I've written about this before, but I'm constantly frustrated with trying to put together a structured attack in RC4 right now. Here's why:
Flat Passes Cause Stopping
The flatter your players are to each other, the more you get stuck with this really annoying scenario of the receiver just flat out stopping to catch the ball. Here's an example:
This is off a set play. The 10 passes to the 12 (I think), who approaches from good depth. The 12 then passes to the 15, who is running up behind him at pace before the pass. The running lines are good. But because the passing angle is so narrow, the 15 just flat out stops to catch the ball. This should have been a nice flat pass at pace to put my 15 through. Instead, it results in a weird stop and start.
I think the culprit here is where the ball is released in relation to the passer's body. The ball actually ends up being released at the farthest point of the throwing motion, behind the player's body instead of at the correct point.
Where it should be released vs. where it's actually released:
Because the ball is now being released quite a distance away from where it should be due to the weird passing, the receiver stops so that he doesn't get in front of it, killing any attack.
This also happens off 9 to forwards:
The 5 starts to run forward, but because it's a flat pass, he has to stop to receive the ball. I can't quite point out a single culprit here. The passing animation from the 9 looks to be spot on. A lot of the time you get the diving pass animation to a forward next to you that takes a long time to complete, and that's usually the culprit of the pass-stop. Here, I think it's the 5 accelerating too fast from such a flat depth and then having to stop, which makes me think it's a logic issue.
And here's what that diving pass from 9 looks like:
It kills any momentum you might have had, and makes the game feel very jerky and rough.
So how do you fix flat passes?
Passing animations that release the ball properly.
Logic that matches the receiver's speed to the passer's, with variance accounting for player uniqueness.
Forwards that you can set farther back so they can smoothly run onto the ball, or that start their run so they can receive the ball smoothly.
Animations for catching the ball behind you at moderate pace.
A faster, flat pass for scenarios where it would be realistic.
An athletic waiting-to-receive-the-ball animation (rather than a stiff board with its arms out) for long bomb passes at a flat depth that realistically would require the receiver to stop.
Support Lines Logic Leave You With Empty Channels
There's a difference between running lines and support lines. For example, if I'm attacking with my backline on the wing, I'm expecting that my line runs together as a cohesive unit, holding to their channels. Like this:
A major problem is that the support line logic for this game sucks players out of position when you're trying to attack out wide. Like here:
From the maul, I'm thinking I have a 2v2 with power and pace on my side. As soon as I pick up the ball, the 2 and 11 fold inside towards me and give up the space. The 2 looks like he takes himself out of the attack, so I figure i'm passing to the 11, but nope my pass goes to the 2. I actually wanted to hit the 2 first, so I guess that's fine, but now my 11 is running past me the wrong way! I pass to him anyways because I had thought he'd be in that far space, and button presses queue up in this game. The ball bounces on grass and the whole thing is a mess.
So how do you fix support lines causing empty channels?
Players get in formation.
If ball-carrier comes within a certain radius, move players with them maintaining the minimum formation distance (and possibly depth).
If non-ball carrier comes within a certain radius, move players with them maintaining the minimum formation distance (and possibly depth).
OR, every player gets a default running line that triggers sequentially, depending in what zone the ball is.
Rugby 08 just lined the backs up and had them move with the ball-carrier like they were on a rod. I don't know if that's the right solution for RC4, but it's A solution.
Here's a stop-pass followed by the winger folding inside:
I do very much like that support rounding the corner, though. The support line logic isn't all bad.
I think focusing on fixing these two things will smooth out gameplay quite a bit on attack. I encounter them way, way too often, and it's a shame because I do have a lot of fun playing the game otherwise.