Well I’m on my way back home to Fresno. I had such an amazing time visiting EA Sports Vancouver. Most of our time was spent playing the NHL11 and giving feedback to the developers on what we saw. Oh, I saw stuff!! I can’t wait to tell all of you NHL fans out there all the cool stuff I saw. When I am allowed to write about it you will all find out. I am sure it will make a pretty big splash.
As I wrote in a previous blog, the first night we all arrived we met for dinner at a local tap house and discussed the plans for the next two days as well as signed our souls to EA by signing our non-disclosure stuff. I am told EA Ninjas will find us if we spill things to early. So based on the fact that ninjas scare the hell out of me I think I just may keep to the embargo dates they asked us to.
The first day went to the EA Campus and sat through a power point type presentation for NHL11 where they went over all the new features. One of which was the recently announced fact that the CHL (Canadian Hockey League) is going to be included. From there we played the game from about noon to 8pm. Taking a break every few hrs to talk to the developers and give our comments. The most interesting part to me was playing a game that wasn’t quite finished. It did have some bugs and some of the presentation stuff wasn’t quite done. Though I have full confidence that they were all minor things and will definitely be fixed by release date. It was really neat to talk the dev’s about the process in which they make a game. Many of us asked about the bugs, glitches, thoughts, and opinions on NHL10 and were told that much of that was considered in the making of this game. And in the future we can talk more about that.
The second day would have been considered more of a fun day. We went to “Eight Rinks” which is where the Vancouver Canucks practice and we were able to play hockey. Probably the coolest part of the day was the former Calgary Flames head coach and current AHL coach Jim Playfair from the Abbotsford Heat was there to run us through some hockey drills. Having played in the NHL and coached for a number of years he was really kind to us for not being very good at hockey. On a quick not, not being that familiar with Jim Playfiar I guess he is known for breaking sticks over the boards. So, when we were done for the day at the rink he broke a stick for us over the board which was actually pretty entertaining that he was able to take that kind of stuff so lightly. The developers at EA also showed up and played with us running throughthe drills at first then a pickup game for about an hour till noon.
After lunch we returned to EA studios and had a Q&A with Jim Playfair. He was a super nice guy and really seemed to enjoy his time with EA as much as we did. He talked about his time in Calgary and mentioned some funny stories about the players he had coached in his long career. When he was done I felt I had a little better knowledge of what it was like to be a coach in the NHL. It seems like it’s a lot of work and not something that I would care to do. After that we returned to play NHL for the rest of the day and give our final opinions.
We also had a chance to get a small tour of the studios. It is a pretty amazing place. I am pretty sure that you would never have to leave the studio if you so chose to. If you have a break at work there and you decide I could go for a game of… they have a soccer field, basketball courts (both indoor and outdoor), beach volleyball, a half pipe, tennis courts, roller hockey, and probably a couple other things that I didn’t see. It was such a nice facility. I would have taken more pictures, but we were not allowed to in most places. I realize the reason for this. They have a lot of stuff going on there that they don’t want made public yet. I hope you enjoy the pictures that I have put up throughout this blog post.
All in all it was a really busy two days, but it was so much fun. I already miss playing NHL11 even though I must have played a good 8-9hrs of it in the last two days. It seems shaping up to be a fantastic game. I really have to give a lot of credit to the developers for sticking to their guns about making the best game possible even though they don’t have any competition from the 2k series this year. They have a true love of hockey and this came through the fact a lot of them showed up to play “real” hockey with us and were actually pretty good as well as they actually love to play the game they made. When the development team truly believes in what they are doing I believe it is a major key in making the best game possible. I really want to thank EA Sports and Alain Quinto (NHL Community Manager) for giving me the opportunity to preview NHL11 and just take part in the community day. And thank you to the development team for taking time out of their day listen to us about what we had to think.. Last but not least I would like to thank Bauer for supplying us with a stick and some really nice hockey gloves and EA for giving us some jerseys to play in, even though they were Canadians’ colors.