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The Official NHL 12 Thread.

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My name is Ben Ross and I am the Presentation Producer for NHL 12. If you’ve been following the NHL 12 campaign so far, you would’ve seen quick clips and videos featuring some of the new intros and presentation elements that the team has worked hard on this year. Those are definitely some of the most visually exciting elements, but I wanted to take a few moments to discuss the visual direction for this year’s game, as well as touch on a few other key features that have been put in to enhance the presentation/broadcast quality.

The intros we’ve created add authenticity and a unique flavor to the start of each game, but our main focus this year was to actually add elements that would be more of a robust and responsive experience. We wanted the “virtual broadcast booth” to spend time focusing on the events that unfold in the game you are playing as opposed to preset sequences. When we discovered that we would have the ability to save a much larger amount of replays this year, the ideas started to flow and it eventually led to the question – “Can we save replays of ALL of the events in the game?” In short, the answer was “Yes” and if that leaves you intrigued, please read on to find out about how we utilized this in NHL 12.

PRESENTATION FLOW

One of the first changes you’ll notice is the Presentation Flow and that the player’s being focused on and selection of replays being featured is much better. A lot of work went into ensuring that if a user is thinking, “Wow, what a save!” that the replay of that scoring chance will be the one shown during the next stoppage and not just a random play that didn’t have a big impact in that sequence of gameplay.

When I got the opportunity to take on the Presentation Producer role, one of the first things I wanted to do was to ensure that the presentation flow was much more like a real world broadcast. In the past, there were times where we would use a wipe/transition to just skip a moment in time or try to fix a flaw in continuity. Relating to real world broadcasts, this was sometimes confusing to the player because in the real world, we often see wipes/transitions to go back in time to a replay and/or to leave that replay and return to ‘current’ time but definitely not just to cut from one shot to another.

As an example of what I am talking about, consider a goal sequence from NHL 11:

- User scores a goal then utilizes the User Controlled Celebrations and dives on their belly out at center ice.

- The camera then cuts to that same player now celebrating with their team behind the net.

- The sequence then wipes to a replay of the goal

- There is a cut back out of the replay without a wipe/transition

- The player is then congratulated by his team at the bench

- Camera cut to players lining up for the next faceoff.

In the above scenario, there isn’t enough of a sense of where we are in time (replay/current time) or continuity of where the players are supposed to be from one shot to the next.

For NHL 12, we believe we have done a much better job with this and the result is a more seamless experience and is much truer to what you would see when watching the broadcast of an NHL game on television:

- User scores a goal and does their custom User Controlled Celebration

- Broadcast cut to the crowd celebrating or possibly the Goalie recovering from the goal and grabbing his water bottle.

- Cut back to goal scorer on ice showing an overlay of the goal info

- Transition into replay

- Replay from multiple angles with an overlay indicating that it is a replay.

- Transition/wipe back out to real time

- Next Faceoff

PLAYER FOCUS FEATURES

One of the features that evolved from the ability to save all of the highlights within a game was the ability to showcase standout players from that game.

A system was developed to mimic how a real world broadcast team would work, looking at the current ‘story’ of the game and then at the player’s that have been the most influential in the outcome of that ‘story’ to that point.

I captured a couple of screenshots above to give a visual reference of a new ‘bar-wipe’ transition that was added this year that we utilized in the broadcast flow for these replay packages.

In the above example, Tim Thomas was standing on his head keeping hold of the Bruins 1-0 lead late in the third period against the Vancouver Canucks. Thomas had a ton of shots throughout the game and was winning the goalie battle at that point. During a stoppage in play, the camera cuts to Thomas skating back to his crease and the commentary team talks about some of the miraculous saves Thomas has made to keep the lead for the Bruins. The focus then goes on to show replays of some of the best saves Thomas has made so far that game.

Both Players and Goalies can be featured for multiple scenarios and users will see the replay packages show up in all areas of NHL 12. You may see a Player Focus Feature in ‘Play Now’ showcasing one of the NHL’s top talents or you may even have the chance yourself to be featured when you play as your virtual self in the EA Sports Hockey League or within your Be A Pro career. We look forward to seeing videos that users will post showcasing the highlight reels of some of their best games.

ACTION TRACKER

The Action Tracker is the main hub for all of the events that have taken place in the game. At any time, a user can go to the Pause Menu and have instant access to the amazing saves, spectacular goals and bone crunching hits that took place throughout the game.

The main purpose of the Action Tracker was to provide a great User Interface where users can navigate through all of the game’s events and instantly see the replay of that event with one button press.

The great secondary element is how the Action Tracker can be used for strategy and/or to change your gameplan within a current game or going into a next season game. With the info provided, the User can analyze where they are producing or giving up the most scoring chances, monitor their success rate in the faceoff circle in the offensive and defensive end, notice areas where their goalie or opponents goalie is particularly strong or weak then make adjustments in their defensive game plan and/or look to increase certain attributes for specific players in modes like Be A Pro and Hockey Ultimate Team.

As you can see in the shots below, the user can scroll to any event at any time and toggle whatever sorting method they choose, selecting anything from ‘All Events’’ to something more specific such as ‘Goals from the 1st Period’. At anytime, the User can change the camera angle of the highlight running in the left side monitor or even take the selected highlight into our traditional replay viewer to see the replay with more precise control, save it to watch later or send to EA SPORTS World for others to see.

Thanks very much for taking the time to read this blog. Presentation is certainly better experienced than read about but hopefully this gives you some insight into some of the elements to expect from NHL 12. With the new features both in Gameplay and Presentation, we are seeing some great highlights from games played around the office and look forward to the reels that all of you put together once the game is in your hands!

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http://www.ea.com/nh...esentation-blog

Also a little tidbit of info...

One thing I loved from when I was at the playtest, is that your guy will tip passes on his own. I don't know if you have to use Vision Control to do it though, as I almost always have Vision Control held down.

For instance, when we were playing an EASHL game....I was just skating past the next when somebody passed the puck to me, and instead of my guy just taking the puck until I were to shoot it myself, he tipped the puck through the goalies legs and I scored. All I did was skate by and it basically tipped the pass on it's own without me having to press anything extra.

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http://www.operationsports.com/features/1312/nhl-12-producer-blog-online-innovations/

Hey everyone, we have a lot cooking in the NHL 12 Online Innovations Blog and we’re really excited about it, so let’s get to it! Producers Andy Agostini and Nate Ng will be breaking down what’s new and improved in the HUT and EASHL modes. Enjoy!

Hockey Ultimate Team

Andy Agostini here to let you know what is new in Hockey Ultimate Team for NHL 12.

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We introduced Hockey Ultimate Team in NHL 11, and we are extremely pleased that a lot of our users played in the biggest online dynasty ever, the EA Ultimate Hockey League.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, Hockey Ultimate Team is an armchair GM’s dream. You get a starter team of players that you will play with online and against CPU opponents to earn EA Pucks. These EA Pucks are then used to purchase card packs in the Hockey Ultimate Team Store to improve your team. In the packs you will earn player, training upgrade, contract, arena, logo, team jersey and head coach cards to help your team become a juggernaut. There are over 4,100 player cards from 10 different leagues in Hockey Ultimate Team so you will have lots of choices when it comes to building your team.

In the EA Ultimate Hockey League, there is a salary cap and managing that cap will mean that you will have difficult decisions to make about what players you want on your team; just like a real-life GM. Great team chemistry and working to train and level up your own players are the keys to building a successful team that meets the salary cap.

Only a year old, we felt that we had a lot to build off of and some great things to add to Hockey Ultimate Team:

EA Ultimate Hockey League 24/7 – Our biggest addition to Hockey Ultimate Team in NHL 12 is EA Ultimate Hockey League 24/7! This is going to make playing Hockey Ultimate team a unique experience and make it so you always want your best on the ice.

All the teams in the EAUHL are stored on EA Servers. These teams are a user’s current Hockey Ultimate Team. Now last year at no point was someone allowed to play against another user’s Ultimate Team without playing them online.

That is all going to change. Last year when a user wanted to play a game of Hockey Ultimate Team without playing against someone online, they only had a choice of the teams in NHL 12’s 10 different leagues. Well now you have access to literally thousands of other teams. When a person selects to play an EAUHL single player match, we will automatically download four teams from the server. Three of the teams are around your team’s skill level, and one of them is a Top 100 team.

The three teams that are downloaded as potential opponents are one that is a level below your team, one that is the same as your team, and one that is better than your team. Playing one of these teams gives you EA Pucks just like any single-player match. So you will always have new and varied opponents to play every time you play Hockey Ultimate Team. As for the Top 100 team, we download one of those teams so there is one team that is a big challenge and the best that the EAUHL has to offer.

As for keeping your best lineup available at all times, you will want to do that because if your team is downloaded as one of the three teams for another user, and they are chosen to be their opponent, you will get a reward of some EA Pucks. If your team should win the game, then they will receive extra EA Pucks for winning. This will make it so your team is playing in the EAUHL 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and always able to earn you coins. Now there is a maximum amount of coins you can get this way, so you will want to be checking in to get those EA Pucks from the server so your team can continue earning you more EA Pucks while you aren’t playing. One last thing: If your team gets downloaded, they will not lose contracts or career, thus making it like free EA Pucks as long as your team is chosen.

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If your team is a Top 100 team and they are downloaded as such, then your team will not earn EA Pucks as we wanted to keep it fair for people as the rich would get richer in terms of EA Pucks, but it will make your team famous to other players and the recognition of being seen as a Top 100 team.

This is a very exciting feature as it’s always fun to turn on the game and see if you got any EA Pucks. I know I play right now only against the EAUHL 24/7 teams as they are always different and it’s fun to say to somebody here at the office I just beat their team. I cannot wait to see the teams our users create and play against with the EAUHL 24/7 feature.

Multiple Lineups – The Hockey Ultimate Team community has been asking for the ability to have multiple lineups since HUT was created, and we’ve added it this year based on community feedback. This will allow users to set multiple lineups to play in a tournament with specific requirements and still be able to play in regular EAUHL games. We have added the ability to have up to 15 different lineups for tournaments and the EAUHL. This directly leads into another new feature.

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Play A Friend – You can now play against your friends with the ‘Play A Friend’ feature in HUT to see who is better at building a great lineup. These games won’t count against your player’s contracts or career and there is no salary cap in these games. So go crazy with your lineups and see who can put the best team on the ice. My favorite part of this feature is that you will get a friend’s leaderboard and will be able to see a running tally of all the scores of the games you have completed with a friend. This allows you to see how many wins and losses you have against your friends.

Stars of the Week – The Stars of the Week feature, a feature that I really like in FIFA’s Ultimate Team, is coming to Hockey Ultimate Team. Using real life stars of the week, we will create special versions of these players to be inserted into card packs. These new versions of these players will have better ratings to mimic their great performance in real-world games. We will not only be doing this with the NHL but also with players around the hockey world to create special versions of players who have been playing at the top of their game in their respective leagues.

Healing Cards/Injuries – New to NHL 12 is injuries! Now your players can be injured and there will be two ways to heal them. You’ll have to rest your injured player by putting them on your scratched roster or use healing cards that can help your player return to action faster by using the healing card that matches your player’s injury. Collecting the four different types of healing cards available will ensure that your player will be back in the lineup for those all-important playoff games.

Change Position Cards – Chemistry is important in Hockey Ultimate Team, and we wanted to give the user a way to move a player to another position to help him create good team chemistry. Getting the right Change Position Card can help give a huge chemistry boost.

There are many different position change cards. For example, ‘RW shift to LW’ or ‘C shift to RW’ so that people won’t be able to change players back and forth on a whim. When you get one of these cards, you’ll have to make a strategic choice to help better your team. Once the player has had his position changed they will remain that way until you use another card to change him back or to another position. This will also create more variety in the HUT auction house because players that have a different position could be more valuable to users looking to complete a line that will have great chemistry.

So get in there and play Hockey Ultimate Team and win those monthly championships. You can make your team name famous, as all team names will now be unique, so see if you can create a dynasty in the EAUHL. Good luck!

EASHL

Hey everyone, Nate here to give you a look at what’s new for EASHL in NHL 12. I know there are a lot of EASHL fans out there who have been chomping at the bit for new info on Clubs, so without any further delay, I’m going to jump straight into it.

First off, something that many fans have been asking for is finally here. You are now able to save different position presets. Your center, right wing, left wing, defenseman, and goalie now all have separate slots. Is your team short a defenseman tonight? Not a problem. Just load up your defensive build and you’re good to go. Gone are the days of forcing your teammates to wait for you while you reapply your attribute points and boost slots. Don’t you worry fans of Ranked OTP, you too have access to the five different position presets.

We have updated the Online Performance Tracker this year as well. The Edit Attributes screen, and EASHL Hub offer a lot better support in tracking stats for each of your positions. The leveling system has been reworked this year to create a steadier progression through the levels. The main six card levels are still there: Amateur, Rookie, Pro, Veteran, Superstar and Legend; the difference this year is that there are three ranks in between each level, which gives users more opportunity to increase stats before the next plateau. Think of it as a checkpoint as you climb the mountain to your Legend card (i.e. Amateur 1, Amateur 2, Amateur 3, Rookie 1 etc. all the way up to Legend 3). All skater positions will share the same progression level to level. However, this year, your goalie progression will be separate. Playing an odd mix of games as defense and forward will not hurt your skater card progression. Your skater card progression will no longer have an effect on your goalie card progression. To progress further with your goalie, you will have to play all the games.

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We have also added a Performance Points screens at the end of Versus and EASHL games, which shows the breakdown of Rank Points earned or lost that game, as well as the progress or perhaps drop of Skill Level during that game. The performance points are dependent on what the players do during gameplay, so if you dominating in a game and lose, you will lose less Rank Points as a result.

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At the end of each EASHL game, we’ve added a new Pro Progression screen. This screen is similar to the Performance Points screen at the end of the game, but the difference is that this one shows the user’s progression with their pro. The screen shows the start and end values of your current level, and where you sit currently within your goals. At every level up, this screen will show you that you have earned XP that can be added to your pro.

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Each monthly season, the top 100 users from each position will be tracked in the new EASHL Top Monthly All-Stars Leaderboard. The top 5 percent of each position will receive an “EASHL All Star” award at the end of the month. The top user from each position will be displayed in the League History screen for all users to see. All-Stars are ranked on the leaderboard based on their Fantasy points. The Fantasy points are based on a list of stats that are accumulated throughout the month.

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New to EASHL in NHL 12, we have implemented a club cool-down period to help combat cheating by “Club Hopping”. When leaving a club, you will have to wait a specific amount of time before you are able to join or create a club. The reason we are implementing a club cool-down period is to try to cut down on win trading via club hopping. Implementing the club cool-down is to discourage people from jumping Club to Club. I know this may affect some users who are legitimately trying to go from Club to Club, but this is something we will monitor when the game goes live. The screenshot says a three hour cool-down, but this number will change by the time we launch.

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Last but not least, this year we’ve added a new Club Scouting feature to EASHL. This is an in-game pause menu option that allows you to view the stats of all human-controlled users. This screen is available in all Ranked OTP sessions as well as EASHL sessions. This screen shows users’ stats and overall rating. If this screen is brought up in a Ranked OTP session, it will also show you if the player is a free agent or if they belong to a specific club. I know some users right now are saying, “Why are we encouraging more pausing? We just want to play the game!” This new Club Scouting screen will not cause any more pauses than a normal user would make. All of the player ratings were previously available in the pause menu. If a user had any intention of pausing to see player stats, they would have paused anyway. The new Club Scouting screen is to help users identify other human users with greater ease.

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