Quick Hit Will Let Players Pit Football Skills Against Legendary NFL Coaches

8/25/09Follow @wroush

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watch him do that, and thought about how we could bring that experience to life for our users.”

Anderson says the company concluded that it needed to recruit a series of retired coaching icons “and have each of them come in with their own approach, style, and playbook and do a faithful representation of what it would be like to play each of these guys for real.”

So how does Quick Hit transform a real coach into an AI? “The way you play football is ultimately by looking at the team and the players on the team,” says Anderson. “So the first thing we do is construct the teams to be emblematic of the real teams those coaches built.”

Quick Hit doesn’t have a license from the National Football League, so it can’t explicitly recreate certain players—but it can model them through software settings. “When you think of Brian Billick, he had an amazing linebacker in Ray Lewis, and he built his entire defense around a guy like that. Landry had a different approach with guys like Randy White and [Ed] ‘Too Tall’ Jones,” Anderson says. “So we create teams reflecting the personnel they had.”

Next, Quick Hit’s programmers looked at how the coaches marshalled their resources. “How did they use their skill to get the best out of those players? The next step for us is to look at the playbook, and that includes a variety of things on the offensive and defensive sides.” Anderson didn’t go into detail about this area, but the Quick Hit system gives players an extensive choice of plays to run on each down, so this part of the AI-building may have involved matching the coaches with existing plays, or perhaps programming new plays to match those the coaches actually used.

Anderson says Quick Hit worked closely with all of the actual coaches “to make the best possible AIs to match their play patterns, within the constraints of our software. Some of them went above and beyond and got very deep into crafting the AIs to match their personalities and experience.”

The exception, of course, is Tom Landry, the fedora-wearing coach who led the Dallas Cowboys to five Superbowl appearances, won two of them, and died in 2000. Says Anderson, “We didn’t have the opportunity, obviously, to work with Coach Landry, but we worked with the estate, and we had some good resources available to us—documentaries and historical footage that lets you look at the kinds of plays they ran and the formations they set.”

Football fans will be able to go up against Landry and the other coaches just 15 days from now. Ironically, Westwood, MA-based Turbine, where Anderson was CEO until 2007, has announced that it will launch a new, free version of Dungeons & Dragons Online, one of its massively multiplayer online games, on September 9, the same day as Quick Hit. But Anderson isn’t too worried about competition from the fantasy title. “I assume it’s a coincidence,” he says. “They’re not really the same kind of audience.”

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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  • Miramon

    > That way you can train up your players
    > and get some new skills.

    So it’s really a MMPORPG? You start with a lousy QB, but he gets better when you grind a whole bunch of games, and as a reward he gets throwing-strength points and accuracy points and evasion points and so on?

    Sounds kind of silly to me. Not much strategy when you can just “level up” your players to get them better.

  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/wroush/ Wade Roush

    Miramon, you have the right idea but I would suggest giving Quick Hit a try before you dismiss the idea. It’s true that Quick Hit is adapting the concept of experience points from the MMORPG genre (logical given Anderson’s history at Turbine) but my understanding is that they’re applying it in ways that will feel very intuitive to football fans and people who are looking for a challenge for their minds rather than just their dexterity with a game controller (a la Madden NFL). In any case, you should read my previous piece about Quick Hit — I asked Anderson several questions about this subject.