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NHL 11 News Post

Well, after two and a half days packed full of information, activities, discussions, and play testing, I suppose the question is "where to start?"... I feel the best place to start is with "thank you".

First, thank you to EA Sports and Alain Quinto for their gracious and generous hospitality, along with the opportunity to give back to a series I've spent almost 20 years of my life playing. Yes, I've owned every iteration of the NHL series on one console or another from its inception on the Sega Genesis. Second, thank you to the OS community for not only selecting me as a community leader, but for being the kind of community the NHL developers and EA higher-ups recognize as a valuable resource. Third, thank you to Bauer for the awesome gifts of Vapor X:60 gloves and the Vapor X:40 Stick'Um one-piece composite stick (my first). Finally, thank you to my fellow CE attendees for their hard work and insight which helped to keep my gears turning and the ideas flowing.

With that out of the way, let's get on with the recap. After two bumpy flights -- Pittsburgh to Denver and Denver to Vancouver -- and a Skytrain ride, I found myself alone in beautiful downtown Vancouver. I checked into the Sutton Place Hotel around 3:30pm, leaving me with a few hours to kill until we met for dinner at 6pm. I decided to explore the city -- to excited to catch a few winks as I had planned -- which took me to Robson Street and its collection of shops and bars. I was told this was the site of the Olympic Hockey gold medal celebrations I saw on TV. Having participated in a few those following Superbowl and Stanley Cup victories on Carson Street in the South Side of Pittsburgh, I knew this must be one the better streets on which to spend a few hours. I soon found the local Lids store and my eye immediately gravitated to a sharp Canucks "Franchise" hat -- gray with the alternate hockey-stick logo on the front and Johnny Canuck on the back. Soon a text message was dispatched to the wife telling her I spent $30+ on a hat (yeah, I see the price online... Vancouver is an expensive city!). She was thrilled to say the least.

After a few beers at the Cactus Club Cafe, it was time to meet the group at the Kingston Taphouse & Grille for dinner. My seven or eight block walk was accompanied by the lovely Vancouver rain, but I was prepared with my slicker and galoshes... OK, no galoshes, but it's fun to say. Once the group started to assemble, talk quickly shifted from "Hello, my name is..." to excited discussion about what the event would consist of and what we hoped to see from NHL11. (Sidenote: It was really odd to introduce myself by my username) Soon Alain arrived with a stack of legal documents and a corporate credit card... boo for the former, hooray for the latter. A few beers, a great meal, a few more beers, a game or two of pool, another beer or two and soon my fellow community reps saw the unfortunate repercussions of me being in the same room with not one, but two Flyers fans while under the influence. All in good fun and while I may have threatened to flip the brim of Luger's Flyers cap, I don't believe I actually did. That of course would've led to a scrap of Max Talbot/Daniel Carcillo proportions...


Thursday morning came all too soon and I found myself at less than 100%. However, the excitement of a trip to EA Canada Studios had me singing "I've got a golden ticket" (may or may not be true) and I dragged myself out of bed. After a delicious breakfast of oatmeal & orange juice so pulpy you had to chew it (credit to Luger for that line), we boarded the shuttle and the event was officially under way. Alain again briefed us on the importance of adhering to our NDA and gave us a rundown of the day's activities. First up was general feature overview presentation by none other than Dave Littman himself, as well as series developers Andy Agostini and Nate Ng. After lunch, we'd have our first chance to get our hands on the game, which would occupy the remaining seven or so hours of our day.

I think the best way to summarize the presentation is this -- I took six pages of notes. As the powerpoint slides were advanced, the group was treated to a revelation that demonstrated the NHL team's commitment to community feedback and making the best hockey game possible. Littman hit us with several straights to jaw, almost none of which I can disclose here. You've likely all seen the first batch of screen shots that only graze the surface of the features/improvements -- real-time physics and CHL integration. From my six pages of notes, I only wrote one direct quote from Dave in regards to the new physics upgrades, "this is to make the game as realistic as possible... that's all we care about."

The presentation touched on many more topics, all of which I assume will be discussed as we approach release in early September. There a few modes/features that stand out, while others are more along the lines of gameplay refinements/improvements/additions designed to provide the most realistic representation of professional hockey to date. Gameplay items were demonstrated on the big screen by Andy and Nate -- with an assist from Dave to show one particularly slick move he has mastered -- through practice and play now modes. Obviously, I can't spill any beans -- not even one single bean, I asked -- so everyone will have to wait patiently until the information is officially released to hear feedback from the CE attendees on these items. Please make sure to follow the EA NHL Twitter feed and Facebook fan page, as well as the official EA NHL site and In The Crease Blog for the latest tidbits, info, and updates.

After a tasty lunch -- although I must admit I wasn't able to fully enjoy it -- it was time for the real fun to begin... game time. Each community rep was seated at a console of their choosing; I went with the PS3 to start since the majority of us preferred the 360. At this point I took some playful ribbing for bringing http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-6-Wirel...=operasport-20... although those jabs soon became "that is a sweet controller" once they got their hands on it. There were a few gameplay items the team wanted us to pay close attention to and provide post-session feedback for, so it was finally time to dig in.

I immediately fired up a five minute period play now game between Pittsburgh and Montreal on default rules/sliders on Superstar difficulty (the level I've been playing NHL10 on for a few months now). In hindsight, perhaps I should have stuck to All-Star... or maybe even Pro. The mighty Halak and the Canadiens trap stifled me to the tune of a 1-0 loss (remember 5-min periods), with the Canadiens outshooting my Penguins 23-6; infer from that what you will. If memory serves, I think this is the only game I completed from start to finish during the event. Most were interrupted by me seeking out a developer -- namely Redshirt -- to discuss something I saw or would like to see or by me watching others play the game so I could focus on the gameplay without having to worry about controlling the action.

After another partial game or two, including one with CHL teams, I completed my general gameplay feedback survey and headed straight for Be A GM mode. I ignored the cheers, gasps, and ruckus caused by 13 other gamers getting their first taste of the game to do my appointed duties on behalf of the OS community. After cruising through the options -- a surprise or two there -- I chose the Penguins, went straight to their roster and proceeded to grin from ear to ear. I had to call one of the game mode developers, Gurn, over to confirm what I was seeing. (Sidenote: Yes, I met THE Gurndeep; yes, he is aware there is an EASHL team that bears his name, and yes, he is a very cool dude.) Gurn personally took me through some of the additions while spending about 10-15 minutes talking to me about where the mode is at and where it's going. Let me tell you, enthusiasm and passion for the sport and game oozes from these guys. I offered a few suggestions from our community and a nugget or two of my own and the replies mostly fell into two camps -- one involved Gurn telling it was in the game or should be in by release; the other was a genuine raising of the eyebrows "that's a great idea" expression followed by the jotting down a note or two. One OS idea I dropped on both Gurn & Redshirt was editable team strategies as a part of the settings or roster file that would carry over to game modes. Again, raised eyebrows and note-taking...

Unfortunately, the de-bug build I was playing was somewhat unstable on the PS3 due to amount of new content added in shortly before we arrived (such as the CHL teams). As such, I wasn't able to do the kind of simming I wanted to, so I made sure to discuss the issues with trades, free agency, and stats with Gurn. Again, there was much note-taking by both sides. Nick (Shake and Baco) from the EA forums and I were able to a little more BaGM investigation on day two when we had an updated build, but time was still limited and the mode incomplete so I can't give you guys pages of stats or who is in free agency in a particular year. But Gurn and I will be in contact in the coming months.

I spent the remainder of my first session with the game checking out the menus and game modes for more tasty morsels of added goodness. Needless to say, I found quite a few. My on & off discussions with Redshirt -- I think I spent as much time talking to him as I did playing the game -- sought to inform him of some needed areas of improvement or determine the viability of some of our wishlist items. For those of you who've interacting with him here, you probably already know how open & candid he is when discussing the game. I assure you, he is even more so in person. We seem to have a good rapport and similar views on the game, so I hope to continue our running dialogue over the summer. He probably felt like he had a long-lost dog he never knew he had following him around for two days.

By the end of the day I was exhausted. I believe we ended with one of my favorite parts of the event, a group feedback session (it could've been slightly earlier followed by a little more gaming time, pardon my impaired memory). This involved the attendees and devs gathering to discuss specific and general gameplay changes/issues and often led to some dynamic brainstorming. Again, the devs were quite open about what could and couldn't be done in this cycle, but at no point did they dismiss an idea or attempt to avoid discussing something.

Afterward it was back on the shuttle to the hotel for some much needed sleep in preparation for my Mario Lemieux-like return to the ice after 10+ years of retirement. But if you want to read about my on-ice heroics, our Q&A with former NHL and current AHL head coach Jim Playfair, and our second gameplay session, you'll have to return to OS for Day Two and the Return Home.

Game: NHL 11Reader Score: 7.5/10 - Vote Now
Platform: PS3 / Xbox 360Votes for game: 36 - View All
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Member Comments
# 1 plaidchuck @ 05/24/10 07:52 PM
Sounds good man, can't wait to see some actual gameplay.
 
# 2 SinisterAlex @ 05/24/10 07:56 PM
Really good read, glad to hear you had fun. And when you paid all that money for a Canucks hat, you should see the others prices for things up here
 
# 3 Kobalt @ 05/24/10 08:37 PM
Thanks for doing this QB
 
# 4 PolishHill @ 05/24/10 08:58 PM
Just wanted to say that I too was one of those Carson Street celebrators (around Carson City Saloon for the Cup Final actually) I fully endorse all **** giving to the Flyers.
 
# 5 Fiddy @ 05/24/10 08:59 PM
very nice... you met the main man, Gurndeep!!
 
# 6 BlueNGold @ 05/24/10 09:29 PM
Great write-up Qb. Sounds like it was an awesome time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SCARFACE909
 
# 7 TON1C @ 05/24/10 09:40 PM
Great post, QB. I look forward to part 2. When will we see some video?
 
# 8 mkharsh33 @ 05/24/10 09:56 PM
Thanks for sharing, QB!! Great read and looking forward to more. Appreciate you taking the time to do this!
 
# 9 boritter @ 05/25/10 01:03 AM
I'm glad to hear that NHL11 is moving away from animations and toward physics.
 
# 10 Vikes1 @ 05/25/10 02:03 AM
Great writeup Qb.

Glad to hear you had a great time, and were reassured that the EA Canada people, really are passionate about making a great hockey game.

Thanks for do this for us Qb!
 
# 11 Mikey88 @ 05/25/10 02:23 AM
good stuff QB! Looks like the NHL franchise is in good hands!
 
# 12 Ridgeberg @ 05/25/10 06:19 AM
Well written Steve. Glad you had a great time in Vancouver. Looking forward to the rest of the information you'll share over the next couple of months!
 
# 13 Qb @ 05/25/10 07:32 AM
Thanks for the kind words, guys.


Quote:
Originally Posted by TON1C
When will we see some video?
No idea. I know they had a cameraman filming throughout the event -- including the on-ice portion -- and I believe they'll release a CE video at some point. As far as gameplay vids, which I know is what you really want, I would suspect those are still a way off, but who knows.

On a related note, when is E3? Usually some media comes out of that, right? We didn't get any inside info on the marketing plan, so I'm as in the dark as you are...
 
# 14 SinisterAlex @ 05/25/10 09:19 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qb
Thanks for the kind words, guys.




No idea. I know they had a cameraman filming throughout the event -- including the on-ice portion -- and I believe they'll release a CE video at some point. As far as gameplay vids, which I know is what you really want, I would suspect those are still a way off, but who knows.

On a related note, when is E3? Usually some media comes out of that, right? We didn't get any inside info on the marketing plan, so I'm as in the dark as you are...
If I'm not mistaken, the Be A GM mode was unveiled during E3 last year, perhaps we'll see some big news there? And possibly videos!
 
# 15 ChaseB @ 05/25/10 12:57 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qb
Thanks for the kind words, guys.




No idea. I know they had a cameraman filming throughout the event -- including the on-ice portion -- and I believe they'll release a CE video at some point. As far as gameplay vids, which I know is what you really want, I would suspect those are still a way off, but who knows.

On a related note, when is E3? Usually some media comes out of that, right? We didn't get any inside info on the marketing plan, so I'm as in the dark as you are...
You met THE Gurn -- awesome. Anyway the game was behind closed doors at E3. I believe there was an embargo until the second day of E3 for NHL (but I could have it mistaken with FIFA). I only really remember messing with the Playoff mode at E3 though not Be A GM.
 
# 16 playmaker7 @ 05/25/10 12:59 PM
I'm wondering did they FINALLY fix the glove stripe colors for teams like the Penguins haha. Please get that done!
 
# 17 Qb @ 05/25/10 02:30 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by playmaker7
I'm wondering did they FINALLY fix the glove stripe colors for teams like the Penguins haha. Please get that done!
Funny story about that... I had just asked Gurn several questions about equipment and the like when I added, "... and one more thing" with an apologetic look on my face and Penguins hat on my head. Before I even got the question out, he laughed and said, "The Penguins' glove colors?"

And before you ask if it's fixed for 11... EMBARGO!
 
# 18 kestrel @ 05/25/10 03:09 PM
Thanks for your work! I appreciate your desire to represent the OS community as well as the NHL-playing community-at-large. Consider me slightly jealous with regard to the real equipment you got.

And thanks for the Yo Gabba Gabba icon...I end up with my kids' fingerprints on my laptop thanks to it.
 
# 19 raidersbball20 @ 05/25/10 11:31 PM
I have a feeling the gameplay is goonna be sick
 
# 20 Brian_OS @ 05/26/10 12:52 AM
is co-op in or out?
 

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