Thursday, July 31, 2008

No CPU Sliders

Confirmed by Ian of EA at the OS Forum:

There are in fact no CPU sliders. I discovered this myself about 2 weeks
ago as well, and was kind of wondering when I should break the news. I wish I
had an explanation, but I don't.

There's not all that much more I can say about it... There's one other bit
of bad news that I discovered at the same time, and that is there is no custom
controller configuration any more. Again, I don't really have an explanation.

PS - In the build where I was adjusting sliders, I was adjusting User INT's
to zero - so the human wouldn't pick off the QB as much (since I know people
were originally concerned that the CPU QB threw too many picks). (ducks out of
way of flying chairs). So anyway - I don't know what else to say


So, the good news: I am not going crazy.

The bad news...well...there's no CPU sliders in Madden 09.


I decidced to play the Browns/Steelers game again this time using the "My Skill" setting -- this is the game's settings based on my Madden IQ score.

When I took "the test" I was good at passing and running, and REALLY bad at defense. I NEVER play as the DB in Madden or NCAA so this is not a shock.

Pitt is rated a 94 in Madden and Cleveland an 88.

I won this one 21-11. The stats:

7 min quarters:

Anderson: 16/21 150 yards 1 TD 0 INT
Rothliuasdftydtaid: 16/26 162 yards 1 TD 4 INT

Lewis: 25 carries 46 yards. I had NOWHERE to run all game because of my Madden Test plus Pitt is damn good at run D. The game boosted their reaction time and Pitt defenders were living in the backfield. Of course their reaction time didn't help as much in the secondary... Anderson had a very efficient game.

Parker: 14 carries 21 yards

Laughable, really. Again I think this is because I tested poorly. If Willie Parker does this against us this year we'll win both games.

And yes, I am almost certain at this point that the game has no CPU slider settings in it. If there are they are hidden to the point of absurdity.

This was a better game than the 42-7 drubbing, but 4 picks by Ben? Parker getting 21 yards? Methinks my Madden Test was bogus. :)

Browns 42 Steelers 7

Uh, yeah. Wow.

More on this later. Dinner time.

I cannot wrap my head around the sliders in this game. I had my accuracy at zero and while I tossed a wounded duck on a deep ball ...I was still 24/36 for 310 and 3 TDs..against the STEELERS.

The Weirdness Continues

Ok so I am reading the press sheet that came with the game and it says right at the end of the feature list -- More Detailed Sliders. More sliders that allow you to tweak certain parts of the gameplay, etc.

So I start looking around like I'm on Candid Camera 'cause I don't see these new fangled sliders anywhere.

I start a franchise -- maybe it's in there. Nope. You can't even change your settings *anywhere* inside franchise mode. So the franchise that you start will use your settings from the main menu. that isn't the answer either.

I eye the box. The big pretty Collector's Edition box. There is a manual in there...there has to be. Maybe it will...

So I open it up and leaf through the 7 or 8 pages. Disgusted with myself that I even considered that an option, I fling the manual near the TV.

I am determined to find these.

I finally decide to look over the difficulty lvls again and one of them is "custom" which allows you to change the base settings which are "Passing, Running, Pass D and Run D." I can move those settings but damn that's pretty generic, eh?

I accidentally press "A" when moving the pass slider and lo and behold a hidden list of settings pops up.

Here, I can tweak Pass Accuracy, WR Catching, and Pass Blocking. There are in fact more settings like Break Tackles, Reaction time for DBs, etc.

However, EA makes FINDING these settings akin to looking for buried treasure without the map.

The settings are now geared towards YOUR play and not the CPU. I dont think we can edit the CPU's game at all from what I can tell. We can make our DBs better, or make it easier for the CPU to pass by lowering our DB reaction time, etc. But as far as a base CPU Acc slider, for example-- I don't see one.


Well, I dunno what to think right now after a few games under my belt.

I need to scour the menu system because for the life of me I cannot find the gameplay sliders.

I see the "settings" where you can change the gameplay to either Rookie, All pro, Custom My Skill, etc. but no custom sliders to change QB accuracy, etc. They HAVE to be there. The EA rep at E3 said they were there -- but I do not see them. I see penalty sliders. I see "Special Team" sliders. But I do not see ONE CPU slider anywhere in the game. Maybe this is what that My Skill thing is supposed to do?

I hope they're there because on All Pro lvl the CPU QBs are stupid-accurate. In my exhibition games on All Pro passes are either dropped, picked, or caught. This is par for the course on default settings so I am hoping I am just overlooking the slider stuff. I swear I can't find the damn things anywhere, though.

The new player models look great but they also move ...different. Everyone can cut extremely sharp. You'll see what I mean. The game feels extremely different from NCAA 09.

Punt coverage is better.

The pass rush...I dunno yet. The CPU pass rush is fine. Mine sucks. :) That might very well be user error.

Madden IQ ...not sure what I think of this, either. I am apparently All Madden at running and passing but I'm a rookie at pass defense. What that means in game terms..I have no idea.

I LOVE the new Backtrack feature. Really, really cool.

Also, again, maybe I am missing something but did they take out the Accelerated clock? Again -- I don't see it.

Anyway, more later.

I'm going to play a game with the My Skill set, with my pass defense getting a major boost because I can't guard anyone for shit, and see what happens.

Surely they didn't remove the CPU sliders, though...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

This Just In: Dr. Horrible is Terrific

I posted a teaser for Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog a few weeks ago. So I, of course, completely forgot to tune in when it was actually available for free at its homepage. So, I sucked it up and purchased all three acts from the iTunes store (gotta support the Whedon family), only to find out after the fact that you can still watch them for free at (I am unable to get the page working, but it could be because I'm at work.)

Anyway, I finally watched all three acts during my lunch break today and it's fantastic. Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day (between her appearance on the Gamers With Jobs podcast and this, I'm offically in love with her, btw) are all just monumentally entertaining. (How has no one thought to tap this whole superhero/musical/video blog thing?) I think my favorite moment comes at the end of Act I. But to explain it, I have to explain something about the wonder that is me.

You see, when something happens that I don't like I have a tendency to say a certian word. For example, if I'm racing Bill to build a Major Line in Railroad Tycoon and he beats me to it, I'm likely to say the word. If a meteorite were to drop out of the sky and destroy my car, I'd probably say it. I don't know when, where, or how I started saying it. I almost certainly got it from a movie or something, but for all I know it could just be something my brain came up with for no reason whatsoever. I have no idea. All I know is that I'm the only person I know who does say it and I also get odd looks from whomever is around when I do say it, so it can't be that commonplace an expression. The word?


Something happens that I don't like and I just mutter the word balls. Nobody else seems to think so, but I think it has a certain ring to it (zing!) when said just so. Anyway. I'm watching Act 1 of Dr. Horrible today and at the very end of the episode Dr. Horrible is able to gain posession of something he's been seeking the entire episode, but the cost is the probably loss of something else he holds dear. As he's walking off, dejectedly, he mutters... you guessed it: "Balls."

Power Pros

This showed up today from 2K.

I LOVED the first game -- I even called it my 5th best baseball game of all time.

The new one literally just arrived via UPS and I'll put it through its paces right after we get done making huevos rancheros in Order Up. That little game is really addictive.

Rock Band 2 Controllers

I took these pics at E3 -- these Mad Catz items look kinda slick.

Todd? You're the Rock Band maven. what say you?

NCAA Review

It's moot at this point, but here's my thoughts.

With NCAA done I am moving on to the cooking game on the Wii, Order Up. If I manage to get a copy of Madden early like I did NCAA I'll get some thoughts up. I am not holding out hope for that. ;)

ANY game that comes with a paper chef's hat -- I'm in. OK, actually, it's a lot of fun to play this with (well, watching) Ashley.

EA Sports Back to PC in 2009. Does Anyone Care?

Found this one this morning at Rock. Paper. Shotgun. (Excellent blog, btw, if you're not reading it already.) So, EA Sports wants to bring their games back to the PC in 2009?
"We are retooling these titles [on the PC] to take advantage of the online connectivity in a bigger and more meaningful way," Moore said today, noting that EA's usual sports offerings--Madden, NCAA Football, NBA Live, etc.--will reappear on PC in 2009.
Did they not miss the collective yawn when they originally said they weren't releasing most of their sports games on the PC this year? And I'm a PC gamer. The problem isn't the platform. It's the genre. It's composed almost entirely of games that are either shit games or games that have grown incredibly stale because they've been relying on the same code base and status quo for years. There is absolutely nothing interesting happening in the vast majority of sports game franchises right now. (MLB 08 and NHL 2008 are excepted; as are text-based PC games, which are a different market.)

If I ran EA Sports or 2k Sports, this is what I'd do right now. (And who knows? Maybe they are doing this.) Put new teams together in every sport into which I want to publish on the next generation of consoles. These teams should be composed of people who are not only quality developers, but people with real exposure (ie - played on an organized level and not just a fan) to the sports they're endeavoring to emulate. Call it the Harmonix model, if you will. Stick them in a room for the next few years with absolutely no access to the existing code and just see what they come up with. From a gameplay standpoint, I'll bet you the results would be amazing. (Flawed, sure, but still amazing and rife with potential.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Laugh Til I Cried

Ok, this video has F-Bombs dropped all over the place so you have been warned.

I laughed until my side hurt.

"What Kind of Defense IS THIS?!?!?"

I was killing a few minutes before leaving work this afternoon and came across this OS sports forum thread, via a link at Digital Sports Page. It's a bushel of YouTube videos done by a couple of guys (there are three videos by one guy, and another -I think- by someone else) that highlight fundamental football problems with NCAA 2009. But that's not why you should watch 'em. You should watch 'em because the commentary is flat out hysterical. I'm embedding one of the vids here, but check out the rest if you've got 5-10 minutes to kill.

I love my daughter

To all Head Coaches and Assistant Coaches for Johnstown Youth Soccer 2008:

This is a reminder that we will have a mandatory coaches meeting on August 2nd at 9am at the Belt Park Batting Barn. I will pass out team roosters, practice and game schedules at this meeting.

Practices will begin the week of August 11th (the week of August 18 practices will not be mandatory due to the start of school). Games will begin Sept 6th. Immediately following the coaches meeting, the high school soccer coach will have a coaches clinic -- Site TBD. Please be prepared to participate in the drills.

At 2:00 I would like to reconvene at Belt Park to layout the soccer fields and complete any maintenance that is needed. Please bring a shovel and wheel barrow, long string and tape measures for laying out the fields. Josh and the high school soccer team will host a free Soccer clinic on Aug 16th.


So, for those keeping score at home: that's a Saturday spent, apparently, acting as the grounds crew creating soccer fields and running 40 year old men through soccer drills with a HS soccer coach. That should be awesome.

However -- it's all good. At least we get a team rooster. I'm going to put mine in a shirt and call him Rufus.

The things we do for our kids.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Power Pros and OOTP

Today we have a quick write up on the Power Pros conference call. This call was ...less than thrilling. I loved Power Pros but this sounds like MOTS.

Also, Todd's review of OOTP 9 is up. I get the feeling Todd and I agree pretty much point to point but I was a bit tougher with the final grade.

My review of NCAA 2009 at Crispy Gamer was submitted early last week and still isn't up, so I'll post the link when it's live.

I ended up "frying" the game (The Crispy equivalent of "bad game") simply due to all of the problems that I reported here on the blog. In its current state I think it's a game that is simply impossible to recommend to serious college football fans. That doesn't mean you can't have fun with it; hell me, Todd, and Billy Baroo are about to start an online dynasty (fingers crossed it doesn't crash like my first try..). But with so many glitches and serious gameplay gaffes, it's hard to say anything but "wait for the patches." It's a tough pill asking $60 for that game.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Top 10 Games of E3

Our list of the "best" games of E3 is up today at GameShark. Well, it went up Friday but I forgot to post it.

As a rule, I hate E3 awards. Hyping beta and alpha builds just feels...wrong to me. BUT despite my liberal leanings I am in fact a capitalist and we need those web hits! So, we have awards.

When GameShark does its big, expensive GameShark 2.0 redesign, which will in fact be ultra cool of they do everything that they have planned, we'll be able to create and host custom videos both from companies and from users. Should be slick.

In the meantime, I have to embed Youtube trailers. Still, some of the trailers are really worth watching, especially the ones with gameplay footage like Spore and Fallout 3.

If the Spore trailer doesn't make you want to play that game then turn in your gamer hat. You are officially a lost cause.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Jack Thompson Truly is America

This, too...pure gold. Again, adult The Thompson bit is actualy pretty funny. Then there's a bit with a model, which isn't nearly as interesting. I saw this over at Fidgit, Tom Chick's Sci-Fi Channel blog, which should be a daily read.

Kevin Smith Talks About Superman

This has adult language so take heed.

But this is absolute gold.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Madden at E3

My quick take is online today.

I did manage to see The Dark Knight last night. Great movie, and if you haven't heard -- don't take the kids.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

NCAA Online Dyntasy Update

Straight from EA via the OS forum:

We have been looking into the issues that some people are experiencing with games not being updated and people having their dynasty "hijacked" the last two days. The engineers have found the problem, but aren't yet sure how it is happening. We are probably going to take a preventative approach if we cannot find the bug.

In a nutshell, files aren't always getting uploaded to the correct locker but instead to someone else. Our server guys have estimated this effects 2% the lockers.We have found that we can repair broken dynasties by removing the bad files from affected lockers.

Once we have figured out how to fix all the issues, we are going to run an automated script against all lockers to clear the issue, then prevent it from happening again. Right now it looks like all the fixes will be server side and not require a patch. On the subject of a second patch, we are planning on getting it out a couple weeks earlier than originally planned. So I should have an update for what is going to be fixed in it pretty soon.

Well, at least they're fixing it.

Comics! Comics! Comics! Buy Some!

Okay, the garage sale we had last week wasn't a bust, but a lot of the comics I'd hoped to part with didn't go anywhere, so I'm gonna give you guys a shot before I go the eBay route. Some of this stuff I'm practically giving away. Other stuff I want legit money for either because they're worth it or because I want to replace monthly issues with trades and if no one wants 'em I'm happy to keep 'em.

Note that none of this stuff includes shipping and while I'll vouch for the quality of the newer stuff (it's almost all bagged and boarded), the condition will vary on 25 cent stuff and older stuff; little of that I would classify as very fine or better. If you're interested in any of it email me directly; don't use the comments. (My email is on the sidebar.)

Let's start with the cheap stuff.

Stuff you can have for a low, low, low 25 cents an issue, plus any shipping costs:
  • Avengers Milestone: Reprints #1
  • Avengers Milestone: Reprints #16
  • Avengers West Coast: #94; 102 (final issue)
  • Captain America vol. 1: #427
  • Captain America vol. 2 (Heroes Reborn): #6; 13
  • Captain America vol. 3: #24-29
  • Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty: #1-2; 4
  • Daredevil vol. 1: #207-211; 214-215; 321-324
  • Daredevil/Bullseye: #1 (Unfinished Kevin Smith miniseries)
  • Fantastic Four vol. 2 (Heroes Reborn): #4-10
  • Green Arrow vol. 1: #2, 5, 7-8, 16, 18-19
  • Batman: The 12 Cent Adventure
  • Batman Chronicles: #10
  • Nightwing: #92-94; 99-100
  • Batman/Superman: #11-12; 15-18
  • The Incredible Hulk vol 1. #263; 417; 419; 430-432; 447
  • Ion #1
  • Amazing Spider-Man vol 1. #325
  • What If #75-78
  • Superman Elseworlds Annual #6
  • Superman (1986) 3-4; 31; 33; 50; 53; 15-16; 69; 74-75
  • Superman in Action Comics: #501; 503-504; 506-507; 529-531; 596; 675; 760; 762; 844
  • Adventures of Superman: #451; 458; 488-489
  • Superman: The Man of Steel #6; 18-19; 28-29
  • X-Men Classic #11; 37; 101-102; 105-110
  • X-Men: The Early Years #1-10; 12-17
  • Professor Xavier & the X-Men: #1
  • X-Men/Clandestine #1
  • Xtreme X-Men: #20-22; 46 (final issue)
  • Xtreme X-Men: Savage Land #1-2
  • Cable vol. 1: #1; 9-15; 17-19; 21-24; 26-37
  • Excalibur vol. 1: #7; 20; 60
  • The New Mutants vol. 1: #79
  • X-Factor vol. 1: #52; 132; Annual #9
  • X-Factor (2002) #1-2
  • X-Force vol. 1: #1-2; 26-37; 39-49; '95 Annual
  • X-Man: #5-8; 11-18

Stuff That's Cheap: (prices are total w/o shipping)
  • Inhumans (1998) #1: $1
  • Martian Manhunter (1998) #1-2: $2
  • The Nam #1-2: $2
  • Hawkman (2002) #1: $1
  • Punisher (1998; Marvel Knights) #1-2: $2
  • Spectre (Infinite Crisis Mini) #1-2: $1
  • Bishop Miniseries #1-4: $2
  • Gambit Miniseries #1-4: $2
  • Rogue Miniseries #1-4: $2
  • Logan Miniseries (2008) #1-3: $2
  • 17 Marvel 2099 Comics (2099 AD #1; Ghostrider 2099 #1; 2099 Unlimited #1-4; X-Men 2099 #1-11): $10
  • Marvel Team-up Batch (Marvel Comics Presents #7, 141; Marvel Tales #110, 179, 227; Marvel Team-up #76, 106): $2

Stuff you have to pay for (I've provided links to some of these to show I'm not just greedy): (prices are total w/o shipping)

Spawn Collection: $200 for main Spawn title; $50 for spin-offs or $250 for all; Includes:
  • Spawn #1-95; 105; 109-110
  • Curse of Spawn #1-29
  • Spawn the Undead: #1-8
  • Spawn: Blood and Ashes (graphic novel)
  • Spawn: Bloodfeud #1-4
  • Spawn: The Dark Ages #1-4
  • Spawn/WildCATS #1-4
  • Spawn/Witchblade #1
  • Angela #1-3
  • Violator #1-3
  • Sam & Twitch #1-8

Robotech Collection (172 comics!): $30
*A lot of this stuff is in rough shape.
From Comico:
  • Robotech: Macross #2-27; 31-34; 36
  • Robotech: Masters #1-21; 1; 3-18 (yes, for some reason I have duplicates of a lot of this)
  • Robotech: New Gen #1; 3-20; 22; 25
From Eternity:
  • Robotech II: Sentinels vol. #1-16
  • Robotech II: Sentinels Wedding Special #1-2 (don't ask)
  • Robotech II: Sentinels vol. 2 #1-10
  • Robotech II: Malcontent Uprisings #1-12
From Antarctic Press & Other Publishers:
  • Robotech Annual #1
  • Robotech #1-3; 9-11
  • Robotech: Covert Ops #1-2
  • Robotech: Wings of Gibralter #1-2
  • Robotech: Class Reunion #1
  • Robotech: Final Fire #1
  • Robotech: Invid War Aftermath #1-6
  • Robotech #0-4; 6
  • Robotech: Love & War #1-3
Non Comics:
  • Robotech RPG: 3 Books
  • Robotech Graphic Novel
  • Protoculture Addicts Mag: #1; 5-8

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Terrific Rock Band Interview

I spotted this via Dubious Quality, which -surely- you're smart enough to read already so you've probably already seen this. But just in case you're not (i.e. you are dumb and don't read DQ), do check out this interview that The Onion's AV Club did with various people from Harmonix (makers of GH1 and 2 and Rock Band). It's marvelous stuff. Here's the money quote regarding what separates the work Harmonix does from their competition:

AVC: How have your experiences in bands informed your work on the game?

RL: Oh my God, massively. Again, starting with Guitar Hero I all the way up to now, it's like everything informs it. I've been in bands, I've toured America, made records—all that stuff bleeds into the game, from just my very core. And I know it's not just me, it's lots of us. Just because we are those people, the game turns out the way it does. And I think if you look at some of our competitors' games, that weird nugget is missing. And I think that's why sometimes people look at our games and they can just tell, they can just feel it. Some people at Harmonix just started their bands. And some people at Harmonix tried forever and didn't leave town. Some people became big and were on Conan. We have all different levels, and everyone there has something to contribute, because even at its worst, rock and roll has some really awesome stories to tell, right? And so we feed that into the game. And whether it's a little thing that pops up, or something that's in the venue that's a little joke that only two percent of people will pick up on, it's there. And it matters.

This isn't anything I haven't said before, but Guitar Hero 1 and 2 and Rock Band feel like a bunch of music people got together and made a kick ass game. Guitar Hero 3 (as well as Aerosmith) feel like a bunch of game designers were handed a concept for a game and were asked to copy or trace it.

I'm not trying to belittle Neversoft (GH3's developers) with that statement. In a lot of ways I feel bad for the designers at Neversoft. They're being handed a dream project and there's just no way they could possibly live up to what Harmonix does. They do a workmanlike job of trying, but they're not Harmonix and, short of hiring away a bunch of Harmonix people, they're never gonna be. (Note: Okay, I don't feel that bad for the Neversoft people. It's not like GH3 didn't sell like a billion copies.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Dark Knight Indeed (SPOILERS)

As always I'm not going out of my way to avoid talking about spoilers in this write-up. I want to talk about the film and if doing so requires giving things away, that's what I'll do. If you haven't seen it yet, read the following at your own risk.

Yesterday afternoon I saw the latest Batman opus, The Dark Knight... I'm still kind of trying to figure out just what I saw. The short version: It is an absolutely amazing work.

Things it's not: A summer thrill ride; an action packed extravaganza; Explosive. I would imagine if I sifted through enough reviews on Rotten Tomatos those words, or some variation on them, would pop up early and often. And it's none of those things. What is -in one word- this film?


Not bad. Not good (though it is). Just brutal. It is a film that hits you over the head with a crowbar and then asks you to meekly whimper, "Thank you sir. May I have another?" I really don't know how else to put it. It's a Batman story, but it's not a comic book movie; at least, in the traditional sense. There's so much going on with it that it's hard to pin down any specific event or scene that stands out.

What I found most interesting is that, in terms of character, this movie isn't the least bit about Batman. Well that's overstating it. Batman obviously has a huge part to play. But if the movie is about the nature of order and chaos (and it is) old Batsy -in this story- doesn't really represent either. Okay, well, in the end he does; but he's not meant to, if that makes any sense. Naturally, the Joker is chaos. But Harvey Dent represents, if I can use a bad pun, the flip side of the coin. Unless you read other reviews you might have no idea just how big a part Harvey Dent (played wonderfully by "Thank You for Not Smoking's" Aaron Eckhart) has in this film. How important he is. He, not Batman, is the one who is meant to embody order.

And then there's the Joker. If you think the Heath Ledger Oscar buzz around his performance is only because he died a few moths back, think again. This is, as I'm sure you have heard, the definitive Joker. No one will ever match what Heath Ledger did in this film. It's not just dark. It's disturbing. The mannerisms, the way he talks, there's no trace of Heath Ledger left. It's amazing and chilling at the same time. And no one will ever hear the same way again the words, "Do you know how I got these scars?" But it's not just Heath that nailed this character. So did director/co-writer Christopher Nolan and co-writers Jonathan Nolan and Davis S. Goyer. The words and the deeds they committed to ink in this story are what make Ledger's performance possible. The scene in which the Joker holds the lives of Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes in the balance and forces Batman to choose whom to save was your conventional fare. (Not bad, just conventional.) Where they show us just how much they understand the psychology of the Joker is when they have him tell Batman where to save Rachel, only to have Bats arrive on the scene and find Harvey Dent instead... and then? Boom.

Like I said, brutal.

Here's the other thing I suspect isn't going to show up in a lot of reviews. The Joker wins. Sure, his plan with the boats fails and he's captured. And yes, that the citizens of Gotham didn't live down to his expectations is a wonderful moment. A moment that does make you feel good when watching the film. But the Joker still won. In Harvey Dent, Bruce Wayne believes he's found the one who can do what he can't. Fight injustice from the light instead of from the shadows. That Harvey Dent is the uncorruptable force that can't be stopped. And the Joker ends him. Not by taking his life, although he does die in the end (we think), but by corrupting him and driving him to madness. In essence, forcing Bruce Wayne to continue his fight from the shadows. Marvelous.

There's a lot more to the film as well. I really could go on and on. There are also, as always, some things you have to give the film a pass on. I find the Joker's ability to do certain things, like plant a ridiculous number of explosives wherever he damn well pleases, more than a little implausible. And there are certainly some action scenes and Bat-gadgetry there that are more over the top than they need to be. But almost all of it serves the story so well that there's no reason not to just accept it and enjoy the show. The only place where things really fall flat is the very end of the film, only because it, probably in an effort to wrap things up, has to rely very heavily on exposition to make an ending for the story. It, unfortunately, feels forced.

So, is this the best Batman movie ever done? Absolutely. Is it the best comic book film ever made? If you can separate a film that you like because it's fun to watch from one that is just a well-constructed piece of filmwork that must be appreciated on its own level, then yep. There is no equal to this. This isn't a film to watch to be entertained, at least in the conventional sense. It really isn't even enjoyable, at least in terms of what I think of as enjoyment. You're not going to find yourself smiling while watching it, except perhaps in a nervous, uncomfortable sort of way. (Or as part of a geek-gasm because you can't get over how unbelievably good this is.) Rather, it's a twenty car pileup on the expressway. It's terrifying and terrible and it dares you to look away. And in doing that so perfectly, so brutally, The Dark Knight achieves greatness.

Drama Killer

I'm about to hit the road to drive down to my parents house for the weekend. I'm still kinda jet lag/groggy but I guess I'll survive. I'm tough like that.

I honestly have no idea what to do about NCAA at the moment, at least against the CPU. I'm teetering close to just shelving it and playing online dynasty, waiting for the gameplay patches that EA says it's working on. Thing is, if EA actually fixes what they propose to fix, NCAA 2009 will be an excellent game. Not perfect -- we're always going to have things to bitch about -- but fun.

I can get the game to behave pretty well right now. I can fix the super high CPU passing numbers via sliders, the run game is fun, I can Super Sim the dumb ass kick game, and generally have a good time playing.

What I can't do is make the game play smarter.

Today as my Ball State Dynasty continues to roll along, I play Toledo at the Glass Bowl. With the sliders I have set (and I'm still not sure which sliders are doing what at this point) I was hovering around 50% completions as was the CPU -- in fact the AI was just 10/23 for 97 yards at the half. So the idea that every game the CPU is at 70% and up just ain't true.

Side note: The sliders in this game are clearly the most strange of any game ever made. I have Passing Acc at 30 (or 35) but I can throw the ball 50 yards in the air, and yet my accuracy on short passes is obviously worse than when it's on 50. Now, go into practice mode, set Pass Acc to 30 and watch as you can barely throw it 40 yards.

Confusion reigns.

Anyway, it's 31-24 Ball State with under as minute to go. Toledo has it near midfield and it's 4th and 3. This is the game. A stop here and the Cards go to 5-2.

Toledo comes out in the I Formation. Odd..

The ball is snapped and the air is let out of the balloon as Toledo calls a QB sneak, which gets stoned at the line.

Game Over.

What the hell? Look, trying to catch a team off guard by calling a QB draw out of the shotgun, I could live with. Still a bad call as the Toledo QB is hardly Vince Young, but a QB sneak on 4th and 3 out of the Jumbo I?

These are things that simply cannot happen. There should be a ZERO percent chance of the AI calling that play in that situation. But it did. I won. And I was pretty ho hum about it.

The madness continues. See you Sunday night.

Friday, July 18, 2008

NCAA and Madden

I'll have E3 Madden impressions posted at GameShark for Monday. My flight landed at 6AM and I am absolutely running on fumes.

My NCAA review is written I just need to do what maybe 5% of the people who are publishing articles on NCAA are doing -- testing online Dynasty which is, ya know, sort of important. I wasn't able to test that mode when I had my copy and neither were other members of the media who had retail and debug builds. So how they have reviewed this feature, I really can't say.

Anyway, in scanning a few other reviews it absolutely boggles the mind that so few people are mentioning the punt/kick game and how it is basically broken. I don't know if this means that they don't give a shit (a fair enough reason I suppose) or if they think their readers won't, but how you can write a review of this game and not mention this is truly something I cannot wrap my head around.

It's one thing to skip over how the QB Sim stats are crap--that's a really hardcore feature that a lot of users will never notice, but the punt returns? Or the lack of pass rush? Or the Ghost Juke? Or the defensive AI that seemingly shuts off at times? Or the lack of CPU deep balls?

It's kinda hard to miss that stuff. These are issues that don't require a lot of attention; they sort of beat you over the head at boot up.

I've typed thousands of words on NCAA 09, and you guys know how I feel by now -- I think I like the game more than a lot of hardline users despite its *numerous* issues (the latest slider bug revelation is one for the record books) and the few online games I have played have been exceedingly more fun than playing against the CPU (which I am done doing until the patch) but to not mention the game's problems, some of which smack you across the chops within the first 10 minutes of play is just mind blowing.

Anyway that's my soap box for the day. This happens every year when I get back from E3 and listen to marketing speech from developers (not just sports) telling people basically what they want to hear.

The most honest line came from a Madden 2009 producer when I asked about the game's franchise mode.

"We didn't touch any of the code outside of adding true online league support."

"Wow, really? The CPU still won't put players on the IR?"

"No, we didn't mess with it. It's a "low item priority." (I think he meant to say low priority item, but I got the idea. It was day three. We were all gassed.) We did finally add online league support even though we knew going in that only 3-5% of the people would even try it."

Also, I am about to defend EA Sports here. No one is more frustrated about NCAA's bugs and broken features than me. NCAA, even though it seems to continually disappoint me, is a game I look forward to every year because I am waiting for it to recapture the mid decade magic.

The fact that it has some serious issues really sucks, but hat shocks me is that NCAA reps from the development team are actively posting on game forums (outside of EA) trying top identify issue and gather data for a game play patch.

This is huge.

I know the banter about "we're being charged $60 to beta test."

Well, yeah. That ship has sailed, kids. The idea, even just a few years ago, that EA Sports would seek to make their games better instead of gathering data for a fix list for the next edition is a big, big step. We'll see if they come through with the fixes, but if NCAA 09 gets a gameplay patch following the patch that will be out soon to fix the roster bugs, then it will go a long, long way in reestablishing a connection with its users and not just as a stone faced mega corporation that doesn't give a shit.

So , yes, NCAA's problms suck. But it's July. I'm willing to give them a chance to make it right. After all, I did that with a lot of my all time favorite games which ended up being "meh" upon release but classics after additional development.


Well, between trying to get a garage sale together at home (anyone want some comics?) and a system replacement at work that's taking far longer than expected, I've had zero time to blog or put any quality game time into NCAA this week. I hope to get back on track next week, but I've got *a ton* of day job stuff to do, so no promises.

I am planning to get out to see Dark Knight this afternoon (no way I'm missing that) and I'll be sure to get some grousing/praise up for that sometime next week, sure to be full of spoilery goodness.

Have a good weekend, everybody!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Final Day...whew

Yeah so the blogging idea sort of bombed, eh? I've been busier than anticipated. Plus, I can't sleep so I am sort in a zombified state right now.

I saw Madden briefly -- not enough to say much, but I did see that snow and rain will effect the actual gameplay, something that NCAA fails to do. But at first glance Madden looks like Madden with some bizarro Rewind thing. I'll see more today when I get an actual demonstration. Sorry I'm not "blown away" but's Madden. So at first blush it's going to look a helluva lot like...Madden. The devil will be in the details, which I should get more of this afternoon.

So far, it's been a somewhat mild E3, but a few games stand out.

Empire Total War looks freaking incredible.

Spore -- ditto.

Warhammer Online is just about done and I should get into the final press beta.

Dawn of War II looks equally cool.

Dragon Age -- rockin!

Prince of Persia looks like a ton of fun.

Fallout 3 -- I got to play this for 20 minutes (eat that Brakke!) and it's a blast. I really think this is going to be a huge, huge hit.

And finally I really liked what EA is doing with NBA Live. Here's my expanded take. After being demoed the game I was on a local NBA affiliate talking about the game and the news dude asks me, "So would you invest in this game?"

Mainstream news...gotta love em.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Live from E3!

I'm here. E3 is really small now--almost neutered. And I thought NBA Live 09 looked shockingly good. I'll play Madden tomorrow and Power Pros as well.

Back to writing...woo hoo.

Oh, Spore is AWESOME.



NCAA 09: One Game Impression

What good is a one game impression? None whatsoever, but here we go anyway...

I decided to jump right in with a Michigan dynasty (fictional player names) and played my first game. This is at the All American difficulty level with default sliders:

- The first game for Michigan this year is Utah, in Ann Arbor. Final score: Michigan 31 Utah 6. We're over .500. Woot!

- Either they've changed up the controls a touch or I have no sense memory from last year's edition. Probably a bit of both. Anyway, the only DT break block moves are on the shoulder buttons, so don't spend half the game using the triggers like I did and wonder why they didn't do squat.

- The Utah QB tossed picks on two consecutive first half drives. Fun! He only had one more the rest of the way, though and he finished 24 of 31 (no TDs) and had 177 passing yards. My Michigan QB went 7/15 for 147 yards with 1 INT and 1 TD. Most of the time I spent running around like a dope, flinging the ball every which way. This is common for me after spending the better part of a year away from the game. Hopefully I shake the rust off quickly.

- The AI averaged about 3 yards per rush. I was... uh, less. Note that I've taken Bill's advice about not switching up defenders to get the easy tackle. That making things... more challenging. Also note that I spent a lot of time screwing around with the option game since that's Michigan's thing now, something I've not done before, so I had a bunch of runs for losses. Not to mention a couple of QB sacks that I'm blaming on Kyle for running in front of the TV during plays.

- There were no fumbles.

- The AI faked a punt once on a 3rd quarter play. They were just past midfield so it was dicey, but not egregious. They also made a 56 yard field goal with a kick that has a power of, I believe, 86. Now, they barely made it, but somehow I don't think I get it if I'm kicking with that guy.

- I think they've tweaked the coverage AI a bit... in a real good way. This is a big one for me because in the past the AI has reacted to a ball being in the air with something bordering on claravoyance. I watched several replays of passing plays and, for the most part, the guys reacting to the ball in the air were guys that ought to be able to see it happen. Guys on the other side of the field didn't react, guys deep in coverage on underneath throws were slower to react. This, to me, is a huge step forward.

- On the other hand, you wideouts still appear to be incapable of fighting for the ball on deep bombs. This is annoying because if the ball is underthrown it really sets the AI up for an easy pick. I'm not saying an underthrown deep ball shouldn't give the defender the advantage, but it'd be nice if my #1 receiver would at least try to come back and make a play instead of (almost) always trying to just grab it in stride.

That's most of what has stuck out to me so far. If I get any more action in tonight (probably not) I'll post more later.

Guitar Hero: Aerosmith WROCKS... or something

Before he left, Bill dumped a copy of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith on my desk. Since I'm tasked with reviewing it I guess that means I need to suck it up and play it.


It's... uh, surprisingly okay. Not good. Never good. But okay. If you like Aerosmith at least a little bit. With 31 tracks (at least in the main game) I'm having trouble figuring out what justifies someone spending $60 on the game. But, I won't deny that, almost against my will, I got into playing Love in an Elevator, Ragdoll, Sweet Emotion, etc.

Some plusses: They've brightened up the color pallette (at least I think they have). So while it's the same interface and engine as Guitar Hero III, the colorfulness of Guitar Hero II is back. The notion that in moving from venue to venue you're retracing the track the band took on its route to "super stardom" (that hurt to type) is as good a model for progression to follow as any. It's tough to say at this point, but the note charting does seem *a little* better than in GH3. It's not Rock Band quality, but GH3 was an absolute mess in this regard so anything better is good. (I'm playing on Hard right now, so we'll see if the same holds true in Expert.) There are some good non Aerosmith tracks that you play as a 2-set warm-up act in each of the game's venues. (For some reason I can't name a one of 'em off the top of my head.)

Some minuses: As much as I like some of the non-Aerosmith tracks, they shouldn't be in the game. They should be in GH4 where people who, you know, hate Aerosmith or won't pay $60 for an Aerosmith edition, might actually get to play them. If you're gonna go the route of a band exclusive GH game, then do it and don't apologize for it by throwing in some extra non-Aerosmith stuff that won't do anything to sell more copies of the game. As noted above, I'm okay with the notion of the "tour" following Aerosmith's progression as a band, but I think if you're gonna do that then have the songs and the band match the era. So, when you start out at a high school venue (the name escapes me), let's see a young Aerosmith playing their older stuff. It would just add to the flavor and the theme in a way that you don't get when you're playing the same venue with a geriatric Aerosmith playing stuff from 2007.

Ultimately, if you like Guitar Hero and you like Aerosmith and don't mind paying $60 for about 30 tracks, then hey, this is your game. Run don't walk and all that. But let's face it. You probably like Rock Band better than GH (or, at least, you should), don't like Aerosmith *that* much and resent the notion of paying full price for a game with just over a third of the tracks Rock Band 2 or GH4 are purported to have. In that case, just skip it.

NCAA 2009 in Hand

Alright. Picked up my copy over lunch today. I'll get some impressions up either later tonight or in the morning.

Also - Nintendo's press conference? Yeah, not so much.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Microsoft's E3 Presser

If you want to watch it, you can see the whole thing at IGN's Livewire. Just scroll it back to about the 10:30 mark if you want to watch the thing from the beginning. I glossed over a lot of it, but from what I did watch there were some things that stood out:

- Fallout 3: Man, I want this game to be good. I really do. I'm just not sure I'm getting that vibe yet. Bethesda appears to have the Fallout atmosphere and look down cold. The gameplay vids they showed, though... man, I'm just not sure. The VATS targeting system looks neat, except that every time you use it, it goes into what looks like a canned animation sequence. The transition to and from the sequence seemed a bit too jarring for something you'll be doing (potentially) in every combat sequence in the game.

- Rock Band 2: The Harmonix CEO (I forget his name) just came out and laid out some of what they had coming. More than 80 tracks on RB2. (You can find the full -killer- set list here.) You just know I'm gonna end up belting out Liv'n on a Prayer at the next Rock Band party I go to (after the game comes out). What really impressed me was the revelation that you'll be able to port your Rock Band 1 tracks into Rock Band 2. (There may be a fee for this, but the speculation is it's under $5, so to me that's no big deal.) I'm really, really looking forward to this one.

- Guitar Hero 4: I almost felt bad for the Activision guy who came out there, clearly expecting massive applause at multiple points, only to get crickets. Guitar Hero's big thing was signing up "exclusives" to the Eagles, Van Halen and Metallica. As an old Van Halen fan, that hurts a bit, but ultimately they're slapping themselves on the back getting exclusives to a bunch of bands I couldn't give less of a f#@ about, while Harmonix looks to be just be going for a broad, killer list of individual tracks and making sure everything I've spent money on in RB1 and its download content carries over to RB2. I don't know what will sell better at retail, but I know where my dollars are gonna be spent.

- Fable 2: I only played a little bit of Fable 1. I enjoyed it, but it didn't suck me in and I should really give it another go. That said, a lot of the Fable 2 presentation was both interesting and alarming. Some of the multiplayer co-op features could be fascinating, the way it lets you see other players from your Friends list in the game (as floating orbs) that you can then invite into your world without leaving the game. They talked about the dog companion a bit more without explaning at all how his advanced AI will affect the actual game. It was all vaguely cool, but on the other hand there was absolutely no discussion of the gameplay and that's a bit of a red flag.

- Lips: I know, as big a fan of fake plastic guitars as I am, I shouldn't poo-poo a singing game, but... yeah, not a day one purchase for me.

- New 360 UI: Evidently the fall 360 dashboard update will include an entirely new UI. What they showed off was considerably less colorful and used avatars that weren't totally dissimilar to the Wii's Miis. (There's a sentence I thought I'd never type.) This is a risky move. The 360 UI may be unspectacular, but it's very, very functional. This thing boast some interesting features (8-way chat rooms, media sharing, etc.) but some of it looked clumsy as hell to me and I see no need to make people re-learn a new UI when the old one worked just fine. Hopefully I'm wrong.

- Netflix Support: As a Netflix subscriber, I think this is great. Netflix's On Demand content may not be everything everyone wants it to be, but there's a lot there and making it accessable via the Xbox is just gravy.

They also showed off Gears of War 2, Resident Evil 5 and some other weird casual sh#@ that used the camera. Can't say any of those are in my wheelhouse, but if they're in yours, they're worth checking out. What I'm really waiting for is for some info on Dragon Age to start rolling in. Bioware had me at hello with this title, and this IGN gameplay screenshot makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Off to LA

Well I leave for E3 in about 2 hours so I will leave you in Todd's hands this week. Todd will keep the NCAA banter a flowin'.

My schedule...where is my ..ah yes here we go. I see EA at 9AM tomorrow. If I get a chance to play Madden, I'll do a little blogging on the road time permitting.

More NCAA 09 Vids

Ball State loses to IU 41-31. Ah well. But the Ghost Juke is back again. Check out vid 1: Why did Thigpen run out of bounds? The second vid was just a cool play and I wanted to show that everything isn't ghost jukes and weird glitches. This was also on Heisman play, eh?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

NCAA 09: The Ghost Juke and the Confused LB

I restarted my Ball State Dynasty this weekend. Screw E3 prep, right?

Anyway I played a great game against Akron tonight, winning 34-31 on a last second 45 yd FG. Really fun game. But -- people keep asking me wghat I mean by "The Ghost Juke" well thanks to EA's highlight vid feature, I can show you.

This is the Ghost Juke.

Next we have the Confused Linebacker. Remember -- I am Ball State and this is the AI on Heisman. Again, this was a super fun game, but these are issues that at some point need to be addressed.

OOTP 2009 Patch #2

It's out.

Woo hoo. Now I can get back to my fictional league.

These two are great additions:

Added a Scouting Accuracy global setup option to allow people to globally influence the accuracy of scouts

Added a Development Report in the Team Reports section (in-game only, not HTML)

Friday, July 11, 2008

2008 Test Sim with Screens

Yeah sorry about the pics again, but one of the designers of NCAA is on Op Sports and I need to post these to verify what I am seeing with everything on default stock settings. So, sorry about that, but hey--more pics!

Once again we're looking at QB numbers, sorted by Passer Rating:

QBs ranked 1-7 even though 2 have very few attempts and wouldn't qualify, including the #1 player who was hurt.






We're 49 QBs deep, with a handful not qualifying due to a lack of attempts (wish we could filter those) and we're still looking at QBs with ratings in the 150s. Last year in 2007 there were 11 QBs with ratings over 150. In 2006: 8. 2005: 5 players. 2004: back up to 10. Ironic thing is this is actually better than the 2010 season from below when Clausen had his 40TD 1 INT year.
And again, as I have been saying -- it's a combination of very high completion rates -- I see one player with a 59% and high TD and some with very low INTs. Every year you're going to see that guy with the 49 TD 3 INT season - usually more than one.

Anyway, this is on the Xbox 360 with every set to default with the Pasta rosters unloaded. 2009 is next although I may not take pics of that one. It's a pain and I think I have made my case as plain as I can.

Mr. Harris, E3, and Yes, NCAA 2009

Impressions from NCAA 2009 will be slowing down due to E3 prep work. I leave for the show Monday and will be back early as hell on Friday. Landing at 6AM. Woo. Hoo. My time with NCAA, as you may have guessed, has been a roller coaster ride that I am happy to have been able to share with all of you--even those who were convinced I didn't have the game until I posted those pics. My imagination just ain't that good, fellas.

In checking the referral log we've been getting hits from standards like Operation Sports, the IGN boards, NCAA Strategies, FOF Central and more. We've also been getting people from Michigan blogs (curse you Brakke) and a few of the Ohio State boards -- even people from NC State have dropped by. Damn it..I forgot to put up the Google Ads! There goes $20.

I have tried to be as honest as I can about the game, what works, and what doesn't. But if I had to return the game and then decide whether or not to buy it, I'd be in line just like the rest of you, forking over my $60 and change.

I stated when we really started to get into the game that it's the most fun I have had with NCAA since the 2004 version, and I still very much believe that to still be true despite some of the issues that have popped up. I hate the QB simmed stats, and the lack of a real CPU deep passing attack, the occasional CPU Ghost Juke, Miami(OH) playing for a title, and the abysmal kicking game. (And I still don't know why the Vanishing Stat thing happens.)

But for me the pros outweigh the cons. There's a lot of variety, the deep ball isn't a money play anymore, I can easily tell the difference between teams of varying talent even on Heisman, the INT issue from last year is fixed (with sliders), the Quick Calling for recruits makes it so much easier (was that in last year's game?), dropped passes seem perfect this year and the games are proving a challenge...especially with a team like Ball State! 2-6 baby!

I'm still excited to start our online 2-Star Only Dynasty. Yes Todd -- 2 stars and under. Does Michigan qualify? ZING!

Finally, my good friend Bill Harris posted an interesting bit of info that is worth reading. Anything dubbed the Great Horn of Bullshit is at least worth a cursory look.

Oh, and yeah for those that asked: Ashley made it through Operation Braces unscathed. I do love that pic, though.

Pictures from the Sim

I really don't know why I am going to these lengths, but it is what it is. A few people via email and forums are basically convinced at this point that I am conning all of you. I'm lying about everything when it comes to the simmed stats (all the good stuff I am saying about NCAA...I guess I'm honest about that part. Funny how that works.)

So, before calling it a night here's a set of screens taken by my PowerShot. Quality isn't the best but you can see what you need to see.
Does anyone know how to view past title games? Yes, Wisky played Miami of Ohio but I have since simmed past that and can't find records listed anywhere.

So here we go

This was taken right before Bowl Week of 2010. This is the top 7 QBs ranked by Pass Eff. Note Clausen's year. Not bad, eh?

Another view of the same top 7 -- this time I added the Completion %.

We're now on QBs 8 - 14.

QBs 15-21 -- note the crazy high Completion rates.

And # 22 - 28.


# 36 - 42 -- and we are still in the high 150s.

This is the leading rusher screen. I still wish we could get the top rushers to carry it more. No one in the country carried it 300 times which more than a few people do every year.

Finally, my daughter during Operation Braces. Always good to end with some levity, eh?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Saga of Tim Tebow

Before we get to Timmy...

The bug popped up again in 2009 this time. When selecting "Sim to end of regular season" I stopped the simulation at week 5 to check something and this time it was the PASSING season stats that "contained no data." I have no idea what's going on but folks...I don't like it and if you play Dynasty mode you are not going to like it either. I have no idea what causes this. The last time it was in 2010 and it was the rushing stats. Now it's 2009 and it's passing. Rushing was fine.

The stats ARE there -- you can go into the box scores and see the game by game numbers. It's just when choosing stats it's blank.

Then, after simming the rest of the 2009 season, sacrificing a goat and doing a Pygmy Rain Dance, the passing stats suddenly appeared again and everything was fine. Well, fine is a matter of perspective here I guess.

Anyway--I am trying my best to figure out where these inflated QB ratings are coming from. After simming 2008 again I think I know what's going on. And again, if this doesn't interest you and you want more game impressions...well...sorry. I told you I had OCD with this stuff.

When I was looking at the TD to INT ratio I was forgetting about Completion %. In 2007, there were 18 QBs that completed 65% of their passes (and up). (Go back a few years and it's even fewer than that) In the latest 2008 test sim: 47 QBs nailed at least 65% and 9 were over 70%. That's pretty darn high even for college.

Your average everyday NCAA D1 QB completes about 57-58%. In the videogame that is more like 64%. If you complete under 60% in NCAA you suck. Period. Think those extra points don't matter as far as QB Ratings go?

It matters.

Consider this (and yeah we're really getting into videogame geekdom at this point, but it's what I do...)

Let's take 2009 OSU "starter" Antonio Henton. We shall ignore the fact that Henton transferred to GA Southern over the summer. NCAA has him as a 91 rated QB after Boeckman leaves so he's the man. (We'll save any criticisms/discussions of this game's rudimentary player progression model for another day.)

Henton's 2009 stats were:

194/273 (71%) 2,447 yards 32 TDs and 6 INTs for a QB rating of 180.6. As a point of reference, Heisman winner Troy Smith had a 162 rating in 2005.

Now, let's bring Antonio back to reality. We won't even touch his TDs and INTs which are pretty darn great in their own right. Let's just give the man more incompletions.

Let's say Henton only completed 61%. Still very good -- better than average and way more believable than 71%. Just by doing that Henton's Pass Eff Rating plummets to (a still very good)140.73.

It's the same with every QB. The top guys, all of them, are 69-73% passers. I see this as more of an issue than the INTs. The 33-1 Bockeman season looks to be a bit of an anomaly. I haven't seen a season THAT crazy in the 6 seasons I have simmed. Any simulation is capable of the occasional malfunction. That was a doozie.

OK-- back to Timmy. This is a look at what the engine does.

Tebow's 2008 Simmed Season:
  • Hawaii - 16/20 230 yds 3 TD 0 INT
  • Mia (FL) 21/36 268 3-0
  • Tenn 25/47 344 0-2 (this game was "super simmed" and not simmed regularly...make of that what you will)
  • Ole Miss 4/8 21 0-0 (hurt)
  • Arkansas 17/22 367 5-0
  • LSU 16/19 227 5-0
  • Kentucky 26/29 300 5-0 (it's starting to hit Absurdville at this point)
  • Georgia 7/7 136 4-0 (weird game..wasn't hurt)
  • Vandy 19/27 263 4-0
  • S Car 14/23 140 1-0
  • D1-AA 17/27 313 0-2 (I found this hilarious)
  • FSU 18/24 167 3-0
  • Aub 15/26 206 2-1
  • Oklahoma (Bowl) 14/18 232 0-0

He lost the Heisman that year to Chase Daniel. Chase's numbers were even better.

Oh, yeah, 2008 champs?


Who'd they beat?


....of Ohio.

Watching From the Peanut Gallery

I've been keeping a low profile this week since I know most of you are popping in to read Bill "I get the game early because I'm the golden child" Abner's NCAA '09 impressions. The notion that a Bucknut gets the game more than a week ahead of time is proof enough that there are dark forces at work in Columbus. (sigh) I do miss the Pre-Tressel era so.

Every now and then this past week I'd start to get jealous of Bill's good fortune, but then I remember that my interest in this franchise (and most sports games, in general) has nosedived in recent years as the genre continues to stagnate (the Sony MLB and EA NHL franchises excepted). Frankly, I was all set to skip out on NCAA this year, but since I'm saddled with writing the Gameshark review for it, I guess I'll still have to pick up a copy on release day. I know, I know. It's such a hard knock life being a game reviewer. The things I'm willing to do to earn myself a little extra green.

Anyway, I'll be sure to get some impressions of the game up next week while Bill's at E3. I'm also still planning to do that Pixar movie round-up I threatened you all with last week (still can't stop thinking about Wall-E) and I need to get some thoughts together for a DC movie roundup, what with The Dark Knight soon to hit the big screen. Plus there's that whole Out of the Park Baseball 9 review I still owe Bill...

Any bets on how much of that I actually accomplish?

2010 and a Bug Pops In

Well I simmed 2010 and wanted to look at rushing stats to see if teams weren't carrying it enough.

It was then when a bug popped up. It gave me "no data" under rushing stats for every single team when viewing season stats. Career stats were there but there was no data inside a team's stat line OR when viewing the entire NCAA.


So um, let's hope that's a rarity, eh?

A few things I did note:

46 teams in 2010 scored 30+ points a game, which is right on line with real life.

In 2007 53 teams rushed for 2000+ yards. In 2010 NCAA: 31. GA Tech was first in the nation with 2800 yards rushing. There were 9 teams in 2007 that had at least 3000.

This isn't definitive proof, but it is leading me to think that teams are not rushing well enough or rushing enough in general. Of course I'd like to TEST that by looking at stats but noooo...

2009 Test Sim

The results are in and I need to look at this a bit closer (daughter confiscated the TV again...) but I wonder if NCAA uses the same QB rating formula as the real NCAA?

I thought the numbers looked a bit better in 2009. I saw no Tebow-esque or 33-1 Boeckman season. USC's Sanchez was #1 in Efficiency at 185. He had 34 TDs and 7 picks. To me, that's very reasonable - and by the way that is all I am asking from NCAA 2009 as far as stats go: just keep it within reason and I'm good.

I'm curious as to why his rating is 185 in the game because a 34-7 season is not too crazy.

Tim Tebow in 2007 at Florida had a 32 TD 6 INT season that saw him complete 67% of his passes for over 9 yards per att. His rating was 172. So how does Sanchez net the 185? I have no idea how the game or the NCAA gets that number, but maybe that's part of the problem?

Now, look, there is NO excuse for Todd Boeckman having a 33 TD 1 INT season. I'm not saying this is all hunky dory, but the 2009 numbers did look a bit better as far as QBs go.

There were 65 QBs in 2009 with a rating of 160 or higher. In 2007 (real life) there were three. But I really question if these formulas are identical.

Rushing numbers. 36 backs had over 1,000 yards in the 2009 test sim.

2007 real life: 57.


More later..after Spongebob.

Uh, Yeah...This is a Shade Screwy

EA, please fix this.
Just for me.
Do it for me.
I'd do it for you.

The second test sim using the 2008 teams ended up in some ways better and in some ways much worse than the first. I am simming 2009 as I type this.

The notables:

Todd Boeckman set OSU passing records for yards (3400) TD (33) and fewest INTs ...thad' be ONE. Yep, Todd had a 33-1 season, marched his team to the National Title and STILL didn't win the Heisman.

That would be 43 TD 2 INT Tim Tebow.

Red Alert. Red Alert.

Wasn't this fixed last year? Did EA just decide to use old code? WTF?

The good news is that the rushing stats were much BETTER. Yards are again low (1675 lead the nation) but fewer 7+ YPC backs.

Other oddities:

Animal Jr. was the leader (for OSU) in tackles for the season. With 45. How is that even possible?
The B10 leader in tackles was the MLB out of Minnesota..he had 85.

Chris Wells lead OSU with 1245 yards with Saine getting 894. Wells won every HB award that the game carries. The game also had Beanie returning kicks and punts. He is Iron man,m apparently.

A top 25 nightmare for the BCS.

UGA, OSU, OKL, BYU and Boise State all go undefeated. BYU, somehow, gets 2 first place votes.


UL Lafayette goes 11-1 and is ranked #17?
VTech runs a 12-1 season and is #12? At 12-1?

I also noticed another old (and I thought fixed) sim issue -- very high scores. Most games are in the 30s, 40s, and 50s with games with both teams in the teens or 20s pretty damn rare. Fact is, the defenses (let's focus on pass defense) in the simmed games are absolutely useless which bears out the crazy QB stats.

So we're back to the burning question: does this matter to you? Do you play your games in a vacuum and not look around the league or care about league stats and possible ranking bugaboos? I know a lot of you don't, which is fine. But for a guy like me that really gets into delving into the guts of the Dynasty, this is a huge deal. And I know for a fact it'll be a big deal with our Online Dynasty players. This is really the first Three Alarm Fire I have seen in the game thus far. Weird thing is, wasn't this all fixed last year?

Some good news--Pastapadre's rosters are free inside the EA Locker. Totally free and you can snag 'em in 10 seconds. Awesome.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

NCAA Thoughts on a Test Season Sim

After losing 31-27 to Akron....

My god I really lost to Akron?

I decided to sim the rest of the season w/o saving to see how a test year turned out. By the looks of it it still seems as if the folks at EA could use a better sim engine. How much this stuff annoys you will very much depend on your anal-ness. For me, I've always had a case of OCD when it comes to this sorta thing. It irks me a bit.

OSU loses to USC but gets back in the title game and plays...PITT. Yes, PITT ran the table.


Arizona State beats Georgia and USC and loses to Washington 34-33 and ends up ranked 19.

Tough crowd.

As it is in most NCAA games, QB stats are way too high. Look, Tebow is good and all, but 30 TDs and 2 INTs? The dude from Nebraska throwing 35 TDs with 4 picks? Across the board QB stats are too good. Way too good. Take a look at this:

See the ratings? Well, in my Dynasty, Bradford's 176.52 would rank him 6th. Not too insane but here's the catch: In my NCAA test season, 24 QBs came in with a rating of 160 or higher. Last year in the Real World (tm) there were THREE. It's the same with QBs who have a 150 and up rating. It's too high. It's sorta stupid high, really. It's like playing an NFL game and 3/4 of the league has a 90+ QB rating.

Same with HB stats. Javon Ringer leads the nation in rushing and gets a lovely 7.3 yards per carry. Well done Mr. Ringer. Beanie is 2nd in the nation and gets only 6.9. Slacker. Rushing yards are a shade low--not too low but lower than today's NCAA, but the yards per carry is just ...yeow. No running back in the top 10 total rushing yards has a YPC under 5.9. Most (9, actually) are at least 6.0 with Ringer looking like Jim Brown on roller skates.

Anyway, just some observations. Some of you won't give this a second thought, which I understand, but I can't help but wish this was a bit tighter.

Oh, OSU did beat Michigan 41-3.

Realism baby, realism.

Navy 38 Ball State 24 -- Power Goes Out


Well, I lost again, but the damn power kicked off for 10 seconds right after the game so I didn't get to save it. Nice. Going off memory:

I passed for 278 with 2 TDs and 2 INTs (I HAVE to stop throwing into coverage...) One of those TDs was a 65 yard score where my WR beat the DB on a flag route and then outran him to the end zone. Really cool.

My ground game was nil -- maybe 40 yards, but I could tell a HUGE difference between playing against Bama's defense compared to Navy. Not even close.

Navy ran 38 (roughly) times for 200 or so and the QB was 8/13 passing for 95 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. Navy scored on a 95 yard Super Sim kickoff return. Doh.

One cool bit -- at the end of the half the Navy QB actually tossed a Hail Mary about 50 yards downfield. Maybe it's a Heisman thing? I never saw that on AA.

A really fun game for the most part. A few drops (my HB dropped a crucial screen pass that was wide open late in the 4th. Yep. Ball State baby.

This game saw more sideline issues than most I have played. On one pass the Navy FB caught a dump off and was literally standing 3 yards out of bounds; funny this is, the game registered it as a 1 yard gain. I'll chalk that one up to a bug, eh?

E3 is a Comin'

I haven't been able to get back to NCAA since the Bama game. I have had a lot of E3 prep work to do and I need to leave around 4 PM today to get some new carpet remnants for the basement. Floods suck. I plan on getting some more time in today and I also want to test out the custom stadium sounds. (Thanks Aub)

I leave for E3 Monday and should get back Thursday so it will be 3 days of games, PR hype, and walking. Lots and lots of walking. I've been to about 8 of these shows so it's pretty much old hat at this point, but I'll be posting on the old blog here at night after I get back from the show floor. If I see anything particularly nifty I'll do a quick write up. Madden is sure to be there (and probably playable) and I want to see how it looks. The Browns should be good in Madden for the first time since the creation of fire.

The Hump Day Music Break will be posted later today -- I owe you guys two since I missed last week.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Alabama 37 - Ball State 6

Here are some thoughts and some numbers from the opener.

As I have continued to play and get familiar with the game again (I shelved NCAA 08 pretty quick last year) I am starting to beat the AI consistently on AA lvl. I do not want to radically alter AA sliders because some sliders do not do what they should -- specifically QB Accuracy. I am not lowering my Acc to 30 which will prevent my QB from throwing it over 40 yards in the air.

And since I usually play on Heisman anyway, that's where the Ball St Dynasty will be. Heisman with some slider tweaks.

37-6 was the result. Here's a quick stat line:

Ball State:

QB 26/41 223 0-2 This is Nate Davis, a future NFL draft pick and a damn good college QB. He's very good in this game, too.(87 OVR with a 92/93 Acc/Arm Str) The BState receivers? Well...5 drops. Ah well.

HB: 17 carries 61 yards

QB: 19/31 184 2-0 -- A very efficient game. The deep passes: they tried two. Both around 25-30 yards in the air. One worked, one didn't. This was with play aggressive at (I think 85%)

I do not know if the playcalling at 85% did this, but I really hate how often the AI goes for it on 4th down. 2nd quarter and you are up 23-6 and you have it 4th and 4 on the opponent's 9 yard line. What do you do? Me? I'm kicking the FG. Saban flipped me off from the sideline and called a toss sweep.

HB: 21 carries 177 yards with a long of 50. Yikes. Now, the Ball State defense is BAD. The offense is actually quite good, but man -- nothing but 70s and a few 60s on defense.

I still think this works best by just controlling one defender and not switching like mad. The reason I say this is because the AI when running the ball just flat out panics when it gets near the sideline. I saw 3 Ghost Jukes in this game, and one was looked hilarious. If you never see these...your copy is just different than mine.

I expect to lose big to Bama, even though Ball State did take Nebraska to the mat last year (41-40). I was in the red zone three times and failed to score.

Another item of note: I fumbled the ball and now that I think about it the only time I have seen a fumble is on Heisman. I have yet to fumble on AA lvl.

You are also going to have to tweak (heavily IMO) the auto subs. On default players only get tired and need a break if you completely hammer them over and over again. If you want to be forced into using backup RBs and DTs, etc, this will need to be changed. Changed to what...I'm not sure just yet.

So, with that ass kicking out of the way let's see how the Cards bounce back against a lesser team. Take us to the MAC tirle Nate!


We have a preview of EndWar up today. I don't plug our stuff here very often but I have to admit, the voice commands sound kinda nifty. Geeky, but nifty. I'd assume this is a game to play alone.

You're sitting in your living room while your wife is making dinner (or if your wife is like mine, fixing something around the house because her husband is pretty much useless with any sort of power tool in his hand). She's working away and you're sitting in front of the TV yelling, "Squad 5 move to sector Alpha!!" It's times like these when women begin to question their choice of a mate.

As for NCAA, I am still trying to get my Ball State game in. Last night, Ashley came back from my parent's place and we played Smash Bros. and then I decided to watch a couple episodes of The Tudors. Sorry -- you are not my master!

I'd play right now but the TV has been confiscated by Ashley. She's way past the point where I could tell her, "Daddy needs to work!" That doesn't fly anymore.

Long time readers of the blog will also realize that this is Tuesday, which means old man basketball league night so I'll be gone from 5-9 (or so).

A lot of stuff still needs to be tested and looked over in terms of recruiting. I am hoping that this year we see more 4-5 star busts. I'll come back with the Ball State report as soon as I can. I am very curious how that game plays out.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Alone in the Dark

Breaking away from NCAA for a sec, here's my review of the PC version of Alone in the Dark.

Or I can save you 1,000 words: It sucks.

Ball State

Yep. Ball State. That's my second dynasty team. Don't ask me *why* Ball State, because I have no idea. Red is pretty?

I want to test recruiting and doing that with OSU is somewhat pointless. 5 star recruits are beating down my door and recruiting with any 5 star program in NCAA has always been, shall we say, easy as hell. I also want to play with a poor team (sorry all you Ball State grads...) and see if a good team can run the ball down my throat. I start off with Alabama, which is about right considering the OOC games they so love to play in the SEC. (First person to mention Youngstown State, Ohio, Akron, Kent State and/or Bowling Green gets a virtual wedgie.)

But Ball State? 1 and 2 star kids are loving me. I want to see how easy it is to get the occasional 3-4 star kid to sign and where they come from. Ball State is huge in Hawaii. Huge.

So tonight will be the first game. I smell MAC championship!