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Madden NFL 16: A Noob's Perspective

I have a confession: I’m not a Madden "noob" in the purest sense of the term. Actually, I’ve been dipping in and out of this series since '99, but I never really took the time to learn the game -- or even the sport -- aside from its fundamentals.

I’m a UK citizen, so I naturally gravitated towards sports such as soccer throughout my childhood. In recent years, I’ve had a renewed interest in American football, a sport that continues to rise in popularity throughout this part of the world.

With the advent of new subscription-based services such as EA Access, I'm now able to get my hands on the latest incarnation of EA’s long-running series without dropping full price on it. So, as someone who is far from a skilled Madden player, here’s my perspective on a game I know very little about.

Stunning Visuals

Madden 16’s graphics are some of the best in the business. Arenas are unique, crowds look great and players are incredibly detailed. Some awkward animations I noticed in previous years appear to have been nixed, especially in terms of tackling. The menu screen also features some awesome slow-motion celebrations that are almost indistinguishable from the real thing.

While Madden 15 looked impressive, and Madden 25 less-so, this year’s game has taken things to the next level, elevating it above FIFA and possibly even NHL in the graphics department. That said, I have noticed touchdown animations still look awkward, as players appear to stop in their tracks and subsequently take a second or two to merge into a celebration.
 


Coach Suggestions Are My Savior

I don’t know how often Madden veterans rely on this, but there’s no better tool for a budding newbie than the Coach Suggestions feature. The UI is well-designed, offering a selection of plays that are easy to comprehend. Sure, there’s occasionally some questionable offerings, but most of the time I can find what I want.

It seems like this feature has become more streamlined in recent years. EA is well aware of the impact football has begun to have across the world, and I’m sure Coach Suggestions have converted a number of sports fans to the series with its pain-free learning experience.

I Have No Idea What I’m Doing On Defense

Despite my coach’s best intentions, I just don’t understand defense. And now, there’s a bunch of other stuff to think about. The new defensive camera appears even more confusing than the original one. I’m also too busy concentrating on the field to participate in the button-prompts feature that allows me to put pressure on the quarterback. It’s all just a bit too much to focus on.

All-in-all, this is the one area where I don’t feel like I have any control as an unprepared noob. I’m blindingly picking whatever the coach thinks is the best option, and it’s often picked apart as I flail around on defense desperately trying to intercept a pass.

All is not lost, however, as the Skills Trainer appears to have everything I could want. There are not many (if any) sports games on the market that boast such an exhaustive set of tutorials. Veterans may overlook it, but this feature is very much appreciated for a novice like me.




Connected Franchise Is Awesome...In An Overwhelming Sort Of Way

While I’m sure some Madden purists would argue that the emergence of Ultimate Team drew the series' focus away from Franchise mode, I have never played such a seemingly comprehensive EA season simulation as the one that’s incorporated in Madden 16.

The ability to play in a variety of roles, both offline and online, is something FIFA has yet to attempt, and NHL tried unsuccessfully a few years back. Playing online with friends is great, and I wish EA would incorporate this mode into more of their sports games.

Most of the season settings make no sense to me, so I assign most tasks to the CPU. It’s nice to be able to focus on my game while I’m learning, rather than the backroom stuff. I also like that I still feel in control, even when I don't really know what I'm doing.

Accessibility Is The Key

I’ve only had access to Madden 16 for a short period, but I’m having more fun than ever with the series. Basic flaws in gameplay appear to have been rectified, the graphics are stunning, there’s a vast number of comprehensive game modes, and most importantly, it’s much more beginner-friendly than I remember.

I almost feel like I have advocated for this game too much, but that’s the nature of a noob. I don’t actually know if there’s inaccuracies in the gameplay, such as if my players are holding their positions correctly or if pass conversion rates are too high. I can’t compare it to the “good ol' days” as I never really played during that era, and I would not be qualified to judge in any case.

Veterans of the Madden series will be quick to point out the numerous issues that need fixing, just like I would with my favorite series, but as a casual pick-up-and-play fan, Madden 16 will do me just fine.


Madden NFL 16 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 My993C2 @ 02/26/16 10:01 AM
<< I Have No Idea What I’m Doing On Defense >> - from the article.

The Madden football series has come a long way over the years and Madden 16 is the best it's ever been and I think Madden 16 made some really good steps from Madden 15. But we are not there yet. And one of the problems with the Madden series are the defenses. Yes to those new to the game of football, defense can be confusing. There is a lot of concepts to learn. But it does not help when the game does not play defense like it should. It would be nice for the game makers to spend a little less time on the offenses and some more time to improve the defending aspects of this game. I think we are still a good 10+ years away from the point where it will be difficult to tell the difference between the game and the real world. But at some point in the future, it will be hard to tell the difference between a real world game on TV and the virtual game. Of course I have been saying that for the last 10 years. haha. In the meantime, I will enjoy Madden 16, warts and all.

PS: I do wonder with all the concerns these days about concussions and other injuries in the game, how will real football evolve or is it doomed? Would people accept watching the virtual games instead of the real games if concussions can not be controlled? I played lots of contact sports in my youth. I played 6 years of football, rugby (I remember going head on head in a rugby game one year on the goal line to prevent the opposition from scoring. Ouch. We must have been two footballers playing rugby LOL). I played 30+ years of hockey (I suffered more hockey injuries than any other sport) and yes I have suffered concussions and my memory is not as good as it used to be. Back in my day when your bell was wrung in game or in practice, you just sat out of few plays and then got back into the game. Now what was I talking about? Hmmm ... dang my memory ... Oh yeah I remember. LOL
 
# 2 whitey7886 @ 02/26/16 10:30 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by My993C2
<< I Have No Idea What Iím Doing On Defense >> - from the article.

The Madden football series has come a long way over the years and Madden 16 is the best it's ever been and I think Madden 16 made some really good steps from Madden 15. But we are not there yet. And one of the problems with the Madden series are the defenses. Yes to those new to the game of football, defense can be confusing. There is a lot of concepts to learn. But it does not help when the game does not play defense like it should. It would be nice for the game makers to spend a little less time on the offenses and some more time to improve the defending aspects of this game. I think we are still a good 10+ years away from the point where it will be difficult to tell the difference between the game and the real world. But at some point in the future, it will be hard to tell the difference between a real world game on TV and the virtual game. Of course I have been saying that for the last 10 years. haha. In the meantime, I will enjoy Madden 16, warts and all.

PS: I do wonder with all the concerns these days about concussions and other injuries in the game, how will real football evolve or is it doomed? Would people accept watching the virtual games instead of the real games if concussions can not be controlled? I played lots of contact sports in my youth. I played 6 years of football, rugby (I remember going head on head in a rugby game one year on the goal line to prevent the opposition from scoring. Ouch. We must have been two footballers playing rugby LOL). I played 30+ years of hockey (I suffered more hockey injuries than any other sport) and yes I have suffered concussions and my memory is not as good as it used to be. Back in my day when your bell was wrung in game or in practice, you just sat out of few plays and then got back into the game. Now what was I talking about? Hmmm ... dang my memory ... Oh yeah I remember. LOL


Football is not doomed because of concussions. It will take a hit and dip but will rebound to stay at the top in the US and grow worldwide. Other sports just like you said also have injury problems. Because the NFL is so rich it is a target for people sueing over concussiions. Soccor and hockey will eventually fell this same thing. Kids still love football and will continue to play. With kids in small poor areas see sports as a way out, there will always be kids playing.
 
# 3 CM Hooe @ 02/26/16 11:38 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by AaronS444
30 years of console football, and in the last 10, there hasn't been significant progress. Despite an ENORMOUS leap in technology over the same span.
What counts as significant progress?

In the last five years Madden NFL has added real-time physics to collisions, refactored components of the game such as blocking, passing accuracy, and pass coverage countless times to make the behavior more authentic, produced and built upon the only full-featured online franchise mode in modern sports video games, built a whole new way to play the game in Ultimate Team which has introduced the game to a whole new audience, and is the only sports video game to-date with a comprehensive teaching tool to not only familiarize new players with the tools needed to succeed in playing the game but also the strategies and concepts real football teams use to win on Sundays.

In fact, a bunch of these things are called out in this article as things which the self-proclaimed "noob" user enjoyed and/or found useful. Heck, I personally think Skills Trainer is one of the best things - if not the very best thing - that's ever been added into any sports game.
 
# 4 KickassJohnson @ 02/26/16 12:26 PM
The coach suggestions and defense sections say a lot to me.. First, I would wager that a lot of posters on here aren't noobs when it comes to this game. Coach suggestions are nice for people who are, for casual players, etc but for the advanced users that have been playing for years, we are stuck with the same old while the new players are being taken care of.

I want a game that is oriented towards advanced users.

For example and also regarding defense, I want to put my shutdown CB on the opposing team's best WR for the entire game, and I can't do that in Madden without making serious, time-consuming adjustments. If I play the Saints and they put Brandin Cooks in the slot position, this gives them a #1 vs #3 advantage because my best CBs are on the outside and my 3rd best is on Cooks. This is stupidly basic strategy in real life but it doesn't exist in Madden.
 
# 5 Fraser G. @ 02/26/16 12:58 PM
Hi folks, author of the article here.

Some really interesting responses so far. I hope you enjoyed the "noob" perspective!
 
# 6 DeuceDouglas @ 02/26/16 01:54 PM
Quote:
Connected Franchise Is Awesome...In An Overwhelming Sort Of Way
This is what's scary to me.

I don't see them spending time implementing some sort of season mode to make things any less overwhelming. Instead I think they'll continue to try and simplify things, similar to scouting last year, to make things less underwhelming to the "noob-ish", pick-up and play audience. I'm not saying they should try and alienate new players and keep them away from the mode but I've always been a believer that franchise isn't and won't ever be a mode for casuals.

And that's nothing against noobs or casuals because it should be that way IMO. It should be incredibly overwhelming coming from MUT or DC or being a new fan and having to deal with the intricacies of managing an NFL teams roster, coaching staff, finances, etc. But instead of making it that way, it seems like they want to make things overly simple so more new people will play CFM instead of making it a deep mode with the options for newer players to make it as easy or hard as they wanted.
 
# 7 roadman @ 02/26/16 09:41 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by AaronS444
Features from 10 years ago aren't in the game.

That's their motto isn't it? If it's in the game, it's "in the game"..

Franchise mode has been broken to some extent since 2006.

Madden is great if you want to play online. It's absolutely great. I get why that crowd loves it and is behind EA. Meanwhile, they've basically waved the finger at a generation of dedicated fans who grew up with the game and want a different experience.

And this is a dead issue if not for the exclusive license.

I GUARANTEE 2k or the MS Studios would have hit EA where it hurts if they had the opportunity.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Well, actually, I disagree with you again, strongly, about Madden being great to play online. It's is also great to play an online/offline CFM, game play wise. To each their own on that note.( ALL of us know that franchise mode needs to be enhanced)

If I can make a suggestion, it's been well noted that the team wants to enhance franchise mode and commentary for 17. Why don't you wait like the rest of us and see what the team delivers. A decade vs 4 months, I think WE can all wait that long, don't you agree?

Also, be careful of the way you have been portraying the exclusive license around here. Around here, if you keep bringing it up in multiple threads(as you have) it's considered beating a dead horse and agenda posting.

Duece- I don't agree with what you are saying because Rex said CFM was something they needed to improve greatly for Madden 17. There have been numerous surveys out there from various websites sent to EA on what needs to be improved.

I don't necessarily think that means they will take the simple route.
 
# 8 DeuceDouglas @ 02/26/16 11:16 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by roadman
Duece- I don't agree with what you are saying because Rex said CFM was something they needed to improve greatly for Madden 17. There have been numerous surveys out there from various websites sent to EA on what needs to be improved.

I don't necessarily think that means they will take the simple route.
It certainly doesn't mean they'll take the simple route and I really hope they choose not to. I'm just going off what we got last year and recently in regards to CFM and the vibes I've gotten from interviews and such. The same things that need to be improved this year are the same things that needed to be improved last year, and the year before that for the most part.

I have no doubt they'll try to improve CFM again but it's what they choose to improve and how they choose to implement it that has me worried the most. This last year was a huge disappointment IMO especially considering how good the gameplay turned out being. The two big things for CFM were something that I think could be easily argued didn't even need to be touched in scouting and then Drive Goals which came with it's own set of issues. Nobody wants to see CFM become an outstanding experience more than I do but my expectations are at an all-time low but hopefully come June I'll be pleasantly surprised with what they've done and will happily eat crow.
 
# 9 tshokunbi @ 02/27/16 06:28 AM
Nice article. Its cool to see the perspective of someone who hasn't been playing for 10+ years.
 
# 10 roadman @ 02/27/16 07:38 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeuceDouglas
It certainly doesn't mean they'll take the simple route and I really hope they choose not to. I'm just going off what we got last year and recently in regards to CFM and the vibes I've gotten from interviews and such. The same things that need to be improved this year are the same things that needed to be improved last year, and the year before that for the most part.

I have no doubt they'll try to improve CFM again but it's what they choose to improve and how they choose to implement it that has me worried the most. This last year was a huge disappointment IMO especially considering how good the gameplay turned out being. The two big things for CFM were something that I think could be easily argued didn't even need to be touched in scouting and then Drive Goals which came with it's own set of issues. Nobody wants to see CFM become an outstanding experience more than I do but my expectations are at an all-time low but hopefully come June I'll be pleasantly surprised with what they've done and will happily eat crow.
It's all good, we just have different expectations. Judging from the past, CFM hasn't been touched much at all.

If Rex states that CFM and commentary need the most improvement for 17, then I'm expecting much improvement from CFM.

The difference being a developer has said CFM needs improvement this time around.
 
# 11 jfsolo @ 02/27/16 08:59 AM
This article is great, because because IMO, the OP is the exactly Madden player that EA frets about when it comes to implementing more advanced concepts to defense, and more Head Coach like aspects to CFM.

I'm probably between DD's and roadman's perspective on CFM, though leaning towards DD's perspective. I do think that they will make a fair amount of improvements to the mode as has been touted by Rex. Will they abandon their attempts(misguided, IMO) to draw casuals into long term use of the mode though, I doubt it. This mentality will always be an albatross around the neck of the mode. It's been mentioned, but drive goals are exhibit A If they aren't gone, or at least made completely optional, then anything else they add will still be weighted down by their continued utilization.

I know that Rex and Kolbe have strong ideas, but they still have to answer to bosses, who have their own ideas that most likely are incompatible with much of what we here want.
 
# 12 roadman @ 02/27/16 09:15 AM
I agree with your assement jfsolo.

I did listen to a bit of the Mutcast this week and one of the things Rex mentioned was that ever since Andrew Wilson came on board as President, he has told EA employees #1, it's all about the players/customers for their games.

So, we shall see what develops for 17.

I just wish they would implement a casual and sim option.
 
# 13 CMadatMe @ 02/27/16 10:07 AM
The problem with Madden isn't the dev's or any other issue besides that they use a bunch of low end technology mashed together to create the game. This engine has lived its lifespan. Until a new engine which more then likely will come out with Madden 18 (#Frostbite which is already old but better then what they have now) drops the dev's hands will continue to be tied. You can only squeeze so much juice out of a lemon.
 
# 14 kjcheezhead @ 02/27/16 12:59 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by CM Hooe
What counts as significant progress?

In the last five years Madden NFL has added real-time physics to collisions, refactored components of the game such as blocking, passing accuracy, and pass coverage countless times to make the behavior more authentic, produced and built upon the only full-featured online franchise mode in modern sports video games, built a whole new way to play the game in Ultimate Team which has introduced the game to a whole new audience, and is the only sports video game to-date with a comprehensive teaching tool to not only familiarize new players with the tools needed to succeed in playing the game but also the strategies and concepts real football teams use to win on Sundays.

In fact, a bunch of these things are called out in this article as things which the self-proclaimed "noob" user enjoyed and/or found useful. Heck, I personally think Skills Trainer is one of the best things - if not the very best thing - that's ever been added into any sports game.
You could say they refactored blocking, pass accuracy and pass coverage. But that's it. They refactored it. As in changed it slightly. Everything is tethered still. It's a tweaking of logic they've used for years. Real time physics was added to existing animations. It's welcome, but not significant progress in that many other games have better physics engines.

Ps2 madden had an EA locker that put the entire franchise mode online back then.

The comprehensive teaching tool was in ps2 as well. They did add some concepts to today's game, but the old mini games allowed you to practice everything from pocket awareness to playing coverage on defense.

Ultimate team is a revenue producing version of ps2 features as well. On the ps2 you could start a franchise with fantasy drafts. As you played different modes you collected coins to purchase cards to collect. You could argue that in some ways the ps2 version was better since people couldn't buy their ways to great teams.

What you call significant progress, I would call just making the game a modernized ps2 Madden.
 
# 15 CM Hooe @ 02/27/16 03:19 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by kjcheezhead
What you call significant progress, I would call just making the game a modernized ps2 Madden.
Your opinion simply doesn't hold up whatsoever upon scrutiny of the two versions of the game.

Quote:
You could say they refactored blocking, pass accuracy and pass coverage. But that's it. They refactored it. As in changed it slightly. Everything is tethered still. It's a tweaking of logic they've used for years. Real time physics was added to existing animations. It's welcome, but not significant progress in that many other games have better physics engines.
First - that's not what refactor means.

Second - "refactor" was admittedly poor word choice on my part, I should have said "rewrote" because that's Tiburon actually did.

Third - I challenge you go put PS2 Madden NFL 08 (the last version of that game as far as I know) and PS4 Madden NFL 16 side-by-side and continue to reasonably proclaim that the difference in how things play out in the core gameplay is not dramatic.

Quote:
Ps2 madden had an EA locker that put the entire franchise mode online back then.
What you describe is specifically not online franchise. Online franchises specifically allow for concurrent user actions and games. Sharing a single franchise file over FTP isn't concurrent whatsoever.

I can't play my friend in California in the Super Bowl in a franchise file shared in this manner. Sharing a single franchise file also doesn't allow me to do a live draft with said friend who lives in California.

Quote:
The comprehensive teaching tool was in ps2 as well. They did add some concepts to today's game, but the old mini games allowed you to practice everything from pocket awareness to playing coverage on defense.
Present? Yes. Comprehensive? No.

The Mini-Camp mode that exists on the PS2 games - which included tossing tennis balls at quarterbacks and moving dummy blockers to provide a simple pantomime of run plays - doesn't hold a candle to Skills Trainer, which actually teaches real football. Mini-Camp can't begin to make that claim; it only teaches how to use the basic controls of the game - how to intercept passes, how to break tackles, how to throw different types of passes. It specifically does not teach how a Cover 2 defense works, how to identify it, and how to attack.

Put simply: Mini-Camp was designed to teach people the game mechanics of Madden, the video game. Skills Trainer was designed to teach people the strategy of American football. The difference in design goals and implementation is immediately apparent in how the two modes play out. Skills Trainer was specifically built to allow those who didn't know how to play football to have some mechanism to learn and have success in response to Madden NFL's emerging market overseas. Mini-Camp can't begin to make the claim of teaching people football strategy because it wasn't built to do that on any level.

Quote:
Ultimate team is a revenue producing version of ps2 features as well. On the ps2 you could start a franchise with fantasy drafts. As you played different modes you collected coins to purchase cards to collect. You could argue that in some ways the ps2 version was better since people couldn't buy their ways to great teams.
One - you can still start franchises with fantasy drafts. That was one of the very first additions to the new Connected Franchise, having been added into Madden NFL 13 with a title update upon popular demand.

Two - the Madden cards from those old games don't have any remotely similar function as cards do in Ultimate Team. The cards in the old games were cheats and temporary ratings boosts. No such thing exists in Ultimate Team, and in fact the cards you have affects the team you can put on the field. Ultimate Team also have components such as solo challenges, collections, and special edition cards which aren't represented at all in the old card system.



If we're going to criticize Madden, its accessibility, and its progress - and there are plenty of places to criticize it - let's at least have a based-in-reality description of what the thing is.
 
# 16 kehlis @ 02/27/16 03:53 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by AaronS444
But it sells beacuse it's the only show in town.
Stop bringing this up in every thread/post.

It's been discussed ad nauseum and only deters from the actual conversation being had.

Thanks.
 
# 17 CM Hooe @ 02/27/16 04:09 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by AaronS444
Madden 08 PC is the best version of this game, thanks to the modding community.
Subjective, but I'm glad you found something you enjoy. Personally, as much as I love modding games, I can't bear to play Madden 08 anymore.

Quote:
What is lost on you, and EA, there is an entire generation that has grown up playing console football. NES, SNES, Sega, PS2.. Massive pixels to full HD.
I mean, I'm not a Tecmo Bowl baby, but the first football game I played was NFL Quarterback Club on the Sega Genesis. To that I'm part of this very generation you speak of. I'm also plenty capable of looking beyond shiny graphics to make a personal value judgment about a game.

Quote:
But everything else doesn't hold up against past versions. 2005 has better features than current versions. An 11 year old product.
Also subjective, but personally I don't see much of a contest between the modes in Madden 05 and Madden 16, especially with respect to making the game more accessible to new players and growing the Madden and football community. This problem is widespread across all simulation sports games, but as far as I know only Madden has actively engaged the issue.
 
# 18 Toupal @ 02/27/16 04:17 PM
I know where AaronS is coming from. I totally understand that EA wants to cater to the Noobs, because that is what the NFL has been doing for years. EA wants to get new users because they know that the fans who have been there for awhile, will continue to be there. Especially since there is no other football game on the market.

Look at the NFL for example...
It can be argued, but their breast cancer awareness month is used to market to women. It allows them to sell pink versions of whatever team they want. They make more money, and it appeals to women.

Hispanic Heritage Month... Everyone knows that Hispanics lean hard towards to futbol. They are going to keep having games in Mexico City and trying to expand to that community for years to come, because we see how huge soccer/ futbol is to a lot of the Latin countries.

And there is a reason they keep on having games in London. Ever since the fall of the European Football League, the NFL has been trying to get Europe, and especially out English speaking counterparts, the U.K. On board with the sport.

EA is going to do much of the same with their game. As soon as you get a new customer, it is a lot easier to retain that consumer.

How many people come to these forums each year and bash EA, Madden, and this game every year, and yet they still come back and buy the game each year? A lot. Because we have no where else to take our business, but we love gaming, and the game of football that much to continue playing our only option.

Until EA has competition, I think we aren't going to see any major leaps made in this game. We are going to see things added like "one button mode" in an exhibition game over a much more in depth CFM.

I'm not knocking them for catering to new madden players, because I was once that 7 year old who learned football through playing Madden 64, and I'm sure there is some kid learning the game through Madden 16.

However, I would love to see Maddens long time users, and one of it oldest game modes, franchise/CFM get the attention they deserve. I mean if I can get a 5% discount for being a Verizon wireless customer for 15 years, I think madden can find a way to build on a little more for its long time gamers.
 
# 19 kehlis @ 02/27/16 04:22 PM
Let's get back to the topic of the story.
 
# 20 kjcheezhead @ 02/27/16 04:42 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by CM Hooe
Your opinion simply doesn't hold up whatsoever upon scrutiny of the two versions of the game.



First - that's not what refactor means.

Second - "refactor" was admittedly poor word choice on my part, I should have said "rewrote" because that's Tiburon actually did.

Third - I challenge you go put PS2 Madden NFL 08 (the last version of that game as far as I know) and PS4 Madden NFL 16 side-by-side and continue to reasonably proclaim that the difference in how things play out in the core gameplay is not dramatic.



What you describe is specifically not online franchise. Online franchises specifically allow for concurrent user actions and games. Sharing a single franchise file over FTP isn't concurrent whatsoever.

I can't play my friend in California in the Super Bowl in a franchise file shared in this manner. Sharing a single franchise file also doesn't allow me to do a live draft with said friend who lives in California.
Refactor was the right word imo. I know what it means. They changed or modified existing code and improved it. If they did rewrite it, it didn't change how those areas operate at their core.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NoG5hL8jU6o

That's ps2 Madden 12. Dramatic difference of the core gameplay? Hardly. Madden 16 has hd graphics, better animations and subtle changes like jostling but the core is the same. The defensive changes / audibles are the same options. Same x for x wr passing controls. The old game had swat ball vs int, the new game is play ball vs play wr. The new catch choices are really the only missing, but ps2 had qb cone and lead blocking so....

Also the EA locker did allow online games. You and your friend most certainly could play the super bowl as opponents. You and your opponent would link up in a match up, play the game and then the results would go back to the main file the commish took care of. The draft wasn't possible iirc, but the that was about the only franchise feature that wasn't possible.
 

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