Wednesday, June 30, 2010
11:59 AM - June 30, 2010. Written by MMChrisS

That was my first impression after looking through the writing applications this time around. Outside of the one's that were just bad (misspelled words, bad grammar, and leaving things out), we had some extremely quality people apply to become writers here at Operation Sports this time around.

All in all, we had just over 100 applicants apply and our team has managed to cut down that number to 10 -- but we weren't able to cut it any further. Those ten were all so good and relatively equal that there was nothing further we could do. So if you are one of those lucky 10, expect an e-mail later today explaining the next steps!

However, I want to add some important thoughts to the other 90 -- don't despair! Several of you were very quality guys, and a lot of times I had to get nitpicky about writing styles to sift through some guys. Some of you who have applied several times (I recognize some of the same names popping up), I'm planning on contacting you at some point today as well to thank you for your repeated interest in OS and I'm going to try to work something out with you. I've always said when it comes to doing mostly volunteer work -- you cannot replace passion. You guys that are so passionate that you have applied time and time again, that's hardcore!

Finally, thank you to all who applied and especially to all who read this site. It's been a pleasure writing here for you along with giving guys the outlet to grow as writers. This place wouldn't be the same without you! I can't wait until we unleash these new writers on you guys!
Chris is the Executive Editor of Operation Sports and maintains this blog on the site. He is also a native Oklahoman and avid storm chaser. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisSnr.
Blog: MMChrisS
05:19 AM - June 30, 2010. Written by Steve_OS
If any of these links interest you, talk about them.QOTD: A little more than half of the year is up, what is your "Game of the Year", so far?

Happy Birthday to the following OS'ers!

whigsplittaz (41), hail2thevictors, Cubit
Blog: Steve_OS
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
It finally happened -- sports gaming has jumped into the present day where anything is fair game for advertising.

Enter Madden's swagger rating.

Supposedly, the rating does nothing more than determine a player's likelihood to celebrate on the field. It doesn't progress and it doesn't effect gameplay in any other manner. Oh and the rating is brought to you by Old Spice.

So is this is a positive trend for sports gaming, where even ratings are fair game for advertising influences? Could there be a moment in time in the not so distant future that Nike goes all in with a Madden sponsorship deal and requests the athletes that pitch Nike products have higher ratings to make them seem more elite? I'm not sure, but to say it's an impossibility is to deny the ever growing presence of advertising is invading every corner of sports games -- much less society in general.

Perhaps it's not so bad, and perhaps it should have been more anticipated. Besides, what else did we expect? Most sports which are worthy of being depicted on the digital screen are huge advertising festivals anyways, so in a lot of ways it's more realistic to actually have legit products being marketed to gamers. I'm totally look forward to the day commercials begin to filter into games for the truest to life broadcast presentation possible -- I'm kidding about that, but only in a 'this might actually happen someday' kind of way.

So what do you think about the swagger rating and advertising in games in general? Should we embrace advertising or should there be a gamer led revolt against it?
Chris is the Executive Editor of Operation Sports and maintains this blog on the site. He is also a native Oklahoman and avid storm chaser. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisSnr.
Blog: MMChrisS
Monday, June 28, 2010
I'm not sure who you can blame for what I'm calling the "Generation of Diminished Expectations."

Do we blame corporations for not investing enough time into developing sports games which were able to leap well beyond what the previous generation gave us? Do we blame developers for squandering the resources they have? Or what about us? Do we blame ourselves for dismissing the reality of the situation and while we got our hopes up for a bunch of games resembling Ferraris, we got Chevy Camaros instead?

Either way, there's a pretty large sect of the sports gaming universe that seems perpetually discontent with the games they are getting. I don't blame them for wanting a Ferrari, but I think many have lost sight of exactly what games have accomplished this decade. Because of this disconnect, I think the Generation of Diminished Expectations has been born by default -- even if some still expect a lot.

From the impossible to please permanent Madden-hating Express to the Basketball Joneses, there seems to be a small, but very vocal minority in just about every sport crying about how flying cars should be the norm by now.

I tend to agree with these folks in part that games aren't what I originally expected at this point, but I can also admit that my expectations were unrealistic from the get go. I think the blame for the Generation of Diminished Expectations lies somewhere within a mixture of gamers with unrealistic expectations and companies not realizing the complexity and depth of resources it takes to create a highly detailed, polished game in the 360/PS3 era.

Before this generation, sports gaming developers could get away with not worrying about facial expressions or how jersey seams look. As consoles get more detailed, the amount of work required to make games that much better also rise, it's kind of a feedback current. The more you put in, the more that is required, in turn, to achieve higher quality the next time. I have always been, and will always be, a proponent of gaming companies taking their time on top flight games and getting them right. All of the blockbuster games which have sold extremely well and generated enormous press are on development cycles longer than 365 days.

Our solution starts with that fact while guys like myself come to grips with the reality that flying cars are a distant dream yet.

What do you think? Why is the very vocal minority so discontent with sports gaming? Are you one of them? Let's hear you!
Chris is the Executive Editor of Operation Sports and maintains this blog on the site. He is also a native Oklahoman and avid storm chaser. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisSnr.
Blog: MMChrisS
11:36 AM - June 28, 2010. Written by jmik58
Offthebag.com has posted their 2010 football preview for the SEC.

We promise it’s purely a coincidence that the SEC is our final BCS conference preview for the 2010 football previews.

Many would argue, and with statistical proof, that the SEC is the best conference in all of college football in the BCS era. In fact, the last four national champions have all come from the SEC with Alabama, Florida twice, and LSU.

Not only that, but since instating a BCS championship game, an SEC team has won the championship half of the time.

So perhaps, unintentionally of course, we have saved the best for last.
What will the score of the 2010 SEC Championship game be?
Blog: jmik58
Saturday, June 26, 2010
11:26 AM - June 26, 2010. Written by jmik58
Offthebag.com has posted a new article highlighting the pros and cons of using each team from the PAC 10 in an NCAA 11 dynasty.

With the controller in your hands, however; there are no such restrictions. And nothing would irritate fellow PAC 10 teams like knowing the real life Trojans can’t make a postseason bowl game, only to let them slip through with a BCS appearance on NCAA 11 by EA Sports.

In other words, if you want to replicate the situation of the Trojans, you’re going to have to do it the hard way. By beating down all that is USC in your dynasty. And if your team is USC, it’s like the real world doesn’t even exist.
Which team from the PAC 10 would you choose for an NCAA 11 dynasty?
Blog: jmik58
Friday, June 25, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Draft day has arrived in the NBA.

And it's another painful reminder about how off-seasons in sports games are just plain boring.

While teams have been wheeling and dealing, trying to figure out how to maximize their positions on draft boards many sports gamers have been going through a plodding set of menus with basic A + B = C functionality being given to them. Many of you who have read my blog through the years (and I thank you for sticking with me for so long) recall I have griped that off-seasons in sports gaming are rather lame in comparison to the real thing.

Even many text-sims seem to suffer from the linear progression of menu based interactions that sports video games suffer from. Of course, the unfortunate problem with sports games is that there may not be a better way to do front office type of work than through elaborate menu systems. But one thing sports games can start doing today is eliminating barriers which limit the gameplay choices available to players.

For instance, there have been built in trade limitations to several games, which basically limit the types of deals you can pull off. In other instances, the computer AI is just plain dumb and is a horrible negotiator, making it easy to exploit loopholes in the system which aren't there in real life. In NCAA Football, you are given several choices with recruits, but you can't deviate from the rules of the game. And yes, while this type of linear thinking is acceptable to gamers now, I'm wondering how long it'll last? Gamers want better gameplay on the field, but one can't help but wonder how long it will be until most are wanting something more off the field as well?

So perhaps you can grieve with me tonight, as deals are brought down and teams make important decisions that you just can't make in video games. I'm fascinated with the business ends of sports, and it bothers me I can't experience a true simulation of that aspect of things outside of a select few text-sims. I hate to be too idealogical, but we put a man on the moon in the 1960s -- I'd like to think we can make sports gaming offseason's a bit more dynamic and fun for those who might wish to partake in them.

But until that day comes -- because it isn't coming this release cycle I'm afraid -- I'll watch events such as the NBA draft and wonder: just how long will it be until I can try my hand at such an endeavor from the safety of my own couch?

Chris is the Executive Editor of Operation Sports and maintains this blog on the site. He is also a native Oklahoman and avid storm chaser. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisSnr.
Blog: MMChrisS
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
03:53 PM - June 23, 2010. Written by jmik58
Offthebag.com has posted a new article previewing the 2010 PAC 10 football season.

Two updates in a row outside the BCS has us itching for some big-money conference talk. We return for the next to last member of the elite BCS country club, the PAC 10.

Much like the Big 10, the PAC 10 will be plus some members in the near future, meaning this will be the last time for the current configuration. After this year, the stakes go up and the difficult raises for anyone hoping to win the PAC 10.

It’s also fairly inevitable that a conference championship is waiting in the wings when the ten man conference expands to twelve. Forsaking the future though, one last run at the “old” PAC 10 is up for grabs and it’s quite likely it will be won by a team that can’t even benefit from it.
Blog: jmik58
02:18 PM - June 23, 2010. Written by MMChrisS
E3 is in the past, and like most of you, I've only got to read the impressions coming out of the event. However, there are some big winners and big losers coming out of the event in my opinion, here's a quick rundown of which games used the event to improve their standing...presented in a classic stock guide.


NBA Elite 11: It seems a lot of buzz was generated by Elite 11, although no one can seem to come to a good consensus on what the new gameplay mechanics mean. However, the hype train coming out of E3 is pretty strong at this point. We'll see if the Elite team can deliver.

Gran Turismo 5: I'm just going to be proactive and give the Racing Game of the Year to GT5 right now. That'll just make things easier when the Year-End awards come around again. E3 was very kind to GT5 with several awesome features being announced. I can't wait for GT5.

NHL 11: Although a lot of the info we consider really important (physics) was out before the show, there was nothing but good stuff coming from the NHL camp this year. I'm pretty sure NHL is going to make a serious attempt to try to regain the crown at the top of the mountain in the 2010 Sports Gaming pecking order.


NHL 2K11: We knew it was only going to be a Wii game, but I got the feeling no one really cared what the game came up with at E3. While I personally liked last year's Wii version of NHL 2K, I think I might be one of a couple dozen who actually played the game on the Wii. I'm not sure how much that'll change this year.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2011: Remember when this game used to be THE game for Soccer/Futbol/Football enthusiasts? Yeah, I might've dreamed that as well. This game was buried underneath a bunch of other sports gaming offerings. I'm interested in what the series reboot accomplishes this year, but I'm pretty sure it won't come close to matching FIFA this year.

Hold for now, nothing really happening either way

NBA 2K11: The death of Isomotion is an interesting development. I think the 2K team is holding their punches for now, but Elite clearly has more hype coming out of E3 when it comes to to the actual gameplay department, even though no one knows how exactly either basketball game is really going to play.

FIFA 11: FIFA 10 was one of the Top 2 sports games last year, and hardly anyone talked about it because it's the wrong sport (Soccer). FIFA 11 needs to take advantage of the Soccer Euphoria going on in America right now with an even better effort. I'm liking the early returns, but I'm not sold on FIFA yet. We'll give it more time.

Madden NFL 11: Madden didn't hit a home run this year at E3, mostly because a lot of the info we cared about was already in the open. However, Madden could have made a splash or two and didn't, but I'm still pretty high on the game's potential...for now.

NCAA Football 11: The NCAA demo hitting overshadowed anything at the show. E3 didn't really do much for the game either way in my book.

What do you think? Was E3 favorable to your favorite franchises or were you left wanting more?
Chris is the Executive Editor of Operation Sports and maintains this blog on the site. He is also a native Oklahoman and avid storm chaser. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisSnr.
Blog: MMChrisS
01:17 PM - June 23, 2010. Written by MMChrisS

I'm back from vacation, look for a little deluge of blogs over the next few days as I try to catch up on everything. First things first though: I've got to lay down some impressions of the NCAA Football 11 Demo.

My first impression of the game is that it looks just so much better this year. From the lighting, to improved animations, to the presentation -- EA has just done a superb job adding a nice coat of polish onto the game to make it just that much better looking. For the casual user, these differences alone will make the game seem a lot better. For guys like us, we like to look under the hood a bit more for what really counts: the gameplay.

I think the gameplay's advancement can best be described as a huge one year leap. NCAA 08 to 09 was the biggest one year leap yet for the franchise on next gen consoles (despite the fact the defense didn't come along to play) with 09 to 10 being one of the more minimal updates I can remember in a year to year franchise since I've been around covering sports games (for those counting, that's since 1999.)

This year's game is a bit of a big jump with several things being tweaked. Locomotion is a welcome addition and best of all it doesn't change the game completely, but it does make a noticeable change to how the game has to be played. The computer AI is so much better this year, and the blocking is actually a big improvement over previous years. I'm always skeptical of EA's claims of new blocking logic or what-have-you, since that's been a claim for years now. This year though, it seems as if the NCAA team has actually made some changes worth mentioning.

There are some balance issues I'm worried about, since slants still seemed to be relatively easy -- but if sliders work, balance will be achieved by OSers, you can count on that. I saw several fumbles and interceptions, so I'm slightly worried turnovers might be a tad overdone, but my experience is also a small sample size. Also, while the blocking is improved, pulling linemen miss a few too many obvious blocks. I'm guessing these are things tweakable before release or within a patch, although it will hurt the game's initial quality quite a bit. There are also announcing snafus which I'm chalking up to being isolated within the demo, since the announcing has been quite solid in previous NCAA games.

So in the end, NCAA Football 11 looks like it is shaping up to easily be the best version of the series yet on next-gen consoles -- as it should be on a yearly release schedule. The question gamers will be asking themselves is should they buy this game if they already own NCAA Football 10? I'd say the answer to that will be much tougher to answer and will require more time to dissect. However, all signs point to NCAA Football being a rather good game when it hits store shelves next month.

Chris' way too early prognostication: Definite buy for NCAA fans, watch and wait for the word on the final version for casual fans.
Chris is the Executive Editor of Operation Sports and maintains this blog on the site. He is also a native Oklahoman and avid storm chaser. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisSnr.
Blog: MMChrisS