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Thanks for All the Participation and Feedback

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NHLDev
704 posts NHL Developer
edited August 2
First off, I want to thank all of you for such high participation numbers in the Beta. Obviously we want as many people as possible to experience our latest and greatest product but when it comes to the Beta, it also really helps us improve the more players we have playing games and giving us feedback from their own personal experiences.

So with that, thanks very much also to everyone that has participated thus far in submitting feedback to our Gameplay survey. Even though there are not many surprises there in the data from what overall sentiment is telling us, it is great to have data that confirms any suspicions.

As mentioned before, when writing on the forums, it is sometimes tough for us to message out what we may or may not do in the future as we can’t always commit full stop to something but I do enjoy having candid conversation about what people feel about the game, certain mechanics choices and what they would like to see improved or even in some cases left as is. At the end of the day, we can only talk on the forums so much and it is the product that has to do the talking. I know people are curious about what we are thinking but experience says that it will only matter once the improvements make it into your hands. With all the conversations we have had over the last few years on skating, physics, player switching, pickups, goalies, etc. it is finally nice to be able to get many of these ‘hypothetical’ improvements we have been talking about into your hands.

The other piece that I have mentioned before is design philosophy vs. execution. Overall, I wouldn’t say the design philosophy has changed all that much – we want a balanced game where people feel their twitch skill and hockey smarts can separate them from their opponent and at the same time want the experience to feel extremely immersive leveraging what we know people love about the real world sport. In that, there is a lot of subjectivity as people get into the details of how to execute against that but we are usually aligned on the high level themes that fit under that vision. With time and new technology and some incredibly talented teammates, we can try new things to get closer to achieving our goals and the more feedback we get from the community, the more we understand how close we are getting to our goals through others eyes.

I am happy to say that the overall sentiment for gameplay this year is quite positive but the unanimous topic of debate for the moment is obviously pokechecking, so I wanted to touch on it a bit. I would like to discuss design philosophy vs the current execution you are playing from the time we cut the Beta, and what tuning/code can do to further hit our vision going forward. At a high level, I am sure we can agree on the overall philosophy behind defending – Players on defense should have a collection of tools at their disposal that all have risk/reward associated by context and the best players will be those that separate themselves using good twitch skill and hockey knowledge in their use of all of the tools available.

Defense should not just be about pokechecking. It is about great positioning and taking away options for the offense so that they can’t drive the play. Pokechecking is one tool to help achieve this. Players use their stick in hockey purely to take away an area of the ice where they don’t want a puck carrier to go – it can be an effective tool without ever making contact with a stick or puck purely as a preventative strategy. Incidental contact makes this a viable option as players won’t want to skate in such a way that their stick makes contact with your extended stick. This then allows defenders to angle players to less options where they then run out of room and lose the puck to incidental stick on stick or stick on body contact or where the defensive player can use their body to separate the puck carrier from the puck. With the improvements to skating and physics, defenders have way more control over their positioning and how effective their body contact can be even at low relative speeds. There isn’t really a reason to have to pokecheck once the puck carrier is closer than your stick length away at all. Incidental contact through good body positioning will do the same job. However, if the puck carrier is talented, they won’t get that close to you and you will want to use your pokecheck or manual defensive stick to take away more time and space from the puck carrier, forcing their hand to do something with the puck. Stick lift is also a much more viable option this year when you get in close proximity as well, as long as you can get an angle where you have good leverage on the puck carriers stick. And remember, if you get the puck carrier to change their angle from what they would prefer to do or force them to protect the puck, you are achieving half your goal of limiting their options, slowing them down which will get you closer to a turnover. Defense isn’t always binary right away. As a team, you need to limit options before you can take action for an actual turnover.

So with that, what did we do with the actual pokecheck mechanic based on our design goals and what we heard from the community over the last year?

- We improved our collision detection of the stick on the offensive players body, their stick and the puck itself. This is probably the biggest change regardless of what we do with penalties that makes pokes from behind less effective.

- We added variables to make sure we were rewarding smart defense and conditions that simulate what would take place if we had a more physically accurate stick on stick or stick on body solve.
- Pokechecks from that front where your stick blade just hits a skate will not cause a trip. We have the ability to widen or decrease that angle. Pokechecks from any other angle where the blade hits the skate will cause a trip
- Pokechecks where the shaft of your stick hits a leg will cause a trip Again, we could tune angles for this but right now, it will cause a trip from any angle.
- If you are using manual Defensive Skill Stick and you swipe your stick through both legs, the player will trip.
- If you are using manual Defensive Skill Stick and you swipe your stick through one leg from the outside inwards, we don’t cause a trip if you correct yourself and stop. However, if you swipe from between the legs outwards on one leg, the player will trip.

- These above DSS conditions allow players to manually reach at pucks and correct if they have gone too far to show self control but if you are careless and swipe through both legs or are getting in between a players legs, you are punished.
- Remember you can also hold out the right stick first or right away as you are pressing poke to go directly to that angle for more control (we are also looking to improve this blend to make this even more viable)

- Also if you let go of DSS and start to blend out, it won’t cause a trip so if you catch yourself and let go early enough, you can save yourself a tripping call and if you are going for a pokecheck and it is going to cause a penalty, you can actually react quickly and pull away with your right stick to pull the stick away from the players legs.

- We also made an improvement to the tracking during pokechecks that last year was benefiting weaker players and punishing more skilled players. The tracking after you pressed pokecheck would track the puck even if it drastically changed direction. So if a smart player saw a puck out exposed and started to poke but then the offensive player drew it back to protect it, the stick would then swing and possibly make contact with the puck carriers leg causing a trip when it should just have been a miss. Or conversely, it may help a player get a poke they didn’t deserve but tracking a puck that was moved that the defensive player didn’t anticipate. To fix this, we know track the puck position relative to the movement of the puck carrier from the time of the poke. This means that if the puck carrier then protects the puck after that frame that the poke will now just miss into open space rather than swing through the puck carriers leg and it also means that a player that just randomly hits poke won’t be able to get assistance to hit a puck that then changes direction after that. You will now be rewarded timing your pokes based on knowing the current and upcoming vulnerability of the puck relative to it’s current movement.

- Getting puck first or stick on stick contact to free the puck before your stick then hits a leg should negate the stick from causing a trip. There are edge cases that players have run into that we are looking at that will need code to fix but overall this is working and we will continue to improve it to reach the original intent. This means you can still be quite aggressive from any angle if you feel you will at least get the puck carriers stick first.

- If your stick collides with a players leg geometry, even if we don’t trigger a trip, we will disable that sticks ability to cause stick on stick or stick on puck contact. This simulates the fact that the defensive players stick should not have been able to get to the puck as it would have been blocked from getting there by that collision.

- Finally, it is our intention with both DSS and regular pokes to not count the blend out as an aggressive stick action and it should not cause a trip. There are cases that we are seeing in the Beta where this is the case and it isn’t intended so we are looking to see what can be improved there for more consistency as well.

As I have read a lot of candid feedback and subjective thoughts on the subject, I thought I should also mention a few things. We don’t just listen to what a few people say. We also often look at data to qualify those thoughts and then weigh all those things against our design philosophy for the entire gameplay balance before making any calls.

From looking at the data, returning NHL 18 veterans are actually more likely to trip players than new players to the game. This could obviously be that new players are using pokecheck less but it could also mean that using pokecheck more aggressively was a learned behavior that the previous game allowed and that people need to adapt to new conditions that may be better for the overall balance of the game. We also know that over time, all of our players have adapted to the current game regardless of their skill level and take less penalties over time. These are all great things from a gameplay mechanic perspective as it means there is a skill gap and that it is not random. I also like qualifying that against the leaderboards and other data. I see players who are able to have sub 1 goal a game against and still average less than 2 penalty minutes per game so the changes to pokechecking, even in their current state don’t compromise their ability to play defense.

So with all that said, we plan to stick to our original design intention, but we will most certainly look for opportunities to tune and fix bugs for anything that goes against that intention.

Thanks for reading and please keep the feedback coming!
Post edited by NHLDev on

Replies

  • COGSx86
    723 posts Member
    edited August 2
    Such awesome feedback, Ben. Already today tripping penalties are way down. Players are adapting to the new mechanics and makes for some awesome gameplay. No more reaching behind poke checks, no more reaching across the body and as you said no more poke spamming.

    Hitting has become way more effective at rubbing players off the puck, and of course flat out nailing a guy. Same with stick lift. Defense gets a 2 thumbs up.

    At the same time with the new skating engine puck carries have the tools to counter this. Which makes for some exciting gameplay.

    Wish the Beta was extended like other years but either way year after year this game improves keep up the good work.
    Post edited by COGSx86 on
    You must unlearn what you have learned, to relearn!
  • kezz123
    489 posts Member
    I have to admit I jumped the gun a bit with tripping. Playing more, I noticed that it isnt too bad if using the DSS instead and so on. With that being said, I still notice many instances where pokes trip without contact to the player or ever so slight contact which in my opinion is too severe. I also notice many instances where poking a loose puck goes through the puck unlike previous years. otherwise its pretty good.

    Great game so far overall despite many flaws
  • For me its ok with pokecheck

    There are much problem when i get hit 1-2 sec after a pass and hes got nothing :/
  • VeNOM2099
    1945 posts Member
    @NHLDev It's about time you and your team got some praise for the game.

    But if you ask me, it's really the users that should be thanking YOU. Thank you for rolling with the punches every year. Thank you for not giving up. Thank you for trying to understand where we were coming from.

    And thank you for this BETA. A lot of people are really stoked about this game again, and that's the best reward for a developer.

    Thank you for making US happy, Ben.
  • NHLDev wrote: »
    From looking at the data, returning NHL 18 veterans are actually more likely to trip players than new players to the game. This could obviously be that new players are using pokecheck less but it could also mean that using pokecheck more aggressively was a learned behavior that the previous game allowed and that people need to adapt

    Boom! There it is!
  • RayFinkle1515
    137 posts Member
    edited August 2
    Translation=:

    “We ain’t changing a thing. Say bye bye to the poke meta gents. This is the new NHL”


    I say Bravo

    Edited swear filter effect
  • deadman9999
    542 posts Member
    edited August 2
    fix drop in freezes now, gotta be number one issue going into retail version
  • Great feedback....glad my gripe with the boarding while coming up vertically on the boards is said to be addressed!!! (Haven’t played new tuner yet.)
    Great stuff @NHLDev
  • First off let me start by saying I love the new skating and I appreciate your attempts to try to nerf pokecheking. The problem with this penalty method is that pokechecking is still overpowered in ones, where theres no penalties. It makes it extremely frustrating to play when you’re knocked off the puck every time another player spams pokechecking and could lead to ones flopping like threes did. Sure casual players will like it but most experienced players will get frustrated from the pokecheking and probably won’t play it.
  • I read this feedback and a tear rolled down my cheek!!!! Thank you for not caving to the people who didnt want to adapt and play positional defence. I LOVE THIS GAME.... EA SPORTS ITS ACTUALLY IN THE GAME!!!!!
  • jmwalsh8888
    532 posts Member
    edited August 2
    The current design is fine but there's just some "bugginess" and possible tuning needed.
    As someone said previously your stick doesn't seem to "track" loose pucks when you poke. I was never a poke spammer. Always very careful. So this year wasn't that big of a transition but im still getting more trips than ever. One that gets me many times is racing someone to the puck, I see i'm going to beat him, but assume he will just poke it away from me a split second later so I do the old poke it and go around him I've done for years. Problem is this year very often it misses the puck, he picks it up and then just seems to leave the stick out there and drag it through his legs for a trip.

    also I will say this, you say that when a player baits you and then times pulling the puck back it shouldn't track it through his feet but it's much worse than ever in that regards. The two previous examples are by far most of my trips. I'm adapting but mostly by using the DSS which is still way underpowered. The #1 problem with DSS is you can't do any animations while using it. If I just sit there doing nothing and someone passes it near my stick I reach out and steal it or at least knock it down. If I predict this and use DSS to put my stick in passing lane, unless he passes it right to my blade, I do nothing. Result is DSS is much much worse and deflecting passes than just being in good position and doing nothing (letting EA animations take over).

    These are observations, not complaints. Overall the gameplay is so much better than it's ever been. Definitely better than it's been at any point on current gen consoles.

    Last point I will reiterate for the 1000th time. None of this matters if you don't figure out why almost everyone's crashing all the time in eashl 6s. I want to buy this game but a bunch of us were talking last night and most were saying while this is best game in years they won't buy it until they hear all these crashes/errors/freezes/loops are gone. Playing eashl has been wonderful and horrible at the same time. I would say on average you will consider yourself lucky to get 1 game in an hour dealing with all of it. This is all club but drop in is just as bad.

    Edited for language. - EA_Cian
    Post edited by EA_Cian on
  • sammv63 wrote: »
    First off let me start by saying I love the new skating and I appreciate your attempts to try to nerf pokecheking. The problem with this penalty method is that pokechecking is still overpowered in ones, where theres no penalties. It makes it extremely frustrating to play when you’re knocked off the puck every time another player spams pokechecking and could lead to ones flopping like threes did. Sure casual players will like it but most experienced players will get frustrated from the pokecheking and probably won’t play it.

    threes and ones are gimmick modes targeted at casual players. experienced players wont get frustrated at all. experienced players dont play these modes. veterans play eashl 6's in online leagues. thats it. threes and ones are a waste of time for competitive players.
  • sammv63 wrote: »
    First off let me start by saying I love the new skating and I appreciate your attempts to try to nerf pokecheking. The problem with this penalty method is that pokechecking is still overpowered in ones, where theres no penalties. It makes it extremely frustrating to play when you’re knocked off the puck every time another player spams pokechecking and could lead to ones flopping like threes did. Sure casual players will like it but most experienced players will get frustrated from the pokecheking and probably won’t play it.

    Ones doesnt follow the same rules or sliders as 3s/6s games. I'm sure if the community gets loud enough they could just tone down the effectiveness of the poke for that mode.
  • Hi Ben, can you comment on the connectivity issues, especially in drop-ins? Have you found the cause and fix for it, come release?
  • Sgt_Kelso wrote: »
    Hi Ben, can you comment on the connectivity issues, especially in drop-ins? Have you found the cause and fix for it, come release?
    @NHLDev
  • Kuus2
    80 posts Member
    Good beta. I learned I need to seriously work on holding the puck on OVP, my quick high up passes to lone forwards do not work at all.

    Even when I had my butt handed to me a few times I still didn’t have the frustration I have on 18 on most games (win or not).
  • AMGsode
    4 posts Member
    edited August 2
    NHLDev wrote: »
    .....Defense should not just be about pokechecking. It is about great positioning and taking away options for the offense so that they can’t drive the play. Pokechecking is one tool to help achieve this. Players use their stick in hockey purely to take away an area of the ice where they don’t want a puck carrier to go – it can be an effective tool without ever making contact with a stick or puck purely as a preventative strategy. .....

    Exactly. Pokecheck button should not be "I dont have a possession of the puck button". In NHL 18 it was ridiculous. You'd see players pressing poke 80 percent of the time when they didnt have a puck.

    Some people are complaining how "in real life that would've not been a penalty". Well are you sure that in real life you wouldve pokechecked in that situation? Instead of let's say hitting them?

    In real life, defence isn't just about poking the puck. It is about position, hitting, sticklift etc. I really like the fact that in NHL 19 good position matters. In defence your player will intercept a pass pretty easily if your position is good. No more randomly rewarding players who skate with a tunnel vision by letting passes go through. Players who have a tunnel vision compared to players who can look foor that open passing lane while protecting the puck should be distinguised clearly. Also d-men who can master hitting, poking and even sticklifting should be rewarded compared to d-men who just smash R1 with their eyes closed.

    One thing though. When the new version comes out. Let people have time to play and adapt before nerfing too many things. The balance isn't perfect yet but it is surprisingly good. Even pokecheck is good. Im not saying it's perfect. Im sure there is room for improvement.

    Disclaimer, this all only applies for 6vs6 EASHL.

    Post edited by AMGsode on
  • Whoa, Ben just dropped the mic....

    Thumbs up.
  • Great post Ben - I am snipping all this out and reading later!
    Dad. Gamer. Rocker. Geek.
  • I just don’t understand how no new player names have been added to this game? There are so many ridiculous names to chose when making a player but there are no simple names at all. No George or Jared or Gavin, etc. Also, the goalie helmets have also been the same for years. All of these things have never had any updates and it’s frustrating for longtime nhl users. These extremely simple changes could slightly enhance the be a pro experience which needs updates itself. NHL should do something similar to the NFL or NBA career mode which is extremely realistic.
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