In 2006, EA Sports added a new feature to its Madden video game franchise – QB passer vision, also known as the vision cone. The vision cone was meant to revolutionize the football videogame, allowing the user to read defenses and look off receivers as real NFL quarterbacks do (except Jamarcus Russell).
How it Worked
After snapping the ball, a semi-transparent white cone would emerge from the quarterback and spread over a portion of the field, representing the QB’s “vision”. The cone could be controlled by moving the right thumbstick left or right (representing the quarterback looking left or right to survey the field), or by holding down the left trigger button and hitting the button for any designated receiver (representing the quarterback quickly eyeing down one of his targets). When throwing to a receiver within your vision cone, your pass would be accurate. Attempting to throw to a receiver outside of your QB’s vision resulted in a steep accuracy penalty.
Quarterbacks of different awareness (a Madden stat used to measure a quarterback’s decision-making) had different sized cones – the better your quarterback, the bigger the cone (and thus the easier it was to pass the ball).
Why It Was So Good
Passer vision improved the realism, challenge, and overall gameplay of the Madden series.
Playing a football videogame is all about balancing the user’s abilities with the skills of the team he’s controlling. The essence of this is that it’s more challenging to play with inferior teams, as the user is handicapped by the capabilities of the team he’s controlling. The vision cone left the results of a play more in the hands of the user and less in a computer algorithm, adding challenge and variation into the passing game.
In both the passer vision and non-passer vision systems, there is a disadvantage to playing as a bad quarterback. The disadvantage in the passer vision world was that it was more difficult for the user to “hone in” on a receiver and thus throw an accurate pass. This increased the difficulty while leaving the overall result in the hands of the user. The regular system disadvantages poor quarterbacks by accuracy penalties. So, if you spot a receiver with a two yard lead on the coverage, a good quarterback is more likely to hit him in stride, and a poor quarterback is more likely to overthrow or underthrow the target, leading to a higher probability of an incomplete pass or an interception. In this case, the results are in the hands of the CPU, which uses a random number generator coupled with your QB’s accuracy rating to determine the precision of the pass.
With the passer cone, users were also able to look off receivers (this was done by focusing the vision on one side of the screen to draw the defense in that direction, only to quickly look the other way and pass to an open receiver). This is a real-life element of quarterbacking that is now absent in the game (viz., it’s in the game, but it’s not in the game).
Why It Went Away
There was a steep learning curve and people never gave it a chance. There are only two kinds of Madden players – those who loved the vision cone, and those who never got the hang of it.
Argument: Even without the passer cone, the passing game is still very challenging and in the hands of the user. The user must read the defense, avoid the pass rush, determine how much zip to put on the ball, etc.
Answer: True. But why make a game where you can do all that perfectly and then have the ball be intercepted due to a random variable?
Argument: The accuracy algorithms existed under the vision cone system too.
Answer: Also true, but they were de-emphasized when combined with the human element of the passer vision.
The passer vision should be brought back as an option in future installments of Madden. Those who prefer not to use it can disable it.
We, the undersigned, petition EA sports to include passer vision as an option in all upcoming versions of Madden 11 and beyond, including those versions for the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3.
The Bring back passer vision to Madden petition to EA Sports was written by Michael Hartman and is in the category Sports at GoPetition.