Adding more realism to sports games is something that’s done each year and while it’s a refreshing things to see when done right, maintaining a game’s fun element is just as important. In NHL 16‘s Be A GM mode, EA Sports is looking to deliver a new level of life and reaction in a previously lifeless AI system.
With the variety of modes that are usually in an NHL game, EA Sports wanted to embellish upon the experience in Be A GM mode. NHL 16 Senior Producer Sean Ramjagsingh spoke about some of the questions the EA Sports development team asked themselves when thinking how they could bring more life to the players on a team.
“We think that with the way hockey is, with 20 guys on a team, it’s a large group of guys. There are egos and personalities that all have to work with each other and our goal was to bring out that fact in Be A GM. In past years, players were a bot version of themselves, always playing at their optimum level when in reality there are ebbs and flows. Some things happen outside of hockey and some are hockey, so we wanted to ask players: what does the player bring to the team? What does the team do that affects this player?” Ramjagsingh said.
If you’ve played previous NHL games then you know there have been traces of this sort of AI reaction in things like negotiating contracts with players, but iterations before haven’t been this intent on making every move you make matter. As any NHL fan will know, there are reactions to moves that are made throughout the real-life NHL season and players do have a positive and/or reaction to what a GM does.
EA Sports has made sure it isn’t just one sort of move that will invoke a reaction from your team, but rather a handful of them. There are going to be numerous moves that players will need to consider before completing them, as Ramjagsingh explained.
“If you make [negative] trades, that locker room is going to be on edge all of the time, thinking ‘when are we going to get a group of guys we can do something with,’ so that will cause some fluctuation. If you have a bunch of core leaders on the team and you trade one, all of a sudden players will think ‘hey, you traded a leader, you’re screwing up our chemistry,'” Ramjagsingh said.
Being in touch with your team will be a major factor in ensuring your team is consistently performing up to optimal level, especially if you are someone who uses the sim function often. If you’re playing every game, you may have a bit more control over each game’s outcome, but still, players will react to your decisions.
This effect of players reacting positively or negatively to your moves as a GM will help deliver a more meaningful experience in NHL 16. Ramjagsingh talked about a few additional examples of moves that will impact your team’s chemistry.
“Bringing out all of those aspects, in addition to ice time and players who get called up from the minors, will force players to manage their roster a little bit differently. You’re going to want to feel like that a guy is bringing something to that [locker] room,” Ramjagsingh said.
Developing more depth and life into the game’s Be A GM mode will absolutely bring new life to the mode. We’ll see how much this part of the game comes to life though, when NHL 16 launches on PS4 and Xbox One Sept. 15.