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.)

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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.

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The Gaming Version of the Overlook Hotel

Now that I am firmly into a month without access to high speed internet and the ability to game online with the proper bandwidth I can give the world some observations from my time traveling relocation to 2004 while still being in 2018.  I must admit, my initial reaction as a gamer was less than thrilling.

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Offline gaming has got me like…

I have found that my overall gaming has dialed back exponentially.  Not only have I been playing less in general, I have also noticed that with a turtle speed wifi connection I have less inclination to turn on my console.  The fact that it takes me an absurd amount of time to download a simple patch for any game is enough to make me wish I had a proxy controller to throw in a fit of gamer rage.  Yet, there is something nice about seeing these limitations.  The first is that first person shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield aren’t even installed on my console.  In their place I have Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy and Borderlands – The Handsome Collection… both of which I purchased at bargain prices last week.  I will soon be replacing MLB 17 with MLB 18 on my PS4 as well (we will get into my reaction to their Online Franchise abandonment in the next article).

One observation about gaming without high speed internet is that you are forced to play hard copy games you already own that you may not have completed to this point.  For me, this means looking at Dark Souls 3, Shadow Warrior, The Last of Us, Shadow of Mordor, Murdered: Soul Suspect and Titanfall 2.

It leaves me feeling like an old man reflecting on my parents telling me as a kid that I didn’t need new games if I haven’t beat the games I have.  I suppose that is similar to the other observation I made in this new trip to the gaming stone age… I have been reading a lot more as well.  I am already quite the bibliophile, but now I basically get a chance to dive into the pile of books we finally managed to unpack and my wife sorted out in her wonderfully efficient manner.  Seriously, we have a small library right now and it doesn’t even start to touch the amount of books we still have in storage.  It’s a nice problem to have, I suppose.

The moral of this story is that while I am inconvenienced in one of my favorite hobbies I am not without other avenues to pursue my gaming.  Not to mention, it’s rather enjoyable to read some books I might otherwise leave on a shelf.  Whether it is your books or your games that have yet to be finished, you really need to take the opportunity to beat the games you have ignored when you do lose high speed internet.

 

2018 – The Year of the Sports Game Boycott

It seems that sports games have been lost to the same dark side that we have seen first person shooters and real-time strategy go to as well. 

Madden, MLB: The Show, and NBA 2K8 have all resorted to becoming nothing more than digital card pandering pieces of binary garbage.  They have polished the graphics and added content to their Ultimate Team/Diamond Dynasty/MyTeam card collections instead of real improvement to the core game itself.  For a few years I could understand the change I was seeing.  I could compartmentalize the fact that I simply wasn’t their target audience. 

Thanks largely to Twitch and YouTube streamers/content uploaders that open packs for the voyeur fandom to gawk over we have lost what was once the potential pursuit for true sports gaming simulation.  I must give some of these guys credit, as they do have a certain pizazz to the way they carry themselves online.  I even watch some of their videos – they do make it look like a fun experience.  That is all great and wonderful until I get inspired to try my hand at online PvP against some random guy with a name like XxHitThatLoud420-69xX.  You realize quickly that they play the game by using money plays and exploits.  Suddenly, this potentially fun experience has you wondering if you’ve stepped into some effed up version of The Matrix.  Just as you get ready to play a different game you realize that you don’t care if you lose this game because you don’t plan on playing it again.

Say what you want, but All Pro Football 2K8 proved one thing when they released a game with legendary NFL players.  The same can be said for current players depending on the year as well.  Some gamers love creating their own version of Dream Teams and I am one of them.  I remember doing this back in Triple Play 98 when I would put Griffey, Frank Thomas, ARod, and others all on the same team.  It became a habitual thing to do each year, but in the end I still wanted to play a challenging baseball game. 

I happen to come from the generation of sports gamers that can remember Dr. J vs. Larry Bird on Atari 7800.  I also remember Tecmo Bowl and Bases Loaded through Bases Loaded 4.  RBI Baseball 94 was the first game that introduced me to the concept of playing a full season – I never finished one, but damn, it was pretty cool to have that option and even see the potential grow into franchise modes in other games.  When they finally started to present us with multiple seasons and stats it was a dream come true. In all honesty, the graphical improvements were secondary for me after a while.  I loved what Madden had turned into by Madden 2005.  Hell, even MVP Baseball 2005 was one of the better games I had ever played in terms of – that was a year to remember when it came to EA doing some truly amazing work. Now it’s as if they have sold their souls and there is no looking back.

It seems that Franchise Mode has gone the way of the dodo in recent years.  It is still present in all of these games, but it is a shell of itself.  Much like Kobe and Jordan at the end of their career – you can see flashes of what they used to be, but in the end they just aren’t performing like they once could… and it’s sad.  Madden Ultimate Team and MLB The Show’s Diamond Dynasty have essentially powered their way into a position that is most likely permanent and will eventually completely destroy innovation when it comes to gameplay and franchise mode.

This isn’t something I say lightly and it isn’t something I want to be known as an acceptable issue. 

I do want those of you reading this to look at 2018 sports games with a critical eye and take this opportunity to speak with your wallet.  It is time to demand the product that we have been denied for years.  I urge you to avoid pre-ordering any sports game this year. If you are going to buy the game, look for it second-hand in hard copy form.  Do not pay the full retail price if you feel compelled to play them.  It’s time for these companies to feel the only kind of pain they understand – financial.


No Internet, No Problem – Planning For Gaming When Online Isn’t An Option

In the coming weeks I will be experiencing something that I haven’t had to deal with in over a decade.  I will be without a broadband connection for gaming.  It isn’t necessarily something that I’m upset about, as it is providing me with the opportunity to live in the geographic region I prefer (that of which I also happen to call ‘home’).  While I will most certainly be alleviated of this lacking high-speed internet connection in the hopefully near future as well – I believe this is a great time to throw this situation into the wild.

Initially, I thought that the most negative aspect of this situation was going to be not having the opportunity to play games like Battlefield and Call of Duty online with multiplayer components.  Then it occurred to me that the primary downfall to this is the fact that I have purchased quite a few games digitally.  This essentially makes it next to impossible for me to download any of these games while I am without a connection.  So, Madden 18, MLB 17, Battlefield 1, Call of Duty Black Ops 3 and WW2, the list goes on… will have to be downloaded and installed before going back home.

This situation is one that many gamers don’t have to think about often.  However, it is worth considering which games you’d like to have installed in an internet armageddon situation.

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As it stands for myself, I have to consider first and foremost deleting the digitial  games that I only play online – Call of Duty and Battlefield – I’ll see you when I have internet once again.  The next to go will be any game that I have played out for the foreseeable future – Madden 18, I wish I could say you were worth keeping (maybe when they fix CFM in 2053).

Which games are left at this point?

My digital purchases in terms of single player games is rather limited (fortunately).

So, welcome to the download family – Deus Ex – Mankind Divided, Just Cause 3, and Wolfenstein: The Old Blood.

These are all games I own digitally and have yet to beat the story mode within.  I wish I could say I was driven to finish the campaign for Battlefield 1 and COD WW2, but seriously – these are games I wish I could buy the Multiplayer separately for anyway.  Speaking of – I think $30 for these games with only the online multiplayer would be a great way of doing things someday.

Personally, one reminder and the main suggestion I will make is to download the biggest open world games you have with all of their DLC.  That should at least make it somewhat easier to decide some of the first games to take care of prior to moving.

Which games would you download if you were going to be without the internet for gaming?

I must say my first vote will be The Witcher 3 with all of the DLC, followed closely by Skyrim and Fallout 4.

Post your comments below.

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.

Madden 18 Release Day Guide

My guidance for anyone that is going to be playing Madden 18 on either release day (GOAT Edition or Regular Retail) is as follows.

  • Wait until at least the first post-release patch to really jump into your CFM.  EA will be fixing zone defenses in a post-day one patch.  Not to mention CFM notoriously has problems at launch and it would be smart to wait out of common knowledge.

    • You should also wait for the first roster update to occur as there have already been retirements and injuries that you should wait on.

  • Play the single player challenges on MUT and Longshot early on in your gaming.  This will help you earn much needed good players as well as earning some trophies in a mode that most people will only play once before moving into the actual game (in the case of Longshot).

  • Start playing on All-Madden and let it kick your butt for a while.  Learn how the hardest difficulty plays and let it prep you for playing against human opponents in MUT.  This is because not only will opponents be tough in MUT, but they will also find ways to glitch and cheat you much like All Madden difficulty will from time to time.

  • Get a feel for how the controls feel this year.  From year to year Madden feels differently and with Frostbite being implemented this year you should expect some different feel when it comes to controlling your players.

Madden 18 – So That’s Why They Didn’t Show Gameplay

The gameplay videos for Madden NFL 18 finally emerged from the ivory towers of the EA Game Changers as the footage embargo expired.  Some of the videos came out with what strangely sounded like criticism of the still broken zone coverages, and that was the last of any sort of negative feedback from Game Changers. According to a couple EA Developer Tweets, they are working on fixing the situation. Pardon my skepticism, but I’ve heard this kind of thing before with numerous issues in the game.  Usually, if it happens it ends up being in a patch that doesn’t come until October.


Based on the videos it is hard to see any sort of focus on improvements of actual gameplay issues.  The same magnetic pull exists on sideline catches.  The same broken man coverage and press situation seems alive and well.  Screens and slip screens are still overpowered as well.

One of the nice aspects I noticed was decent double-team blocking – something that All Pro Football 2K8 had ten years ago on Xbox 360.  It’s nice to see Madden catch up in that department.  It seems that some of the animations might have been cleaned up, but not enough to say the game actually plays differently as a whole.

Another aspect of CPU not changing from strange decisions and wonky animations is noticeable when the ball carrier is going towards the sideline and the movement looks like it is being performed on a D-Pad instead of analog sticks.  Somehow, these issues never seem to get fixed as the EA Game Changers go back to EA Tiburon year after year.  Obviously, the changes to these issues aren’t in the hands of Game Changers, as they aren’t developers.  One thing that can be stated is that these issues can be fixed because again – All Pro Football 2K8 managed to have these issues under control.  It’s difficult for me to believe that any real effort is being made to fix this kind of weak CPU gameplay.  Things like this become LEGACY problems because they are long term, unfixed and apparently – unimportant to whoever is in charge.

Madden 18 is focused on Madden Ultimate Team.  They can talk about the marketing for Longshot (which will probably be the source of a few trophies just to make you play the mode if you’re a trophy junkie) being the focus of this iteration of Madden, but they make their money from Ultimate Team and that is what they focus on every year. 

Connected Franchise Mode hasn’t been touched more than a few supposed fixes to draft logic and regression limitations, etc. Don’t look for a lot of changes to come from this aspect of the game anytime soon.  If I had to guess about any new improvements in Madden 19 CFM it would be that they will include a better draft experience and maybe a halftime show with updates from around the league (like NFL 2K5 had back in the day).  I find it funny that the commentator likes to make light of the fact that I skip every halftime show in Madden 17.  I wonder if the developers at EA have metrics to show how many people skip that waste of time like they do for how many people spend real money on MUT coins…?

Now that I have let you know about some of the issues I have noticed from the first day of gameplay footage and other news from the EA Propagandists Game Changers I can move into what will be featured from NoobTubeTV in the coming weeks.

Just as EA Sports knows their money comes from MUT I have to admit that most of the NTTV’s views come from my coverage and posts about Madden.  It seems that most of you enjoy the honesty that comes without the filter of being bought off by a developer.  For that I thank you as it means a lot to see the view count spike here every year around the start of football season.  I don’t have as much time to devote to gaming as real world responsibilities take precedent and frankly, I enjoy being away from my couch and console more and more as well.  That won’t stop me from helping you out on Madden 18 on August 22.  Here is a list of what you should expect from NoobTubeTV’s Madden 18 coverage once we get to release day.

August 22-

  • NTTV All Pro and All Madden Sliders (Version 1.0) uploaded on PS4 and posted here on the site.

  • House Rules for Offline CFM Scouting and Team Management

  • House Rules for playcalling (offline vs. CPU)

August 23-

  • Team Selection Guide

August 24-

  • Official Review of Madden 18