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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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Member Comments
# 1 SinisterAlex @ 08/04/11 08:16 PM
I love the fact that we are able to save presets for all 5 positions now!!! That has been one of my big requests since 09! Everything else sounds, good, but doesn't blow me away.
 
# 2 LuGer33 @ 08/04/11 08:29 PM
Different builds for different positions is an awesome addition.
 
# 3 BaylorBearBryant @ 08/04/11 08:51 PM
EASHL continues to be the future of sports gaming.
 
# 4 neifro @ 08/04/11 09:12 PM
and a cheesers paradise.
 
# 5 stew514 @ 08/04/11 09:45 PM
I like everything I read about EASHL with the exception of the cool down period for club hoppers. It's not a big deal if they give us multiple dressing room, but the reason club hopping was so big this year was because people like to play 6 on 6. A lot of the top teams were pretty friendly and if they were a man short and saw a guy not in a game they would ask him to play. I really don't see why this is that big of a problem and I feel like this decision is just going to make it tough to get 6 on 6 games.
 
# 6 stew514 @ 08/04/11 09:52 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by neifro
and a cheesers paradise.
As someone who played HUT and EASHL pretty competitively I find the community to be far less cheesy in the EASHL as opposed to HUT. Just my experience but I played idiots who go up 1-0 in HUT and try to rag the puck on you.
 
# 7 plaidchuck @ 08/04/11 10:15 PM
Whew say bye bye to human goalies. I barely have enough time to play 100 games in the EASHL let alone play 150 per skater and goalie.

Also I wish they'd get rid of the letter grades.. maybe mirror the offline BAP and have you reach certain goals when playing each position for the cards.
 
# 8 cup4blues @ 08/04/11 10:29 PM
Making it even harder on the goalies, alright! I guess with separate legend cards we will never see a legend goalie that can stop a puck. Next thing they'll be taking away the auto-save and forcing the use of overhead cam.
 
# 9 ladyboyfriend @ 08/04/11 10:39 PM
I'm still concerned that they might not have addressed the ability to "juice" your skater. Hopefully, they fixed the loading screen hangs, as well. EASHL has so much potential to be great, but these holes in the game really drag it down. Although, I keep coming back for more.
 
# 10 SinisterAlex @ 08/04/11 10:39 PM
I just realized one thing that I've been asking for, wasn't on that list.

They still haven't added a key part of a team, the captain and the two assistant captain's. I could care less if they were in OTP but in EASHL where it's YOUR team, why can't we have "C" and "A" on our jersey's?
 
# 11 john1842msu1977 @ 08/04/11 11:05 PM
how about new online community additions for offline gamers? What I mean by this is the reintegration of the EA Locker. I really would like to be able to download other users roster files for myself and would like to share my roster files with the community. Waiting for EA to upgrade the official NHL rosters just hasn't been cutting it. They need to give us the option to create and share our own rosters AND share our created teams...
 
# 12 Pharrell @ 08/05/11 01:11 AM
I do NOT play HUT for one simple reason.....the Career count on each card. It's hands down the most frustrating part of the game. It takes so long to earn enough to buy players like Sid, Ovi or Stamkos so that when you finally get them you only get them for X amount of games. Also it's takes you forever to get the right mix of players to play around them only to continuously lose players. Finally it devalues the players value when you want to sell them. So many guys selling All Stars with 1 game left. Worthless! Get rid of it. FIFA Ultimate Team is perfect, just copy it!
 
# 13 Roadstar @ 08/05/11 02:36 AM
Whoa, position presets are something I've wanted since NHL 09. Huge thanks to EA for including that in NHL 12!

However, I'm not thrilled about the club cool-down period. I play rather regularly in two different clubs depending on which one has players online. With a three-hour cooling period I'd actually need to know well in advance which one of the clubs will be having players online for any given evening, and that's not going to happen. It's rather annoying that as a result of some pathetic idiots win trading I end up getting less chances to play legit games. I hope there would be a better solution for the win trading problem. One that doesn't punish legit players.
 
# 14 bradigor @ 08/05/11 03:09 AM
One of the things that drove our team apart was not having multiple dressing rooms on the go at the same time.

We often had seven or eight of us on at any one time. In NHL 10 we would split that to 4&4 or 4&3, etc and it was fun. In NHL 11 we had to make the decision to split up and there was less fun to be had.

I just hope they go back to the NHL 10 way of thinking with dressing rooms, especially as they have changed the club hopping.
 
# 15 bones79 @ 08/05/11 04:29 AM
The separate builds for each position is great. Just wish they'd reduce/disable pausing, and introduce a vote to kick system to stop the goalies who just step aside so their friends can rack up goals
 
# 16 plaidchuck @ 08/05/11 06:09 AM
Yeah no roster share sucks too. Another year of the shaft for PS3 users it seems.
 
# 17 FBeaule04 @ 08/05/11 07:03 AM
For once, no negative feedback from my part. I couldn't care less about HUT, but the EASHL. Multiple slots for positions, club hopping cool down, new tracking features. Sounds good.

Good job EA!
 
# 18 monglord @ 08/05/11 07:45 AM
The cool down period sounds awful

I'm in a team with 15 or so of us, and with the lack of multiple dressing rooms, we have to change teams if we have more than 6 people on

The only way they can rectify this is to bring back multiple dressing rooms, it's a must for EASHL
 
# 19 KillHammer @ 08/05/11 10:37 AM
I'm not liking the changes to OTP at all. I am very skeptical about the part where they said "This new Club Scouting screen will not cause any more pauses than a normal user would make."

I feel pausing needs to be removed from the mode completely. Let people check stats between periods and after the game. Not in the middle of the period.

The separate legend cards for goalies is also not cool. I like to play goalie once in a while, but now I'm going to be at a significant stat disadvantage later on in the year because I don't play goalie all the time.

The position presets are the only useful addition IMO.
 
# 20 plaidchuck @ 08/05/11 10:59 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by mondoguitar
I agree, I'm not an exclusive skater or goalie... good luck getting a legend goalie card when you're a casual goalie. EA should be pushing human goaltending, instead they seem to be dissuading people from using it.
Yeap another reason to believe human goalie controls will be an absolute train wreck, especially considering it now has "live goalies".
 

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