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The Sports Desk – Digging Into The Offseason With Front Office Football 8

The football offseason has begun, and with some free agents already signing with new teams, and the combine and then the draft coming this spring, there's plenty of work to be done on your franchise. For all you GMs ready to burn the midnight oil for your team, Front Office Football 8 is here to fill that need. The text simulator came out late last year on PC, and offers the kind of offseason and gameday options that any wanna-be GM and coach would appreciate.

The game features editable teams from all the NFL cities (you can also relocate your team or get a new stadium) with real-life player names, and fans of franchise management will appreciate that there are amenities such as multiple rounds of free agency (with multiple stages within each round), a coaching carousal, draft scouting, the ability to tweak salary offers, and other considerations. Players themselves can holdout, they have attitudes to consider, as well as various personality traits such as loyalty and fan popularity.

Playing through a season and offseason, I liked the info and options at my disposal, whether that was gauging a relatively weak free agent crop, picking through the players dropped later in the summer, gauging a draft prospects' potential and possible "volatility," and evaluating players before the draft and after they're on the team. I think the game does a good job of presenting the right kind of information such as a players' combine numbers, medical history, or contract wishes, without making drafting players or signing free agents a 100-percent done deal. There are few of such situations in real-life football, and the game replicates that fine line between giving you enough information to make informed decisions without making you swim in it. The game also comes with an in-depth guide, which is definitely worth studying.

Playing games seems pretty solid as well. I appreciate being able to see playart of the myriad plays available (you can construct your own playbooks from the plays at hand) as well as seeing which player is the principle target of the play. I also like how developer Solecismic has sprinkled some text descriptions for plays as they unfold such as telling you that a throw by the QB wasn't even close, or who made a key block on the play.

Stats wise, apart from EJ Manuel having the highest QB rating one season, I didn't see anything too glaringly off in terms of the stats showing up for players over the course of a year. I did think that some of the completion percentages during single games for average QBs were high, possibly padded out by the number of check downs I saw to the fullback. One of the cool things the game does with stats is that it shows you how many targets and catches a receiver has (and the carries/yards for a running back) before you call a play. Thus, you can get a quick look at who's hot and what's been working. Conversely, I didn't see a way to manage my depth chart during games, which was frustrating when I wanted to switch out my ineffective running back.

I really liked playing Front Office Football 8, and can see it being a nice complement to Madden, allowing me to concentrate on that very important part of the football season – the offseason.

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Have a suggestion or comment? Put it in the comments section below, send me an email, or reach me on twitter at @mattkato.



Steep's free Alaska update is now available, and apart from introducing a new mountain with 17 drop zones, 21 challenges, branded challenges, 37 points of interest, a mountain story, a raised level cap (25 to 30), and more, one of the things players will notice is that at least one of the new mountain's villages includes plenty of rails to grind and slide. This was possible in the original, but not a point of emphasis.

I tried out the Alaska villages' and while glad they were included in the update, found that they weren't quite as satisfying as I had hoped they would be. Games with rail grinding/sliding always face the dilemma of wanting to make it easy to let players get on a rail and stay on it, but without it feeling like they are being sucked or stuck to the rail. The problem I have with Steep's board slides currently is that it's easy to slip off of them and it feels floaty, like you're not really on the rail. I compare this with series like Skate and Tony Hawk, where grinds and board slides were very satisfying. You also don't score any extra points for what you do on a rail, which is disappointing. Hopefully this is something the team can keep working on, as I want to attack rails when I see them, not avoid them.

For more on the game's future plans, check out this interview and Steep Afterwords dissection with creative director Igor Manceau.

Sliding off the rail a little too easy.

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Trying to go from trick to trick on the rail.

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A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week.

MLB The Show 17's Presentation Info, Pave Your Path in Road to the Show & Quick Manage
A handful of new info has come out about the game, including making off-the-field decisions that can impact your Road to the Show career, a way to quickly manage and sim Franchise games, and a partnership with MLB Network with new announcers Harold Reynolds and Dan Plesac.

Old Time Hockey Gets Release Date & Switch Release  

Vote for Who's On The Digital Cover For Out Of The Park Baseball 18

UniqueGames Working to Get Handball Manager & 3 Other Titles To Steam Via Team Initiative 

VR Golf Online Adds Multiplayer & Cross-Platform Play 

Bethesda's Todd Howard Has An Idea About How To Bring NCAA Back 
I love that Howard is passionate about NCAA, but in my opinion, everything EA has said and done on this front shows that they are being extremely cautious about any return to college football. I think they are waiting for nothing short of the full legal resolution of the NCAA and players' student/athlete status before returning. EA's already had to settle one lawsuit on this front, and I doubt there's a lawyer in the building that's going to risk another. – The Feed

Rogue One Has Surpassed $1 Billion At Worldwide Box Office

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the 28th film and 13th Disney movie to surpass $ 1 billion at the worldwide box office, according to Variety.

During its weekend debut, Rogue One had already made more than $ 155 million in a short period of time. Since then, the film has continued to succeed with its immense popularity. Domestically, Rogue One has grossed $ 512.2 million, and as of today it has grossed $ 1.011 billion on an international scale.

It is the highest grossing film of 2016 in the U.S., beating out Finding Dory ($ 486 million) and Captain America: Civil War ($ 408 million).

[Source: Variety] – The Feed

Wooga shuts Japan office as it continues casual shift

“Unfortunately the future of this office was affected as part of our strategy shift to focus exclusively on casual games in August.” …

Gamasutra News

Amazon opens Texas office to support its Lumberyard game engine

Amazon is expanding the team working on its free Lumberyard game engine and setting up a new team to work on the system in its Austin, Texas office. …

Gamasutra News

Twitch opens new dev-focused office in Austin, Texas

Video game streaming outfit Twitch has cut the ribbon on a new office in Austin, Texas, a short distance from Zilker Park in the city’s SoCo restaurant district.  …

Gamasutra News

Blog: What role does an office play in game development?

Could something as simple as how we think about our working environments make a difference to the quality of what we make? …

Gamasutra News

The Angry Birds Movie Soars To Top Spot At Weekend Box Office, With Nearly $40 Million

The Angry Birds Movie is soaring in popularity since it opened in North American theaters on Friday. It has raked in $ 39 million at the box office so far, dethroning Captain America: Civil War from the #1 spot for the weekend.

Video game film adaptations don't always have the best track record, but with a talented voice cast and some creative animations, Sony's Angry Birds is doing better than expected. Our editor Kyle Hilliard saw the movie and had mostly positive impressions. The film has also seen success since its international debut, where it has generated around $ 111 million overseas.

Captain America: Civil War falls to second place with $ 33.1 million in terms of this weekend's sales, though it has collected about $ 347.4 million since its release. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, which debuted this weekend along with Angry Birds, sits in third with $ 21.8 million.

[Source: New York Times] – The Feed

Test Chamber – Disney Infinity 3.0′s New Marvel Battlegrounds Playset Ruins Office Civility

DIsney Infinity 3.0 recently launched its latest playset, which is based in the Marvel universe. Marvel Battlegrounds is an old-school brawler that lets up four player fights in Powerstone-like matches. It also breaks several of the conventions that the Disney Infinity franchise has established, and it does so in some interesting ways. Watch as Kyle, Wade, and I play a couple rounds and push our relationships to the limit.

Four players can compete, but the Infinity Base only supports two figures at a time. How does that work? We show you how to import characters into the roster one by one, which are then added to the character-select screen for the duration of the gameplay session. You can also use trial tokens, which are earned by playing the game, to test characters out before spending the cash on the physical toy. 

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All of the characters have been tweaked and rebalanced for the purposes of this playset, and your figure's level doesn't factor into their relative strength. You do earn and bank experience by playing, and then you can apply that earned XP to a figurine when you're done for the day.

Take a look at the chart below for an in-depth look at each character's various attributes, special abilities, and more, as well as some strategies for the game's various maps.

Click to the image to enlarge it for a closer look.

For more Test Chamber, click the banner below, or check out our hub. – The Feed

Sony’s attempts to own ‘Let’s Play’ rebuffed by Patent and Trademark Office

Sony Computer Entertainment America has tried, and failed, to trademark the term ‘Let’s Play.” …

Gamasutra News

Dying Light Is Looking To Its Fanbase To Fill An Abandoned Post Office With Letters

Dying Light's upcoming The Following DLC has an abandoned post office in it, and developer Techland needs help filling it with letters.

The team is creating a unique mission that takes place inside an abandoned post office and wants fans to have their messages of distress, horror, or bravery be scattered around the level. The design team will pick their favorite letters and place them into the game along with full credit for the authors.

Techland is taking submissions on its Facebook page, which you can find here. In a post on its page, Techland wrote, "We want you to send us a 200 words max letter in English of you being the survivor that is writing from the quarantine zone to the outside world." To submit a letter, just your 200 words max as a message to Techland's Faebook page.

For more on The Following, a geographically huge DLC area for The Following, head here. For our review of Dying Light, head here. – The Feed