When NCAA Football 10 designer Ben Haumiller was attending Florida State, he used to have nightly battles at the franchise he would later go on to help create.
The Road to NCAA Football 10
Each Thursday over the coming weeks, ESPN Video Games will have exclusive interviews with the producers of EA's NCAA Football 10 as we track the game's development and progress towards the season's virtual opening kickoff.
"It's always been a dream of mine to work on NCAA and especially to work on dynasty mode," explains Haumiller. "I remember back in college with my roommates, we would have some of the most intense battles and rivalries at NCAA Football '99. That's why the addition of online dynasty meant so much last year. I was finally able to get back and play with those guys. I played against one friend who I hadn't played against since NCAA Football 2000."
And Haumiller says he couldn't be happier with how online dynasty turned out. "We were able to essentially take everything we have in the offline dynasty and put it right there, ready to go, year one," he says. "There were definitely some learning experiences and some bumps and bruises along the way, but overall it's a feature that has extended the life of dynasty for a lot of people. I'm actually still playing actively in an online dynasty right now where in years past if I was just playing against the CPU, I'd play it a lot, but after a while, I'd move on to something else.
"With online dynasty, I'm playing all the time, and I'll be playing NCAA 09 all the way up to when NCAA 10 comes out. And with the dynasties online, it really has given people a consistent desire to play the game, especially if you have a really good commissioner who keeps on everyone to play through the season. Recruiting against other people and knowing that if I beat my friend, I'm going to the BCS game and he's going to the Holiday Bowl, that's just a lot of fun."
And with NCAA Football 10, Haumiller hopes to help usher in the next evolution of the dynasty mode he's so passionate about with the addition of custom conferences, a new mode that should help make the lives of every online dynasty player a little easier.
"When we took a look at all of the message boards and the community and talking to people, everyone loved online dynasty, but the biggest problem they had is that they wanted to play games against one another. The thing is, it's tough to find a conference that makes everyone happy. If you want to try and even the playing field and not have everyone play as Top 25 teams, trying to find a conference that fits everyone's strengths and weaknesses is hard.
"But with custom conferences now, we actually enable you to swap any school in any conference for another school. So you can put Notre Dame in the Big 10. You can move Texas from the Big 12 South to the Big 12 North. You can customize and create anything. You can even cherry pick and create a conference with USC, Florida, Texas and Ohio State and move them all into one super conference that is all user controlled. It really opens things up to how you want your dynasty run. You can have any team in there. You can even do things like take South Carolina which used to be in the ACC years ago, so now you can put them back in the ACC and take one of the current teams out. The way you can mix things up really allows you to create the college football landscape the way you want it to be."
With custom conferences ... we actually enable you to swap any school in any conference for another school. So you can put Notre Dame in the Big 10. You can move Texas from the Big 12 South to the Big 12 North. You can customize and create anything.
”-- NCAA Football 10 designer
This is a brilliant idea and a much needed feature for fans trying to figure out non-conference schedules online.
"Conferences like the Pac-10 or the Big East are great for user-controlled teams because they have that BCS tie-in and you're guaranteed to be playing everybody in your dynasty every year. Now everyone can just jump right in one of these conferences and duke it out.
"Recruiting also comes into play if you stack a conference full of great teams because all of you will have that elite conference tag," explains Haumiller. "It's a nice cherry to dangle, but everyone else in your conference has that same cherry so things will get competitive."
As for Haumiller's dream conference: "Florida State, Texas, USC, Oklahoma, Ohio State and for nostalgia factor, get Michigan and Notre Dame in there. I know Florida is the top dog, but I don't want to see them in my conference.
"What can I say, I went to Florida State."
For more on NCAA Football 10 and the new custom conferences, check out the EA Sports blog.