EA Sports Is Making Good On Their Promise
Earlier this year, it came to fans attention that South Alabama was not “in the game” as EA Sports commercials suggest. When a preview was released, fans scoured through and could not find South Alabama. That’s when Jaguar Nation started making waves and their pleas did not fall on deaf ears.
At first EA ignored the fans and simply said that they didn’t know in time to include them in the game. An answer us fans refused to simply accept. Then EA announced that, due to the oversight, they were going to give the Jags the first class treatment usually reserved for the top tier teams.
Fast forward to this week. EA Sports has been in Mobile at Ladd-Peebles Stadium since Thursday collecting data, photographic and video scans and interviewing the coaching staff for inclusion in the 2014 edition of the game due out next summer.
According to Ben Haumiller, EA Sports site producer, South Alabama was not included in the 2013 game that came out earlier this year. They were the only team of the 124 FBS Schools that was not included. Last weeks opponent, Texas-San Antonio, is included even though they started football after South Alabama. So is Texas State. But EA Sports offered to make it up to the school and Jaguar Nation by providing extras for the Jags when they are included in the game next year.
EA Sports sent a four-person crew for a three day information gathering trip in preparation for their addition to the game. They have performed a stadium scan that will duplicate Ladd-Peebles Stadium exactly. Also crowd noise and fan chants during the game will be use “In the game”. Interviews with members of the coaching staff will help the developers make the play-calling and offensive and defensive formations as accurate as possible. South Paw was also filmed on Thursday for inclusion in the “Mascot Mash-Up” option in the game.
The crew will film the cheerleaders and the football team as they run-out of the entrance onto the field today. They will recreate that in game.
“It’s neat because a lot of the players are fans of the game and a lot of coaches may have played (similar) games when they were younger but have probably gotten away from it. But they understand the significance of it and for their team it can be a great team-building exercise,” said Haumiller of their reception in town this week. “The (players) will get together on a Friday night and play the game all night long. … Kids are learning about the sport. They’re learning what a cover 2 defense is at a younger age because they learn it playing the game. They love the fact that we are here to promote their school because it’s a big recruiting tool as well. To be able to say that EA was at South Alabama, hey we weren’t anywhere else this weekend.”
Haumiller said he was disheartened when they realized South Alabama had been omitted from the game. Their next step was to make sure South Alabama were “taken care of” for the next version of the game. “We could not have been any more embarrassed and saddened that it happen,” Haumiller said. “So that was one of the things where we wanted to make it right and how this trip became involved, getting everything we possibly can get to represent South Alabama so when they do make their debut it’s the right debut. It’s not just, yes, we added them, it’s yeah, here they are, and this is everything about them.”
Thursday, two EA Sports representatives met with coaches about their playbook, which the team is going to put together a DVD of some of its plays for them to use in the game. They also filmed South Paw and talked with other school officials as well.
Meanwhile, environmental artist Gregory Palinkas and Dan Goodman worked 12 hours at Ladd-Peebles Stadum to collect photographs, scan the stadium’s interior and exterior all to painstakingly recreate the look of South Alabama football in the game.
“We’re doing scans and photograph references, capturing material information, so we can get everything down to the gravel so that we can capture everything as true to life as we can,” Palinkas said.
The main work was doing the scans. “That scan is amazing,” Palinkas continued. “… We’re capturing 44 million points per scan. We’ll be able to pick up every nut and bolt that makes up this place. It’s insane. It’s fantastic. It not only will scan the points but it will take color photographs and when you put it into the software (in process of building the stadium for the game) you can overlay the color into those points and you get an accurate representation of the colorization of the lights during the day, what the different materials look like. It’s really outstanding.”
This is what Palinkas referred to as the “Big Tour” which is work normally reserved for the upper-tier teams. And now, South Alabama. All because we were omitted.
“We’ll be here Saturday for game day to capture what the crowd sounds like, get some crowd audio in, get more photograph references of the crowd itself. Because this is going to be South Alabama’s first time in the game we want to make sure that we absolutely nail it and get everything as close as we can to perfection so when you guys buy the game they’ll see the stadium just as it is,” Palinkas stated.
When they finish collecting data today, they will head back to their offices in Orlando, Florida and begin the process of putting all that information together for the Jags inclusion in the game. While this process will take about four to five weeks to complete, it will not stop there. After the stadium is recreated, the crowd noise is added and the plays and formations are added there will be continual updates and tweaks make until the last moment before the game is shipped off for disc pressing. Then the Jags will be included with all of the other 123 FBS schools “In the game”.
While the fans may be sad that they were left out from the beginning. In hindsight it was a blessing in disguise. Now South Alabama will be included the same way as Alabama, Michigan, USC and other “top-tier teams”.
May we suggest a limited edition cover while we are at it?