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NHL 99 Interview

Publisher: EA Sports

Here is an interview with Ken Sayler, Producer of NHL 99.

1)What are the four most significant changes/enhancements to NHL 99?

The four most significant enhancements to NHL99 would have to be the over-all improvements of gameplay's articifial intelligence, harder hitting & shooting gameplay physics, the new Marc Crawford Coaching Drills and a renewed focus on the first-time consumer.

Players will notice artificial intelligence (AI) enhancements that include fighting, shot deflections, breaking out of your own end, neutral zone play, odd-man rushes and play behind the nets to mention a few. NHL98's Coaching Strategies have been improved and we implemented 4 new strategies. Our motion has been completely redone for a more fluid look and aggressive gameplay. The Playstation and PC have a new feature called Marc Crawford's Coaching Drills. Users will be able to practice specific skills and scenarios. Think of it as training camp for those of you losing to your buddy and getting tired of it! While we were extremely happy with the gameplay experience of NHL 98, throughout the year we received feedback that first-time users found NHL 98 very challenging to play. We've responded to this feedback by implementing a new level of gameplay for beginners. The goal is for anyone to be able to pick up and play NHL 99, enjoy it, and be competitive immediately.

2. What AI changes will game players notice from NHL 98 to NHL 99?

It goes without saying we've looked at every aspect of gameplay and asked the question, "What can we do to build a better experience?" Now I can't tell you everything, but I can tell you a few of the highlights you'll experience:

  • The first thing you'll notice is the increased intensity of gameplay. From jaw-clenched, bone-jarring hits to huge slapshots, you could say we've taken it up a few notches.
  • The next thing you'll notice is more realistic puck physics. This has implications for passing, shooting and scoring. I'll add to this that we've specifically looked at improving the logic behind passing and shooting.
  • We've made many improvements to our artificial intelligence, a few of which include breaking out of your own end, neutral zone play, and play behind the nets. For you "All-Star" users we added new Coaching Strategies and improved the existing ones.
  • Finally, consumer feedback is very important to us, so to those who sent comments, I'll say we've tuned down hooking and fixed the "drag-puck" scoring move.
  • 3. 1996 Stanley Cup®-winning coach Marc Crawford continued to lend his assistance in the making of NHL 99. What was his role in the development of NHL 99?

    Marc Crawford continues to be an important part of our team. His experience as an NHL coach gives him a unique perspective on our product. Marc spent a lot of time playing NHL 98. He worked with us to improve the core game and helped us design new logic and features. For example, he provided details on the new Coaching Strategies and Drills. He also helped us plan how the new AutoCoach feature works.

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