MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - EA Sports will release NCAA Football 14 in July and the latest edition from its video game franchise features change influenced by a visit from West Virginia University football staff members last summer.
Director of Football Operations Alex Hammond and Coordinator of Recruiting Operations Ryan Dorchester were invited to Orlando last year to speak to the game's producers and designers about how to improve recruiting.
"It wasn't necessarily how you recruit a kid," Dorchester said in March. "That's hard. I don't know how you can really replicate that in a video game. A lot of it was saying, 'Here are some things that we feel aren't necessarily realistic in the video game and here's how those things happen in real life.' Understanding it can't exactly be simulated in a video game, we just wanted to give them an idea of what it was like on this side of the table."
The game's release date is July 9. EA Sports announced improvements to the game's Dynasty mode Tuesday and the Mountaineers' fingerprints are all over certain aspects.
Dorchester and Hammond stressed the value of managing the time and effort spent on a prospect and how teams need to allocate those resources to make sure they can address quality and quantity in recruiting. Producer Ben Haumiller said it led to an "overhaul" of the week-to-week recruiting function.
"We have now streamlined the recruiting experience so that your main function as the coach is to take a bulk of points each week and determine how you want to distribute them throughout the players you are targeting," he said. "After you've set the number of points you want to apply to a prospect you just manage their recruitment by adding or re-allocating points from week to week."
EA Sports was looking to modernize recruiting and make it more realistic. Hammond and Dorchester identified certain parts of the game that were not like what they encounter in their jobs. Haumiller and producer/designer Christian McLeod took those suggestions and applied them to different parts of recruiting in the game.
Haumiller said the additions complement what worked before, specifically scouting players and conducting visits on campus and at a prospect's home. Hammond and Dorchester convinced EA Sports to revisit the concept of on-campus visits.
"Previously there really wasn't much strategy as to when you scheduled a prospect to come on a visit," Haumiller said. "You did get a boost for bringing a prospect to a rivalry game, but you could bring in anyone you wanted for that game without worrying about how many players at a particular position were coming in that week."
Hammond and Dorchester explained that the game needed to allow for the difference between a "competitive" visit and a "complementary" visit. Both can affect recruiting and EA Sports was convinced to make the change.