay everything. We have had some instances where guys have disconnected 10 times trying to play. This is frustrating in Madden since the disconnect means any strategic advantage or big plays you had are lost, and your opponent is now ready for you the second time around. Have a big injury to an important player? Oops, your "dog" accidentally "rubbed" his "nose" against the power button! No more injury! (You didn't hear that tip from me, an upstanding and honest Madden commissioner.)

This year Madden implemented the ability to pick up where you left off for offline games only. The ability to do this in online leagues would save everyone a lot of time and frustration -- even if it only saved after every quarter. 

4. Make Copies of Leagues

This thing is pretty handy!

This thing is pretty handy!

This idea is a basic one: Let users create copies of their online leagues. This is the same concept of savepoints in offline leagues. I would love the ability to do some WHAT IF seasons with our league. Create a duplicate league with identical rosters and ratings and sim every game. Then have everyone play their games in the main league and compare the results. Yes, this is terribly dorky, but Madden is all I have. Please humor me.

This would also be helpful in cases where there is a rogue commish who does stupid stuff to a league and the league members want to overthrow him. Now they can just make a copy and do their own thing without losing progress. It would also be great for people to just randomly experiment with their league without affecting stuff that really matters. This kind of lends itself to this next idea...

5. Export League Rosters

That button looks real, right? Right?? Now make it real, EA!

That button looks real, right? Right?? Now make it real, EA!

If we can't make an identical copy of the league and all of its settings, at least let us export the roster file. Weekly practice mode is nice, but it would be great to play real games or even start new franchises with a roster you've built in an already-established league.

6. Import Draft Classes

You were loved, and you are missed.

You were loved, and you are missed.

A roster-related featured that used to exist but was removed: Draft class import. There used to be an amazing feature where you could play or sim a season in EA's NCAA football game, then connect to Madden and use that draft class in your Madden league. Since there is no NCAA football game any more, obviously this isn't an option, but why not give us some control over the draft classes? Let us import custom rosters and use them in our leagues. Or at least let us edit current classes. Give us some control!

7. Create a Better App

EA introduced the Madden Companion App this year. It didn't launch until several months after the release of the game, and oh by the way, it's bad and never gets updated. The app lets you see the current week's schedule and gives commissioners some basic tools. But it also gives you countless push notifications about stuff you either don't care about (someone created a league!) or things you can't do anything about (A trade has been resolved!) with no control over what types of updates you'd like or how frequently you'd like them. There's really no reason any non-commissioners in the league should download it, and now that the autopilot feature doesn't work, there's even less reason for anyone to use it.

This is fine tiny first step, I guess, since it's better than nothing. But the app should have much much more:

  • Full schedule
  • Player stats
  • Team stats standings
  • Players of the week
  • News stories
  • Transaction log

And how about the ability to sign free agents or even draft through the app -- this would be unbelievably beneficial for online leagues.

8. Grant Commissioners More Controls

More Power for Commishes
Commishes need more power (just like this article needs more dated references)

Right now, commissioners have the following abilities: Advance the league, set coaches to autopilot, force a sim win or sim loss, edit players, and reset cap penalties. Commissioners should be able to control everything that happens in the league.

  • Was there an issue with a game? Let us reset the score.
  • Did someone accidentally advance through the entire postseason? Let us turn back the clock.
  • Did a coach do something stupid? Let us go full Goodell and take away their draft picks or suspend their quarterback.

Commissioners should be able to easily control or modify everything that happens in the league.

9. Sliders for Everything

Speaking of controlling everything, Madden should have sliders that let you control everything in the game. Penalties and gameplay settings are nice, and XP is a good addition. How about sliders for regression or goals or award XP or rookie ratings scales or free agency salary demands? If there is a setting in the game, we should be able to modify its effect on the game.

10. Stop with the Relentless Regression

Madden CFM Regression omg

Madden 17 is obsessed with regression. When your game is over, a screen pops up telling you how much worse your players are now. There's a tab in your team management menu dedicated only to rubbing regression in your face. And at the end of each season, the game flaunts the endless list of attributes your players lost in your face. Want to see how your players are actually improving? Good luck digging through the individual player profiles to the progression tab and scrolling through week by week. 

A sign spotted in the regression developer's office.

A sign spotted in the regression developer's office.

I've talked before about how hard hitting regression is and about Madden's seeming hatred of old players. Once your player hits the ripe old age of 26, it's all downhill. Development is pointless after 26 and you get diddly for winning awards. Yes, regression should exist to some extent in these leagues. But it shouldn't follow the exact same formula for all players across the board regardless of performance or traits or any external factors. 

Everything about CFM seems to be built around making players worse. They get punished for missing astronomical goals, they get punished for having a single bad game, they get punished for turning 28. EA is the angry mom and NFL players are her delinquent kids. Regression has its place in CFM, but it shouldn't be such a strange fixation. 

This unrelenting regression has a drastic impact on online leagues. Players above the age of 26 (and especially those pushing 30) become significantly less valuable. Most people in the league will end up selling players for draft picks (even though some of the 24-year-olds you draft will already regress before their rookie contract is even expired). Regression should be scaled back significantly, or EA could just implement the slider idea above and save us all time.

11. Provide More Details in Transaction Log

The transaction log needs more stuff.

The transaction log needs more stuff.

Every single thing that changes in the league should be in the transaction log, along with specific details.

Did a commissioner adjust the sliders? Log it (and include the specific changes they made)!

Did an owner update someone's ratings? Log it (and actually tell us what was changed. Don't just tell us the player was edited.)

Oh, and would it be so much to ask to let us click on the players in the log to see more details? (Everything should be clickable!)

12. Show Us the League's History

Did you just advance to the next season? Hope you wrote down everything you want to remember. You can no longer see old schedules or scores or MVPs or even Super Bowl winners. Once you move from one season to the next, it's as if the past never happened. These leagues can go up to 30 seasons in a single Madden, but the game barely even acknowledges this beyond its very basic record book and a coach record screen. CFM leagues become a daily part of people's lives. Celebrate the history they create!

Show us coach leaderboards. Show us the teams with the most Pro Bowl appearances. Show us franchise-specific records for players and coaches (like quarterback with the most passing yards within the current franchise time frame). Show us full playoff histories. All of this stuff is being recorded. Let us see it! Show us everything!

13. Update the Player Browsing Screens

Blow up the current player browsing screen.

Blow up the current player browsing screen.

Let someone who cares about what they are looking at use the menus from rosters and free agents for 10 minutes, and they could give you a laundry list of things they would change. Here are some of mine:

  • Freeze names to the left on menu the same way attributes are frozen up top.. This way when you scroll through attributes, you can still see who is who.
  • Add filters. Want to only view free agent WRs with 90+ speed and 80+ catch in traffic? A filter would help you do just that.
  • Allow us to rearrange stat columns so we can put most relevant stats up front.
  • Make total roster size, cap information, and team stats readily accessible on the top of all pages
  • Make dev its own column on all pages (so you don't have to dig all the way into the player card to view it)
  • Show height and age in columns
  • Easily toggle between depth chart / salaries / custom roster views. There is nothing worse than browing through your roster and realize you want to check a salary or make a depth chart change, only to have to back all the way out and hop in through a different menu....okay there are a lot of things worse, but that sure is kind of annoying.

14. Alternate Uniforms is Not News

A team wearing black pants instead of white pants does not belong in the news feed. Every single time they do it. Please make this stop.

This was deemed so newsworthy, it got TWO stories in the newsfeed.

This was deemed so newsworthy, it got TWO stories in the newsfeed.

15. Update In-Season Free Agent Bidding Process

Don't make me give DJ Fluker this contract.

Don't make me give DJ Fluker this contract.

One of the first issues you come across when you are running a 32-human league is how to handle preseason and in-season free agency. Right now, it's first-come, first served. Whoever logs in first and finds a free agent they like can sign them right away. And they have no choice but to sign them to a one-year deal, usually for way more money than the player is worth. There is no negotiating. There is no bidding. You offer, they sign. The end. 

Here is my fix: Free agents only sign when you advance the week. Call the time in between the negotiation period. If a free agent has an offer, it becomes a news story (there will be more room in the feed once you get rid of the alternate uniforms updates). That player is now trying to solicit offers from other teams. Other teams can bid on the free agent just as they would during the offseason. Whoever has the best bid when you advance wins. This would let teams have more control over the stipulations of the contract and would make things much more fair when leagues open up free agency to everyone.

16. Completely Overhaul Offseason Free Agency

The free agency system in Madden 17 is a disaster. I wrote about it at length in November. It's obviously not meant to be used with more than one user in a league, and there is no challenge whatsoever if you are playing by yourself. Madden 17's free agency is a game of poker except you can see everyone's cards. Sure you will win a few hands easily, but what is the fun in that? (Oh, and the dealer is both dealing and playing and can win any hand he wants by advancing right after he gets the cards he wants -- okay, I lost the analogy but the point is free agency is dumb and I'm bad at poker.)

The point system is bad. Hence the exclamation point.

The point system is bad. Hence the exclamation point.

If you want to keep the current point system (where your offer is worth a specific amount of points based on the salary / bonus / length that you offer), then hide it. HIDE IT. HIDE IT. HIDE IT. There is no reason any team should see the exact point total of every other offer, updated in real time.

If you want to show the points, don't have the players accept offers based only on whichever has the most points! (They should get rid of this anyway, even if they do hide the point totals.) There are so many other factors that should go into free agency signing. 

On top of the problems with the bidding, why can't we view full stats of all of the free agents on a single screen. The free agent screen exists for the entire season...except when you need it most, in free agency. Let us view and sort (or even filter!) the free agents that are available so I don't have to click on 40 free agent tight ends who have all regressed beyond usefulness. 

17. Track Advanced Stats

The game is a computer. We have the power to make charts like these possible.

The game is a computer. We have the power to make charts like these possible.

This is a computer game. This game tracks every single play and movement that happens throughout the entire game (USER FINESSE MOVE!). That means we should have charts that allow us to see all kinds of stuff like...

  • Quarterback accuracy on short / medium / long passes (see chart)
  • QB hurries
  • Schedule difficulty
  • WR targets
  • Drops
  • Rushing success out of different different formations
  • OL sack rate
  • Time of possession
  • 4th quarter comebacks
  • etc. etc. etc.

It would also be excellent to track stuff like user records, times set on autopilot, and scoring records. And now that we know the game is tracking evvvvvverything the user does like user hit sticks and user swats and user user lurks and user stumble recoveries (really??), we should be able to see that. How awesome would it be to have bragging rights that you lead the league in user lurks -- interceptions where you controlled the guy who picked off the pass the entire time.  (Or even better, be able to mock the guy who didn't have a single user lurk all season.)

18. Make the Pro Bowl Results Not Suck

I really hate everything about how Madden handles the Pro Bowl. Here's what I would like to see:

Everything about Madden Pro Bowls sucks

Everything about Madden Pro Bowls sucks

  • Show us Pro Bowl voting totals.
  • Show us Pro Bowl voting totals throughout the season just like award voting.
  • Show us stats on the Pro Bowl results page. It'd be nice to compare stats of the guys who made it.
  • Let us click on player profiles from the Pro Bowl results page.
  • Leave the Pro Bowl results page open for more than a single week. A commissioner has to record himself browsing the Pro Bowl rosters to show the rest of the league since nothing else can happen during Pro Bowl week and it disappears as soon as you advance to the Super Bowl.
  • SHOW US TEAMS ON THE PRO BOWL RESULTS PAGE!!

It boggles my mind that the results page doesn't show first names or even teams names. Once you are few seasons into a league, the Pro Bowl is full of fake drafted players and stars who have swapped teams making it impossible to figure out what's going on in the Pro Bowl. Speaking of the Pro Bowl...

19. Let Us Play the Pro Bowl

Playing with the best players from the league was one of the most exciting things about past CFM modes. Why take this out? Why rob us of this minor joy in life? Why, EA??? Why??? 

20. Show Stats on the Award Pages

That's a lot of wasted space. And why isn't everything clickable?!?

That's a lot of wasted space. And why isn't everything clickable?!?

Look at that long empty space next to the player name. Wouldn't it be helpful if the game showed you why Karlos Williams is beating Todd Gurley in MVP voting? Wouldn't it be nice if you could at least click on the player to view their profile and see what's happening with their season? That would be nice. Quite nice indeed.

21. Let Us Create Custom Team / Jerseys

There has to be something better than this.

There has to be something better than this.

Moving a team is cool, but I'm getting pretty tired of the London Black Knights and the Orlando Sentinels. NBA 2K implemented an incredibly robust jersey / team creation feature, even letting you download community creations. It would be awesome if Madden would let us do the same and make our own custom teams with custom logos and custom jerseys. 

22. Allow More Salary Options

I know I probably use the phrase "Madden used to have this feature..." way to much, but....Madden used to have this feature where you could determine how a contract is structured. Do you have a lot of cap space next season? You can front front load the contract. Don't have much space now but see your cap clearing up down the line? Back load that bad boy. Or meet in the middle and evenly distribute the salary across the entire length of the deal. The more options -- and the more control -- you have, the better the game will be. 

Other contract related ideas that would be helpful and add/or realism to the game:

  • Allow us to include production bonuses or incentives
  • Bring back the single digit contract modifier from Madden 16
  • Include team options and player options
  • Bring back contract holdouts
  • Allow us to see the full length of the contract on the salaries page. Right now, it only shows five seasons even though you can sign players for 7-year deals.

23. Allow League Expansion

One intrinsic problem with an online NFL league is you are limited to just 32 people. After all, there are only 32 teams. Our league has a wait list over 100 people long (humble brag), and it would be nice to include more of these folks in the league. Expansion happens in real life. It would be cool to have a league that lets us do the same. The more people involved in the league, the more fun it is (even though weeks may advance a little slower.) 

24. Allow Division Re-Alignment

I know it looks stupid, but let us be stupid.

I know it looks stupid, but let us be stupid.

There are times over the course of a league when division re-alignment would be beneficial. Sometimes divisions get stacked with 3 or 4 teams who are all great, and you want to spread them out. Sometimes divisions are full of bad owners where 7-9 can make the playoffs every season. In real life, these problems typically don't last long because you draft new players or hire new head coaches and things balance out. In stable online CFMs, however, the bad owners typically stay bad and the good owners stay good.

While many may disagree with this communist-style disbursement or talent, this still falls into my ideal of Total Control for a league and would also let leagues get creative with stuff like random re-alignment every season or more interesting team selection ideas at the beginning of Madden or letting the Super Bowl champion force two teams to swap divisions.

25. Introduce Multiple Owner Mode

Some guys only want to play their games. Some guys only want to build teams. Let us combine their efforts: let one person handle all of the front office stuff while the other one handles on the field stuff. This has the bonus inevitable consequence of the GM making crappy moves and the coach getting pissed at him for it. More league chat activity!

26. Improve Replay Center Control

How many times have you had a big play during a game and got excited to break it down in the post-game replay center only to find the game decided not to save that play? That happens to me almost every single game. (Though I do get a replay of the final QB kneel saved every game! Thanks, EA!)

After a play is over, just you are picking a new play, add an option to the menu that says "Add last play to the Replay Center." There are many times when I see something funky happen on an incomplete pass or a 2-yard run and want to replay that more than yet another playaction streak touchdown.  

27. Add a Field Goal Target Line

One of the many CFM features that is for offline leagues only. 

One of the many CFM features that is for offline leagues only. 

You see this line during every telecast of a close game when a team just needs a field goal to tie or win the game (and even in offline CFM games!). Madden knows your kicker's kick power and knows exactly how far a perfect kick would travel in the current weather conditions. I would love to have the target line on the field in Madden just like in real life.

28. Add a Draft Board

The Watchlist in CFM mode has none of the function of the draft boards you know and love.

The Watchlist in CFM mode has none of the function of the draft boards you know and love.

In 30+ seasons of playing in online leagues, I've never once had a single draft where all 32 guys were able to coordinate their schedules and make it to the draft. It's never happened. What usually happens is a handful of coaches realize they can't make it to the draft and either trade all of their picks or say a prayer and hope the CPU doesn't draft scrubs (spoiler alert: they usually do). 

Anyone who has ever participated in a fantasy football league (read: probably everyone who has ever played Madden) is familiar with a Draft Board. You make a list of all of the players you want in the order you want them (and sometimes more importantly, a list of the players you definitely DO NOT want), and then if you can't make the draft or you miss a pick, the CPU will take the players you actually want (and avoid the ones you don't).

Madden currently has a watchlist as shown above, but you can't adjust the order of the list and the CPU will completely ignore it during draft day.

29. Expand Sub Options and Personnel Packages

I know I should probably be embarrassed to admit that I use Coach Suggestion for calling my plays, but I love it. I spend a lot of time rating all of the plays in a playbook so the suggestions are actually plays that I like and are relevant to the situation. If I don't see a play I like, I usually hop over to Play Type instead. In neither of these situations are you able to manually substitute players. I understand the reasoning: When you call by Coach Suggestion or Play Type, all of the plays on your screen are typically from different formations, so subbing out personnel wouldn't work across the board.

My greatest shame.

My greatest shame.

My suggestion would be adding one extra option after you pick your play that would allow you to make formation subs: If you want to pick Play X, click X normally to call your play normally or click and hold X to pick your play and bring up a formation sub screen. This would allow the best of both worlds: I can let the computer pick my plays for me like a coward, and I can also sub in my wide receiver at tight end like a cheeser. Win/Win! 

30. Bring Back Receiver Shadowing

  • "Will Josh Norman follow Dez Bryant on Thursday?"
  • "Richard Sherman likely to shadow Julio Jones"
  • "Cromartie to Sherman: If you're the best corner, cover the best receiver"
  • "Can Stephon Gilmore Play the Darrelle Revis Role for Rex Ryan's Defense"
  • "With nemesis Odell Beckham Jr. up next, Josh Norman continues to catch flak for not shadowing No. 1 receivers."

Every time you have a matchup between two teams that have an elite cornerback and an elite receiver, you see headlines like these. It's pretty much expected that your top cornerback will follow their top receiver all over the field, and Josh Norman took a lot of heat this season for not doing that. This is another feature that used to be in Madden.

Between formation subs and personnel packages and coaches just moving guys all over their depth chart, having this feature would be more helpful now than ever before. If I'm playing Dez Bryant, I want to make sure the Cowboys coach can't easily match him up against my nickel cornerback and leave me helpless to do anything about it. Bring back receiver shadowing!

31. Get Rid of Practice Squad Auto Sign / Auto Cut

There is a really terrible bug that affects your practice squad. When your season is over, your team automatically signs everyone from your practice squad onto your team, putting you well over the roster maximum of 53 players. Then when you advance again, the game cuts a bunch of random players to get your team back down to 53. It doesn't cut the crappy practice squad players that it just signed. It will cut random players if they have small contracts or low OVRs. Just last season in my current league, the game cut a 23-year-old WR with 96 speed from my team because of this bug. Leave the practice squad alone or have the game cut the guys it just signed rather than the ones you signed.

32. Eliminate Icing

Icing is not effective in real life, no matter what Jeff Fisher thinks. The book Scorecasting analyzed “pressure” kicks from 2001 through 2009 and concluded icing does not work and in some cases might even backfire. Nick Stamms of STATS, Inc. found that "pressure kicks" in the NFL regular season from 1991 to 2005 showed an insignificant difference between non-iced kicks (457 out of 637, or 71.7%) and iced kicks (152 out of 211 or 72%). 

So why does EA make iced kicks significantly harder than normal kicks? Why zoom the camera in and down and make the meter disappear halfway through your kick? This is a silly gimmick that has no basis in reality and should be removed from the game.

33. Show Stats on Playbook Building Screen

When you are playing a game or running practice mode, your playcalling screen shows you the history of every single play in your playbook. Congratulations, you average 8.3 yards per play in 974 HB stretches. We are all very impressed.

But when you head into the playbook building screen to add new plays or get rid of ones that aren't working...all of that data is gone. If you want to build your playbook around what works and what doesn't, you better have a lot of lead in your pencils or ink in your typewriters or open cells in your spreadsheet or something free in however it is you record things. Let us see playcalling data as we build our playbooks!

34. Show Play Names in Practice Mode

Or put it on the left side, that's cool too.

Or put it on the left side, that's cool too.

One of my favorite things to do in Practice Mode is pick Random Play on offense against Random Play on defense and just run plays over and over, seeing what works and what doesn't and making sure I'm always getting different looks and trying new things. There's one huge issue with this: The game doesn't tell you what random play you just called or what random defense you just saw. It does this during the game, and it would be incredibly helpful if they implemented this same screen in practice mode as well.

35. Allow Sustained Drives in Practice Mode

Situational practice mode is fine, and it's nice that you can pick your starting spot, but it would be even more helpful if you could practice sustained drives. Let us start from our own 25 and try to march down the field without turning the ball over. Give us 1st and goal from the 5 and see if we can score. Let us practice sustained drives so we can work on hurry up offense or defending against the hurry up. There are many uses for this.

36. Add Random Play to Games

This exists in Practice mode!

This exists in Practice mode!

There are times in games (probably because I'm bad and call my plays using Coach Suggestion) when I feel like I get into a rut on offense. Nothing I do seems to work. It feels like my opponent can predict my plays before I even snap the ball. One thing that would help in these situations: Add the Random Play option that exists in Practice Mode into the Games. Let us give the defense a completely random look from our current playbook.

37. Change Wind Choice Screen

Before the game starts, you can decide whether you want to kick or receive and you can easily decide if you the wind in your favor. However, if you make it to overtime, this changes. When it's time to choose, you now must receive Defend R. or Defend L. with a little arrow supposedly indicating a wind direction.

The wind choice screen before the game.

The wind choice screen before the game.

The wind choice screen before overtime

The wind choice screen before overtime

Why make this more confusing than it has to be? Why change the options from one menu to the next?

It's overtime. Your opponent has the ball. If you pick correctly, you get wind at your back making a potential game-winning field goal much easier. If you pick incorrectly, you essentially shorten your opponent's field by 10 yards. 

Do you feel confident in your ability to choose between Defend R. and Defend L.?

Why not just give you a clear option: Wind at your back or wind in your face, just like you have before the game? Or show the actual field with the wind arrow pointing in the actual direction. This is an important decision. It should be much easier to figure out.

38. Stop with Absurd Goals

Some of these may be slightly exaggerated, but that doesn't make them any more absurd. Okay maybe a little more absurd, but you get the idea.

Some of these may be slightly exaggerated, but that doesn't make them any more absurd. Okay maybe a little more absurd, but you get the idea.

I understand that top-level goals are meant for players who have historically great or elite seasons, but some of the goals this game sets are damn near impossible to attain for leagues playing with 7- or 8-minute quarters.

I suggested above allowing commissioners to control goals on their own or with sliders. If this isn't possible, at least base the goals on your quarter length or tone them down to something more reasonable.

39. Fix the Bottom Ticker

The bottom score ticker in CFM is a great new addition that lets you keep tabs on the other games throughout the league. Here is how to make it better:

  • Show final scores, not scores as they update throughout the game. The way it's set up right now, if you are playing a Sunday 1:00 pm game, all of the games on the ticker update as you play your game. If it's the first quarter, you see their first quarter score. Even if games have already been played in real life, you won't see any updates on the ticker if their game is scheduled to start after yours according to the fake schedule. This makes sense for offline leagues with only one person in the league, but the only thing that's relevant to full 32-person leagues is the final score and the status of each game. If a game has been played in real life, show the final score.
  • Show game stats. It's great to see IND 35 -  MIA 0, but it would be even better to see a second screen that shows Andrew Luck threw for 400 yards and 5 TDs or Ryan Tannehill threw 8 interceptions. 
  • Fix the buggy records. The current ticker gives teams one extra win or one extra loss on their win/loss record if they have already played their game. Not a big deal, but it's confusing when you see teams have more wins than weeks played in the season, and it's a bug that should be fixed.

40. Fix Formation Subs

Permanent formation subs were a great addition to Madden 17. They save you a lot of time manually subbing in players for specific formations. There were two problems with the feature:

  1. Formation subs leads to invisible players (see video)
  2. You can't use formation subs with custom playbooks

If you have someone on your team that is used in a formation sub package and you cut or trade them, the game gets confused and oftentimes will send an invisible player onto the field. The funny part is the invisible player still plays exactly like a normal player would, but you just can't see him. 

Technically, you can use formation subs with custom playbooks, but you can only use them for the formations that are included in your base playbooks. So if you create a defensive playbook using the New England base, you can only set formation subs for New England plays. Add some formations from Chicago? No formation subs for you!

41. Add Situational Player Subs

We must go deeper.

We must go deeper.

Madden only has one situational player substitution available: Third down running back. Everything else has to be done manually, either through the new formation subs or through substitutions on the play calling screen. What about third down pass rushers or goal line running backs or situational linebackers or quarterbacks who only pass on third and long out I-Form? Okay I made the last one up, but there are enough situations in the NFL where teams use specific personnel that this should be included in the game.

42. Make it Easier to Put Backups In

There are two ways to put backups in right now: 

  1. Manually sub them in using formation subs or personnel packages on the play calling screen
  2. Pause the game and sub them in using the depth chart

Both of these methods are flawed.

If you use formation subs, you have to make the substitutions every time you pick a new formation, and you still have to do this one by one -- and if your backup gets tired, you still run the risk of the starter coming back in. You may not want this if you are winning big and trying to avoid an injury.

Pausing the game is annoying, and there is no easy option to put in all of your backups. Plus, if your opponent unpauses, you only have 30 seconds to make all of your adjustments. The only auto reorder option available is to sort each position by OVR rating. The NBA 2K series lets you create a whole host of different lineups, including 3-point specialists or players with high defense ratings or backups. It would be awesome if you could have a "backup squad" set and bring them all in with the click of a button. Kind of like this:

Give us this button!

Give us this button!


So there you have it. These suggestions all come from someone who loves CFM mode (for the most part) and plays the game every day (assuming my wife lets me or falls asleep). Here's hoping EA maintains a strong focus on Connected Franchise Mode, introduces even just a few of these, and makes Madden 18 the best Madden yet.

What feature do you think needs to be added / changed / fixed for Madden 18?

Dan Chancellor

Orlando, Florida

I created Deep Dive Gaming as an excuse to post more charts about the games I love to play. I live in Florida with my wife, son, and a random assortment of cats.