Madden NFL 2004 (PlayStation 2) Playbook Analysis Document written by PyroFalkon (firstname.lastname@example.org) Current Version: 1.3 Latest Update: 17 November 2003 +-----------------+ |+---------------+| ||VERSION HISTORY|| |+---------------+| +-----------------+ v1.3 (17 November 2003) erik2582 (email@example.com) reminded me that there's kind of a half-way to make play-action passes, so I've edited that part of the FAQ. v1.2 (3 November 2003) One of the eternal questions is, if you're going to write an FAQ, and you take the time to include things like your personal history, why in the world would you forget to add the TABLE OF CONTENTS? *sigh* Maybe I'm getting too old for this. Anyway, I've added the table of contents, but I've also added a new section: Getting Your Plays in the Game. That will list step-by-step instructions to get your custom playbooks up and running. Oh, and I spell checked the whole thing too, just for kicks. v1.1a (1 November 2003) It's been nearly a year, but unfortunately my site is down for the count. Luckily, IGN has decided to host my FAQs too, so it's all good. A new copyright notice is the only change. v1.1 (03 September 2003) A VERY kind person named Neil pointed out my bias against the Browns. Let me say up front that I had been flamed by a very immature person about the same comment, but I took no action BECAUSE he was immature. Neil complained about what I had said, but he did so maturely, without profanity, and actually had evidence to back up his claims. People: if you ever want me to change something, write me and be NICE and POLITE, and I'll probably listen (and I may even agree with you!). Flaming and calling me profane names is not the way to get things done. v1 (28 August 2003) First release. +-------------------+ |+-----------------+| ||TABLE OF CONTENTS|| |+-----------------+| +-------------------+ 1. Intro 2. Playbooks in General a. What This Means in Madden NFL 2004 3. Playing to Your Strengths a. The Next Step b. Spring Cleaning c. Touching Up d. Creating Something from Nothing 4. Playing to Your Opponents' Abilities 5. Final Thoughts 6. Getting Your Plays in the Game a. Selecting Your Playbook b. Custom Audibles 7. PyroFalkon's Experiences 8. Copyright Info 9. Contact Info +----------+ |+--------+| ||1. INTRO|| |+--------+| +----------+ Hello everyone, and welcome to my FAQ for Madden NFL 2004. All summer, I considered whether to update my Madden 2003 FAQ for this year's version. Although I sort of felt like I needed to, I didn't want to take the trouble. There was a lot added this year, and quite honestly, I didn't want to cover it all. Then I remembered that I'm not paid for this, so I didn't really have an obligation to update it anymore anyway. I took to reading a book recently though. It's kinda old, written about one of the last weeks of the 1989-1990 regular season. It stars Bill Parcells's New York Giants, back when the letters "LT" were recognized by fans the nationwide. After reading the first chapter, I was inspired to write this mini-FAQ over a section of the Madden games that probably haven't gotten the attention they should from other FAQ writers. This way, I can make an FAQ for the game, and yet not have to put forth energy to do something I know I won't care about. I do have one major warning with this guide: it's a complex read. Don't even bother continuing if you want instant information that'll help you rOxXoR your friend because he always plays the Packers and you always use the Lions. If you follow my steps, it takes some actual WORK, but your win percentage will rise, I guarantee it. To make things simpler, I show you my whole process at the bottom in my personal-experience solution. So, read, learn, enjoy. If you have anything to submit, as always, my inbox is open. ...When it's not getting flooded by copies of the Blaster worm, anyway. (The title of the book I read, in case you care, is "No Medals for Trying," written by Jerry Izenberg, published by Ballantine Books.) +-------------------------+ |+-----------------------+| ||2. PLAYBOOKS IN GENERAL|| |+-----------------------+| +-------------------------+ Football, in its current form, has been around for a long while. Though it, like everything else in the world, has steadily evolved, there are certain things that it has kept over the years. We all know there's 11 players per team, a coach to lead them... we know there's 100 yards on the field, and one brown oblong ball that everyone wants. But what a lot of people don't realize, or at least don't consciously think about, is that the playbook has been around that long. Actually, the playbook has been around EVER SINCE SPORT ITSELF WAS BORN. Don't believe me? Don't take the word "playbook" literally. Even other sports have playbooks in this sense. Baseball has playbooks. Do you see any pitcher intentionally throw a fastball in the precise center of the strike zone to Barry Bonds? A playbook is nothing but a plan. Football just happens to have X's, O's, and lines to actually illustrate their plans. Individual plays are plans too. "Take the ball, run up the middle, don't get killed by Warren Sapp." That's a pretty good plan. The question is, will it work? I learned something reading "No Medals for Trying." Every week, all the coaches and all their assistants sit down and study the hell out of their playbook. And they ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS change something. That only makes sense. For example, let's say you're playing against the 49ers. TO has hands like glue and legs like a cheetah, so you'll spend a lot of time dealing with him, possibly double-teaming him. On the flip side, if you're dealing with the Cowboys, their receivers are far less talented, so you won't need to worry so much and may be able to free up that safety to do other things. +--------------------------------------+ |2a. What This Means in Madden NFL 2004| +--------------------------------------+ It's doubtful that you have the time or dedication to study opponents before every game and can make appropriate changes (and online, it's completely impossible, since you may not even have the same opponent twice in your entire life). That doesn't mean that you should just be happy with mediocrity. For years, I've been complaining about the playbooks in Madden. "I like THIS play, but THIS one sucks and I never use it." Now that we have Create-a- Playbook, I have no reason to make that complaint, although I did last year because I'm an idiot. This year, I shed my idiocy, and let me tell you, the results are fantastic. Let's ignore the fact that you can make your own plays for now. We'll address that later, I promise. Assume for now that Create-a-Playbook only allowed you to pick other teams' plays for your own personal playbook. The first thing you have to ask yourself about your personal playbook is: "What's my style?" Terry Bradshaw, retired, threw for a Steelers record 27,989 yards during his career. By his own admission, he was "embarrassed" when he threw a pass for five yards. He loved throwing the long ball. His style was, "Run as fast as you can, and I'll hurl the ball as far as I can, and hopefully you'll catch it." If you're Terry Bradshaw, then you won't be using the Cleveland Browns playbook, since neither Tim Couch nor Kelly Holcomb have the arm power to go that deep that often (although I'll admit that Holcomb is shaping up to be pretty good). Your style is your style. It's no business of mine what style you play. I personally run 60% of the time, and my passes are generally REALLY short, like two or three yards. That's me. It works for me. And maybe the thought of that style makes you and your Terry Bradshaw arm cringe. But that's okay, because my advice applies either way. You need to sit down and do some personal work. You need to know EXACTLY how you play. It took me literally around 15 game seasons from Madden 1998 to Madden 2002 to figure out my strength. Once you know what you're capable of, the next step is a simple choice between two ideals: making your playbook around your team and style, or making your playbook around your opponents' team and style. +------------------------------+ |+----------------------------+| ||3. PLAYING TO YOUR STRENGTHS|| |+----------------------------+| +------------------------------+ Mike Martz did not give up on Kurt Warner despite Warner's embarrassingly horrible performance during the 2002-2003 season. The reason is because Martz knows what Warner is capable of. If the 2003 pre-season is any indication, things will be quite different this year. *EDIT: Okay, it's week 9 and by now, everyone knows Warner was benched. But remember, I wrote that paragraph before the regular season had started.* Once you know what your style is and have decided to pick plays that compliment it, I suggest that the first thing you do is check out a team that's similar to your style. If you pass a million times and seldom run, check out the Oakland Raiders. I'm not trying to take anything away from Charlie Garner, but between Rich Ganon's arm and Jerry Rice's hands, a lot of the plays in the silver and black playbook is based around that duo. Do you pass to a lot of DIFFERENT receivers and not just one? Try the Steeler's playbook. Again, not to take anything away from Famous Amos or the Bus, but Hines Ward, Plaxico Burress, and Antwaan Randel El are threats. Do you run more than you pass? Can't go wrong with the Bengals. Dillon rocks, and the playbook builds around that. Do you have a balanced attack? Try the Rams. Martz has Holt, Bruce, Faulk, three weapons that all defenses have to individually watch. Even Zach Thomas can't be in three different places at once. What if you like your QB to run? Check out the Falcons. Plays may not be drawn AROUND Mike Vick's legs (especially when he's got a broken fibula), but you can at least see why he's so free to do his thing. Once you see what teams similar in style to yours do, you can form your own ideas. There's nothing wrong with just stealing a whole team's playbook, but seldom that's going to answer everything. Still, it is a start. Next, you need something for defense. It works the same way, but you have more limited options. Again think about your style. Do you like stopping the run? 43 and 46 are good for that. The pass? Cover 2. Balance? 34. +-----------------+ |3a. The Next Step| +-----------------+ I have never met any real NFL coach in real life. However, I am 100% sure that every coach, every commentator, and most probably every player will agree with one thing: Practices are just that. You only get to see results, for better or worse, in game situations. Once you have your idea for a playbook, head into an exhibition game. Grab your team and your playbook, then test every single theory out. Remember, just like the pre-season, the score really doesn't matter. This is a personal learning experience. Try different plays against all types of defenses in all sorts of situations. You'd be amazed what you'll end up learning. Does one particular play always fail? Write it down. Does one particular play always work? Write it down. Does one particular play work only if it's 3rd and 2 from your own half of the field when the enemy is using a 46 defense with the safety obviously blitzing? Write it down. Also to note: what did your style have to do with the outcome? For example: if you always pass and never threw a single pick, examine WHY you never threw a pick. Was the defense always out of position? Were your routes so well-drawn that your receivers always shook the coverage? Also think negatively. If you ran 75% of the time, and were always stopped, WHY were you always stopped? Was it because you have no protection? Or did they blitz from unexpected places? Maybe your RB wasn't as quick as you wanted him to be. Unfortunately, any issue with the players themselves cannot be addressed in your playbook. If you want someone with Marshall Faulk speed and agility but have Jerome Bettis, you're not going to be able to get away with the same style. But, that will be addressed later. +-------------------+ |3b. Spring Cleaning| +-------------------+ Now that you have an idea about what works and what doesn't, head back into Create-a-Playbook. When playing to your strengths, the keyword is "comfort." If you're not comfortable running a play, then you're already shaky before getting to the line of scrimmage. For example, if you find yourself saying, "This never works," then select it anyway, you're giving the enemy a huge, unnecessary advantage. You need to have total confidence that when selecting ANY play, it will work. The FIRST THING you need to do is grab your list of plays that sucked and throw them out. "Continue what works and discontinue what doesn't." Don't even think twice. Can't ever get your damn tight end to catch a ball? Stop sending him on routes. Meanwhile, CONSIDER tossing the plays that only worked sometimes. If a play only worked on 3rd and short, but it ALWAYS worked in that situation, you may want to keep it. It's not like you'll never see a 3rd and short situation in your career. However, if a play only worked on the 50 on the left hash mark when it was 2nd and 25, it probably was a fluke and you should dump it. Of course, the final call is yours, coach. Also consider the formation. Remember that the computer is not stupid anymore, and humans never have been. If you set up in the I formation and the only thing you ever do from there is run up the middle, the computer WILL catch on (and humans will catch on even quicker). If that's the case, you may just want to dump the entire formation. There's a finer point to that too, although this really only applies to the offense. If you always line up in the I and use a toss play, a play action will never work. If a QB has been tossing the ball left and right, then SUDDENLY decides to hand it off, no one will fall for it. The computer does bite on play actions, but it has to be set up correctly for it to happen. Anyway, you need to throw out plays that never work, and/or don't fit into your style. The only exception is the Hail Mary. I don't care if you never ever pass. Keep a 4- or 5-man Hail Mary play in your playbook somewhere. Singleback, Singleback-Empty, 4-WR Shotgun, 5-WR Shotgun, who cares. You'll need that play when you're down by 4 with 50 yards to go and 1 second left on the clock. +---------------+ |3c. Touching Up| +---------------+ There will be plays you'll run in which you said, "Well, that was really good, but..." Whatever you said after "but" is irrelevant because the answer is the same: edit the play. Back when I was an idiot, I figured that NFL experts made these playbooks, so they must be the best way to run the plays. That's so false it's not even funny. The plays probably DO work great on their own. But, that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. There's one play in the Shotgun-4WR set called Short Attack. Well, that was really good, but the far left receiver never went out as far as I wanted him to. (By default, he goes out 2 yards then cuts right. I prefer him to go about 5 yards before cutting.) So now that I'm a smarter armchair coach, I went into the formation through Create-a-Playbook, added the play, went into the set, and changed that man's route. That's the only change I did to it. It's by no means a "money play," but I feel far more comfortable running it now. Carry that to EVERY aspect of your playbook. I once had a play in the Shotgun- 3WR/2RB set that almost always worked, but occasionally the DE on my HB's side would blast me. Had I the ability and intelligence back then, I would have changed his route so he blocks instead of runs a route. Although that gives the defense another man on their side of the ball free for coverage, I think it would have worked out for the best for me. In another play in the I formation, I hated that the TE had a route. The fact that he has hands of glue wasn't the issue; indeed, he caught far more than he dropped. But still, I preferred sending the ball long, and if I had had just a LITTLE more time, I would have been able to do it. It's been awhile since I've used it, but if I were to use it today, I'd just tell the TE to block, then I would have the time I need. It's not just an offensive thing, either. There's a play in the Dime formation called Under Man, where the four CBs and the sole linebacker cover the five eligible receivers. Both safeties fall back to guard against the bomb. Well, that was really good, but it left the middle open, and one particular opponent kept throwing there. I altered the play and sent only one safety back, but kept one in the middle (similar to the Robber play in the Nickel set). When the safety whose route I changed caught an interception, I decided to keep that play forever. You've almost perfected the playbook. Just one more step... +-----------------------------------+ |3d. Creating Something from Nothing| +-----------------------------------+ When in doubt, make your own play. In all honesty, there is probably no play an intelligent person can make that will always fail. I used to think (again, back when I was an idiot) that making a play from an existing formation was silly. Well, now I know that I was just being silly. No playbook has every possible play for any given formation, and if there are a good six plays for punting alone, why should I think that the plays in the Split Backs formation are the only things possible? Let's take it from the least extreme situation to the most extreme. Sometimes, you may just want to fudge the formation. For example, there's a play that works all right from the Singleback formation, but I'd prefer a fourth WR running the route instead of the TE. So, I toss the play from the Singleback formation, and create it in the Shotgun-4WR formation. Obviously it's not EXACTLY the same (it never will be until we can DRAW the lines as opposed to making waypoints on a grid), but it serves well enough. As I've said, I'm just more comfortable running it this way. Next up is to transpose formations like above, but to gain an advantage by the change in doing so. I love the one play out of the Dime formation called Double Wide, where the eligible receivers are covered by four CBs and the linebacker, and the wings are also covered by the safeties. The problem with this play is that a deep pass kills, especially to a slot receiver. I've often wished there was a way I could get safety help in that play. My solution came in the form of the new formation: Quarter 3 Deep. Here again, four CBs and the LB cover the eligibles, and the wings are covered by safeties, but now we have an extra safety who DOES provide help over the top. Yeah, this leaves the line weak, but I don't use this play if running is an option. 3rd and short? I don't care if the coach himself has lined up as a WR; I'll stick with a play with a stronger line. The only problem here is Mike Vick, but that's situational, and I have other ways to counter him. The final way to create a play is to just go hog wild and make something unique. I have a passing play from the Splitbacks formation where the HB, who starts on the left, runs around to the right; and the FB, who starts on the right, runs around to the left. This confuses the hell out of the defense, and by which time either 1) one the WRs are free because no one was paying attention to the real threat, or 2) one or both of the RBs are open because the D got so confused they gave up on things or screwed up their coverages. (I will interject here to say that I haven't used that play in Madden 2004 yet. It worked in Madden 2003, but I haven't created it yet for this year. If this FAQ ever needs an update, I'll amend this part to tell you how well it worked.) *EDIT: I have made the play, and it works so effectively that I try to get it in at least two or three times per game.* Of course, if you do create something from a blank sheet, you have to know certain things. First, the more complex the passing route, the more confused the defense is going to be... but the longer it will take to develop. If you're a fan of quick passes, don't have your WRs doing ballet in the secondary, because by the time they're open, your QB either has passed already or is munching on turf. Second, bring your personal style into the creation. If you never use your FB for pass routes, then DON'T SEND HIM on a pass route. It's fundamental, but sometimes you may forget that you don't NEED to send five guys even though you CAN. Of course, if you always use him as a receiver, by all means send him deep and keep him in mind. Third, you still can't create PA passes or reverses or anything else that's fancy. It sucks, but thems the breaks, so don't try to create one. And don't e- mail me asking how to. I had way too many of those in the last two years. ^_^ ...Well, I say that, but there's a way AROUND that limitation. You can actually just EDIT the play. For example, let's say there's a play action pass, but one receiver goes a direction you don't want him to. You can just edit the play and send him the way you want him to. You can edit anyone like that, so as long as you don't edit the QB or HB routes, then you can in effect "make" a PA pass. It takes some touch though, so be careful, and be sure to experiment on it in a practice game before actually trying it in a season. +-----------------------------------------+ |+---------------------------------------+| ||4. PLAYING TO YOUR OPPONENTS' ABILITIES|| |+---------------------------------------+| +-----------------------------------------+ If you try this technique, then you've chosen the slightly harder, but possibly better, way of managing your team. First of all, you should always do some of the things I talk about here anyway. The Priest will preach on your sorry butt with six-point sermons all day if you don't figure out a way to stop him. Also, you should be aware of situational things if you're playing Franchise mode. Is David Carr injured? You won't have to worry about the long ball threat from the Texans as much. Even if they try, they'll probably fail, and you can laugh at them and their stupid team name. Second, you should still play to your own abilities partially too. If you've got McNabb, don't forget that he has a right arm, and he knows how to use it. Running with Staley is good, but he's not the only one on the team. Same on D: if you have fast CBs, then you may not have to double-team non-catch threats, like the Cowboys. Let your safeties do something more productive. Third, by going this route, you need a very balanced arsenal on both sides of the ball. Let's say you're against Warren Sapp. You have to know not to run up the middle, so you'll need runs to the outside. But if in the next game you're dealing with Porter and the other aggressive Steelers, then running up the middle to force an over-pursue may be the best idea. On defense, you'll have to worry about TO's hands on the 49ers, so you'll need to keep your safeties busy keeping eyes on him. Then when you head to Cincinnati and deal with Corey, forget Kitna and concentrate on stopping the run. Once Vick leads his Falcons to your house, make sure to occasionally spy him so he doesn't do something stupid like run 60 yards for a touchdown. Of course, there's no need to spy Tim Couch, because he couldn't outrun a snail if his life depended on it. You'll need plays to counter every little thing in your playbook. You'll have the most balanced attack and defense in the world on paper, and you have to know which ones to use and which to ignore in the heat of battle. If you slip up and throw when you know your enemy has the best CB in the universe, you might as well send your QB back to the sidelines. +-------------------+ |+-----------------+| ||5. FINAL THOUGHTS|| |+-----------------+| +-------------------+ Here's some miscellaneous things I've thought of before and during this document's creation. OPEN CONSISTENTLY ================= I always open my first drive the same way: I run right. One particular play (Splitbacks > HB Off Tackle) is so consistent that I always use it to open. It's like chess: you probably use the same opening every time. Doing so sets your mind up for the contest, and helps you get in control. If the defense stacks up against you, feel free to call an audible. But I say that you should always CALL the same play to open with in your games. That's the one thing the computer can't learn (it can't watch old game film any more than you can), and with varied human opponents, they won't notice until you play them quite a few times. STICK WITH WHAT WORKS ===================== You've heard of quarterbacks having the "hot hand." Hell, that's what lead to Tommy Maddox winning the start over Kordell Stewart last year on the Steelers. If your running game has been doing well all game, DO NOT SCREW WITH IT. Keep running. You should mix up your plays, yes, but mixing isn't the same as overhauling. If you think you need to have some variety, run the other way, or throw to a different receiver. But, don't change your game plan, even if something goes wrong. The exception is if time becomes a factor. If you're down two scores, you should put more passes in your arsenal. If you already are passing a lot, then start chucking bombs more. DON'T DESPAIR IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG ===================================== Only one team in history can tell you that they never tasted defeat. I know that there are a lot of prideful people out there that pull the plug on their systems or only play people they can beat or only play the computer on easy difficulties to have a better-looking win/loss record. Look, I know what that's like. I don't play to lose, and sometimes I get the same way and don't take my losses like a man. But whenever I face a HUMAN opponent, I can always take my loss well, because I know it wasn't due to a cheating tactic. Besides, it's not like losing a game (especially a virtual one) is going to make anyone think less of you. No one is going to say, "Well Mr. Bob, you have all the qualifications to be a journalist for the New York Times, but we've heard that you lost to i_p_freelyyy on an online contest on Madden 2003 for the PlayStation 2, so you can just march your ass right out of this office, you loser." Also, it's been done before, both virtually and in real life, that teams come back from absurd deficits or ties to pull off incredible wins, whether by a penalty or genuine skill and luck (ask the 2001-2002 New England Patriots). Heck, in one of my seasons I was losing against the Arizona Cardinals 24-0 at the half for the Super Bowl. I managed to score 35 unanswered points in the second half WITHOUT CHEATING to win. I'm not trying to brag (I've failed far more than I've succeeded), but I'm trying to assure you that it CAN happen. Keep the faith. ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES ===================== Years ago, the Rams had to use their THIRD quarterback after the first two suffered injuries in the pre-season. The new starter that no one ever heard of was Kurt Warner, and I vaguely remember them winning the Super Bowl that year... If a player gets injured during your Franchise, you will feel it if he was good, but it may not be as bad as it seems. Just like real life, it may open the door to someone else who ends up being more talented. If you work around the problem, then you'll be all right. For example, if you have three great WRs, and one shatters his collarbone, don't panic. All you have to do is make sure you don't pass to that receiver position as much. Run plays that focus on the other two. Most teams have decent-or-better backups anyway, so you might be able to go on like nothing happened. Is A.J. Feely better than Donovan McNabb? No. Did it matter to the Eagles' win/loss record last year? See above answer. BE PREPARED TO EVOLVE ===================== This year, the Pittsburgh Steelers' starter at HB is Amos Zueroue. The reason is because Bill Cowher and the rest of the Steelers organization has FINALLY accepted that their team is no longer about power. It's about trickery, quick passes, agile backs, and a whole lotta speed. If you play Franchise mode for many seasons, your team may change into something that's very foreign. You can trade to try to get the personnel you want, or you can alter your playbook and/or playing style to compensate. Either choice is really acceptable; it's what you're more comfortable with. As I mention in more detail below, my yards-per-completions rate was 16.5 in Madden 2003. That means I went deep far too many times. This year, I plan on using more high-percentage passes, especially to the flats. You need to adjust yourself as the years go on and new weaknesses and strengths develop. However... NEVER LOSE THE CORE =================== I will probably always run more than I pass, no matter what kind of team I've got. If I single-focus on passing, it will be all too easy to be beaten. I also favor blitzes from linebackers only, and I doubt I'll even incorporate many safety blitzes into my playbook. It's not something I'm comfortable with calling. No matter how your team may change, don't forget what got you to where you are. Even if you have a 0-16 season, it can't get any worse, so don't change BASIC philosophies. Coaches get fired not because of their person, but because of their idea of what makes a winning team. If Mike Martz ends up coaching the Carolina Panthers, he'll get their offense to be more aggressive, because he's an aggressive coach. That's his thing, just like your style is your thing. If it all goes to hell, look for personnel changes before style changes. A new HB can be brought into a system without much difference on your part, but if you suddenly switch from a running team to a passing team, it may take your personal brain a few seasons to get used to your new ideas. +-----------------------------------+ |+---------------------------------+| ||6. GETTING YOUR PLAYS IN THE GAME|| |+---------------------------------+| +-----------------------------------+ This section is to relieve some of the e-mail pressure I've been receiving lately. I'm not saying that I'm annoyed, but if I get a bunch of people asking me the same question, it better belongs in my FAQ, doesn't it? ;) Okay, so... First thing I want to say is, I feel your pain. One thing a lot of people write to me about is kind of a vent. No one seems to like the fact that custom playbooks are limited to 11 formation and 81 plays, and they ask if there's a way around it. I'm sorry to tell you guys, but no, there is no way around that limit. You can have up to 11 formations and up to 81 plays in those formations, but no more. Now, you can divide them up however you want. If you're psychotic, you can have one formation and 81 plays in that formation. I suppose that's cool if you want to go Shotgun happy, but really, can you come up with 81 passing routes? That aside, I'm often asked two questions. I'll address both here. +---------------------------+ |6a. Selecting Your Playbook| +---------------------------+ The #1 question I'm asked is how to get your playbook into games. Now, one thing I want to say up front is that the instructions I give here are for the PLAYSTATION2 version. I've had people write to me about the GameCube and PC versions of the game; I'm sure this is the basic way to do it, but don't go asking me where the Circle button is on a GCN. ^_^ 1. Make all your plays and save the book. 2. Enter any game in any mode. Yes, ANY mode. You can use your books in Owner/Season just as well as you can in Exhibition. 3. On the controller select screen (where you elect to play as either team), choose one team or the other and hit the Circle button. *NOTE: A menu will come up with four options: Uniform, Offensive Playbook, Defensive Playbook, and Risk Cards. That last one is if you feel like betting your Madden Cards in a head-to-head game, so obviously if you're playing a solo game or you're playing on the same team as a friend, it won't be there.* 4. Highlight Offensive Playbook and press the X button. *NOTE: The game will delay a second to read any memory cards that are in their slots. After that, a menu will pop up showing a list of EVERY playbook in the game, AND every playbook on your memory card(s).* 5. Custom playbooks are listed at the very bottom, so scroll all the way down. Highlight the one you want, then press X. 6. You'll be sent to the four-choice menu again. Repeat steps 4 and 5 with Defensive Playbook if you have one. 7. Hit Circle again. The menu will close and you'll be back at the controller select screen. Under your controller, confirm that the playbooks listed are the ones you want to use. 8. Hit X or Start to begin the game! *NOTE: You HAVE to do this before EVERY game. It's no longer possible to attach a custom playbook to your user name like it was in Madden... er... I think it was possible in 2001 or 2002... anyway, it isn't in 2004. Yes, I agree that's a bad design move, but truthfully this whole process takes literally about ten seconds, which is tolerable.* +-------------------+ |6b. Custom Audibles| +-------------------+ The #2 question I'm asked is how to get audibles attached to your custom playbooks. The stupid thing is, you have to go into a game to do it. Again, here's the step-by-step process. 1. Make sure your books are selected and enter any game, but MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE NOT INTENDING TO ACTUALLY PLAY THAT GAME. I'll explain that in a sec. 2. As soon as you can, pause the game. (Just tap X repeatedly to get through the coin toss.) 3. Highlight "Coaching Strategies" and hit X. 4. Highlight "Offensive Audibles" and hit X. 5. Make any change you want to. 6. Repeat with "Defensive Audibles." 7. Hit Triangle to get out of Coaching Strategies, but do not unpause yet. 8. Go down and highlight "Quit/Save," and hit X. 9. If Madden Challenge was on, you'll get a warning that Madden Challenge will be turned off for loaded games. Hit X to accept. 10. You can now save more than the game; you can save your playbook(s) from here. Do so, because the audibles will be attached to the playbook file. 11. If you continue to play the game, then the moment you earn any Madden Challenge points, the game will freeze. It's a glitch that to me seems like this: GAME: "User went to save the game. I warned him about no Madden Challenge! Wait... he didn't save the GAME, just the playbook... but does that count? Well, maybe he'll suck so bad that it won't matter." USER: *gets Madden Challenge points* GAME: "Well, that did it. I'm not sure whether to give him any Madden Challenge points because the EA programmers didn't tell me what to do in this situation. Hmm... what to do, what to do... I know! I'll crash! Woo hoo!!!" USER: *throws controller through the wall* ...Don't let that happen to you. ^_^ *NOTE: If you ever edit a play that you have assigned to an audible, then the audible will clear and you'll have to reassign it the same way. If you merely rename or reorder the plays, or you edit other plays, the audibles will stick.* Speaking of audibles, Derek Schultz (Curly77ex@hotmail.com) adds this brilliant strategy for matches against humans... ############################################################################### when playing online against humans, as long as you run most of your offense out of the same formation and you set up your audibles for that EXACT formation (rb position etc) then you can audible all you want and your human counterpart wont have any visual tip off that you did and what play you did it to. ############################################################################### +-----------------------------+ |+---------------------------+| ||7. PYROFALKON'S EXPERIENCES|| |+---------------------------+| +-----------------------------+ All these words are completely meaningless without proof. I could testify that punting on first down will lead to victories (sorry for stealing that joke, Steve Martin), but would you use it as a strategy? I will now give you a timeline of my experiences over the years of virtual football. All this is true, and if you want ANY more details, I want you to e- mail me so I can add them to this FAQ. Details can only help matters. This will show you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that anyone can learn anything at any age if you have the dedication. Pre-1992: PyroFalkon doesn't know the goal line from the 50. He's not an idiot, he's just ignorant. He's also under the age of 10, so he's forgiven, because right now his biggest worry is whether he got his homework done. 1992: PF ends up moving from Angola, Indiana to Duncansville, Pennsylvania. His classmates are insane fanatics about the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they force the basics on him. PF wonders why his voice is starting to break, and also wonders why one guy on the field is wearing a white hat and everyone else is wearing black. 1994: PF watches the Super Bowl, in which Troy Aikman leads the Cowboys to their second consecutive Super Bowl victory over the Buffalo Bills. PF becomes a Cowboys fan, not knowing the definition of "bandwagon," but jumping on it all the same. 1994 (middle): PF rents a football game on the Super Nintendo. He plays it once, completes approximately one kickoff, and stops playing, swearing off the sport forever. 1994 (late): PF witnesses classmates drawing football plays. PF, in an effort to gain more favor with them, draws plays too. He has no clue about things like "11 players to a team" and "illegal man downfield," but some of his plays are good by sheer stroke of luck. For the first time, he realizes that he'd make a better coach or official than a player, but doing either for a career was silly. 1995 (January): PF watches the Super Bowl. All he remembers is that he stayed up late on a Sunday and gained 8000 pounds on snacks. It was a great night. 1995 (November): PF moves to Xenia, Ohio. Everyone there cares about the Cincinnati Bengals. PF doesn't know the difference between a Bengal and a Cowboy, so he worries more about his acne than football. He chooses to root against the Bengals during the season though just to piss off his classmates. 1996 (January): PF watches the Super Bowl because the Cowboys are in it. He doesn't remember anything about it (despite the fact that the Cowboys won), but decides to give the video game another shot. 1996 (somewhat later): PF buys NFL Quarterback Club and completes 2 games. Thinking that runs are for wussies, PF only passes deep, which causes problems when it's 1st and goal from the 1 (although he doesn't really know what that means). 1996 (one day after that): PF sells the game and buys Troy Aikman football. PF is absolutely taken by the fact that you can make your own plays (though you can only set what three of the receivers do, since those were the days before you could even pass to five different guys). PF tinkers with that part of the game, and completes half the season, never using his custom plays once. Soon after, PF sells the game. 1997: PF watches the Super Bowl at his sort of-girlfriend's house. He remembers the Packers played and won, but doesn't remember anything else. This is most likely because his sort of-girlfriend got excited and tackled PF, slamming his head into the wall and giving him a sort of-concussion. Still, it renewed his love for drawing plays, so he now does so again when he's bored in class. By now he knows that there are always five guys in front of the QB during a play, but he still doesn't know what "seven men on the line" means. Oh, and he openly wonders why "Favre" is pronounced as "Farve." 1998: After watching a Super Bowl he remembers absolutely nothing about, PF buys an old copy of Madden '96. For the first time, he completes a season, using the Cowboys. He cheats too, and wins with a 19-0 record and the Super Bowl ring. He feels more than anything that he would be a better coach than player. And he never ran once. 1999: PF's interest in the sport wanes until one of his friends comes over with Madden 2000. The friend owns '98 too, and he generously gives PF Madden '98 to PF for free. PF plays for awhile, completes a season or two as the Cowboys, and hangs up the game without any emotion. 1999 (later): PF realizes that he rather enjoys football and the Madden series, so he buys Madden 2000. PF is introduced to Franchise Mode, and he never looks back. He plays a whopping ELEVEN seasons as the Cowboys, having a final record that only had one loss as a blemish, again because he cheats. Still, he enjoyed it. And what scared him was that he was hurrying through games and seasons just so he could draft and trade. Oh, and he's discovered the run. Go #22 (whoever he is)!!! 2000: PF buys Madden 2001 for his PC, simply to test out the power of his video card. He's impressed at create-a-play and the realism of the crowd leaving the stands. He makes several plays, and damn it, some even work! But still, the game isn't his cup of tea... playing with a keyboard sucks. 2001 (EXTREMELY early): PF is in Best Buy and sees the graphics of Madden 2001 on the PS2, initially thinking he was watching a real game (then logic took over: "Do they play football on Tuesdays?"). PF buys Madden 2001 for the PS2. It's the start of an era, and the end of his love for the Cowboys. His old classmates' enthusiasm comes back to him, and he forever becomes a Steelers fan. 2001 (later): PF eventually buys Madden 2002 when it comes out. He spends absurds amounts of time dealing with Franchise mode. He feels that nagging feeling like something's missing in the playbook. He completes roughly 12 seasons combined with the two games (2001 and 2002). However, something far more profound happens -- he realizes what he does. He runs a lot. He passes sometimes, but doesn't like passing deep. He switches from Pittsburgh's playbook to Saint Louis's in the last five seasons or so, and those seasons are absolutely excellent, even without cheating... well, without much cheating. 2002: PF gets Madden 2003. He creates an ENTIRE playbook from scratch. He abandons it after three seasons because he's frustrated by the fact that you can't put people into motion on offense or change their alignment on defense. He sticks with the Saint Louis playbook and racks up wins. 2003: PF gets Madden 2004, but he studies the numbers of his personal stat file that the game generously keeps. He's amazed at what he's found... Over the course of 401 games with Madden 2003 alone (that's 18 seasons, folks), he attempted to run 10074 times and attempted to pass 5773. The ratio is roughly 7:4 of runs to passes. There are more numbers that he studies (such as his 16.5 yards-per-completion on passing) that alters his personal perception. Obviously, he needs to tone down the bombs to have a more balanced attack. PF builds a playbook around his style, and is constantly changing it. He's lost, yes, but he no longer has to cheat to win consistently. Oh, and he's been trained and certified as a football official for high schools. Now it's his job to know the difference between the 50 and the goal line. +-------------------+ |+-----------------+| ||8. COPYRIGHT INFO|| |+-----------------+| +-------------------+ This document is copyright 2003 for J. "PyroFalkon" Habib. If you plan to use any of it as part of another FAQ, you need my permission first. However, if you plan to post it on a website or e-mail it to someone or whatnot, you may do so without my permission AS LONG AS IT IS NOT ALTERED IN ANY WAY. I'd like you to drop me an e-mail so I know where you're going to take it, but I will not require you to do so. You may download it or print it at your leisure. The most updated version will always be found at these sites: http://www.gamefaqs.com/ http://faqs.ign.com/ Other sites may have up-to-date versions, but check GameFAQs or IGN first. +-----------------+ |+---------------+| ||9. CONTACT INFO|| |+---------------+| +-----------------+ If any information is incorrect, or you wish to submit something, please e-mail me. My address is found on the bottom of the FAQ. Credit will be given where it's due. If you submit something to me, I will credit you by the name you signed in the message body or by the name attached to your e-mail. I will also post your e- mail address unless you specifically tell me not to. If you wish to be e-mailed when this FAQ is updated, send your request to me. If you have a junk mail protector on your e-mail program, make sure you put my e-mail address on the safe list, or my messages may not get through. firstname.lastname@example.org Good luck in Madden NFL 2004, and may all your plays bring points.