NHL 13 Developer Profile: Jonathan Kavanagh
Question: So what is a Gameplay Engineer?
Jonathan Kavanagh: Basically, we work on hockey: where the skaters are positioning themselves on the ice, when they decide to shoot or pass things like that. Gameplay also includes animation, controls, anything users can do with the controller. Hopefully, we’re creating the fun for the user’s gaming experience.
Question: So when you say you “work on”, what does that mean?
JK: In gameplay we work on animations. An animator will give us animations and we decide where and when to play the animations. Other than that, we write the logic which decides where the players skate and when they perform actions. It means writing lots of code and fixing lots of bugs.
Question: Where are you from?
JK: I’m originally from Newfoundland.
Question: Did you move to Vancouver to work at EA?
JK: I moved to Vancouver originally to do my Masters in Computer Science at Simon Fraser University and came to EA right from there.
Question: What was your first project at EA?
JK: My first project was The Sims’ Castaway on PSP. Then I did Madden ’09 on the Wii. I’ve been on NHL ever since that. I’ve been here almost six years.
Question: What’s your typical day?
JK: In pre-production, there’s a lot of meetings and design discussions. We talk a lot about what we want to do and what parts of hockey we want to bring into the game this year, what parts of our game need improvement. There’s a lot of planning, prototypes and meetings.
Then we get into production and begin implementing our features. So that’s writing a lot of code, testing it on the Xbox and iterating on it.
Late in project there’s a lot of tuning, bug fixing and just focusing on making the game as fun as possible.
Question: What was the first NHL game you played?
JK: NHLPA Hockey 93, on Sega, back when I was a kid.
Question: What’s your favorite video game?
JK: I like Starcraft and the Civilization series. Also a lot of sports games, NHL especially.
Question: What game made you want to get into the industry?
JK: There wasn’t a specific game. When everyone was playing games I was always kind of thinking about what was going on underneath and how I could improve them. So I can’t think of anything specific game, I was just always interested in making them.
Question: Do you play hockey?
JK: Yup. I played ice hockey for sixteen years. I was pretty competitive through high school and then in university I started playing less. At EA, I play in the inline hockey league and the ball hockey league and continue to play on ice recreationally.
Question: What’s your favorite team?
JK: The Penguins.
Question: What’s your favorite real life hockey memory?
JK: Winning the provincial Newfoundland championship in high school. As a spectator my favorite memory would be staying up late to watch the Penguins win their two cups in the early ‘90s.
Question: Who’s your favorite player?
JK: I’d say Jagr.