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Sliders: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

EA Sports UFC 3

Sliders: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


It’s a time-honored tradition here for all of us at Operation Sports. Every year, we run out to our local game stores, or in most cases, download to our beloved systems, a new yearly sports title. Whether it be Madden, NBA 2K, FIFA, or many of the other games we all know and (sometimes) love.

Now you’d think the first thing we’d do is hop right into a quick game or practice mode to understand the nuances and new features for the year, but alas, most of us hop right into the slider section and start tinkering to our hearts desire. Change the speed parity scale here, adjust shooting percentages there, make the game slower, faster, weightier, etc. My question is, are constant slider tweaks beneficial to the gamers experience?

Editing the game before you’ve even taken the virtual field doesn’t let you experience the game as the developers intended. You could unintentionally affect a different part of the game that you didn’t want to, or who knows, the game might play just the way you want it at default settings. We have a saying here at O.S. called “slideritis”, and believe me, many people have succumbed to the illness. I’ve had conversations with folks who hardly even play the game because they get sucked into the wonderful world of slider editing. Most slider gurus feel like they’re doing a service to the community at whole, and that is something that can never be doubted, but, at what point do you stop and just enjoy the game for yourself?

The other side of the argument is that sliders absolutely make a positive impact in the sports gaming community. With these games being yearly titles, nothing will ever be perfect on the gameplay side of things. No matter how hard the developers try to perfect their product. Quarterbacks too accurate in Madden? Simply turn down the QB accuracy slider. Missing too many shots in NBA 2K? Well, there’s a slider for that. Crank it up and enjoy your shooting success! The developers provide us with a slew of sliders for us to edit and enjoy the game however we want it, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like options?

But Do Sliders Work As They Should?

On the other side of the proverbial coin, so the sliders in these games work as intended? Do we even know what they all do? With all the research, editing and teamwork that goes into figuring out how to get the best out of these sliders, we still don’t know what some of them do. Folks in the Madden forum swear that changing a random penalty slider will affect the way players move on the field. Editing game speed in NBA 2K will give players more weight and momentum. We all have our weird conspiracies that would make the cast of Ancient Aliens blush. I can just imagine the slider gurus in a lab, experimenting with each slider in a game. When something doesn’t work, it’s back to the drawing board.

So, the question of do we need sliders is a tricky one. On one hand, when they work as intended, the changes they can make to the gameplay is a beautiful thing to experience. When you finally find that slider set that gives you the most fun, realistic experience, you’ll never go back to playing a game at its default settings. Now that’s where it gets more complicated than an Avril Lavigne relationship. What if the game plays wonderful at default and you never know it? What if you never get to experience the full thrill of playing the game because every few minutes, you’re messing around with the slider settings? Spending $60 – $100 to just test sliders is a common theme that runs rampant in the sports gaming world. We can never take anything away from our brave slider makers. They listen to the community problems just as much as the game developers do. They take every gripe in stride and try to appease the masses for the greater good of the sports game community. It’s almost like a full-time job when it comes to this slider thing. Most people who edit sliders are perfectionists who like to hone their craft to their full capabilities.

Imagine a world with no sliders. A world where people just played the games as they were meant to play. A world where we had no slider gurus, where everyone just played these games and tried to have fun as they were meant to be. In my humble opinion, people would be much less stressed, no longer having to strain and exhaust themselves trying to find the perfect slider set to balance the game as they see fit. Would there still be the same complaints about the game? Sure, of course. What game doesn’t have complaints? People will always clamor for change, for a certain aspect of the gameplay to be better, but with no sliders, we would have to put up or shut up when it comes to playing these titles.

Would people still buy these titles without sliders? Of course, they would. We all know that we can’t resist playing these games year after year. On the other hand, sales for some of these particular titles might dip, but not enough to be noticeable in my opinion. The die-hard slider gurus might refuse to buy, but in the current landscape that we’re in, online is the big bad wolf of the sports gaming world. Sliders are an off-line only experience, and currently, online players far outweigh the number of gamers still playing off-line.

The answers and opinions will vary from person to person. Some of us will tell you that sliders are essential, while others will tell you that we can live without them and they’re not needed. It all depends on the type of gamer you are. Are you an off-line gamer who only plays against the CPU, and you need to adjust everything to make it as realistic as possible? Or are you an online player who just wants to play against another human, not caring about what sliders are adjusted? No matter what the answer, we’ll all have varying opinions on what matters more. Even in a game like NBA 2K, the online community has been clamoring for the developers to lower shooting success, raise layup success, lower steals rate, etc.

Could we survive without sliders? Sure. Would it necessarily be a better thing? That’s a question that might be a little too hard to answer. Now, we have sliders for not only gameplay, but game modes as well. With the release of the newest NBA 2K, we can edit sliders for progression and regression, training affects, contract demands and prices, trade value, draft class quality and a whole slew of other things to make their fantastic My League mode even more fantastic.

Sliders Are Here To Stay

At the end of the day, it looks like we as a sports gaming community needs sliders. Maybe I’m feeling nostalgic and thinking of the good old days where we had to trek 5 miles to school, barefoot in the sno- Wait, wrong memory. The good old days where we would just buy a game, pop it in and play and enjoy it to our hearts content. Game developers know we want, need options. They’ve opened their games to us in ways that we never thought imaginable. If we can stop for a moment and think about all the options on display to us, we will quickly realize that no matter how hard the developers try, they will never be able to cater to us individually, so they at least try and provide us with options to make us happy. Both the online and off-line community as a whole. They’ve got a lot on their plate and sliders are a way to help us perfect their product as we see fit.

So, I valiantly rejoice and accept our new slider overlords. I welcome them with open arms and look forward to the joy and comfort they will bring to our gaming lives. So, to answer my own question, do sliders help or hurt the sports gaming community? I can say with conviction that they absolutely help our experience in ways that we could have never imagined fifteen to twenty years ago. They will only improve, the list will grow larger and the community will continue to prosper well into the future.

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