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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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EA Sports travels to Kyle Field for improved NCAA 14 video game

 
 

In previous versions of Electronic Arts Sports video game NCAA Football, Texas A&M had a hard time showing what truly makes the gameday atmosphere at Kyle Field so unique.
When the Aggies started their first season of SEC play, the ever-increasing brand was seeking further expansion and the NCAA Football 14 video game, released Tuesday, looked like the perfect starting point.
Shane Hinckley, director of collegiate licensing at Texas A&M, reached out to EA Sports and spoke to them about what he was hearing from A&M fans.
“He got some of the feedback he had received from Aggie fans over the years -current students, former students – about some of the details of the game that weren’t quite right,” said Kyle Pope, program director of collegiate licensing at A&M,
Hinckley and Pope teamed up with EA Sports and invited the designers and producers of NCAA Football 14 to campus to help expand the look and sound of Kyle Field.
On the weekend of the Arkansas-A&M game, NCAA 14 game producer Ben Haumiller and his crew set up their equipment to take in every dimension of Kyle Field.
“We brought out our scanning equipment, a brand new technology we have with the ability to scan stadiums to get the accuracy of the dimensions,” Haumiller said. Previously the way stadiums have been done was all based off of photo reference. Now we can go through and use these laser scanners and get accuracy of these dimensions to within a millimeter of the real world size.”
The process took three days, and Haumiller called Kyle Field one of the hardest stadiums to scan because of the tiered structure.
“I don’t think they had been to A&M in a long time, so they didn’t have the exact dimensions for Kyle Field,” Pope said. “They had two guys that went to almost corner of the stadium; from the first deck, the second deck, to the third deck taking digital measurements.”
While at A&M, Hinckley and Pope set up for the yell leaders to be in attendance as well as Reveille and her handler. Haumiller and his team took detailed photos and video of the locker room, players’ facilities and practice fields as well.
They attended Midnight Yell, and when gameday rolled around, they were in awe of the A&M crowd.
“The yell practice was unlike anything we had ever experienced,” Haumiller, a Florida State alumni, said. “We take microphone recorders and we record the crowd. We were able to use those yells in our game to make it sound more authentic.”
Midnight yell provided the crew with clean, uninterrupted sound, which was perfect for translation into the video game.
Upon leaving campus, Haumiller began focusing on how he could implement all of what he had seen and learned about A&M into the game. The yell leaders and Reveille were the first things added to this year’s game, along with an updated version of Kyle Field.
“A&M just opened their doors and said, ‘Come take a look around at everything,'” Haumiller said. “Some things we were able to get in the game right away, like the yell leaders and Reveille. Other will be coming down the line.”
NCAA 14 also features yells that are on cue with game play. During kickoff, the fans can be heard doing the “Gig ’em” yell and during lulls the “Aggies” yell is heard.
With the amount of information and footage,Haumiller and his staff were able to take in, he is sure that Aggie elements will be added in future games like the yell leaders being tossed into Fish Pond, locker rooms and practice facilities and even sawing varsities horns off.
“As we are able to make our crowds look better in the game, we’ll be able to get things in like the swaying fans that currently we aren’t able to support,” Haumiller said. “That’s going to be a real cool visual piece as we move to a next generation of consoles to show the swaying fans and what that looks like. I was down on the field and you look up and it’s intimidating.”
It won’t be long before the crew will be back at Kyle Field getting scans of a renovated version, something Haumiller said would be easy now that initial scans have been completed.
Since a demo version of the game was released in June, with A&M being one of six teams featured, reception has been through the roof among A&M students and fans.
“Kyle Field in NCAA 14 is the first real Kyle Field there has ever been in an NCAA game as far as I am concerned,” senior construction science major Brian McGhee said. “Between the branding, fight song, yells and the surroundings outside the stadium, this is the first time I have felt like I am playing at the real Kyle Field in the game.”
The game also had input from A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin who visited EA Sports to give input to how recruiting works. Haumiller said Sumlin was taken by surprise at how accurate the playbook looked in comparison to the real thing.
For Pope, the game was equally as realistic and helpful to the continued development of A&M’s brand after moving to the SEC.
“With our move to the SEC a lot more people are becoming aware of Texas A&M and wanting to know more about Texas A&M,” Pope said. “With the number of people that play this game, if they are wanting to play with A&M they also get exposed to how unique A&M is with our traditions and gameday atmosphere because the game is now more accurate than it used to be. It’s a huge thing for our brand to have EA out and make the game as realistic as possible.”
The cover of NCAA 14 features Michigan Wolverine quarterback Denard Robinson but A&M was hundreds of votes away from having receiver Ryan Swope on the cover in a nationwide fan vote.
Fans like McGhee appreciate the changes inside the game and what the future holds with A&M and EA Sports, something Haumiller too is excited about.
“A lot of schools are gracious with us and a lot of schools work very closely with us,” Haumiller said. “But we haven’t had a school be as accepting as Texas A&M was to say, ‘We want to make sure these parts are in your game and yeah we could just send you a video but we want you experiencing it.’ It’s been phenomenal to have that relationship.”

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