Hi NCAA Football Fans!
Christian McLeod, NCAA Football 13 designer, here again, and today I get to tell you about one of the most exciting new additions to the presentation of NCAA Football 13’s Dynasty mode- The ESPN Bottom Line and Studio Updates.
Every week college football tells a story- the upsets, battles for position in the polls, conference struggles, last second plays and big player performances, each shaping the national landscape that given week. Even more importantly, the story of college football unfolds over the course of an entire day, from the kickoff of the 12:00pm games, to the final whistle of the Pacific coast late games. College Football as a whole is a living entity, with every score potentially affecting another team’s season as the day unfolds.
As an avid college football fan I can tell you that there is nothing more exciting in all of sports than spending an entire Saturday in front of the television watching the story of the week play itself out. If I’m not flipping between channels during each commercial break, my eyes are glued to score tickers and updates from around the country at every break in the action. Just because I am rooting my Spartans to victory doesn’t mean there aren’t other compelling stories going on at the same time.
This feeling of a truly dynamic, living college football experience was extremely important for us to capture in Dynasty mode, and was a major focus from a presentation standpoint in NCAA Football 13.
The first step we took when examining how to mirror the compelling experience described above, was to examine where non-user games were simulated within the Dynasty mode itself. In past NCAA Football titles, every game from a specific week would be simulated after a user had played their game and advanced to the next week. The result of this system was that it was impossible to see what type of impact other games from around the country had on your team until you advanced a week and then navigated through the menus to check in on scores from across the country.
I like to use the following example when discussing our old way of simulating in Dynasty. Imagine living in a world where you could only watch your favorite team’s game, and would not receive any type of in game updates via your television, phone, or other device. Knowing your team had a 3:30 kickoff you do yard work until that time and then bunker down for the next 2.5 hours. After your game was over you turn your television off, go to sleep and then read about all the exciting action that happened before, during, and after your favorite game the next morning in the Sunday paper.
In today’s ever-connected sports universe this scenario simply isn’t realistic, and we realized that for NCAA Football 13 we needed to change our weekly simulation logic so that it better reflected what we see in real life. The simulation process now evaluates games being played before and during the realistic time frame of a user’s game, and then begins to expose them in real time during the game. How are they exposed you ask? I’m very proud to announce the implementation of the ESPN Bottom Line ticker into this year’s game.
Utilizing the data that is received from the simulated games, the ticker will be keeping you up to date throughout your own game. That means should you be playing a 3:30 game, you will be receiving final scores from any of the 12:00 contests that are completed. Furthermore, the 3:30 games will be updating in real time as your game progresses, and you will even start seeing some early scores roll in from games that start even later in the day. The ticker will also give you a quick glimpse at upcoming games, complete with team logos and time of kickoff. What makes the ticker even cooler is that it reacts exactly like what you see on ESPN on game day. That means you’ll be seeing Priority Score Alerts--complete with the score changing dynamically on screen--Final Score Alerts, and Upset Alerts. The Bottom Line ticker will even remain visible during instant replays and while the game is paused. We wanted to ensure you wouldn’t miss a score, even if you are busy adjusting your depth chart or looking to capture that perfect screenshot (any screenshot you take will not have the bottom line present, so have no fear aspiring virtual photogs).
As cool as the Bottom Line ticker is, we wanted to take the immersion of the scores you see one step further. Being avid college football fans we immediately knew the perfect feature we needed to implement in order to keep users updated throughout their game on the happenings of college football--NCAA Football 13 will mark the debut of Studio Updates in Dynasty mode.
That’s right; you now will be kept up to date throughout your dynasty game by live cut-ins to the studio to provide updates on everything going on across the country as your game is being played. And if you watch as much college football as we do, you know there is only one voice that is the definition of Studio Updates:
I am very proud to publically announce the addition of Rece Davis to the NCAA Football commentary family.
Rece and his son are big fans of the NCAA Football series and he was thrilled to get a chance to be a part of the game. Rece will be your man in the studio on your game day, keeping his finger on the pulse of everything college football and narrating the scores and stats from big games, upsets, rivalries, BCS updates, and even talk about players having great games.
Rece will also be the first voice you hear when you boot up a game of NCAA Football 13, providing a live look-in from the studio before sending it off to Brad and Kirk in our all-new game introductions.
Studio Updates will occur dynamically throughout your game, presenting single score screens, multiple score screens, or any combination of the two whenever an exciting event happens throughout the country, just like what you see every Saturday on ESPN. The dev team has spent a tremendous amount of time working on the tech and logic behind these updates to ensure that you will not only be receiving updates that are relevant to the conference you are playing in, but also to touch on the best stories throughout your game as soon as they happen. The result of everyone’s hard work is an experience that ties you into your virtual season unlike anything seen before in the franchise, and an experience that will differ dramatically from user to user.
Regarding the commentary of the updates, it was very important that we capture the essence of Rece through his very unique delivery style and passion for college football. In our first meeting we sat down and discussed how we wanted him to approach these virtual updates as he would on any given game day in the studio. It was the goal to make the feature sound as authentic to Rece’s personality as possible. Utilizing our new ad-libbed commentary style discussed in my previous Audio blog, Rece immediately brought his colorful descriptions of teams, rivalries, stadiums, players, and scoring plays to life like only he could. No matter what teams you are a fan of you are going to be smiling when you hear the personal touch Rece gave to each of your schools.
There is a tremendous amount of depth in the commentary we recorded for the Studio Updates, with thousands of possibilities for each game. Our new commentary engine allowed us to create branching story paths for each of the updates, creating something new for Rece to say about each of his games, even if he returns to a game multiple times. After polishing the commentary of the feature for several months now I can definitively say I am very excited for you to hear what Rece has to say as your season progresses.
We didn’t just stop at Rece when it comes to updates either. My personal favorite part of the feature is that Brad Nessler will react to the updates and describe their impact on the national landscape and within your game. That means if Rece just updated you on a monumental upset, Brad will react. Better yet, if you just saw an update on a hated rival, a team you are jockeying for position within the conference/top 25/BCS, a team you played last week or play next week, or a possible upset in progress, Brad will talk about it. Brad’s reactions act as narration to your season, and how what is happening across the country directly impacts your team that week.
The implementation of the Bottom Line ticker and Studio Updates was a big undertaking for our team, and we all feel the end result is something really special. We can’t wait for you all to jump into your dynasties and see just how immersive the experience is.