XBox 720 and Playstation 4 – The Race Has Already Started

Once again, it seems that more details keep ‘leaking’ about the new XBox 720.  Most of the time these leaks are more or less just a way to get people talking and let some exciting news out for eager consumers.  This is also what we like to call ‘free marketing’.

If you consider the fact that Microsoft wants to allegedly release the new console for $300 with a Blu Ray player and cloud services for gaming it adds up to an interesting situation.

This is the first realistic ‘model’ of the XBox 720… what do you think?

The current standing of online gaming on XBox 360 has people paying $60 a year for XBox Live services.  These services include 512 MB of Cloud Game Save Space and then full access to play games like Call of Duty, Battlefield and Madden against other opponents online.  XBox Live is far and away the best online service for consoles (when compared to Wii and PS3).

The issue that Microsoft is going to run into is that people won’t be too happy to keep paying for games that are located on a cloud service rather than on disc.  Consider the risk of if the network goes down or is simply down for maintenance you won’t be able to play it at all.  This isn’t exactly a complete denial of the future of disc or hard copy gaming but the notion is starting to become more real as we get closer to the next generation of consoles.  Granted, the risks of getting rid of discs (even blu ray) are too numerous to take the idea of complete cloud gaming seriously at this point.

As of right now – everything is rumors, conjecture and absolute speculation… but one thing is certain.

The XBox 360 and PS3 have reached the end of their life cycle and at this point we should start looking for the first official announcement of a new console.

Changing Player Potential In Madden 12

In Madden 13 there is no player potential in Connected Careers.  However, in Madden 12 it is one of the more limiting parts of Franchise Mode.  If you have wanted to know how to change a player’s potential rating from an ‘F’ to an ‘A’ this is how you do it in your Franchise Mode.

It is also important for you to know that the Potential Rating is dependent on the Overall Rating as you edit.  It is easy to calculate a player’s potential when it comes to this:
90-99 OVR = A

80-89 OVR = B

70-79 OVR = C

60-69 OVR = D

59> OVR = F

How Should Sports Games Reflect The Happenings of Real Life?

Today the NCAA decided to pass down a punishment on Penn State that would essentially cripple the football team and university for years.  It does raise a question about how much video games should or shouldn’t reflect what happens in real life.  For instance, in NCAA 11 and 12 you will notice that teams like USC and Ohio State are given terrible ratings as far as Championship Caliber and Coach Ratings matching those of Luke Fickell (eventhough they aren’t really those coaches… riiiight).

When game developers gloss over the realities of the sports they are trying to reproduce they are short-changing their creativity and the consumer’s ability to take part in a true simulation of the sport itself.

Now we are in the midst of a USC team coming off of a ban, an Ohio State team starting a one year ban and last but not least – Penn State.  In NCAA Football 06 you would have to deal with players violating team rules and all sorts of things that brought real life situations to the game.  Why have these things been taken out of games this generation?

Madden NFL Football doesn’t have late hits, real-time injuries or even contract holdouts.  Are sports games being held to a different standard somehow?  We have shooter games that allow for some of the most gruesome actions to take place but when it comes to sports titles we can’t have late hits or concussions?  We can’t have bowl bans or shady recruiting?  We can’t have team rules violations by players that have questionable motivations?

You can’t say we never had these things before…  we did… but  now they are gone with the winds of political correctness or some sort of false societal demands.

Competing Online – It Isn’t Whether You Win or Lose… It’s How You Play The Game

Leaderboards, Clan Battles, LAN Parties and Online Leagues are all built around the same concept – gaming together for a more enriching experience.  Sadly, doing this with people you don’t know personally makes for a bit of  a strange situation where you feel like you are in a mexican standoff rather than a welcome environment of friendly competition.

Don’t these guys make you want to log on and enjoy a game of Madden?… (didn’t think so)

All anyone really cares about is winning.  Be it Charlie Sheen or simply an obsession with coming out on top – “Winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing.” is what Vince Lombardi once said.  In the case of gaming, there seems to be a dog eat dog nature that makes for a less than enjoyable time for everyone involved once things get competitive.  There are websites devoted to setting up leagues, teams and even tournaments where you can win money.  These put gamers into a position of having something to lose.  When you couple all of these issues into an environment of people that are often socially inept it is enough to turn it into a mobscene when someone loses.

You can usually see an example of this in person if you make a trip to a local Madden Tournament at Gamestop, BW3s or where ever you have local tournaments.  Losing isn’t something people like to do.

We aren’t suggesting that competition is bad but when it comes to competing in an online environment there is always going to be a possibility for it to turn into a cesspool.  The biggest difference between competing face to face vs. online is that people feel anonymous enough to cheat or simply violate rules because they don’t really have anyone to keep them honest.

As we get closer to the release of Madden 13, Black Ops 2, Medal of Honor and other competitive online titles please remember that it is wise to play the game in a manner that is fair, mature and in accordance with the rules that keep it from turning into a cesspool.

It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp – EA Sports Loses $27 Million In Class Action Suit

As we approach the launch of Madden 13 it should be noted that EA Sports still has exclusive rights to the NFL license.  There are a few things in gaming that truly drive innovation and the primary motivating factor is true competition.  EA has found out the hard way that monopolizing the market to fix prices is the wrong way to go about this not only with fans of sports gaming, but now with the Federal Court system.

It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp

For a detailed run-down of the decision check out this article at Kotaku.

If you want the real moral of the story, it is that EA Sports will be banned from exclusive deals ONLY with NCAA Football and Arena Football League.  Which in all honesty is simply a slap on the wrist.  The real competition they faced was from 2K in the NFL 2K series.

What this really means is that you shouldn’t hold out hope that 2K (or any other developer) will get a chance to make an NFL game.  However, if they do get that chance, it will probably be on the next generation of consoles (if ever).

What about the Class Action Lawsuit?

In terms of what you ‘get’ out of it…  $2 for any 360, Wii or PS3 American Football Title (AFL, Madden, NCAA) and just under $7 for PS2, Gamecube and XBox games that came out after 2005.

Bottom Line

EA Sports is being hit where it counts – the wallet.  This isn’t the type of punch in the face that knocks them out of Exclusive Rights in sports gaming, but it is a sign that what they have been doing isn’t right.  EA has potential to make some of the best sports games out there and when they had to fight against NFL 2K5 it was the best iteration of Madden (2005) ever.

Analogy Time

In 2005 it was like watching Rocky 2.  Two developers were busting their asses trying to prove that they had the best game out there.  In the end you see both of them fall to the ground in the last few seconds.  2K5 came out with a great game for $20 and after seeing this, EA released Madden for $30 rather than $50.  EA came out on top and then just like Rocky they were the world champs.

Then after 2005, EA Sports turned into Rocky in Rocky 3.  They got lazy and lost a lot of their motivation to train hard.  They started doing stupid promotions and simply got full of themselves because everyone they would fight would be a push-over (if there was anyone to fight).

The biggest fear that EA has right now is for a game like NFL 2K to come back around like Clubber Lang and “crucify them, real bad.”

While it seems that we might not like EA Sports games… it is to the contrary.  We love EA Sports titles, but we loved them more when they were trying harder.  It isn’t fair to EA Sports that they have no competition, it makes them look soft and it prevents them from improving.  We want to see a good fight between developers that makes us get excited again.

Madden 13 – Connected Careers and Franchise Mode Questions Answered

It has been just over a month sense E3 and there are still people waiting to hear more details about Franchise Mode/Connected Careers in Madden 13.  There are a few things we can deduce from details that have either been given to the community straight up or through videos that leave you to draw some conclusions.  Not to mention the fact that some of the good people that were invited to Community Day at EA Tiburon have given a lot of great feedback.

This is one of the biggest changes for Madden in years.  The issue we are facing is that the details have become rather muddled.


Here is a list of answers and a few thoughts (after the facts) so you can have your questions answered.

Is Franchise Mode dead?

In name, yes.  In practice, no.  Franchise Mode still exists and it will be under the selection of being a ‘Coach’ – you will still have the same control over your team, etc.  Also, you will have the ability to get fired as a coach.  Everything you have been able to do in Franchise Mode in the past – you can still do in Madden 13.

What about Superstar Mode?

Superstar Mode is still around.  You will ‘Be A Player’ and in the process you will only control yourself.  You will get to choose plays as a QB, etc.

Legends, what’s the deal?

Legends (Coaches and Players like John Madden and Barry Sanders) are not coming into Connected Careers as 99 OVR versions of themselves.  Their presence in Connected Careers is also up to you as the main user to turn them on or off (off is default as of E3).

How does XP work for Connected Careers?

XP is a two tier process –

1– You have to earn it through performance and milestones.  However, you won’t be able to earn more XP if you cheat or run up the score on the CPU.  (IE – If your goal is a 300 yard passing game in week three for 1000 XP and you pass for 900 yards, you still only get 1000 XP)

2– Leveling up costs increase as your ratings get higher.  You will earn XP as you accomplish certain goals, but as you try to make your player either faster, stronger or simply better all-around you will see ratings cost more as you go. (IE – The cost to go from 85 to 86 SPD as a QB could cost you 6000 XP, but the cost to go from 86 to 87 SPD could cost you 7000 XP, etc.)

Do Coaches Matter?

Not really.  Coaches simply get put into one of four levels.  You can grow your created coach into a ‘Level 4’ but it really doesn’t mean anything. (Unfortunate)

Do player ratings change depending on a team’s scheme?

Yes, there are finally ratings that dynamically change to reflect the player’s overall value to your team or coach and what type of offense or defense you run.  A 6’3″ 349 lb DE won’t be valued highly by a 4-3 Defensive Team, etc.  This doesn’t mean his ability ratings ‘change’ but his displayed OVR and value to your team will be.

Can I make existing players retire if I control them?

No, you technically ‘stop’ using them.  However, if you have a created player and retire they will be removed from the game.

Can I still control all 32 teams?

No, you can only control one team or player at a time.

Is Connected Careers Online or Offline?

It is both.  If you hate playing against people online you don’t have to worry about it.

Can more than one person play a Connected Career on the same console?

No.

Can Commissioners kick people out of the league?

Yes

Is there online Auto-Pilot?

Yes.

Can Online Connected Careers have different roles?

Depending on your settings, you can make it so everyone has to be a QB, Coach RB, etc.  It is totally up to the commissioner.

Can I play on the same team as a friend in Online CC?

No.

More to come!  Stay tuned to NoobTubeTV as Madden gets closer.
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A few quick thoughts…

Madden 13 is really depending on Connected Careers being a high quality experience.  There are a few things that it seems EA still needs to figure out for coaches especially.

In NFL Head Coach you would be able to say one of a few different things to your players at key moments.  This added immersion and actually made coaches important.  As well, the idea of a player fitting into a team’s scheme… it should be a coach’s scheme, not a team’s scheme.  The Browns have switched coaches so many times in the last decade that the players change as often because they don’t fit what the coach wants to do and how his staff prefers to approach the game.

Making people earn XP to increase abilities is a great attempt to make the game a bit more involved and honest.  By removing the ‘Potential’ rating you are now pretty much in charge of proving that a player is as good as you think and they will have to earn every bit of that OVR Rating you think they deserve.  The nice part is that it is all on you to do this.

The overall closed nature of Connected Careers is a good thing for this year, but next year it needs to be opened up.  There is a danger in allowing people to mess with time paradoxes, true simulation and that little thing called the game’s actual coding.  This is something that can be improved upon with a more open approach in the future.  Let the beta testers gamers mess with all sorts of things so EA can figure out the issues and fix them rather than avoid them because they are scared of problems with freezing and system crashes, etc.

All things said, Connected Careers is starting to look like a great mode for Madden fans that want to have a nice experience in growing a team or a player as they see fit.  Even with some limitations that make you scratch your head.

Open World RPGs – What Else Can Be Done?

Games like Skyrim and Fallout have done a fantastic job of bringing otherwise disinterested people to the RPG scene.  Yet, it feels like once you finish the main quests the games can lose their luster titles that are more action-packed.  Some games like Borderlands do a really nice job of taking the boring exploration for explorations sake out of the mix and inserting crazy bad guys and mutant creatures for you to shoot and explode at your leisure.  Even after a couple hours of that type of gaming you will find yourself bored of treasure hunting and shooting random baddies.

Is this what your character is saying?

What else is there to do at this point?

You can kill things, you can amass wealth and you can even find relationships with other digital ‘people’.  Granted, when all is said and done – you are still roaming a world that doesn’t seem to have a reason to be booted up.  Sure, there are side-quests and random things you can do for people… like kill a guy for the Night Mother or maybe collect a trinket for some lazy scared guy.  Regardless, it is an important question that might not really have an answer.

Outside of turning open world RPGs into another version of Second Life – what can really be done at this point?  Leveling up doesn’t matter after awhile.  Not to mention to never-ending stream of DLC that seems to seduce people regularly into forking over another $10-20.  Some DLC is well worth the payment but at what point are we going to expect something more and realize that there really isn’t more to be had?

Is it a sign that perhaps it wouldn’t hurt if games started having some sort of finality that pushed to you play through the story again and again in different ways?  Mass Effect did this and it was nice that they actually tied Achievement Points to playing through the game multiple times.  Even games like Diablo 3 and Borderlands give you multiple character types to build up and roam around with.

What is your take?  Is there anything more that can be done for open world RPGs?  If you say yes, what are your suggestions?  Post in the comments below!