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Madden 22 and beyond Wishlist
I recognize all the common hubris (EA never listens, they only care about profits and MUT, your voice won’t make a difference etc.). I recognize that a lot of these ideas have already been presented and EA has heard them. I recognize how futile the situation feels when it comes to requesting improvements for the game, but I guess if you want to comment on this and explain these things again to me and everyone else then go ahead. Still I decided to make this anyways despite all that. Mainly for two reasons:
- Because I do feel like being vocal can make a difference, albeit probably a very small difference. EA responded to the #FixMaddenFranchise and I think that is a first down, but it’s not the touchdown, and it’s not winning the game. We need to keep letting them know how we feel.
- More importantly, I had a lot of fun writing this out.
The part of the game that gets ignored. My favorite aspect of a sports game is running a franchise over many years and unfortunately Madden has neglected it and the game mode has slowly gotten worse over the last decade. I will try and be reasonable with my requests but I have a lot of them…
· Tier 0: I created a Tier 0 solely for this one feature. Call it the tier that should have been in the game 8 years ago… oh wait it was but I digress
o Coaching Carousel/Skill Trees: Like everyone else I have been expecting it for years and no luck. What we need here is very similar to what was in NCAA 2014. Offensive and defensive coordinators. A coaching carousel where the good ones move up and get hired. Also further down the wish list I have positional coaches, so when designing this system, there should be a plan to integrate positional coaches into the system as well.
Just as important is the skill tree. The current xp system for coaches in madden needs to be replaced with a skill tree. This skill tree should give in game bonuses to stats, player development bonuses, moral bonuses, player retention bonuses, free agent bonuses etc. NFL Head Coach 08 did an awesome job with this and a system that mimics that would be ideal.
· Tier 1: My thought process with this tier is to include basic features that are missing in the game that are huge strategy elements to real life. Some of these will have continuations in the later tiers since it will take multiple years to build these out
o Comp Picks: If you aren’t familiar with comp picks than you need to be. NFL Teams are awarded comp picks based on free agents signed vs. players lost. Many fans have created mock formulas that do a good job mimicking how it works in real life. There is no reason Madden could not do this as well. Add another layer of team building to the game
o Scouting Overhaul: Another Obvious one. The current scouting system is horribly lacking. There are plenty of people that have created deep dives into new and improved scouting systems so I won’t, but I will highlight a couple of the things I’d like to see: Player Reports and their NFL Comparison, Athletic Profile/SPARQ Score, Ability to see more than just 3 ratings, Injury History etc.
o Adjustable Contract Structures: Quite simply I want to be able to frontload and backload contracts. Just give us the option to manually adjust the amount for each year, or a quick frontload, even, backload option so that we have another layer of strategy when signing free agents.
o Restricted Free Agents: Another system that is missing from Madden. Allow me to tender my restricted free agents to add more strategy to Franchise
o Contract Extensions: Allow me to negotiate contract extensions at any time if the player is willing to engage with them.
o More Scenario Engine: The one Tier 1 list that is not a new feature. The scenario engine has a lot of potential. Keep developing it to keep the game fresh with realistic scenarios. Also improve some of the bugs in the current system.
· Tier 2: So many of these features are vital but Franchise mode is lacking so much that they had to get bumped down.
o Position Coaches: Once again, see Head Coach 08. Integrate the coaching tree into the system. Allow users to start off as a position coach if desired, to where they can only play at that position. Imagine a career where you go from a player to a position coach to a coordinator to a head coach. That would be amazing. Also for a player to become a position coach there should be an awareness requirement (Say like 90+ awareness)
o Fog of War: This one is simple but would add a huge layer of strategy to the game. Don’t immediately show us any of the ratings or development of the players we draft. They should all have a minimum snap number to fully reveal it. The same should also be for undrafted free agents or rookies cut by other teams. They should have to go through a certain number of practices to have their ratings revealed. Playing actual snaps in the games to should help accelerate that process but it should be a long process. This should motivate players to play the preseason games more to actually get snaps with players they don’t know enough about to see how they play
o Mini Camp/Offseason/Rookie Camp Workouts: Once again there are many people out there that have a lot better ideas than me on this and have done deep dives. But we need an ability to further develop and learn about our players with these camps. Let it add another strategy layer to development and stuff like that.
o Free Agency Improvements: Lots of great ideas have been thrown around here tooGive players a certain set of criteria they look for in a team (Being paid the highest, long term financial security, championship team, good position coach etc.). Make those criteria clear to the user as well so that they can try to appeal to it. Add fog of war so that we don’t know what other teams are offering, however add some cryptic free agency tweets to give us some ideas of what the player is expecting. Give players certain personalities as well. Some guys might be easy going, some guys might make up rumors to try and cash in on a payday. Allow the user to know these personalities.
o Improved Practice System/Game planning: They had the right idea with the current practice system but it needs to be developed out more. In addition to working on a specific play concept (Like dagger or stretch runs), you should also be able to focus on improving certain techniques for each side of the ball (For example Impact Blocking for the offensive line and man coverage for the defensive side for the defensive backs). You should also be able to pick a player from each position group to focus on in order to them a slightly bigger increase in rating and xp from that practice. The amount of increase for xp and temporary rating increases should be based off of coach ratings, awareness ratings for players, player chemistry/morale ratings, and development ratings
Also I believe this system should be dynamic and affect more than just a single week. Say one practice gets you +3 impact block. Have that bonus still apply for the next week, but it go down to +2 and keep counting back until you get to zero. Focusing on the same concept for a second week in a row should just add +1 to that with a maximum of say +10 (I almost would not want a max). While this idea can seem overpowered I think it would be extremely rewarding to focus on say impact blocking in practice for 10 weeks in a row and have that pay off with a +10 impact block rating for your linemen. It could really start to give teams certain personalities and have a noticeable effect on games. You could also argue that by spreading around these bonuses you would get more of an overall increase because you are getting multiple +3’s instead of +1. I think this would add a huge amount of strategy to the game.
o Fantasy Draft Order Selection: Finally something simple. We should be able to choose the order of the fantasy draft
o Improve AI: AI should have dynamic logic on how to run a team based on personnel and coaching. Playbooks should change and whatnot. This one is simple as well
o Improved Relocation/Create a team: Not something I am super passionate about, it would personally be a tier 3 issue for me but I know that a lot of players really want this improved. It was a lot of fun back on Madden 12
o Dynamic/Career Injury System: A System that keeps track of player injury history over time for each part of the body. So if a player has torn his same ACL twice in a row then he takes a hit. See NFL Head Coach 08, they implemented this really well
· Tier 3: Most Tier 3’s are just stuff that would be cool to have, but these all still feel really necessary to me. That’s how lacking franchise mode is.
o GM, Scout, Trainer Rosters and Skill Trees: I almost want this in Tier 2 but I will settle. Let’s expand our strategy and roster even more. Have GM’s with skill trees and a roster of scouts underneath them. They can be regional scouts and a head scout each with respective skill trees as well that affect the quality of your scouting. There should also be NFL scouts that scout free agents from other teams. Add more fog of war: You should not know the exact ratings for a player on another team, , although give the player an idea of how good the player is based on your NFL scout and the perception of him around the nfl. These NFL scouts should also provide you game plans and tell you what your opponent has been focusing on in practice. Trainers would be another neat thing that help affect injury, stamina, strength, athleticism etc.
I would add a GM mode where you can start as the GM. This would function almost identical to the owner mode except you can be fired for poor performance. As a Head coach you would not have control over your GM unless the owner grants you that control.
o Scouting Page on menu: Let’s get an entire menu option for scouting. Give us updates college stats for players. More tweets and analysis on what the experts think about the draft. Give us various mock drafts by different experts. Just give us more media to consume when it comes to the draft throughout the year.
o Weekly Schedules: Give us even more control over practice and game planning by letting us schedule our entire week of practice. This would allow us to focus on multiple concepts, rest players if they are fatigued etc. Integrate it into the improved scouting/gameplanning system I have already discussed.
o Training Programs for Players: NBA 2k does a good job with this already. Allow us to adjust how our players train and improve. This could have an effect on the players getting a skill point and what ratings get increased.
o Create a play: This was in previous maddens and I would love to have it back. Give us the ability to toggle it on and off in Online leagues. This would add another level to being a coach and allow for even more individualism. It’s probably somewhat of a pipedream but it would be amazing if AI could randomly create plays too that we see on the field.
o More Tweets: Just keep adding to this. It works really well already, but the more variety the better. Talk about the MVP race, who will make a pro bowl, who should win certain awards, the playoff race etc.
o Improved Awards: Give us pro bowl voting throughout the year so we know who is leading (Or at least when voting starts). Give us all the actual NFL awards and let us know who wins
o More data visualization: I would like graphs based on cap space extending into the future to know if I am on or off track (If I am projected to be over the cap space in 3 years then I definitely need to know about it now). Allow us to compare ourselves to the league average and give us a rank of where we stand (3rd highest paid team overall). Allow us to filter this graph by specific positions or position groups, or offense and defense (So I could see how much I am paying my defense, or my defensive line, or my left tackle compared to everyone else.)
Create a similar graph based on overall talent instead of salary. Allow the user to see the top 5 players at that position and their respective salaries. Also create another ranking for draft capital to let me know who has the best and worst draft capital. The more data the better.
Gameplay: I am going to give some credit to where it is due. I believe each year the gameplay in madden has slightly improved. While it is not where I would like it to be, I think it is getting better.
· Tier 1: Stuff I would like to see fixed for the next madden
o Dynamic player adjustments: Here is my big one. It was hard coming up with the appropriate name for this. It kind of started with my frustrations with play action in madden. In real life, play action is probably the single most important aspect to playcalling and in madden it is just an increased chance of a sack. But it’s more than just a play action problem in Madden (I wanted to call a section improve play action but it’s bigger than that). So the best way I can explain this is by saying I want to allow Kyle Shanahan to be Kyle Shanahan. The defense should adjust based on what the offense is doing and how successful the offense is doing it. If I am gashing the defense with stretch run plays and then run a deep bootleg, then the safeties should bite, the defensive ends should crash on the running back instead of sacking the qb every time.
The way I envision this functioning is much like the new feature on the O line where the O line start to build up a resistance to certain pass rush moves. The defense should build a resistance to offenses running the exact same plays and somewhat of a resistance for running the same concepts but with different formations. This should prevent players from winning a tournament while running the same stretch run play every play and encourage users to run a variety of plays.
While the defense builds resistance for certain plays, that should make them more vulnerable to counter plays that look similar. Once again if I am running stretch 2 or 3 times, then I bootleg out and go deep, players should bite. However this should depend on the play recognition rating. So a rookie or bad player should be much more susceptible to this rather than a Levonte David or Earl Thomas.
This same concept should apply to all positions across the field. Receivers that run the same route over and over should have the defense start to adjust. And then double moves become more likely to work. Coaching adjustments should also have an effect on this as well. I should be able to choose play pass first and be hurt on running plays but not fall for play action plays. Also coach ratings should have an effect on this as well. A Pete Carroll coached team should be much more disciplined on defense than a Kliff Kingsbury team. To me this is the single most beneficial thing we can do for gamplay. It would make the jet sweeps and the deep passes so much more fun.
o More RecieveDB animations: I think in terms of making the game look better, this would have the single biggest effect. And the most important thing they need to add is a variety of missed catch/ missed tip ball animations. The problem in Madden is animations are only triggered if a player is in position to catch the ball. This leads to defensive backs doing stupid things if they are behind a receiver (Like going for a diving catch behind the receiver after the receiver has already caught the ball) or the ball just magically going through defenders or receivers so the other player can catch it, or even two players doing the exact same animation. It also leads to defenders just turning and running when they can’t interact with the ball
So what is the solution? It’s missed catch/ tip animations. Players should attempt to tip the ball or catch it without even touching the ball. Say I thread the ball to a receiver doing a crossing route over the linebacker but under the safety. Usually the linebacker will either intercept it or turn and attempt tackle you after the catch. What never happens is the linebacker trying to make a play on the ball and failing. What should happen is the linebacker jumps to try and tip the ball, the ball goes a couple of inches over their fingertips, and the receiver comes down with a possession catch. Missed tip animations like these would give the user a whole new feeling of “threading the needle”. I think this would have such a huge improvement on the look of this game. And not only would it look much more realistic, it would improve the run after catch opportunities and prevent those unrealistic plays where players are catching you from behind. If you go watch receiver highlights, you see this type of stuff all the time.
Furthermore there just needs to be better catch animations in general. Many of them are such weird angles and cringy to watch. The game is also lacking a variety of animations, I feel like I see the same 7 animations a game.
o Strong/Weak side adjustments for Linebackers and Safeties: Maybe it’s just me, but I hate when I have a strong safety playing deep center field or a weak side linebacker setting the edge based on the formation of the offense. So this fix should be simple, instead of the free safety always being on the left and strong safety always being on the right, flip them to stay consistent with the weak and strong side of the play design (So that if I call a play that has my Free safety playing deep 3rd, he will play on the appropriate side that gives him that coverage responsibility and keep my strong safety near the line of scrimmage). Eliminate the Left and Right outside linebackers as well and go to strong and weakside linebackers. I would like this to be an optional thing for the defensive line (some teams have a weakside defensive end and some teams keep their defensive end on the right side the entire game) but I can see how that would be difficult to implement.
o Better Pursuit: Personally this isn’t a huge issue for me, but I know it is the main focus of a lot of other players so I put it in tier 1. This just needs to be cleaned up and guys need better pursuit angles
· Tier 2: My main focus for this tier is to improve the chess game in madden and add another layer of strategy.
o Improve DB/WR animations: This has been improving over the years but still isn’t where it needs to be. I think there should be a bigger focus on leverage. Let inside or outside leverage be key taking away routes. Maybe construct an offensive ability to be able to beat certain leverages based on double moves for the great route runners. Press and Release animations need to be added as well and also more route and cut animations. Also adding user controls to do certain moves on running receiver routes would go a long way, such as hesitations and dead legs.
Also I do think they should have abilities based on short, medium, and long routes just like they have player ratings on it. I personally disagree with getting rid of the abilities that allowed receiver to run certain routes better but I get why they did it. I think by doing short, medium and long routes instead of what they are doing now would be a good compromise. Lastly I would say the animations for the run game for wide receivers and DBs need to be improved. Often times a receiver will run a fake go route and we should see that from time to time. Blocking ratings for the receivers should come into play too. I should be rewarded for having Larry Fitzgerald as a wide receiver on a run play.
o Defensive motions: Here’s a simple one. A defense should be able to hide their formation until last second. So if I am running cover 3, I should be able to rotate my strong safety down at the last second. Or show a blitz right before the ball is snapped. This should be done with a button like clicking the right stick. Click it too early and you reveal your coverage to the offense and click it too late then you could be late getting to your area. I think it would add a fun little chess game and help improve the defense.
o Defensive line stunts: Used to be in Madden, and they got rid of it for whatever reason. But often Defensive lines don’t just go at the guy ahead of them. There are stunts and various things like that. Add that back into madden. Also often the defensive line will shift last second, this should be incorporated into some plays and confuse the offensive line (I know you can do this manually but it should be built into some plays)
o Improve Pass Blocking: The pocket still never feels like a pocket to me in this game. It’s either someone is running free at me or everyone is covered. I don’t know the best fix for this but I know it needs to be improved. Also double teams should have more consequences. You cannot double team the defensive end with the tackle and guard on the same side as a three tech defensive tackle. In real life the 3 tech would just blow by the center and get an easy sack, but in madden the 3 tech or the blitzer is sucked into a blocking animation with the center. There should be consequences for your actions. Another improvement could be allowing the user to choose the blocking assignment for the TE, FB, or RB. That way if I do want to double team a Von Miller I can do it that way instead.
o More Coaching Adjustments: Let me choose how to play an RPO (Commit to run or pass). Let me choose to play run or pass first in general (In the coaching adjustment screen rather than doing it manually for each play). Let me choose my defensive back’s leverage. Let me choose to play the deep pass over the short pass. Also allow franchise players to do this on the main menu and have it carry from game to game, and give AI coaches tendencies that they use for their adjustments. Make it as much of a chess game as possible
o Base which abilities a player has based off of ratings: I don’t talk a lot about abilities because I am not super fond of them. They feel like a cheat code for madden to get players to play to their ratings. It also feels like a scheme to generate a lot of excitement and publicity. However I understand that they aren’t going away, so my suggestion is simple. Have abilities be triggered off of ratings. You gain that x factor once you reach 95 power moves or something like that. You get that catching ability when you reach 90 catch in traffic. This would allow the ratings to matter while still having room for abilities.
o Ability to call a play with a pre attached motion: There are way more motions in real life than there are in madden. Motions give you a great idea of what type of defense is called. I think in Madden we should have the option to pre attach a motion to a play rather than being forced to choose one of the 4 plays with a motion. So if you turn this option on when calling a play (By pressing a button or maybe functioning similar to a sub package) it would go something like this: in a strong formation it might bring out your fullback at the WR position (Don’t have to show this in the play diagram). The fullback then does a normal motion to his position. This would help disguise plays and allow us to recognize coverages more often just like in real life by seeing how the defensive lines up on that. I would give each formation a pre assigned motion for this.
The way to balance this out and prevent it from happening too often would be to not allow players to audible or call hot routes when doing a pre attached motion. It forces players to stick with the called play.
o Back Shoulder Throws/catches: Just another element of the game that is missing
· Tier 3: Just small quality of life improvements
o Improve momentum system: Often times the tackles in this game still look cheesy and physics doesn’t seem to apply. Keep working on that.
o Multiple motions on a play: Teams do this sometimes in real life
o Camera Angle Adjustments based on momentum: Maybe this would be too difficult to implement, but if I am running a stretch to the right, I would like the camera to slightly pan in that direction so that I can see the sideline I am running towards better (I get upset when defensive backs get past the WR blocking and I cannot see it or adjust to it). This would also make spotting cutbacks more challenging and rewarding. The same concept could be applied to kickoff returns and potentially after catching a pass
o Improve Pump Fake: Honestly I am not sure the best way to do this, but it should have an effect when I do it.
Immersion: I think immersion should come second to gameplay and franchise improvements, and immersion is only important once the game is a good game.
· Tier 1.5: These would be amazing additions once the core gameplay and Franchise is fixed
o Weekly recap with other teams highlights: We saw this with NFL 2k5 on the Chris Boomer show. Probably the single biggest reason why we all remember that game so fondly. Adding this to madden would be a true game changer. It could show some pre created highlight plays along with some of your highlights. It would be pretty cool if Madden collected user submitted highlight plays and put the best ones into this. They could then just switch out the players to whatever team that highlight is for. And it could trigger based on abilities. For example let’s say a user submitted a play of Julio Jones mossing someone and Madden adds it to their collection. Then the highlight show comes on and they want to show a highlight of the Cowboys. Let’s pretend that Ceedee has the same ability that Julio has, so therefor it triggers that replay to happen but replaces the player models from the highlight with the Cowboys player models. Then we get to see Ceedee moss someone on the highlight show.
But there is even more potential for this in online leagues. This whole idea is probably pretty farfetched, but if you could submit a play from the game you just played in an online league, and have the show replay all the submitted plays from that week... Well I don’t have to tell you how cool that would be.
Even if they just generate 20 different pre created highlight plays and cycle through those with a mix of your plays, that would be above and beyond and would add an amazing layer of immersion.
o Halftime show with other teams highlights: Same as above but for the halftime show.
o Improved Draft Presentation: Keep improving this. They have made strides but it is one of the most popular events in sports. Treat it as such. If they could get more analysis for each player from the experts that would go very far. Although I know that would be very difficult. Maybe show a live twitter feed during the draft.
· Tier 2
o Full set of people on field after the game: After a game in the NFL, the field is full of people and it is hard to walk anywhere. In madden there are maybe 12 people on the field after a game. It’s immersion breaking
o More Excitement on wide open lanes to the endzone: If I pass to my wide receiver on a crossing route and there is no one in front of him, the commentators should get super excited and let me know that. They should be yelling “30, 20, 10, touchdown”. More situational awareness in general would be nice from them.
o Radio Show for franchise and main menu: Madden 06 killed it with this. They should add it again.
· Tier 3: Quality of life improvements
o Better Superbowl/Playoffs presentation: Make the super bowl feel like the super bowl
o Add additional commentary team: Two teams are better than one and would add a variety to the game.
I honestly don’t play these modes and am not super interested in them. That being said I just want to say I appreciate those players in their support for #FixMaddenFranchise. Guys that have no interest in playing franchise were out there supporting us because ultimately the users need to speak with one voice to get change. So there will be a time in the future where they may need help from the franchise guys and we need to support them like they supported us. So a big shout out to you guys if you do end up reading this.
Ten Reasons why Artifact will be the biggest eSport title, ever
Written by Michael "rokman" Weldon
Hello Artifact! Before I get into the meat of the article, I thought I’d introduce myself. My card game experience comes from the Pokemon Trading Card Game. I started collecting and playing way back in the nineties. After nearly a decade playing casually, I ended up moving toward the competitive scene for a handful of years. I had a few big tournament wins and a lot of success playing the game. There was even a point that I was a paid writer for a Pokemon Trading Card Game website known as SixPrizes, you can see my articles here.
Within the eSports world, I have worked in the production side of things at a few major tournaments. As a Production Assistant and Camera operator, I worked at IGN Pro League 3 in Atlantic City (Here’s a picture of me and Idra), as well as IGN Pro League 5 in Las Vegas (Here’s a photo before we opened the main stage). Live eSports events are so unbelievable to witness, as a fan. Twitch is convenient, but it is just not the same. Being there, LIVE, with people who share your interest, who will shout and scream with you when your favorite team wins? There is nothing like it. You have to go to a live event for your favorite game, if you haven’t already.
The last thing about myself I’d like to cover is what drew me to Artifact. I’ve always been a fan of the RTS genre. DotA, Heroes of Newerth, League of Legends, you name it. If you played HoN, you might remember that “Too Bad it’s Me, Blacksmith” meme? Yeah, that was me. Sorry! Ha!
Truth be told, I’ve had an off-and-on relationship with all of these games. Going from riding a high of winstreaks to the inevitable burning out when paired with casual players who are playing to have fun and goof around. Who even plays games to have fun? Totally insane, right? Sheesh!
So finally, there’s Artifact, a game that I can only blame myself when I lose. One versus one in an RTS style game, based around trading cards, it’s basically the exact type of game I’ve been looking for my entire life. That’s why I’m writing this article on reddit, and that’s why I know Artifact will be the biggest eSport title, ever. Here’s ten reasons that’s going to happen --
I guess you can’t blame them for thinking that, many developers have entered the genre of digital trading card games, but none of them have had Hearthstone’s financial success. And damn, Hearthstone has been an extremely profitable title. In the most recent Financial report from Activision Blizzard, the company was reporting that pre-orders for the Boomsday Project were exceeding any previous expansion. That’s actually off the charts, because Hearthstone has been around for over FOUR YEARS now!
But there’s a few things Hearthstone hasn’t done right, from a competitive standpoint. And now that I think about it, has Blizzard ever handled eSports correctly? If you ask me, they’ve only ever been interested in making games that are popular, which is fine, and clearly worked for them as a business model. But that doesn't translate into a competitive eSport.
But Valve though? Get out of town! They’ve been a major player in eSports for many years. Just take a look at the DotA International’s prize support! Here’s a list of the Top Games awarding prize money across all tournaments. DotA 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are the top games. But get this, after adding up ALL of the prize support between the next THIRTY games on this list, you STILL don’t exceed the total prize support from DotA 2 and CS:GO. That’s BONKERS!
I know what you’re going to say, and I agree, prize support isn’t everything. But it’s definitely a massive part of a game’s success (And by extension, the developer of that game). Think about all the people involved when a game is successful, other than players. Production crew at live events (I was one of those guys!), camera crews, media companies, eSports organizations, even a company like Twitch, which live streams events. All of this infrastructure keeps the whole thing in motion, so having massive prize support for players is the very reason all of these other companies have spawned underneath a video game title.
And that’s why Valve is the number one reason I think Artifact is going to take over eSports. They know what they are doing. They organize these events. They create the prize pool for the DotA International. And they do that by offering all players the ability to buy cosmetics, with a portion of their purchases funding the actual tournament.
I put all my faith in GabeN and Valve to do this right. They’re the best in the business when it comes to this type of thing. But that’s not the only thing you need to take over eSports. You KIND OF need a good game, right? Well, let me introduce you to --
- Dr. Richard Garfield
Many of the following reasons on my list will reference some of the concepts Dr. Garfield covers in his presentation. Also many mechanics in Artifact are built on these concepts presented here, and because of that, there isn’t much more I need to elaborate on, for now.
If you weren’t aware, Magic the Gathering is the biggest card game, ever. Despite the current drama taking place, Magic the Gathering has been the premier card game to play if you were looking to make a career out of cards. While it isn’t always a profitable career path, there are a small group of players that have raked in quite a bit of prize winnings over the years. Take a look at the Top 200 All-Time Money Leaderboards. That’s some eye-popping dollar signs, if you ask me.
But Dr. Richard Garfield doesn’t only want to cater to that tiny small percent of players, working toward big paychecks, and Magic the Gathering has recognized the different archetypes of players, known as Timmy, Johnny, and Spike. Dr. Garfield has even explained that he builds all kinds of cards, with these different player archetypes in mind.
I’d even say some of the core strategies amongst the four colors in Artifact embody a lot of the Timmy/Johnny/Spike concepts. This is important to mention because it means Dr. Garfield will cater to various playstyles in Artifact, which will allow people to be creative with their decklists, tailored to their individual style. And if you ask me, that is a recipe for some very exciting Artifact games!
So, looking at where we are now, we’ve got Valve developing a game designed by Dr. Richard Garfield. Already, that should be enough for you to believe in this game’s success. But I’m going to break it down even further. For a game to be the number one eSport, I think the most important thing has got to be the most obvious, a --
- High Skill Ceiling
For a video game title to completely dominate the eSport world, it has to have an extremely high skill ceiling. And this is a broad concept to cover, so I’m only going to cover one aspect of it, which is the one I think defines it the greatest… Decision making.
In Artifact, the number of decisions you make, and their future impact is one of the biggest elements that separate Artifact from other card games. Within the umbrella of decision making, are concepts like Hero deployment, spending resources in one lane over another, when to give up a lane, and many other specific examples like these. (I’ll probably cover this topic directly in it’s own article at another time.)
Comparing Artifact to Hearthstone, the average number of decisions per game has to be an astronomically different number. Unfortunately, I’m not able to play Artifact currently so I can’t give you these statistics. But I’m basing this assumption off of PAX West game videos that I watched. And I think a lot of people can agree with my assumption here. If not, go ahead and tell my why you disagree in the comments.
By having so many instances where players have to make decisions, even in a perceived simple concept like initiative, your game will automatically open itself up to a high skill ceiling. Bare with me here, I’m going to break this down, as simple as I can…
- Assumption one, Artifact is a game that forces players to make MORE decisions over the course of a single game, when compared to other card games.
- Assumption two, when faced with those decisions, the higher skilled player will make BETTER choices over the course of a game, giving them a higher percentage chance to win.
Now let’s take a look at the opposite of skill. That pesky thing that everyone says is the worst part of Artifact. And the one thing I think they are all dead wrong about, of course it’s --
What about professional sports, like Baseball? I’d say it’s essentially infinite, when taking into consideration so many variables about the athlete's body, different flights of the ball on a pitch, various types of swings, and if the bat makes contact, the nearly infinite points of contact that a baseball could land in a stadium, and that’s not even taking into consideration random things like a player tripping, or a fan in the audience interrupting the play. You get the idea.
This is an incredibly important detail when considering how successful a game can be in the eSports space. Card games are at a massive disadvantage, there’s only so many possible things that can happen, it’s actually a fairly small finite number of unique games, when compared to something like DotA 2.
So what’s the deal with adding in paths in front of creeps? What about the RNG Flop at the beginning of the game? These things are SO INCREDIBLY good for the game, it honestly perturbs me how many people following Artifact are unsure of this design choice. By adding in these variables into the possible unique games of Artifact, it increases the number by a HUGE MARGIN. I would argue this makes Artifact the number one card game, when it comes to the number of possible unique games. But why is this a good thing? Two reasons --
- One, it makes the game more fun to play.
- Two, it makes the game so much more interesting to spectate.
- Spectator eSport
In many other card games, there is a clear best play from your hand, every turn, and any other line would be called a “misplay”. But in Artifact, that line separating a viable play and a misplay is quite blurry. Without knowing future creep deployments, some plays could end up being better than others, even when they aren’t necessarily the number one best option at face value. This creates a scenario where commentators have A LOT to talk about during matches, sometimes too much.
On YouTube, you can find a guy making videos named Jackson Walters. I highly recommend his videos and would like to mention him for one specific reason. He uses a program to draw on the screen when he does his gameplay commentary. If you’ve ever seen an NFL broadcast, you would know this is a common feature during a replay. A yellow line, drawing over a freeze frame of the last play.
No other video game I know of uses this type of technology, and Artifact is absolutely an AMAZING candidate to take advantage of it. There is so much going on, when choosing a lane for a hero to go to, when choosing a spot for a creep to spawn in lane, potential pathing of units, all of these examples would make this technology great for commentators to relay pertinent information to the audience.
But those two things aren’t the only thing that makes Artifact a great spectator eSport. And this is a topic that is debated frequently amongst the community. Is Artifact going to have good “streamability” on Twitch? My answer is a resounding YES. Because Valve has done such an unbelievably good job designing the User Interface, a lot of things are clearly displayed to the audience.
Even to people who have very little knowledge of the game, just understanding the basics, they’ll be able to recognize when a player is put in a bad position (Here’s a hint -- there’s giant red X’s all over his units!) and the audience can understand when a player is forced to make a big play to turn things around.
Furthermore, with the UI clearly labeling Tower health and incoming Tower damage, the audience is given obvious indicators for “points” or a way to keep track of the “score” in the game. Which actually isn’t that common amongst many popular eSports titles. Speaking of eSports titles, let’s talk about the biggest thing Artifact has, that other card games don’t --
- Deck sharing
Before the internet existed and everyone had everyone’s decklist, people actually had to work out decks on their own, and with their friends. I personally have spent hundreds of hours “solitairing” decks against no opponent, testing a deck’s consistency and working kinks out of the list. With the current state of electronic card games, people can get detailed statistics of all the top deck lists in the game, what the best players are using on ladder, and so on and so forth. Even in some games, at top tournaments, everyone’s deck list is public knowledge before it begins!
This is not how things have always been. Back in my day, people could go to major tournaments and whip out a completely unknown, Secret.dec, that no one has seen before. That player and his group of friends have already tested it a thousand games against the most popular decks in the meta. When things like this happened, people LOST their freaking minds. And to be honest, this is how some stars were born within some trading card game circles.
With Artifact’s Deck Sharing, Players will be able to put multiple decks together and give them to their friends, without them needing to invest money in the game, bring them in and use them as exclusive testing partners. While this might understandably sound a bit insane, I can see small groups of friends using this feature for testing purposes.
Other than the obvious, it being a gigantic tool to bring more players to Artifact, I’m looking at it from the competitive perspective. I could even solitaire games against myself, playing both decks simultaneously! Nice!
While this feature is great at bringing new players in and keeping the cost of entry low, there is something else Artifact has already taken into consideration, you guessed it --
- Card accessibility
Yikes. This is the exact reason Valve has gone on record stating that they don’t want this to happen. Their first step in preventing this, at least in the first set, which releases on November 28th, is only having three rarities of cards. Common, Uncommon, and Rare. Also guaranteeing that one of the twelve cards included in each two dollar pack is a Rare.
They’re going to take things even further for an electronic trading card game, and allow players to buy and sell cards on the steam marketplace. Looking at it from a business standpoint, how genius is that? They not only sell every card pack in client, but they ALSO get a cut of every transaction made on the secondary market! Absolutely genius! (~15% of all secondary market sales goes right into Valve’s pocket!!!)
As of now, nobody can predict the average costs of cards, or the average cost to create a popular meta deck. But one thing is certain, we won’t have to buy hundreds of booster packs hoping to open some specific super-rare necessary-for-laddering “legendary cards” that can’t be resold in a secondary market! Yeah, I’m looking right at you, Hearthstone!
So we’ve got a situation where the game is designed by Richard Garfield, developed by Valve, has a high skill ceiling, with RNG that makes things interesting, great for spectating, allows deck sharing, and will have accessible cards? What’s even missing in something so amazing like that? Oh, I know, SirActionSlacks favorite topic --
- The Lore
And if you haven’t seen it already, definitely check out SirActionSlacks Loregasm videos on youtube. I had no idea how much lore was actually in the DotA universe, and it gave me a whole new appreciation for the game I spent many hours playing.
From the bits and pieces I’ve been able to piece together during the card reveals, inspecting the artwork and reading the flavor text in the tweet’s on the official Artifact Twitter page, it seems to me that the first set will be based around the Bronze Legion and the Red Mist Army.
There’s plenty of great lore to explore there, but it might even give us some clues about the first expansion set for Artifact? Maybe an Abyssal Horde expansion? Or even just a straight up Roseleaf Expansion? Only time will tell…
Even though I covered this subject briefly before, I’d like to mention it again, in it’s own bullet point --
- Prize support
None of the details have been released yet, but if you play close attention to the Artifact website and the Official twitter @PlayArtifact, they’ll be announcing it soon, hopefully. Many players hoping to take a stab at that prize pool are anxiously waiting to hear how they could potentially qualify for the big tournament, myself included.
But as I’ve mentioned before, a giant prize pool isn’t the only key to success as an eSport, it’s many other things. What I would like you to remember, is how many industries can be supported when a prize pool gets that large. But money doesn’t just bring in a bunch of companies underneath it, it also brings in SPONSORS!
Sponsors support all those gaming organizations, that sign pro players to represent them, and allows for such a competitive space to become an eSport. This in turn creates an environment where many people can provide for their families, support each other, and their communities, all from a video game. If that doesn’t get you excited, then you’re truly dead inside. Or your a hundred years old and don’t know what a video game is.
And finally, the above nine things would make a pretty great game, but there’s still one last thing that makes all the difference. In my opinion, it’s the most important piece of success for a video game title to be the number one eSport...
- Content creators
The Artifaction podcast is hosted by SUNSfanTV and SirActionSlacks. They just held a massive create-a-card competition for 2 beta keys! If you missed it, that’s unfortunate, because it was great watching how miserable these two were after they reviewed over a thousand cards on stream (Which was only half of the submissions!).
Hosted by LuminousInverse and Hotbid. One of my favorite podcasts out there right now, these guys are great. Hotbid is a natural talent for keeping the podcast moving and making sure everyone on mic stays opinionated, taking hard stances. That’s what creates discussion, that’s what makes a podcast interesting. Creating debates. I can’t recommend these guys enough!
This is an all encompassing youtube channel, covering news, card releases, reviews, lore, it’s a great channel to have on subscribe. Check out their videos, they come out every few days!
What a great twitch channel this guy is running! He’s offering gameplay reviews, interviews, card reveals, as well as personal commentary. He does stream a lot of games other than Artifact, but when he streams Artifact, he can bring the house down.
While a newer content creator for Artifact (he’s only got three videos up), these videos are absolutely PACKED with amazing information you can break down. He is on another level when it comes to breaking down some pinpoint decision making moments in games. If you want to play on a high level in Artifact, definitely watch his videos.
Swim is a top Gwent streamer and dabbling with the idea of moving to Artifact. Personally, I think he’d be an amazing addition to the Artifact community and he’s got only one video up currently, breaking down the Black cards and revealing his own card, Slay. Make sure you give him plenty of love because he is a great creator!
Lastly, I’d like to include myself in this list of content creators. You can check out my twitter here.
I’m looking to write more articles like this in the future (If you guys enjoyed it, that is) Some of the topics I’ll be covering are going to be pretty heavy, like this article, but also decklists, analyzing metas and tournament results, maybe patch notes (if Valve decides to patch Artifact and change cards), interviews, pro scene topics, maybe even tracking cards on the marketplace, and predicting future meta shifts! I’d also like to do a card reveal, if Valve is interested in spreading the love. Seriously, Valve, I’d die if you sent me a card reveal...
In conclusion, because of the ten reasons stated above, I believe Artifact will be the biggest eSport title, ever. I’d love to hear why you agree or disagree, so comment below! Also, one last thing, I do have a beta key to give away, if you follow me on twitter @rokmanfilms, I might do something fun to give the key away. I know you fiends are only motivated by the chance of winning a key! Ha!
Thanks for reading! I’ll be posting again soon…
- Michael “rokman” Weldon