Thursday, July 15, 2010

Online Tools for NCAA ‘11 Dynasty Mode (Plus, a bug)

I was going to resist NCAA again this year. I really was. That said, our longtime readers know just how much I cannot stand team management in console sports games, so the fact that you can run your recruiting from a web browser when using an online dynasty in NCAA ‘11 made this a must purchase. (You can, for the record, have a single-player online dynasty.)

I’ve only just begun to play with it, but this is fantastic. It’s not all the way there in execution, there are several ways I can see already for it to be better, but the fact that you can do this at all is a stroke of genius. Let me run my franchise/dynasty over my lunch hour in a browser that makes information much much MUCH more accessible, so that when I get home I can just fire up the game and take to the field. That is awesome. Off the top my head, though, here’s a couple of things that need to be addressed (two now, others later):

- First of all, there is at least one bug in the online tools. On the recruiting page you cannot see listings for 4-star recruits *when using the Caliber filter.* Bill and I have both tried this and it’s the same for both of us using different dynasties, web browsers, etc. If you set the Caliber filter to 4 Star you will not see an actual 4-star recruit in the list it generates; just 5-star guys. You can get around this by just not using the Caliber filter; annoying, but hardly lethal. Hopefully this isn’t a sign of other more insidious bugs that we have yet to see.

- Stability. This is surely a short term issue, but both online and on the console data transfers often fail and need to be redone. The good news is I have yet to lose anything. Just a quick refresh or re-upload and all seems to be well. I’m okay with this for now, but the screws clearly need some tightening.

- More team management stuff. Let me manage my playbook and depth chart this way; not just the recruiting. This is something that could revolutionize dynasty and franchise play across the spectrum of console sports games. Could you imagine managing a MLB: The Show franchise this way? I can, and it gives me all sorts of warm fuzzies.

- More information and better interface. The only way to see a player’s full ratings is on a page for that player. On the team roster screen you can only see a player’s overall rating. If I want to see just my cornerbacks along with all ratings related to CB play so that I can compare and contrast guys, I should be able to do that on one screen without clicking back and forth. I should then be able to open a separate tab for a depth chart (you can do the separate tab thing now) and go back and forth between them to manage my team.

I’m sure there will be more as I actually start doing recruiting with these tools, but so far I’m really pleased. I’m waiting to start my franchise until there’s a downloadable roster with player names, so, for now, I’m just experimenting. There’s loads of unexplored potential here that will have to wait for another year, but as a proof of concept, this is genius.