PlayStation Plus or PlayStation Minus?

It has been a long while since NTTV has been updated in any way.  So, with that and with the recent milestone of 200,000 views I am happy to be back and filled with excitement for what the next chapter will look like for NTTV.  With that said, this first update is one of frustration and dare I say – hope – that something good will happen for PS4/PS+ owners.

As we get ready to enter the best part of the year in gaming (Fall/Autumn) there are a few things to look back on and applaud from the first 2/3 of the year.  One of the big things that happened was the improvement of Battlefield 4’s servers and the quality releases of expansions/DLC.  BF4 is starting to show far more staying power than Call of Duty these days, and that is a good thing.

Playstation-minus2

However, there are some other aspects of 2014 that have been lacking up to this point.  The biggest disappointment so far has been PlayStation Plus for PlayStation 4 owners.  While the network is relatively what we expect it to be in terms of solid gaming and online connectivity.  The aspect that they introduced a couple years ago of giving free games to PS+ subscribers made me step up to the plate with PS4 and become a subscriber as well.  Although they have provided decent games to PS3 owners in the past, the same cannot be said for PS4 owners to this point.  The free games with PS+ on PS4 have been rather insulting up to this point.

One of the most infuriating comparisons was in June when PS3 owners of the PS+ service) and got a chance to download NBA 2K14 and Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time for ‘free’.  These are major releases that at one point commanded a typical retail price point of $40-60.  What did the PS4 owners get?  Trine 2 and Shooter Ultimate.

Chances are good that you are asking the same question(s) I asked when I saw these as the games being offered.

“What in the holy hell is Trine 2?  When was there ever a Trine ONE?  Why are they offering a bunch of garbage indie titles on their new console and great games on their old console?”

Like Frozen – I tried to let it go.  However, as a gamer and subscriber to the PS+ ‘service’ I simply can’t do that anymore. The biggest reason behind my spoiled brat ‘gimme gimme gimme’ attitude with free games being offered has come out at this point (because believe me – I know they don’t have to offer jack shiznit if they don’t want to) is because I am starting to think that I bought a luxury sports car with an 8-Track player and crank-down windows when it comes to the PS4/PS+ combination.

There has been little reason for me to have the PS+ service other than playing Battlefield 4 online.  I also currently own Fifa 14, MLB 14: The Show and Killzone: Shadow Fall.  Perhaps the biggest indicator that Sony has a problem is with their very own AAA titles like Killzone – which they release and then forget about.  They should have offered it as a free game with PS+, but instead we are stuck with indie arcade titles like Fez and Stick It To the Man.  Are you serious?  This is almost so insulting it is funny.  Except, I’m not laughing.  I am quite pissed off to think that I spent money on a service that is giving me the equivalent of throw away SNES titles and acting like they are doing me a favor.

Sony’s own original idea of offering free games to subscribers has been taken by Microsoft and no is clearly being used to destroy Sony’s ‘service’.  It is as if Skynet has simply become Skynet Gold and it is laughing at the old version of a good idea that is clearly out of it’s realm.

Sony, you have a problem.  It is about time you start re-evaluating your PlayStation Minus service because you are quickly turning into the laughing stock once again.  As for your garbage ‘free’ games that you oh, so graciously present to me and my fellow idiot subscribers – I will download them and I might even play them for three to five minutes.  However, I am only downloading them because they are there – not because I want them.

Madden 15 – Why Haven’t We Heard Anything?

In what seems to be the non-stop world of NFL media coverage, we have yet to hear so much as a peep from EA Sports when it comes to Madden 15.  With the draft coming in nearly a month and numerous reports of big changes in free agency – there isn’t even a screen shot of the assumed upcoming title from EA Tiburon.

rg3

Does this mean that there is something bigger on the horizon and EA is just playing it ‘close to the chest’?  It doesn’t seem like it could be anything else other than that assumption.  Madden is the cash cow of EA Sports (perhaps behind FIFA) and it is in need of some serious work when it comes to improving the overall experience of the game in general.

What are you hoping to hear from the football gaming front in the coming months?

Here are a few of the things that Madden needs –

Better Team Management from AI – This seems to be a yearly issue with Madden.  Yes, they mostly fixed the ability to steal draft picks from teams (via trades).  However, there seems to be a drastic drop-off when it comes to teams making personnel decisions as the years pass in Franchise Mode.

Better Officiating and Foot Detection- I have a feeling I’m not the only one that has played Madden and seen a receiver clearly catch a ball out of bounds and have it ruled (after review) to be a catch.  The same goes for catches made in the end-zone and inexplicably, the animations or officiating doesn’t allow the catch.  This is an issue that occurs almost every 2-4 games I play.

Better Draft Class Balance – Now that NCAA Football and the importation of draft classes (and the constant problems that presented) is a moot point.  We now have to look at the classes designed and wonder why there are WRs created that are 5’8″ with 77 SPD and 67 CTH ratings.  For the love of all things unholy – just make the player somewhat less crappy.

Custom Draft Class Creation – As stated above, the current state of draft classes is terrible.  The sports gaming community has shown in games like NBA 2K that there are people out there that can put out some amazing effort in this regard and openly share their creations with the community.  This would be a huge success if EA simply allowed it.

Smarter Playcalling and Decision Making – This goes without needing explanation for the most part.  However, Madden seems to be designed for the casual fans to pick up the game and throw the ball around.  It would be nice to finally see the game become challenging in a way that made the gamer (and the AI) to consider all of the match-ups and the game situation before choosing plays or who to focus on for a given moment in a big situation.

GAME OVR – The Strange Obsession With OVR Ratings In Sports Games

In gaming all ‘ability’ levels are based around number ratings and scales.  The only difference in ratings comes in how they are presented (or not presented) to the user.  Everything from guns in Call of Duty to Spin Ratings for Defensive Tackles in Madden have some sort of numerical value – even if they aren’t presented to you in that fashion, the ratings are numerically based once you dig into the guts and binary code of the game.  That said, there is one rating in-particular that seems to be an obsession with sports gamers… the Overall (OVR) rating.

In Madden NFL, NBA 2K, NHL, FIFA, NCAA Football (RIP), etc. the primary measure of a player’s worth is in his OVR rating.  While the determining factors for a player’s OVR may differ between games it seems that it is the only thing that matters to most sports gamers in determining a player’s value/talent in the given game.  Granted, in Madden and NCAA the other rating of almost equal importance over the last 10+ years has been Speed (SPD) ratings for ‘skill’ positions – OVR is still king when it comes to determining the success and worth of a player.  In fact, it should be changed to a ‘Physical’ (PHY) rating as we develop a totally new rating.

How Do You Increase OVR In Madden?

To get this out of the way, there have been many people asking how to increase the OVR of their players in Madden 25.  This is rather simple as long as you are earning enough XP for the player during your Franchise/Career mode.  Always start with the Awareness Rating (AWR) of the player and you will soon see the OVR jump substantially.  After that, it is all about investing in the position specific categories for the player.  So, if you have a QB – start with AWR and then move to Throwing Accuracy, Throwing Power and so-forth.  If you have a HB, I suggest starting again with AWR and then moving onto Spin, Juke, Stiff Arm, etc.  Hopefully this helps – but when in doubt you should always start with the mysterious AWR Rating.

How To Best Rate Players?

This is a question that often creeps up in sports gaming forums.  While there is a necessity to depend on numerical ratings for players (at least in the ‘hidden guts’ of the game, as stated above) there seems to be a growing divide among sports gamers as to how these ratings should be shown to the gamer – or if they should be at all.

Madden NFL’s rating system is vast and sometimes confusing (or simply meaningless in some cases).  With Donny Moore being the primary focus of players getting weekly boosts or reductions in ratings based on their real-life performance for online roster updates there are many gamers and fans out there that question his ability to make the right changes.  I have been critical of his rating changes in the past and I am not about to retract my remarks or references.  However, it is feeling more and more like the best way to rate players in Franchise/Association/Career/Owner modes should be determined by more than some sort of absolute numerical value on an interactive in-game spreadsheet.

Every team and franchise values players differently.  Every owner, coach, scout and fan places different values on players as well.  This is where I believe the best rating system should include a mix of numbers, letters and gold stars (yeah, I said it – gold stars).

The grade of a player’s SPD should be determined by multiple factors – including game/season fatigue to start.  Also, this all important rating should also be determined by weather conditions (including high heat) and agility if necessary.

As for ‘Overall’ (OVR) I am of the strong opinion that it should be changed to ‘Value’ (VAL).  This might seem just as arbitrary as OVR but if we changed the rating to VAL and based it around the play-style/coaching style of the gamer and the resulting ‘fan value’ of a player it would make for a far more realistic experience in career modes and in the game.

Explaining The “Value Rating” In Detail With Examples

My suggested value rating would require an extremely ‘organic’ and amoeba-like rating system that changes from week to week and moment to moment.  This would also likely be extremely difficult to develop without serious bugs in code, etc. – but why not consider it anyway?

It all starts with creating an initial philosophy.  This will differ depending on at which level you are assuming control of your team (Owner, Coach, etc.).  Some owners are all about making money first and having a great team second (think Randy Lerner in Cleveland).  Other owners like to think they are the best judges of talent in the league (think Jerry Jones and the late Al Davis).  Then you have owners like Robert Craft that support a coach that they trust and watch the victories (and the money) pour into their franchise.

Madden has started to make this type of change recently with Coaching Schemes playing a role in the ratings of players.  However, this hasn’t translated to any real changes in the gameplay (which is a different discussion altogether).  The downfall in this is that the players are still being judged on their scheme type and ratings in their OVR rather than their production and value to the franchise, team and fans.

The VAL rating would consider the percentage of time that player is on the field.  How many times the player touched the ball and perhaps how often the gamer controls that player on defense.  If you start taking into consideration the value you place on some players in terms of actually using them it becomes a much more involved and introspective gaming experience.

My Madden 13 CCM with the Cleveland Browns has reached the 2020 season and I have developed some of my players into some of the statistically best players that have ever played.  My 2013 Draft Pick was a 2nd Rd QB, Mark Mallett out of Oregon State.  He has developed into the best QB in the league averaging over 43 TDs and 5000 yards a season.  He has also won four Super Bowls (with 4 MVPs to go with them).  I decided that in his contract renewal process that I would reward him for being the franchise player that he is and I did this with a 6-Year $132 million deal.  I followed that up with a deal for Joe Haden to stay with my team through the 2026 season.  The moral of the story is that even if Mallett hadn’t progressed with his physical ratings he would still warrant a huge contract no matter what and this is because of his value… not his skills.

Tom Brady doesn’t exactly run like the wind… neither does Peyton Manning.  Somehow they are still considered the two best QBs in the NFL.  Sure, they have good arms and are accurate passers – but they are also smart/intelligent leaders.  This is where the performance of players under ‘user/gamer’ control should start to develop this same Value as games and seasons progress.

What do you think?  How should ratings be decided in sports gaming?

Madden 13 – Connected Careers – Player Types and Coaching Schemes (From The Manual)

About Player Types

It is important to understand the scheme in which your team runs and what player type they look for at a specific position.  Since each NFL team evaluates players differently, it’ll be essential to know what peaks their interest and in turn, value you even higher. For example, if you’re a receiving back looking to crack into the Arizona Cardinals starting lineup, you may find yourself buried on the depth chart. The Cardinals are a Power Run offense, looking for a Power HB. Your overall rating will be lower in that system than it will be in Miami, who is looking for a Receiving HB.

Player Types Explained (By Position)

Quarterbacks
Strong Arm QB: Elite Arm Strength
West Coast QB: Short Accuracy and Mobility
Field General QB: High Awareness, Throw on the Run, Play Action
Balanced QB: Decent Arm Strength, Speed and Acceleration
Pocket Passer QB: High Accuracy and Arm Strength
Halfbacks
Balanced HB: Decent Speed and Acceleration
Power Back HB: Strength and Trucking
Speed Back HB: Speed and Acceleration
Receiving Back HB: Elusiveness and Catching
One Cut HB: Acceleration and Ball Carrier Vision
Fullbacks
Runner Receiver FB: Catching, Speed, and Ball Carrier Vision
Blocking FB: Strength, Run and Impact Blocking
Balanced FB: Decent Speed, Agility, and Run Blocking

Wide Receivers
Possession WR: Catch in Traffic
Red Zone Threat: Spectacular Catch and Catch in Traffic
Route Runner: Agility and Route Running
Balanced WR: Decent Speed Acceleration and Agility
Speed WR: Speed and Acceleration
Tight Ends
Balanced TE: Decent Speed Acceleration and Agility
Blocking TE: Impact, Run and Pass Blocking
Vertical Threat: Speed, Agility, and Route Running
Receiver TE: Catching and Route Running
Offensive Linemen
Run Blocker OL: Run Blocking, Strength, and Acceleration
Big Mauler OL: Run Blocking, Strength, and Impact Blocking
Zone Blocking OL: Run Blocking, Agility, and Acceleration
Balanced: Decent Strength, Awareness, Pass and Run Blocking
Pass Blocker: Pass Blocking, Strength, and Awareness

Defensive Ends
Balanced 4-3 DE: Decent Speed, Power and Finesse Moves
4-3 Run Stopper: Strength, Block Shedding and Tackling
3-4 Run Stopper: Strength, Pursuit and Tackling
3-4 Versatile: Decent Physical and Intangible Ratings
Speed Rusher: Speed Acceleration and Pass Rushing
Defensive Tackles
Pass Rusher DT: Acceleration and Pass Rushing
Prototype DT: Agility, Strength, and Acceleration
Nose Tackle DT: Strength and Tackling
Run Stopper: Strength, Block Shedding, and Tackling
Balanced DT: Decent Physical and Intangible Ratings
Line Backers
Cover 2 LB: Zone Coverage Decent Speed and Agility
Run Stopper LB: Block Shedding Pursuit and Tackling
3-4 Pass Rusher LB: Acceleration and Pass Rushing
Prototype LB: Speed Agility, and Acceleration
Balanced LB: Decent Speed, Acceleration, and Agility

Corner Backs
Man to Man CB: Man Coverage, Speed, Acceleration, and Agility
Run Support: Press Coverage, Tackling, Decent Speed and Agility
Balanced CB: Decent Speed, Agility, Man and Zone Coverage
Prototype CB: Speed, Strength, and Acceleration
Zone CB: Zone Coverage and Play Recognition
Safeties
Zone Safety: Zone Coverage and Play Recognition
Playmaker: Pursuit, Play Recognition, and Awareness
Balanced Safety: Speed, Agility, Coverage and Tackling
Prototype Safety: Speed, Agility, and Acceleration
Run Support Safety: Block Shedding Pursuit and Tackling
Kickers
Clutch Kicker: Kicking Accuracy and Awareness
Accurate: Kicking Accuracy
Balanced: Decent Kicking Power and Accuracy
Power: Kicking Power

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Schemes

OFFENSE

Balanced Offense
A 50/50 mix of running and passing. Offense is build around having players who can do multiple things well. (Balanced Players for a Balanced Offense…makes sense)

Power Run
Offense is built upon running the ball right at the defense. The scheme values a Power HB and offensive linemen who excel at run blocking.

Spread
Offense is built on having a deep WR core and players who excel at making plays in space. Speed and acceleration is much needed in this scheme.

Vertical Offense
Offense is built around a Strong Arm QB who can get the ball down the field. There is a premium placed on players who are tall and can jump up to make plays on the football.

West Coast
Offense is built on a quick, short passing game to complement the run game. Getting a West Coast QB who excels at accuracy and throwing on the run is vital.

Zone Run
Offense is built on running the ball and attacking the edge of a defense. Getting smaller, athletic offensive linemen is key as well as having multiple, One Cut HB’s.

DEFENSE

Attacking 4-3
Defense is built around four down linemen and linebackers and
defensive backs who can blitz to pressure the opposing offense.

Base 4-3
Defense is built around getting pressure from the four down
linemen and having linebackers and safeties that excel in
coverage.

Attacking 3-4
Defense is built around three down linemen and having two
outside linebackers who can rush the quarterback. The secondary
must excel at coverage.

Base 3-4
Defense is built around three down linemen, especially the nose
tackle. The rest of the defense must be versatile enough to cover
as well as making the occasional blitz.

Hybrid Multiple Front
Defense is built around giving the offense multiple looks. This
includes both three and four down linemen alignments so having
versatile players is key.

Tampa 2
Defense is built around getting a good pass rush from the front
four linemen and having linebackers and secondary players who
excel at zone coverage.

Zone Blitz 3-4
Defense is built around three down linemen and two outside linebackers
that can rush the quarterback. Both middle linebackers
and secondary players must excel at zone coverage.