Here is the community interview with NCAA Football 12 developer, Ben Haumiller. These questions were gathered from the community of OperationSports.com, Reddit.com, and the GritBit team. We hope you enjoy this interview for the new and exciting game in the NCAA Football franchise!
GritBit: What work is put into making every stadium, player, tradition, and team authentic to the real experience of college football and all the changes it goes through every year?
Ben Haumiller: It’s a combination of extensive research by our guys, feedback from the community, and working directly with the schools. When it comes to stadiums, I know some fans want to know why their new stadium expansion isn’t in the game, typically it’s because we need to wait until the construction is complete before we make the update in the game. In the past we’ve made a couple of updates based on concept art, and then had to go back the next year and redo the stadium because the real update didn’t match the concept. The other reason a stadium update might not make it into the game is due to either a lack of good reference, or a lack of time.
GB: With all the new features of custom conferences being added like renaming divisions and tweaking the bowl tie-ins, is there a chance that a player can change the name of the conference and logo to create his very own unique conference in the future?
BH: The ability to create your own conference from scratch is something we had considered for NCAA Football 12, but unfortunately it didn’t make it into the game. When it comes to editing the names and logos of real world conferences that would be something we would need to get approved by our partners in the NCAA. Understandably, conferences are very protective of their name and logos, which lowers the likelihood that we would receive such approval.
OperationSports: The mode, Road to Glory, is a popular one amongst the fans. What new features are being added to this exciting part of NCAA Football? And will we see a custom quarter lengths option in the future for Road to Glory?
BH: Coming off of a very successful NCAA Football 11, the most consistent criticism we heard was that Road to Glory was in need of an overhaul. In NCAA Football 12 you will find a lot of great new additions to the mode. First, with the high school experience you will be able to play a full high school season (8-12 games) as you try to earn the interest of college scouts. Utilizing TeamBuilder you can import a team not only for your school, but for each of your opponents during the season. That means you can completely recreate your own high school experience by importing your own high school, and the schools you played against. Also new to the high school experience is the ability to play Iron man. Choose our offensive and defensive positions as well as your tendencies for both positions, during your season you will be recruited by different schools on each side of the ball, once you reach signing day you will need to make the decision of which side of the ball you will be taking your talents to in college.
The updates don’t end once you hit campus. There’s a new upgrade store that allows you to progress your player however you see fit. Practice takes on greater importance this year as well as you can earn points in both practice and in games to purchase those skill upgrades.
On the field, you will be able to move up the depth chart by winning position challenges, but watch your back, you might have some hot shot new recruit challenge you for your spot on the depth chart. Once you’ve become the starter you will be able to earn additional responsibilities by earning your coach’s trust. Coach Trust gives you the ability to do such tasks as call audibles, flip the play at the line, or change the play from the huddle, but be careful, if you start making mistakes your coach might take away some of those responsibilities until you’ve proved you can handle them.
GB: What are the best and worst parts of working on a sports title like the NCAA Football series?
BH: Hands down, the best part about working on the NCAA Football series is the fact that I get to talk about, read about, and think about college football every day of the year. There are so many things that go on every day in college football that inspire you to what else you can do with the game. This time last year, with all of the talks about conference expansion there wasn’t a person in the office that wasn’t buzzing with the ideas of what a world of four 16-school super conferences would look like. Watching all of that drama unfold, where new stories were coming out almost hourly at times, was a major driving force behind a feature like Custom Conferences. Even though the super conferences didn’t happen this time around, we wanted to not only let you play out what it could have looked like, but also prepare ourselves for something that could radically alter the landscape of college football in a moment’s notice. The toughest part is knowing what didn’t make it into the game each year. With such a limited development cycle there are always things that don’t make the cut, and knowing what didn’t make it in never gets any easier.
OS: Will NCAA Football 12 allow for all player ratings to be customizable for all teams in the dynasty?
BH: This feature came out of nowhere to become the most requested feature heading into the launch of NCAA Football 12. At this point all I can say is that this is something we are looking into.
GB: The online dynasty mode is what makes NCAA Football so special. What new features are being added to online dynasty this year?
BH: The #1 goal when adding new features to dynasty is to make sure they work with both online and offline dynasty. In NCAA Football 12 you will be able to fully utilize Custom Conferences, Custom Playbooks, and the Coaching Carousel in Online Dynasty. In addition to these features we have added two premium features to the dynasty.easports.com site. You will now have the ability to play your games vs. CPU opponents by utilizing Super Sim on the web. Here you can have full access to your playbook, make substitutions, and track your game stats as you simulate each play’s results. Also, for the commissioners we have added the ability to advance the Dynasty week from the web. Now you don’t need to rush home and fire up your console in order to advance the week. These two new features each cost a onetime fee of $2.99 to access for any Online Dynasty you participate in NCAA Football 12.
OS: Many of the fans would love an option to select impact players or team captains? Will we ever see light to this in the future?
BH: This is something I could see being included in a future version of the game.
GB: Are there any features from previous NCAA titles will be returning in ’12 that were not in ’11?
BH: While the human coach in an Offline Dynasty could be fired/hired this was never available in an Online Dynasty. This year not only will all human coaches be a part of the Coaching Carousel, but for the first time ever the coaches of CPU controlled teams will be hired/fired as well. Similarly, in previous editions only the human controlled team could move to a different conference. Now with Custom Conferences any school can be moved to another conference in any year of the Dynasty.
Finally, Custom Playbooks makes their return to the game in NCAA Football 12. You can create up to 15 offensive and 15 defensive playbooks that can contain up to 40 formations and up to 374 plays. You can even customize how the plays are laid out at the playcall screen, so you never have to hunt for a play again.
Reddit: Will we see a return of FCS teams in future titles?
BH: By using TeamBuilder.easports.com you are able to create any FCS, high school, historic, or fantasy team that you want for use in NCAA Football 12.
OS: Team Builder is an awesome experience to build the team you always dreamed of. What new features were added to the custom team builder this year?
BH: We have included new stadium and uniform options for use in creating/editing your TeamBuilder school.
OS: With the tip-toe sideline catches added in ’11, there was no option to continue the play, because of the player going out of bounds. Will the player tip-toe and then try to stay in bounds to continue running the play?
BH: We have worked on fixing some issues with player’s sideline awareness as well as how quickly you gain control of the receiver when making the catch. This should help improve how player’s movements when near the sidelines.
GB: You already announced the Pro-Combat DLC. Are there any more downloadable content’s planned for NCAA Football 12?
BH: At this time we do not have plans for any additional DLC content. However, we do still have the live tuner packs that allow us to tune elements of gameplay, Dynasty mode, etc. without the need of a patch.
OS: Neutral stadiums are a recent addition to the NCAA Football series. What improvements were done to neutral stadiums/games this year?
BH: With the addition of Custom Conferences we added the ability to grow a conference to twelve or more schools. Since twelve schools is the magic number for a conference to have a championship game we included the ability to set any stadium in the game as the location of that championship game. You can have the WAC Championship game in the Kibbie Dome, the Rose Bowl, or even the practice field.
GB: Do the NCAA Football and Madden development teams ever collaborate with each other to make each sure each of their games are at their best potential with advice from each development team?
BH: There is a lot of collaboration that goes on between the NCAA and Madden teams. Most notably is our central gameplay team that creates the gameplay experience for both games. Looking at NCAA Football 12, both the new collision-based animation system and the improvements to zone defense were implemented by the central gameplay team for both NCAA and Madden, from there both features were tuned to fit each game’s style of play. In addition to the gameplay features, Custom Playbooks was a feature that was shared between the two games. We both handle the creation of the playbooks the same way until we reach the last step. Madden finishes the playbook creation by allowing you the ability to setup Gameflow for the playbook, while on NCAA we allow you the ability to move plays around inside the formation so that you can lay out how the plays are displayed on the play call screen to help you find your plays easier and faster.
GB: What work is made into making sure that each game brings a new experience for all the fans to enjoy every year?
BH: When creating a game that comes out every year, bringing new experiences and making the game feel fresh is the #1 goal. This year, you will notice the difference as soon as you hit the Press Start screen. The front end has been revamped to take on the ESPN look. New traditions have been added to pregame that we’ve never had before (i.e. the Sooner Schooner at Oklahoma, Ralphie @ Colorado, Uga @ Georgia, etc.). On the visuals front, 3D grass and the addition of HDR lighting, which changes the exposure of the camera lens on the fly during the play which makes the game look great and full of detail even in shadow. Dynasty mode takes on an all new look with the addition of Custom Conferences, Custom Playbooks, and the Coaching Carousel. Gameplay plays better than ever thanks to the new collision-based animation system and improvements to zone coverage. Finally, Road To Glory received a major upgrade with the addition of the High School experience, Coach Trust, Position Challenges, and the ability to customize your player as you see fit through the Upgrade Store.
GB: A big feature that is new to the NCAA Football franchise is team traditions. I am a huge Auburn fan and even bought tickets to go to the National Championship to watch them go to their biggest game ever. And at the beginning of every Auburn home game, an eagle takes flight around the stadium. Will this be one of the traditions added in?
BH: Yes, you will see War Eagle as a part of the pre-game intro for Auburn every time they take the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
We hope you enjoyed this community interview with NCAA Football 12 developer, Ben Haumiller. NCAA Football 12 is set to hit store shelves on July 12. Check back here for the full review of the latest edition of the NCAA Football franchise and more, here at GritBit.com!