Madden – Preparing For The Super Bowl Hype Machine

The majority of traffic to NoobTubeTV over the past year has been for information on all things ‘Madden’.  This year will be interesting if you consider the release of the XBox 720 (or whatever they will call it) to be on the top of your anticipation list.  Regardless of what you are looking forward to in football gaming this year, Madden is most likely on the top of your list.

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Madden 13 is a game that came out of the gates strong with some new direction to Franchise Mode with the new Connected Careers Mode.  Some gamers hated this move and the direction of earning XP for players through on field production.  Other gamers enjoyed this new move for realism in player growth during CCM.  Either way you fall on this argument you will notice that it was always part of the hype machine after the Madden 12 cycle finished with the Super Bowl.

With the Super Bowl (and the new Madden Release Date announcement) only a few weeks away you should be fully prepared for the onslaught of Madden hype from EA Sports.

Some of the hopes for improvement in Madden 14 are –

  1. More customization of playbooks and depth charts/players – CCM cut off a lot of user creativity as it all but removed player editing and roster editing from the mode.
  2. Better OLine and DLine Interaction – This is something that is called for and demanded by the Madden community every year.  EA supposedly made this better by using the strength ratings in Madden 13, but given the constant issues with defensive linemen not getting proper sack numbers and the strange ‘Pancake Block’ stat for OLinemen, it is questionable as to whether or not EA knows anything about linemen at all.
  3. Smarter AI Decisions and Gameplanning – Why do CPU QBs get away with clear intentional grounding?  Why does the CPU call a HB Draw while down 5 points and 55 yards from the endzone with 17 seconds left?  Why does the CPU call a Timeout with 1:01 left in the 4th quarter?
  4. More Realistic Injuries – We have been calling for this for years.  The bottom line is that real time physics means nothing if injuries are random.
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Madden 13 Review Coming Soon

As it happens, EA Sports is allowing XBox Live and Playstation Network users to play their sports games early.  It is in this spirit that we are going to try and help you decide whether or not to buy or pre-order Madden 13.  You will still have ample time to make an informed decision before the game is released on August 28.

To call it a review is a misnomer – we will be featuring a series of reviews over the next few days that will cover everything from gameplay to specific modes and even the online experience.  If you have any questions or requests please post them in our comments section or hit us up on Twitter – @NoobTubeTV. 

Stay tuned to NoobTubeTV for reviews and updates on everything Madden 13 over the next few days.

For a full run-down of how we review games please check out our R.E.A.L.© Reviews  section for a description.

Click The Picture Below to Pre-Order Madden 13 from Amazon!

There Is Some Purity When It Comes To Being A Noob – Never Let It Go

No matter what type of hobby or interest we have taken up at any point – we have always been noobs somewhere along the line.  Gaming is no different in this regard and some people like to demonize the idea of having a new player on their team as if it is something that will forever change their online persona.  Their Win/Loss ratio or Kill/Death ration might suffer because  a teammate is new to the game.  That is probably the most common complaint about noobs online.

Everyone has asked, “How do you throw grenades?” at some point or another.

Outside of the fact that people don’t want to have a noob on their team, there are also those that don’t like how noobs play the game.  In some cases like Call of Duty, Halo or any other First Person Shooter (FPS) there are certain ‘tactics’ that frustrate more seasoned players.  Some of these are (but not limited to) – camping, using ‘over-powered’ weapons and of-course weapons like the NoobTube.

Then you have games like Madden and NCAA Football that almost completely rely on the all powerful speed rating.  All you need are a couple WRs that have 99 SPD matched up against slower defenders and the game is over in the first quarter.  Granted, these games are more susceptible to exploits because of game design flaws or simply lacking ability to effectively counter the ‘go deep’ approach.  The fact of the matter is that if you are new to a game and you are learning the ropes you should take comfort in knowing that everyone has been there before.  But shooter games are really the bigger target for what a noob or the teammate of a noob goes through and Call of Duty games are probably the most popular.

Call of Duty is a blazingly fast game that really revolves around twitchy movements and dedication to learning the nuances of the game itself.  Once you learn the basics, it becomes a relatively easy game to play.  You aren’t guaranteed to be the best in the world if you play all the time; but like anything else – you will get better.

Which is why one of the biggest problems with non-noobs (especially those in Call of Duty) are some of the worst when it comes to being respectful to new players.  The idea of ‘Prestiging’ is something that happened in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.  Basically, you are able to level up in Call of Duty and obtain new weapons and other equipment as a result of your time invested.  Now with Modern Warfare 3 there are 20 levels of prestiging and it has started to give some gamers out there a bit of a superiority complex.  They feel that anyone that hasn’t prestiged simply is not as skilled or knowledgeable of the game as they are.  Really, all prestiging means is that people have put in more time than others.  You can play Call of Duty for 8 hours a day three days a week and reach the top prestige level – even if you are terrible.

The catch is that you will get better because you are playing the game more and more.  Don’t think for a moment that because you are new to a game and struggling that you will never get it.  The people you are playing against were in that same place at some point or another – stick it out and get better at your favorite games.  Just don’t forget that when you get to the point where you aren’t a noob that there are thousands of other gamers out there that are in your old shoes and they need your help and advice… not vulgar language or sophomoric behavior.

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.

Is Black Ops 2 The End of COD As We Know It?

There always comes a point when you simply can’t make something better than you have before.  You can reinvent the wheel from stone to wood to rubber and maybe along the way you will make slight changes to the design.  However, when it comes to games…especially First Person Shooters… there are only so many iterations of a game you can make before it becomes either stale or simply a mockery of its former self.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
We have seen this game before… EIGHT TIMES.

Black Ops 2 seems destined to be the bitter end for Call of Duty games at this point.  With massive sales still coming for COD games, there seems to be something about Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops 2 that is missing.  That something is a feeling of freshness that can only be brought by a hiatus.  If you consider the fact that Modern Warfare 3 essentially finished a trilogy, you would think that means it is going to be time for a change.  Furthermore, if you consider the fact that Black Ops 2 is set in the future with drones and x-ray rifles, there isn’t much more ‘Modern’ Warfare can cover that hasn’t been covered or won’t be covered by BO2.

Does this still excite you?

We mentioned in the title that it might spell the end of COD as we know it.  That doesn’t mean that it will be discontinued (face it, that isn’t Activision’s M.O.) but it could mean something big is on the horizon for the series after BO2 is released.

If we cover what has been done in COD we can see that World War 2, Vietnam, Modern and now ‘near-Future’ will be covered by the end of 2012.  With all of those ‘interesting’ wars covered, it might  do them some good to get away from the same old ‘jump on a turret and shoot down waves of enemies’ formula that has been in every shoot’em up FPS game from Activision.

What needs to happen is development of a game series over multiple years.  The real problem facing Call of Duty games is the fact that Activision wants a new one every year to drive profits.  The problem is that this will end up leading to the same brutal end that Guitar Hero met only a couple years ago.

You can only reinvent the wheel so many times before people stop looking at it as ‘just a wheel’.  Call of Duty needs a break in the worst way, and after Black Ops 2 comes out in November it would be a perfect time for them to announce that the next Call of Duty game will be coming out on launch day with the next generation of consoles rather than yet another version of the same game in 12 months.

E3 is supposed to ‘Unveil Innovation’, but right now it looks like it is simply ‘unveiling’ the same stuff we have seen over the last few years.  First Person Shooters are becoming as common and overplayed as re-runs of Two and a Half Men and Call of Duty is turning into the Ashton Kutcher version.  If they are about #winning, Activision will push their next major FPS onto the next generation of consoles, where they can impress people with some actual innovation.

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.