GAME OVR – The Strange Obsession With OVR Ratings In Sports Games

In gaming all ‘ability’ levels are based around number ratings and scales.  The only difference in ratings comes in how they are presented (or not presented) to the user.  Everything from guns in Call of Duty to Spin Ratings for Defensive Tackles in Madden have some sort of numerical value – even if they aren’t presented to you in that fashion, the ratings are numerically based once you dig into the guts and binary code of the game.  That said, there is one rating in-particular that seems to be an obsession with sports gamers… the Overall (OVR) rating.

In Madden NFL, NBA 2K, NHL, FIFA, NCAA Football (RIP), etc. the primary measure of a player’s worth is in his OVR rating.  While the determining factors for a player’s OVR may differ between games it seems that it is the only thing that matters to most sports gamers in determining a player’s value/talent in the given game.  Granted, in Madden and NCAA the other rating of almost equal importance over the last 10+ years has been Speed (SPD) ratings for ‘skill’ positions – OVR is still king when it comes to determining the success and worth of a player.  In fact, it should be changed to a ‘Physical’ (PHY) rating as we develop a totally new rating.

How Do You Increase OVR In Madden?

To get this out of the way, there have been many people asking how to increase the OVR of their players in Madden 25.  This is rather simple as long as you are earning enough XP for the player during your Franchise/Career mode.  Always start with the Awareness Rating (AWR) of the player and you will soon see the OVR jump substantially.  After that, it is all about investing in the position specific categories for the player.  So, if you have a QB – start with AWR and then move to Throwing Accuracy, Throwing Power and so-forth.  If you have a HB, I suggest starting again with AWR and then moving onto Spin, Juke, Stiff Arm, etc.  Hopefully this helps – but when in doubt you should always start with the mysterious AWR Rating.

How To Best Rate Players?

This is a question that often creeps up in sports gaming forums.  While there is a necessity to depend on numerical ratings for players (at least in the ‘hidden guts’ of the game, as stated above) there seems to be a growing divide among sports gamers as to how these ratings should be shown to the gamer – or if they should be at all.

Madden NFL’s rating system is vast and sometimes confusing (or simply meaningless in some cases).  With Donny Moore being the primary focus of players getting weekly boosts or reductions in ratings based on their real-life performance for online roster updates there are many gamers and fans out there that question his ability to make the right changes.  I have been critical of his rating changes in the past and I am not about to retract my remarks or references.  However, it is feeling more and more like the best way to rate players in Franchise/Association/Career/Owner modes should be determined by more than some sort of absolute numerical value on an interactive in-game spreadsheet.

Every team and franchise values players differently.  Every owner, coach, scout and fan places different values on players as well.  This is where I believe the best rating system should include a mix of numbers, letters and gold stars (yeah, I said it – gold stars).

The grade of a player’s SPD should be determined by multiple factors – including game/season fatigue to start.  Also, this all important rating should also be determined by weather conditions (including high heat) and agility if necessary.

As for ‘Overall’ (OVR) I am of the strong opinion that it should be changed to ‘Value’ (VAL).  This might seem just as arbitrary as OVR but if we changed the rating to VAL and based it around the play-style/coaching style of the gamer and the resulting ‘fan value’ of a player it would make for a far more realistic experience in career modes and in the game.

Explaining The “Value Rating” In Detail With Examples

My suggested value rating would require an extremely ‘organic’ and amoeba-like rating system that changes from week to week and moment to moment.  This would also likely be extremely difficult to develop without serious bugs in code, etc. – but why not consider it anyway?

It all starts with creating an initial philosophy.  This will differ depending on at which level you are assuming control of your team (Owner, Coach, etc.).  Some owners are all about making money first and having a great team second (think Randy Lerner in Cleveland).  Other owners like to think they are the best judges of talent in the league (think Jerry Jones and the late Al Davis).  Then you have owners like Robert Craft that support a coach that they trust and watch the victories (and the money) pour into their franchise.

Madden has started to make this type of change recently with Coaching Schemes playing a role in the ratings of players.  However, this hasn’t translated to any real changes in the gameplay (which is a different discussion altogether).  The downfall in this is that the players are still being judged on their scheme type and ratings in their OVR rather than their production and value to the franchise, team and fans.

The VAL rating would consider the percentage of time that player is on the field.  How many times the player touched the ball and perhaps how often the gamer controls that player on defense.  If you start taking into consideration the value you place on some players in terms of actually using them it becomes a much more involved and introspective gaming experience.

My Madden 13 CCM with the Cleveland Browns has reached the 2020 season and I have developed some of my players into some of the statistically best players that have ever played.  My 2013 Draft Pick was a 2nd Rd QB, Mark Mallett out of Oregon State.  He has developed into the best QB in the league averaging over 43 TDs and 5000 yards a season.  He has also won four Super Bowls (with 4 MVPs to go with them).  I decided that in his contract renewal process that I would reward him for being the franchise player that he is and I did this with a 6-Year $132 million deal.  I followed that up with a deal for Joe Haden to stay with my team through the 2026 season.  The moral of the story is that even if Mallett hadn’t progressed with his physical ratings he would still warrant a huge contract no matter what and this is because of his value… not his skills.

Tom Brady doesn’t exactly run like the wind… neither does Peyton Manning.  Somehow they are still considered the two best QBs in the NFL.  Sure, they have good arms and are accurate passers – but they are also smart/intelligent leaders.  This is where the performance of players under ‘user/gamer’ control should start to develop this same Value as games and seasons progress.

What do you think?  How should ratings be decided in sports gaming?

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NCAA Football 14 and Beyond

The first time a game franchise was taken away/cancelled was after College Hoops 2K8 was cancelled.  NCAA Football 15 was recently cancelled after the O’Bannon case against the use of collegiate player likeness in games without proper compensation, etc.  Now that the bad news has been released it is time for the gaming community to rise to the occasion – like they always do.

ncaa-football-presentation-2

Just because NCAA Football 15 is cancelled doesn’t mean that there can’t be some sort of editing to make it possible – albeit on ‘older’ software.  By editing the roster files in the game and even possibly using hex-editing skills to really make it feel like a new game.

Fear not NCAA Football fans.  All is not lost as long as you take an active role in the community and work to keep your favorite game alive.

Madden 25 – Choosing A Team In Connected Franchise Mode

Now that we are about six weeks into the NFL Regular Season there are many surprises in the league as far as performance and records go.  There are already many teams vying for the #1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft while others are suddenly looking like they think they can make a surprise playoff run.  Here is a list of some teams you might want to consider using in Connected Franchise Mode with some ideas of how to build them to success.

Obviously Bad Teams

JagsThe Jaguars are among the worst teams in the NFL and we knew this before the season started.  Given the fact that their Quarterback situation is almost laughable.  When running this team it might be wise to create a new owner as well (unless you want to be the Wario look-a-like Shahid ‘Shao’ Khan.  Also, taking it upon yourself to look into trading Maurice Jones-Drew for a potential draft pick might be something to consider if throwing away the season is on your possibility list.  Another action to consider for a fun storyline would be signing Tim Tebow and trying to save the franchise in Jacksonville.  Otherwise, moving the team to Los Angeles might be the absolute best idea… even if EA doesn’t do much to make it worthwhile to move a team other than strictly in being in a new city.

BucsTampa Bay is in desperate need for an overhaul in how their team is run.  If that means you go through a season with Greg Schiano leading the way with his faux-military take no prisoners style or possibly just creating yourself as an intelligent player’s coach – the choice is yours.  With the departure of Josh Freeman there is a possible storyline to go with in using rookie QB, Mike Glennon and having him lead the Bucs to success.  Otherwise, you might want to start looking into the potential for getting someone in the draft or free agency.  You will have a decent base of skill players to use with Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams at WR on top of having the ‘muscle hamster’ Doug Martin at HB.  Tampa Bay isn’t a terrible team, but they could use some serious help and changes – starting at the top.

Surprisingly Bad Teams

SteelersThis team has been a perennial contender for the last decade and they are starting to show their age… not to mention some serious holes in personnel.  When they lost their starting Center in Pouncey it looked bad.  Now that the season has started and they have no real answer at HB, WR, OL, LB or DB it is looking like they might need more work than anyone ever thought.  Maybe it is because they play in what used to be a two-team division and they are simply falling behind the other teams.  Either way it goes, the Steelers are a team that could potentially use a huge front office change and maybe a new face for the franchise if Big Ben proves to be declining as much as he seems to be.  Do yourself a favor and revamp the O-Line before you do anything.  Try to sign a true #1 WR and hope that the defense can pick it up.  The potential for a fun rebuild is there in using the Steelers – and suddenly it isn’t so surprising.

GmenThe Giants are in trouble.  This is a team that just a few years ago won two Super Bowls.  Now they are looking similar to the Steelers in almost every way.  The Giants have started to look like an aging team and Eli Manning is starting to look like the player he was early in his career throwing INTs like they are going out of style.  This compounded by the fact that they are a team without a true HB threat.  Bringing back Brandon Jacobs was surprising after he had been released by the team rather recently.  Their defense was once one of the most feared in the league and now it has more holes than a block of swiss cheese.  Taking over ownership of this team could be a lot of fun if you want to get rid of Manning and start fresh.  Although, that could be a long road ahead.

 

Surprisingly Decent Teams

BrownsCleveland is a team that looked like they were destined to go 0-16 after two weeks and suddenly they are tied for first place in the AFC North.  While they are a team on the rise, they are also a team without a true answer at QB or HB.  While Josh Gordon seems to be a legitimate threat to be a Top-10 WR in the league and Jordan Cameron is one of the better TEs this season the Browns need some serious help in offensive skill positions.  On defense, the Browns are among the best in the NFL and this is largely due to the aggressive approach they have taken under Defensive Coordinator, Ray Horton.  You might want to look into getting some help for Joe Haden on the other side of the field at #2 CB.  Otherwise, this is a team that simply needs a couple pieces before they become a true contender.

ChiefsKansas City is starting to look like a serious contender with new coach, Andy Reid.  If you were to take this team to a 5-0 record in your first season in Madden it suddenly isn’t too far-fetched.  However, this doesn’t mean that they are a perfect team that doesn’t need any help.  They have some good pieces to play with in Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe and even Alex Smith at QB.  This goes with a defense that is rather dangerous and can hold their own against virtually any team in the league.  It could be fun to take over the Chiefs and make some moves to make this a team to compete with the Broncos for the AFC West.

PS4 vs. XBox One – Which Console Will Have The First ‘Light of Death’?

In the next couple months we will finally be able to purchase one or both of the latest consoles from Sony and Microsoft.

The question on every jaded gamers’ mind is – “Which one will have the Red Ring of Death (RROD)/Yellow Light of Death (YLOD) first?

The sad state of affairs in console gaming became an on-going joke when the initial PS3 and XBox 360 models began to over-heat and fail in large numbers within months of release.  The 360 took the majority of the flack as the RROD left almost every owner of the original ‘white’ XBox in fear that their console would greet them with the E-72/74 error.  I was one of the many that had to send their console into M$ and wait impatiently for my gaming to return almost 2 months later.

The PS3 wasn’t left out of this tragic hilarity either.  Many of the original PS3’s (not as high of a % as the 360) started to overheat around the cell processer/gpu chip-set and required either a long trip to Sony for a fix or some sort of repair by melting the solder on your own with a heat gun… or even your kitchen oven (<— I know, right?).  The moral to this story should be more of a warning than anything to people that want to get the new consoles on release day.  You are going to be beta testers and you will get a front row seat to the engineering failures of the PS4 and XBox One.

Which Has a Better Design For Ventilation?

This is really anyone’s guess, but we can try to take a look at the consoles in their case design as well as their specs and start placing our bets.

Considering both consoles are very similar in their power specs there shouldn’t be a lot of differential in heat produced.  However, the PS4 is already ahead of the game by using DDR5 RAM instead of the XBONE’s slower DDR3.

Sony seems to be learning from the mistakes they made in the design of the original PS3.  While the PS4 is still relatively large in size, it isn’t enormous with a strange curvature and tiny vents like the ‘Fat’ original PS3.

The PS4 seems to be trying for a well vented rear section rather than from the top side.
The PS4 seems to be trying for a well vented rear section rather than from the top side.

Microsoft seems to think that the answer is to simply keep the console enormous and implement enormous ventilation areas.

xbonevents
The XBox One has allocated half of the top of the console as well as the side and a slot on the back of the machine for ventilation.

Which One Will Fail First?

Based strictly off of pictures of the case designs the XBox One has an advantage in ventilation area but the sheer size of the console drives me to worry about the internal design and engineering of the console.  The one thing that changed between models of the 360 and PS3 was that they got smaller (as most technologies do) as time went on.

The PS4 seems to be trying to go in a similar direction to the PS3 original with rear vents (albeit, bigger vents).  However, this might seem to be a case where less is more when compared to the XBox One.

THE VERDICT

The XBox One will pose a greater risk for dying first and it is primarily because of the location of the vents on top of the console.  While there is more ‘ventilation’ on the console itself, it is opening the worst possible part up for dust to settle by default.  Consider the amount of dust that gathers in a console just through the back slots (even in a clean house).  Now think about how much dust will find a way into the top of your console over the course of time.

The size of this console and the placement of a giant fan under the top vent is begging to become a dust collector.

What Console War? – XBox One and PS4 Aren’t Much Different

I have been fielding questions from friends, family and NoobTubeTV visitors lately and now I will just put this out there for everyone to read.

The next-gen consoles really aren’t that different from each other.  With some minor differences in RAM speed and other internal tuning the consoles are relatively similar machines on the inside.  The real difference will come in the $100 difference in price on release day with the PS4 being the cheaper of the two.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the system specifications.

Playstation 4 vs Xbox One specs

After going down this list of specs you won’t see much different in the primary specs.  Also, for those that say that PlayStation Online Network is free and XBox isn’t… that argument is over as PS3 will now have a fee to play multiplayer games.  However, that doesn’t mean you will have to find a new receiver for Netflix as it should (still) work just fine with the free online account.

Also, there are conflicting reports out there and let it be stated here that neither system is ‘backwards compatible’ with titles from older consoles.  However, the PS4 will be able to stream games from the old system if that is any consolation (no pun intended).  So, keep that PS3/360 if you plan on wanting to play Grand Theft Auto 5 for the foreseeable future.

What other questions do you have about the coming release of the new consoles?  Put them in the comments section below.

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