Are You Not Entertained? – Actually… No. – The Downward Spiral of Annual Game Releases

If sports and first person shooter (FPS) Video Games were a ‘Nation’ and I were the President of Sports and FPS Video Games, I would have to say that the State of our Union is weak.

This isn’t coming from the stand-point of the gaming companies like Electronic Arts or Activision (judging by their weakening stocks I would say that they feel the same), but from the aspect of gamers.  There are numerous games that have grabbed our attention and held onto it for a few years such as the Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Mass Effect and some others that you might be able to throw out there in the comments section below.  However, sports games and some shooter titles are constantly being thrown at us every year during the summer or fall.

What is becoming more evident as we get closer to the end of this generation of consoles (XBox 360, PS3 and Wii) is that sports and shooter games are really coasting along for the last few quarters before they jump into a new fray of next-gen console development (aka – more of your money).

We have recently focused on games like Madden NFL and NCAA Football sense they are the primary Summer Releases for EA Sports.  The next game that will get our full attention is Black Ops 2.  Call of Duty is a game that is technically released every two years if you want to dive into the fact that it is split between development teams (Infinity Ward and Treyarch).  However, the series itself is pretty much the same concept with a few nuances that make each game slightly different.

These games feel disposable at this point.  We aren’t in a time period of creative thoughts in entertainment in general.  Movies are the same way with sequels and remakes that really aren’t too dissimilar from what annual sports games and FPS games like Call of Duty are doing.  The publishers of these games like to sell you on trailers and big budget marketing rather than actually take the time to be creative and take a chance with something new.

If in 2013 there would be an announcement that Madden and Call of Duty would not be released in order to drive creativity and innovation in each series, would you applaud this decision or take it upon yourself to scream in ALL CAPS that it is the worst thing that ever happened to gaming?

NoobTubeTV would applaud this decision but what is your take?

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.

Madden 13 – Why Connected Careers Could Be A Great Direction For Madden

While there have been a lot of detractors (yours truly included) coming out against EA’s decision to keep roster editing out of Madden 13’s Connected Careers Mode, there are some things to consider before you decide to hate it entirely.

There is something behind not having control of every aspect of rosters once you start a franchise mode or dynasty.  The biggest (most obvious) downfall is if the coding for progression and regression is bad (see Madden 09, 10, 11, etc.).  However, if the coding and player development is good (see the possibilities for Madden 13’s new XP system) you might have one heck of a deep career mode that will allow you to truly develop players and teams as you feel they should.

If you edit Phil Dawson to have 99 Kick Power and Accuracy you should have to pay for it. In Madden 13 you have to earn it rather than change it.

In Madden 12, they opened up player editing during Franchise Mode and it was/is awesome.  However, the downfall is that you have to really find a way to be honest about your edits and then make sure that you do the same thing for other players and teams across the board.  If your player did well but didn’t progress as you feel he should have, you had the ability to make sure his ratings went up as they’should have’.  The problem with this is that it can ruin the longevity of a Franchise Mode when you have a team that becomes too good either because you edited them that way or you are just great at using the fastest players in the game.

It is nice to develop a great team, but it is even nicer when you have to spend points and be honest with how you go about it.  If you want to make Brandon Weeden have 99 SPD, you will have to spend a ton of points to do so.  While this seems unrealistic, ask yourself how much more realistic it would be if you simply went in and edited him to be that way.  It wouldn’t be realistic at all and you are now stuck looking at Madden 13’s lack of player editing from a more honest perspective.

The main problem with Madden’s Franchise Mode in-particular has never really been in progression/regression anyway.  The issue that is the most obvious is the way players and draft picks are valued.  A player might come in and do an amazing job out of the blue (Matt Cassel for Tom Brady in 2009 is one example).  He then went on to get a big contract offer from the Chiefs where he has been average/above average at best.  The moral of the story is that Madden hasn’t ever really taken this into account.  The player’s value has always been based around his ratings (OVR mostly) and that isn’t how business is always done in the NFL (unless your name is Al Davis (RIP)).

For Connected Careers to work as it should, there needs to be a better value system for players that forces teams to have to make decisions on whether or not the player will work in their Franchise and system.

This is the next aspect that has never been in Madden…. Do players FIT THE SYSTEM?

Stop wondering why the Browns seem so slow, even on the line. Granted, they are supposed to fit the system… although, they don’t seem to know what system it is. (Go Browns!)

More goes into how a player is chosen for a team other than ‘Is he qualified?’

The Patriots and Bill Belichick drafted a player out of Ohio State that played more rugby than football.  They also picked up Danny Woodhead and made him into a valuable part of their team (and he is only 5’8″ 195lbs).

Woodhead is small, but he works for their system.

There are other examples such as different defensive schemes such as the 3-4 and 4-3 that require different styles, sizes and speeds for defensive linemen and linebackers.  There are certain offensive schemes that don’t require a receiver to be fast as long as he can run good routes and catch the ball (West Coast).

Do you think someone like Tim Tebow would succeed outside of Denver if he had to take every snap from the center rather than playing college-style?

If you run a 3-4 offense and need fast, athletic linebackers the last person you want to look for is going to be an average speed 6’5″ 270 lbs… you will most likely want to look for a fast and lean 6’3″ 240 lb mean S.O.B. that doesn’t care about anything other than ripping faces off of QBs.

Every position is important, but in Madden that doesn’t seem to be the case.  Again, say what you want about real-time physics and other improvements.  Those are needed and extremely valuable, but when it comes down to longevity for their most vaunted mode and biggest overhaul in years EA needs to make sure that more than just ratings truly matter.

 

If you aren’t football savvy here is a quick example:

Two people are applying for a car sales job.

The first person is fresh out of college with a degree in marketing and experience working a retail sales job part-time.  They have a good, confident attitude to eventually work at the corporate level and maybe someday head up a department or possibly their own company.
 
The second person graduated from high school and then spent two years at a community college.  They have a strong personality and make you feel like you have known them forever.  They are also from the region and have strong ties to the area.
 
Who gets the job?  The second person gets the job.  Why? Because they fit the system.

 

Does Madden Matter Anymore?

Over the past two decades it has been a fixture in sports gaming.  On occasion it has even been hailed as one of the best games of the year in that genre.  However, the Madden Franchise has fallen on hard times as of late and it looks more like Tiki Barber trying to make a comeback rather than Brett Favre making a Super Bowl run after his 2nd retirement.  Either way it goes and however you view the analogy –  Madden is getting worse every year.  Only a few weeks ago we were looking at Madden 13 as the rebirth of a franchise after a long drought.  Now it seems as if it has lost its luster and even its marketing steam.

The NFL season is set to start in just over two months and Madden is slated to come out in the middle of Pre-Season games.  How on earth can it be that this game doesn’t have a single commercial in wide circulation or even some sort of hypemobile rolling through forums drumming up blind support?

While it isn’t terribly surprising to see a sports title come out and grab the core audience, it is rather shocking to see the publisher pretty much throw in the marketing towel this early/ late in the game’s development cycle.  With high profile titles such as Halo 4 and Call of Duty coming out within a few months of Madden, it is going to be interesting to see how EA’s sales for their football games perform without any real concerted effort at this point.

Madden has its core of fanboys out there that live up to the stereotypes of sports gamers with false bravado and a sharp case of ego-stroking football knowledge that should place them at the sidelines of any local youth football game screaming at children as they try to live out dreams they never should have had in the first place.  These gamers tend to ruin the online experience as they exploit the poor animation and AI system in order to rank up the leaderboards or win some sort of digital league.

The typical Madden Online/Tournament gamer.

The rest of the Madden fans out there don’t even play online.  They want a game that focuses on Franchise Mode/Connected Careers and some sort of longevity to keep them coming back.  Sadly, it looked like a promising year for this group of fans until EA dropped bombshell after bombshell crushing the dreams of franchise fanantics (yours truly, included).  It seems that the time has come to call EA on their bluff.  They have been bluffing for almost seven years now and there are still people out there folding under the pressure to buy this game on release day.

Are you buying Madden this year?  Are you avoiding it like the plague?… Or, are you simply going to wait it out a little while and see what the reviews look like?

Madden 13 – Going RPG With a Sports Title

Most of the time when people are talking about XP they are referring to either their Call of Duty Prestige or in most other cases they are talking about leveling up their characters in a Role Playing Game.  This can be seen in many games from World of Warcraft, Diablo, Final Fantasy, Skyrim, Borderlands, etc.  However, for the first time ever you will be able to do this in Madden NFL 13.

This might not seem like a big deal to people that play online pick-up games, but when it comes to Franchise Mode (now called “Connected Careers“) this is something that has been sorely needed for a long time.  Why would this be such a drastic ‘need’?  The answer has multiple levels and we will cover them.

XP works in such a way that your players will earn points for you to spend (like currency) on improving the player as you see fit.

While this is something that some people might have a beef with because it allows the gamer to do something like make JaMarcus Russell into an amazing player if they build enough XP.

The answer to anyone that has a problem with this is simple and it is the first big reason to applaud this new system of progression.

  1. It will take time to build someone into a superstar – Even players like RG3 are going to take some time to develop into the attributed monster you want them to become (that certainly goes for anyone looking to build JaMarcus Russell or Brady Quinn into anything near a 90 OVR player.
  2. You control your team, it is (almost all up to you) – There isn’t really an excuse for your best players to not progress at this point.  The power is in your hands to get your wanna-be diva WR the ball more often if you want him to level up.  Want your QB to have more XP, don’t throw the ball into coverage all the time.
  3. Longevity is finally here -For years, practice mode has been a wasted effort to even put in the game.  This year you can practice with your players and get them even more XP by doing this.  It makes sense, but we advise against asking Allen Iverson about how much you can gain through practice.

It is time to start getting excited for football season in gaming.  For the first time in years, we really have something to talk about that isn’t how bad Madden is… but how good it could be.

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.