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Playing a more realistic style of hockey... and winning?

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  • NHLDev
    1680 posts EA NHL Developer
    @NHLDev was there a major change in goalies after the beta?

    Not really. We have made changes in terms of how the goalies track pucks behind the net to improve with some glitchy wraparound cases but their general behavior is pretty much the same. I guess it depends what pieces you are looking at specifically.
  • VeNOM2099
    3178 posts Member
    edited March 2020
    NHLDev wrote: »
    VeNOM2099 wrote: »
    @VeNOM2099 resident goalie specialist, anything to add?

    @johnny2fingaz @WainGretSki

    Here's my take: EA's Goalies haven't changed much since NHL 07. I'll give them this: they look great and IIRC, they were the first ones to have equipment that moves independently from their limbs (pads rotate when they go down to become flush with the ice) and they were certainly the first to actually be quite usable in head to head games. At least that didn't require some messed up perspectives or gimmicks (NHL 2K's Bullet Time goalie mode... Ugh).

    That being said, EA's goalies are 100% wrong. Their skating and movements are nothing like the real thing. Save animations are very limited. I don't even think they can actually animate limbs individually like NHL 2K8 goalies did. The engine underlying the goalie mechanics is complete bullocks. The save logic is, IMHO, flawed 1000%. The AI goalies... If I were to be someone without knowledge of what the game is, I'd say it's being manipulated to be bad on purpose. Like if I were to watch live NHL matches on TV for a month, and then watch a game or two of NHL 20, immediately the first thing that would jump up to me is how incredibly ARTIFICIAL and CONTRIVED the goals are, and it would be entirely because the goalies are allowing goals that a real goalie, even an amateur goalie, would never, ever, allow in a real game.

    What are the main problems with goalies (both human and AI)? Mainly that there isn't enough differentiation between the styles and between a "good" goalie and a "bad" goalie. You have 91 WinterNational Pekka Rinne? He's gonna let in the SAME stupid, asinine, CONTRIVED and very frustratingly easy goals as any of the base 80-ish overall goalies you'd find in one of your starter packs. Heck, do yourself a favor and collect about 7K coins and get yourself a decent 84-86 rated Goalie and you'll do just as well as if you waste your money on packs to get like a special card Goalie or even an Icon Goalie like Patrick Roy.

    And that's a huge, HUGE problem. The other issue is that Rinne plays just like Roy, who plays just like Plante who plays just like Dubnyk, who plays just like... See where this is going? Figure out how to beat one goalie, you have just figured out how to beat them all. Just like in real life, eh? None of the goalies have any style other than the same boring ones we've seen for more than 12 years now. Hybrid goalies don't have any different save animations than a Butterfly goalie or a Stand up goalie. Also, Stand Up goalies don't exist anymore. They haven't for like 20 years now. When a videogame company who touts that "it's in the game" can't bother to even update their info like this, it doesn't take too much imagination to figure out WHY the game is in this state.

    Lastly, even if EA would just find some kid who plays in an amateur league and got input on how goalies actually work, the game (and the goaltending) would be 1 million times better than whatever they have now or have had for over a decade. 2K Sports (and SEGA Sports before them) had horrible goalies until they actually went ahead and updated the goalie engine by having actual goalies work on the game. Some of them, like Marty Turco, simply gave input on how they should move and play. Others, like the QC kid that was in charge of goalies in 2K8 (I think his name was Stéphane... something... I forget) actually went and coded some amazing goalies thanks to the fact that HE himself was actually a goalie. No other game ever came close then, no game has come close since. And if you haven't heard me gush enough about 2K8 goalies... Well... I'll spare you guys. LOL!

    Goalies in this game are bad. They're meant to be bad. Partly because there's no one, I think, on the inside that really understands or at least gets the real fundamentals of how one should work. On the other side, the player base wants goalies to be bad. Not all of them, but a big part of them are ok with the horrible goalies in this game. They'd rather be able to score 12 goals in one period by walking over the blue line and "flicking up" than scoring 1 or 2 goals per game by actually working the puck and getting good chances.

    Excitement in EA's NHL is in the results, not the process.

    And that's why we're in the state we are in right now. But that's just my opinion... My "confirmed biased" one at that! :p

    PS: Oh, and I'm not an expert. I just play goalie in real life. Or played rather... For 25+ years. I played it. Coached it. Played it again. One day I may teach my kids how to goalie... if they're interested. But I'm not an expert. For the expert(s), refer to Ben and his team. They know much more than I do.

    Once again always a pleasure to read your posts ..thank you Sir .. again will wait for EA's response

    Not sure what there is to respond to but I can try. We all know Venom doesn't like much about the current game and feels he and others would do a better job making it. And I would be the first to suggest to anyone to pursue a path towards doing that if it interests you. My first connection to EA other than playing their games was as a kid writing letters to them in 1993 with design ideas. So being passionate about what could improve the technology and experiences is where it all starts and some of you may already have a wealth of experience and technical skills to offer right now.

    In regards to what was said, he goes on to list historical goalies that should be making unique saves and how we should support different styles better and then tells us that Stand up goalies don't exist anymore. I am not sure how these two things are related other than proving why we haven't spent as much time on historical styles -- but we certainly could do that to improve the likeness of our goaltenders. It all comes down to priorities though and players usually have more concerns about base goalie behaviors and how things play out in the competitive space before they are concerned about likeness immersion. We do our best to try and achieve both though. It wasn't too long ago that goalies didn't have unique stances.

    Both elements are important but adding in the ability for things such as our goalies to make redirect saves and controlled saves or have a wider range in the ability to cover the puck has been a higher priority. So there has been no shortage of work or effort from our animators and engineers on goalies.

    As far as comments such as being able to skate over the line and score 12 goals a period just by flicking up on the stick, I find it just damages an argument. I am all for constructive feedback and listen to what everyone has to say and watch many twitch streams to see how the game plays out in casual and competitive spaces across the various game modes and despite having many things I would like to improve or seeing where we could do things differently, I still stand behind the game being balanced well.

    Would I do a better job making the game? I don't know. I don't know how to code. And even if I learned everything there is to know about how to make a game in one day, it would probably take me several years to even start to get something coherent out there in the players hands.

    Would I go in a completely DIFFERENT direction than this game is currently going in? Absolutely. In a perfect world where I would be in charge, I'd make the game from the goaltending out. I'd give users more control over their movements. Re-assign RS to be a limb save move, not another "butterfly" save. Make sure the goaltending is solid, both for AI and Humans. Then work my way out. I'd make defense about positioning and zone coverage, not puck possession. I'd make offense more about using your teammates than about individual "skills" like LT'ing and protecting the puck in the boards. Getting to the scoring areas would be about using the cycle to move the defense out of the way, not about skating to the "good" scoring spots.

    And YES, I have been in games, both 6v6 or 1v1 where there were many goals scored simply by taking weak shots on net that the goalie couldn't stop. Was it 12 goals? Maybe that's an exaggeration. Then again, I feel like this video game is an exaggeration of the actual sport it's supposedly representing, sooooooo... Pot calling the kettle black?

    Would it ultimately be successful? Not with the current core EA NHL crowd, that's for sure, who value the end results over the process. The "you're good as long as you win, no matter how" crowd? They'd hate my vision of what a hockey game could be. Which is ironic, because from what we've discussed over the years, I believe would be close to what YOUR vision of the game should be is. But maybe you can't bring it there? Who knows...

    Again, the issue with my reply to @johnny2fingaz was because he asked "what do I think"? I gave my views without saying I would be BETTER than you or your dev team. That wasn't the issue.

    The issue is, yes... I don't like the game. No... That's a bit harsh. I like the game. I LOVE the sport. I just don't agree with the state it's in and where it's (apparently) going. I don't like that two hundred thousand people can flood the EA Twitter and Facebook and complain that "It's too hard to score!" or "I'm getting too many penalties when I poke" and EA will change it post haste. But dozens complain about the same thing every year about fundamental issues in the game and they simply remain unchanged and/or flawed.

    I appreciate the people behind the game, and the dedication and hard work it takes to make something like this. That said, as customers we pay for a product. A product that's not open to interpretation, because it's a sport that's been around for 150 years and even though it's changed a lot in those 150 years, it's still NHL Hockey. Sadly I don't feel like this is NHL hockey. I don't know how everybody feels. But that's how I feel.

    I know you love my analogies, so here's one more: If I go to Walmart and buy a Toaster for 60$, and instead of toasting my bread it liquefies it, shouldn't I be mad? Let's go one step further: If I go back to Walmart and demand another toaster or (*gasp*) my money back, but the manager tells me that he can't do anything about it and that I should just learn to ENJOY liquid bread... Excuse me, what??

    Yeah, I'm very patient and understanding. Thirteen years of patience and understanding though? Starting to wear a little thin...
    Post edited by VeNOM2099 on
  • NHLDev wrote: »
    @NHLDev was there a major change in goalies after the beta?

    Not really. We have made changes in terms of how the goalies track pucks behind the net to improve with some glitchy wraparound cases but their general behavior is pretty much the same. I guess it depends what pieces you are looking at specifically.

    Then there must be a piece of the puzzle I am missing here to see the full picture.

    During the Beta and the first couple of weeks, cpu goalies were actually goalies. As a D man I could focus on the pass and the goalie would handle the weak shot if one was fired. Players were constantly trying the forehand backhand breakaways without much success. Top corner glove side snipes from the high slot were consistently saved by the goalie. I could literally focus on the carrier and limit his options and the goalie would do his job, just like real hockey at pretty much any level. The only gripe I could agree with was the amount of shots being deflected out of play.

    Now? Short side snipes are money. High slot shots are very consistently money. Forehand backhand is money. One handed tucks is pure gold. Heck, even doing a spinning 180 shot from the half boards has a high probability of sniping top corner. As a D man, I have to now focus on the carrier while trying to limit a shot on net and trying to cover the pass at the same time. I simply do not trust the goalies in any way for even the most basic of shots.

    For the current span of this gen it has been consistently the same every year when it comes to tuners. The final tuning for a D man is simply all about puck possession and trying to prevent any shots on net. I am sorry to say, but a vast majority of players in this community are lazy and complain. All that matters is scoring goals and if the same plays don't work every single year, the whining on social media starts and then here we are. From what I have witnessed over the years, a good portion of the tuning and game balance starts with goalies and how you guys fiddle with their abilities.
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