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Madden NFL ’12: Online Communities Detailed

Source: EA Sports


Online Communities: Power to the Player

There are always a few gripes that seem to come up every year when it comes to online play in the Madden franchise. Shady players dominating the leaderboards, no OTP stat tracking, and the big one, wanting to play at a different setting than what EA SPORTS considers the standard for ranked games. When the designers at Tiburon sat down and wanted to tackle these issues, they came up with this solution: Online Communities.

An Online Community is more or less a design tool that allows you to create a group of up to 2,000 people and then gives you all the options of how you want to play your games including sliders. The creator of an Online Community also has the power to elect moderators to help self-police it. Have a member acting up or is giving your community a bad rap? Kick him out with the press of a button.

Online Communities can become a little confusing to explain. So for this next part I’m going to break down the two ways you can utilize it: head to head and OTP. Both are accessible from within the same Community, but as you’ll see, there are numerous differences that enhance each mode.

Head to Head

Like I mentioned in the introduction, the big change here is that the creator of the Online Community will lock in the settings for how games are played. Prefer playing your ranked head to head games on All Madden rather than All Pro? Do you feel that 7 minute, no accelerated clock is the fairest way to play? Well all that and more is at your control when starting up a community.

In addition to the general settings, the creator also has access to move the sliders. So anything from increasing the pass blocking to decreasing the broken tackle chances are also at your disposal. The goal was to give you, the player, as much control as you need in order to experience the online world of Madden the way you could enjoy it the most.

There is also a separate leaderboard within your Online Community to track all of your head to head games. Rather than dealing with the normal ranked head to head leaderboards of the past, you now just can concentrate on being the number 1 player in your own community. You no longer have to worry about someone cheesing their way up the list. This will now be a fair and balanced way of playing meaningful online games that will count and you’ll almost be guaranteed of playing a legit player. One of the most frustrating experiences online can be having a guy disconnect on you or do things intentionally to frustrate you. That shouldn’t be the case in Online Communities because again, that player can very quickly be kicked out.

Online Team Play (OTP)

OTP was a feature introduced in Madden NFL 11 and it was something that I quickly became attached to. It provided an experience that hadn’t been explored online with a football game before. The first implementation of OTP did come with its shortcomings. Random games were difficult to find and not having any record or stats proved difficult to keep the desire to play long term. Online Communities is the next step in delivering a more fulfilling OTP experience.

With the addition on Online Communities, there is now a leaderboard that shows your overall record playing OTP as well as stats for each squad that you play as. So for example, it now shows you that you are 10-0 as a QB with 275 passing yards a game, 3.4 TD’s per game, etc. The one thing to keep in mind is that when you select the ‘Any’ squad, stats will NOT be tracked but the win/loss will still count.

The next thing to understand with OTP in Online Communities is that you are playing the games against OTHER communities, not games against people in YOUR own community. So where as head to head leaderboards are made up of people that are only in your community, the OTP leaderboards will show names of other Online Communities and will rank you all accordingly. This is pretty big if you are a fan of OTP. Now you actually have a leaderboard to point to and claim supremacy!

There are a few more points with OTP that are worth noting. First off, squad boost have been removed from the mode. Also, I’m happy to report that defensive cameras in OTP have returned to normal. No more of the behind the back angle when playing defense. Next, you can play an OTP game by yourself in an Online Community and your community can have multiple sessions playing at once. So for example, I can go in and play a game by myself and while I’m still in that game, another member from my community can start one up as well. When I sat down and talked with Associate Designer Anthony DiMento about this, I asked “So theoretically my community could go 2000-0 in just one hour?” “Absolutely” Anthony responded.

The last point I want to make clear with OTP is that when you go into an Online Community and search for a (OTP) game, you will only be searching for ranked games with the rules and limitations set forth by EA SPORTS. One of the big problems last year was that it was too hard to get into a random game. This was because you had too much criteria to filter through. The design team took note of this and that’s why they went this route, so games would be considerably easier to find.

Well that’s a brief synopsis of Online Communities. Keep in mind that both head to head and OTP games are accessed from the same community. The difference is when you go to head to head, you represent yourself. When you play OTP, you represent the entire community. One last important nugget that I didn’t touch on, you can join up to 5 different Online Communities. Not too bad. Well, I’m sure there will be plenty of questions and comments about this new feature. If you have any, feel free to send me a message to I’ll answer everything that I can and get with the design team to help answer the rest. Madden NFL 12 drops August 30th. See you online!

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