Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Doug Miller on 08/26/11 at 04:50 PM ET
Alright, well both of these little news tidbits come from yesterday, but I figured I’d let my recent HockeyFest announcement simmer for the time being, as nothing here is major news, so I figured it could wait a day. Anyway, EA has released a new short blog that consisted of a quick Q&A regarding a few of the new online features, all of which pertain to the EASHL. There was also a new video found on EA’s Swiss YouTube channel, which announced that a few European arenas are to be accurately featured in NHL 12. Then there is some older news, which EA reminded me of by reminding people about it on their NHL 12 FaceBook page. I would have already covered that older news, but it’s so old that it pre-dates my time here at KK.
UPDATE: 4 PM - A new video has just been released by EA featuring Wayne Gretzky talking about the Legends, although there is no new info here, aside from a clear shot of the front of the “Legends Team” uniforms. The video has been included at the bottom of the post.
First up, let’s go over the short new EA blog, simply titled “Online Blog Follow Up” posted by EA Canada’s Nate Ng.
This is Nate Ng here with a follow up to the NHL 12 Online Innovations producer blog. There have been a few questions in the NHL forums about details we announced in the blog and I am here to answer them.
Question: “My only concern is will leaderboard position be specific to position type? For example as a defensemen, I pride myself on shot blocking. A forward should never be categorized as a top shot blocker as that stat is not relevant for that position type. This is defensemen-specific.”
Answer: Center, Left Wing, Right Wing, Defense and Goalie have their own All -Star Leaderboards. Each position has its own unique set of stats and formulas to determine the amount of Fantasy Points earned. For example, the Defenseman leaderboard factors in blocked shots, hits, giveaways and takeaways, where the Center leaderboard factors in faceoff win percentage, amongst other things. The idea behind this is to have a system where points aren’t the overall factor, and that other important stats are also looked at when determining an All-Star.
Alright, before I get into the answer, I have to interject here with my own opinion on the question itself. I wouldn’t say that shot blocking isn’t relevant to a forward. Just ask any defensively responsible winger who is covering his respective point, as they are usually the first line of defense, so to speak, when it comes to blocking a shot taken from the point. The same goes for a center covering the slot, as centers are generally expected to be the most defensively responsible of the all the forwards, and might also be blocking the occasional shot as well, as a part of their overall job to cover their man and/or zone in an attempt to regain possession of the puck and get it moving to either a defensemen or a winger to get the play started going back up ice on and out of the defensive zone.
Also, let us not be so quick to forget about one of the most recent, and most spectacular shot blocks perhaps ever seen in the NHL playoffs, made by now former Boston Bruin, Michael “Wrist Shot of Death” Ryder (as I like to call him), who signed with the Dallas Stars in the offseason as a UFA. Keeping in mind he typically plays Right Wing, and managed to make this amazing shot block/glove save, that will forever be remembered as a key moment in Boston’s Stanley Cup run last season.
Clip courtesy of NHLVideo’s YouTube channel
That is the kind of shot block, that as a goaltender, you owe a guy dinner for.
Anyway, sorry for getting a bit off topic there, but that comment about shot blocking not being relevant to forwards did kind of bug me, especially remembering what Ryder did last season in the playoffs.
Getting back to EA’s answer though, they had already mentioned in the initial “Online Innovations” blog that each position would now have their own leaderboards, which ranks would now be determined by a “fantasy points” system, as opposed to the old leaderbords, which simply lumped all skaters, forwards and defensemen included together, and simply ranked them based solely on points scored. I had kind of figured that this new system would take several, if not all stats into account, with a formula in place to make certain stats more valuable to some positions as opposed to others. Which seems to have been confirmed by EA’s answer to this question. I have the feeling that they will probably take all possible stats into account, but their value will be different depending on position. For example, in this case, a blocked shot will undoubtedly be worth more points to a defenseman than it would be worth to a forward. As it is a more important stat for a defenseman, than it is for a forward, but it should still have some value for forwards as well.
Although it is not mentioned in this NHL 12 blog, nor has it been talked about before, but based on this new ranking system for the position specific leaderboards, I would hope that EA will also take a similar approach to how a player’s grades are calculated in the EASHL, and also further take into account the “player type” at that position as well. For example, a hit should be of value to both the “Team Play” and “Stats” grades, but should be of more value to a Power Forward or Tough Guy, than it should be to a Playmaker, who are generally not built to make hits. I don’t know if EA will be taking player type into account with the grading system this year. However, from the sound of the new fantasy points based leaderboards, which will calculate certain stats to be of more value for certain positions than others, it at least sounds like grading will likely be more position specific this year, which would at least a step in the right direction.
Anyway let’s move on to the next question. Also, sorry I got a little distracted there, but this is what happens when I have the kind of time to get a day up on my writing again. I’ll try to avoid going so off-topic in the future though.
Question: “Won’t Club Scouting encourage more pausing?”
Answer: The Club Scouting screen won’t cause any more pauses than a user would make in NHL 11. All of the player ratings were previously available last year in the pause menu. The only difference with the Club Scouting screen is that you can easily identify human users. The Club Scouting screen also includes their current in game grade levels as well as if the user is a Free Agent or not. We have upgraded the screen and made it more accessible this year. If anything, this will cut down on the time spent in the pause menu for user’s who are trying to scout opponents.
Personally, I think this was a bit of a waste of a question, as EA addressed this very same concern when they first talked about the Club Scouting feature, and made a good point that it wouldn’t cause any more pausing than usual, which I also agreed with in my own blog post at the time of covering those announcements. Although we do get a tidbit of new info here, which is that an opposing player’s current grade levels will also be displayed in the Club Scouting tool as well. It should also be considered that this feature will available in Drop-In games as well as OTP, which makes me think that players will also be scouting their own random teammates as well. Which could potentially lead to further problems quitting problems in OTP, should players notice that their goalie’s grade average is a “D” for example.
Speaking of players quitting out early, within the 2 minute grace period that is currently allowed in NHL 11. Which allows a player to quit out of any game within the first 2 minutes of gametime without having that quitting result in counting as a game played, and giving a player F grades across the board, as a discouragement for players to stay in games until the end. Mind you that those 2 minutes are not real-time, but gametime, i.e. before the game clock passes the 18:00 mark. Now I’ve heard some rumors floating around that EA might reduce this grace time down to 1 minute, although I doubt such a thing would ever be confirmed by EA, and will simply have to be found out by the community after the game’s release.
Personally, I don’t think there should be any kind of grace period at all, as this would be the best overall way to discourage players from quitting out of games early. This currently also makes for a rather annoying beginning to the play of Club games, as usually both Clubs are just simply ragging the puck around, waiting for that two minutes to pass, so that they don’t accidently go and score, causing their opponents to quit out, without the Club who scored getting credit for their DNF Win. So rumors aside, I don’t know if any changes will be made to this system, but as I just pointed out a potential flaw in the Club Scouting tool within OTP games, I would suspect EA will change something up to counter this potential issue.
Question: “Do Club Challenges work the same as last year?”
Club Challenge still exists, however the results of those games are now unranked. All ranked EASHL games will have to be played through the Quick Match function. The reason this was changed was to fix an issue where teams were win trading against other teams by challenging the same club to Club Challenge games.
I know that this doesn’t answer all of the online questions, but the one’s I’ve addressed here seem to be the one’s people are most concerned about. Keep asking questions in the forums and the team will do their best to respond to them there as well.
Also a bit of a wasted question, as this was also addressed by EA at the time of the release of the Online Innovations blog, in which they stated quite clearly that Club Challenge matches would now be unranked for this very reason. Although it is good to see that EA is taking steps wherever they can, to try and keep the EASHL a fair and level playing field. This will also allow for another feature that the community had been asking for, which would be the ability to play unranked scrimmage games against other Clubs, within Practice mode. So by now making Club Challenge matches unranked, they have essentially killed two birds with one stone. As it combats some cheating, along with giving the community something they had been asking for anyway. I rather like this idea, for obvious reasons. Plus it will allow for friends who might happen to be in different Clubs to play each other, and be able to relax and have more fun while doing so, knowing that it won’t count against their stats.
Alright, well that does it for EA’s new blog. Like I said, not much new information there, just tidbits of things, and further hints at other things that for now we can only speculate about.
Moving on, the following video was found yesterday on EA’s Swiss YouTube channel. Upon first glance, it might appear as nothing more than EA’s Swiss trailer for NHL 12. However, after a careful look, several members of the NHL 12 community, as well as myself, have noticed that there are three distinct arenas from the National League A, which is Switzerland’s top professional hockey league, which has been featured in the NHL-series ever since they started including top European leagues. However, these European leagues have featured accurate uniforms, rosters, refs, and even accurate ice to some extent, but they always had rather bland, and generic arenas. Until now. Take a look for yourself.
Video courtesy ElectronicArtsDE’s YouTube channel
The three arenas that are now accurately represented are as follows, in order of their reveal in the trailer.
1. PostFinance Arena - Home of the SC Bern (also the largest and most attended area in any of the European leagues)
2. Hallenstadion - Home of the ZSC Lions (the second largest arena in the NLA)
3. Vaillant Arena - Home of the HC Davos
Oh, and yes, at the end of the trailer, that is Jonas Hiller on the cover of NHL 12, as it has been long known that he will be the cover athlete on the Swiss version of the game, which is a nice touch, since it is his native country.
The only question that remains for now, is will these accurate European arenas be featured in the North American version of the game too? That remains unknown for now, as they might simply be exclusive to either the Swiss version of the game, or the European version in general. Although I don’t see any reason why EA wouldn’t include these in all versions of the game, but time will tell.
Seeing this makes me think that they have likely gotten all 30 of the NHL arenas to be more accurate as well, although from my knowledge, there were all fairly accurate last year, with a few minor exceptions of little things like what color border was used between the panes of glass surrounding the rink. Although minor little touches like that count when it’s your favorite team in question. I know that EA has gotten more actual arena names into the game now, as can be seen by Rodgers Arena in the NHL 12 demo, although I don’t know if they have quite gotten all of them yet, as these rights, just like everything else, have to be licensed on a individual basis. At least they have gone to some lengths to include some accurate arena entrances and other such theatrics now. A few examples being the Oil Tower in Edmonton, and the Shark Head in San Jose, both of which have been posted up online for a long time now, as they were some of the very first NHL 12 quick-clips released by EA.
Speaking of old news, as I mentioned in the title of this blog post. This is quite lame in my opinion, but since I haven’t covered it yet, I might as well throw it in, as it might appeal to some people.
Shortly after Steven Stamkos was revealed as the cover athlete for NHL 12 at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas. EA posted up a blog about a special FaceBook app called “You’re Covered” which allows to pick a version of the game, be it Xbox 360, or PS3, then select your favorite NHL team, and then upload your photo, to make your own personalized cover for NHL 12. This is the link to the original EA blog post if you wish to read more about it.
However, if you’re really not a fan of Stamkos on the cover, you can always just type in “NHL 12 Custom Covers” into a Google image search, and pull up plenty of other very well made options, as here have been a handful of talented graphic designers in the NHL-series community doing this kind of thing every year for the series for quite a while now.
UPDATE - This just hit the web, but since it doesn’t have any major news in it, I figured I’d throw it in this update where it belongs. EA Sports released a video of Gretzky going over all the Legends stuff. No new info here, other than a nice clear shot of the front of the Legends Team uniforms… enjoy.
Video courtesy of GameFrontDotCom YouTube channel
EA actually did have some embed coding on their official video for once, but as I figured by looking over it, it was way to overly complex and thus, didn’t really work too well… thankfully someone got it on YouTube shortly after it was released. My thanks to those people, as they make my job a heck of a lot easier.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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