• EA SPORTS: Running the Option in NCAA Football 14

    EA has published an article talking about the changes in NCAA Football 14 with regards to running the option. The article discusses their process of improving the option game, major improvements from last year, improved CPU decision-making, modeling the option game after real-life NCAA teams, & changes made to the defense.

    Continue after the break to read the full article.
    EA SPORTS recently sat down with three NCAA Football 14 developers to get their insights on the improved option game:

    Larry Richart began his career at Tiburon in 1999 following a college football career at the University of Florida, where he was a member of the 1996 National Champions. He's been a designer for Central Gameplay since 2004.

    Michael Scantlebury is an eight-year veteran in the gaming industry. He began his career as a part-time QA Tester, and now works as Designer I on Core Football Gameplay. He specializes in the balancing and tuning of both NCAA Football and Madden NFL.

    Clint Oldenburg is a former NFL offensive lineman that joined the team 18 months ago. A former fifth-round pick from Colorado State, Oldenburg played five years in the NFL before taking an internship with EA SPORTS. Heís been working on the American Football franchises ever since.



    On the process of improving the option game

    The first piece of the option game is making sure the pitch and read are assigned to the correct players. There was a good amount of film study. We watched a lot of Missouri, Oregon, Air Force, Georgia Tech and Auburn. Those reference points on the spread option and flexbone were big for us. For the different option types, we would then go and break down each read out of different formations.




    On the major improvements from last year

    One of the biggest improvements is that weíre displaying the correct read before the snap to show how itís done in real life. Before this year, players really had no idea. Knowing which guys will be left unblocked helped develop those plays. Last year, there were none of those blocking matchups. There would be plays where multiple defenders were left unblocked. The most improved option play is probably the zone-read triple option, which Oregon runs.

    Notice the all-new READ key and improved blocking in NCAA Football 14


    In NCAA Football 13, some users were afraid to even run the option because it was very difficult to identify our reads. Thatís been improved considerably this year. Each option type will have its own custom blocking schemes this year, so they will feel different. If itís an outside zone type of play, linemenís footwork will mimic that scheme. Double teams will also move laterally based on the play type, which helps out a lot on stretch plays.



    Open-field blocking and wide receiver blocking both got lots of refinement. If you make a cut and alter the direction youíre running, your blockers will update their blocking path to give you a chance to break into the second and third levels. Last year, blockers would often pick the wrong guy in the open field and turn around.

    Here is another example where you can see READ/PITCH keys and improved blocking.


    Hard cutting has made the cutback an option this year. In NCAA Football 13 and other years, nobody ever used the cutback. But now if youíre running an inside zone read, you can footplant, cut on a dime and hit a hole on the backside. Hard cutting has made a world of difference there.



    On the improved CPU decision-making

    Quarterback decision-making has improved tremendously in terms of their reads and when to give up the ball. We trained the CPU to pitch at better times and situations, so that their plays were more effective. We wanted to get CPU plays outside and around the corner more, so players will try and get up field quicker this year. Players will recognize where defenders are, and cut at more appropriate times. Itís pretty deadly now, and the computer is more confident in the way they call the read option.



    On modeling the option game after real-life NCAA teams

    For something like the spread option, we watched a lot of offensive plays from 2010, 2011, and 2012 later in the process. When we watched those plays, we tried to focus on the defensive reaction and how teams were able to successfully gain yards. Once we modeled our reach blocks on what we saw in the film, the whole run game opened up. The flow of the offensive and defensive lines is represented a lot better than in previous years.




    On changes made to the defense

    In previous years, the defensive player assigned to the pitch man would just run to the player that was diving in the option. But when we watched film, we noticed that the player would follow the pitch man more often. Without that improvement, it was tough to truly replicate the option game. The spread option is truly dynamic in real life and now, we think our game finally has that.


    ***

    Keep up on all the latest NCAA Football 14 news & media heading into the July 9 release date with our NCAA 14 News & Info Central page. We'll provide all the best & latest information regarding improvements to Gameplay & Infinity Engine 2, Dynasty Mode, Presentation, and new features such as NCAA Football Ultimate Team & Play a Season.


    NCAA Football 14 News & Information Central:
    http://tgt.pw/ncaa14info
    Comments 19 Comments
    1. oweb26's Avatar
      oweb26 -
      G was it ever proven or dis-proven that the read key would actually be off on the higher game modes(difficulty)? I know we saw on the demo it didn't matter but is it going to be like that on retail also?
    1. gschwendt's Avatar
      gschwendt -
      Quote Originally Posted by oweb26 View Post
      G was it ever proven or dis-proven that the read key would actually be off on the higher game modes(difficulty)? I know we saw on the demo it didn't matter but is it going to be like that on retail also?
      Probably have to wait and answer that on Friday... be sure to put it in the Q&A to make sure we don't overlook it.
      http://www.thegamingtailgate.com/for...Q-amp-A-Thread
    1. Canes Fan's Avatar
      Canes Fan -
      I'm pretty sure in the Ben Haumiller interview he said that the read key could not be turned off. I hope I'm wrong
    1. jello1717's Avatar
      jello1717 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Canes Fan View Post
      I'm pretty sure in the Ben Haumiller interview he said that the read key could not be turned off.
      This.
    1. oweb26's Avatar
      oweb26 -
      I know at one point the "gamechangers" said they were told by developers that it could so that is why I asked.

      Like G said Friday will answer all the questions so no biggie I have the season ticket thingy
    1. jaymo76's Avatar
      jaymo76 -
      I have to admit that I have been impressed by the option this year. I have NEVER been good at running the option/read option, etc. and having the tutorials plus the defense keys has been huge in helping me improve my skill set. Plus, with threshold at zero in the demo, some of the QB's have just torched me for huge gains.
    1. JeffHCross's Avatar
      JeffHCross -
      The rest of the article was nice, but some people avoided the option on 13? Seemed like everybody in Powerhouse ran it.
    1. Escobar's Avatar
      Escobar -
      Quote Originally Posted by JeffHCross View Post
      The rest of the article was nice, but some people avoided the option on 13? Seemed like everybody in Powerhouse ran it.
      And I've been running it for several years. Even back when it was coded horribly so I figured out a way to run it. I would read the playside DE and flow of the LB's and make my keep/give read off of that. Guess I ran it like the Inverted Veer is read this year.
    1. xGRIDIRONxGURUx's Avatar
      xGRIDIRONxGURUx -
      thats how the loaded gun stuff got started... i used to run it but there was no read, so when they put in load option where you read a 2nd level guy it kind of worked... kind of... so i made a system out of it... now it is becoming what it originally should have been... some of the best strategy stuff that i have enjoyed is makeshift systems... some creative guys have posted some funny yet applicable "duck tape" systems through the years
    1. Jayrah's Avatar
      Jayrah -
      I really don't think the pitch key being on/off is a big deal. You mostly aren't going to click into coach cam anyways and it doesn't show by default
    1. oweb26's Avatar
      oweb26 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jayrah View Post
      I really don't think the pitch key being on/off is a big deal. You mostly aren't going to click into coach cam anyways and it doesn't show by default
      I hope jaymo doesnt mind me using him as an example but this is why its a small deal, its pretty much a permanent "assist" which in theory makes good and bad option players the same. Was running the option hard nope but without that little read assist people stayed away from it, im soley looking at it from a competetion stand point if its handing them the "who to read" then its leveling the playing field.

      Teaching people i am fine with telling them on every play i find that is a very questionable decision. Its a permanent hint that you would only get in the first 5 min of any other game, but its by no means a deal breaker though just something im questioning.


      Quote Originally Posted by jaymo76 View Post
      I have to admit that I have been impressed by the option this year. I have NEVER been good at running the option/read option, etc. and having the tutorials plus the defense keys has been huge in helping me improve my skill set. Plus, with threshold at zero in the demo, some of the QB's have just torched me for huge gains.


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    1. RussellW65's Avatar
      RussellW65 -
      As an option guy I love how the option looks this year. It looks and feels much improved. can't wait to get the game and see how the improvements effect the Flexbone and if there are any changes
    1. CLW's Avatar
      CLW -
      The option in the demo is POWERFUL. If you make the correct read its guaranteed 7-15 yards a pop. The CPU runs it pretty effectively too which is nice.
    1. JeffHCross's Avatar
      JeffHCross -
      oweb, just to offer a counterpoint, I'm an experienced option guy. Yet sometimes it has historically been difficult to tell how EA coded the read. Some of the interviews have made clear that due to errors there sometimes wasn't a read, as it turns out. On the surface, I'd be okay with it being a Practice Mode thing. But if I call a Midline Option in the middle of the game, it's nice to have something that tells me who the hell the game is leaving unblocked.
    1. CLW's Avatar
      CLW -
      Quote Originally Posted by JeffHCross View Post
      oweb, just to offer a counterpoint, I'm an experienced option guy. Yet sometimes it has historically been difficult to tell how EA coded the read. Some of the interviews have made clear that due to errors there sometimes wasn't a read, as it turns out. On the surface, I'd be okay with it being a Practice Mode thing. But if I call a Midline Option in the middle of the game, it's nice to have something that tells me who the hell the game is leaving unblocked.
      yeah i don't have a problem with the read/pitch keys before the snap. my problem is the option is too damn easy now. in fact, the cpu simply has ZERO answer for an option attack now. its simply a matter of do you make the correct read. if you do its a big gain. if not the play is blown up.
    1. oweb26's Avatar
      oweb26 -
      Quote Originally Posted by JeffHCross View Post
      oweb, just to offer a counterpoint, I'm an experienced option guy. Yet sometimes it has historically been difficult to tell how EA coded the read. Some of the interviews have made clear that due to errors there sometimes wasn't a read, as it turns out. On the surface, I'd be okay with it being a Practice Mode thing. But if I call a Midline Option in the middle of the game, it's nice to have something that tells me who the hell the game is leaving unblocked.

      I can't argue with that, I simply played so many games in my dynasty that I simply figured it out ( or simply removed the play because it didnt work)

      Quote Originally Posted by CLW View Post
      yeah i don't have a problem with the read/pitch keys before the snap. my problem is the option is too damn easy now. in fact, the cpu simply has ZERO answer for an option attack now. its simply a matter of do you make the correct read. if you do its a big gain. if not the play is blown up.
      Honestly the option has always been easy it was simply a matter of odds, you make the correct read big gain as you stated but that's not anything new, I was always surprised more people didn't run it especially if you were in a dynasty where you can recruit your own players.

      I will say now it does seem like the game is more tailored to it.
    1. JeffHCross's Avatar
      JeffHCross -
      Agreed. There were very few players last year that could stop my option game with any regularity.
    1. Escobar's Avatar
      Escobar -
      Quote Originally Posted by JeffHCross View Post
      oweb, just to offer a counterpoint, I'm an experienced option guy. Yet sometimes it has historically been difficult to tell how EA coded the read. Some of the interviews have made clear that due to errors there sometimes wasn't a read, as it turns out. On the surface, I'd be okay with it being a Practice Mode thing. But if I call a Midline Option in the middle of the game, it's nice to have something that tells me who the hell the game is leaving unblocked.
      This is why I like that the read keys are in the game if you pull up coach cam. There were alot of times in '13 where if the defense came out in Nickel 2-4-5 or 3-4 with the line pinched the game would just randomly pick who I was supposed to read. Sometimes it would be the last man down on the line of scrimmage (DT or DE) or it would pick the last man on the line of scrimmage (OLB). There seemed to be no rhyme or reason as to who it picked. Often it would pick a LB lined up on my slot receiver leaving me dead in the water no matter who I gave the ball to. At least now I will know if the game decides to fubar me.
    1. johntom2000's Avatar
      johntom2000 -
      Quote Originally Posted by JeffHCross View Post
      oweb, just to offer a counterpoint, I'm an experienced option guy. Yet sometimes it has historically been difficult to tell how EA coded the read. Some of the interviews have made clear that due to errors there sometimes wasn't a read, as it turns out. On the surface, I'd be okay with it being a Practice Mode thing. But if I call a Midline Option in the middle of the game, it's nice to have something that tells me who the hell the game is leaving unblocked.
      I agree with this 100%