Accessibility – The Game Changer We Should All Want

I was playing Blackout Duos with one of my friends the other day.  We were having a good time going through the map (even without finding any armor WHATSOEVER!!!! ARRRRRGH!!!).  As we were advancing towards the border of the first circle I said I could hear an enemy vehicle coming from the left side of our advance.  I expected him to say that he heard it as well.  Only, he didn’t hear it at all.

I learned at that moment that one of my gaming friends was deaf in his left ear and it didn’t make me think any less of him – but it did change our tactics for the rest of the match and from that point forward.  I didn’t really make a big deal about it, but I did suggest that I could take the left side of our tiny formation at that point.  He agreed that it would be a good idea and we moved on – it was that simple.

I haven’t been able to shake that experience over the last few days.  As a former teacher I had to take into account all sorts of learning disabilities and different general learning styles.  One of the biggest aspects of allowing all students the same opportunities to learn in a classroom is access above all other things (this also goes hand-in-hand with what those in education call full-inclusion).  If you went to public school during the late 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s you might remember a lot of classmates being pulled from class in order to get assistance with their schoolwork in any number of subjects.  They might have had dyslexia or some other issue that simply meant they needed extra help to stay with the class or at least accomplish the same requirements of others.  I never liked the idea of removing students from the classroom when I was a student and I certainly didn’t like it as a teacher.  While there are some aspects that might require occasional departures from the class, most students with disabilities want to be with their classmates.  This is the same case with gaming… except, there isn’t an opportunity for those with disabilities to seek access to games where they aren’t at what we could consider a competitive disadvantage.

That’s where our assumptions still get us in trouble.  The idea that someone needs special treatment in order to succeed in gaming is the complete opposite of what needs to happen.  How you treat your fellow gamer has nothing to do with their mental or physical capabilities.  You treat them like any other friend or family member.  The one aspect you might start demanding is for developers (both hardware and software) to consider making changes and modifications to controllers, sound mixing, and other aspects that move everyone closer to full-inclusion.

Microsoft has a great commercial that focuses on access being something that allows ALL gamers to play the same games and support each other.  

This video pulled at my heartstrings.  Pretty sure that was the idea.

The other reason every gamer should be demanding changes and modifications to games, hardware, and peripherals (controllers, etc.) is because it will not only open the games we love to play to those with disabilities, but it will continue to drive further innovation in ways we might not even consider.  We continue to see so many amazing changes in technology at a pace that is difficult to grasp – it’s only a matter of time before we will be able to play games with our friends that can’t grasp a controller in the first place.  Actually, nevermind… there are already people that are finding a way to wreck on Blackout without actually being able to hold the controller.

Don’t forget the value of opening your mind a little bit.  You might actually like what happens when you come to better understand the needs of others.  

Here are a couple websites for you to check out if you want to dive a bit deeper into helping fellow gamers.

Able Gamers –
People with disabilities wants the same thing that all gamers want, to have fun with their friends, and family. There are so many challenges that come with living with a disability, social isolation, is one of them. Video games are unique in that we ALL use them to excape our days, and join our friends, and total strangers in a quest to win. That is where AbleGamers comes in.https://ablegamers.org/

StackUp –
Founded in 2015, Stack Up brings both veterans and civilian supporters together through a shared love of video gaming through our primary programs: The StacksSupply CratesAir Assaults and the Stack Up Overwatch Program [StOP].https://stackup.org/

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The Biggest House Rules For Madden – Play Books and Playcalling

For those of you looking for a reason to continue playing Madden 19 I have a challenge for you.  Invest some serious time in two things – designing a playbook that doesn’t include the money plays you have come to find honestly (or … less than honestly?) and then go through that playbook and set up the Down and Distance star ratings for each play.  

I have found that All-Pro seems to become more challenging when my plays are limited to whatever shows up on my ‘Coach Selection’ rather than going through the playbook to find my go-to plays.  While this by no means fixes what is seemingly a consistently broken game, it does add a bit more fun in your gameplan and it also keeps you on your toes as some plays might become new favorites.

I am still at a point in Madden 19 where I am frustrated by the lack of difficulty in All-Pro and the annoying cheating of the CPU on All-Madden.  I don’t think there’s a fix for that at this point.  Slider sets and other such mechanics are less than desirable fixes for an issue that has plagued Madden for over a decade.  

I am to a point where this is my last go-round with Madden 19.  It’s sad to say, but I would probably get more enjoyment out of uninstalling than playing through another easy season of Franchise Mode.  I would certainly have more enjoyment in uninstalling rather than playing a single snap of the toxic Ultimate Team.

All I Want For Madden Christmas Is A Smarter CPU… And A Better Franchise Mode

I try my best to enjoy playing Madden every year.  As much as I gripe about the game every year in one way or another I truly go into each iteration with high hopes only to have them dashed by the time I get into my Franchise Mode.

I tried to play with the Bills on All-Madden after winning the Super Bowl with the Browns on All-Pro in the first season.  It was the same old story – All-Madden is artificially difficult while All-Pro wants to be challenging, it is still hamstrung with the same problems.  The CPU doesn’t adjust to certain plays being called on succession (HB Toss plays from a Twin WR set will almost always get you 7+ Yards if the CPU is in Man Coverage, for instance.).  Money plays are alive and well – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The other issue that plagues this game is the idiotic Free Agency process and logic of the CPU.  After the latest update you will see that LeVeon Bell becomes a free agent (which is nice), but then I see him get signed by the Cardinals… the same Cardinals that already have David Johnson.  I rolled my eyes when I saw the signing during this latest run with the Browns (I used the Cloud Franchise to start my season in Week 12 or so).  It doesn’t stop there, unfortunately.

By the time the draft comes around and after I see Bell get signed by the Cardinals the idiocy continues in the draft.  I am convinced that the CPU is programmed to look at your Draft Board and make picks that will push you to take certain players earlier than you should if you want them.  While I enjoy the idea of this at face value I am also annoyed by the relative troll mentality.

Furthermore, Franchise Mode continues to gut the experience and immersion that should be the primary focus of the mode itself.  There is no living breathing league for you to enjoy – its as stale as the cereal at your grandparents’ house.  The ‘News’ section is hidden in the depths of the CFM menu and it’s basically a bunch of crappy tweets from Captain Obvious with a few half-assed tips about the draft class.  I don’t understand how this mode continues to be included in the game if they obviously don’t care about it from the revenue perspective.  The effort all goes into Ultimate Team and the cash cow that it has become.

Madden continues to be the distant second place in sports games for me as MLB The Show maintains a clear advantage in consistent efforts to improve.  Both games are going towards the Ultimate Team/Diamond Dynasty slippery slope, but I still have hope that Franchise Mode will become what I have dreamed for over the years.  I doubt I will get this for Christmas… but I can always hope.

Madden Needs A Coaching Carousel

The biggest aspect that seems to be missing from Madden that was one of the most enjoyable aspects in NCAA Football for years is a coaching carousel.  Throughout the year without fail all sorts of coaches meet their doom.  Whether it is on Black Monday after the final week of the regular season, or just after the halfway point of the season as we saw with Hue Jackson this week (THANK YOU, FOOTBALL GOD!).

carousel

Madden NFL needs to add two aspects to their Franchise Mode if they hope to continue building it up.  They need to bring in offensive and defensive coordinators as well as position coaches (some of these can even be fictionalized).  Once you bring this aspect into the game it can more easily flow into opening up a coaching carousel like that in the NCAA Football games of yore.

Imagine opening your career as an offensive or defensive coordinator and building your resume after a year or two.  Maybe you can take the Bills or 49ers defense from the depths of terribad and build them into a beast with your amazing skills.  The unfortunate aspect is that your team is doing poorly and the head coach gets fired in week 12.  Suddenly, the ownership wants to bring you up a notch to coach the team and make the big decision on both sides of the ball and determine the depth chart in full.  As you make a splash to finish the season with a few wins you might not want to stick with the team you’ve been struggling with.  The end of the season comes and the Jaguars have finished a lackluster campaign and you are now their number one target.  What do they have to offer you outside of a great defense and some weapons on offense (that aren’t named Bortles… *shudders*).  That would be pretty awesome.  What would make it better?

I think the next step in making it an experience to build multiple seasons and truly view it as a career mode would be making the role of General Manager something you have to earn.  Instead of being the owner, GM, and coach from the get-go, you should be given different offers from different teams as you play through your career.  One of those options should be GM/Coach offers (much like what Belichick does and some other coaches have done in some cases).  You would pay so much more attention to the draft if you weren’t put in charge of the scouting as just a head coach that had to take the players you got… or deal with players being traded.

Until that day comes, we will have to continue to create and maintain house rules to make our career mode more interesting.

Do you have other ideas for franchise mode?  Hit up the comment button to share!

You Are Your Own Best Weapon In Blackout

Keep in mind that there are some weapons of choice in Black Ops 4’s Blackout Mode that are indeed wonderful finds almost no matter what.  That said, the focus of this article is on your own presence in Call of Duty’s first version of Battle Royale.

The best way to get better at this mode is by playing it.  That sounds obvious, but in reality, it is a battle type that changes almost every single time you spawn.  The deployment point changes nearly every match and no weapon or item is typically found in the same spot from match to match.  When you play as a team with the same group of gamers in Quads you might start to notice you have a landing point that serves as a default.  That seems to be a common goal for most as the named areas on the maps certainly serve as great spots to find enough loot for your entire team.  The issue with that is every other team knows that as well!

cod-blackout

Playing solo or even duos is a different beast.  You can generally find any spot on the map near a building that could house enough weapons and items for you (both) if you are fortunate.  The difference I have noticed with Solo compared to the two team-based aspects is that you will immediately find yourself taking one of two strategies – collecting gear in relative safety (if you are lucky) or picking up any gun or weapon you can and trying to mow down the multitudes of other gamers in your vicinity.  I personally have developed a growing enjoyment for jumping into more populated areas because it can be a great way of finding hiding spots as well as getting some relatively easy kills before everyone finds armor and better weapons.

Some of the best things you can do as you start learning Blackout’s intricacies is to start experimenting with your weapon choice on top of your preferred landing zone.  There are some weapons that you might find work well for your aiming ability or play style.  This might actually differ highly from what you use in multiplayer modes like Team Death Match or Domination, so don’t necessarily go into it thinking you will only do well if you find the Swordfish or another weapon you use in the other modes.  That said, you will also become accustomed to getting shot from quite a distance by the Maddox with a 3x scope.  The same can be said when you land in a populated area and get one-shotted by someone with a shotgun of any sort (they won’t keep those in their inventory for long, as shotguns are certainly some of the worst weapons in blackout, by far).

One perk you will want to take a bit more seriously is ‘Brawler’.  It doesn’t only work for bare knuckles as you might initially believe, it also works for melee with weapons and will put an opponent down with one good hit – it’s a great feeling now that they have nerfed melee for everything besides hits from behind.

One last tip for this article and how to make yourself the best weapon is all about Situational Awareness and Tactical Advantages.

You have to be ready for enemies to literally be hiding anywhere on the map.  This includes coming out of the blue storm as they try to take out any stragglers on the edge of the white safe circle.  I fell victim in the worst way this week to an enemy at the top of some stairs in a house because I was looking down at the floor for items rather than seeking out safety and clearing the entire house first.  The same can be said about running through the landscapes of as well.  Look and listen for enemies firing weapons (their tracers can be easy to follow and their steps can be heard if you have good headphones… SIDE NOTE!!!! GET A GOOD PAIR OF HEADPHONES!!!  They make a huge difference in game and are totally necessary for teaming up with other people in Quads and Duos).

One more bonus tip is to avoid making your movements along the top of hills and ridges that make you into silhouettes against the skyline.  This makes you incredibly easy to see and if you’re moving as a team along a ridge in this manner you will be easy targets for anyone.  Instead, try to make your movements occur from elevated positions that are just below the ridge line/skyline.  This doesn’t mean that you will be invisible to opponents, but you will be a lot less easy to spot as you move to new areas.

There is more to come, but for now be sure to follow NoobTubeTV on Twitch as the broadcasting will become more regular.  Maybe we can even team up for some Quads or Duos!  Subscribe and Follow on Twitch for a chance to team up with me and some of my friends.

Happy Hunting!

Madden 19 Sliders and House Rules

It’s been a rather busy month or two leading up to the release of Madden 19.  That hasn’t stopped me from getting some much needed slider adjustments and tuning done for Franchise Mode.

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Madden has continuously put me in a position where I feel like I should be playing on All Madden for difficulty.  The problem with that is All Madden forces you to cheese and play in an un-sim sort of way because the CPU resorts to cheating and thus resulting in the paradox of who cheated who first?… or is it ‘whom’?

Regardless, these sliders are for

Franchise Mode

All Pro Difficulty

13 Minute Quarters

accelerated play clock set to 14 seconds.

Human Sliders

QB Acc – 50

Pass Block – 55

WR Catch – 50

Run Block – 51

Fumbles – 50

Pass Def – 50

Interceptions – 50

Tackling – 45 (I might take this slightly lower as it seems to directly correlate with Run Defense)

CPU Sliders

QB Acc – 50

Pass Blocking – 53

WR Catching – 50

Run Blocking – 100

Fumbles – 50

Pass Def Reaction – 50

Interceptions – 50

Pass Coverage – 50

Tackling – 50

Special Teams 

Set Punt Accuracy to 100 all others at 50

Game Options –

Injuries – 10

Fatigue – 70

Min Player Speed Thresh – 45

Auto Subs 

Position   In/Out

QB = 95/65

HB = 100/95

WR = 94/80

FB/TE = 90/77

OL = 95/70

DT = 100/90

DE =96/84

LB = 96/85

CB = 95/83

S = 98/82

 

House Rules Are Simple.

You can’t trade for any first round pick without including at least an 80+ OVR player under 30 years old and a 2nd and 5th OR a 3rd and 4th rounder.

No editing players in the draft class with intent of drafting them late in the draft.

Pick as many different plays as you can throughout the game.  This will give you a better experience rather than using money plays.  It will keep games close and give you a bit more information on which players you have that you might want to keep or let go.

Make your own rules if you have to in order to stay honest and keep the game fresh.

FINAL THOUGHT

Madden 19 is probably my favorite Madden to date.  There are some things that need to be tuned and patched, no doubt.  However, it is excellent in terms of player movement and is getting better with playcalling, it still has a lot of room to grow, but it is growing.

Also, please don’t user control your WRs.  Let the AI make the catches and you will be amazed at some of the great animations.  I am about 50/50 on controlling DBs on passing plays.

IT’S MADDEN SEASON!!!!

How To Use Scouting and Build A Franchise – MLB 18 The Show

Building your franchise in MLB The Show is a process that can be daunting if you decide to grab a terrible team.  This will serve as a guide for starting your franchise in the best possible way in your first season.  For the sake of commonality, I used the OSFM 1.5 Roster available in the online roster vault.

MLB(R) The Show(TM) 18

Make sure after you select your team of choice you press square on Player Development and General Manager Tasks, this will allow you to control every aspect of your team (on top of Coaching Tasks).

MLB(R) The Show(TM) 18_7.jpg

Start your season during spring training and take a look at your roster ranks in the Trade Talks menu.  The only good spot for the Tigers is Miguel Cabrera – he is declining quickly and the 2018 season will probably be his last chance of productivity – so I am moving him during the spring.  Before that happens, you better find a replacement in the free agent pool or involve the replacement in the trade.  In my case, I found a nice free agent and signed him.  If you want to see potential in free agents press triangle on them and it will be right there for you to see.MLB(R) The Show(TM) 18_16.jpg

I traded Cabrera to the Yankees and in return for the 90 OVR first baseman, coupled with a couple disposable minor leaguers I managed to bring in a much needed reliever, a top prospect in Clint Frazier (I’m surprised the Yankees haven’t traded him in real life yet) and I grabbed their newly acquired Brandon Drury to be my utility guy.  This is the kind of trade you want to make if you have one good player that is over 30 with an OVR of 80 or higher… the same goes for even older guys.

TIME TO START SCOUTING!!!

Before you start thinking about scouting, you want to look at what players you already have in the farm system.  MLB(R) The Show(TM) 18

The current look of the Tigers for 2018 isn’t great.  However, once you take a look at the potential of some of the Starting Pitchers, the up and coming 1B that was newly signed as well as our future CF in Clint Frazier, suddenly those rankings aren’t so bad.  This is where you start looking at what you want to scout for in the draft in June.

For the Tigers, this means looking at 2nd and 3rd base as well as trying to find a great complimentary corner outfielder.  Add bullpen pitchers and there are some serious changes that need to happen.  This is how you do it.

GO TO CONTRACTS AND SIGN NEW SCOUTS

MLB(R) The Show(TM) 18_24.jpg

Sign a scout in every region (East, West, Central, and International).

Invest in new scouts to replace your crappy ones.

Scout ratings are simple to understand and once you do, it will make the rest of your process easy.

Efficiency – This is how fast a scout can determine the ratings of prospects.  When looking at the scouting menu you will see players that are scouted fully with green bars and others that are not scouted at all in the red.  Focus on players in the region of your scout for even faster scouting results with higher efficiency (in 3 to 4 days a highly rated efficiency scout can fully scout a prospect in his region).

Discovery – This tells you how many players  scout can find.  When assigning a scout to discover players he won’t be able to look at individual prospects – keep this in mind as a large player pool is great, but if you have so many you can’t scout them all – it leaves you in a tight spot.

Position Players – These scouts will get you more accurate ratings on players that are non-pitchers.

Pitchers – These scouts are the best at accurately rating pitching prospects.

Look at prospects in positions you need to fill in a couple years.  Next year they will be young prospects and will need time to become big league ready.

The MLB ETA on the prospect list is important.  If you need a player soon, find a player with a MLB ETA year that is for the next season.  If you have time to develop a guy behind a current player you can draft someone that isn’t going to be ready for a couple years.

MLB(R) The Show(TM) 18_49.jpgThat covers the important aspects of scouting.  Make sure you jump on this on the first day of the regular season.  It will end up providing you with a great draft class in June.