An overview into some gameplay refinements from producer Sean Ramjagsingh.
Developer Blog from NHL 10 Producer Sean "Rammer" Ramjagsingh
What’s up everyone….Sean here to talk about some of the many gameplay refinements in NHL10. Before I get into it, I know you’re all dying to see some under produced, raw gameplay footage and I can tell you that we’ve got some clips to post. Litty has been capturing clips from the games that he’s been playing and we’re extremely excited to share them with you. I also want to thank everyone that has been following NHL10 on Twitter. We love hearing all the feedback and suggestions so keep it coming!
Now to the refinements…
One thing I really want to emphasize is that more than ever, this year we concentrated on making hockey. By that I mean that the focus was on all the little things that make hockey what it is from extreme displays of skill such as deking on your knees and shooting to bad bounces leading to goals.
The first thing I want to talk about is the goalies in NHL10. We literally had one programmer and one animator working on goalies all year around. We know that there were some holes in the goalie last year so my challenge to our guys was to make a perfect goalie. I wanted to ensure that our goalies had the ability to save anything shot at them. Once we had that, we could then start to give back goals in a controlled manner and ensure that we weren’t creating any ‘always goals’. I gotta give the guys credit, they added over 150 new goalie animations including saves from the butt, new kick saves, reach backs and swipe aways just to name a few which made the goalies extremely effective and much more dynamic. Once we had the goalies to a state that we liked, we brought in some of the top EASHL players in the Vancouver area to try and find holes. The first thing they did was try all the exploit goals from 09 which were unsuccessful but they did find a couple situations where the goalies could still be improved. We took that feedback and made the final tweaks. I should mention that I’m also extremely pleased with our additions for user controlled goalies which I’ll speak about at a later date. I will say that people who play goalie in the EASHL are going to be very happy with the improvements we’ve made. The guys in the office are having blast playing as goalie.
With better goalies, the play in the slot was a huge area of emphasis for us. I wanted the ability to one time loose pucks, especially on rebounds without throwing a check. We now have that and we’ve also captured a part of hockey that I’ve never felt in a video game before which is intentionally shooting for rebounds. Guys in the NHL do this all the time. They just shoot the puck off the goalie’s pads so that their teammate will have a chance at the rebound. You can do that this year in our game and I have to say that it’s really satisfying when you do it intentionally and score.
A new feature that we’ve added this year is what we’re calling ‘Precision Passing’. In a nutshell, Precision Passing allows you to have total control of the direction AND the speed of your pass. Your pass will go exactly where you’re left analog is aiming and the speed is controlled by how long you hold down the RT (or R2 for PS3). A quick tap will do a short pass and holding it down will lead to a harder pass. The key is that all passes are untargeted meaning that you can pass the puck into space and let your teammates skate onto the puck. You can also do things like banking passes off the boards to get around defenders or bank it to yourself.
On offense, we’ve added new moves that I’m pretty excited about. If you take down a star player on a breakaway, there’s a chance that he’ll end up on his knees with the ability to deke and shoot. We’ve also added bat-ins so if the puck is in the air, players will try to bat the puck into the net or the defensive team will try to bat it out of harm’s way. There is also a new fake shot that can be done by pressing R3. This is a great way to try to get the D-man to bite and go down or to freeze the goalie. One of my personal favorite ways to score right now is going leg kick to backhand high (like Crosby) but remember my paragraph about goalies above…well this move has also led to some unbelievable desperation saves which to are almost just as exciting to me.
Defensive AI was another big focus for us this year as we tried to make the defense more dynamic and less predictable. I think one of the first things you’ll notice when you play the demo (Yes, I said demo; No I don’t have a release date; But, I can guarantee that you’re going to be VERY surprised when you find out what’s in the demo) is that the D-men don’t always back right in on their goalie but rather try to stand you up more at the blue line or pinch you off earlier if you try to go wide. They also have better awareness of their positioning in the defensive zone so that you can’t dance them back and forth then go around them. The addition of boardplay has added a whole new dynamic to the defense as well as it gives the AI one more option against the boards. It allows them to contain players without over committing and getting beat.
That’s enough from me…check out the gameplay clips!