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

Even if you were a coach in the National Football League, you’d never get a chance to test your tactics on the field against famous coaches like Brian Billick, Bill Cowher, Jimmy Johnson, Tom Landry, or Dan Reeves—because they’re all retired (and Landry is deceased). But that’s exactly what players will be able to do online at Quick Hit, the football strategy game to be launched next month by the Foxborough, MA, startup of the same name.

As I explained in my profile of Quick Hit back in May, the company’s game is a free, advertising-supported football simulator where players act as coaches, assembling a team of athletes with a variety of skills and choosing plays for them to run against the opposing team—which might be coached by another player, or might be an AI (a software program or “artificial intelligence,” in gamer lingo). Quick Hit announced today that in single-player mode, players will have the option of playing against AIs customized to recreate the styles of Billick, Johnson, Landry, and Reeves. (The company had already signed Cowher, the former Pittsburgh Steelers coach who is now a CBS Sports analyst, as its “head coach.”)

The upgrade is meant to benefit players, but it’s also a kind of insurance policy, says Jeff Anderson, the startup’s CEO. Quick Hit will exit its private beta testing phase and open up to the public on September 9, one day before the Steelers face the Tennessee Titans on opening day of the real NFL season. Quick Hit has no way to predict whether the lobby area, where players meet up to start one-on-one games, will be empty or full. So having interesting AIs to play against will give visitors something to do right away.

Quick Hit Screenshot“Frankly, too, there are times when a player doesn’t want to play another player and feel that competitive pressure, but just practice against an AI,” says Anderson. “That way you can train up your players and get some new skills.” A points system built into Quick Hit rewards players for various accomplishments. Defeating the NFL AIs, who are all part of the game’s highest difficulty setting, will bring “much larger bonuses,” Anderson says, meaning the player’s team will be in stronger shape for the next game.

The decision to add the new AIs came only a couple of months ago, despite the fact that the clock on the company’s beta testing was rapidly winding down. “We had Bill Cowher up at our offices doing some voice recording, and after the heavy lifting we sat him down and asked him if he wanted to play a game with us,” says Anderson. “Not only did he have fun, but what was fascinating to us was how he would look at the plays—more like an expert chess player, linking players to create a winning strategy. Clearly, this man has spent his life and his entire craft focused on this art. We realized how fun it was to … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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2 responses to “Quick Hit Will Let Players Pit Football Skills Against Legendary NFL Coaches”

  1. Miramon says:

    > 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.

  2. Wade RoushWade Roush says:

    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.