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  • 20 Questions with Project Manager Jaqub Ajmal

    Welcome back gamers, veterans, supporters, readers and first timers! Thanks for clicking on the link and reading this edition of 20 Questions here at Front Towards Gamer!
    This round of 20 Questions will be with Jaqub Ajmal [JA] aka @JaqubAjmal Project Manager on the Battlefield Series and Mirrors Edge.

    I'm Jaqub, a 35 year old gamer working for EA DICE as a project manager handling the QA team at EA DICE on the Battlefield series and Mirrors edge. I'm just another random white dude that enjoys music, movies and games.
    On ward with this edition of 20 Questions with the ever gracious Jaqub Ajmal.
    1) what was your first job ever?
    [JA] My first job ever was as a gardener at a cemetery. It was a summer job and it was a pretty chill experience. Laying out in the sun, trimming some bushes and watering flowers. Sometimes a few tombstones need a good scrubbing. Good times!
    2) What was the worst/most challenging job you ever had? did it change you? how?
    [JA] The most challenging job I ever had was as a salesman for a mobile company that did business to business sales. The salary was amazing, I've never made that much money in my life ever since then but it was really soul crushing and very stressful.
    What made things worse was that Massive Entertainment (Developers of The Division) had their offices just across the street and I could see straight into their offices from my window seat. I was asking myself everyday, why am I here and not there? That question became a catalyst for me in a way that I finally got the courage to quit my job and pursue a career in game development.

    3) What are your thoughts on video game movies? if you could make one and pick the director and 3 cast mates which and who would you pick?
    [JA] Funny you should ask that, I actually have quite a collection of video game movies. Sadly most of them are awful, but those that I think worked the best are the Resident Evil movies and the first Mortal Kombat. The director of those movies, Paul WS Anderson really understands how to adapt a game and make it into something that actually works as a movie. I wouldn't exactly call them masterpieces but they are fun enough to watch once. I also thought the Need for Speed Movie was good fun. If I could pick a director to make a movie I would go for James Cameron. For actors I would go with Christian Bale, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Ha ha that would be one bad ass movie.
    4) Do you think that game makers have a right to police users on social media?
    [JA] I believe in freedom of speech so everyone can say whatever they want. Game-makers are nothing special, just ordinary people like anyone else with various different opinions.
    5) What do you think about the HoloLens and its possibilities in video games?
    [JA] I think it´s always cool with new technologies that can create new and immersive experiences for gamers. I have had the Oculus Rift development kit 2 since release and I am pretty amazed by some games such as Elite Dangerous. It wouldn't want to play it in any other way. I think the magic really happens when a developers creates and experience that uses the technology in such a way where it becomes and advantage of using it instead of trying to shoehorn a game that wasn't designed for the technology in the first place. With the right games HoloLens can really be something special.
    6) What was your first and favorite Easter Egg in video games? Megladon, Phantom, Yeti, or from previous years or different game?
    [JA] My favorite Easter Egg is one I found myself as a child. If you beat Starfox on SNES (Star wing in EU) and if you leave the game running for 15 minutes after the credits have rolled by you will hear a special tune. I am pretty sure that I was one of the first people that found it because that Easter egg wasn't even on YouTube until a few years ago.
    7) What was your last game played (mode)? did you win?
    [JA] My last game was Domination in Battlefield 4, it was sadly a loss.

    8) Is that your favorite game mode and map? if no what is?
    [JA] My favorite game mode is Rush, I really enjoy how it sends players to the same area and gives every game a cinematic flair. I mostly play games for the experience rather than being competitive so it fits me really well. My favorite map is Damavand Peak as it has a little bit of everything and at the same time manages to be extremely cinematic and full of Battlefield moments.
    9) If you could pick the next thing to be a Easter Egg what would it be? (ie Bear,T Rex,Clown) How would we trigger it?
    [JA] Haha I would make something really complex where the entire server would have to do something to trigger it. This Easter egg would take to much time to make, but when you would trigger it I would have the Skybox of the level rip open by a gigantic monster that comes in from behind it. And the server would then suddenly turn into a Final Fantasy style battle game where you would have to fight this monster. It would be really difficult and all 64 players would have to co-op to have a chance to beat it. Haha that would be pretty nuts.
    10) Tell us about your worst testing experience in the past?
    [JA] The worst testing experience is always on those games that you work really hard on and then suddenly get canned. Sure we did get paid for the work we put in, but it´s heartbreaking when you have spent so much time and energy on something and then no one even gets the chance to play it. I have been lucky though as I haven't worked on that many games that got canned.

    11) With how far gaming has come in last 20 years, the next 20 will be extremely promising, imagine your a game maker in 20 years, tell me about your game.
    [JA] I think that procedural generated data will be the norm. The world, the animations, the AI everything will be created with complex code. There is a certain stiffness in games today due to various limitations. But if you look at some games like GTA5 when it comes to animation or Elite Dangerous when it comes to the game world it´s clear to me that its the future. I also think that it will be very easy to make games, as easy as it is to make music these days. But instead of technical talent it will require more design talent. I think that compared to the movie business the video games business is still in an era where we actually develop the camera for every movie we make. While making a movie today is super simple, anyone can come up with a good idea, get a decent camera for little money and get high end editing software. It´s all about the talent. I think that in the future 3d assets will be so detailed that it wont make sense to create new ones as people wont notice any difference between games and hardware will be so fast that we can just buy all of the assets from a 3d assets company and there wont be much need for optimizations. I also think that mobile devices will be the platform that we will use for our games where you simply can stream the image in real time to a big screen wireless from the phone, and connect a gamepad or mouse/keyboard to it wireless as well. At some point those devices will just become so powerful that getting more processing power for a video game might actually not make a big difference.
    12) What is your favorite video game map to play online and why?
    [JA] My favorite game to play online is Battlefield. (Surprise!) Battlefield is a great game to play with friends as it rewards team play, and at the same time it´s not to competitive as it lets you have fun as well.Pretty much no game plays out the same and the unique cinematic scenes that play out during the Battles are endless. I also really love the sound in the Battlefield games which I think no movie or game can match. It´s just truly amazing to put the game on War tapes while cranking up the volume on a 7.1 system. Besides Damavand peak that I mentioned above my other favorite map is Arica Harbor which is an amazing map with tons of variation. Playing it on Rush is really something special.

    13)What is your favorite old school video game map to play online? (pre COD/BF)
    [JA] I think Facing Worlds in Unreal Tournament was a brilliant map, excellent design, interesting choice of setting, good mix of indoor and outdoor battle and pretty much perfect in size. The map had something for everyone.
    14) Would you remake that map on a modern game? which one?
    [JA] Well I hope that Facing World ends up in the new Unreal Tournament game that is in development. That would be really something!
    15) Mash up map, if you could merge two BF maps which two would you merge?
    [JA] It would be a Rush map that starts out as Damavand peak, then after the tunnel bit, instead of ending up in the construction type area you would come out of the tunnel and be in the Arica Harbor desert. And then play Arica all the way to the end. Haha that would have been amazing. Maybe even have some levolution where the Arica Harbor train would start moving and crash into the harbor area.

    16) If you can pick an old school game to be re made into a modern version which would it be?
    [JA] I would love to see an open world games based on the Original Usagi Yojimbo game on the C64. It was a very revolutionary game for it´s time. For example it had a combat state and a none combat state, peaceful NPC would get scared if you went into combat mode for no reason, A karma system where if you did to many naughty things you would end up committing Harakiri, dynamic music, branching levels, boss fights and an actual ending cut scene. A truly underrated gem in my book.
    17) what comes first transporters or warp drives ?
    [JA] I would go with warp drive as it seems "simpler" of the two. Haha
    18) If you ship was sinking and you could only grab two things, what are they?
    [JA] A life jacket because I suck at swimming and a flare gun.
    19) What is your favorite movie and thoughts on interstellar? are we alone?
    [JA] I thought it was really good, Christopher Nolan is an amazing director. I also really loved the score by Hans Zimmer. Was super disappointed that it didn't win more Oscars then it did.
    20) Name the weirdest item within arms reach right now?
    [JA] Around 30 cardboard boxes. I just moves houses so my living room looks like a warehouse.

    21) Any project you wish you did not pass on or had?
    [JA] There was one project where I wish that I would have tried to get more involved in regards to the creative bits. As QA I try to avoid getting to involved with the design as I think that the game designers need to do their thing and have their vision appear intact with not to much interference from others. But on Terminator Salvation that I worked on I just wish that I would have taken over or at least helped them with the creative vision because I am really in tune with the Terminator universe and have a great understanding of how one could convert that into a good gaming experience. Of course it´s always easy to say that in hindsight because Terminator Salvation was a game that was made with very little resources and not a lot of time, but I still think that I could have made a difference for the better if given the chance.
    22) What was your first job in video games?
    [JA] My first job in the games industry was at a developer called Simbin that developed super realistic racing simulators. I worked there first as a designer doing scripting for weather effects and cameras, when I was done with my design work I also assisted with some quality assurance. They were very impressed with the work I did and pretty soon made me QA Lead. I guess I was a natural, as I didn't have any prior QA experience.
    23) What are your thoughts on violence in video games? would you let your 5 year old play GTA, Hardline or a BF?
    [JA] No I wouldn't let my 4 year old play GTA or the Battlefield games.(He is 5 this summer). I honestly don't even think that he would enjoy them as they are quite complex and difficult to play for someone that young.
    I also think that GTA5 has some themes and scenes that are just to scary for someone really young to view. For me Battlefield isn't really all that violent, and as a kid playing cowboys and Indians in real life with friends our imagination was often a lot more violent and gruesome then those games.
    Also for me personally I watched a lot of violent movies as a child and it didn't really have any negative effect on me, but I think it really depends on the person and how they react to the content. But it´s a very difficult questions and I don't really think there is a right or wrong, I think its up to each parent to decide when they think that their kids are ready to play certain violent games.
    24) If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
    [JA] Somewhere that has nice weather and where I could get a job similar to what I am doing today, So probably somewhere in the USA like Austin, Los Angeles, Redwood shores or San Francisco.
    It was fantastic speaking with Jaqub Ajmal for this edition of 20 Questions. What is your favorite Easter Egg in video games? Please share with us in the comments section below.

    20 Questions with BattlenonSense, Battlefield Content Creator

    Welcome back gamers, veterans, supporters and readers! Thanks for stopping in and reading the new 20 Questions here at Front Towards Gamer!
    This round of 20 Questions will be with Chris aka Battle(non)sense [BN] @BattleNonSense Battlefield News, Design Concepts, and Easy Explanations of complex game mechanics.
    My name is Chris, I am 35. I am happily married for the last 10 years and we have 2 kids.
    For the last 17 years I have been working full time as an electrical engineer. My area of expertise is home and facility automation, project planing and project management as well as designing solutions that fix problems that our customers need to have resolved, or improve existing work flows.
    1) What was your first video game? And online one?
    [BN] My first contact with Video games was with the C64 which still used a tape drive. The first system that I owned was the NES followed by the Amiga 500 and the Amiga 1200 before I got my first PC in 1995 which was a Intel Pentium running at amazing 133MHz. The first video game that I played was Super Mario Bros on the original NES in 1986. I am not sure about what my first online game was. We played a lot of DOOM, Quake and UT on the LAN back at school. The first online game I remember playing was Operation Flash-point in 2001

    2) Playing Rainbow 6 Three changed gaming forever for me, how did (first online video game) change you?
    [BN] Playing Operation Flashpoint online brought an entirely new scale of gaming to me. It was incredible to feel that you are part of a bigger team, And how working together decided if you would win or loose.
    3) What was that first experience on (first video game) like to you?
    [BN] Addictive
    4) If you were a Star Trek® or Star Wars® character, which one would it be?
    [BN] Easy one. Captain James Tiberius Kirk

    5) If you were an animal, which one would you want to be?
    [BN] Eagle
    6) Over the years what is the one vehicle thats your go to when its time to mob with a group online?
    [BN] Attack Helicopters
    7) Mash up map, if you could merge two BF maps which two would you merge?
    [BN] Hmm.... I can't think of any of the old Battlefield maps that I would like to merge, so I will choose two BF3 maps. Take Metro, expand the subway part with a LOT more corridors, and hidden paths so that you can actually flank properly and not have those silly choke points. On top of that you place Seine Crossing which should be make about 2 times of the current size with a lot more alternative routes that you can take + multiple entry points for the subway.
    xpray4deathx Metro and Damavand Peak, B on top of B.
    ZehGreek That’s a very cool question.. I’d say; Oasis and Final Ignition. Please DICE. Make it happen.
    dan_mitre Oh, that’s a good one. Propaganda on top with a subterranean Operation Locker.
    ThisIsactionman Tricky one – Damavand Peak from Battlefield 3, I love the jump off the edge of the cliff, a great use of the parachutes. At the bottom of the cliff I would put Valparaiso from Battlefield Bad Company 2, for an epic Rush battle.
    Unitool I’d jam Karkand (BF2 version) onto Wake Island (BF3 version) and see how that works. Or maybe Karkand and Return to Karkand, in order to create Super Karkand: Epic Edition – Now with More Karkand Than Ever Before.
    WDA_Punisher Hmm, Hard question. One that popped into my head was Strike at Karkand and Arica Harbor. Both were epic infantry maps.
    UPSLynx Hainan resort and Zavod 311, they’re my two favorite vanilla maps!
    Driezzz Valparaiso from Bad Company 2 and Suez Canal from Battlefield 2142, don’t forget those Titans!

    8) What has been your favorite video game Easter egg over the years?
    [BN] The elevator rave in Crysis 2
    9) What is the weirdest item I find in your refrigerator right now?
    [BN] There are no weird items in there.
    10) What do you see as the biggest drawback in BF4 was?
    [BN] Oh boy. That could result in a short novel. But if I would have to boil it down to 2 things then this would be the legacy code that is still present there, which is holding back the game and causes a lot of the issues that we see today (especially the netcode), and that the game is designed with a too strong focus on casuals and this waters down the gameplay a lot.
    11) Did you see BF4 as an improvement over BF3 or other way around and why?
    [BN] A few things BF4 is doing better, others it does worse.Overall both games are disappointing because you clearly see the lack of time and thought that has been put into these.
    12) You are going to be stranded on an island, only have a few seconds, name the three items you will bring?
    [BN] toothbrush knife cloth

    13) What do you think about the HoloLens and its possible in video games?
    [BN] A lot is possible, but I see its application to be more valuable in other industries.
    14) Robert Bowling Jason West and Vince Zampella have done fantastic jobs listening to the community and applying it to a game/system for use with its users, should other companies be studying/applying this to their projects?
    [BN] I think that DICE LA is also doing a great job these days when it comes to listening to the community. Even DICE Stockholm did a good job there back in the days of Battlefield 2. But for about 7 years they did an absolutely horrible job at communication and listening to their customers - just like EA.So I am curious to see how this will develop.
    15) What is your favorite old school video game map to play online? (pre COD/BF)
    [BN] Quake 3 The Longest Yard
    16) What are your thoughts on BF Hardline?
    [BN] Hardline has a lot of potential, but is still hold back by the baggage for the Battelfield 4 code as it sadly just copied a lot of the existing functions instead of overhauling and improving them.

    17) We have came a long way in the last 15 years, tell us something surprising about the next 15 years?
    [BN] Consoles as we know them today will cease to exist.
    18) Name the weirdest item within arms reach right now?
    [BN] Lipgloss my coworker left on my desk
    19) Best BF to date is _____
    [BN] Hands down Battlefield 2. Despite its issues it provided the best overall Battlefield game and experience so far.
    20) What changed FPS forever?
    [BN] 3d FX VooDoo which brought us 3D acceleration.
    Thanks for reading, It has been great chatting with Chris in this round of 20 Questions, Cant wait to see your next project! If you could be any animal what would it be? Share with us in the comments section below.


    8 Days

    As a gamer that has been playing since the Atari 2600, I really enjoy when a game comes along that tries to re-imagine an old genre or game.  I really love it when succeed in releasing a new game that captures the retro spirit, but elevates it a totally new level.  8Days is a twin stick shooter that harkens back to the days of Contra, but ups the ante.

      The world has been dominated by dark forces since the beginning of human history. Known as The Masters of Mankind by those directly under their control, these forces will use any means necessary to protect their own interests including starting wars.  In 8DAYS the mercenary company G.O.D. Inc. and the 8DAYS Magazine are two modern instruments used to control the masses. G.O.D.  ( Gold, Oil, Diamonds Inc. ) is primarily a peacekeeping force and 8DAYS ensures the bias of public opinion. Players take on the role of Lola "Wasp" or Mike "Ghost", two of G.O.D.’s expendable mercenaries.

      You start out by picking which Merc you wish to use, then you are tossed right into the action.  Sort of.  As you start your 1st mission you are captured and must fight your way out of prison.  Once you are free you must continue your mission and stop the uprising.  Unlike games of yesteryear you have a very limited supply of ammo, so you can't just spray bullets and hope for the best.  You have to be accurate with your shots or else you will be bringing a knife to a gun fight.  As you progress through the levels you will find new and more powerful weapons, each with limited ammo.  If you down an enemy that is holding the same weapon as you, you have the ability to grab a few extra clips.

      The game is designed so that each time you go through a level it can be different.  There are multiple path ways through the levels so you can pick how you want to attack the level, and which course is the easiest for you.  To add to the depth of the game there are also hidden areas that usually hold better weapons and health packs.  You can even step your game up even more by tossing on a 2nd controller and having a friend play as the other mercenary.  

      The graphics inn the game will take you back to the early days of console gaming.  Even though they're pixelated a bit, they fit well with the style of the game.  The in game music will also take you back a bit.  One of the coolest features of the game is how they pay homage to the titles that came before it.  You will see hat tips in the game design as well as some of the achievements.  Not only that, but the game flow and over the top mini bosses will remind you of some of the greatest games from the archives.
      8Days is out now on XB1, PS4 and Steam.  You can pick it up on the console of your choice for $9.99 and a few dollars less on Steam.

    Semispheres - First Look

    So, I posted this originally in the forums, before I knew I was supposed to post it in here (Oops, my bad ).  So here is the link to the video review I did for Vivid Helix's Semispheres.  I went the video route for two reasons
    1:  Nobody likes to read reviews of video games when they can listen to the audio
    2: Video provides a medium that allows for people to see some gameplay
    So, here is the link to my video review of Semispheres, I hope you like it. Please remember, I did this review on behalf of FTG, so I wanted to keep it professional in nature and not tarnish our community. 

    Madden Ultimate Team is Madden

    Madden Ultimate Team is Madden
    Feat. MUT10 VETS  EJnfl24, DJ Mateo, Medusa, MrNICEGUY and Proxytron.
               Madden Ultimate Team was first available on Jan 7th 2010 as an update to Madden 10 which came out the previous Aug. Before EA released it on Madden they first tested Ultimate Team on FIFA09  5 months after releasing FIFA similar to the Madden drop mid cycle. Reasoning behind this mid cycle drop was by then players had already started drifting away from the game, as shown by last years usage data and this would keep the game "Fresh"  as Adam Shaikh stated
    This update was the start of what has become the biggest hit in EAs history, and when I say hit I mean money maker. Lets be honest here EA has never seen returns from a project like this, Ever!  No game or mode has had jumps in player returns from previous years as this one has had.  Madden Ultimate Team is growing at over 90% per year. . and this last year EA profited over a billion dollars, yes a billion.
           From 1990 to 2012 EA has taken over many franchises, 36 to be exact with 20 of those since 2000(*5). EA has had some what success with these acquisitions (that can be debated at a later date) from Command and Conquer, the Sims, Sim City, Need for Speed, Bejeweled, Playfish (Mobile), Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Star Wars, Medal of Honor, the Settlers, Outlaw sports, MTV vs, Battlefield, and many others. For the most part with the exception of BF and EA sports giants like Madden, EA has seen dropoffs on player returns and very limited success on these franchises.  Thats why the future of Madden Ultimate Team is so crucial.
    Earlier I stated that last year EA made over a billion dollars, Over 380 million of that coming from Ultimate Team(*4), its fair to say what is big daddy at EA. Any good business would see this years ago and maximized its profits in future versions. While this is great for the investors and shareholders at EA, it is not so good for us the customer or gamer. To maximize profits EA has created many ways to earn money from the gamers playing MUT.  From charging to give cards away, to charging for the auction house use, to adding points (a currency to be bought only with real cash) Why do we get charged to give our already paid for cards away? Why make the game about how much money you can add for currency vs being about game play to earn currency in game?

    Is this how where you train your MUT team to get better??
    Biggest problem in my eyes is the method of making changes to player distribution in packs. Players who you could previously get in one pack are placed in new higher level packs the next year, and each and every year since. From Gold, Silver, Bronze at start to Bronze, Silver, Gold, Elite, Legendary, Ghost, Fantasy, BCA, Playoffs, and Bonus now. When MUT started in 2010 you could very easily maintain a good team simply by winning, earning coins to buy new packs. Now its almost impossible to keep a team without spending real cash on it, so much so that there are hundreds of videos if not thousands on youtube on how to make coins without spending money. (*6)  Over this holiday season we saw packs on the market place for 90$.  This is getting crazy.
    From a game that was so easy to play and fun to experience with your friends in a unique way. Building your own team up from your favorite players and playing with it. Even sharing its greatness with your friends!  To now a game where its almost required that you use real cash at some point to keep your team going. Ask any MUT vet who has played for more than a year if they have spent money on the game would yield an overwhelming 95% yes answer.
    As a MUT10Vet I held many pack parties with fellow gamers. (EJNFL24, DJ Mateo, Proxytron, MedusaMission, JohnDee, MRNICEGUY) Pack parties is one of my favorite memories of MUT10 and 11. Gaming is about a community, it always has been and always will be. I dont know what to expect from the future of MUT as they cant keep moving players up and increasing costs for the gamers, as sooner or later it will cost us more than Madden its self. Maybe it already has, I know I have spent more on MUT then the 55 I paid for Madden 15. THAT IS CRAZY.
    Maddens future is secure with the hundreds of millions of dollars MUT will generate. Lets just hope EA will realize gamers want to play the game to earn rewards NOT buy the rewards.

    Madden Ultimate Team 2010
    I took a little time to reach out to some fellow MUT vets and friends, who all have been playing MUT since the start in 2010, and can offer some various points of view. Some of these guys are heavily involved in MUT and some are just hardcore players, but all are MUT professors in my opinion.
    Thanks for taking the time to answer these DJMateo, EJNFL24, MedusaMission, ProxyTron, and MRNICEGUY!
    If you have time to check out @djmateo904 and his streams, I would!
    MEDUSA @xmedusamissionx  Former UMF/UTF MOD, Member of MUT HOF  
    PROXY  @Proxytron  #MUT 10 veteran
    EJNFL24  @EJ_NFL_24 Invitee of EA Sports 1st ever MUT Invitational
    DJMATEO @djmateo904 US Marine | Official EA Sports GameChanger | MUTHead Staff
    Q) You have been playing since the start correct?
    MEDUSA -   Yes, MUT10, but not at the launch. I got heavily involved w/ MUT11 and that is when & where I started making my name in the MUT community. My MUT10 team stunk, I didn't have a ton of time to put into it and really anything good I had was thanks to gifts from EJNFL24 who I originally met in sports card trading on the Beckett online trading site.
    PROXY - Pretty much from the start, yes. I think I started playing within the first few days of release.
    EJNFL24 - Not from day one, but I did participate quite a bit in MUT10. I downloaded it probably a month, maybe two, after it's release.
    MRNICEGUY - Yes from the start
    DJMATEO - Yes, Jan 2010 back when it was DLC
    Q) What has changed the most since January 7, 2010?
    MEDUSA - 2 things top my list honestly 1. I'd sadly have to say the MUT community: In short, forums are not really needed or used anymore - I miss the days of just chatting w/ fellow players and not always about the game but just life in general. I've always tried to live by 1 rule in the community and that is to just keep it real. Also, The community doesn't seem as strong as it use to be, it may be strong in numbers but not strong as in helping each other out. I really appreciated alot of the community helping me out while I was in Afghanistan and that includes none other than EA's Josh Looman. Times have changed, the community has become GREEDY as a whole, still lots of good people out there tho, community just has blown up to an unreal size. 2. Again I have to use the word sadly, cuz sadly I have to say how EA operates. By this I mean while I get that EA is a business that has to make money, EA no longer has to cater to its customers as it use to because the game, format, and community has gotten so BIG, you should NEVER stop catering to some degree to your customers, this is where America as a whole is failing. I fight for this country for a living, so this disappoints me to see where we were and where we are now, because I Love America. With that said, I partially blame EA for what people call money grubbing & I partially blame the fact that MUT got so BIG that the shear size of the community made it easy for EA to do, plus you simply can not listen to everybody.
    PROXY - What's changed the most to me has been the community, for better or worse. I think at the start of MUT, it was definitely a tight-knit community where everyone knew everyone and we all helped each other out. Today, everyone seems to only know the players who are active on Twitter or do giveaways constantly. 
    EJNFL24 - It's hard to pinpoint one thing in particular to be honest. The mode has changed a ton in just about every aspect. Packs, coin making strategies, the Auction House as a whole, etc. It's all changed. Some for the better, some for the worse. Packs, as most would agree, have gotten worse. It used to be so much fun hunting for cards in packs without having to blow crazy amounts of coins, or spending a decent amount of money. A lot of people focus on that, because it's most people's most enjoyable part of the mode. The thrill of the hunt. There are a lot of aspects that have seen marked improvement though. From adding collections, adding a trade feature (however flawed it may be), streamlining our collections, and increasing the amount of cards that we can have at any given time. Almost everything has changed in some way shape or form.
    MRNICEGUY - In a positive way their are many more solid cards to build a team with, In a negative way pack odds are damn near pathetic, you could spend $100 at any moment and if your lucky 1-2cards might be over 83ovr.
    DJMATEO - The entire premise of the game... it used to be to just buy packs and build the best team possible... Now it was turned into a task related gamed to obtain the best team possible.  I like that, because it makes the grind that much more fulfilling
    Q) Why did you start playing MUT?
    MEDUSA - I started playing MUT because I have always been a HUGE football fan, fantasy football player, and football memorabilia collector. I've played Madden since the very first one & by that I mean 22 years before MUT and before alot of the community was even born. Ever heard of Commodore 64? Yes, I'm the OLD GUY. Anyways, I was at a card shop & some guy was talking about the game mode being like fantasy football so I downloaded the MUT game add-on to see for myself & the rest is history!
    PROXY - I was actually just browsing the Xbox Live store and came across a download for MUT. Back when Madden 10 first came out, MUT wasn't even on disc, it came out at a later date. So when I came across the download and read about what the game mode was, I was intrigued by the whole idea of owning cards of my favorite players and putting together whatever team I wanted, so I gave it a shot. The rest is history.
    EJNFL24 - I started playing purely out of curiosity. I saw the DLC advertisement just about every day while playing Madden, so one day I decided to give it a shot, and the rest is history, as they say. I liked the idea of combining card collecting (I do have a collection of actual football cards I've bought/pulled over the years) along with playing my favorite game, Madden.
    MRNICEGUY - The ability to create a fantasy lineup and play online without the commitment  of sticking to a league schedule
    DJMATEO -  LOL Because it was there on my screen.  I played FUT back in 09 so i wanted to see how Madden handled it.  (and it was free DLC, unlike the first FUT)
    Q) And why do you play now?
    MEDUSA - Why stop? I love football, I love Madden and I don't care about playing H2H games. I'm a CPU guy and just like "working" to make my Ultimate Team. Nothing worth a DAMN comes easy. But you can just make your own "Ultimate Team" in Franchise Mode you say, Where's the challenge in that? I say! It is about fun for me and not about bragging or showing off, only person I need to impress is the person who matters most to me - MYSELF!
    PROXY - What keeps me playing is the collecting aspect, and the constant drive to improve my team. I've always been a big fan of the collecting aspect of the game, getting my favorite players' cards and putting them all together on the same team. This year is much more fun to me so far because it's the first year where I won't be spending any money on packs, so it's even more challenging to get the cards I want.
    EJNFL24 - I play now because I'm an admitted football junkie. I still enjoy building up my team and taking it online to test my skills against other MUT gamers. It's a shame though, since with the integration of Twitch/YouTube into Madden moreso than ever that it's having a large negative impact on the online H2H community in my opinion. Just about every game you play on the upper tiers of the H2H ladder is the same old same old. This has little to do with the mode of Madden Ultimate Team itself, but having increasing H2H rewards toward the top tiers certainly doesn't help. I'm not sure if there's anything the MUT Dev Team can do to address this, but as it stands, the H2H aspect of the mode is less enjoyable than at any point before in my opinion.
    MRNICEGUY - Its the only mode in madden  were I can use my own version of a complete squad and play online h2h
    Q) Will you play MUT next year if things stay on the current course?
    MEDUSA - I'll be as honest here as I can be. Yes! People say they will stop and it is EA's fault cuz of them being so money grubbing, well I say - look in the mirror. Could EA do some things better? Sure, but here's the honest part - EA doesn't force anyone to spend money and that's the look in the mirror part cuz the only person to blame for spending money is the person you see in that mirror. I'm more disappointed with gameplay in MUT15 honestly than the money grubbing. Life isn't always fair, you can't have everything you want. I sure as hell don't have World Peace yet, try buying that!
    PROXY -  I think I'll keep playing MUT for the foreseeable future, unless they make it necessary to put money in the game. I know a lot of people aren't a fan of how the game is now and how hard it is to put together a really dominant team, but to me, this way is necessary to add to the longevity of the game. If everyone were able to get their favorite players right off the bat, they'd play for a month then get bored and never touch the game again.
    EJNFL24 - I'm going to be honest, I'm having serious doubts for several reasons. My main issue, as stated in another answer, is with online H2H. That's where I have the most fun and where my main coin income is from. Right now the H2H is almost unplayable at the top tiers. You literally see the same 5 plays 8/10 games anymore thanks to people biting schemes off of Twitch and/or YouTube. Packs are becoming less and less fun, and more and more of a money grab. The odds are considerably worse than in any year prior, and the cost of packs is higher. It's almost impossible to enjoy ripping packs and chasing certain cards without spending a ton or getting unbelievably lucky.
    At the end of the day, a lot of my friends have quit playing already and I probably won't be too far behind if the game mode continues it's current course.
    MRNICEGUY - Maybe but I wont spend as much time and damn sure less money.. or any
    DJMATEO - Absolutely, MUT is the future of Madden, I had been trying to express that when it started, but no one took me seriously.  Now look at it.
    Q) Do you remember when we had to fight EA to give cards away?
    MEDUSA - No, really I don't. Plus, if I want to give cards away - guess what? I WILL! I've done my fair share of bitching, moaning, and venting about MUT and EA over the years as well as disagree with how some things are done but in the end those are my opinions & my rights to do so, just like it is EA's right to run their company however they do. I've also done my fair share of praising EA for stuff and things they have done for me. It's the nature of the BEAST!
    PROXY - I do remember that, and I'm not sure why it was a problem.
    EJNFL24 - I don't. I've done it in years prior and this year and haven't had issue with it.
    MrNiceGuy - They dont really know.. as long as customers dish out money and dont voice their opinion  EA  dont really care
    DJMATEO - I do, but that was at the time of no trade block.
    Q) Why do you think EA did not want us giving cards away?
    MEDUSA - No idea because I don't remember this unless it is paypalling or selling on EBay that you are referring to and that is because that is against their TOS agreement and I'll leave it at that because I have my own opinions on that matter that I'll leave at that. (And No, I do not sell or buy cards or coins for that matter - I have, however, given away alot to the community by the way of time, cards, and coins)
    PROXY - The only thing I could think of is that maybe they wanted the other players to earn their cards rather than getting them for free. Clearly it's not a problem to them anymore though, with giveaways happening constantly over Twitter.
    EJNFL24 - I'm not sure what might've caused their issue with it, as I don't remember it being an issue in the first place. There definitely shouldn't be an issue with people helping other MUT players by giving away cards.
    MRNICEGUY - Same reason, if they dont really know.. as long as customers dish out money and dont voice their opinion  EA  dont really care
     DJMATEO - Im pretty sure they didnt want us giving away cards because of the chance of them being taken by people lurking.  Thus creating a hassle for them when the users call customer support and complain. Hence the introduction of the trade block
    Q) Our pack parties were so much fun were they not?
    MEDUSA - I didn't really do a ton of pack parties, but they def were cool when I'd join XBL parties. I loved wishing ppl good luck & MOJO. I stayed away alot cuz big parties seemed difficult to sneak in talk time, but pack parties lead to ppl helping each either w/ trading & Doing collections. Pack parties need to come back & I guess they still happen via Twitch and all. So,yes - when I was in them, they were FUN. I do remember those days w/ ppl like T1P,Clutch City,&Buhfalo. Pack parties also built lasting MUT friendships & reps. Miss da good old days.
    PROXY - Those pack parties were the best! There's so many things I miss about the MUT10 days.
    EJNFL24 - They're one of the most fun things I've participated in while playing MUT. I wish pack prices were more reasonable so we could still do 'em!
    MRNICEGUY - The thing that made the awesome was the odds didnt suck .. getting great value for decent content
    DJMATEO - I was just about to mention that in the last answer.  Pack Parties were definitely the cat's pajamas. And back then it was only limited to the 8 people in the party.  But now with social media and twitch becoming SUPER popular from the days of justin.tv Giveaways have more power and community interaction.
    Q) What could you change about MUT if you had the abilty to change one thing?
    MEDUSA - I think you meant what would I change if I could. First & Foremost I'd listen to the MUT players more despite the fact that you'll NEVER be able to make everyone happy. EA has in fact listened to some of my ideas, if you read this EA, you are welcome (cough cough Pat Tillman). Anyways, like I was saying... I'd listen to the vast majority of the community which would fix simple issues like lacking gameplay, recycling of promos, multiple versions of the same player, and all the DAMN collectibles. Well, at least I'd like to think I could, some times when the shoe is on your foot it is NOT as easy as you think it is. Now, while I say that... Let's also give some credit to the changes that EA has made over the years because they have made positive strides and listened to "us". Some times with positive strides come negative ones & with negative strides come positive ones. Trust me, for every constructive criticism someone like AirWolf (MutGuru) gets, he gets a ton of hate mail, think that over for a minute. I, for one, appreciate what Josh Looman did and what AirWolf (MutGuru) is working on.
    PROXY - I've thought about this so many times, and I feel like I always come up with a different answer. If I could only change ONE thing, I would make trading multiple cards a possibility. It's an obvious feature that would fix lots of issues with scamming and just make trading as a whole easier.
    EJNFL24 - Man, that's a tough one. If it had to do with just the mode of MUT itself, and wasn't inclusive of the gameplay aspect I'd have to say pack odds/prices. Some of the most fun I've had in MUT was ripping packs in years passed. This year it's impossible to have fun ripping packs unless you have insane luck. Pack prices have become a joke as well. With the release of "Ultimate Packs" we saw a single pack that cost roughly $30! That's insane! A 3 pack bundle for $90! Even then you weren't guaranteed any cards that would make a marked improvement to either your team or your coin total. If you spent that much in years prior you could make your team better in just about every aspect.
    MRNICEGUY - More gold or higher players per base pro pack or lower the price on premium packs, certain collectibles like totw u should always get tge collected versions of players back
     DJMATEO - TBH, every year they bring something different.  And it's usually a good change from the year before.  We asked for a trade block, we got a trade block, we asked for no caps on the Auction House, and we got no caps on the AH, we asked for more collections, we got more collections.  We asked for more ease of use with the "reserves/pending/Active" and we got that...  But one thing I'd like to in future MUT's is stat tracking on cards.  If i am buying a Calvin Johnson Jr.  I'd like to know how many TD's hes had, how many yards hes gained, the date the card was pulled.  Things like that for each player.  QBs, HBs, defensive players... That would be great.  Oh yeah and also a DNF% for my opponent at the load up screen so i'll know whether to expect a quit from him.  OH!  And also BRING BACK "Continue vs.  CPU" if the opponent quits on you
    Thanks for reading folks, till next time plug in your mic and play with someone!
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