One measure of a good game is its ability to scaffold for players of different abilities: something easy to learn but difficult to master. Madden ’11 and its redesigned GameFlow user-experience helps teach new players about football strategy, while allowing advanced players the ability to create custom playbooks, players and teams. When paired with online gameplay, the sky’s the limit when putting these strategies to the test against other players.
While GameFlow allows playbook customization, it is not necessary: novice players can have intelligent plays chosen (by the GameFlow system) for them to execute. More importantly, these plays usually make sense, and are explained to the player by the GameFlow system: thereby teaching players football strategy.
Real-time strategy is incorporated via the game’s “Strategy Pad”, which allows players to call audibles or make changes in strategy on the fly while waiting for a play to start. For example, while playing defense, a player can call out shifts for their defensive line or defensive backs, or change a portion of their defensive coverage.
Similar controls are possible on offense, such as setting a receiver in motion or changing strategy based upon the defensive formation. However, in practice, the Strategy Pad is somewhat difficult to use with the increased gameplay speed associated with GameFlow. A single operation such as a line shift requires three button presses, while multiple operations require further button presses. With the increased speed of play, these small strategy changes often cannot be executed before the ball is snapped.
Madden ’11 is a fun, engaging game with a radically redesigned core gameplay experience that was much needed. While advanced players could customize plays and learn a particular team’s playbook to more efficiently pick plays, the play calling system was overwhelming for novice players in years past. The new GameFlow system helps to teach novice players football strategy.