There's plenty of information already out there in terms of what Dynamic Player Performance is and how it will work. The point of this feature is to detail Dynamic Player Performance in small chunks while also combining it with how players will change during the season. In other words, think of this article as a CliffsNotes for Madden NFL 12 Dynamic Player Performance.
First off, let's once again make it clear how things work from week to week, game to game, or year to year. There are certain elements that don't change within a game, but rather after or before a game. These are also the overarching elements that impact every single player on the field no matter what.
This trait is impacted after each game, and it will define what direction a player's ratings will be going in after a game. Confidence is basically all about what a player's expectations are going into each game.
Essentially, think of a player's expectations in terms of fantasy stats or being entirely results-based. In addition, Larry Fitzgerald expects more out of himself than Jabar Gaffney. To put it another way, Fitzgerald has a much higher overall rating, so he's going to think something like 150 yards and a touchdown is what he should put up during a given week. On the other side of the spectrum, Gaffney may just expect 75 yards out of himself during a game.
Of course, how this impacts players changes based on the game mode:
- Franchise Mode: Larry Fitzgerald might have a down week. Therefore, his confidence might dip going into the next week.
- Online Play: Donny "Ratings Czar" Moore will still have those weekly online updates based on the real-life NFL results (assuming a season happens). However, this year Donny does not have to necessarily change ratings, he just tweaks the traits and that will impact the ratings. So if he lowers Fitzgerald's confidence level after a bad Week 1 performance in real life, then it translates to rating changes in the game.
This trait defines how much a player's ratings are impacted by the confidence level. You have heard about consistency levels of players previously, so this is more just to reiterate that Jay Cutler -- yes, I realize this player has been picked on when it comes to this discussion -- is different from Tom Brady.
So when Cutler has a bad week and does not meet his expectations, his confidence level dips, and therefore his ratings going into the next game are down by 5-10 points because his consistency level is erratic. At the same time, Brady may have a bad game but because his consistency level is not as erratic, his confidence level may still be down, but it will only push his ratings down a point or two. Again, this is why the developers have said you will want to build your team around more consistent players.
There's one more element that is important to reiterate here as well in terms of how consistency impacts every game mode. Even if a player's confidence level is neutral (see: not on a hot or cold streak) going into a game, a player like Cutler can still have different ratings before every game in any mode because of his inconsistency. It obviously will not be as drastic a change, but the ratings will at least be slightly different.
All right, so this element has not been mentioned as much, but again, this is something that you either have or you don't. According to EA, less than 30 players will have this "clutch" trait on the rosters that ship with the game.
Now, while this element is clearly different than consistency and confidence, I'm placing it in this section because it's not something you just unlock during a game. Again, you either have it or you don't going into a game.
During big moments in a game, the clutch rating will boost specific ratings of players. These boosted ratings vary depending on the position of the player with a "clutch" rating. So a wide receiver might get boosted catching ability while a QB gets improved accuracy.
A QB is also unique because his clutch rating can affect other players on the team. More specifically, the QB can improve the play of the offensive linemen. The philosophy behind this is that the O-line believes in the QB's ability to make that game-winning drive, so those guys go extra hard for him to give their QB extra time. The QB can ONLY boost the O-line's ratings, and no other position besides QB has this ability. (Originally, the developers had it so the QB affected everyone on offense, and defenders could do something similar, but they changed it to just the O-line.)
The nice thing about clutch is that it is still a trait that can be flipped "on" at any point in a player's career. So if a player in real life makes some big plays on a game-winning drive, Donny can flip that switch and make someone clutch on the next roster update. Within Franchise mode, your QB can make some game-winning drives, and after the season ends your player might get a clutch trait.
All right, so hopefully I have made it clear how the overarching elements at work here affect things before and after a game. Now it's time to talk more about what's at work here during a game. Once again, remember that there's a church and state separation when it comes to things in the "in-game dynamics" category and "overarching elements" category.
I will talk about these in-game traits/tendencies that can change during a game by breaking them down by position. These traits will change based on what's happening (positive or negative) during each game.
Also, it's important to remember some of these traits really just affect AI players. You control the fate of the player you control, so you overrule certain traits like "big hitter" while using a defender.
This position has the most varied traits and tendencies. Below are the traits and levels that each trait can go through. I will also include an example of each.
Tucks and Runs
Rarely (won't scramble for yards even when under pressure) - Peyton Manning, Tom Brady
Sometimes (will scramble at times when under pressure and there's an opening) - Aaron Rodgers, Big Ben
Often (likely to take off if there's an opening and he's under pressure) - Michael Vick, Vince Young
Paranoid (will get rid of ball even when not under pressure, simply scared of taking sacks) - rookie Mark Sanchez
Trigger Happy (still a bit scared, but pressure will need to be closer before releasing the ball) - Jimmy Clausen
Ideal (this porridge is just right) - Tom Brady, Peyton Manning
Average (holds on to the ball and doesn't immediately recognize pressure) - Jay Cutler
Oblivious (holds on to the ball until last second and takes more sacks than other guys because he refuses to let go of the ball) - Big Ben
Conservative (QBs won't try passes to partially covered receivers. These guys would rather check down or throw short passes, and they will even check down when just sensing first signs of pressure.) - Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Matt Cassel
Ideal (These guys know when to go down the field or just check down. This is the default passing behavior.) - Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady
Aggressive (These guys will try to force the ball into full-on coverage at times.) - Jay Cutler
Throws Ball Away
Yes/No - This is a simple flip of the switch. Some guys throw the ball away (Brady, Manning) and others avoid it (Rodgers, Cutler, Big Ben).
Throws Tight Spiral
Yes/No - Another flip of the switch. Non-QBs are set to "no" and so are average quarterbacks. Elite quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers are set to "yes" for this trait.
Fights for Extra Yards
Yes/No - Most running backs will fall into this category while most receivers and quarterbacks will not.
Covers the Ball
Yes/No - Again, this one is a self-explanatory flip of the switch.
Makes Sideline Catches
Yes/No - Increases the chances of sideline drops occurring. Most receivers/tight ends would fall into the "yes" category while running backs would fall into the "no" category.
Drops Open Passes
Yes/No - Increases chances that a receiver might drop a pass when a defender is not within two yards of the player.
Yes/No - So I'm putting high motor under O-line because offensive linemen don't have any unique traits, but high motor is a trait every single player has in the game. Think of it as the "clutch" trait of the "in-game dynamics" because it's sort of the exception to the rule that fits in either space.
It impacts every position in a different way. One example to use deals more with defensive linemen. Defensive linemen with no motor will stay on the ground after getting knocked down (see: Albert Haynesworth) but defensive linemen with a motor will get back up and keep trying to pursue the QB.
Utilizes Swim Move
Yes/No - Self-explanatory
Utilizes Bull Rush
Yes/No - Self-explanatory
Utilizes Spin Move
Yes/No - Self-explanatory
(Note: These traits also apply to linebackers below)
Yes/No - Increases chances player will attempt a Hit Stick.
(Note: This trait applies to all defensive players)
Plays Ball in the Air
Conservative - The defender will try to get in position to make a hit immediately after the catch, which will potentially knock the ball away or at least limit YAC.
Balanced - A player will track towards where the ball is heading and decide what to do once there.
Aggressive - These guys are "ball hawks" and will try for picks and swats.
(Note: This trait also applies to linebackers.)
There is actually nothing specific here for kickers or punters, just know that a couple kickers fall into the clutch category.
The last thing I want to talk about is how gamers will notice all these changes during a game. There are a couple ways gamers will pick up on what's going on during a game. The developers don't want to take you out of the TV-style experience by flashing "weapons" icons all over the screen like in the past, so instead there are three different ways that you can see what's going on with your player during a game.
Commentary - Gus and Cris will drop lines of commentary here and there talking about a player's performance that have undertones that more or less talk about certain traits. So if a QB is getting sacked a lot, Gus might talk about how the QB might start to get a quick trigger.
Stat Overlays - Another way to show off certain traits is to drop certain stat overlays into the game. So if a running back fumbles the ball early in the game, later in the game there might be an overlay that points out how many rushing yards a player has since the fumble.
Pause Menu - This is the most obtrusive way to do things, but you can pause the game. As soon as the game is paused, you can see on the right side of the screen all of the players that have active in-game changes to their traits. You can flip through each one of these players.