Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Ludovico Technique

Peter Moore recently made an entirely nauseating blog post, and here's an excerpt:
We’d love it if every game was perfect, but in all my years in the industry I’ve never seen a game with zero bugs. Because of the fans, we’ve already addressed a handful of issues in NCAA Football and NASCAR...

Damn, Peter, how big are your hands?

It's a nice bit of verbal sleight-of-hand to say that he's never seen a game with zero bugs. Please note the galaxy-sized distance between "zero" bugs and "major problems with every area of gameplay."

Here's what Peter Moore desperately needs: the Ludovico technique from A Clockwork Orange. Instead of being forced to watch violent films, though, he should be forced to watch EA Sports World videos of the idiotic A.I. in NCAA 2009.

That's right--he gets to watch the pursuit angles on punts one thousand times in a row. That would break anyone.

Then, after he's shrieking "No more! No more! I admit we have a problem!", he has to watch a full week of MLB 08: The Show. You know, a game with superb animation and excellent A.I. And after every inning, the message EA SPORTS DID NOT MAKE THIS GAME should be flashed.

Yesterday, during EA's quarterly earnings conference, CEO John Riccitiello had this to say:
"Quality...that's up," Riccitiello said. "We expect this trend to continue as we launch the rest of our sports slate... Madden is looking particularly strong."

He offered a special thanks to EA Tiburon for "stepping up innovation" on football titles in particular.

Ludovico, Riccitiello. Ludovico!

What I find incredibly ironic about this is that EA actually DOES have a sports studio that is capable of making excellent games--in Vancouver. They get zero love from these honks, while the studio incapable of finishing a game is getting all kinds of kudos.

Oh, and on a related subject, congratulations to Bill Abner for reviewing NCAA Football 09 with the kind of thoroughness that has made him the dean of sports game reviewers. It's over at Crispy Gamer. On the blog he shares with Todd Brakke--The Nut and the Feisty Weasel--he also has links to some very funny videos showing just bad the A.I. is in NCAA this year. In particular, and it's absolutely not safe for work (f-bomb dropped roughly once per second), this video is hilarious.

There are a couple of outstanding elements in NCAA this year. The sound is absolutely fantastic, and the weekly ESPN news headlines have an excellent and clever design. The graphics and animation are not always perfect, but they're more than good enough. But every single line of A.I. in that game needs to get ripped out, and someone besides Tiburon needs to rewrite the code.

And yes, the Ludovico technique will be a standard prescription in the future for developers or executives who are touting how brilliant their game is in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

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