Search This Blog

31 December, 2010

The Madden Doctrine of Online Etiquette 2.0

   by Gus Ramsey

(I wrote this last year. I've updated it a little bit for the release of Madden '12)

Mario Brothers is a video game.
Donkey Kong is a video game.
Wii Sports is a video game.
Madden football is NOT a video game! It is a simulation series designed to bring the real NFL experience to the fan as best as possible. You know, "If it's in the game, it's in the game." So we will use that understanding as the guide for all the rules for online play.

  Let's try a little True or False to make sure we all understand.

  The advent of online play was a godsend for serious gamers who wanted to test their skill with players better than their dorm buddies or neighborhood friends. True or False?


  The advent of online play was an opportunity for people to 1) find glitches and tricks that work consistently in order to win and 2) do unrealistic things that simulate NFL football about as closely as Charles Barkley's Shut Up and Jam game. True or False?    


  Madden online play should be played in an effort to simulate the actual NFL experience as best as possible. True or False?


   Playing an online game is an investment of my time. Do not waste it by pulling the plug or quitting after 2 1/2 quarters because things aren't going well. True or False? 


   Everyone on board? I hope so. So here we go.

  Onside kicks are used when you are trailing. They are not used at the beginning of games to find out if your opponent knows how to audible into the proper kick coverage or to catch people who use game flow with their hands team on the field.
   Last year I said "When EA puts the surprise onside in the game, be my guest."
   Guess what? EA put it in the game. So go ahead and use it, just don't keep lining up for onside kicks to try and force the people who use game flow for kick returns into having their hands team on the field and then audible to regular kick formation.
  To execute the onside on PS3 (which is what I play) you hit the x to start the kick meter, hit x again at the top and circle button in the accuracy part. It only works once a game.  

  Going for it on 4th and more than 5 yards deep inside your own territory in the 1st half of the game, if you are winning or only down by 3-10 points, is idiotic. This is equivalent to people never throwing a strike in MLB the Show. If you want 4-down football, play Madden Arcade.

  Trying the things I just noted and then quitting because they didn't work makes you King of the Tools. If you have a legit reason for having to quit, do the honorable thing and concede.
If you have time, send your opponent an explanation. "Sorry, my baby just woke up," or "Sorry, my dog just puked all over my den." Don't take 15-30 minutes of my time and then waste it by pulling the plug. This should be like failing a steroids test in MLB. EA should suspend people 25 days for the first 
offense, 50 days for the 2nd and a year for the 3rd. It's the single most egregious offense there is.
  Thankfully this year EA created the Communities feature, where you can create a place for like minded people to play and keep out the non-desireables. 
  For those of you who do the onside kicks and go for it on 4th and 21 in the 1st quarter, may I suggest you call your community The Tool Shed.

  Take your beatings like a man. Win your games with class. If it's out of hand and you don't want to quit or concede, don't start pausing the game, jumping off-sides, etc. Conversely, if winning, start running the ball and clock and don't go 5-wides, no-huddle and run up the score.
If I am doing you the solid of playing it straight and trying my best,  don't rub it in.
Now, if someone is losing and doing tool things, be my guest. Run it up. Especially if they declined a 
mercy offer. Also, if you offer mercy and the person declines, but continues to play straight, you can continue to play respectfully as well.
  If you are ahead with 3:00 or less in the game, it is ok to start running the play clock down. Otherwise get your play called in about 10-12 seconds and keep the game moving.

 I'm ok with not using your team's playbook. For a long time I used the Jaguars playbook while playing with the Broncos. Whatever you like best is fine by me. The goal is to win and if you think there are play books better than your team's then you should use one you like.

 If you are the visiting team, wear the white uniforms. 
Don't put on a colored jersey. Two teams in colored jerseys make's the game harder to watch and play.

  Don't fake the extra point every time. 
When I see that done more than once by
team in a real game, you can do it too.
Until then, kick the PAT.
Especially when winning.
Otherwise, take your place in the Tool Shed.

  I got lots of feedback from twitter folks about players using the same play over and over again. This is reminiscent of the old Tecmo Bowl game where even if the defense called the play you called, you could still get the play off most of the time. 
  The quick crossing pass to Bears tight end Cap Boszo was the epitome of this. 
  I'm a little torn on this one. You often hear coaches say "Run it until they stop it," but in the interest of realism, I've never seen a team run the same play 30 times in a game. So mix it up. 
It's fine to have your bread and butter plays, but prove that you can master the game and not just one play.

  When you drop the quarterback back to pass, try and keep him around 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. The 15-20 yard drops are absurd. Now you're throwing 30 yard out patterns. Scrambling around is fine, but just dropping back forever is a little silly.
   Thankfully a major change to Madden this year is QB's can no longer throw darts while running in the opposite direction or backpedaling, which will severely hamper players ability to play that way.
  When the game ends, say good game if you are on headsets. If you're not on heads, send a GG note if you have the time. Think of this as the post-game handshakes coaches do in the NFL, unless you're playing with the Chiefs.

  So there you go. Easy steps to follow which make the online experience far more enjoyable for the majority of us. We all love to play the game, so don't ruin it for others. If you can't help yourself, just do us the honor of creating a Tool Shed community and go play in there. 

30 December, 2010

Links from today in case you missed them on Twitter

at the 4:25 mark of this video, the Tebowmeter exploded like a cartoon thermometer overheating

Good to know the SpaceJam website is still up and running.

I admire the love for Tim Tebow. Not sure about the singing. Applaud the effort.

Must read for Broncos fans and T.D. lovers 

i don't get too wound up about Pro Bowl selections, but good argument here for Champ

Larry Walker's 1st year on the Hall of Fame ballot. Jim Caple on why
it's an interesting case

Fourteen years ago today, this was your Sports Illustrated cover

27 December, 2010

The Tebowmeter after 2 games

  Well, two games in and we are starting to see a glimpse of what might be in Denver. 
Tim Tebow lead the Broncos from a 17-0 and 23-10 deficit for a stirring 24-23 win. 
In notching his first win and first 4th quarter comeback, the Broncos 
fan-base quickly started in with the "we have our Elway replacement!" talk. 
Truth be told, we may have already had him but he's now quarterbacking 
the Bears. Jay Cutler has had an excellent year and has lead his team
to the playoffs. Tim Tebow is probably a few years from returning 
the Broncos to the place where fans came to feel was their home, 
the postseason. 
  You can't help but be impressed with what Tebow brings to the table, 
especially the one thing people have always said about him, his desire to win.  
His drive to improve and to lead his team is above reproach. 
All the quotes from the Broncos locker room yesterday convinced me
the players are already buying into the Tebow mystique. 
Here are some of the plaudits as reported in the Denver Post 

"Some people are made to make history; some people are made to follow," Broncos linebacker 
Mario Haggan said of Tebow.

Correll Buckhalter- "what I like most about him is the energy he brings to the huddle. That's a third element that he brings — the energy."

" It's the passion," Brandon Lloyd said, "and it's funny how it translates to people who don't play. It's strange because to us players, it's expected to play with a lot of passion. But a lot of us don't play with it. And a lot of us know the difference between guys who really are passionate and guys who are trying to act that way but are chilling out.
With Tim, when he calls the play I know he's going to do everything humanly possible to make that play happen. It's crazy having that kind of confidence in a rookie quarterback."

Those sound like guys who believe, and isn't that half the battle?
One of the big question about Tebow coming into the league was if 
his Rah-Rah act was going to play with the big boys. 
The things is, it's not an act. And apparently the players
recognize that. If you're out there working the hardest, practicing
the hardest and committing yourself to your team, players recognize
that as real, not phony. 
  All of this skirts along what is a really interesting topic. 
Are there really born leaders? 
You would think a great number of players who made it to the NFL 
were born leaders.
However, you would also expect that some percentage of them did 
NOT succeed at the pro level.  
Or maybe they weren't born leaders after all. 
Vince Lombardi said "leaders aren't born, they are made.
And they are made just like anything else, through hard work." 
Perhaps it's possible to be a born leader who lacks the will to get 
the most out of himself and sooner or later,  in this case the NFL,
the well runs dry. Maybe confidence comes into play and 
when guys are among the best of the best, doubt creeps in
and those leadership qualities wilt away. 
I have yet to hear anyone say anything about Tebow's work 
ethic that suggests he isn't working his tail off every day, 
making himself into a leader though hard work, even if he
is a born leader to begin with.
  Champ Bailey stated the obvious when talking about Tebow saying, 
"I've never seen a winner lose. And he's a winner." 
Today on SportsCenter Antonio Pierce said "that guy just wins. 
It isn't always pretty, but he finds a way." You can't underestimate 
the value of having a guy that everyone else on the team believes 
gives them a better chance to win. 
And more than the X+O's and his throwing motion and his throwing 
off the back foot, right now Tebow is giving the Broncos and their
fans hope. For that reason alone I am raising the Tebowmeter from 5.5 to 7.5 
I'm not going higher than that because it's only been 2 games
and I don't want to overreact. But if in fact Tebow is a winner
and a born leader, all the actual quarterbacking will continue to get
better through hard work.
Thanks to Tim Tebow I have more hope for the future of this team 
now than I did 2 weeks ago. 

other thoughts:
the play calling was much better yesterday. As I noted on Twitter,
Tebow's biggest passing plays were coming on 1st down, many of
which were play-action. This coming coming off a week where
Denver ran on 14 of 17 1st down plays.

although not identical, the screen pass to Buckhalter yesterday
reminded me of  Elway's 1st big comeback game against the Colts 
in '83 when he dumped one off to Gerald Willhite from a similar 
distance and Willhite made a nice run to get in the end zone. 
Go 1:00 into this video to see it.

Nothing would make me happier than for Tebow to beat the Chargers 
this week and get a leg up on Rivers in what might be a good rivalry
in the years to come. 

Finally, I found this on line. Looks like every great Elway game you would 
want so see is available. With a birthday coming up, I think I have found 
my present.  

26 December, 2010

Mets off-season reaction 12/14

Lets start with the news of the day and the Phillies signing Cliff Lee. It's nothing but bad news for the Mets. Spinning it any other way is foolhardy. Philly is now positioned to dominate for at least two more years. The only "positive" with that team from the Mets fans perspective is age and money. Halladay 33, Oswalt 33, Lee 32, Rollins 32, Howard 31, Utley 32, Ibanez 38. Of all those guys, Rollins makes the least amount of money this year at 7.5 mil. So it is likely that in 2 years the Phillies current roster will start to come apart, but those pitchers could still be together and very productive. When Maddux, Smoltz and Glavine were 33,32 and 33 respectively they combined to go 44-28 and the Braves won 103 games. A 24 year old Millwod won 18 games. Even if Oswalt is gone, the trio of Halladay, Lee and Hamels is tremendous. 

  Speaking of 2 years from now, that's when I expect the Mets to start being competitive again. Last year was the first since '06 that I didn't predict the Mets to go to the World Series. Reality set in. I do believe that if the present roster is healthy and plays up to their potential, they can be a mid-80's win team. Last year the pitching staff was good enough to get them to the playoffs. A 3.73 era, 19 shutouts and a pretty decent defense behind them. However (insert Stephen A smith inflection), it's not a good idea to expect Dickey to be what he was last year. I think Pelfrey and Niese have 2nd starter stuff and could combine to win 30-35 games. I actually think Niese has a higher ceiling than Pelfrey, but consistency is an issue for both. Johan has now become an annual guessing game and the bullpen, like most teams, is a guessing game of who will have a good year and who won't. So that's a lot of question marks.
  As for the offense; a lineup of Reyes, Pagan, Wright, Beltran, Bay, Davis, C, 2B can be very productive. We just need to see it day in and day out. Their hitting in the clutch was atrocious. As I said during the season, I know designated drivers who get more people home than the Mets did last year. I don't know if a new hitting coach can make that better, but it can't get worse. 
  I would expect Beltran to be a July trade that maybe brings back a pitching prospect. I think Reyes only gets dealt if the season is a full blown disaster. 
 Patience is a virtue, right? It seems to me that most Mets fans have been begging for the Mets to grow players, give them a chance, etc. I believe in that too. But this requires patience, which seems to be in short order with Mets fans. At the end of the year every day there were 6, 7, 8 home grown Mets in the lineup. It was refreshing but you can't expect that group of players to be great, or even good, right away. Watching the Yankees core over the years has fooled most of us into thinking "if they can do it, why can't we?" It ain't that easy. So if you want to grow from within, you have to be willing to wait. But so does the front office. I applaud them for not dealing Niese, Pelfrey or Davis last year. We'll see if they can be that patient this year. But one nice thing about the current group of home-grown guys is they are cheap. After this year, when Ollie, Castillo and Beltran come off the books, there should be more fiscal flexibility.

  Speaking of money. Everyone who says "the Mets aren't spending money!" is wrong. They spend it to the tune of 130-million dollars this year. What they do is spend it poorly. I can't blame the team for not going out and giving out more big contracts and making matters worse. If you renovate your home, you set a budget and stick to it. You don't start saying "you know what, let's knock down this wall and make the living room bigger too. And while we're at it, lets put an addition over the garage." The Mets are renovating. Hopefully the Three Wise Men (Alderson, Riccardi and DePodesta) can turn things around with smart contracts, trades and successful development of players. The Mets need to become a team players want to play for. That is not the case right now. I believe that the Three Wise Men can change that, in part by convincing the owners to let them do their jobs. They have more than enough credibility to earn that right.  
  I have no clue if Terry Collins will be good or not. My gut says no. But Phillies fans hated the hire of Charlie Manual. Sox fans wanted no part of Terry Francona. So we'll just have to wait and see.

  No doubt about it, Mets fans are going to take some lumps next year and probably the year after. My default line about every season when expectations are middle to low is "I want them to play hard and be entertaining." We saw that in '05 and it grew into something in '06. Last season there were too many games where there was no fight, no hope. Baseball is all about hope. So if they can at least show me something in '11 that gives me hope, I can wait for the talent to blossom and the Phillies to get old.

Tebow 1st game reaction from 12/20

With a little time to breathe and having read some reviews, here are my Tebow thoughts.
For a first start he looked very composed. There was no indication of deer in the headlights. 
He got banged around pretty good on some plays but that didn't rattle him on ensuing plays. 
He has energy and enthusiasm that the players said they responded to.  Brandon Lloyd said
he thought Tebow played well.  The Raiders defenders were impressed and thought he could
be good some day.  The throw that he made to Lance Ball in the end zone, 
which Ball dropped, was excellent.  I think his running speed is average for a QB but
his running ability and instincts are above average.  On the TD run he set up blocks 
and made cuts that a majority of other QB's probably wouldn't. 
It appeared he was limited by the play-calling, but we don't know for sure that his presence 
wasn't the reason for that. I have no idea what his knowledge of the playbook is and 
how much they trust him with it. The fact that the TD run was actually a play 
he messed up may be an indicator of that. However, they hadn't practiced that play
all week so maybe it was confusion and nerves. 
I thought Trent Dilfer made excellent points. Tebow had 24 touches (runs+passes) which produced 2 TD's (should have been 3) and no turnovers. That's very impressive for a first start, on the road, in bad weather. But in the NFL you have to make plays from the pocket on 3rd down.  Tebow did not. For the every good throw he made there was a big over throw. The reason Michael Vick is such a better player this year is because of how much better a passer he is. Many analysts have said they would much rather force him to run than throw. Tebow is not the runner Vick is.  We can only hope he becomes that good of a passer some day.
Over the next 2 games I hope we get a chance to see a playbook that shows us a little more. 
I think they ran about 10 plays from shotgun formation yesterday. I'd like to see twice that, 
maybe more. One friend pointed out to me how slow Tebow was dropping back from center, 
a common issue for rookie QB's. You can still run the ball from shotgun, but giving Tebow 
a little better view at the defense and putting him in more of a comfort zone may allow them
to run more traditional plays. It just seemed like every 3rd down play was some kind of 
off-beat call  as opposed to normal play-calling relying on good execution. Someone else
pointed out that pass plays over the middle of the field are tough to read, which is why
Denver ran next to no plays in that part of the field.
Again, it's one game. We saw some good stuff, we saw some so-so stuff. Look at Matt Flynn last night. He played great right up until they needed him most, and then his inexperience cost his team. This is a hard league and even the best, most talented of college players have trouble making it (JaMarcus Russell, hello.) I hope Tebow can become a good QB. I hope the next coach thinks he can too. Tebow is incredibly admirable. He is a good guy who is humble, 
sincere and respectful of people and the game. I think it's amazing that objective
observers would want him to fail. He appears to be most everything we beg our
athletes to be today. So I am pulling for him because of that. I had a Chiefs fan tell
me today they were rooting for him. A Chiefs fan. 

So let's give him 2 more games and an off-season to prepare for year 2. I'm comfortable with setting my Tebowmeter at 5.5 because I'm only slightly more confident than not that he can make it in this league. There have been lots of guys who were "winners" in college and had "all the intangibles" who never succeeded in the NFL. It's great to have those qualities but they don't guarantee much. I'm excited to watch him over the next two weeks. I think the home crowd will be energized and that should lift the team a little. Plus, if they are playing the Chargers with a chance to be a spoiler, that may give them a boost as well. It's one game (have I said that enough?) so we're far removed from being able to categorize 
Tebow as anything other than a work in process and a guy who has a chance to be good.