EA Sports has placed the responsibility of making NCAA Football’s singleplayer career mode sexy enough to keep around — apparently Erin Andrews wasn’t enough — solely on the shoulders of Alex Howell, a former Auburn walk-on under Tommy Tuberville.
According to Gawker video game imprint Kotaku:
Howell is the first dedicated designer assigned to NCAA Football‘s “Road to Glory” career mode, introduced in 2005 and fairly neglected for the past few years. Joining EA Sports less than a year ago, Howell’s only job is to breathe new life into one of sports gaming’s first singleplayer career modes.
Coy about specifics for now, it’s pretty clear where Howell’s emphasis lies in the mode’s off-the-field components. It’s the practice field, where Howell made himself most valuable to an Auburn program that went undefeated his senior season. In high school Howell was invited by then-coach Tommy Tuberville to join the team as a nonscholarship player. When he arrived on the Plains, he was converted – at the Rudy-esque dimensions of five-foot nothin’, one-hundred and nothin’ – to running back from wide receiver. No one plays Southeastern Conference football at that height and weight; they run plays on the scout team.
Howell’s strategy? Make the singleplayer experience even more “ground up” than it already is.
“From coming on the team as a scrub, I knew that the harder I worked in practice, the harder I worked on the scout team, the more respect I would earn,” Howell said, “and the coaching staff would then allow me to do more things. It’s really easy to translate that experience of workouts, and practicing, to the video game, up to the point where it’s you going through the tunnel with 89,000 screaming fans all around you.”
Sure, infusing a team sports franchise with a true RPG feel will be hard work. But really, who better to help gamers experience a virtual college football championship than a player on Auburn’s 2004 team?
Thanks to Drew Ballance for the tip.
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