Community Involvement Doesn’t Equal Community Development

In recent years EA Sports and some other publishers and game developers have started inviting select members of their hardcore gaming community and fanbase to come in and check out their game and give opinions and critiques as well as simply get a chance to play the game in its early build.  For the many people that don’t get a chance to visit places like EA Tiburon for Madden over the course of a game’s development cycle it is easy to think they might do a better job than those going down to Orlando.  There are a few things to consider before you let your mind run wild with envy if you aren’t among the invitees for Community Day (as they call it at EA).  As well, if you are among the lucky few – it will behoove you to pay attention as well.

Before we proceed, it is important to view one of the interactions from OperationSports.  This is between a non-Community Day participant and a Madden Community Day Participant –

Illustrator76 – “This was a great analogy sir, and I agree with what you’re saying. But I disagree with it as well, lol. Actually, I only disagree with the bolded part as it applies to Madden. I just feel like people need to remember why they are at the CD in the first place. Just because EA employees feed you, show you pictures of their kids, their peg leg, etc… that shouldn’t change your reason for being down there, or what you intend to say. Now, it may change HOW you say what you say, but it shouldn’t at all change WHAT you say.”

And the reply –

rgiles36 – “Just to offer a response, are you suggesting that people do forget the reason why they’re down there? And if so, what evidence is there that people go to Tiburon and don’t critique while in the studio?”

MY DIRECT RESPONSE

This is kind of a Catch-22 because there is no evidence that anyone can give that wasn’t there and the people that can give that evidence won’t likely speak freely about anything truly negative as it wouldn’t be beneficial if they wanted to keep getting a trip to Orlando.

I think it would be best practice for those that aren’t going to Community Day to remember that those invited are invited as guests and it is usually customary of a guest to show proper respect and gratitude toward their host(s).

If you go to someone’s house for dinner and the dinner tastes crappy – you (probably) wouldn’t stand up and yell “This tastes like sh*t!”.
However, if your guest stops eating after the first bite and says “This tastes like sh*t!” – you should feel slightly more inclined to either agree with them or give your two cents… otherwise, you hack down what you have been fed and you go home to a nice bottle of Pepto-Bismol.

MY MESSAGE FOR COMMUNITY DAY INVITEES AND PARTICIPANTS

You have to keep in mind that a majority of hardcore fans have no idea about what their favorite game is going to look, play or feel like until they pull it out of the DVD case on release day.  Chances are good that you will be criticized by an ignorant public because they believe that you have an inside track… because you do.  There is a certain level of responsibility that you have when it comes to being a sought-after member of the gaming community and you have to remember that while you have confidentiality clauses and other issues to worry about – you are still in a position of power among people in the community.

Also, as it is widely known among active members of the gaming community itself each person making the trip to Orlando must sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) that legally prevents them from divulging any information about the game or development of the game without prior approval of the studio/company.

Be that as it may, any person that is invited to a Community Day needs to remember that they were once among the commoners.  While there are rules they must follow, there is also a responsibility for them to be a conduit that other people in the community can utilize to further the overall mission – making the game better.  In my view, Community Day participants have done an excellent job over the last few years and their efforts are much appreciated.

THE BOTTOM LINE
The bottom line is that when you bring in anyone to critique your product you are trying to get some feelers for what could be tweaked.  If the people being invited to give advice or suggestions were better at developing the game than the actual employees they would probably have a job offer to work at the studio.  (Keep in mind, this has actually happened in some cases with EA Sports and Madden)

There is a vast difference between being asked for your opinion and being asked for your help on any project.  For the most part, when people are invited out of the community to check out a game (of any sort) it is in a capacity of giving opinions and feedback but not much else.

Going to a community day is like helping someone hang a picture.  The developers picked the spot on the wall, put the nail in and they standing there holding the picture and asking you, “Does this look straight?”.

It is good to remember that people like Josh Looman pay close attention to forums and Twitter when it comes to community suggestions. Not just those from Community Day.

IN CONCLUSION

The main message here is that you must understand that people invited to give suggestions at Community Day are not there as developers.  They are there strictly on the basis of being valued consultants (at most).  They give opinions and they give suggestions when they are asked.  They give feedback and might even take some notes in order to give a detailed list that is comparable to proof-reading.  However, in the end it is up to the developer to take these suggestions and use them or ignore them.

So, before you accuse Community Day participants of ‘not doing their job’ or tell non-participants to ‘provide evidence’ that you know they don’t have – remember that this entire process is in the spirit of consulting at most.

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Madden 13 E3 Information – Connected Careers Impresses… Initially

Connected Careers… finally something to talk about with career modes… you know, instead of screaming in all caps and bold.

The Madden team has recently had it’s feet put to the fire here at NoobTubeTV for some of the improvements that should be made either this year or five years ago.  Today the EA Tiburon dropped some of the best news they could have and it is connected to all career modes, literally.

Connected Careers (in short) is going to allow you to do everything you could do between Franchise Mode, Superstar and Online Franchise all in one swoop.

However, the only information missing is the actual logic in trades and how that valuation may or may not have been tweaked since last year.

Either way it goes, Madden 13 seems to have finally jumped ahead of NCAA Football for now… and it only took six years.

Madden 13 Franchise Mode Details Coming Soon

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT UPDATES ON CONNECTED CAREERS!!!

 

As of next week (June 4) there is going to be a new blog released from EA Tiburon that is going to focus on ‘Connected Careers’.  The most important part of this for Madden fans is the hope for details about Madden’s Franchise Mode and what improvements or additions have been made.

It would be simple (in theory) to just add player morale to the player traits section. It shouldn’t be an editable value, but making it a dynamic value that fluctuates is a must for Franchise Mode immersion and longevity.

Madden 12 saw a jump in quality for Franchise Mode, but there were still many bugs and glitchy occurrences that cast an ugly shadow on some of the details that really can’t be overlooked.  Some examples include –

  • Making it to the Super Bowl with a team like the Browns more than once but having the same banner showing that it is their first trip.
  • Being able to sign Free Agents for much cheaper by going to the “Free Agent” section rather than “Player Management” (where you have to pay players a more realistic salary instead of cheating them with a 1-year $620 deal for a guy that would/should demand more.
  • Schedules generated year-to-year are random and can end up giving you 6 straight home games and all your division games in the first ten weeks. (The NFL is making a constant effort to schedule division opponents at the end of every season to make late season games matter, this should be done in Madden as well)
  • Draft logic and trade logic is still busted as we covered before.
  • The lack of a decent system of Player Value that should mean you have to pay a player based on his performance rather than just his OVR.  If you have a QB that breaks every record (regardless of your sliders, his OVR or anything else) he should have a high value that essentially equates to you having to pay more to keep him around.  The current system of OVR plays too much of a role and takes much of the focus away from the Skill Ratings which should be the first thing you look for.
  • Another missing component that has been in NBA 2k and even PS2 Madden titles is morale and attitude for players.  This is something that MUST be in Madden in order for Franchise Mode to really hold any water past what it can hold currently.  Franchise Mode needs more personality and that should start and end with the personality of every owner, GM, Coach and Player in the game.
  • If you draft a QB in the first round like the Browns did with Old Man Weeden and you have Colt McCoy being relegated to back-up his morale should take a major hit.
  • Trade Demands and Holdouts – Take a look at the current situation with Drew Brees and tell us that this shouldn’t be in the game.

These are just some of the changes that must occur in Madden 13 for Franchise Mode.

A Brief Segway/Comment on The Drew Brees Situation

This holdout (which involves Brees and the Saints disagreeing on a contract extension because of a few million bucks) must end soon if the Saints hope to save any face in the months following Bountygate.  Brees led this team to their only Super Bowl Championship and now is being jerked around like he was simply a role-player.  Without Brees the Saints would be like the 2011 Colts without Peyton Manning (or worse).  Already, they are without their Head Coach and other major personnel.  The worst part really involves the current interaction between interim-Head Coach, Joe Vitt and Brees.

This isn’t Vitt’s team.  This is something that must be made abundantly clear between the players (especially Brees) and the ownership.  Payton is serving a one-year suspension which really makes Vitt look like the guy that comes into a broken home and tries to lay down the law.  The response from the players (his children) will most likely result in some sort of “Your Not My (Real) Dad!!!” interaction.

To make it short, the situation with the Saints this year could result in a Top-10 Draft Pick next year that will take over for a spiteful (rightfully so) Drew Brees.

This once again begs the question – Where is the personality in Madden’s Franchise Mode?  Hopefully we find out on Tuesday.

Madden 13 – Is It Worth $60 At This Point?

*We have had multiple posts about Madden since this article.  Please check those out for more details.  We will have full reviews of Madden as soon as it is released!

The improvements being made to Madden 13 are catching some eyes around the sports gaming world.  The problem is that outside of some improvements being made to make the game’s eye-candy stick out we are still waiting to hear about the much needed improvements to Career Modes.  They have already announced that there will be something that ties career modes to an interactive web-based experience.  However, the fact that Online Franchise Mode has been bare-bones for three iterations is something that really takes away from any sort of community experience.

Girls and Games Are Alike… Good looks only get you so far.

With the still struggling interactions between O-Lineman and D-Lineman rendering many plays broken (Play Action Passes, just for one example) and then coupling that with other poor AI and animations… you have many questions still left unanswered.  Granted, we still have a few months until the game is released, it is worth considering whether or not Madden 13 will be something you are better off buying pre-owned rather than brand new. Rest assured that the game isn’t something you will need to pre-order in most cases as it is often readily available on launch day.

Outside of the chance that Madden 13 blows everyone away with some sort of new gimmick that EA will remove (See ProTAK, Procedural Awareness, Tuners, etc.) it will remain as a game that should be approached as nothing more than a roster update with a slight graphical facelift.  You can find Madden 12 online for around $20 on Amazon right now; if you are having that football itch that requires Madden to fill the gap, you would probably be okay to spend $20 on Madden 12 before pre-ordering Madden 13 at this point.

The moments of truth will hopefully come around the time that E3 starts in June.  Keep in mind that in our last brief write-up for Madden we focused on the hype machine and how it can suck people in early on in a game’s cycle.  You should keep your hopes up but also keep your expectations low.  Even with the reactions from EA Tiburon’s Community Days and the ‘dedicated Madden fans’ being posted, it would be a good idea to take their impressions with a grain of salt.  Remember, they have to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements and you don’t often hear too much negativity coming from people that get preferential treatment (why would you bite the hand that feeds?).

Once we get to June and July there will be a lot more information out there that EA wants to release.  In that case, you shouldn’t lose total hope in Madden or NCAA Football just yet; but you should also keep yourself grounded if you are hoping for groundbreaking improvements.