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?

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Madden 25 – The Hype Train Is Leaving The Station

Now that we are getting ready to start football season in the minds of most NFL fans with the coming NFL Draft this Thursday there are a few things we can start sorting out when it comes to what Madden 25 will be pushing from the marketing end of the annual title.

The first thing we can plan on is the inclusion of some sort of ‘interview interface’ when it comes to CCM.  This is primarily due to the fact that NHL 13 is taking up where NBA 2K has been for a couple years now.  The idea of interacting with the media and having a simulation experience

It has been twenty-five years since John Madden demanded a true simulation football game. We are still waiting on EA Sports to provide us with one.

isn’t really new but EA is starting to take more of 2K’s features to heart.  My personal hopes are that Madden’s CCM (which is still going to be in the next iteration) will feature an interaction for people that prefer to be a ‘coach’ rather than a single player.  This will add depth to a mode that was off to a decent start last year.

Better physics and refined tackling are something that people have been clamoring for ever since the 360/PS3 released.  Last year we got the Infinity Engine and got to see some interesting animations play out (a lot of Gumby motions, especially).  Regardless, we can be almost certain that Madden 25 will have more refined player physics and tackling animations assuming they keep working with the same engine.  This leads us into one of the more intensely discussed topics on hardcore Madden forums – OL/DL interaction and blocking in general.

While it is highly unlikely that we will ever see a true end to ‘suction blocking’ it has been mentioned for NCAA 14 that there has been serious work put in towards improving blocking decisions and interactions.  This has been highlighted in discussing the inclusion of a deeper CPU intelligence that focuses on second-level blocking.  What is ‘Second Level Blocking’?  Second level blocking is basically any blocking that occurs after an initial block has been made.  So, if the Right Tackle blocks the defensive end and then starts running up the field – they will actually look for the next opponent to block rather than running blindly past a defender that will be looking to bring down the ball carrier.  Sounds like something that should have been in the game for years, right?  EA Sports isn’t exactly on top of things to pay attention to what seems like fundamentals sometimes.  Hopefully they will make good on the improvements in blocking for Madden 25 as this will be a positive direction for the direction of the gameplay in general.

 

Scouting In Madden 13 – Your Guide To Scouting Every Player Effectively

Madden 13 has the new scouting system that essentially allows you to ‘buy’ information on each prospect.  There are a few ways you can go about scouting, but we are going to give you the most efficient way to use your points and find potential talent in the draft.

Aren’t you glad they changed some of the costs of the scouting categories?…. 3000 for scheme?!

The first thing you have to do is determine your teams needs.  This will help the allocation go a bit more smoothly when it comes to scouting points.  Once you determine your team needs and your coach’s schemes (offense and defense) you can start looking at the players.  I am of the opinion that OVR is the most overrated and un-sim rating in gaming.  We will give you a quick way to look for the best OVR players and then a quick way to find the best players in general (depending on your play-style) and we will assume that your coach gets 2000 points as a motivator for scouting.

FOR BEST OVR RATINGS

Scout These Categories ($cost)

  1. Awareness ($100)– If they have a ‘B’ it means they will have a closer OVR to 80 or maybe even mid-80s if they fit your scheme (you should be able to scout at least 20 players’ AWR each week with this.
  2. Scheme ($25)– This is a key for a higher OVR for a player once they are on your team.  If you go after a player that isn’t going to fit your scheme, expect his rating to drop once he is on your team.
  3. Position Specific Ratings ($50-100)– These are pretty obvious things to scout for some player – we will give you a full run-down later.

FINDING THE BEST PLAYERS

I’m not much for finding the highest OVRs in the draft.  I like to find players that come in with raw talent that needs to be built in some way.  With that said, if you are more of a realistic team-builder or just want to possibly find that hidden gem in the draft that has the best OVR anyway – use these tips:

  1. Position Specific  Ratings ($50-100)– For some reason there are a ton of CBs and WRs that are amazing and are projected to be 3rd-7th Rd picks.  Look up the CTH and RLS Ratings for WRs and if you can find someone with a 90+ RLS, snag him as late as you can.  With a CB, a lot will depend on your preferred defense, but look up their MCV and ZCV first to find out if they are decent at covering anyone first.  If the coverage ratings are low, you should stay away from them as they will be useless on the field.
  2. Speed ($100)- This is unfortunately still the most important rating in many ways.  The only position this should rarely (almost never) be used on is OLinemen.  Otherwise, you should look this up for your WRs and HBs every time.  If they have a B or lower, you should think twice about drafting them high or at all.  (This might change if you need a possession WR or a power HB though)
  3. Strength ($100)- Check this out as it does tend to matter a little bit more in this Madden.  Find a stronger lineman later in the draft and you might have a decent player to build in the future.

The best part about knowing what to look for first is that once you see a rating that is low in an important category, you don’t have to waste anymore time or points on that prospect.  This is what will allow you to scout almost every player out there and have a great draft board from your first pick to your last pick!

My Favorite Ratings To Scout For Each Position

QBs – Throw Power, Throw Accuracy, Throw On Run, Injury, Toughness

HBs – Speed, Elusiveness, Trucking, Spin, Juke, Injury, Toughness

WRs – Catching, Release, Catch In Traffic, Speed, Injury, Toughness

OLs – Run Block, Pass Block, Strength, Impact Block, Awareness

DEs – Tackle, Hit Power, Speed

DTs – Tackle, Hit Power, Power Moves

LBs – Tackle, Hit Power, Speed, Play Recognition, Awareness, Zone Coverage, Injury, Toughness

CBs – Speed, Man Coverage, Zone Coverage, Awareness

FSs – Speed, Tackle, Hit Power, Zone Coverage, Man Coverage

SSs – Speed, Tackle, Hit Power, Zone Coverage, Man Coverage

EA Sports and Madden Exposed – Former Developer Vents On Twitter

Madden NFL has been scrutinized more by hardcore fans over the last few years of the XBox 360/PS3 era than at any other point.  This is largely because the ability to communicate over the internet via forums and social media has taken off, but it isn’t just because of the ease of communication. However, there are some things that are said that come straight from people ‘on the front’ that can’t be ignored.

Over the last couple years we have seen some of the top names at EA Tiburon (Madden’s development group) leave for greener pastures.  When Madden 10 was in development it was one of the first times Madden Fans got the chance to truly interact with the developers.  Ian Cummings opened a lot of doors for the fan-base to openly communicate have have a voice (even if just the illusion of a voice).  By the time Cummings left EA and Phil Frazier took over as one of the primary HNICs (he was already one of the top guys on the team) there were people from the Madden community hired by EA to help make the game better… or were they?

Mr. Dembroski was/is a tremendously informative hardcore football fan with valuable input for the Madden team during community days that were largely started by Cummings.  He was eventually hired to work on Madden in an official capacity.  If you take a look at the chain of posts he has recently made and many of the comments from other past Tiburon developers; you have to wonder if the complaints we are seeing are simply because communication is easier or because the game’s quality and innovation is truly being held back.

It was interesting to read about the people getting lied to in such an open manner.  After reading that tweet I had a moment of clarity.

We (hardcore gamers and corporate consumers) already know we are being lied to by the companies in question. 

It doesn’t matter which game you are talking about.  By the time your favorite game goes ‘corporate’ or ‘mass market’ it is no longer a question of how to make the game better.  It is a question of how to sell more games to more people every. single. year.  The worst part about this is the fact that the consumer always loses when companies start using statistics and metrics to determine the development of any product – especially video games.

While some people might look at the comments from past developers of any game as ‘sour grapes’ (which would be easy to do); it should be understood that when it is one person leaving under bad circumstances it is highly probable.  On the other hand, when you have multiple people leaving EA’s development studios on all fronts with bad things to say about the company – it isn’t just sour grapes.  It is a sign that something is terribly wrong with the company.

The biggest sign I saw that EA Sports was going the wrong direction was when they started pushing Ultimate Team.  This is one of the biggest cash-hoarding schemes I have seen in gaming.  It isn’t too dissimilar from Call of Duty or any other shooter releasing map packs other than the fact that with Ultimate Team you are sinking money into created players that expire after using them for so long.  So in reality – it is totally different!  EA Sports is not a company focused on giving the gamer a better experience or a new direction for sports gaming… it is a company dedicated to making money and putting out annual cash cows that can be patched between two and four times because it is easier (more cost effective) to put out a half-finished piece of software and fix major issues than it is to release a quality (and slightly more time consuming) product.

Why Does The Story Have To Stop? – Madden 13 Draft Classes

Madden 13 has a great system started for Connected Careers Mode.  While there are numerous small glitches to the injury system and other things there is something in CCM that seems to just go for a season at a time – draft class storylines.

There are numerous storylines that go along with every draft class in Madden 13.  This is primarily because they prevented the user from importing draft classes from NCAA 13.  It was done to provide a more centered focus on the Madden 13 stories for each CCM.

Some of the storylines will follow #1 prospects in their amazing journey through the season and a Heisman award.  On the other hand, there are also alternate stories that might have that same player break his leg or violate team rules and lose out on a tremendous season or career.

This is a great idea and system – in theory.  Where is the problem? – Longevity, of course.

The problem Madden faces is that the NFL doesn’t really allow for games to be creative when it comes to stories in the league.  Why can’t a troubled player in the draft class with legal issues or bad decision-making get drafted late and have his story followed throughout his first season or his whole career?  Why can’t there be a player that comes out in the draft class unheralded and blows up to win rookie of the year?

In Madden 13 it seems that the story stops after the draft.  There is a little blurb about the player and a few Tweets on the feed.  However, after it is all said and done, he is just another player on a team that will have strange simulated stats or some sort of depth chart issue.  EA Sports has put out a great game, but after a few months of playing Madden 13 it is easy to see that they have continued their tradition of dropping the ball with quality control and details for career mode longevity.

Developing Players In Madden 13

We recently talked about building your team in Madden 13.  There are many different ways to do this strictly by picking up talented players that

You can help save these players without a team. Please just make sure you take the time to play with them!

are rated as such.  On the flip-side, there are also many other players out there that are diamonds in the rough.  You can make it your mission to take some players out of the late rounds of the draft or even pick them up during the preseason as other teams give up on them because of low overall ratings.

You need to take some chances on players you might not know about and that will often mean scouring the free agent market during the pre-season for a player that could make all the difference for you in the current season or simply develop him into a future star.

There are a few different ways to look for a player that might ‘fly under the radar’.  The first is to look at position specific ratings and determine if they are what you are looking for in a player at that position.  Assuming you even need someone at that position.

Quarterbacks are some of the easier ones to look for as far as ratings go, but they will often be the first ones to go during the preseason.  Look at their Throw Power and Throwing Accuracy ratings.  If you run a West Coast offense you don’t need a QB with 95+ THP, but you do need them to have good-to-great accuracy when throwing short and medium routes.  If you prefer a more vertical passing attack, you will want someone with a higher THP (like 95+) and a better accuracy for deep passes.  The moral of the story is – If the shoe fits, pick up the QB you need.  As you develop a QB you should focus on improving their passing ratings first rather than some sort of speed increases.

Runningbacks are a different breed when it comes to determining what is a ‘steal’ (assuming you need one).  The first thing you will notice is that developing a runningback will be costly if you want to increase their SPD rating.  If you want a ‘fast’ HB, make sure he is fast before you pick him up.  As well, pay close attention to his ratings in Carrying and Injury/Toughness.  A decent HB can have his season and career derailed if he takes a shot from a powerful MLB or Safety.  The ratings for a HB that need to be increased in order to develop their market value are the AWR and Carrying ratings.  Use your XP on these and your HB will be a force to be reckoned with… or traded in his late 20’s.

Receivers are among the most common diamonds in the rough.  They are also the easiest to stock up on and never use… therefore, losing a roster spot just to carry a potential talent.  Receivers need to have the obvious CTH (catch) rating, but they also need to have a few others that you can easily build up if you get them enough playing time and touches.  The AWR rating is something that can effect a WR as he needs to be able to know when the ball is thrown and where to run his routes.  Also, there is an issue of getting your potential diva WR the ball often enough to build him up.  I am currently in a situation where I have eight (8) WRs on my team.  I have turned the Browns into a pass first team, but in the process I have also over-stocked my team with WRs.  Here are a few of my current project players –

Offensive Line is another easy place to upgrade players, but you should really make sure you draft them with great ratings first.  It isn’t often you will put an under-rated O-Lineman on the field to protect your QB.  On the other side of this argument, you can always grab a lineman with great strength and size, put him on the line and try to dominate with the running or passing game (whichever is his focus for XP) and develop him in that fashion. 

The hardest players to develop are Defensive Linemen and Linebackers.  The reason being that they develop most of their XP through tackling statistics.  The issue is that tackling stats are broken in Madden 13 and the interactions between defensive players and offensive blockers is shaky at best.  You will want to increase the Tackle ratings first and then move on to increase every player to ‘Big Hitter’ status so they cause more fumbles as well as increasing their Hit Power ratings.

Depending on what type of coverage you run for your defensive backs you will want to focus on their coverage ratings as well as their press ratings.  If you are running a lot of man-coverage with your CBs you will want to increase their MCV ratings first as well as their Press rating if they are a physical type of player.  Their XP is generally determined by how many INTs they get during the course of the year and if you can develop a talented defensive backfield you will be almost unstoppable.

When it comes to safeties you will want to look at how you have them playing as well.  I have a defense made up of ‘enforcers’ like Laron Landry and TJ Ward… if you come across the middle you will end up with a broken jaw because these are like Honey Badgers… they don’t give a s**t!  Make sure you up their Zone Coverage ratings as well as their tackling and hit power as they are often the last line of defense if someone does get past your front-seven.  The last thing you want are a bunch of DBs trying to ‘tackle’ like Deion Sanders.

Kickers require a lot of field goals in order to increase their stats.  The bad thing about this is that most people want to score touchdowns rather than kicking a lot of FGs.    Whenever you want to increase your kick power you will notice that it starts to get really expensive after awhile.  Your best bet is to pick up a kicker with a high kick power rating starting off.

Punters are along the same lines as kickers.  How many teams really ‘want’ to punt?  Try to pick up these players as you go and hope that they have the high kick power ratings that you need rather than try to build them up.

Connected Careers – Fully Exposed (Don’t Make This Weird) Pt. 1 – Backstories

What is Connected Careers?

You can choose to startup a Connected Career as a player or coach. In both cases, you then select whether or not you want to take over a current NFL player or coach, create a player, create yourself using EA SPORTS Game Face, or as a NFL Legend.

Coach Backstories

When creating a player or coach in Connected Careers, you’ll also select a backstory in order to distinguish them. This backstory will affect your character during your career so it’s important to understand what each one does.

Create your ‘GameFace’ for Madden on EASports.com… This is how they see me digitally… Looking at becoming an undrafted QB for the Browns. Looks like they will be as good as they already are at this point!

Motivator

You’ll be cut from the same cloth as John Madden and Vince Lombardi. Your players will lay it all on the line for you and you’ll attract free agents as well. Being a motivator will also give you a 25% discount on packages that increase a free agent’s interest in signing with your team as well as 25% off packages to decrease the odds of a player retiring.

Strategist

You’re one of the smartest men in football when it comes to the X’s and O’s, perhaps the next Bill Walsh. Being a strategist will give you a 25% discount on XP boost packages, the Coach XP package, discount packages which reduces the XP cost for your players, and the Predictability Package.

Team Builder

Being the head coach is only one of the hats you wear. Scouting and roster management are also key components of your abilities.  Being a team builder will give you a 25% discount in packages that increase the interest of a player re-signing with you, the Expert Scout Package, and Trade Influence Package.

Coach Progression

Each coach in Madden NFL 13 will have a Coach Level. It begins at Level 1 and will go up to Level 4. If you create a coach, you’ll enter the league as a Level 1. This will give you easier team goals, but you’ll be paying full price for packages. As you begin to have success, you’ll begin to level up. A Level 4 coach will have extremely high team goals but will be able to purchase packages at a discounted price.

Player Backstories

High Draft Pick (We don’t know if you will get bonus points for naming your player ‘Ricky Williams’)

You’re essentially a first round draft pick. You’ll come in with the highest ratings but will also have lofty goals that will be tougher to meet. Choosing this backstory gives you the quickest way to crack the starting lineup and contribute right away.

Low Draft

You’ve been drafted near the end of the draft. You’ll have mediocre ratings and will have to really excel in practice and in the preseason just to earn a few snaps in your first year. However, your
goals will not be set quite as high. Choosing this backstory makes it less likely to see significant playing time in year one, but has the chance to develop later on

Undrafted

You’ve been completely ignored and were not selected in the draft. Your ratings will be much lower than the other backstories and you’ll have to scratch and claw for every piece of XP you can get. Choosing the backstory will provide the toughest grind and you can expect to not see much playing time in the first season.