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Ongoing Developer Q&A Thread: Answers  XML
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As an ongoing feature of the EA SPORTS NHL forums we are going to be offering the chance for you, the fans of the game, a chance to ask questions of the development team. These Q&As will be a regular occurrence on the forums, and help to forge a path of two way communication between the developers and you the players.

The first of these, presented below, involved Sean “Rammer” Ramjagsingh the producer of NHL 12 and Clem Kwongmto Online Producer for the NHL series. The Q&A finished Thursday. Stay tuned for when we’ll throw the floor open to more of your questions in a separate thread.

All the answers to these community Q&A sessions will be collected here.

Rammer: Hey Everyone! Rammer here to thank you for all the great questions. Before getting into the questions, I want to say thanks for your dedication and passion towards the NHL product. Myself and the entire dev team truly appreciate all of your feedback. That said, I do not think that we have done a good enough job over the past while in facilitating two way communication. So...Moving forward, you will see me in the forums at a regular cadence.

Question: Do the folks in the EA Studios, that are responsible for this game, tend to focus more on the gameplay aspect in development, or the addition of "new" features? And to follow that up, which aspect tends to take more time in development?

Rammer: We focus on all aspects of the game. Different people enjoy different parts of the game whether it be EASHL, Be A GM, Versus etc. so we try to give something to everyone.


Question: What frustrates you the most while playing NHL 12?

Rammer: Losing.


Question: Can you share some of your personal experiences playing hockey in real life, perhaps share a picture or two.

Rammer: I’ve played hockey from the time I could walk. My first team jersey was Minnesota North Star green! I played rep hockey until I was 15. I’ve been back playing men’s league hockey back here in Vancouver for the last 8 years. We won a Div 1 championship a couple years ago where I led the league in scoring!


Question: Are you planning to look into the "stick through legs/puck through post" non-solid object issue that the game has?

Rammer: This is a great question…we’ve tried not allowing sticks to go through legs but the end result was a pretty frustrating gameplay experience where you would continuously keep losing the puck. Our conclusion was that until there was much more fidelity in the stickhandling/deking control, it was a better experience to allow the sticks to penetrate through legs and not lose the puck unless the defensive player did something such as poke check.


Question: How come Elite teams match up against Amateur and Pro teams (in online play)?

Rammer: Elite teams will sometimes match up against lesser teams if there are no current game sessions available against other Elite teams. The alternative to matching up against Amateur or Pro teams would be a longer wait until there was another Elite team to match up against.


Question: How do you feel about the late hitting during gameplay? For instance getting hit 5 seconds after passing the puck and no penalty is called.

Rammer: This is not ideal. If a hit is 5 seconds late, a penalty should be called just like it would be in the NHL.


Question: Will we get to play games with dedicated servers?

Clem: Our current server system does allow us flexibility with host migration and allow games to have users for all 12 players. If the concern is around game performance for EASHL Clubs games, we are adding the ability to make it easier/more likely to match clubs within a user selected geo region.


Question: What are you guys doing to improve the matchmaking system for EASHL in future?

Clem: We’re going to be giving matchmaking a priority and try to make matches closer in terms of skill and location. We recognize that there are clubs that hunt new teams and those with less experience, but this is unavoidable if teams are willing to backout of matches and wait for easier opponents. This is a problem that exists in all multiplayer games.
Users always jump between servers, team stack etc.

In the near term, we want to tune the opponent search time so we are extending the window in which we allow an optimal match to be found.


Question: Has there been any discussion about adding the ability to create custom controller configurations/button assignments?

Rammer: It’s something that we’ve talked about. I’d be interested to hear what kind of configuration you think you’d like better.


Question: Is it possible to have 4 on ice officials with current gen consoles?

Rammer: Possible…yes, however adding more characters impacts performance so on this generation of console, we’ve made the decision to take the performance that we save by not having 4 officials on the ice and repurpose it for better gameplay.


Question: Do you know why the practice feature does not work and is it something that can be fixed on the 360 console?

Clem: We’ll need to look into this one as I’m not sure what issue(s) the question is referring to.


Question: Do you think that the current attribute system is working as it should? For instance, Players having 6 to 8 attributes maxed to 99?

Clem: That is correct, but while you can max some attributes to 99 the user is also making a conscious choice on sacrificing stats for other attributes as well. For example, I can have shot power and accurarcy at 99 but my passing may not be as good. We want to let users choose which stats to boost so that it best suits their playing style or club needs.


Question: What was the reason behind the idea to limit clubs to only 1 dressing room?

Clem: The main complaint was that larger clubs could climb the leaderboard quickly and leap frog others by playing simultaneous games.


Question: Is it possible to make 6vs6 "hardcore" league with own leaderboards?

Clem: We’re definitely listening to our hardcore users on how to improve the league and this is definitely a requested feature so, yes, anything is possible.


Question: Why it takes so long for DEV team to post tuner or TU change logs?

Rammer: I agree that our communication to accompany to TU’s and tuner sets needs to be improved. Moving forward, we will do our best to post change logs prior to or in conjunction with updates.


Question: Is there any work being done to clean and simplify the menu trees?

Rammer: Can’t speak about 13 quite yet but this is definitely something that we’re looking at.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 04/04/2013 06:18:54

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It's our second round of the on-going developer Q&A where you guys get to ask questions of the development team. Last time's answers are above if you need a refresher of what we've already answered. This week Rammer handed off some of the questions to other people, and we've got quite a few replies.

Since lots of people worked on this I'm attributing all the replies to the NHL Dev Team, rather than any individual.

Thanks again for the great questions, and sorry if we weren't able to answer yours. In some places questions were reworded to get to the core of what was being asked, and in others questions were combined. For example several people asked essentially the same question about intimidation.



Q: What does the Aggressiveness attribute do? As someone who sacrifices their offensive and athletic capabilities as a Tough Guy Dman, I would love to know the trade-off I am making.

The Aggressiveness attribute will cause your player to throw bigger and more effective hits. Aggressiveness will also allow you to intimidate the players that you hit which will have a number of different effects.


Q: Have you thought of incorporating something like NCAA FOOTBALL’s “Team Builder”? If so why isn’t is in?

This is definitely something that we’re going to consider moving forward.


Q: Could an online dynasty be implemented for future titles?

This is definitely something that we’re going to consider moving forward. I know that this is a feature that our fans would like to see as part of the NHL Franchise.


Q: Is a balancing of the defense to offense ration in the game possible?

The most important thing to us is creating a fair and equal playing field for all players and positions. Balancing offense and defense is an ongoing process that requires the help and input of the community to get just right.


Q: Why was “Average Opponent Level” stat was removed in the versus leaderboard?

We did a purge of the leaderboards a few years back and we thought this this was one of the stats that we felt weren’t used/needed/relevant at the time for the majority of our users.


Q: How come in create-a-play I cannot make a play involving more than 1 pass when I could in NHL 09/10?

This is a bug that will be looked at.


Q: How does the online versus point system work?

There are two categories of points that are awarded for Online Versus games: Win/Loss Points (the ranking points outlined below) and Performance Points.

Performance Points are determined by your stats from the game. Scoring more goals, allowing fewer goals, winning faceoffs, and playing well in general will earn you more Performance Points. It is also weighted based on your total overall points, your opponent’s total overall points, your team’s rating, and your opponent’s team rating.

1. Your current rank points
2. Opponent rank points
3. Your team’s weight
4. Opponent’ team’s weight

I.E Level 70 gets more win/loss bonus winning level 27 than level 60. lvl27=13p lvl60=2p
I.E Level 70 player only gets 1 or 2 points in performance bonus even when scoring 10 goals and having 12.00 min TOA regardless of opponent level.


Q: Concerning the goalies, always a soapbox issue of mine, will we ever reach a point where goaltending is truly 'proactive' as opposed to 'reactive'? I know strides have been made in this area in recent NHL iterations, but ultimately the netminders still feel like blocks attempting to impersonate goalies: The animations feel scripted and disingenuous.

Goalies are always a major focus for us and will continue to be moving forward.

I completely agree with your comment around reactive vs proactive and is definitely something we’re considering as we move forward. Our number one goal with goalies is to ensure no always goals as these can completely ruin the competitive experience. Without going into details of 13, we are looking at adding more flexibility in our goalie tuners so we can plug any holes that do end up slipping through.


Q: Do you plan on adding more of a variety of goals besides cross-creasers and one-on-one dekes?

Yes. We want people playing realistic hockey to give them the best chance of winning.


Q: Will the AI’s defensive actions be improved?

Yes (can’t elaborate yet).


Q: Are there attributes that have zero impact for online gameplay? If so, what are they? eg: fighting, durability, etc

All attributes affect online gameplay.


Q: It was brought up in the last Q&A, but without an answer. The issue about EASHL practice mode is that it constantly crashes the game for the captain ever since the mode was introduced to the series, and this goes for every EASHL player I've ever talked to about it (and that is plenty), and the only way to get out of the freeze is to either return to the XBox dashboard or have a teammate invite you to play a game. It's really annoying when it happens well over 50% of the time, making practise virtually unusable for teams due to the patience required to actually get in to it. Last time my team tried to start a game in practise mode, we gave up after the 4th failed attempt. So with the explanation of the issue, when will practise mode be fixed for 360?

We’re looking into this.


Q: Why can't you save your line changes for online versus like you can in madden?

This is something we can consider if there’s enough demand.


Q: Is a public beta test period planned for NHL 13 or any future NHL releases?

We do not do a true public Beta however we do leverage community members that are local to come in and give early feedback through our GameOps test sessions. We also have a ‘System Test’ where we involve local (non-EA), core NHL players to be part of our test to help find key bugs and exploits before the game is released.


Q: Are there going 2B more sliders in NHL 13?

It’s still to be determined.


Q: Is presentation running in real-time in NHL 13 or is it still based on pre-rendered cut scenes?

Can’t speak about 13 yet but I can say that I’m very happy with the presentation changes that we’ve made and I can’t wait to give you more info. We have an extremely talented art/visuals team that are constantly trying to push the boundaries of what we can do.


Q: What’s the challenges involved in adding authentic goal horns in the game?

Licensing.


Q: Have the settings in Be a GM been looked at so that when I go in and play that mode my settings (custom camera, sound, and visual) don't have to be reset each time I load my franchise?

I personally have not experienced this myself however I will have someone take a look at this issue


Q: Has EA considered different leagues w/ different sliders for EASHL? i.e. "Pro League:" More realistic sliders, strictly enforced penalties better AI. "Casual League:" Relaxed sliders, relaxed penalties, relaxed AI.

Basically, it’s hard to do because it would necessitate sharing our user base. Our first focus is improving matchmaking to ensure the majority of our users can get the best online experience.


Q: Wondering about intimidation: how does it work? what does it do? how do you get it? Could it be removed in future releases on the basis that it takes control away from the users?

Caused by big hits

Intimidation effects:
-more pass error when an opposing player is nearby
-more shot error when an opposing player is nearby
-if intimidated player is AI controlled, he/she/it will rush passes when an opposing player Is nearby

Removing intimidation effects:
-if a player who threw a big hit is challenged to a fight and accepts, the intimidation effects of the big hit are removed/reduced
-if a player who threw a big hit is hit by a teammate, the intimidation effects of the first big hit are removed/reduced
(e.g. if Chara was running around hitting everyone on your team, many of your players will have the intimidation effect applied to them lowering their abilities – if someone from your team throws a big hit at chara or fights him. Everyone effected by his intimidation will have their intimidation effects reduced/removed)
-scoring a goal reduces the amount of intimidation of your team’s players


Q: EASHL question: Is there ice tilting in the game?

There is no Ice Tilting in the game (or momentum).


Q: The stick lift animation to breaking the stick results in a penalty. This is not a realistic scenario since you wouldn't be able to generate enough force to break someones stick with a lifting motion. Will this be fixed and or removed for NHL 13?

I’ve received a lot of comments about this. With the sticks these days, they break in all situations. I was watching a game the other day and a players stick broke while receiving a pass (obviously it was pretty much broken before the puck hit the stick but the actual split of the stick into two didn’t happen until the puck hit it). Stick breaking on sticklifts is something that can happen in real life but I have no issues dialing it right back or even not allowing it to happen


Q: Why did you guys take away a pause for Ranked VS play? I understand for OTP but essentially if I pause the game to switch my goalie or make a line change I can't use my timeout later in the game.

We reduced it based on feedback that people didn’t want to be interrupted in online play with the number of pauses we were offering. On the other hand, there would be users asking us why there are so many pauses if we increased the number.


Q: Why are there so few "franchise" players found in the draft?

I should start by clarifying our definition of a Franchise player as we do not consider a player that is Elite (ie. Eric Staal, John Tavares etc.) a franchise player. To us, a Franchise Player is a class above the elite players so think of guys like Sidney Crosby or Ovechkin. This is why these franchise players appear to be so rare in Be A GM.


Q: Why has the focus seemed to have shifted away from David Littman’s promise of “no more always goals”?

No always goals is the number one focus.


Q: Why are there some moves that the CPU can do but a human can’t like “ultra turbo speed”, “incredible passing from any angle” “get up really quickly after being knocked down with the puck” and “win 80% of the wall pins”?

CPU Hustle:
There is a bug where the CPU is able to hit the hustle button faster than human players. This will be fixed for 13.

CPU Passes:
AI/CPU controlled players do not need to charge up the pass button to get stronger/faster passes, their AIM for passes is also based on the skill level the game is being played at. We consider this to be a bug and are making changes to CPU passing.

Get up really quickly after being knocked down:
Not sure about this one but we’ll look into.

Win 80% of wall pins:
More context/examples needed. We’ll look into.


Q: Have you thought about adding “blue line awareness” for the defensemen so they’re better at keeping the puck onside / in the zone?

Definitely something on our radar.


Q: How closely do you cooperate with the other EA SPORTS' teams, like the FIFA team? Are you able to use each other’s programming in any way? Do you share tips and ideas with each other or is each brand isolated totally?

We work closest with the FIFA team as they’re in the same building as us so it’s very easy to share info, designs and in some cases, code. At the same time, we also work with the other Sports teams to get a better understanding of what’s working well for them (and what’s not working) so we can be as innovative and as efficient as possible.


Q: Can we have as many slots as we want to create different player types for each position? Why are we limited to just 1 C, 1 LW, 1 RW, 1 D, 1 G?

It’s something that can be looked at but we’ll have to revisit the design on how to select player types. Because it’s a 1-to-1 mapping right now, it’s fairly intuitive. If we change it, we just have to make sure it stays intuitive and usable.


Q: How does the ranking system work in HUT? Some people only play level 1's and get 10-20 points of a win and I get zero whenever I play a level 1.

Not sure if there are other issues at play here but what might be occurring is that the user is replaying the same users or is constantly getting dnf wins. We punish users for both of these cases and may give them very few points. Otherwise, If they are referring to rank points, I think it’s probably because this particular user is probably ranked much higher than a level 1.


Q: What goes into updating the rosters (attributes, potential, etc)?

When we ship the game, the ratings for all our leagues are provided by regional experts who provide us with ratings and potentials for every player in the game. This is a big undertaking gathering all this information for each league and putting it in the game. This also puts it in the hands of experts from each league instead of the game team who don’t have the opportunity to watch the European leagues and the some of the other leagues on a regular basis.

During any given year we usually add about 1000 players to the game thru our roster updates. These are done mainly at the beginning of the year as we get rosters from the AHL, CHL and the euro leagues at the start of their season. (The CHL alone has over 500 players change a year.) We continue to watch in case players join CHL teams from college or players join the pro ranks from College.

Once we add the new players in a roster update, we then fix all the lines for all the teams and make sure that we add any other information such as new contracts or call-ups and send downs to the game.

This process usually takes between 2-3 days. This is why you see the lines as of a couple of days before the actual release of the update.

We make ratings changes during a season around the all-star break. This allows us to see which players have broken out and which guys are having a down year. We have had requests in the past to upgrade players after them having a good start to the season but with such a small sample size we feel that it wouldn’t truly portray that player’s abilities.


Q: Also, why are guys who are top prospects not being drafted high/dropping? ex. Yakupov was once number 1 overall pick in previous Be a GM's , but since the update from about a week or so ago, he's not taken til the 4th round.

We know why this is happening. This is not ideal and will be improved.


Q: Why does the computer automatically shoot when in the offensive zone in EASHL? Only on the PP do they pass in the offensive zone.

The EASHL is designed to be focused around the human players. The AI logic is a less robust version of our regular logic to encourage players to be the ones making the real difference in the game. With that in mind, the logic that causes players to shoot is unusually high – the AI behavior will be tuned to reduce the frequency in which they decide to shoot first during even strength play.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 04/28/2012 00:55:31

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Apologies for the delay on this one. The team's hitting crunch time getting the game ready for both E3 and release, and things are a bit hectic around here. We may have another batch of questions coming, or we may open the floor up to more questions in a bit.

Once again, thanks for your questions and sorry we can't get to everyone's.

Q: Will there be more customization in HUT this coming year with things like real coaches, arenas, changing jersey numbers, captaincy and jersey creation?

A: We know that customization is key for any online game mode, especially HUT. We were able to add some of the things from this list but I can’t give specifics quite yet.


Q: What are your plans for dealing with online gamers that use IP BOOTING to get DNF wins?

A: Managing cheaters is something that’s going to continue to be a focal point for the NHL team. Anytime we receive complaints we do everything we can to investigate all claims. We reserve the right to wipe stats, suspend and even ban users if necessary.


Q: In HUT, how does the training works? For example, when I apply a "+5 SKT" to a player, does it add +5 to each underlying SKT related category? (+5 to Max Speed, +5 to Acceleration, etc...) Or does it add a random +5 total points to SKT related categories? (+2 to Max Speed, +3 to acceleration)

A: That’s correct, a training item like +5 SKT adds +5 to each of the individual attributes related to that category.


Q: In HUT, what "exactly" happens with player cards when roster updates occur? Some cards' OV/POT goes up/down, but none of the base SKT/SHOT/HND... attributes are modified.

A: I think there’s some confusion here as roster updates do not affect the HUT ratings since the two are separate. HUT online games do not use the default online rosters.


Q: Any plans on fixing the XP gain in BAP goalie mode? (even letting in one goal can cause the user to get 5 or less XP combined)?

A: Yes we are looking into this for NHL 13, there will be increase in XP for offline BAP Mode.


Q: If I'm playing HUT mode in an online tournament that has a set requirement i.e "team has to be excatly 3 stars" Why i am still forced at facing a team that is obviously 5-star rated team wielding high 90's in offence,defence and goalies?

A: We are addressing the tournament matchmaking issue in HUT by only allowing matches played by teams in the same tournament event.


Q: I've noticed in Be a Pro, most goals are scored when you're on the ice. Whether for or against. Is this something that you plan on improving for NHL 13?

A: We have noticed this, however this is also because you are usually only simming 2minutes at a time which means there will be only a hand full of simmed opportunities before you come back on to the ice.


Q: Is it possible that you could add "match my region" when searching for club games in the EASHL?

A: We are taking measures to improve the regional matchmaking experiences for our users. Matchmaking will search by the club’s assigned region to find better matchups to reduce the number of games that are laggy for the away team. More details to come…


Q: EASHL- Before the game starts, are clubs/players of the lesser team given a boost in order to give them a better chance to compete?

A: No, all teams are given the equal chance to compete and showcase their teamwork.


Q: Has the developer team noticed the incredibly sharp drop off in SV% and massive climb in GAA this year?

A: Yes we usually follow trends from the real season and try to implement them into the game. In terms of the specifics, the AVG SV% is actually up this year by .0007% from the 2010-2011 season and the AVG GAA is down by .0646 from last year.


Q: EASHL - Are the club games completely hosted by EA servers or is one of the player hosting the game while the EA servers are used for stuff like authentication, anti-cheat measures, etc...

A: Club games and Online Team Play games are hosted by EA’s own game servers. There are 3 dedicated game host centers, one on the western seaboard, eastern seaboard and one in Europe. Along with our regional matchmaking improvements we will attempt to host club games in the game center closest to your region. Online Team Play however, will likely consist of random users from lobby rooms and the host of that session determines which game server is being used to host the game. For the best experience we always recommend playing within the EASHL clubs format.
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Once again I apologize for the delay in getting these to you. The team has been busy finishing off NHL 13 and haven't had the time to go through our last batch of questions, until now.

Remember these were True Performance Skating focused and thus we had Associate Producer Ben Ross tackle them.


Q: How will it work in EASHL? Especially since everyone has 99's everywhere. Will it be less effective, ie: with the turning momentum and so on since people will have 99 attributes. Will they be able to turn and shoot almost unhindered because they had 99 in agility for example?

Ben Ross: You will see a few different things this year from the EASHL with a focus more on player types. Users will make stronger decisions based on the type of player they want to be. This will lead to more varied builds and will allow the EASHL to feel much more like the experience when playing with a good line of NHL players.

Since the skating is physics based, a player with good agility will have better turning ability but still won’t be able to negate the fact that they are traveling too fast to turn on a dime. The faster you go, the more predictable you will be regardless of skill level.


Q: One question.. is floating like this gone for good? - http://youtu.be/Mp1jrJRidzk

BR: Players respecting their blades was a big focus with the new skating system.



Q: The puck carrier has to skate with the new skating engine, but... so does the defense trying to stop them, even if the puck carrier can't turn 90 degrees anymore, neither can the defense, so what's changed?

BR: It has changed because it is much more like real hockey. Defensemen who chase often get beat. It is much better to have good gap control and a strong defensive position. A defender should only commit once the offensive player is out of options – with the new skating, this happens when a player gets up to high speed or makes a strong move to either side. Since they can no longer cut back on a dime when they have speed, the defender can read this and angle them out.


Q: The figure skating will have a different look/feel, but i think the result will be the same as the defense will continue to be one step behind (reacting) and will continue to chase/miss figure skaters. Any thoughts on this subject of new skating vs. figure skating?

BR: With momentum introduced, it is much better to keep your momentum than to cut back and lose all your speed. If a forward is just dancing around, the defender can sit back and wait for a true commitment. Both players have the ability to stop and start with explosive strides but any defender who gets caught chasing is probably making the wrong play.



Q: How does TPS affect the backhand move and gliding, will a backhand always initiate gliding as before?

The skill stick is still as powerful and responsive as it has been in previous versions but there are also some great new moves from glides. When a forward goes into a glide, they have much more agility and can make solid moves in any direction.


Q: Also, how does TPS affect the protect the puck move?

BR: Protect puck has been tuned to work with the new skating system. It recognizes momentum as well so if you get a good step on a defender, you can use it to get around and cut to the middle brancing for the weight of your opponent – incidental contact has improved a lot this year.



Q: Will a player standing still (D-man in front of net) be able to hold his ground?

BR: Net Battles have improved quite a bit this year. Players can hold their ground in front of the net but there have also been improvements to responsiveness and issues where players would feel stuck when they wanted to leave to get a puck.


Q: Is the goalie skating also improved?

BR: There have been a lot of great improvements to goalies this year but players were the focus this year for True Performance Skating.


Q: Why the decision to leave goalies out of the skating engine?

BR: Player and Goalie skating and the way it works within the game is quite different. This year we focused on getting player skating to as good a quality as possible


Q: Can you attempt a deke move at full speed (be it successful or not)?

BR: You can attempt moves any time you have control of the puck but you will definitely have more success at controlled speeds. Speed vs. Control was a main theme across the board this year.


Q: While a player is in a deke animation with the new skating, can you interrupt the move by having body position on him and bumping him to the ice? Basically can you touch the player while he is in a deke animation this year?

BR: Yes.


Q: Every video I see of NHL 13 looks like the game speed is much faster than NHL 12. Any insight on this?

A: The top speeds in NHL 13 are on par with top speeds in the real NHL. We have done tests where we have compared our skaters to laps done in teams individual skills competitions and the all star fastest skating, looking specifically at times from blue line to blue line and full speed, etc.


Q: Will EASHL players with 99 speed be able to simply hustle past AI Dmen as they currently can?

BR: Defensemen who get their feet moving and maintain a good gap on a forward will be difficult to beat. Defenseman will also want to angle forwards towards the boards and stay with them deep enough that they have a hard time cutting to the net with speed due to the momentum the forward will then have.


Q: What role do attributes play in regaining control after using top end speed? To cite an example is Pavel Datsyuk able to regain his puck control and shot accuracy faster after sprinting than Darren Helm?

There has been a strong effort this year to ensure star players feel like star players. That isn’t to say that Helm won’t be able to snipe any less when given some time and space but you will see Datsyuk definitely has an easier time gaining more control after a quick move while skating or deking.


Q: Is the backward skating that bad for every defenseman? I mean guys like Keith or Letang should not have any problem keeping up with forwards because they are extremely agile and fast while skating backwards.

BR: Great defenseman definitely stand out and will be able to keep smaller gaps and take a few more chances with less fear of being beat as easily as some other defensemen.


Q: In the NHL you have these powerful skaters that are more known for their explosive skating, going from a stand still to a full stride, rather than their high top speed, will TPS be able to replicate this?

BR: Explosiveness was a marquee part of True Performance Skating. We wanted to make sure we could capture the quick stops and explosive first steps that you see players like Patrick Kane achieve in the real world.


Q: Has there been a new attribute added for the new skating explosiveness or does this fall under acceleration?

BR: Acceleration.


Q:How will the new skating system affect the D mans ability to tie people up in front of the net?

BR: Net Battles remain in the game and have been polished to get more consistent results. There was also an effort to ensure players won’t exit out of net battles automatically to perform shots and/or receive passes so they are effective to tie up the man in front. A big change though is that players won’t be stuck when trying to leave a net battle so they do their job well without restricting offensive players from leaving to obtain pucks in the corner and/or move anywhere away from the defender tying them up.


Q: It’s been stated that skaters will not be able to shoot and deke accurately while at full speed accept people like Gaborik and others.....Does this mean those that obtain legend 3 will be able to circumvent the restrictions of going all out as well?

BR: Being highly skilled means the effects are a bit less but the top pros won’t be able to negate the effects altogether. Top players will feel more powerful but still have all the same restrictions as other players. Momentum and speed still play a big role, just some players can perform at a higher level than others.


Q: How will true performance skating affect stamina. for example how long will you be able to hold top end speed before your player is effectively ‘gassed’.... lets say with a player with an average stamina attribute of (75).

BR: We are still tuning the effects on stamina so we can’t give you an exact example on a player with 75 stamina but endurance does play a part this year. Players with better endurance will be able to push for longer than players with lower endurance. There isn’t a cap on how long you can skate hard but the longer you are moving at that speed and the more times you start and stop quickly will effect your stamina much more than gliding and/or holding a position.


Q: Will the puck carriers speed affect the difficulty to immediately put a player in a boardplay? In 12 a defenseman could immediately stop and turn a puck acarrier, have him face the boards, and hold him there while the puck carrier was in the middle of a high speed rush.

BR: Players are easier to put into boardplay the slower they are moving.


Q: Does true performance skating also mean "true position shooting"? Meaning you can't backhand or with the tip of your stick onetime it at 50mph in the top corner? So will ackward body/stick positioning be alot less effective or even possible?

BR: Speed vs. Control falls into all aspects of the game. Control plays into shooting not only at speed but also plays into shot selection. A player will have much more success getting into a controlled state on their forehand than they will travelling away from the net on their backhand. It also plays into one timers where the quality of the pass is considered, as is the side the player is receiving the puck from. They will have more success on their strong side than if they are just shoveling the one timer towards the net.


Q: Have you guys taken into account that EASHL players will make themselves tiny (for faster speed) and then max out their agilty + balance while D-men will still be over 6-foot so they'll have much less abilty to move around ?

BR: We are still tuning EASHL player builds but there has been more of a focus to look at player types so that Users have more of a choice to the type of player they want to be as opposed to a build where they know they will have the easiest time maxing out certain ratings.


Q: In your testing are breakaways or 1on1's with goalies much more prevalent than NHL12 ?

BR: There has been a lot of work done on goalies this year. There are multiple ways to score on the goalies in all situations, breakaways included but the goalies are also equipped with the tools to stop any potential opportunity as well as long as they anticipate properly, which all depends on the situation (teammates available to pass to, defenders to help, screens, deflections, etc.).


Q: How do you initiate top speed controller-wise?

BR: The controls for the new skating are very accessible. If you simply press in a single direction and do not turn from that straight line, your player will get to top speed after accelerating. You can also press and hold in the button on your left analog (no more tapping) to go directly into the push-puck animation. In doing this you will get to top speed as quickly as possible but will assume all the penalties of more fatigue and less agility even quicker.


Q: I am a bit worried with the new skating engine that offensive Dmen will be the popular choice because of their skating ability, hence leaving the Defensive Dman and Tough Guy Dman who are counted on in the NHL to consistently take the body and seperate forwards from the puck useless. Is my fear justified?

BR: We are still tuning the EASHL player builds but there has been a focus to ensure that all players in the game have the importance they do in the real world NHL. Size and strength matter for hitting and since players with top speed now have to consider momentum more than they have in the past, they are now more predictable to a player that can line them up for a hit. Offensive defenseman will have great importance due to speed and can really help on the rush but also due to momentum, it is very easy for them to get caught out of position and chasing on the back-check.


Q: When going top speed players have reduced shooting and turning abilities, but the developers mentioned that players like Crosby were excepted. Does this just mean their starts are not as severely reduced (though still significantly lowered) or is there a way to actually make a player negate the effect?

BR: There is no way to negate the effects. You are correct in assuming that some players just won’t be effected as much as others. Crosby will still be better going into a controlled state than he will be on the rush but he will be able to do better at speed than a player with less skills.


Q: In that live-gameplay video we saw on the forums here, there was an instance where Simon Gagne (a very fast skater in real life) was going on a breakaway with Anton Volchenkov trailing him. Gagne was clearly going faster and putting some distance between him and Volchenkov, but his animation made it seem like he wasn't putting any effort into his strides at all, while Volchenkov looked like he was hustling as hard as he could... can you explain this?

BR: The build at E3 was Alpha software. A lot more work has been done on all the skating animations since then. When a player is skating as hard as they can, you will see that in their animations. Not necessarily related to the Gagne clip, but keep in mind that a player at full speed already may be able to glide or continue to pump their legs at a lower rate compared to a player accelerating, who is trying harder to get going who may not be up to speed yet.


Q: You say shooting & passing accuracy as well as balance are greatly hindered at "top speed". Does that mean they're only hindered when someone is using the hustle/Left stick click? Or are they also hindered when someone is skating at full "normal" speed (meaning skating at full speed without using the LS click/hustle feature)?

BR: Nothing is set to be on/off. The more controlled your player is, the more accurate they will be. This ramps up to the most extreme case where they are in a full on hustle and shoot right away against their momentum on their backhand – In those cases, you can expect to see much less scoring potential.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 07/16/2012 11:06:31

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Question: How exactly does the goalie anticipation stick work?

Ben Ross: With the goalie anticipation stick, a User can lean to one side to increase their chance to saving a puck to that side vs, the other one. It can be used to have a higher chance to save a shot against a player that always goes to one side or it can also be used the way you see goalies in real life take give glove and then take it away.

Q: Is there a 'canned' animation for doing wrap arounds? I know there was an animation like this a number of years back by pressing, I think it was circle on Playstation. I like to play goalie in EASHL, and I find as a goalie, it is hardest to make a save when an opposing player has the puck behind your own goal and you're trying to defend both posts.

BR: There is a wrap around animation that a skater will go into if you press shoot with momentum from behind the net. You will see them try and tuck the puck in around the near post. As a goalie, the best strategy is to go into VH and hug either post to stay up against it.

Q: Have you ever thought about designating a button for AI puck dump?

BR: It is a good idea and has come up. There is always a mix in regards to AI and how much they should do on their own vs. the User gaining control over what they do. One thing that is in the game, in modes where you have control over line strategies, is that you can increase the bias for the AI to dump the puck.

Q: Why did you change the way True Performance Skating feels on the finished product? When I played the demo the skating felt more real and you couldn´t turn that easy. When I got the game on release day, I could turn much easier and it felt more like previous titles. And with the new patches/tuners the skating has become more and more like previous years. Why create something new and revolutionary, when you just take it away later?

BR:
The core mechanics behind True Performance skating haven’t changed. The changes made between the demo and release were refinements that were always planned and mostly around cleanup of animations and responsiveness in controls (which may have made it feel smoother but they weren’t to sacrifice any realism in our minds – the core physics behind skating remained the same). Changes that were made in tuner sets were in response to general community feedback around responsiveness in pivots mostly and shouldn’t have changed the overall feel of True Performance Skating.

Q: As someone who enjoys playing center back in FIFA, I was wondering if you thought a more passive system of defense like the one in FIFA would be possible in the NHL series?

BR:
We are always trying to be as authentic to the sport of hockey as possible. With the different strategies, you can play a mix between a very passive style and sit back and clog up the neutral zone, or conversely, you can also play much more aggressive and play full on attack with a heavy forecheck. Another option that you have available that you may not be aware of is to hold the switch player button down until you change into the last defender. In that case, you can control the last line of defense yourself and decide how far they pinch or sit back.

Q: EASHL: What is the D strategy, e.g. collapsing, staggered and tight point?

BR:
In a general sense, in collapsing, your team will collapse in towards your own net on defense forcing the opposing team to take more shots from further out by clogging the slot. The risk is the potential of screening your own goalie and getting to caught up into your own net. With staggered, it is more of an in between where your weak side winger will control the high slot area and sit back a bit more where as your strong side winger will be tighter to the point. Tight point is where both wingers are as aggressive as the strong side winger in Staggered and both are tight to the oppositions defensemen while the other players cover down low. The disadvantage is over committing at the point and allowing a mismatch in numbers towards your net.

Q: EASHL: What is off strategy, e.g. behind the net, crash the net and overload?

BR:
In behind the net, your team is more likely to setup for plays down low and will react better to a puck carrier that sets up below the goal line. Forwards will help cycle on the strong side and your weak side defender will sneak in for one timer chances. Crash the Net is best suited for physical teams looking to bang in rebounds, or get shots on nets with screens. It is all about getting traffic to the net both in zone and on the rush. Overload is for skilled players, there will be more cycling out of the strong side corner and players crossing up looking for lanes on the rush.

Q: EASHL: What controls who gets the better AI and what effect does fighting have win or lose?

BR:
All of the AI players in the EASHL have the same ratings. The only thing that would make the AI play differently is circumstance and/or what your team strategies are set to.

Q: EASHL: Why can I put my team on a full forecheck bias and still the AI will not go into the zone and forecheck at all?

BR:
If your bias is all the way up, that should be the one way to override their motivation to want to go back and play more conservative. If your bias is in the middle, they will make the choice on their own based on the score of the game and how likely they feel they have a chance of making a good play. However, if the bias is up, this should override that behavior telling them that you want to forecheck at all times. The only other thing that could effect it, could be your offensive pressure settings. You can try raising it to Aggressive or Full Attack on Offense or High Pressure on Defense if you are finding they still seem passive.

Q: Are there any plans to allow us to view player builds from other players, either in game, after the game or online?

Clement Kwong:
Good question. The ability to access more EASHL data is definitely a goal for us. However, there are also other high priority features we would like to tackle in the near-term so we’ll have to see how much work we can chip away at before we have to ship ’14.

Q: Am I missing something or do stats from drop in games not get recorded to leaderboards in EASHL? My stats only reflect the 20 or so club games I have played rather than the 250 or so drop ins? Intentional?

Clem:
Drop-in game stats are tracked but as an anti-cheat measure, only games completed with 3+ users are recorded to the leaderboards.

Q: Is there any reason we can't adjust offensive and defensive strategies in EASHL (i.e. crash the net, collapsing, etc.)?

Clem:
You can adjust the strategies in-game via the d-pad controls but you’re correct in that you can’t currently modify and save before going into game.

Q: is there any way you can explain to us, how players are pulled from packs in hut. is there a set amount per day, a set pack count for release of player. this would help explain why so many packs hold so many cards that hold almost no value to the player.

Clem:
Sure. At a high level, there are set number of items that make up any given pack (e.g. training, contracts, jerseys, players, etc.). Among these are common and rare items for the different categories. Each of these items, including players, have a specific weight that determines the probability that they will be chosen. Like a real hockey card pack, HUT packs don’t guarantee a specific item.

Q: Does each user get attribute bonuses for being a C or A like they do in HUT (ie: +2 All for captain & +1 All for assistants) in the EASHL?

Clem:
No, EASHL captaincy is strictly cosmetic and has no impact on in-game attributes.

Q: Does the discipline attribute in EASHL be a pro help prevent stick penalties such as tripping?

Clem:
To reduce Tripping, high sticking and hooking penalties the user should add XP to the stick checking attribute. Discipline affects elbowing and roughing penalties.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 12/17/2012 09:49:27

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The following is a description of individual goalie attributes by EA_HLT. If you have any follow-up questions to these please start a new thread to discuss them.

Thanks!

Angles
Description:
- How far out the goalie comes to challenge (CPU)
-Quickness reacting to a pass (CPU)
- Does not control the angle at which your goalie faces while reacting to shots or moving side to side (This was a question asked by a community member regarding human control)


Breakaway
Description:
- Modifies save ability on breakaways only (essentially a modifier that is equally factored along with Agility as well as Glove High, Blocker Low, Five Hole, etc.


Five hole
Glove High
Glove Low
Stick High

Stick Low
Description:
-Quickness making saves to the respective regions above and reduces error

Passing
Description:
-Goalie pass and clearance strength, accuracy, and reduces the chance in flubbing a pass


Poke Check
Description:
-Likelihood of the goalie attempting a poke check (CPU only)
- Does not affect the accuracy of a Human goalie poke check


Rebound Control
Description:
- How often the goalie gives up a rebound and how big the rebounds are. The higher the stats, the less likely there will be a rebound, and if so the more likely it will be a smaller rebound.


Shot Recovery
Description:
-How quickly the goalie gets up when after being down
- Applicable to any time the goalie is trying to get up, whether it be from butterfly, from his side or butt, or if he was knocked down from a collision


Aggressiveness
Description:
- How aggressively he comes out to cut down angle (CPU)


Agility
Description:
- How fast can goalie perform save, including transitions from one save to another
- combines with region attributes (5-hole, glove high, glove low, stick high, stick low)
-Acceleration moving around the crease whether on his feet or in butterfly


Durability
Description:
-Not used in game because goalies do not get injured currently (CPU simming only)


Endurance
Description:
-Not used in game (CPU simming only)


Speed
Description:
- Speed moving in the crease and when free skating
- Like Speed as a skater, goalie speed determines the goalie’s top end speed while moving


Vision
Description:
- Having a higher rating will reduce the goalie’s screened value, which helps determine how well he can track the puck in traffic and will reduce the frequency of the goalie dropping into butterfly when screened


Goalie Height
Description:
- The taller a goalie, the more likely he is to delay his save reaction
- A factor in how fast the goalie can get up to his feet from the on the ice poses (on butt, side, back, etc).
- Taller goalies cannot decelerate as quickly as shorter goalies
- Height range that is actually used in gameplay for your Pro is between 5’8” and 6’10”


Goalie Weight
Description:
- Does not apply in gameplay

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 12/17/2012 11:39:30

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With the NHL back the EASPORTS NHL development team are working on the next Roster Update to bring the game in line with the deals and updates that have started going on in the NHL. To help illuminate what goes into a Roster Update we took some community questions and posed them to Assistant Producer Gurndeep Sumal who is currently neck deep in the update process.

Q: What steps go into making the average roster update?

Gurn: Creating a roster update is a very meticulous process, it requires a lot of attention of detail. We usually go through the following process when doing a league roster:

a. Gather all the team lists for the particular league and put them in a spreadsheet
b. Cross reference the team list from the spreadsheet to the one currently in our database
i. Mark down any new players that need to be created
1. Make sure that we have the rights to the players that need to be created.
ii. Mark down any players no longer on the team
1. Mark down any player that has been transferred to another team in our game
2. Mark down any players that need to be removed from our game completely
c. Send the list of new players for rating from our scout.
d. Begin process of cleaning up the rosters
i. Remove the players from teams
ii. Transfer players to new teams
e. Create new players
i. Enter in all fields necessary for bio information (height, weight, DOB etc.)
ii. Enter Salaries, NHL rights Team, NHL Team Drafted by.
f. Import Ratings for created players
g. Move the created players to the new teams
h. Do a jersey number pass for every team
i. Do a captains pass for every team
j. Make Sure all the lines are correct (5 on 5, PP, PK , 4 on 4 and shootout Extra Attackers)
k. Then we begin Testing the roster update and make corrections to any mistakes found by our QA

These are for our bigger updates once we have created a league we then usually just follow transactions and create any of the stray new players that come and play for teams.

We need to track every movement we do just in case something goes wrong or we need to double check a transaction, that’s why we do a lot of prep work via spreadsheets.



Q: How come players get taken out of the game? For example Yakupov who was in NHL 13 at launch but was taken out in the last roster update.

Gurn:
When a player moves from one league to another we no longer have the rights to that player in his new league (even if the league is in the game). Every league has different guidelines for player rights.

NHL- The player must appear in a game and play a shift.
AHL – A player must sign PHPA (Pro Hockey Players Association) waiver agreement
CHL – They must be on the team’s roster list
European Leagues - They must be on the team’s roster list

In the case of Nail Yakupov we lost his rights once he decided to play overseas in a league to which we no longer have rights too.



Q: Why are players like Tim Thomas and Chris Pronger in the game when they’re not playing at the moment?

Gurn:
These players are still considered to be under contract, both have yet to retire and in Pronger’s case he is still on IR. They are currently in the starting lineups for both teams because our First Roster update and our Last Roster update usually consist of best lines. Once the season gets going we will scratch the players mentioned to keep the lines and rosters to be as accurate as possible with the real world. That being said they will still be on their respective teams.



Q: Why are the rosters sometimes different for offline and GM Connected modes?

Gurn:
Rosters for GM connected are separate entity than what is in an online game and even offline Be A GM. We have to generate templates for each random Rosters and one default Roster.

The reason behind the lack of roster updates for GM connected is because of all the players in limbo from transferring leagues (see question 2), we decided it was best not to post rosters until we get enough players back into the game so that teams have some of their top end prospects to grow and or potentially trade.



Q: How do you figure out what players should be rated at the start of the year, and when their ratings should be adjusted during a season?

Gurn:
We have a scout(s) that rate our players in our games, these are professional scouts for different leagues around the world. They will go and rate players based on their skill via watching film and or watching certain players live, much like a scout will do when scouting a player for a team. The scout(s) will then send us update sheets for players that he finds to have made a jump in skill from the beginning of the year to the mid/late year. The reason for this is it’s big sample size for the scout to determine if a player has really grown or evolved from the beginning of the year. A player can get hot for 10 games and tail off after those 10 games, our scouts look for consistency through the grind of the season before providing us with ratings for updates.
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