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NHL 12 Blog




NHL 12 – Presentation Blog
Posted by EA SPORTS at 07:16PM on Wednesday, August, 03, 2011



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 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
- 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 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 .


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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