NFL Head Coach 09 Q&A

Posted August 6th, 2008 at 11:05 am

Thanks to suggestions from the community I was able to compile a list of questions for NFL Head Coach 09 producer Josh Looman. While a lot has already been answered over the last few months these were questions that seemed valuable given the imminent release alongside Madden 09 in the Collector’s Edition. I also sought to get a look at the online play aspect of the game and screenshots from that may come later today.

Will there be a demo for the game?

Yes. In fact, it will be completely different than any sports game demo you’ve ever seen before. We’re not just giving you the opportunity to play a Coach Now game. We’re giving you a whole lot more!

Is there a base set of ratings and then depending on the system the player’s ratings will fluctuate from that? Or how exactly are they determined and viewed?

Yes, we have a consistent set of ratings that are then weighted differently based on the system you are in. If you like cover 2 corners for instance, your team will weight the zone coverage rating higher than the man coverage rating. You’ll also weight intangibles over physical skills.

When is the first roster update expected and how often should they be expected throughout the year?

I hope to have one ready on August 12th. The next one will be when we release the standalone version and then we’ll try to have updates out every two weeks after that.

People are excited about the play creator and the ability to import those in Madden. In the future would there be attempts to integrate them even more? In what ways could that be done?

Sure. We haven’t really discussed any ideas yet, but there are plenty of ways we can integrate the two.

It has been stated that college coaches will come in and bring their playbooks with them. Can you give some examples of having seen how that translates? Have there been college coaches bringing the option to the league for example?

Yes. Some of the college coaches will bring uinque styles into the game. Those styles include the Run and Shoot, the Texas Tech offense, the Wishbone, the Wing T and the Option.

Will busts and sleepers be found throughout the draft and if so how are they determined?

Yes. The Draft is made up of plenty of busts and sleepers. They are determined by two things: A potential rating and our new Playbook Learning rating. If a player has lots of potential and he learns quickly, he will be a star in no time. If he has no potential, he’ll never get any better later in his career. Since we hand-created all 21,000 rookies, we spent a lot of time setting up the Draft classes so that they were all a challenge to figure out.

Can you talk more about the wear and tear injury system?

Sure. Each player has been given health at 6 different body parts; left leg, right leg, left arm, right arm, torso and head. We track each time a player is hit during the games and subtract some health based on a number of different factors including the player’s current health, injury rating, severity of impact and their toughness rating. The lower a player’s health gets at each body part, the greater the chance that the next big hit could cause an injury, specific to that body part. So if Kurt Warner takes a huge hit to the head with his already low health there, he stands a really good chance of suffering a severe concussion. How quickly the player heals and is able to return to the lineup is based on their age and toughness rating. Keep an eye on your players as the season goes on…they can and will wear down.

Can you go into what is available for create-a-coach? (see screenshots here)

Sure. You start out choosing the model you want to use, edit the name and then you pick a personality type. Then you can choose skills in an RPG type of skill tree system. After that, you choose your playbooks (offense and defense) and then start your career.

Are alternate uniforms included?

Yes they are. And you can choose the uniform you want to wear before each game.

How does the franchise experience differ from Madden?

There’s no way I can tackle that question in a paragraph or two. Just know that we completely started from scratch when building and designing this game. Everything is new and it’s meant to be a completely different game than Madden.

Is the A.I. for drafts and trades, etc., different than what’s used in Madden?

Yes. We completely started over when re-writing all of our logic.

What has the reaction been to the supersim style of online play? Is it more enjoyable because of the quicker pace? Does it seem as though less strategy is involved with this method?

I think it’s been received well so far. We chose to go the Supersim route because of the time factor. We wanted a quick, 15-20 minute experience that allowed you to take your personal playbook online and match wits against someone else.

Are there any plans for downloadable content? If so what types of content may be offered?

We currently are only providing roster updates as downloadable content. Our GamerNet service allows the community to upload and share plays so I consider that the coolest DLC of all! Not to mention that CPU teams will download plays from the GamerNet service and use them against you in your career.

Was there any thought given (or for future iterations) to having post-game press conferences?

Definitely. We’d have to design it correctly so that it was really fun, but that would be a great feature.

After the high level of interest that has been shown for NCAA Football 09’s online dynasty, would an online franchise be viable in a future Head Coach? Realizing that much of what is done is within a “live” environment it seems as though that would be more difficult to realize.

Sure. I actually think it would be easier to design than many people think. When we re-wrote the engine for Head Coach, we structured it in such a way that it would be a much more interactive experience, which lends itself to an online career mode. We’d have to solve the passage of time, but it could be done.

What is the integration with EA Sports World?

We’re talking about trying to send a lot of key stats from the game to Sports World but I’m not sure if that is going to happen or not. Stay tuned.

It has been said that the success of 09 could go a long ways in determining the future of the franchise.Given that it is bundled with Madden, how is this going to be judged? Will sales of the Anniversary edition essentially be considered Head Coach sales, or will it be based more on community and critical reaction?

I have no idea how that is going to be judged. As with any product, it will probably come down to sales, reviews and how well you guys like the game. If this game is well received and people want another version, I’d love to see another one made.

On a personal level what is your favorite thing about the game?

There’s so much really. If I had to pick one thing, it would be the sense of immersion in the world we created for you. We wanted you to really feel like you were in a living world as an NFL head coach. We created a fake college season, we have off the field injuries and news and the fact that every NFL team actually plays like they do in real life means that every day you’ll see something new. People that are in their 3rd or 4th season are telling us they saw something new every day. I hope that really resonates with the fans and they get lost in this game.