GM Connected Revealed
EA SPORTS NHL has always been a social game for me and the game is at its best when one of my friends is on the other side of the faceoff circle. When I was in high school in Kelowna, British Columbia, playing with friends meant having to go over to someone’s house. With that being said, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that my favorite addition to NHL 13 is the GM Connected mode, a gameplay option that takes the traditional Be A GM mode and puts it online allowing gamers around the world to join together to manage teams in their own virtual NHL.
NHL producer Andy Agostini headed up the development of GM Connected and explained, “When we started the year we discussed what we wanted to add to the NHL franchise and thru viewing user feedback we knew that an Online Dynasty is one of the most requested features. We also knew that Be a GM is the NHL franchise’s number one most played mode. Essentially, what we’ve done is taken all the best things from Be a GM and combined them with Online Team Play the base for our popular EA SPORTS Hockey League, creating the largest online dynasty mode ever.”
How many people can play in a GM Connected league?
Up to 30 people can each manage their own NHL team in this multi-user NHL dynasty mode and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
With up to 30 human managed teams, the total number of players able to take part in a GM Connected league is 750. Essentially, it’s largest online dynasty mode ever in a sports game.
Five Ways to Play
1. Play against the computer
2. Play against another GM in head to head play.
3. Co-Op/Online Team Play – Have friends play with you against the computer or against another team with human-controlled players in up to 6 vs 6 action. (First time ever in a multi-user dynasty).
4. Build Your AI – New to the EA SPORTS NHL series: Control your team’s strategies with all-new systems and bias sliders. Customize and record AI sequences so that your players play your game.
· This can be set up so that a user who can’t make a game against another human controlled team will be able to let the CPU play for them with their strategies in place.
5. Coach Controls – Be the mastermind behind the bench and control your team’s strategies and line changes to help your team to victory. (A quick shoot button allows you to control when your team goes for goal.)
GM Connected: What’s your Role?
Users will be able to choose between one of three roles within the league, each one giving them a different way to experience the league:
Each league will have one Commissioner. The Commissioner will also run a franchise in the league.
The Commissioner creates the league, manages the invitations to the league and confirms join requests. The Commish also sets up the schedule of when the games are to be played and how long each round is. The commissioner can set each round to represent between 3 days and 2 weeks, allowing for more or less playable games per round.
Once the league is up and running the Commissioner’s job isn’t done. He is the one in control of moving the schedule forward in the league by advancing the league and simulating any games that have not been played to the next round of games. Just like the real NHL, all trades and free agent signings also have to be approved by the league, which in GM Connected falls to the Commissioner.
The Commissioner is not all powerful. If he is abusing his power as Commissioner, the league’s GMs can vote to have him removed. The GM who initiates the vote, if successful, will then become Commissioner.
A league can have between one and 30 General Managers, each vying to lead their team to success. As with previous GM modes in the EA SPORTS NHL series, a team’s GM is in charge of building the team via trades, free agent signings and the draft.
A GM can both be a player on his team as well as recruit up to twenty-four friends to play with him in co-op or Online Team Play.
The role of a player is quite a bit more traditional. Marshaled by their General Manager their task is to show up at game time to play their part on the ice.
As with existing Online Team Play modes, the players in a GM Connected league can be vital in helping their team to victory, even if they’re not the ones in the boardroom making the deals. Though they might want to suggest deals if it can help them in their player role.
Staying in touch with everyone in the league is important, especially with so many potential players filling out the team rosters. In GM Connected there are two different types of messaging to keep everyone in the loop.
“League News messaging is to allow people to send quick messages to the league news ‘blog’ screen. This allows people to send messages to the Commissioner, All other GMs and to players on their team,” Agostini explained via email.
Commissioners and GMs also have private mailboxes which will receive in-game emails about league activities. These activities include:
· Waiver alerts – Lets GMs know when a player is available on waivers in case they would like to claim him
· Free Agent signings – Tells GM if they have won a free agent claim
· For Commissioners it allows them to see all trades and veto or approve them which will help stop cheating in the league
· Also gives them the ability to see transactions from around the league as they happen
This messaging system will allow GMs and the Commissioner go through any actionable league related items they have, thus making it an integral part of their experience.
GM Connected Mobile App
Created specifically for GM Connected is the GM Connected Mobile App which will allow gamers to take the league with them when they leave their consoles. The app will allow them to:
· View: Team Standings, Player Stats, Schedule, Injury Report, Transactions
· Trade: Offer trades to other teams,
· Free Agents: Make offers to free agents
· Post: GMs can send messages to the Commissioner, other GMs or his team
The Entry Draft is done though the creation of a Draft Priority List. Rather than making players sit through a long draft process we instead allow them to create a list of their draft targets before the start of the Entry Draft and allow the computer to draft for them based on the order of their picks and who remains available.
NHL 13 will have a randomize team rosters option. This will randomize the team rosters so that teams will start out relatively even. That way you can avoid arguments over who gets what team, and nobody has an automatic advantage because of the strength of the team they pick.
GM Brain - The NHL franchise’s Smartest GM/Trade Logic Ever
Both GM Connected and Be A GM also benefit from this year’s addition of GM Brain, a revamp of the NHL 13 GM AI. GM Brain causes the computer controlled GMs to act in a more realistic way than ever before. Instead of focusing just on immediate needs, GM Brain allows the AI to evaluate trades and transactions in terms of immediate, short-term and long-term goals that are best for the organization.
Stay tuned, we’ll be talking more about GM Brain in a future blog.
Andy Agostini had this to say about the mode, “We know our users always wanted an online dynasty mode but we wanted to provide something different and innovative. I believe with this mode we have done just that. All online dynasty modes have at most 32 users in it but we can have up to 750 players of all skill levels due to the ways people can play and with the roles they can have in the league. We also allow people in different places to play together against other teams or the CPU. Our goal was to create tools to have leagues run their way. If a league wants to trade users to different teams they can do that in GM Connected. If two brothers living in different cities want to play together on the same team or against each other they can do that. It has so many possibilities and with the connectivity of the mobile application it allows you to stay connected to that league 24/7 allowing people to stay engaged with the experience.
Every year as soon as I get home with my copy of NHL I start up a new career as a General Manager, and play that career through to the next year’s game is released. With GM Connected I can finally manage my team in a league against my friends around the world.