Ten Tips on Running a Successful NCAA Football Online Dynasty
Wisdom from the League Guru, MadScientist06
I wrote a blog for EA SPORTs in February. In case you missed it, I have placed it here, at my site, for your reading pleasure! Enjoy!
Greetings NCAA Football fans. This is Dr. Dave Johnson, “MadScientist06″, EA SPORTS Game Changer and NCAA Football-aholic! This week, I will be sharing my tips on running a successful NCAA Football Online Dynasty league.
I have been running organized leagues for as long as I can remember — going back to the days of Electric Football. I have run tons of online NCAA Football Online Dynasties and Madden NFL Online Franchises. I am here to give you the inside scoop on what I’ve learned along the way. These helpful tips should help you get the most enjoyment out of running a new or existing NCAA Online Dynasty league.
What makes playing in an NCAA Football Online Dynasty So Appealing?
My friend, playing in an EA Sports NCAA Football Online Dynasty league is the most realistic video game immersive college football experience that exists on the planet. An Online Dynasty mimics all the pageantry and emotion that is college football, from playing your favorite team’s most bitter rival, to competing to recruit the best computer-generated high school players for your team, to playing for the national championship.
Take over your favorite college football team as the coach and venture years into the future as you build your team in hopes for a ticket to the big dance. Sharing this experience with up to 11 of your friends and league members–now we are talking pure football delight–tough competition and the ultimate bragging rights.
Starting Off On a Good Note
There are a number of things you need to do to setup and create an NCAA Online Dynasty. I won’t go into all of the specifics in this article, but that’s the easy part as there are plenty resources on how to get things up and running. The bigger issue here is once you have created an Online Dynasty, how do you stand the test of time and make it one of the best ever?
Managing Membership: Feed Me Seymour!
A league is only as good as its members! No truer words have even been spoken. Having good members is the difference between a league that thrives and one that fails.
Tip #1: Managing league membership is critically important. Keeping the league as full as humanly possible is a top priority. Low or declining membership is almost always the death knell of most leagues. Combining low membership with inactivity is a recipe for disaster.
Your next question should be “How do I attract and keep good members?”
Attracting New Members: Anybody Want to Play?
So, do I have to tie a steak around my neck in order to get people to play with me? Not hardly. Tip #2: Advertise your league in places where fans of EA NCAA Football frequent. I suggest posting in the NCAA Football section of the EA Sports website forum. You could also advertise in any NCAA-related, video game football fan website. Another good example would be The Gaming Tailgate NCAA-related fan site run by fellow EA Sports Game Changer Chris “cdj80″ Jacobs. Often you’ll find there are dedicated forums which have areas where advertising leagues are welcomed (the key note is “welcomed here”). Put some thought into how you present your league. The better you describe it, the more it will help attract the types of members you are looking for. Another good idea is to create flyers and post then at local video game stores or hand them out at local video game tournaments. Never underestimate the power of advertising and presentation-A good flyer design and a nicely designed league logo gives the impression your league is well organized and run.
Once you begin to see an interest in your league, it is time get things in motion. Let’s get it started in here (-Black Eye Peas)!
Not So Fast! HOP (Hold On Playa)! Be Selective!
The best advice I can give you is be extremely selective about who you allow in your league. A league is only as good as its members. I have found the best strategy is to require some form of screening process as opposed to letting everyone sign-up and join, first-come, first-serve.
Tip #3: Require prospective members to fill out an application for membership. You could get really fancy by creating a web form, online survey, or electronic application, however, a simple e-mail questionnaire will suffice. The goal here is to use the application to gain some insight on the dedication, disposition, and play style of the prospective member.
Tip #4: Require tryouts. A good strategy is to require league tryouts for all applicants. Require the applicant to play several games against veteran league members (I call them the Tryout Committee). When all the games are played, have the Tryout Committee take a vote on whether to grant the applicant membership status. Require the applicant to schedule games with each of the Tryout Committee Members. Scheduling league games is one of the hardest things to coordinate-league members have jobs, family, school, and other life issues to content with. What you are looking for here is initiative and fortitude. We are testing whether the applicant can manage this process successfully and contend with the obstacles and frustrations that are sometimes unfortunate byproducts of online league play. If the applicant is unable to play the required number of games in the time period we specify, this does not bode well in regards to their ability to schedule games on a larger scale. As you can see, tryouts can be used in a number of ways evaluate whether the applicant is a good fit.
Utilizing some type of screening process will give you a sense of whether the applicant can play following your rules and exhibits qualities the league feels are important (e.g. good sportsmanship).
Tip #5:Build Community. If you are technically inclined, or know someone who is, you may want to create a website forum where league members can discuss the league and prospective members determine if your league is a good match for them. This is not a dating site, but both parties involve are looking for the perfect match. This is also a great way to foster community.
Tip #6: Create a Waitlist System. Another good strategy is to maintain a waitlist of applicants. Membership turn-over is always a part of any league. No matter how great your league is, you will not escape this necessary evil. When members decide to leave the league, for whatever reason, it is good to have a list of applicants waiting to step in and take their place. This keeps the league moving smoothly. Most people who join leagues do so to play against other people. The more open teams you have in your OD, the more CPU games people are forced to play.
Let’s talk a minute about what is required of league members and the Commissioner.
Tip #7: Create League Rules and a Code of Conduct. The clearer you are on what expectations are, the better for everyone involved.
What is Required of League Members?
The key duties of a league member is to play league games on time, abide by league rules, contribute ideas, communicate with other members in a civil tone, and be a good sport.
What is Required of a League Commissioner
The duties of a league Commissioner are to create the league and manage daily operations. A good Commissioner seeks the opinions of others and creates a democratic decision making process. Another critical component is peacefully resolving any dispute that arises. Also keep in mind that if you are a player in the league as well as the Commissioner, you’ll have to be careful about the decisions you make that directly benefit or affect your team. One of my members once recommended that I relinquish my team and as Commissioner only and not play, but where is the fun in that for me (smile)? Being a league commissioner is extremely challenging, but along with the hard work and tough decisions that have to be made along the way, comes the extreme satisfaction of creating something that people enjoy. We do it for the love of the game.
Establish Fair Rules: Finding Your Fish Tank
Tip #8: Create decent and fair rule set. One of the important decisions to make is determining which play style the league will follow. Whether your league is tournament or simulation (SIM) style, or something in between, select league members who have similar styles. I have played in both SIM and tournament leagues. I enjoy both. I always say, “Find your fish tank and swim in it!” In other words, find a league that fits your style of play. That way, you’ll be the happiest. The best leagues have staying power because rules are decided using a democratic voting process. Update rules each season. With every game will come the need to adjust league rules.
Remove members who violate rules.
At times, you may have to remove members who are a detriment to the league. This is never ever a fun thing to do, but you must guard the sacred temple from evil (a little dramatic, but you get the idea) Hopefully, this never happens, but inevitably, it will, and as the commissioner, you will have to make tough decisions in the best interests of the league.
So, Can I get the Number One Team in the Game?
Unfortunately, the entire league can not play with the most popular team (whatever that team may be in a given year), so you need to devise a system that allows everyone to get a team they feel comfortable with playing with. You may want to base team selections solely on seniority (league members who have played in the league the longest get priority picks). You could also do a team draft or you could do your best to match teams with players. There is no best way to do this, but do this you must. Team selection is also affected by the types of teams you allow in the league. Perhaps you want to run a Power Team League, allowing league members to select any of the Top 25 rated teams or perhaps you restrict team selection to lower-rated teams (e.g. B-rated teams). Take a vote to determine what your members want and go from there. Switch up in the middle of the year and change from a Power Team League to a B-team league to add some variety.
Tip #9: Celebrate and honor league accomplishments. This is the fun stuff! TheNCAA Football title does an amazing job of automatically determining the standard yearly college awards to the fictitious players in the game, including the Heisman. To make things even more exciting, have the league create and vote on awards and honors that go beyond what the game provides. A couple good examples are:
1. Coach of the Year – The award that goes to the best league coach!
2. IHOP Pancake Award – Given to the offensive linemen with the most pancakes (showing some love to the O-line).
3. The Magic Stick Award – Given to the player voted to have to best stick skills.
You could also recognize the rushing title, receiver with the most reception yards, kick return specialist, and other stat-based awards.
Tip #10: Use the Dynasty Wire feature. This is by far one of best feature additions to the NCAA Football title this year. Using the Dynasty Wire is an excellent way to add excitement to the league; Encourage it. You could also create an award or prize for the league’s best Dynasty Wire writer. That should get people writing.
I hope these tips have helped you in some way make your league experience a much more exciting one. Let me know if I can help you in finding what works best for you and your league.
In closing: The league is a brotherhood. Sometimes we argue like brothers, but every league member plays a part in running the league and has some stake in it. I can say that the friendships that have developed will last a life-time.
Until the next time NCAA Nation, get back on the sticks!
–Reproduced with permission of EA SPORTS.