EA SPORTS Hockey IQ: Our Smartest, Most True-to-Life A.I. Yet
With NHL 13, we want to change the way you play hockey video games by providing an experience that captures the speed, creativity and strategy of NHL hockey. We’re doing that through two major gameplay innovations – True Performance Skating and EA SPORTS Hockey I.Q. We’ve spent more time working on our A.I. this year, than over the past three years combined and the result, EA SPORTS Hockey I.Q. – an innovative new A.I. system governing the behaviors of players, goalies, and team systems – is something that our development team is truly proud of. We can’t wait for you to experience it.
So what should you expect from EA SPORTS Hockey I.Q.? Gamers only tend to notice A.I. in a sports videogame when it produces a frustrating moment – maybe you’re playing Online Team Play and your A.I. teammate isn’t in the right position when you’re looking to make a pass or they dump the puck in repeatedly when you want them to carry the puck across the blue line and make a play. When your A.I. teammate is doing what it should, you hardly hear someone say “man, that A.I. is really smart”, it’s just business as usual. In our opinion, intelligent A.I. means that A.I. players are in the right position, making decisions that their human counterparts would make and limiting those frustrating moments for you and your human teammates. So why did these moments of frustration occur in NHL 12 and why do we believe EA SPORTS Hockey I.Q. will minimize them? Let’s talk about how EA SPORTS Hockey I.Q. affects players.
In previous NHL games, players were only aware of skaters in their immediate proximity and were restricted to reacting based on their actions. With EA SPORTS Hockey I.Q., all players are now fully aware of every other player on the ice, resulting in quicker, smarter and more true-to-life decision-making. Think about that for a second. Imagine if Gretzky were only aware of just a few players on the ice, would he still have been an offensive dynamo? No way. Would Datsyuk be the great two-player we know him to be? Not a shot. EA SPORTS Hockey I.Q. allows players to play within a system and fulfill their role accordingly. All this is now possible because EA SPORTS Hockey I.Q. delivers the deepest and most customizable set of real-world hockey systems and strategies ever for the franchise. Essentially, it’s like the players in NHL 13 are now coached by a Jack Adams Trophy winner rather than a minor league coach.
What types of strategies and team systems have been added to NHL 13?
· Offensive Zone Forechecks – 1-2-2 Passive, 1-2-2 Aggressive, Weakside Lock and 2-3
· Neutral Zone Forechecks – 1-3-1, 1-4, 1-2-2 Red, 1-2-2 Blue
o A forecheck bias has been added so that you can increase the tendency to set up in either an offensive zone or neutral zone forecheck. For example, if set to a 1-3-1 and a bias to full neutral zone, your team will set up in the 1-3-1 every time down the ice.
New Team and Line Bias’ have been added:
What this means is that you can adjust your AI’s strategy through overall team tendencies or broken down by line.
By Team: Powerplay Carry vs. Powerplay Dump – Are you going to grind them down or keep the puck and work it into the zone like the Detroit Red Wings?
By Forward Line:
· Carry vs. Dump – AI more likely to carry the puck in or dump and chase.
· Cycle vs. Shoot – If your team will look for any shot, or worry about possession and high percentage chances
· Efficiency vs. Energy – Will your team conserve energy or hustle more with high intensity?
· Don’t Block vs. Block – Will your AI teammates allow the goalie to see the shot or attempt to block?
By Defensive Pair:
· Hold Line vs. Pinch – Will your defensive AI hold the blueline or take risks to pinch?
· Cycle vs. Shoot – Tendency for your defensive AI to put the puck in to cycle or put shots on net?
EA SPORTS Hockey IQ Top 5 Fast Facts:
1. Authenticity has always been paramount for the NHL franchise. To create the team systems for EA SPORTS Hockey IQ, we had pro coaches come in and sit with the development team to make sure we captured every detail of the systems we were recreating.
2. The AI will recognize if they have given up an odd man rush a few too many times and be able to respond to that even if they were able to recover in each of those scenarios. They understand specific details such as being beaten with long stretch passes, vacating the far side and being beaten with reverses and will be able to adjust accordingly.
3. AI will not only analyze how their opponents are playing but will also adjust throughout a game based on their own success or the type of game being played. If the AI goes up by a few goals early, they may sit back. If they go down by a few goals, you will see them get much more aggressive and push for more turnovers.
4. All NHL teams will be set to default strategies that match how they play in real life. Due to this, you will get different looks right out of the gate throughout a season depending on who you are playing. If you play Tampa Bay, they may sit back more when the game is tied early on where as a team like the Kings may come in flying with an aggressive forecheck.
5. All of the team strategies are able to be updated through roster updates. We can make changes to the strategies if teams happen to change throughout the year and/or if a team happens to get a new coach and change their style of play, it can be reflected in game.
We’ll take a look at how EA SPORTS Hockey IQ has improved goalies in our next blog coming this week, stay tuned!