Friday, July 20, 2012

NCAA 13 Email Exchange

Scott and Trey exchange emails about the newly released NCAA Football 13 video game.  After the actual opening of the season, might NCAA 13 represent the second most exciting day of the year for college football fans?  You could talk me into it...

Scott: Let’s get this straight, the NCAA franchise is merely a lesser addictive form of drugs. It consumes you, it enrages you, it excites you, and at the end of the day... you keep coming back for more (at least until FIFA comes out).  If you play this game every year, you 100% know what I am talking about.  If you don't?  Well, you are probably rather unimpressed by my little video game confession memoir.  This is why I brought Trey into this.  Trey loves Texas A&M and college football as much as anyone, but he is only just now returning to NCAA after many years of abandonment.  How does it feel Trey?

With my drug metaphor set aside... what college football fan can resist the opportunity to control the simulated inner workings of his/her own team on a week to week video game basis?   

Trey, where should this conversation go?  Should we really dive into the nuances and theories of replicating something as complex as college football onto a little disc?  Should we just go player by player (for Texas A&M) and bicker about their NCAA 13 ratings (WOW, were they generous with Jameill Showers... the producers must have been insanely impressed with his 5 total pass attempts last year)?  The email world is your oyster, Trey Bahney... take it away...

Trey: Well, first I should address my prior experience with the NCAA franchise. After my initial love and domination of the old school BLITZ, I really discovered NCAA when I was introduced to the Rush Attack mini game. Let me just say, I LOVED Rush Attack (especially with Reggie Bush). Then it was followed up by the genius mini game of Option Attack (heaven forbid, I was a big fan of playing Option Attack with VY).

Needless to say, I learned how to run the ball really well in open space. The only problem is, in a full game against my friends, you have no use for a “run the ball in open space” skill. Thus, when the mini games were eliminated, I stopped playing.

That all changed last fall when A&M was given what is easily the most talented team to come out in 10 years with Ryan Tannehill, Jeff Fuller, Cyrus Gray, etc. I thought, if nothing else, I’m buying this game just because A&M is so talented; so if I’m ever going to do well in the game, it will be this year. Well guess what, my experience went about as well as the Aggie’s season. Alright, enough of that sob story; on to my thoughts of the new game.

First thing I noticed was that A&M is still rated as a 4 star program. Obviously I’m biased, but I’ll never stop getting upset about that (whatever, haters gon’ hate). Second, I really felt like the passing game was a lot more streamline and realistic. Maybe it’s because I’m playing on Varsity, but I was actually able to hit receivers right when they came out of their breaks, rather than 10 yards later after the 240 pound LB had already sprinted over to swat the ball down.

Question for the veteran, what is your impression of all the “improvements” to recruiting? Personally, I hate doing recruiting, so the fact they gave me more work to do is really going to bug me.

Scott:  As much as I want to bicker alongside you in regards to Texas A&M being a 4-star program, I would have to say that is fair.  A 5-star program is elite and while we have the potential to be elite (resources, fan base, etc.) we haven't performed like it over the past decade.  Meinke Car Care Bowl victories don't get you 5-star ratings in NCAA 13.  The truth hurts... no doubt about that.

I will though bicker about the fact that when recruiting on NCAA 13, Texas A&M's fan base is not an A+.  That is preposterous and offensive and wrong and unfair and mean.  I have to stop there.  If you won't listen to an actual Aggie, listen to Kirk Herbstreit.

The overall gameplay has been improved a tad bit.  The passing game is a little smoother... mainly with better deliveries and receptions, but I still feel as if the creators are being lazy.  I played Madden last year and the gameplay is dramatically better.  Enough talk about gameplay (snooooooze), I wanna get into some of the endless intricacies of bundling something like college football into a virtual product that millions consume.

As a guy who loves analyzing the ratings of all the players, I do feel like the game doesn't do its due diligence on player ratings outside of the top few guys (and even those can be skewed.  How hard is it to know that Trey Williams has game-breaking speed?  Am I being too shortsighted because I expect the game designers to know as much about Texas A&M football as I do?).

You asked about recruiting.  I love recruiting.  How in the world can you not enjoy the tireless pursuit of the next great athlete to step onto Kyle Field.  What is more exciting than getting that Scrambler Quarterback to run the option with?  Trey, you must choose to truly dive into the nuances of NCAA to fully appreciate it.

Trey:  I'll just leave this here: 
TCU - 5 Star Program [insert joke here].

Alright, back on track. You're question about player evaluations is quite exciting. I would love to know how they go about evaluating tens of thousands of players and recruits on 30-something different attributes. Rivals, Scout, 247Sports, and ESPN all can't agree on player's attributes so how are we supposed to expect the makers of Mass Effect 3 to know? And that's not even mentioning the dynamic of how much players are supposed to improve over the off-season. Can you get transformations like '08 to '09 Von Miller and RB to WR Ryan Swope in the off-season?

Here's my non-expert opinion. The design team just spends a couple weeks addressing the complaints each school has about their mascot animations and stadium looks, then they outsource the player evaluations to someone who just averages the national rankings and call it a day. In reality, there's very little pressure on EA to improve any game-play; it's all on them improving the pageantry of the game. Everyone wants Kyle Field to look super impressive (even though fans of Maryland will never even play a game in Kyle Field to know what it looks like). I think Reveille makes her debut in this game and that's enough to shut up all A&M fans. I'm alright with it because the talent they stripped TreyWilliams of was given to Jameill Showers (much bigger need for my first dynasty season). 

I'll give you this, the "scout" feature is a pretty dang cool feature they added to recruiting. I get real excited seeing their ratings go up and down throughout the recruiting process. You've mentioned on this blog before that you love the off-season because of recruiting. Is it possible that you like the recruiting aspect of the game more than the actual game-play?

Scott:  I suppose we will never know on the ratings front.  And what am I to expect as a fan of the underachieving Aggies... my fair share of disappointment, that's what!  And as we have both pointed out... they were generous with Showers, and who wants to play that game with a subpar quarterback?  Speaking of that... I honestly think our quarterback situation (whichever unproven guy takes claim) is a huge rain cloud in the distance.  I wouldn't feel good about our quarterback situation if we were in the Big East, yet I am supposed to be blinded by the beauty of the SEC and only focus on the strengths of the A&M team?  

Whoops, I went too far into real life... and my worrisome side came out.  But wait, aren't we analyzing the actual team through a video game lens?  Did they just ensure me that Showers will be a competent quarterback?  Ahhhh, back to irrational exuberance.

Also, I think you hit the nail on the head with the "pageantry" idea.  And honestly, I am cool with that... college football truly is about the "pageantry".  It is about the traditions, Saturday afternoons, obscure small cities that only exist because of the university that resides there.  I don't feel as if you will find many individuals who went to a high profile tier one university that would say they truly love the NFL more than the college game.  It has more heart, more passion.  It isn't about the salary cap and the contracts to the fans, its about puffing your chest out and saying, my school is the best damn school there ever was.

And with that statement... I have just come to the truest beauty of NCAA 13.  When I play NCAA 13, you better believe I can put in the hours, to recruit, to mold my schedule, to play the games, to endure untimely fumbles... to make my school is, without a doubt, the best damn school there ever was (in my sad, sad virtual world).

Trey:  Well said. 
It takes rain to make a rainbow, and I see some scattered showers as I approach my game with #3 LSU.  Play on!

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