We’ve got the most detailed CFM interview yet with Madden NFL CFM Creative Director Kolbe Launchbaugh who gives us the scoop on CFM goals, scouting, XP, the combine, draft boards and more in part one of this two part interview.

The Natural: The is the Natural with Sports Gamers Online and we’re here with the one and only Kolbe Launchbaugh here at EA Sports, he is the creative director of CFM, a lot of the great modes that we all love, we’re excited to talk to you, and tell us a little about some new features and stuff from Madden 16.

Kolbe Launchbaugh: Alright, well, you guys have all seen the press release, we’ve got a bunch of new features in CFM, rather than talking about the press release, why don’t you tell me the questions you want to know about it, what type of stuff do you want to know?

The Natural: Sure, we’re really excited about the weekly goals that they have for this year and how you guys have enhanced that and changed that with the weekly goals, and some of the drive, the per drive goals that you have going now, this year, which are really cool.

Kolbe Launchbaugh: Alright, yeah, so we have overhauled the goal system, we did make some big changes to the weekly goals. Last year, all of the weekly goals were kind of fire and forget, one off weeks, this year, the weekly goals, they can tell a little bit of a story. They can chain together, so if you have a young running back, or if you have a young running back on your team, depending on how you’re playing, and you’re starting to have a breakout year, you’ll start to get a series of goals called ‘breakout running back,’ and it starts to help you improve and give you more and more XP as you achieve harder and harder goals throughout your season. Sort of how any breakout running back might have happen to him, he might get more and more carries, more and more opportunities to improve himself, this is trying to kind of mirror and mimic that effect that happens in reality in a game with that mechanic.

The Natural: That’s awesome! So, different teams in the CFM, they might have totally, a whole different set of goals for different players?

Kolbe Launchbaugh: Absolutely, yeah, no, dependent on what’s happening to you inside of your CFM, I apologize, I’m losing my voice a little bit. And I’ll tell you a little bit more about the dynamic game goals; those each pertain to the specific drive, and we have this new presentation feature called a ‘drive starter,’ and the drive starter looks at the situation of the game, what’s happening in the past in the game, kind of like the story of this drive, and starts to tell a presentation story and an audio story about what’s going on. Well, the drive goals hook into that feature, and for the most part, they’re going to piggyback on that and tell the same story, so if they’re talking about getting the game started or getting the quarterback hot, you might get a complete three passes in a row to get the quarterback going, so to build his confidence, you can literally gain confidence now while in the game.

The Natural: So, that’s also tied, a little bit, to the commentaries there, a little bit, tied into that?

Kolbe Launchbaugh: Well, we don’t actually say ‘get your drive goal and you’ll get confidence,’ because that’d be stupid. But, what we do, we tell it in the fiction of the football game, right? So the fans might be talking about how they really got to get the ball going, I’m sure they’re going to look to throw the ball there to get the game started, they’ll say things like that, that line probably doesn’t exist, but something like that does, to make the game feel like it’s really more contextual and really knows more about what’s going on and adding in those drive goals with it helps you in the game to, kind of, be apart of that world.

The Natural: We’re super excited about that, as soon as we saw that drive goal feature, we thought it was very cool. Another way to build up confidence and get some XP for you player sin the game, which is awesome. So, about, like, one thing I was concerned about with that, though, was do you think those drive goals are kind of shaped how the player plays the game, as in, let’s say if he’s more of a runner and you’re saying ‘you need to pass for 50 yards in this job,’ do you feel you’re kind of shaping the gameplay within the game by doing that?

Kolbe Launchbaugh: If you listen to the drive goals, a little bit. But, the drive goals really are not there to force you to play the way that you want to play, it’s really there to help you augment your team. So, if you’ve got a guy who’s low on confidence and you know ‘oh man, I’ve got to help this guy, he needs a confident boost, so I’m going to go ahead and do the drive goal for my wide receiver, I’m going to throw him these three balls, and get him that plus one confidence and help him get out of the slump he’s in,’ that’s a real thing. It may not be literally communicated to passes to Larry Fitzgerald to get him out of his slump, but if you’re playing (I’m a Cardinal fan, by the way), but if you’re playing with the Cardinals, that may not be happen what happens in reality with Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald, but they will try and get him involved in the game, they will try and get him some isolated catches, some easier catches to get him back started up again. You know, it happens all the time in reality; we’re trying to mimic it and try to represent that a little bit with a game feature.

The Natural: Another big thing you guys got going this year is you’ve kind of re-did the scouting a little bit and how you can take away and see the first three portions of scouting, can you talk a little bit about the scouting features and how you guys improved and re-worked that?

Kolbe Launchbaugh: Sure, so, I mean, I’m sure you know, last year the scouting was- you had all of the attributes available to you, you kind of would pick and choose what you wanted to reveal and you spent XP to get his letter grade, you spent time to get the actual number and then you can spend XP on whatever you wanted. Well, the problem that gives you is that as a hardcore guy, you know, I only care about these two traits, and it’s like development trait and speed. Everything else doesn’t matter, I mean, because all I want is that, so it made it pretty easy to go do scouting. The other thing that made it really easy was the idea that you can store up all your scouting points all year long and then right before the draft, right after everything’s happened to you, you know, you’ve lost your game players and agency, guys have retired, you know, you could or couldn’t pick somebody else up in stringency. So, you know, ‘okay, this is exactly what I need, I have the perfect plan with the perfect amount of scouting points to go get the perfect guy.’

The Natural: That’s exactly what I did!

Kolbe Launchbaugh: That’s exactly what everybody in the league does, that’s exactly like you. So, we wanted to make it more like reality, and I know you could argue that this is not like reality, and it’s not, it’s the game iteration, the game interpretation of reality.

The Natural: So, it’s the closest thing?

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Curtis Knight
A fan of sports game since his first EA sports title Madden 93. "The Natural" has been an active member of the Sports Gaming community since joining the MWS in 2003. Having participated and won in the Madden challenge and countless other tournaments earlier in his career he has moved on to more of a sim style over the years. He is always looking to do what he can to push simulation style gaming forward.