Tuesday, July 17, 2007

NCAA 2008 Hits Stores Today

Tuesday's Frat Boy News Daily Sports Page (compiled by ABC News)

It's a typical day in L.A.--75 degrees, clear sky, calm winds, no precipitation in sight--as the University of Southern California Trojans football team takes the field. It's a great day to play football, in real life or with Electronic Arts's (EA) newest online sports game, NCAA Football 2008. Scheduled to be released today, the game has an entirely new feature: live weather data, played out on the field. Now when you sit down to play, you will get up-to-the-minute weather conditions for the location where you choose to play.

"If you are playing in a cold-weather stadium, you are going to realize it, whether it's through the snow on the field or seeing the breath of players," says Ryan Balke, the editor of Sportable.com, a sports news site.

Balke previewed the title at EA Sports Tiburon Studios in Orlando, FL, last month. He says it was an incredible experience. "Football is a game that's played in some brutal elements, and this new feature is a nice way to bring that realism into the game and take online gaming to a more realistic level."

With online play increasing in popularity, EA developers are focused on improving the user experience. "We try to add whatever technology, feature, or function to games that gives the player real-world experience," says Kyle Hanley, a producer for EA Sports. With broadband Internet now widely available, the company decided to try to incorporate dynamic data into the games. "We thought, wouldn't that be cool if we could play with the real-time weather?"

Developers at EA Sports made this capability a reality in NCAA Football 2008 by integrating a live feed from the Weather Channel. Hanley says that this will be the first game equipped with such a feature.

Once a player selects a team for the game, the weather conditions are displayed on the screen. The game is set to automatically default to the Weather Channel feed. (Players can also turn off the weather feed and select their favorite weather conditions, as is done in current games.)

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