Superior Bowl: Beyond The Sideline Football

I spend a great deal of time and energy trying to convince British friends to give American sports a chance, which makes it extremely annoying when only one team shows up for the year’s biggest NFL game. To be fair to the Denver Broncos, they did join the Seahawks in New Jersey last night but had shot themselves in the foot within 12 seconds and spent the remainder of the Super Bowl rolling around on the floor clutching the wound. No matter though – unless you’re a Broncos fan, in which case ‘ouch’ – because something of potentially great significance is happening in the world of American Football. The peerless OOTP Developments are working on Beyond the Sideline, a sim of the cowhide-kickin’ sport, and it sounds marvellous.

OOTP are the creators of the most complex and customisable sports management sims on the market, in the form of the Out Of The Park Baseball series. Capable of consuming lives, the games simulate the entire history of the game since the formation of the earliest leagues and can also be used to create globe-spanning fictional leagues that transform dynamically over the decades.

Combine that pedigree with a release in the under-nourished PC American Football market and my attention is secured. Beyond the Sideline’s lead developer is one Francis Cole, who previously worked on the Football Manager series, and the game promises much of the customisation and depth that makes Out Of The Park such a pleasure.

Behold, a feature list:

A realistic modern day American football experience with all current rules and regulations.

All 32 real American football teams with their real players and current rosters.

A realistic 2D game engine that represents all the action on the field, with the ability to call plays and watch them unfold, complete with the roar of the crowd and other sound effects.

You dictate the action on the field: Set depth charts and develop strategies around your preferred style of play.

FaceGen support allows realistic images of all players.

A complete box score for every game played in the league during its history, so you can always look back on thrilling victories and agonizing defeats.

The ability to sim decades into the future and watch teams’ fortunes rise and fall as dynasties emerge, crumble, and eventually renew themselves.

You call the shots from the front office: Participate in the draft for your team every spring; trade players; and negotiate contracts with draft picks and free agents.

All of the (non-playable) Division I colleges as well as many more, with real players, so you can draft the next crop of superstars every year.

A living, breathing world full of news articles from around the league and a message system that lets you field offers from other GMs and hear what your players have to say.

Complete histories, including stats, transactions, injuries, and contracts, for all players who have participated in a training camp during the past decade.

Nearly 50 tracked stats, allowing you to go beyond the usual numbers and dig deep into players’ performance.

Each player features a Health Scan that lets you quickly assess their current situation by showing you which areas of their body are hurt, which areas are okay, and which ones are worn.

Customization options, including the ability to change team names, the number of teams, the league structure, the league’s country, and a variety of settings.

Many benefits from utilizing the OOTP code base, like the user-friendly interface, online league support, HTML output, customizable text database and much more!

That all sounds delicious. The only bad news is that Beyond the Sideline won’t be out until next year’s Super Bowl at the earliest, with a ‘sometime in 2015’ release date.


  1. TheIronSky says:

    I figured this sort of thing would get made after I saw how hugely popular Football Manager became.

    • AngoraFish says:

      Well, you are a genius of course, and should be appointed to head a major gaming label.

      But, for what it’s worth, yes, yes, one thousand times yes please. And I say this as a non-North American.

      NFL Head Coach was a decent, but ultimately flawed example with too much 3D training and the like, not to mention that it was a fairly shitty PC port.

      Why this hasn’t been pulled off to date is something of a mystery, but most likely is related to a combination of the short attention span of the average American gamer, US intellectual property law and bad luck.

      The odds, however, have to be good that someone, sometime, will pull this off. I’d totally Kickstart that.

  2. Vexing Vision says:

    But where is the cricket simulator we’ve all been aching for?

    • BobsLawnService says:

      It isn’t licensed but there is a little (Little as in one man’s labour of love) cricket sim called Cricket Heroes which is a surprisingly indepth simulator/arcade game which gives some of the big name sims a run for their money.

    • gombicek says:

      If you want cricket management game then there are International Cricket Captain and Cricket Coach.

  3. Gap Gen says:

    Ooh, a rugby sim.

    • The Random One says:

      American Football, you mean? It’s a rugby simulator in the same way paintball is an armed conflict simulator.

      Psyche! I don’t care about sports at all! *dives out of window*

  4. Shadowcat says:

    Superbowl is the game where the winning teams from two otherwise completely unconnected competitions play one another in order to find out which of those two sets of teams has the best team, yeah?* Even though all the teams from one contest could be better than all the teams from the other. No chance of that being a disappointingly unbalanced game. Presumably unlike the effective “semi-final” games, which are probably much better. Unless teams can switch competitions at will, in which case it’s probably self-balancing, given that being best in your competition gets you to the Superbowl.

    * I guess it’s a little bit like the boat race — except the boats come to a dead stop every few seconds, so people can plan what to do next.

    • Grygus says:

      The origin of the Super Bowl is as you describe, but in 1970 the unconnected competitions merged and so haven’t been unconnected since then. There is a single-elimination playoff system that leads to this game, so the teams with the best records are not guaranteed to meet, but this year happened to feature the two best teams and the game was a blowout, so it turns out that such guarantees wouldn’t necessarily get us better matches anyway.

    • LionsPhil says:

      except the boats come to a dead stop every few seconds, so people can plan what to do next.

      But doesn’t that sound all the better for making a PC game out of it where you’re playing the coach/manager?

      • Jason Moyer says:

        For some reason when people talk about football they don’t seem to notice the obvious similarities between a good text-based football sim and a grand strategy game. There’s an overarching resource manager and a turn-based strategic layer. You pull resources together and build grand armies, then micromanage them in individual battles with an eye on winning the overall war. Yum.

  5. MaximusG says:

    American “sports” are pretty lame, unless you’re some ADHD kid who gets obsessed over “stats” and needs pauses in play cos they can’t concentrate on something for more than 5 seconds. Sadly I know lots of people like this and they never shut up about this boring, girly version of rugby.

    • Blackcompany says:

      As an American who recently attended a Rugby match between the USA Eagles and the New Zealand Maori All Blacks (forgive me if I messed that up; new to this) I mostly agree with you. I will take the non-stop action of rugby over this start and stop, commercial-laden nonsense any day of the week.

    • AngoraFish says:

      American Football is equivalent to RTS games, as Rugby is equivalent to FPS games.

      You FPS-types are welcome to your short attention span games, but please leave the play-calling and strategising to us RTS and turn-based gaming fans.

      Seriously… you’re criticising the sport for too much downtime and a lack of action in an article that’s about the suitability of the sport for a management simulation?!?

      • drewski says:

        American Football’s more of a hybrid TBS/RTS really.

      • SominiTheCommenter says:

        American Football is like Burnout. Every few seconds there’s a action replay of the last few seconds, the music and adverts are too big and loud.
        Injuries are like human explosions.

    • bill says:

      I always assumed that stopping US sports every 3 seconds was mainly designed for beer and hotdog intake.

      In some ways it makes sense… watching football (real type) in a bar tends to involve lots of agonising about when to go to the bar / toilet… and when you do there is inevitably a goal. Footie would be a lot more bar/toilet friendly if they stopped every 5 seconds.

      (as an example, we all know that watching baseball on TV is the most dull activity ever invented by man, right? But when I watched it in the stadium it was actually pretty fun. I got a beer after the first innings, pizza after the second, another beer after the 3rd, toilet break after the 4th, nachos after the fifth, and then everyone stood up and stretched and sang a song. It was great. I think some people did something on the field too.)

    • DonJefe says:

      So chess is also for people with ADHD because the players pause to consider their next move?

      I agree that American football probably does less for cardio than 90 minutes of soccer will, but to argue that the game is somehow less intelligent because of breaks between plays is just ignorant.

  6. harvb says:

    I absolutely love American Football, don’t have ADHD that I’m aware of, am a mature adult marride male and have never ever heard the “hahah its like rugby for poofs” comments.

    Last night’s Superbowl however was a not good time to introduce someone to the sport. It’s like the team with the most successful player in the last two or three years just didn’t bother playing.

    Oh wait that’s what happened.

  7. drewski says:

    Having lost at least a decade to (Championship)/Football Manager, I’m not touching this, even though I love American football.

  8. ucfalumknight says:

    As a silly American, I love Football. I grew up with it, played it, and follow it with great fervor, like most Americans. Football has surpassed baseball as the American past time. I would love the opportunity to play out my career as a Head Coach/GM. Football has a great deal of strategy in constantly trying to thwart your opponents offense/defense. Choosing the right personnel to execute those plans, and much, much more.
    Having said that, I don’t appreciate the hate that some of the commenters here feel the need to spout of about. “American “sports” are pretty lame, unless you’re some ADHD kid who gets obsessed over “stats” and needs pauses in play cos they can’t concentrate on something for more than 5 seconds.” This is a general statement that does nothing to add to the discussion. As someone who did not grow up with Soccer (Yes, yes, I know it is Football everywhere else in the world) I could say the same thing about it. When I watch Soccer, It is a long drawn out match where occasionally someone puts a ball in a goal. I don’t understand its allure, but clearly millions of people do. So, I cannot badmouth a sport that has millions of passionate fans who understand it much more than I do, and neither should you.

    • bill says:

      The “putting the ball in the goal” isn’t the only point worth watching though… the bits in the middle are supposed to be fun too.
      I guess that’s the main difference. US sports are all about the scoring. I mean, in basketball they score about every 10 seconds… but that doesn’t mean it’s very interesting to watch.

      (personally I quite like American Football. Basketball and Baseball, on the other hand… zzzz)

      • ucfalumknight says:

        I understand there is a lot more to Soccer, but I didn’t see it until Ian Football’s diaries. here . That’s why I can’t slam soccer, I know there is WAY more to it. I do think you are right though, we do tend to place much more emphasis on scores and winning and losing. Take the Super Bore last night. When there was no hope of a comeback after the 3rd quarter, I changed the channel, no need to watch the foundering of a future hall of fame quarterback.

        • Synesthesia says:

          Somebody link him to wonderful, beautiful football(soccer) plays on video. They will speak for themselves. I’m not even a connoisseur, but living in argentina i have been exposed to some moves i just couldn’t look away from.

          As for american football, i can link to this classic.

    • Reapy says:

      I think it gets special hate because of the shared name. I don’t really get it though, I like both styles of sports, they each have a high point, the same way I enjoy a plodding strategy game in addition to a quick action game and have an equal amount of depth to their strategies.

  9. bill says:

    “cowhide-kickin’ sport”

    Kicking?? Like, with your foot? I don’t remember that bit!

    • SominiTheCommenter says:

      Quoting Jon Lajoie “I’m gonna kick you with my fist”.
      He’s Canadian, not American, but they all look the same to me.

  10. Jason Moyer says:

    Even though baseball is my favorite sport, I haven’t been buying the yearly iterations of OOTP Baseball in awhile simply because they’re such massive timesinks. They’re phenomenal games, but even simming full seasons while playing as the GM and letting the AI managers handle most of the day to day decisions can take forever.

    Football, on the other hand, is simply amazing as a videogame because of how short the seasons are. 4 preseason games, 16 regular season games, and (at maximum) 3 playoff games. I still regularly play NFL 2K5, the best action-based football game ever made, on a regular basis and can burn through a season in a week or two without dedicating more than an hour here and there to it.

    A football management sim with the depth, customization, and realism of OOTP Baseball would be truly amazing, and I plan on supporting this project from day 1. I love the previous king of football text sims (Front Office Football) but it’s long in the tooth and could never really compete with OOTP Baseball as far as user-friendliness and customization goes. I would certainly welcome an OOTP-developed yearly football game, especially if they’re able to give proper depth to the in-game management part of the game. It could be a serious contender to fill the text-sim void left between the 2 otherwise greatest football games of all time, NFL 2K5 and Tecmo Super Bowl.

  11. Moraven says:

    Hockey is better.

  12. Fiyenyaa says:

    Remember that april fool’s thing the guys who make Football Manager cooked up, where they implied they would be making a 19th-century football manager.
    Remember how those screenshots actually looked amazing.

    I really wanted that game to be real, and the image used on this post made me briefly think something else similar would be on it’s way (I’ll take American football man, I’ll take it!).
    Not to be :(

  13. BobsLawnService says:

    I remember about 20 years ago Sierra/Dynamix released an amazing NFL management sim that delayed my interest in girls by at least 6 months.

  14. squareking says:

    As a Denver native, I stopped watching the game after 5 minutes. I missed nothing of importance.

  15. Synesthesia says:

    but does it have commercials every 30 seconds?

  16. DonJefe says:

    Yes, yes a thousand times yes! I have waiting for a game like this for over a decade. Consider my expectations sky high.

    I am sick of EA Sports’ faulty and completely unbalanced attempt at simululating the sport.

  17. DonJefe says:

    Shouldn’t the headline be “hand-to-ball” or is that reserved for when the first ever handball sim is released?

  18. granderojo says:

    I am so happy right now. I hate baseball but the OOTPB game is a great sim. Can’t wait to see if they can get it right with football.