Mini-games are often overlooked when it comes to sports video games, but they can offer an awesome diversion from conventional play, and even become an interesting part of the core experience.
In Madden 15, it's clear EA Sports is aiming for all of the above with the new Skills Trainer and Gauntlet modes.
The new trailer for the mode has been released, and it looks fun. Take a look.
While there's a few details apparent from listening to and watching the video, we hoped to get a little more information about the mode from Danny Doeberling, the assistant producer for Madden 15.
Recently, we caught up with Doeberling and asked him some burning questions about the Skills Trainer and Gauntlet. Here's the interview.
Brian Mazique: Talk a little about what the objective was with the Skills Trainer/Gauntlet modes in Madden 15.
Danny Doeberling: Skills Trainer/Gauntlet is a fun way to learn how to play the game, new game mechanics, and make yourself a better player. Our development team made it a priority this year to create a mode that would be welcoming for new users and help them learn both how to play the game, as well as for the first time teach general football concepts.
We believe that Skills Trainer/Gauntlet is not just for new players, but is beneficial to vets as well. Skills Trainer has been expanded to teach strategy as well as game skills, and the Gauntlet presents 40 increasingly challenging levels to see if you're a true Madden master.
BM: Describe a few of the concepts in the Skills Trainer/Gauntlet modes.
DD: When we set out this year to teach players basic football concepts inside Skills Trainer we looked at what players were struggling with the most. A good chunk of the people that play-tested the game would call Defensive concepts like Cover 2 and have no idea what it really was.
Inside the mode we break down the major defensive concepts. We explain what it is, how to recognize it, and how to attack it. We also cover 12 basic pass concepts to help the user have a better understanding of why to call certain plays. We feel that by increasing a person's football IQ, it will help even the playing field against someone who excels with stick skills.
BM: Do these modes play a role in Connected Franchise, or online play?
DD: Skills Trainer is integrated into Connected Franchise. The player also has an opportunity to earn Ultimate Team rewards inside the mode by earning all bronze medals in a Skills Trainer category.
BM: Creating a player whose attributes were determined by the outcome in Skills Trainer exercises would be awesome. Does that exist in Madden 15, or has it been discussed for future versions?
DD: In Connected Franchise, players can partake in Skills Trainer tutorials and drills in a weekly practice session we call Game Prep. The user can choose which players they want to enter into a Game Prep session. Based on the success of the tutorial/drill in Game Prep, it will earn their player XP to help boost their attributes.
BM: That's pretty cool.
BM: How do you see this mode evolving in future versions of Madden?
DD: Skills Trainer will continue to be a place for new and veteran players to get better at Madden. I would like to expand on teaching the player real-world-football concepts in other areas such as the running game and Defense.
With the uniqueness of Gauntlet, with its crazy boss battles and all, we hope that people take a liking to the mode. If that is a direction our fans want us to go in, I can see us expanding more of the mini game presence and get back to that old classic mini game feel that Madden has done in the past.
These new modes sound pretty promising. Fans of the game seem to optimistic, and that's really saying something.
Likening the Skills Trainer and Gauntlet to the FIFA mini-games is a great direction for the concept to go. Aside from the old Virtua Tennis games, no other sports franchise has better mini-games than FIFA.
Bringing those concepts to an NFL game is a great idea. At the end of the day, it's all about execution. Plenty of good ideas have fallen by the wayside because there was a disconnect between the original idea and the final product.
Let's just hope this isn't another example.
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