• Kotaku: A Silent Service Delivers the Sound of Saturday to NCAA Football

    After adding school-specific chants for 20+ programs in NCAA Football 13, Kotaku's Owen Good reports that NCAA 14 will feature real crowd audio from 40 total stadiums. Last weekend, Good aided NCAA producer Ben Haumiller in recording game audio at North Carolina, Duke, and NC State.

    In addition to the three North Carolina schools listed above, EA SPORTS has made known resource gathering visits this season to South Alabama, Texas A&M, and will be at Texas State this weekend.

    Continue on to read an excerpt of Good's experience and to learn more about the process of adding these school specific audio details to the franchise.

    UPDATE - Sunday evening, another article from Good ("Understanding Its Mobs’ Mentality Helps NCAA Football Stand Out in a Crowd") discusses how in real-life crowds sound different at each stadium and that it has yet to be reflected in NCAA Football.

    A Silent Service Delivers the Sound of Saturday to NCAA Football

    For the past two years, EA Sports has introduced actual stadium audio into NCAA Football—cheers, groans, chants, outbursts, you name it. It may be more essential in a college football video game—whose fans are motivated by a personal identification unique to major sports—than in any other simulation.

    The collection of this audio can only be done one way—in person. When three of Tobacco Road's four schools all played home games at separate starting times last Saturday, Haumiller saw an opportunity to get another three school's chants, cheers and atmosphere into the game, beginning with NCAA 14 next year. And, as his alma mater, Florida State would be playing mine, N.C. State, in the nightcap, he invited me along to get a look at—or a listen to—the process.

    By next year, NCAA Football 14 will feature real crowd audio from 40 stadiums, about a third of the population in college football's top division. You can get a taste of what this sounds like if you play a game at Michigan, whose "Go Blue" chant is taken directly from the 24-track audio ESPN broadcast at last year's game against Ohio State. This year's game added audio from another two dozen stadiums in 2011—Texas, Oregon, Oregon State, Arkansas, Georgia Tech, even Penn State, on the day after Joe Paterno was fired (which must have been surreal. On one hand, it's a completely different crowd experience. On the other, the "We Are Penn State" chant likely came through loud and clear.)

    Read the full article at Kotaku.
    Comments 8 Comments
    1. JeffHCross's Avatar
      JeffHCross -
      Nice idea. Particularly good to get Owen involved to get it documented. Hope it'll help the atmosphere in 14!
    1. baseballplyrmvp's Avatar
      baseballplyrmvp -
      Quote Originally Posted by JeffHCross View Post
      Nice idea. Particularly good to get Owen involved to get it documented. Hope it'll help the atmosphere in 14!
      crowd chants only do so much. the audio levels have to be reflected appropriately as well. places like oregon, lsu, ohio state, utah, texas a&m, etc all have loud, obnoxious crowds for visiting teams. i should have to turn down the audio when playing at those places. on the flip side though, places like umass, san jose state, eastern michigan, etc, you can probably hear a pin drop 90% of the time, just because of how empty the stadiumsa are. lol i should have to crank the volume way up on my tv just to hear the crowd. it feels like ncaa has one, universal audio level that's applied to every stadium.
    1. Deuce44M's Avatar
      Deuce44M -
      The game already sounds good. It's all good, but maybe they should focus on the game play and fix the current bugs before adding anything else.
    1. JeffHCross's Avatar
      JeffHCross -
      Quote Originally Posted by Deuce44M View Post
      It's all good, but maybe they should focus on the game play and fix the current bugs before adding anything else.
      Obviously I don't know what life is like inside EA's offices (though I have a decent idea), but very few software companies would be willing to devote any release to just bug fixes.

      Also, they're not really "adding" anything. Just getting more samples for audio that's already in the game. The amount of added code should be minimal (if any at all).
    1. cdj's Avatar
      cdj -
      Owen has written another article - published today - that builds upon this piece. The primary theme is how the game suffers a "sameness" issue also in the audio department as all stadiums sound alike.

      An excerpt:

      This year, NCAA Football included 24-track audio, pulled from an ESPN broadcast at one of the college football's biggest stadiums, hosting one of its best rivalries. The "Go Blue" you hear at Michigan Stadium comes through loud and clear any time you play in Ann Arbor, as the Wolverines or a visitor, as it should. It should be easy to re-create one of the best crowds in the game.

      "Worst crowd" in college football doesn't mean simply "small" or "disinterested," either. Colorado's Folsom Field is large and can be very interested. And having lived in Boulder and seen several games there, I can tell you it is hated like no other stadium, in two conferences. Failing on third down against a ranked Texas or Nebraska in Austin or Lincoln is bad. Hearing it against a 3-2 Buffaloes team, from a bunch of ski bums who are there because they couldn't get into UCLA or Cal, is many times worse.

      As I've written before, NCAA Football is suffering from a sameness problem. Year-to-year, it feels like the same game. Stadium to stadium, it does too, and Haumiller's audio gathering mission meant to combat that. Yes, there are pre-game runouts, from Ralphie the Buffalo at CU to Chief Osceola astride Renegade at Florida State. Notre Dame's players will tap the "Play Like a Champion Today" sign on the way to the tunnel. But a big game in South Bend sounds just like a big game in Bloomington, Indiana.

      Gathering up a crowd chant is useful but it only goes so far. Delivering a feeling that you're in a stadium requires more than scanning in the surrounding architecture, too. A game that cares enough to know which tunnel the team runs out, or what type of cannon its ROTC fires after a touchdown, should also the school's football culture. Is this the most important thing they will do all week? Are they any good at it? Does the crowd expect to win? Who's across the field? Is everyone just here to drink?

      You can apply generic levels of volume and reaction to professional sports video games and still be OK. It sounds like fans who paid good money to be in their seat. But college fans, many of them anyway, paid a lot more for the association. The cheering of a college football crowd shows its fans' personal investment more than any other sport, and it has yet to be heard in this video game.
    1. JeffHCross's Avatar
      JeffHCross -
      Hear, hear (pun intended)
    1. Jayrah's Avatar
      Jayrah -
      Owen makes some very, very good points. But he doesn't address an opinion as to how to fix the problem and in some moments he contradicts himself because he doesn't know what he wants to say. That's what drives me nuts about these Kotaku articles.

      I say SCRATCH the crowd noise at those venues that they attend, and "re-invent the wheel", so to speak. If the problem is the crowds sounding the same at every venue (and it is), then use the different, specific audio from the game you attend in more then just crowd chants. Use it for the kickoff, use it for touchdowns, use it for turnovers, use it for opponents 3rd down, use it for pregame runout. You're there to capture a football game and THE ATMOSPHERE of the stadium that you are in, CAPTURE THE FULL ATMOSPHERE.

      Yes, it's going to take extra work or whatever, but that's the product you say you are producing, so produce it. I'm not saying it's easy, I know it's not. However if you want to shed the label "same football game with title updates", you gotta do something out of the box NOT GAMEPLAY RELATED. I don't know why all of these clowns think that some revolutionary gameplay update will change thier view of the same football game. In the end, it's always going to have something that could be better, which is why we can get a yearly update from them.

      The difference would come in something like THIS. Something that makes you "feel" like you're in a different stadium every game instead of just seeing it. Something that makes you "feel" the difference going from Washington State's Martin, to USC's Coliseum, to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, to Autzen in Oregon. All of those have vastly different atmosphere's and it needs to be HEARD, in more than just the chants. Every bit of audio needs to be taken and analyzed, then ALL of the useful crowd audio needs to be put to use within the stadium that they took it from.

      Not all games will be the same and you won't always get all that much useful audio, but that's where the generic can come into play. Not the other way around.
    1. JeffHCross's Avatar
      JeffHCross -
      Again, hear, hear.