The Witcher 3 Will Still Grab Your Heart Strings – And That’s A Good Thing

As I play through The Witcher 3 – The Wild Hunt for the second time I am paying more attention to side quests and taking a new direction on the main quests as well. That is the best part about New Game + (the option some RPGs are giving to play the game again with some new quirks added to the successive playthroughs of the story).

For those of you that haven’t played The Witcher 3 please take this as a warning that…

SPOILERS ARE AHEAD SPOILERS ARE AHEAD SPOILERS ARE AHEAD

SPOILERS ARE AHEAD SPOILERS ARE AHEAD SPOILERS ARE AHEAD

Bloody Baron
When you play through The Witcher 3 and make the less sympathetic decisions this is the general response from most characters… especially The Bloody Baron.

As much as I wish I could play through a game the first time as a complete a-hole and do most of the things that we reserve for the sociopathic tendencies some people exhibit digitally or in gaming – I just can’t do it. Maybe that’s a sign I am a bit more sympathetic and empathetic than I sometimes think I am. Either way – I just started playing through the initial quests and came across the questline with the Bloody Baron… the botchling in-particular.

I decided to attack and kill the botchling this time around. Not only was it incredibly difficult (even on the easiest difficulty level) but it was the exact opposite in terms of rewards and overall effects on the relationship you have with the Bloody Baron. I had no idea that it would take such a reversal from what I had experienced on the first play-through when I saved the botchling.

That is part of the benefit of playing through a second time. The biggest downside to this is that I have been using one primary save file while doing this because I felt that it would keep me focused on one path of decisions throughout the second play-through. While that is true, I found instant regret in saving the game after this battle. It left me with a sour taste in my mouth and real questions about what this choice really does that provides any good outcome for Geralt immediately after. The loot from the botchling wasn’t anything special and the Baron’s reaction when I told him to ‘calm down’ wasn’t exactly surprising either – but it also left me thinking that he will not be much of an ally for me later on as I play through the other quests.

I think I have the heart to play through the game and continue making the opposite decisions from what I normally would, but I can’t help to already look forward to my third play-through just so I can finish playing this game with a clean conscience.

What’s the worst decision you made while playing an RPG in terms of feeling bad about the outcome or how you had to go about doing something?

The only one I can think of off the top of my head is when my decision led to Jack’s death in Mass Effect 2… that one still gets me.

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Pick Bad Teams For Franchise Mode At Your Own Peril In MLB 18

As I finished downloading the OSFM 1.5 Roster I started to think about which team I wanted to use for my initial three-year contract on MLB 18: The Show’s Franchise Mode. Most aspects of Franchise Mode are generally fun for those of us that enjoy crunching numbers in terms of which players we can afford and how we can project our team succeeding because of our prowess as a General Manager.

Josh Bell MLB 18
Josh Bell’s Lone Home Run In My Time With The Pirates (12 Games) was to the shortest part of Comerica Park. (Where Home Runs Go To Die)

I generally avoid using top-tier teams because it takes the roster building out of the game in the initial season for the most part. That left me with a few teams I wanted to test out for the sake of their stadium and the players I’d be working with.

I have no desire to use the Marlins or the Rays because I truly can’t stomach either stadium and believe that both teams should be relocated for the sake of obligation to cities that actually have good sports fans no matter how their team is doing… that’s right – ‘shots fired’.

This left me with trying the Braves, Tigers, and Pirates.

The Braves would have been a great one to use before they lost a bunch of their top prospects because they violated numerous laws in the real world. So, that means you get Freddie Freeman as your power bat and then Dansby Swanson and Ronald Acuna. Sure, two prospects that have a lot of promise is nice, but wow… the team is hot garbage outside of that.

Onward, you have the Pirates, a team that is half-gutted with a couple mediocre additions in Musgrove and Dickerson. Once you realize that the team has virtually no one that can hit for power (Josh Bell is meh…) you will see that they have even worse pitching and you are wasting valuable trade currency by keeping Marte and Harrison around. I feel the same about Romero as the closer… seriously, why would any team keep a 90+ OVR closer if they won’t win more than 70 games? This team is at least another five years away from winning in any sort of sim experience.

The Tigers… well, let’s just say that Miguel Cabrera is literally the only player worth anything to your lineup. Fulmer seems to be a shadow of his former rookie year exploits. The rest of the team and the farm system are basically a perfect personification and ‘playerfication’ for the city of Detroit. Trash is less trashy than the MLB 18 version of the Tigers. Add to it that they have a stadium that is conducive to boring baseball with the furthest Center Field wall in the MLB and no real way to rob home runs if you had a player that could jump – yeah – it’s that bad.

The only saving grace is that these teams will give you longevity in your journey to build a team from nothing. Outside of that – you will see that being a poor team in money and in performance is an aneurism waiting to happen. Well, not waiting… give it about five games – it’s a short waiting period for a video game aneurism.

Good Luck!

MLB 18 The Show – Sliders and Rosters

This year I will not be waiting for the OSFM Rosters. I will be using rosters for Franchise Mode that incorporate the top prospects with limited ratings changes and special attention to the potential ratings of these new players.

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After simming through to draft day a couple of times I found that there are usually between one and a maximum of three players with 99 Potential in any draft class. I would argue that it should be rare for there to be three with that top rating… 95-98 should be just as rare in my not so humble opinion.

By midnight tonight I will also have sliders uploaded to the MLB Vault under the name ‘NoobTubeTV Sliders v1.0’. The roster will be named ‘NoobTubeTV Opening Day Roster’. This is primarily because I don’t find a lot of value in having completely updated rosters from June 15 if I have to start every season on March 29… it doesn’t bode well for the in-game rosters staying where you want them to be if you have CPU Trades turned on in this case.

I have also switched my batting camera from Fish Eye to Strike Zone 2. This gives a bit more immersion and makes it fun to judge balls and strikes. I have come to love this camera angle for Franchise mode.

Pitching difficulty has always left me a bit irritated because I can’t tell if it’s actually only for pitching or if the CPU batters are also more difficult. While I don’t particularly enjoy striking out 16 batters every time I pitch, I also don’t have a lot of joy when it comes to Legend difficulty and CPU batters hammering 10 home runs a game off of me. To that end, I have decided to stick with dynamic pitching difficulty at this point with the slider left at default for adjustment.

I have also gone to my house rule of pitching until I allow a CPU Run. This makes sure that I start every game batting and pitching and if I want to get those big strike out totals and such, I have to earn them and hope I shut out the CPU in the process. I have only managed to do this twice over the course of 15 games so far.

The three strike out rule with walks and home runs to counter-balance those outs has also given me a lot of fun games and more walks than I can remember in past iterations.

Speaking of more walks, I have been having a heck of a time trying to get the pitching sliders to function in a way that will allow the CPU to give me more reason to take pitches. The first couple of games I played felt like three out of every four pitches was a hitable strike. I have since changed the sliders around in a way that has produced a lot of fun at-bats.

Speaking of fun at-bats. I am all for having ‘realistic stats’ and gameplay. However, I noticed an incredible lack of hitting on the user side with All Star difficulty. I would have hits timed well and with the default hitting set to zone, I would also have location perfect… only to have a weak grounder or a popup. It felt realistic for a couple of games. Then it eventually felt cheap as the CPU would have the same contact for line drives in the gaps and seeing eye grounders. This has led me to adjust the first sliders to benefit the user in a way that gives a bit more solid hits and forgiveness for what I believe is a continued timing issue in MLB. This has been well documented by the community of MLB The Show and I prefer to change my sliders instead of complaining about it in forums.

The only aspect of this I have noticed is that I am seeing a lot more triples than I had back in MLB 17 (or any iteration of The Show). I have also noticed that it gives me a lot more long fly ball outs and feels appropriate when looking at home runs. I will most likely make an adjustment at some point when they undoubtedly patch something in the game and break the functionality of my first slider set. That’s how it goes in sports gaming – you deal with the little things that annoy you so you can have a great time.

Speaking of a great time, I am truly enjoying the game this year and hope SDS continues to listen to the community the way they have been. Look for the Opening Day NoobTubeTV files in the MLB Vault in the next few hours. Here are the slider adjustments as of today if you don’t have internet to download the uploaded file.

Slider Adjustments (All other sliders are default unless stated below)

Human Batting

Power +2

Timing+1

Foul Frequency -1

Solid Hits +1

Human Pitching

Starter Stamina +1

Reliever Stamina -1

CPU Batting

Contact +1

Foul Frequency -2

CPU Pitching

Starter Stamina +1

Reliever Stamina -1

Control -1

Strike Frequency – 1

Pickoff -1

Fastball Speed +3

Offspeed +3

Global Settings

All Errors +1

Fielder Speed -1

MLB 18 – Franchise Mode House Rules

The first rules I generally set for myself in any sort of Franchise Mode involves trading and player acquisition. In my last post, I talked about the sim gameplay aspect of using directional batting – after trying this for the last couple days, I firmly stand by this suggestion. The team management area of franchise mode is what drives me to have the most fun with the game. It can also lead you towards a short-lived journey if you don’t set up some rules to prevent you from dominating a less than stellar CPU AI when it comes to trades and team building.

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Trades/Free Agents During Season

  1. You have to select the players you want from a specific team before offering your own player(s).
  2. You may make one trade in the initial Spring Training (Two trades in following spring trainings).
  3. You are permitted one trade before the All Star Game and it must not occur until at least May 1.
  4. You are permitted two trades after the All Star Break.
  5. You can only sign a free agent during your first season if your team suffers an injury on the MLB level that requires 60 Day – DL.

Scouting Prospects –

I generally prefer to take the scouting aspect as a personal project, but the more I look at how MLB 17 runs things, I tend to believe that leaving scouting on Auto allows your scouts to actually do what they will do based on their ratings. This also prevents the user from figuring out how to find all of the Top Prospects with ease.

In-Game Rules

There are only a couple basic rules I set for myself for MLB The Show. First, I believe that user control generally makes for a better performing team overall. Once you get settings/sliders that provide you with optimal challenge and enjoyment it is crucial to set up a system that you can follow without second guessing your rules.

Here are mine for MLB 18.

  1. Pitching/Defense – Once you allow the first run you must Quick Manage the remainder of the defensive halves of each inning until the 9th inning. If you wish, you may use your closer if there is a save situation.
  2. Batting – You get THREE strike outs per game. These can be offset if you draw walks. If you strike out twice and then draw a walk you can subtract one of those strike outs. Once you strike out three times you must quick manage each half inning your team is at bat until the ninth inning. You can also allow a home run to reset all strike outs.

That’s it… pretty simple in the scheme of things. You will find that your season will progress a bit quicker and you will have a bit less direct influence on the simulation feel of the stats, etc. Also, I have found that this rule gives me a better eye at the plate because walks give me a real goal to offset strike outs.

There are more updates coming. Baseball season is finally here… even if it is 30 degrees outside.

MLB 18 – Franchise Mode Batting – Directional FTW

As we approach the release of MLB The Show 18 I believe this is a discussion that needs to happen for the sake of many that will be starting a Franchise Mode in hopes of seeing a more realistic performance from their batters. (This does not take sliders into consideration as I believe that has more impact on what happens after the bat hits the ball… this isn’t totally the case with User Timing and Foul Frequency – just go with it.)

mlb-the-show-18

I have been using Zone Batting for most of my MLB 17 experience. After finishing a couple seasons with two different teams I felt that Zone Batting providing me with more personal immersion in some ways, but it took away from other aspects in terms of franchise mode in general.

Zone Batting (for those that don’t know about it) is when the user controls the eye/swinging zone (Plate Coverage Indicator – PCI) of the batter in the predetermined area of the strike zone with the left analog stick. As the pitch approaches the plate the user then moves the PCI to the correct area and either swings with the Right Analog Stick or presses the swing button of choice.
The other batting style I have used in the past is Directional Batting. It takes the PCI out of the picture completely for the user. Using this type of batting you simply press the left analog stick in the direction you’d like the batter to hit the ball if contact is made. This leaves much of if not all of the actual contact and overall hitting to be determined by the batting ratings of the batter in question. This is why I feel that a debate is necessary in terms of which aspect provides a more simulation experience from the point of view of batting.

This year I will be conducting my franchise batting exclusively with Directional Batting. As much as I love to have my team dominate and win with a lot of home runs, etc. I also think a Franchise’s longevity is based on the immersion of player development and performance. More ratings come into effect when you take away the user implementation and I argue that that is a good thing for modes that generally require a bit more thought in team building and player ability than user ability.

Taking the use of the PCI out of the picture is only a part of what I will be doing. This season I will also be taking away the ability to ‘guess the pitch’. Again, I want my players to perform based on their abilities and other such things that will hopefully cause me to take a bit more time in deciding who I want to draft, sign, release, and/or trade.

I managed to take the Athletics and Reds to a 2017 World Series primarily because I was good enough with zone batting that it didn’t matter what a batter’s ‘vision rating’ was. I hit over 30 home runs with 6 of my 8 position players during the Oakland Franchise. I am excited about the prospect of taking multiple seasons to build a team into a contender. I have yet to decide which team I would like to use. Up until this point, zone batting made it a bit easier no matter who was on my team. Directional batting will change everything this year, and I look forward to sharing a new NoobTubeTV feature with all of you once MLB 18 comes out.

—- As an aside, I fully support using Zone Batting in Road to the Show and in all Online formats as the interaction is a bit more user focused in and of itself.

Madden 18 CFM and Gameplay House Rules

House rules for Madden 18 are here for you to start planning your Madden NFL experience!

Madden 18 – Franchise Mode and Gameplay House Rules

As most of the Franchise Mode players out there know, sometimes we have to make our own unwritten rules in order to keep our team from dominating the CPU in every facet of the game.

Draft Picks – It has always been easy to horde draft picks as the CPU becomes dumber as the seasons go on.  This year, we saw the Browns end up with three first round picks.  It doesn’t happen often, but it also happened – so I understand the view of ‘I do what I want to the cognitively disabled CPU.’.

This year will be the toughest draft house rule set I have ever made.  Also, I highly recommend you create a Franchise Journal in order to track your yearly performance.  I will be posting updates of my own Franchise story this year.  It helps with immersion and also to keep you honest in your franchise!

  • Trading Down – You can trade down three total times during the draft.

  • Scouting and Draft Board – You must fully scout every player you begin scouting.  This will keep you from seeing the first rating being a C+ and moving on to the next guy.  It will also limit how many sleepers you can find every year.

  • Big Board – You must draft according to your big board.  This will make it necessary for you to plan through the season and off-season.  You must also take it upon yourself to rank your big board through the season and build your draft each year.

    • Top Three Rule – While you don’t have to pick the top guy on your board in any situation you must select from the Top 3.

    • Sleeper Rule – You can choose any player up to one round before their projected position.  This will keep you honest and give the CPU a chance to take these sleepers before you get the chance.

  • Draft Pick Limitations – You can only hold a limited amount of picks in each draft.  The rules for your draft pick amounts are somewhat complicated, but they will make for a better experience.

    • Maximum of 13 picks in any draft

    • You can have two first round picks for up to two years in a row

    • If you end up with three first round picks during any draft you must trade one of them to a division opponent for their lowest pick in the next season’s draft.

    • You cannot draft two QBs in two consecutive rounds

    • You cannot draft more than two QBs, HBs, or TEs in any draft

Free Agency and Re-Signing –

  • You can only sign one 90+ OVR free agent player per season

  • You can sign one player outside of each of your schemes during free agency bidding (1 on Offense, 1 on Defense).

  • You can make ONE offer to any player on your team with 90+ OVR during the re-signing period while in regular season.  If they turn down your offer they must be allowed to test free agency.

  • QB Specific – If you have two QBs with 80+ OVR you must allow one of them to test free agency when their contract expires.  If both are on expiring deals you must choose one to re-sign.  This will allow CPU teams to have access to quality QBs and drive realism.

Spending XP –

After finding a serious issue with some ratings creating a broken gameplay experience in Madden 17, which will most likely be the same issue in 18 (WR Release in particular) I have decided to stop spending XP manually.  XP will also be set to ‘Every Four Weeks’ to allow for a better development system for all teams. 

Trading –

During the pre-season you are permitted to make a maximum of four trades (one per week).  Two trades can involve acquiring draft picks.  Two more trades can be made that are player for player.  Any player you acquire must have a lower OVR than what you are giving up OR if they are a greater OVR they must be over 30 years old.

GAMEPLAY HOUSE RULES

  • Play Calling – You must pick a play from as many formations as possible during each game.  I recommend choosing a new formation for every play or every other play. This will add a tremendous amount of depth to your experience and how you play each game.

  • Hot Routes – You can use one hot route per series.

  • Money Plays – If you find a play that works often enough against the CPU that it becomes a go to play, you must either remove it from your playbook or stop using it immediately.

  • Running Up The Score – If you are up by 21+ points in the fourth quarter you must switch to Chew Clock and choose a running play while rotating new HBs as well as a new QB in the final two minutes.

  • Passing No Switch – Do not user control a WR until after the catch has been made. This will add realism, challenge, and more animations! 

  • No Huddle – This can be used only on the first drive of the game and during the final two minutes of either half.  It cannot be used to keep other personnel on the field outside of the situations above.

  • 4th Down – You can go for it if you are losing the in the fourth quarter or if there are fewer than five seconds left in the half and you are within fifty yards of the endzone.

Making Your CFM Last For Decades – Team Building House Rules In Madden 17

In the words of Aaron Lewis (from Staind), It’s Been Awhile.

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In the spirit of not only updating NoobTubeTV with new and fresh things for the secular Holiday Season of Capitalism and video games during the winter snow and vortex.  I am presenting a new way to play a part of your Madden 17 Connected Franchise Mode from the Owner/Coach perspective!

This will focus on house rules I have implemented over the course of playing multiple seasons with multiple teams in CFM.  Before we get into the details of how to make a great experience more challenging and entertaining I have to give you the ‘why’.

Madden has improved in many regards as far as CFM goes.  They really have made strides and complete jumps to another level in some cases.  That said, they also have a lot of work to do with figuring out how teams deal with the salary cap and such.  By the time you reach season 4 and 5 in your CFM (2019-2020) you will start to see that almost every team is in a dire situation with salary caps and such.

One easy fix is to turn off salary caps.  I suggest not doing this simply because it’s nice to have a limitation placed on yourself during the offseason.

The other issue is that it is still way too easy to accumulated tons of first round picks and later picks as well.  On top of that part being easy it is also relatively simple to scout for players that you can draft with assurance that they will be rated 75+ OVR.  In order to preserve an ongoing CFM that will not only keep your team competitive, but also honest – here is my Madden 17 method of Team Management House Rules.

During The Season

Re-Signing Players –  Because you get a chance to make three offers during the season before you have one final chance after the season and then into free agency this rule is easy.
NOTE – This doesn’t mean you are limited to having certain OVR players on your team.  This is strictly a limit on re-signing players during the season.  This is meant to make your team stay within the same general competitive level as others and give other teams a shot at signing great players as well.

  • Any player rated 90+ is permitted ONE offer at any point during the season and you can only re-sign ONE of these players during the season.  If you have multiple 90+ rated players you must choose who you place the most value in keeping.  If they decline you then have to wait until the final re-sign chance after your season is over.
  • Any player rated 80-89 is permitted TWO offers at any point during the season.  The difference here is that you get to re-sign up to SEVEN players rated 80-89 during the season.
  • Players rated 79 and lower don’t have limits on offers.  Do what you want to here.

Scouting and The Draft

Here’s the deal.  You get to scout any players you want.  Feel free to go bonkers and even get the Scouting Perk for your coach.  The catch is that you are limited once the draft arrives.

Using the ‘Watch’ function is key to this rule and it will make the draft a hell of a lot more fun for you.  Not to mention more challenging from the perspective of adding some realism.

First, your draft picks will have limitations (This will also help you avoid weird salary cap penalties if you want to cut a rookie with guaranteed money – this can and does happen).

Scouting and Watching –

Each draft pick you own will allow you to watch a certain number of players projected in that round (prior to drafting them)

1st Round – 6 Watchable Players (2 Picks = 12 Watchable Players)

2nd & 3rd Round – 7 Watchable Players (two picks = 14 watchable players per round)

4th – 7th Round – 8 Watchable Players (three picks = 24 watchable players per round)

HERE IS THE CATCH!

  • You must select your watched players before the draft begins.
  • You only get to manually draft a player that you have watched.
  • You may draft any player from any projected round at any time.
  • If none of your watched players are available you have two options
    • Simulate the pick (you get to keep any draft pick obtained if it is traded and you must keep the player drafted for at least one season, if only on the practice squad.)
    • Trade the pick
      • You may trade this for any pick or set of picks.  However, you need to even out your pick numbers prior to Week 9 of the regular season.

You get a maximum of 12 picks in any one draft each year.

1st Round – Maximum of two picks in one draft (Never two years in a row).  If you have two picks in one year you only get one the next year.  If you find that a team wants to trade up and give you a pick you can only do it for lower round picks OR must trade the new First Round Pick to a team with one of the ten WORST records without giving them more than two picks as well.

  • If you make an Washington/St. Louis for RG3 kind of deal with a team you must count your 1st Round Picks as two picks each.  This means you lose two picks extra picks that year.  You must trade two picks two another team.

2nd Round – Maximum of two picks

3rd Round – Maximum of two picks

4th Round – Maximum of three picks

5th Round – Maximum of three picks

6th Round – Maximum of three picks

7th Round – Maximum of three picks

These rules are meant to keep your CFM fair for the CPU and fun for your own benefit.

I have had to make tough decisions and even gamble on re-signing a few players because of weak draft classes.  Usually, I roll with my Browns in Madden CFM and this year I made it through five seasons before realizing that building such a dominant team with multiple draft picks made the actual experience less enjoyable.  I had to start a new one just to keep my interest in Madden (as I don’t particularly enjoy the lag fest and arcade feel of Madden Online).

Now that these new rules have fixed my CFM experience, it’s time to start fresh and this time I will be starting with the Bills.

Happy Holiday Gaming!