Reader Response: The Future of Career Modes

Last week I wrote a long piece on what I consider to be the future of sports game career modes which, to me, are the most exciting thing happening in the genre. The story generated a lot of feedback, with tons of readers sharing what they'd like to see in the next crop of career modes in...

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Last week I wrote a long piece on what I consider to be the future of sports game career modes which, to me, are the most exciting thing happening in the genre. The story generated a lot of feedback, with tons of readers sharing what they'd like to see in the next crop of career modes in sports games. I thought I'd highlight some snippets of my favorite comments here to underline the importance of career modes to players (and sports game developers too):

rynedee starts us off strong with thoughts on career continuity and character records:

The one improvement that would vault [Road to the Show mode from Sony's MLB series] above everyone else is the ability to import a previous RttS character. A baseball season is at least twice as long as any other sport, thus restarting your character from the beginning every year is tedious at best. I'd like my 1B for the Cubs to be enshrined into Cooperstown but am not willing to spend three or four actual years playing 162 games for 15 seasons to do this. One more thing RttS needs is a reduction in loading times (it's frustrating to spend a minute or two to load a game, see that you are a pinch runner in the 9th with two outs and nowhere to go and spend the next minute or two reloading the menus).

This leads me to an improvement all career modes could make: the inclusion of records. Campus Legend and The Show do this to some extent but doesn't have the depth. I'd like to see school/franchise, conference and NCAA/league/association records, not just the overall record (eg 755) but the top 25 or 100. This ties in to having ownership of your character, only it's the historical aspect. I want to say that NFL2k5 did this really well.

EWSzuba reminds us that career modes have been done before and, in some cases, better:

Dynamix and Sierra made Front Page Sports (Baseball and Football) with career modes way before it became popular in today's renditions. I had a career league in FPS:Football that ran through 5 versions of the game and over 50 seasons with big name players being created solely on combining a (then) NFL player's first name with another player's last name. Later versions let you put in your own names. After that many seasons, you even had the listings for all-time records in every category.

Mr_Armageddon17 thinks we should expect more from our AI teammates:

Another thing needed in career modes is AI that can play on its own. I play NHL 09 and my team cannot score goals on its own. If I am not on the ice they do not score at all.

jsmoke03 thinks a career mode Hall of Fame is a must-have incentive:

if i could develop players to hall of famers, i might pay attention to drafts and may go for 2 or generations of players because i can win championships AND HALLOF FAMERS. double incentive makes better career mode

peppergreen says that money is the whole point:

In MLB 09 i just don't get a sense of wealth if i'm a big time player. Thing is i don't even have incentives to move to other teams unless its for playing time just because i want to stick with my favourite one. And i agree the 2k crib thing is a good one few yrs back, why can't I move to a penthouse or buy a lamborghini if i just signed a multi million dollar contract with some team? I want to be able to make choices based on success, to feel a sense of wealth when you become a star player. Thats what a career mode should about.

And boobla agrees:

The token economy that is all token and no economy is a major factor. Why isn't the sims-like system put in place. Why can't we buy a nice house then earn more cash and buy a mansion. We could add anything to the mansion, throw parties where we meet marketing reps who place you in commercials. The commercials become mini-games. Why don't they have vehicles in the game that you can customize and drive around the virtual stadium. Drive to practice or games or physio. Imagine if we could by fishing gear and a yacht, depending on your salary earned. There is room for this idea. How about investing in real estate, condos mansions, decorate them upload them online where other athletes can purchase them. This would increase your cash. But the more time you spend in real estate or car detailing takes away from endorsement time or practice time.

Even kickers should get some love, says dantejones:

I was disappointed that NCAA lacked a kicker option in Campus Legend this year as it's pretty easy to manage and those rare opportunities you have a shot to tie/win a game with your leg is always exponentially more exciting and rare than with an offensive skill position.

Got any other thoughts on where career modes should head next? Let me know in the comments below. I know for a fact that developers are paying attention and curious to know what their fans are thinking.

Discussion

52 comments
freesh7
freesh7

you should not be able to restart a game in madden by reloading the save file or exiting the game suddenly. make people own up to their skill level. make people play every game and not simulate the season!

povlja
povlja

18 Wheels Of Steel: Haulin

rydog211
rydog211

I think the money issue is the biggest problem I have with career modes. I would like to see that money put to good use. You got your team coaches but if you are willing to pay, hire a personal trainer to boost some stats. Need a home away from home during spring training buy a place in Arizona 5 mins from the ballpark, recharge your stamina quicker, recover from injuries quicker. The same concept can be applied for the regular season in any sport. Get that Nike shoe deal or get the Madden cover not only by having a good agent but hire a good PR person to boost your chances. Use that good PR manager when you are allegedly seen with some "shady" characters that might prevent you from getting that shoe deal. Not only do things like these make the big contracts worth chasing it makes the dull time away from the field more relevant, it kills two very large birds with one stone. I got a lot more ideas but I think you get the point.

niner212
niner212

I don't know what they should do about a player's earnings. Even if my player is really good I take the minium so my team can get good players and we'll do better. Make my player's money worth something.

mikelberk1
mikelberk1

I love playing RTTS and agree that the ability to carry over a previous career to the next version of the game should be priority from here on out. The money issue pales in comparision to the Hall of Fame Potential and overall stats. Like edub272 said, it's only fake money (who cares about driving a CGI Lambo?). One change I would like to see is more stability with the existing line-ups in RTTS mode. Example: It takes 1-2 years to make it to the MLB team from the minors and when you finally do almost the entire MLB teams roster has been changed. For instance, if I'm playing for the Angels and in two years I get called up to the star players I want to play with aren't even there anymore. No Vlad, Figgins, Kendrick, Hunter? It's dissappointing when your on a MLB team with no recognizable names. Might as well call it Road to a Career against minor leagures mode! I still love the challenge of getting there though!

docwoo
docwoo

One thing I'd like to see more sports games do is allow online play with your career mode (or franchise) team. For example, if you're next opponent in your NBA 2K career/franchise is against the Cavaliers, one of my friends should be able to jump into my match, play as the Cavs, and have the stats carry over into my career/franchise stats. I think a few games have tried this but it needs to be explored further.

edub272
edub272

i dont care at all about money in career mode.. its fake, i'm not really rich, people should be working on getting their player in the all-star game or hall of fame and not about getting the most money. Buying a house you dont do anything in except look at it then go play baseball is dumb and spending time to make players houses interactive like in the 2k series just takes up memory for the game and takes away from gameplay. I like the idea of tieing in last years created superstar to the new years roster.

rynedee
rynedee

Money in career modes is a necessary evil that is pointless to the player. Developers need to have some sort of 'economy' in order to stay true to a league's salary cap/luxury tax. Career modes should not be used as a dumbed-down Sims, that's akin to having a level of Flower in Call of Duty. I've never played Sony's NBA game (what's it called, NBA the Life or something) but that seems to have a Sims-like aspect to it. Can anyone comment on how that relates and if it was even passable?

jaz350z
jaz350z

this would cause every game to have 18 players on each side and you would have a new outcome every time.

jaz350z
jaz350z

I think they should use a similar method to Infinity Ward's Call of Duty series. What I mean by this is that online you should have a character and other people would have their characters and you would all gain experience points. There would be lobbies and auto matching that would pair you up so that every player plays their one position instead of having one player control one person and the rest is AI. As you progressed your player would get better and unlock enhancements (not steroids lol).

luiscorona2000
luiscorona2000

I personally play and love the FIFA franchise, I think the carrer mode are great cause it gives you the chance to make history in a sports game, however I think that EA could do some changes or improvements in this mode. Graphics are important, in FIFA 09 I fought really hard to win the euivalent to the Champions League and all I got was a terrible team celebration like a photograph, I felt dissapointed, all the effort I made I think it should be rewarded at least with a great trophy celebration something that really diference that final game from the rest of the season's games. Another thing is that it should be a training mode where you can practice and improve your skills besides the improvement made by the matches. Sometimes carrer mode becomes a little bit repetitive after 6 or 7 "years" or seasons, I think that they can do harder seasons goals or something that changes the way of the player feel about time passing by. Another thing is that it would be great if you could upload a photo of you and the engine of the game could generate a player with your characteristics, that would be awesome. Anyway it a great game I love it, but i think it could get better with this improvements. See ya!

CMakaCreative
CMakaCreative

That's been something I thought about also. All sport games really need more than a year to crank out something fresh. There isn't as big a jump from game to game but if you play, say NBA 2k7 and then play NBA 2K9, there's a noticable difference is look & animation. Updating rosters & possibly adding a few new animations in a patch for a small fee: I could live with that. Considering other genre's take 2-3 years to turn out a sequel (except for Call of Duty games)...I think sport games would benefit greatly to put out a new game every other year.

decaff907
decaff907

I totally agree with kerriganj2. Everyone hating on EA saying all they do is update rosters is because we don't give them enough time to do anything else because we demand a new game every year. I like the idea of downloadable rosters for a small fee. It seems like a smart thing to do.

kerriganj2
kerriganj2

I think it would be a good idea for sports games to only release a new version every other year. Just continue updating rosters. Charge a small fee for the roster that would have been released with the new game. It would give developers more time to add things they may have wanted to but didnt have the time frame to do it in.

kerriganj2
kerriganj2

If you wanted to carry your created player from one game to the next, your character could go in as a free agent. That would solve the issue with the new roster. Also, there could be an option to change positions without affecting the created characters attributes.

kerriganj2
kerriganj2

I've always wanted to see a game that adds to the games. More of an RPG. Have interactions with GMs and coaches. Add things that will make you a T.O. or a Warrick Dunn. Though it would be easier to do it with baseball than football. Could you imagine a Mass Effect style game but with sports instead of shooting.

Shmackie
Shmackie

These are sports games not the sims why the hell would it matter if you drive a viper or a camry, live in a mansion or tool shed all that matters is how you perform between the pre and post game show, I believe that Tigers Woods Golf got it right a few years back have your players offered sponsorships and and play the games. I agree that it would be a major turn on to see how your player matches up to the all time greats and for them to play the way into the hall of fame. But if you want all the the parties and popularity maybe you should get a life and put down the controllers.

jscapo
jscapo

I agree cheat codes and sport games don't mix. Its like agreeing with the Live players taking muscle enhancers or steroids to get better stats. Have you ever seen The Program or Blue Chips?

YellowFlash76
YellowFlash76

Sports games shouldnt have cheat codes, takes the fun out of the game.

ex-mercenary
ex-mercenary

I think its kinda hard, but seriously, make some CHEATS!!! I've tried at least forty-times, put on the September roster at least twice, AND STILL NO SATISFACTION! Although I like the series and the mode, it kinda sucks because there are no cheats. Don't believe me? Look up cheats for it, you'll get wasted time.

CMakaCreative
CMakaCreative

I've mentioned in the past that same idea about being able to play with your created character online with other people's created character. I think that would be a great idea in theory. Just so many possibilities for it to end up being fustrating. So many things can go wrong. But I think eventually it would be the way to go. Start a league up. Not just in baseball but all sports. It'd be a mess in the beginning but in time, people would gel & understand what it is to play as a team....just like in real life.

Spike_Cloud
Spike_Cloud

The Money issue in MLB '09 the show... I've made a character that makes 8 million a year, but really what is the point? There is none, its even less useful than in game achievements. and when I don't re-up with my team why don't other teams try to buy me? My character is an all star, yet stuck with a weak team (the game never gives the mariners even a halfway decent season). Also, I think it would be awesome if we could play online together with our created character's in their respective positions. If they fixed their horrible servers full of lag, I think it would be fun to play a "position" in a 9 inning game.. sure it would take 3 hours, but it would be pretty realistic if you had a halfway decent pitcher. I liked that Madden 09 let you bring in your NCAA character, but it's kinda useless since they came out a month apart, and I wasn't able to finish my college guy's 3 year minimum by that point. So far the games are in the right direction and with time (more than a year's work on a single game) we'll see a great game made.

CMakaCreative
CMakaCreative

@ Decknique- I think the idea of tranfering your "old character" from the previous version of the game was not to restart him but continue from where he left off. If you played 5 seasons with your created player, the option of continueing with the same stats, same age, and same team you left off with. I think that's a feature much needed. I only played one game long enough for my created character to retire once & that was Madden...the one with Vick on the cover. 15 season's I played on that game. Never came close to playing half that long with any other game. The only problem I see is with tranfering your old created player to a new game is how much your roster would change. Do you carry over the same roster...but then all the new players & traded players would be affected. Or do you just stick your player with the totally revamp roster you have now...which would be weird. Let's say you played long enough to see some players retire...and possibly make it to the HoF. Then you transfer your player only to be playing with these guys again. It's a great idea but it needs to be fleshed out a little more.

Decknique
Decknique

I think the issue with bringing in your old character might be a tad weird. MLB08 Character that I played for 5 seasons now he's 19 all over again? My option is equally weird, but I think if they want us to restart characters in the new build. Maybe some skill rewards that carry over from your previous character to this one at the very least... maybe if you were an 08 RTTS pitcher and you create an 09 Rookie and you were a super stud, but now... BACK to the miniors... those points should carry over and reward for both product loyalty and playing time...

TheToadster
TheToadster

Some great ideas here but I would prefer much more In - Game content like NFL 2K5 had for presentation... halftime shows for football, with recaps and highlights. That's what I am talking about! Some better fullscreen cutscenes to highlight plays during the game. More varied audio would be huge, especially for Madden, we've been listening to the same comments for some time now. Let's make the game authentic shall we? It should look and sound like we are watching the game on ESPN or CBS sports when these highlights occur. How about a pregame show? It's mostly been done but not perfected and I don't understand why.

casey_oo9876
casey_oo9876

Hell, I'd be happy with just being able to play every position. Who cares if I want to be a kicker or punter? how much more space would that take up? In the NCAA Football and Madden games they have a supersim mode so I no longer have to wait and wait for the opportunity to kick, but then they cut out being able to make one at all. What gives!?!

ureolympichero
ureolympichero

Look, we've all played some kind of career mode and I'm sure we've all wanted more. We've all fantasized about what our created player is doing when he's not playing, what he should do with that fat sum of money, how will he react to letting his team down in a clutch situation. But the matter of fact is, we can truly keep going until these sports games are sport themed GTAs. And considering how all these sponsors and companies care about their money, it's only a fantasy. I agree that playing franchise mode in NFL Gameday 2001 with the Jets for 10 years was a heck of a lot of fun. But now that we've moved on to next gen, we feel as if there's this emptiness that hasn't be satistfied yet, like we expected more...

brassman25
brassman25

i think you should choose the style of your player in rtts choose like what type of player not just have stats based on position like a batter balanced or fielder because fielding has basically nothing to do with your overall which disappoints me fielding is a big aspect of baseball and they dont implement it like there is no fielding traning sessions so that would good for the game i would buy the next one if they did this

youngstuntz
youngstuntz

I agree with boola 100%. What I would like to see is players and owners or gm's meeting for a free agent signing or be released/traded to make it seem more of a realistic feeling. College football players getting into trouble and you have to make coaching moves that will hurt you in the game but teach players if the do stupid things they have to pay. We're in the next-gen gaming but last-gen games have better career modes, madden the superstar mode was better and players telling how they feel about playing time, players not making plays, trading some of the leaders of the team will hurt their play on the field. Players playing hurt make them play harder also. I want some more realistic career modes. After a season or 2 I get bored, I want something that will make me want to play atleast 10 seasons without sim and have fun again.

Schwarte
Schwarte

While I have not played either of the mentioned franchises, (I'm in Germany, American football and baseball aren't that popular around here) I guess I can comment based on my experience with other career modes (e.g. Fifa): I believe that one of the most appealing perks of being a top-notch -player is the popularity you gain and thus it should become more of a factor in games. While giving the player money and opportunities to spend it is part of that, it's not really what makes you feel all that awesome. In EA's Fifa Manager series you have contact to the press, your team gets perks based on popularity and so on - this gives you a great feeling of accomplishment. I'd love for more games to give your fictional player the perks of being popular, in the way Fifa Manager does. (With a wee bit more effort maybe) So: Interviews, Advertising contracts, popularity with the girls ;), all that stuff.

roemdawg
roemdawg

i think what boobla said would be simply amazing, but that would take away from the sports aspect of it alot. i think they should make a game exclusively for living a sports life, and keep the regular games right now still here. because doing what boobla said in one year is really harder than you think

MattyWoah
MattyWoah

I absolutely agree with peppergreen. Every year in Maddens career mode, money provides absolutely no incentive. Perhaps, and many will disagree with me, depending on a players attitude (Because that feature has been incorporated) the amount a player makes in a year, in a contract, and in a lifetime play into goals toward getting into the Hall of Fame. It makes some sense, I mean, you aren't going to see Hall of Fame players playing on veteran minimum contracts during the prime of their careers.

ol_dj
ol_dj

porting to consoles will always limit game career modes. they NEVER have enough storage space and customization always takes a back seat in sports games BC you have to buy one every year 06,07,08,09 with BRAND NEW FEATURES!

stradigust
stradigust

I would like to see the "create a ball park" option like back in MVP 2005, I really enjoyed that feature and would love to see it in the next gen. games.

samgamespotter
samgamespotter

Better controls, more options on customizing,so that we can play the game our way is which ever manner we like. Hopefully they will improve in some way or another. But currently I think that developers are more concerned over the graphics! who can provide the best quality I mean thats the reason we have all these console wars.

king23_
king23_

Career modes will be the future of sports gaming if they continue to improve and create a realisic experience that feels like you're really in that players shoes.

kirchengames
kirchengames

Nobody has mentioned this but I want more control over my players contracts and free agency. When you test free agency in one of these games you have limited options. Why can't i chose who to contact for my services. Why can't contracts include no trade clauses I just don't feel there is enough personal decision control.

Agent_DLL
Agent_DLL

P.S. In NSS, you lose confidence if people laugh at you at parties, if your family or friends aren't happy, and if you get rejected by a girl when you ask her out. Then you have to play well (if you have enough confidence that your manager will let you play), or drink alcohol (and them have to sit out some games so you can get sober again, or go play while drunk and risk falling for no reason and getting a low rating, etc) to gain confidence again. So in short, you don't want to get laughed at at parties, and you want a girlfriend so she can raise your confidence and save you the energy it takes to visit your family or hang out with friends.

Agent_DLL
Agent_DLL

The New Star Soccer series does the "money-actually-worth-something" thing perfectly. You can buy items for yourself, family, friends, or girlfriend, but the more things you own, the higher your weekly cost of living. Since you have to pay for your costs each week, you need a good salary. You have an incentive to buy items, even though they increase your cost of living, because most eligible bachelorettes won't date you unless you have certain material possessions. The incentive to get a girlfriend arises because you might get laughed at at parties (which you'd want to go to in order to please your inviters) if you don't have one. The need for money is all over the game. AAA developers should take a hint. And my career sports game (aside from NSS3) is PES09 ...dunno what FIFA's career game is like, but Become a Lend rocks!

maverick_76
maverick_76

Thus add the part of sports where players move and leave teams to go to greener pastures, or to the Yankees. And of course make this an option so people that don't care about stuff like that don't have to do it. But I really think it will give people a look at the more unglamorous side of sports and show us the reasons why players leave. Lets face it, taxes suck. These players basically get 35% of their pay taken, so if you make $1 million a year, $350,000 goes to the IRS. So wanting $2 million a year becomes a really enticing thing.

maverick_76
maverick_76

I think an easy way to make the money become more of a factor in sports is to make you have bills, expenses and the like. Also make it to where you can save money for your nest egg, finish school if you left for the pros early and make you be fiscally responsible. Not only would wanting to make more to be able to afford more be really cool, it will teach many people how to manage money as well. In times like these we need more pinch pennies than AIG execs.

Pitthepunisher
Pitthepunisher

All Career Modes need to be able to let you choose your stats. Its so boring when you get a player and his stats. Like in baseball, you could make your spd 99, but if you dont like being fast, you dont have to.

niches_hugic
niches_hugic

I personally don't like the career modes where you only play one person (by the way I mean in Baseball games). To me it gets really boring waiting for your turn I think they should work on their player creator more than their career modes. I understand why people like career mode but I get bored REALLY easy.

yachtboy
yachtboy

I don't like the idea of money personally, I believe that if you rewarded high contracts with say extra mini modes or maybe fun cheat codes that would still make money worth something while avoid making it cheezy and over the top. Do I really care what kind of HOUSE my rb lives in? Heck no, I just care about his uniform, team, skills, ect. You could even get a bonus training sesson for every 5 million you earned and play a quick mini game to boast your stats 10 or 20%. My point is: Make money worth something so we will go with another team like a real person would, yet don't make it half naked girls in a hot tub when you could give me a stats increase or extra mini games.

BulletsnOctane
BulletsnOctane

I believe we should be able to play any position. K, Off. Line, KR/PR (should be a real position someday). If you get promoted, due to injuries, or what have you, you should be able to play your second position (WR, DB, HB).That means being able to select a secondary position. ...Big corner? You can transition to Safety, if needed. Working through a historic college career, only to be seeded as a 3rd - rounder, is terrible. When drafted, you're an automatic starter...? That happens rarely. Especially if I'm a QB and I get drafted to IND or NE -- that would NEVER happen. You need to work your way up like you did in college (if you chose to go to a big school). There's a sense of pride, a sense of accomplishment, that comes with earning your position. Maybe then the following year, you'll be able to be a starter, maybe not. That can depend on Free Agency, too. Maybe you'll just be a bigger part of your team. I'd like to see my player sit down for a Press Conference when I sign, demand a trade (ex. the Cutler trade), or when I'm drafted. The draft: the draft is probably the biggest day for most players (outside of the those that win championships). Being able to see out character/player being drafted (if we're 1st round material) would be...well...epic. I don't know about the mansions and cars and all that, but I'd much rather see MUCH, MUCH MORE in-game interactions. Interactions with your position coach. Intense moments with the team's Off. and Def. captains and even the Head Coach. Team celebrations: team celebrations need to occur more often, especially when you win a game or championship -- much like you see in FIFA. FIFA does player interactions and celebrations perfectly, in my opinion. In all, anything to enhance the experience. Anything to make us feel like we're apart of a "TEAM", and come contract time... anything to make us feel wanted/desired - as any "prima donna" athlete of today. That's all I have to say...

Lostboy1224
Lostboy1224

The thing I don't understand is now a days we have on-line updates/patches/buy add-ons that could further our sports games the way map packs do for shooters, and extra content does for games like Fallout 3 or Fable. Why can't we have this for sports games as well? And I am not just talking about a new set of uniforms but adding aspects to a sports game that makes us feel more involved emotionally. Example: Player/Coach interaction (cause unless you see your coach standing on the sidelines you wouldn't even know you had one most of the time.) College Basketball needs a Campus legend type mode because it makes you feel more a part of your chosen school and then you get to make choices beyond what hair style you want or what color your sweatband is. There is just so much potential for sports games, but it feels like we are getting last years game formula with some new graphics and animations. When are we going to get some Think-Outside-The-Box sports games?

tobestar99
tobestar99

look after reading these post and it gets to the point where you have to draw the line between either making a sports game or making GTA in a sense and i don't think the licenses that fifa get would like to know that their game isn't being made to promote football rather promote, well i was about to say stealing cars and killing people but thats unlikely but you should kno what i mean

beer_tree
beer_tree

I like boobla's comment about the games. But the thing is, when you add in all those extra stories and side games and stuff, the game becomes HUGE. Loading times will increase for everything, and there will be so much to do, you wont even get thru a full season in a normal amount of time. You would need to have so much information stored on a disk that it would be really hard to develop a complete game without loop holes, bugs, glitches and stuff. Also, patches would be huge also.

jazztrumpet5
jazztrumpet5

Does RTTS not have Hall Of Fame as a potential result from a great career?