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Jason Rupert's Answers Part 4- From the EA Forums thread

Posted 02-03-2009 at 01:42 AM by Bahnzo

> have the dev team considered a practice mode for the
> eashl?

Yep, the idea is about.

> hey Jason:
> thanks again for your time it is seriously
> appreciated by this community.
> quick one for ya, is there anything you can tell us
> about the issue where one team has two yellow
> triangles over their heads. I know they're slightly
> different but even in 1080p with my glasses on and
> squinting I cannot tell the difference.
> thanks man.

I have tweaked the colours a bit. The darker yellow was supposed to be an orange and now it is. I'd have like to have come up with a better fix but this straddles online, front-end and rendering making it a bit of a complicated change for a patch, esp. since none of those are my areas and I was trying as much as possible not to drag people who are busy working on NHL10 away from what they are doing.

> Seeing that there is alot of code that is older thatn
> 3 years maybe someone should step through the old
> code and remove the momentum logic. I remember back
> in 2002 or around that time period there was a
> momentum meter that would show up on the screen and
> when it was full you would get a boost. Personally I
> think that logic is still in the game. Its apparent
> that others feel the same way. It is very
> frustrating to play online 1vs1 games and the other
> team has the momentum and you are struggling to do
> pretty much anything yet in another game you are
> dominating and everything is on autopilot because you
> have the momentum.
> It would be nice for someone to to clean up the old
> code and remove the momentum or catchup logic or
> whatever you call it.

I have since gone and looked for left over momentum code and the stuff that was there has been ripped out. I wouldn't want anyone to over-weight the possibility that it is there and we do not know about it -- collectively the team is quite familiar with the entirely of the code-base. I am just being cautious in saying that there is a possibility of there being something we are overlooking -- it is a remote possibility.

> I feel exactly the same way as you. I experience
> that every game and it ruins the online 1vs1. I
> think it is EA policy to deny that momentum exists in
> the game. My only wish for the NHL series is that
> they remove the momentum or catchup logic from the
> game.

There are no policies that make me say anything untrue. I have some limitations about what I can reveal (e.g. proprietary information) but I am not here to deceive anyone. I have been forthright in admitted bugs and deficiencies in the game and if I had any reason to believe that there is comeback logic or momentum I would admit that too.

Enough people see it as a problem that I have to believe that there is something to it. I know it isn't attribute cheating, I highly doubt it is momentum or explicit catchup logic. I have listed some possibilities in previous posts and have an open mind to other ideas.

> Regarding vision control not much is said in the
> instruction manual about it. Is it possible to give
> an explanation on what it does? Does it sort of give
> you a boost in everything you do like make your
> passes more accurate, your shots more accurate, your
> hitting better etc...

The only thing it does is attempt to keep your player oriented towards the play, based on the context. So if you are moving across the blueline the player will open up so that his stick is on the forehand for a shot, and if you are backchecking it will orient you towards the other end (so you can backskate when the automatic backskate is not kicking in). Hopefully it is fairly intuitive and the effects just mirror what you would expect based on your intuitions of physics and the sport -- that's our goal for it anyway.

Indirectly it will affect the things you mention because the orientation of the player influences things -- e.g. if you are facing the net and on your forehand you will be able to get more power and accuracy on your shots.

> Hi Jason,
> Thanks for taking the time to answer questions here.
> Any idea if the patch would include:
> * In the ESHL game launch window, a clearer view
> of each teams jersey color (it's very hard to see
> * Also in the game launch window, team rankings
> so you know what you are getting into
> Thanks

No, these things aren't in the patch -- both are good ideas.

The one thing I would worry about showing the ranking is that people would bail out too often and it would be ever harder to get a match and get a game started. If it went along with some greater control over who you want to match up with (e.g. within some number of divs from you) I think it would work well. Not sure if these are planned -- just my opinions.

> i have a couple of things...
> 1. whats with players "freezing" when you try to
> feed them in the slot for a one timer? the player
> could be wide open but they freeze up and the puck
> slides rigth by them. i'm trying to think of exact
> situations that might cause it to happen but it might
> be totally random?
> 2. what gives on the "position score glitch"?!
> forgive me if someone has asked this already but
> it's really cheesing me off! I'm good at this game
> and NEVER get F's in position score yet it's stuck
> on an F! this "glitch" haulted my advancement in
> the game.
> i even called Xbox AND EA but no one could give me a
> reason after a combined hour on the phone. it's
> ruining a great game. Other people have this problem
> too. There has to be a way to delete your Online Be
> A Pro character and it's grades...i mean, that WOULD
> make sense wouldnt it?
> i'm ready to delete my live account and start totally
> fresh...

One-timers freezing is a bug, we'll be looking into it.

Microsoft has nothing to do with the BAP grades, no point sitting on hold waiting for customer support there. I don't know what is happening with that (not my area) but based on other posts I've seen it sounds like something gets corrupted in a certain situation -- a lost connection or something. I don't know if there is a way to recover from it but if I find out I'll let you know.

My (slim) understanding of the overall grade is that it is a sort of running average: so it is a certain percent based on your last game and the rest your previous average. That means that the relevance of your past rating falls away as you play -- so if things are working properly you should be able to play out of the F rating. It sounds like something might not be working properly in this case since some people say they have played a lot of games and made no progress.

PM me the details, your gamertag and how many games you have played and I can pass the info on.

> As someone who only plays EASHL, I'd like to second
> the notion that colors be better defined. It's beyond
> confusing sometimes to have similar colors. In
> fact, I'd like to take it one step further and
> suggest that colors remain the same, position-wise,
> from game to game. IE: center is always red, RW
> blue, etc. These could be duplicated for both teams
> (as you can't see the other teams colors of course)
> and make it easy to keep them different.

This is the solution I'd go with. I don't know if there are any reasons not to do it that way (not my area).

> Edit: Oh and have you talked about making changes to
> the maximum allowed goalie size? These teams with
> 6'9" goalies either have to go, or there needs to be
> some sort of penalty for having a goalie that large.

Agreed. The speed penalty on over-sized players was one of the last fixes to go in before the game shipped. The first patch should have dealt with goalies but I wasn't seeing many complaints about it at that point so it wasn't high in my mind.

> Thanks for listening/reading/not ignoring!

For what it is worth there have always (since I joined NHL three years ago) been devs on the team who listened, read and did not ignore what went on in the forums.

I realize that there is a big difference between that and actually being here responding. I would have been on here posting earlier but I thought it wasn't allowed (at some point in the past it wasn't). When I realized it was possible to get permission to post I did.

> Were the same programmers used to make the new NHL
> 3-3 used to make nhl 09 and the patches?
> Thanks for taking the time to answer all of these
> questions.

Some of the people who worked on 3-on-3 also worked on NHL09. When it comes out you can compare the credit lists. I did not work on 3-on-3.

The patches were also done by a subset of the team. The first involved more people because we were earlier on in the planning stages of NHL10 and they could split their time more easily. The second patch has been mostly just a couple of us (on the programming side -- QA has to be heavily involved of course).

> Skating Backwards- When you are a breakaway, just as
> you hit the hash marks, you press LT and your guy
> will skate backwards, as your skating backwards flick
> to the top corner with a wrist shot and there is a
> very high probability that the puck will go again.
> Wrap Around- Too easy to score
> Another one is where you guy skates the opposite way
> that he shoots, for example, if I am skating to the
> right while holding the stick down to wind up my
> shot, if I release it as I am skating and I wire it
> the opposite side that I am skating(skating right and
> shooting top left corner, a very high probability it
> will go in again.
> The last glitch is one that my cousin uses, he skates
> in on an angle from the wing, just as he is about to
> skate right into the post, he slams the brakes, and
> the goalie goes into the spread eagle formation, and
> he shoots it in for an easy goal.
> Thanks again and please tell me if I did not
> elaborate enough
> Message was edited by: LEAFSin67 (XBox)

Backskating on a breakaway is over-powered for sure. We need to factor it that you are shooting blindly and while spinning and lower the power and accuracy accordingly.

Shooting back against the grain is somewhat legitimate, but is a bit more effective than I would like. I don't think it is too far off. The 'curve shot' animation is a part of it, once that is gone we'll see if there is more to it than that.

For the last one, it shouldn't be that easy to get to that spot, but if this is a version of the well-known short-side high weakness then it is something we are looking into as well.

> Hello Jason,
> Many goals that sitting on the goal line or are
> covered on the goal line are counted as goals. This
> can be extremely annoying in a tight game. The puck
> needs to completely go across the line for it to
> count. How about the goal be able to be reviewed like
> back in NHL 99?
> -Illeatyobiscuit

To have it reviewed correctly we would have to know that the call was wrong, so fixing the bug of it being a wrong call has to come first either way. After that having reviews is more of a "presentation" issue more than gameplay, and even as a presentation issue I think it is a bit down the list of the things I would want to see us work on first, but I agree it would add some suspense and excitement when it happens, just as in real hockey (when the reviews do not go on too long!)

> i feel like the skill stick was what made this game
> really cool and unique when it debuted on nextgen,
> but it seems to be getting less and less important
> and fun the last 2 years. the goalies are just way
> too good on non-cheap shots and breakaways are really
> kind of boring and frustrating. the wrist shot has
> pretty much been phased out if you actually want to
> score with any regularity. and with the defense
> always just backing into their own net, the 1-1 dekes
> really aren't that useful against the passive AI
> players. i realize dangling isn't what hockey is all
> about, but it just feels like a little of the
> creativity has been lost with the limited ways beat
> the goalie right now.

I think that most of this is related to the scoring balance (shooting & goalies) and it is stuff I have been tuning for the patch. I hope you like the way it comes out there better.

> also how about ditching the puck control attribute?
> you touched on it with the collision detection on
> passing, but the physics of the game really
> shouldn't be changing based on which players are
> involved in the play. kind of a source of
> frustration when despite initiating a perfect
> pokecheck, ovechkin just skates away, when a lesser
> player would have been stripped of the puck in the
> exact same scenario.

I think there is a place for a puck control attribute, but it might be a bit heavy handed as it is now. There has to be a way to differentiate the star players -- if I am skating in with Ovechkin we should both feel like he is a more dangerous scoring threat than Brashear would be. It can't just be done in skating attributes, otherwise fast players like Cogliano, Raymond and Lombardi end up dominating because that is the stat that matters. As it is now I think the skating attributes are too dominant -- which touches on the question joborule asked, I will comment a bit more on that when I get to his question (which I still have not forgot!)

> just another suggestion: the defensive skill stick is
> really pretty useless as far as actually swinging the
> stick back and forth goes. same with the pass block
> and often frustrating shot block.


> you probably know all this stuff especially the lack
> of goal variety which you've already mentioned. just
> throwing it out there. love the game and hope you
> keep improving it.

Thanks, we will.

> Speaking of faceoffs (and sorry if this has already
> been mentioned) but will you be making it so that
> when a team gets a penalty, the faceoff is in that
> team's zone no matter where the play is stopped (just
> like in the NHL)?

I am surprised that is the first time that question has come up in the thread since that is one of the more significant rule changes in the NHL this year. We only learned about the change late in the development of NHL09 so we could not get it in. I am pretty sure we will fix this for NHL10.

> A few quick updates / questions:
> 1) I noticed in this thread you were concerned about
> how to handle the vision/checking thing... what about
> having it active throughout the entire offensive
> zone? I think that'd be a much better compromise
> than having it only work in the slot.

Think that makes sense, though someone posted saying they use vision control to line up hits...

> 2) On that note, I've heard that holding vision to
> shoot changes the mechanics of one-timers such that
> your timing on pressing the right stick forward
> matters more, and you're more likely to miss the
> puck. This comes of course from our anecdotal
> evidence / best guesses... is that true?

We did not do anything deliberate to make it work that way and I can't think of a reason why it would make a difference. It is possible that it interferes with the one- timer somehow, I'll have to experiment with it a bit and see what goes on.

> 3) Have you considered using the mechanics such as
> pressing down on the right or left stick (as if it's
> a button) for anything? Pressing down on the right
> stick seemed cumbersome and weird to me at first when
> I was new to the Xbox platform... but after playing a
> good amount of Call of Duty 4, it became second
> nature... maybe that could be used for poke checking
> or some other command that's a nuisance as far as
> offensive/defensive control mixups go...

There seems to be a taboo against using them, but I am in favour of it since we are running out of buttons. Originally I didn't like A for sticklift and I put it on R3 so I wouldn't have to take my thumb off the right stick. In the end it shipped on both, so it is on R3 as an undocumented feature.

> 4) Is there any word on whether or not the upcoming
> patch will affect interference calls? I'm thinking
> that as far as difficulty to implement vs. benefit to
> give us, making the refs call interference calls a
> lot more reliably (not when a guy is a few inches
> away from the puck, but if he's a good distance away
> it's pretty much 100% ridiculous to get away with
> laying him out) would be the easiest thing to slip
> into a patch that would make us super happy. There's
> a new defensive "play" becoming more rampant where
> one guy hammers the guy with the puck, and the other
> guy hammers the d-man on the blue line almost
> guaranteeing a breakaway because the last line of
> defense is laying on the ice.. 90% of the time,
> there's no call.


> 5) Have you considered an open beta program like that
> of EndWar or others for NHL 2010? I would absolutely
> love for this to happen, and I feel that as the
> online component of the game has become more and more
> of a centerpiece, this kind of testing is
> important.... I suppose given the development cycle
> that it may already be too late to get something like
> that off the ground, but I thought I'd ask.

I imagine there are lots of complex logistical issues in doing that, it isn't really my area but anything that helps us get more testing would be a good thing. The increasing popularity of online is creating new challenges and I think we are going to have to make some adjustments to meet them.

> 6) Something I neglected to put in my letter at
> fixnhl.com that I need to add: faceoff
> discrepancy.... I realize it's possible in the NHL
> for one guy to be worse at faceoffs than another and
> maybe lose every single one of them.. but in EASHL
> games that same guy is going to have to take every
> faceoff for the game... I've played far too many
> games where faceoff totals end up something like 25-5
> .... or even 30-0... The best guys in the NHL win
> 60% of their faceoffs, so I'd love to see an
> adjustment made to this... it makes getting out of
> your own zone against a good forechecking team
> near- impossible, because you can't even win a faceoff
> after your goalie gets a freeze...

This is one of those things that I have just grown used to and for some inexplicable reason just accept and don't even really see any more, it is good to be reminded of that sort of thing. I play defense in EASHL but every so often I end up in a game where nobody else will go center and I have to -- it is a disaster and I am lucky to win a couple of draws the whole game. This should be a simple thing to tune, so I will change it but I doubt it can get into the patch at this point without delaying it excessively.

> I will have to disagree with you on this one, from
> what I’ve learned shot accuracy doesn’t affect
> anything, I’ ll explain........After the first patch,
> reading that the fix was adjusted in the aiming of
> the joystick and would have to be manually figured
> out for accuracy. This lead me to believe that the
> aiming was always manual with the points of the
> joystick being the points on the net. So to
> experiment I took all my points off of accuracy to
> see what happened.........I use a Dangler who’s
> starting attributes are 70 and now score more goals
> than before. Part of this is that “shot power” also
> helps release speed. So basically I think people need
> to know how the attributes help with the building of
> their BAP characters. Some attributes seem to be what
> they say..........others have no effect or may at
> very high points (90 +). Like I said, I score more
> just by having a quicker release ( 85 power, 70
> accuracy) than with 85 accuracy.......maybe something
> to look into.

Point for point I would put mine into accuracy before power. At 2:1 it becomes a tougher decision. A lot of it depends on the type of shot you take. Accuracy definitely makes a difference though.

> 1.) Pass block. I love pass block and it is FAR
> superior to the dive. The glitch is that if you come
> within a certain radius of your own net you can not
> go down or you come up. (also the glitch that keeps
> you player in pass block long asfter the play has
> moved from your zone)

I will have to keep an eye out for that, I have not really noticed it myself.

> 2.) sk8ing backward out of the ofensive zone when you
> need sk8 forward to you net. I use the overhead cam
> and can see when a cherry picker is out in the
> neutral zone. I stay and play the point uptill it
> looks like my boys get into trouble and I back out of
> the fun zone to cover the cherry picker. The problem
> is you can't skate forward to catch up and cover him
> till it's to late(or glitch #3 happens)
> 3.) The hesitation during backward to forward sk8ing.
> At times it seems if you close on you man as he
> carries the puck thru the neutral zone and you sk8ing
> backward your player seems to stop or studder as he
> transitions giving the puck carrier 4-5 strides on
> you.

If there is a loss of speed or acceleration caused by either of these situations it would be very small, so I don't think the actual consequence is as bad as the visuals would suggest, but I will keep an eye out for both of these situations too.

> Is there any thought toward improving how faceoffs
> work? It feel awfully random. I improve my faceoff
> rating when i play center, and some games i win
> almost all of them, and some i lose almost all of
> them. In either case, i feel like I'm doing the
> exactly same "pulling on the stick at about the same
> moment."

If it is against another person I would guess they just have the timing down a bit better or have better attributes. It should probably be a bit more random than it is so that it is not a certainty that the weaker attrib. player will lose almost every time.

> Hi Jason,
> Great reading so far!! I have a good question for
> you.
> Is AI learning turned on in EASHL and OTP games?
> Thank you and keep up the good work.

I am going to say yes, but I will have to check to be 100% sure. It has no effect on the human players in the game in any case.
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