Tennessee Volunteers snap up XOS PlayAction Simulator based on EA Sports Madden franchise

By Andrew Lippe

EA Sports, Madden NFL Football is without a doubt the most recognizable video
game on the planet. The game has been a constant innovator in playmaking
abilities and 3-D graphics but now it’s stepping out of the living room and
into the coaching room as the

University
of

Tennessee Volunteers
football team will be the first to use the XOS PlayAction Simulator for the
2007 Season. The XOS simulator is a virtual-reality training simulator using
EA’s TDT game engine similar to the one found in Madden NFL Football and NCAA
Football video game engines.

“College football
players recognize the EA Sports brand,” says Albert Tsai, XOS
Technologies, Inc., vice president of advanced research and development.

The Tennessee Volunteers are incorporating a series of athletic training tools
that make up the XOS PlayAction Simulator. They will use the XOS PlayAction
Publisher where coaches create 3-D playbooks, and the XOS PlayAction Simulator
PC, an environment where players can run practice plays via a laptop. Should
the university wish to expand into virtual reality, XOS provides the XOS
PlayAction Simulator VR. It integrates with the XOS SportMotion studio (a 3-D
motion-capture lab) to provide athletes with a physically immersive, virtual
reality experience.

By using the XOS
PlayAction Publisher University of Tennessee head football coach Phillip Fulmer
not only has the power to design 3-D playbooks, but can also create game-plan
diagrams and testing protocols.

“Coaches can upgrade their
own playbooks,” adds Tsai. “It can be easily integrated into the
coach’s workflow.” Head coach Phillip Fulmer and offensive
coordinator David Cutcliffe can upload their customized playbooks into EA’s
familiar 3-D video game environment.

Version one of the
simulator is specifically designed for the quarterback. Though they can create
their own playbooks they do not have the defensive designs of opposing teams.
However they do have the ability to script defensive plays and upload them into
the system. Coaches often study game film and they can notice defender
tendencies. They can incorporate those tendencies and see how their
quarterbacks’ react to them.

The XOS PlayAction
Simulator PC gives quarterbacks the capability to run practice plays via a
laptop in a video-game simulated environment similar to Madden. This gives
quarterbacks the power to study opponents on the road in the homes or in even
in their dorm rooms.

“Players are very
familiar with the Madden game and its playmaking system,” says Rob Moore,
EA Sports vice president, and CTO. The core graphics of the Madden game
like the distinct playbooks, the playmaking diagrams are all there to better
prepare athletes for their opposition. There is little integration needed.

“On any running play
or passing play the timing has to be right,” adds

Moore. “The AI defenses visibly act the
same way as they would on the field.”

Currently real players
are not programmed into the XOS system. However XOS stated they are already
looking for ways to enhance the Simulator’s realism for a more personal
experience.

Teams in the future can
use the XOS PlayAction Simulator VR which integrates with the XOS SportMotion
studio provides athletes with a virtual world experience. The XOS SportMotion
studio puts players’ physical bodies into the virtual world, while headmounted
displays and body sensors would track and record each movement for strength and
conditioning analysis.

Right now the
only playable version for players is for the PC. In the future they plan to expand
to PS3 and Xbox systems. The plan is to eventually support all players on both
offense and defense.