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NHL 11 News Post

Hello NHL Hockey fans, my name is Brian Krause, and I’m a software engineer on NHL 11. I’ve been working at EA for almost 20 years now, originally, for a small studio here in Burnaby BC called ‘Distinctive Software’. EA purchased Distinctive in the summer of 91, and I’ve been working for EA’s various Burnaby offices since then.

For many years I was the principle (and pretty much only) Dynasty Mode programmer on the NBA Live franchise, even back to the initial one on the Sega Genesis, NBA Live 95. I later worked on ‘Coach K’ college basketball doing their ‘dynasty mode’ version, and have been building on that type of feature set for the past 16 years or so. I’ve been the main Dynasty programmer on NHL ever since NHL 08, but I helped contribute a bit to NHL 07 while I was still working on NBA. In the past several years that I’ve been on NHL, I’ve been the main programmer devoted to dynasty and Be a Pro working alongside Andy Agostini and Gurndeep Sumal developing features for these game modes.

I’m sure that many of you are chomping at the bit to read about the biggest feature we added this year, one many of you have been asking for, for several years now.

Yes, it’s true! We have added RFA / UFA (Restricted Free Agency / Unrestricted Free Agency)

This year, for NHL 11, we worked hard to devote the time and resources to a feature that we know many of you have been clamoring for, for a couple of years now. Yes, you may have heard rumors, but its official, this year for NHL 11, we added Restricted Free Agency and Unrestricted Free Agency rules for the NHL collective bargaining agreement. I know many of our loyal customers have been asking for this group of features for some time, I even recall reading somewhere last year after we shipped NHL 10, that somebody hoped we would add ‘RFA’ as a ‘patch’.

First of all, let me say that it required many many months of heavy duty work to implement RFA and UFA rules into our game, and extensive changes to our screens and database to store all of the extra information necessary to track what is required to properly implement the feature. It would have been impossible to do anything of this scope ‘as a patch’, given how complex RFA and UFA rules are, and how the implementation of those rules is required across so many areas. If you’ve ever had the NHL CBA in your hands, you’ll find that its 500+ pages, and pretty much written for lawyers.

Restricted and Unrestricted Free Agents


We have implemented Restricted and Unrestricted Free Agency, and updated everyone in the game to track extra information about their contracts, and their tenure in the NHL. Whether a player is restricted or unrestricted or not is based on a formula of games played, and years of service in the NHL. Generally, a player will earn ‘Unrestricted’ status after 7 years in the NHL or when he reaches the age of 27 (whichever comes first), and have the rights to negotiate with any team they wish. In past versions of NHL, every player was treated as ‘Unrestricted’ in our game. Players could ask for any contract value they thought they might receive, and negotiate with any team. Their ‘previous team’ had no special rights.


However, for NHL 11, we implemented Restricted Free Agency, giving the current team negotiating advantages and salary limitations based on the real NHL CBA. Players who are restricted are able to negotiate with whomever they want but once they have agreed to a contract via an ‘Offer Sheet’ with another team, that team must pay compensation to the players rights team. But before I dwell further into ‘Offer Sheets’, let’s talk about Qualifying Offers.

Qualifying Offers

A qualifying offer signifies a Teams intention to retain their negotiating rights with a player that is currently ‘restricted’ to their team. In NHL 11, all CPU teams decide which players they are going to qualify (and attempt to keep on the roster) during the Resign Phase’. Teams make these decisions on the players current salary, and potential . A qualifying offer is limited to whatever the player’s previous salary was, plus a mandatory raise of 10 %, or 5 %, or none, depending on the previous salary. Qualifying offers are for one year only. If a team submits a qualifying offer to a player, that signifies its intention to retain that player, and maintain its negotiating rights. A CPU free agent will not automatically accept qualifying offers however, when free agency starts on July 1st. Some players will hold out for better deals if they have improved enough since their previous contract expired.

Sidney Crosby for example, if his entry level deal expired, Pittsburgh would have been forced to give him a qualifying offer of no more than 1 million to retain his rights. But a player of Crosby’s quality is certainly worth more than 1 million in today’s NHL. So, Pittsburgh would give him a qualifying offer of 1 million to secure his rights for the coming free agency session, and then attempt to negotiate a separate contract which is not bound by the 1 Million ceiling to keep him on the team. This type of logic is reflected in NHL 11 this year, teams may qualify players, but then negotiate a ‘sweeter deal’ if the quality of the player is sufficient.

All free agents who receive qualifying offers will review them and decide to accept/reject them. Some players (who have awareness that they could not demand a better salary in the open market) will accept the qualifying offers as is. As a Human GM in Be A GM mode, you’ll have to decide who you want to send qualifying offers to or not, the CPU will not qualify players automatically for you on your behalf. If you sim to July 1st, you’ll lose the exclusive negotiating rights with all players that COULD have been Restricted, and they will instead become Unrestricted on July 1st. You will really need to pay attention to managing your rosters in NHL 11, as qualifying offers gives you significant negotiating advantages, as well, it allows you to receive ‘Offer Sheets’.

Offer Sheets


Offer sheets are player contract offers from non ‘rights teams’ in order to secure the services of a player who has been ‘Qualified’ by their respective rights team, but have not yet signed the deal. Other CPU teams (and the user may initiate Offer Sheets as well) decide on whether they are willing to submit an offer sheet to a RFA from another team, but in doing so, they may have to forgo a certain number of draft picks. The amount ( and quality) of draft picks that must be surrendered is based on the accepted salary of the submitted offer. If a player is willing to accept a deal for 1 million dollars (for example) then the team making that offer will have to give up their fourth round pick for the coming year, in addition to the 1 million salary. Players who receive offer sheets with high level contracts (ie: 5+ million) will have to give up their next 4 years of first round picks. CPU teams balance the perceived value of the picks they are giving up, to the potential ‘upside’ of a given player, and use that computation to determine whether an offer sheet is warranted for a specific player or not.

Draft Pick Changes


We now track 6 years of Draft Picks in NHL 11, so the user can offer/trade draft picks in future years (not just ‘this year’s picks) when it comes to completing a deal or an offer sheet. Because of changes to how we’ve done our Rookie Generation engine this year, teams will have a fairly accurate idea of what type of quality of player that can be expected to be received via a pick that is 4 or 5 years out. This is a significant change to our draft pick engine from the past, as before, there was a disconnect between the perceived value of a pick, and the rookie that would be drafted in that position. This year, we have a much stronger correlation between picks and the rookies that will eventually be ‘cashed in’ for them. Generally, even with this extra awareness, you’ll find that CPU teams will not be as anxious to trade for picks several years out.

December 1st

The NHL CBA dictates that any player who received a qualifying offer from their team, but has not accepted it by December 1st (and has not received a competing offer from another NHL team) will be forced to sit out the remainder of the season, including the playoffs. These players will still be property of the ‘rights’ team in the coming off season, and will need to be qualified again by that team in the last week of June, but they may not play, and do not count towards the team’s salary cap for the coming year. Very few players will actually ‘sit out’ at that stage, but it may happen rarely if the player’s view of his expected salary is significantly different than any team’s perceived value of that player. But generally, players will reduce their demands and accept lower cash one year deals before the December 1st deadline arrives.

Unrestricted Free Agents

Unrestricted Free Agents are players who have either not been qualified by their previous team, so their ‘restricted’ status expired, or, are players who have been in the NHL for at least 7 years or is the age of 27. Unrestricted Free Agents may receive contract offers from any team, for any dollar value, and no compensation is required to sign a player away from another team.

I wanted to thank you for being a loyal NHL customer, and I hope that you continue to be happy with your purchases in the coming years. We here in EA Canada love hockey as much as you do, and I hope that is obvious to you by the quality of the features we strive to deliver every year. We often have to make a lot of hard decisions on what features we put in, and which ones get cut every year, but over the past 3+ years on NHL, I’ve really given a lot of attention to improving Dynasty Mode in NHL, and will continue to do so for years to come. I love my job, and hopefully that is obvious by the features you enjoy!

I look forward to your feedback about this blog.

~Brian Krause

Source - NHL 11 In the Crease Blog

Game: NHL 11Reader Score: 7.5/10 - Vote Now
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Member Comments
# 1 SinisterAlex @ 08/24/10 02:00 PM
Hmmm interesting. That's all I can say.
 
# 2 The Visualizer @ 08/24/10 02:15 PM
Good read, you can really tell that guy has enthusiasm for his job. My man has got some crazy job security too, working for EA since 91...damn
 
# 3 adayinthelife @ 08/24/10 02:27 PM
Wow, I'm so glad that this feature appears to be really in depth.

It sounds like it's going to make you really value your picks and players more than years past, and hopefully it will mean we see less superstars on the market every single season (I know it does happen, but not to the extent that it does in this series from year to year).

Say what you will about the salary cap and the CBA in real life, but it's made video game hockey even more enjoyable for dynasty players!
 
# 4 onlybygrace @ 08/24/10 02:33 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by adayinthelife
Wow, I'm so glad that this feature appears to be really in depth.

It sounds like it's going to make you really value your picks and players more than years past, and hopefully it will mean we see less superstars on the market every single season (I know it does happen, but not to the extent that it does in this series from year to year).

Say what you will about the salary cap and the CBA in real life, but it's made video game hockey even more enjoyable for dynasty players!
Eh...not last year.

In NHL 10 you had to turn the Cap off if you didn't want to see star FA's rotting in the FA pool.
 
# 5 Perceptor @ 08/24/10 02:48 PM
I second that - if it's implemented correctly, this will be an awesome feature!! I'm stoked about the game, but that was always an issue. Let's see how this plays out, but good work EA
 
# 6 Tommy Boy @ 08/24/10 03:06 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by onlybygrace
Eh...not last year.

In NHL 10 you had to turn the Cap off if you didn't want to see star FA's rotting in the FA pool.
I remember it happening in previous years but last years FA Pools were RIDICULOUS

As someone who played 5+ seasons in last years Be a Gm this is a VERY welcome addition as I wait (Kind of impatiently) for some sort of online dynasty for me and my friends I'm not a big lobby guy as I like to play within the spirit of real hockey and as a lot of people can attest Lobby games tend to be win at all costs, I avoid glitches and exploits and I guess that's my prerogative but most of my friends do as well so I enjoy those games far more
 
# 7 thudias @ 08/24/10 03:20 PM
Wow this seems like a really deep addition..Kudos
 
# 8 TDKing @ 08/24/10 03:42 PM
If I have to play an 82 game season this is a feature I may only see once or maybe never . Its nice they added it though. Still hoping for custom season length 20/42/82 and Online Multiplayer BeAGM.
 
# 9 bosshog78 @ 08/24/10 04:50 PM
If the CPU AI off-season and in season non-playing logic can be fixed, this new feature has a chance to be the offline dynasty players splooge feature..

I hope that it is done correctly and cannot be manipulated.

I look forward to seeing how this plays out..
 
# 10 Vikes1 @ 08/24/10 05:40 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by RealmK

Still wondering what the big announcement regarding GM mode is as well, I doubt this was it, we knew this stuff was gonna be in this year.
Boy I don't know about it being anything else Realmk.

Brian seems to say that RFA, IS the "Big announcement" Maybe I'm misunderstanding something. But that's what I got out of it.

But anyway...I like this addition, anything that adds depth to the franchise [GM mode] I'm all in favor of. As long as it's done correctly. I was kinda shaky about understanding all the fiance, cap room, etc in the '10' game. So I've really got some learning to do.

The best thing of all imo is, the continuing commitment to NHL's off-line franchise mode by EA . They seem to understand just how important the off-line features still are to many of us.
 
# 11 nccomicfan @ 08/24/10 05:48 PM
Certain guys at EA have to be ashamed of their titles when they see the quality of work being done by the NHL dev team..This is how you do franchise/dynasty!!!
 
# 12 Vikes1 @ 08/24/10 06:42 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by TDKing
If I have to play an 82 game season this is a feature I may only see once or maybe never .
I'm always glad to see others bring this up.

The more people that mention how important a custom season length is to them...hopefully we'll get it. I'm still hoping we get it this year.

For a person who hates simming, it's such a drag to have a great franchise mode you can only hope to get through 1 to maybe 2 seasons. Myself, I'm hoping to at least get a 41/82 option. Imo...the 41 game option works well. To me, it'd be great if you played your division rivals 4 times per season, and then the remaining teams once. 16+25=41.
 
# 13 LuGer33 @ 08/24/10 09:32 PM
Quote:
Wow, after reading that, I currantly have the best headache I've ever had in my life. Simply amazing, I can't wait for this game to come out. As a matter of fact I think I'm going to Cryogenically freeze my self so that time seems to go by instantaniously. Just hope when I wake up it's not 500 years in the future.
<3 South Park.
 
# 14 Qb @ 08/24/10 09:40 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vikes1
Brian seems to say that RFA, IS the "Big announcement" Maybe I'm misunderstanding something. But that's what I got out of it.
Yeah, based on how it was worded in the blog, I think RFA was the "big announcement" mentioned by Rammer. Would it help if I teased you with my customary "there are still a few morsels of goodness out there" line? Because there are...


Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenReign86
One more thing, and maybe Qb can let us know one way or another. But with all these additions to BEaGM, and all the CBA, and financial stuff, they've added this year, I wonder if they did what The Show did and have an in game guide that discribes all of the rules in detail to you. Afterall a lot of this stuff is like a foreign language.
Good suggestion and I'm not 100% certain, but I don't think there is. I'll pass it along... maybe I'll even attempt to write something once I have a chance to reacquaint myself with BAGM.
 
# 15 Fiddy @ 08/24/10 09:51 PM
lmao.. awesome they added this to the game, but does ea really think its causal cheesy gamers will understand all of that? hahahahaha
 
# 16 Majingir @ 08/24/10 09:53 PM
lol, will be fun doing franchise.

imagine if you could pull off a 2nd pick and old player you're letting go to UFA at end of season for a RFA who you'll let go and they end up getting you a 1st,2nd and 3rd round pick in RFA.
 
# 17 TDKing @ 08/24/10 10:12 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qb
Yeah, based on how it was worded in the blog, I think RFA was the "big announcement" mentioned by Rammer. Would it help if I teased you with my customary "there are still a few morsels of goodness out there" line? Because there are...
Thanks... there is still a chance...
 
# 18 JimPaek @ 08/24/10 10:44 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fiddy
lmao.. awesome they added this to the game, but does ea really think its causal cheesy gamers will understand all of that? hahahahaha
Those jobbers never understand anything except the OV rating.
 
# 19 Step2001 @ 08/24/10 11:00 PM
Nice job by the NHL11 dev team
 
# 20 onlybygrace @ 08/24/10 11:14 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fiddy
lmao.. awesome they added this to the game, but does ea really think its causal cheesy gamers will understand all of that? hahahahaha
Yeah, EA's casual gamers who've been asking for RFA might not understand.

Lets put it this way, I am no casual gamer and there is a lot about RFA that I don't understand...and I'm sure I'm not the only hardcore guy in the same boat.

There are a lot more fruits besides just the typical apples and oranges, Fiddy.

I'm sure there are even casual EA gamers who understand the RFA rules better than a lot of the hardcore guys. Wanna know why??? Because they are serious NHL hockey fans.

Just because you are a serious NHL gamer doesn't mean you are also an expert on league rules. What about all those sim players around the world who don't even follow the NHL but play a sim style of hockey???

There are a lot of serious NHL fans who play these games for fun...casually...not to whine and complain about them or compare them to some other game.
 

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