AFL/NRL Grand Final Tell Us Damnit Special

AFL/NRL Grand Final Tell Us Damnit Special
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It’s going to be a busy and big two days for followers of the AFL and NRL with the grand finals for both sporting codes crammed into the upcoming weekend. So in light of the impending weekend of eyeballs glued to TV screens (or eyeballs wandering around stadiums, if you managed to score tickets), today’s Tell Us Damnit is sports game-themed!

While sport games like FIFA and Pro Evo have had the money, support, and enormous following to grow into major gaming franchises, many Aussie sports games haven’t had that luxury and are seldom critical darlings. So what are they doing wrong?

We’d like to throw it over the gamers of Kotaku who also know the ins and outs of these two sporting codes: if you could make your own AFL or NRL video game, how would you improve on what’s already out there? Do these games need a graphical facelift? Better controls? Different commentators? Tell us, damnit!


  • “Do these games need a graphical facelift? Better controls? Different commentators?”

    All of this.

    Also, a “My player” would be awesome.

    • +1 to this comment

      Also less potential market = less quality game. This is true form a business standpoint, which unfortunately all our sports codes are governed by.

    • Yep exactly – you’re dealing with a niche market within a niche market. I agree with others here that should try for some sort of NFL Blitz/NBA Jam type format which eschews a lot of the simulation aspects for something more immediately accessible.

      Part of the problem with sports games is that you have to understand the intracasies of that sport to get the most out of it, ever tried a demo of Madden – I have and I don’t know what the hell is going on, but Madden has tens of millions of potential buyers given all the people who follow that sport – AFL and NRL maybe have about 3 million followers a piece which, once you weed out the old folks, facebook mums and non-gamers leaves a much smaller pool of potential purchasers – so make it something more arcade like to attract the attention of non-sports fanatics.

  • The budget of a game like FIFA is ridiculous. It is also the best selling sports game in the world We will never see a NRL or AFL game of that calibur because the money just isn’t there.

  • I have a sealed copy of AFL Live 2004 about 30cm from my hands right now. Oh man, there is actually the opportunity to make a GOOD AFL/NFL game (saying this as someone who doesn’t like either sport).

    And yes, with Ben on this one. A ‘My Player’ career would be great. My brother seems to love it in NBA games and I like it in American Football games!

  • To start with, we need games that are updated at least yearly with current teams and players.
    ANd what about some sort of “live weekend” online feature where you play against other people in matches that replicate the real world fixture each round of the season(including named players for the each team).

    • Agreed – in Rugby League, trying to make it super serious and realistic without the budget to back it just results in it feeling awkward.

      Everybody loves the razzle-dazzle teams like the Tigers, so make the game a little looser, almost NBA Jam style. Make it fun, with fancy passes, crunching tackles and acrobatic tries. With a little imagination they could get it spot on without needing to waste time and money making chasing the unobtainable goal of “realism”.

      Also, my eyes will indeed be wandering around the stadium on Sunday from this viewpoint. Excited and nervous! Yay football! Aargh football!

      • EXACTLY – fun arcade style play is what they should be focusing on – making it fun AND accessible, so that when you have a few mates over to watch a game you could easily belt out a couple of games before/after the game.

        Making them too sim-like is just making the whole thing stale, boring and just unappealing.

        Picture it – balls up in the air – hold down the shuolder button (power up/special) and push X and the player under your control perfeorms an awe-inspiring-surely-impossible screamer. That would be FUN!

        • I agree entirely.

          An AFL game full of power-ups massive goals, marks, bumps would eclipse sales and enjoyment level of any “simulation” game they have released.

          Also speaking of awesome arcadey sports games, was it International cricket where you could dance all over the pitch as the bowler ran in before absolutely tonking him out of the park?

  • Oddly enough, my reaction to seeing that clip of the Lions went a little like this:

    Hey looks, it’s Mal Michael, shame he retired and went off to do charity work in PNG instead of finishing out his AFL career. He most definitely didn’t go and play for Essendon.

    And there’s little Shauny Hart, bless his cotton socks. Bit of a Bible basher (he actually did a talk at my old school) but he was a tenacious little guy on the field.

    Now Aker has the ball. What a twat.

    Aker to Lynchy, that happened far too often in the glory days.

    Wait, Lynchy kicked the goal? Oh yeah, he actually did that occasionally.

    Hold on just a moment, 2004 preliminary final? Lions didn’t play the Pies, they played Geelong! What a terrible game.

    Seriously though, I just don’t like sports games. They’re a poor simulation and don’t really manage to bring the magic that live sports has. So there really isn’t much I’d do if I had control, I don’t know if there is anything that can be done that would appease me.

    • Unfortunately though my friend, nothing captures the magic of live sports. It’s the weirdest rollercoaster of emotion that you can experience if you are a die-hard fan or even if you play sports yourself.

      When I play FIFA with my friends, there are only two emotions.
      Oh-my-god-I-am-unstoppable Happiness.

      Unfortunately, unless you have the ability to put me ON the field in front of 80,000 life like people screaming at me, I don’t think anything matches live sport.
      One day, I assume, we will be able to live that dream of running onto a simulated MCG, kicking a simulated goal and getting kudos from our simulated team mates.

      That day is a long way away.

  • This year’s AFL game came a long way. It’s a great improvement on previous years, yet it still has it’s flaws.
    Better graphics would be great, but really, they don’t matter that much compared to some other things needing improvements.
    Camera angles, and general gameplay hiccups (the wtf moments where you yell at the TV “why would I want him to do that?!?!”) are the things needing to be addressed.
    Head over to BigFooty. There’s a couple of threads dedicated to Bugs/Glitches and Feature requests.

    There’s a huge community behind these games, and the developers are trying to take into account as much feedback as possible.

    • In fairness, the bad camera angles is pretty true to the current broadcasting standards.

      Channel 7 has been horrible when it comes to doing unnecessarily tight shots of congested situations. The amount of times I was yelling at the TV during Collngwood vs Hawks for them to zoom out so I could see what the hell was going on…

      • Happens that way in Rugby League too. I hate the way they constantly focus in on the tackle. The real game is happening further out, where you can see the attackers getting into formation and the defenders sizing up or leaving gaps.

        I used to love watching the games on Foxtel at my grandparents’ place with the magic red button – you could change the viewpoint to “in the grandstand” and switch off the commentators to just hear the crowd. No idea if it still does that though.

  • Gotta say the comments are turning out better than I expected. The football article over on Lifehacker turned into a succession of “Football is for meatheads” and “I’m too good to watch football” comments and IT crowd references (Sorry Mark :P). Yay Kotaku!

    • lolol, that’d work with NRL.
      Basically it’d work like this: you are trying to score a try at the other end of the field. people from the other team are trying to tackle you. You stop them by throwing footballs at their heads and knocking them unconscious (you have a magical unlimited supply of footballs).
      I’d play that game…

      • Actually, if we could get the animations off the Frostbite 3 engine…

        There you go, good engines… that’s what they need.
        Crytek 3 for the enviroments, Frostbite 3 for the animations, Havoc for the player physics, ID Tech 5 for the AI… Unreal for the weather effects, etc.

  • Well for rugby league, making the game not suck would be a start. It’s dumb, rugby league 2 (2004-2005) is really highly regarded, then they turn it over to the same guys that make the afl game…=/

    • Going back further, I thought ARL 95 was actually pretty good. It felt pretty similar to the FIFA games at the time, had real Australian commentary, and was fun to play. Still got the CD at home, maybe I should install it on the weekend.

  • They need to involve people who actually understand the sports. Rugby League Live seemed like the creators had never even watched NRL.

  • i remember playing AFL premiership edition, and i actually thought it was fun (as a kid) but i just think they need to get either 1) more advertising, so people will buy it mistakingly, thinking its good, and give the companies more money, to make the game better, or 2) get EA to do it

      • Nostalgia, childhood, flooding back.

        In reality make it AFL/NRL fantasy football with monsters or bikini models. Sadly it would probably sell better.

        Personally grew out of sports games a long time ago.

    • With fifas new collision engine that would be awesome. All you’d need is the goalie animations and you could work from that!

  • Would love to see a career mode in the next AFL game, as well as the state league teams from SANFL, VFL, WAFL, etc.

    Definitely needs more challenge mode type scenarios like in the above clip.

    And please re make Super International Cricket.

  • I agree with a lot of these comments and I think the small market can be a sole explanation for these games being pretty awful. Until the demand substantially increases I can’t see the developers wishing to put a bigger budget into it. The gameplay is the key issue: the two most recent AFL/NRL releases put a decent job into the aesthetics like kits and stadiums but the engines were just awful. Rugby League Live was also guilty of recycling a lot as well, I felt like I was playing a PS2 game in parts.

  • So many comments by people that really need to play the new AFL game by Big Ant.

    “A good AFL game hasn’t been made since… blah blah”

    Simply not true. This years AFL Live is a HUGE step forward in comparison to any other AFL game ever made.
    The gameplay mechanics have been really well thought out, the marking, goal kicking, solo runs up the wing, shepherding, the ball up contests are perfect, breaking tackles, momentum feature, stringing handballs together, the list goes on.

    It’s not perfect, the AI needs some attention and Custom teams being allowed online are two extremely frustrating points, but they’ve done an amazing job getting the feeling of an AFL match into a video game.

    I’m not surprised by all the hate because past AFL games have been shocking, but if you’re honestly after a good AFL game, it’s been on store shelves for months.

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