Lately, Puck Daddy visited the production amenities of 2K Sports activities in Novato, Calif., as the video game organization continues operate on its most recent hockey title, NHL 2K9. Yesterday, we presented our exclusive sit-down with cover athlete Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Nowadays it is onto the production process (with many Nash-associated laughs), and Wednesday we'll go within the 2K Sports movement-capture studios.
"It really is like 'Grandma's Boy' in here," mentioned Rick Nash as he entered the sprawling, labyrinthine production offices of 2K Games in Novato, Calif.
For the uninitiated, the Columbus Blue Jackets star was referencing a 2006 Pleased Madison comedy which is primarily based partly close to the planet of video game testing. Whilst for many its notoriety might finish with possessing won "Ideal Pot Scene in a Film" at Large Times magazine's 2006 Stony Awards, the movie has attainted a specific cult standing on DVD and cable. Nation club drones have "Caddyshack" chain restaurant staff have "Waiting ..." and, judging from the reaction that Nash's comparison received, video game firms have "Grandma's Boy."
2K's headquarters are actually far more "Billy Madison" than something else: An adult playground of offices cluttered with officially licensed schwag lounges with coin-op video games and pool tables and vending machines with free soft and vitality drinks, all of it tucked inside what resembles a giant airplane hanger from the exterior.
Nash was there to assist develop 2K Sports' NHL 2K9, for which he is not only the cover athlete but a contributor to its production approach. Mike Rhinehart, senior merchandise manager for 2K Sports activities, said previous cover athletes like Marty Turco and Joe Thornton have been active participants on various characteristics in their video games in Thornton's situation, that meant helping to revamp the way face-offs are depicted and executed.
"To see these guys behind the scenes creating it take place http://www.rangersstoreofficial.com/15-Derek-Stepan-Jersey, it really is fairly interesting," said Nash. "It truly is anything I grew up with as a hobby."
It's nevertheless a pastime for hundreds of thousands of gamers. But it's also large business, and Nash is helping to produce what could the most essential hockey game 2K Sports has ever launched -- thanks to a rather well-liked title referred to as "EA Sports NHL 08."
It truly is IN THE GAME
"For years, 2K's brand of hockey was a stage above EA as a correct simulation of the sport Chris Kreider Jersey," wrote Hilary Goldstein of IGN.com in his review of the prime-marketing NHL 08, "but give credit score in which it is due: EA finally chucked its wish to marry arcade enjoyable with its simulation and ultimately acquired hockey right."
Bill Barnwell, Sports activities Editor for IGN Entertainment, explained EA's NHL 08 shifted the paradigm for video game hockey. "The issue that really struck me about NHL 08 was that it felt like you were enjoying hockey when you have been enjoying the game," he said. "If you happen to be a hockey fan, you will discover little items. Like on the power perform, the gamers move in a reasonable method if the defense is taking part in a box or a diamond, they'll move accordingly."
NHL 2K8 was no slouch. IGN gave it an 8.5 to NHL 08's 8.six, despite the fact that the overview cited some consumer-unfriendliness concerns: "It sucks that the interface is clunky and brings about recollections of spreadsheets and that individuals are going to scoff at the new program, but if you play hockey video games for how genuine they truly feel, you have found a winner."
Barnwell -- who explained there is a thirty-forty percent opportunity that EA might really obtain 2K, but "the odds on it happening seem to modify on a weekly basis" -- sees nagging distinctions in between the two series. "There surely issues about 2K games that are far more reasonable than NHL 08, but there are undoubtedly issues that are much less sensible. Not necessarily in the game itself, in the other attributes," he mentioned.
For instance, simulating a season on NHL 2K8 the place Joni Pitkanen scored 80 goals. "It really is not like he's the second coming of Paul Coffey. That's a significant, main flaw in the AI," he stated.
2K Games, a video game publishing subsidiary of Get-Two Interactive (the "Grand Theft Car" geniuses), decided the ideal answer was to take complete manufacturing management of their hockey title. Visual Ideas has been tasked with rebuilding the experience from the ground up to make NHL 2K9 a lot more gamer-friendly.
"We've taken a small bit of a different method, with a new growth group. We're making an attempt to make the game much more enjoyable, far more approachable," explained Ben Bishop, a single of the game's producers. "In the end, it truly is even now a simulation of a sport at heart. But we want to carry it back to the days when you could just choose it up and perform it. When you get utilised to it, then you can get much more complex."
He said the manufacturing group is cognizant of their fans' gripes -- some of them even coming from NHL gamers themselves -- and they are listening. "There are always things that you in the media or on the on the internet forums say about what you wish we could have accomplished much better."
So 2KFAN08 on the IGN boards actually has some sway over the development approach?
"Oh yeah," Bishop said, "but we never try out and take a single guy's view. If there is something we see on different forums, then we take it underneath consideration."
Or if it comes from an NHL All-Star like Rick Nash.
THE GEEK GRILLING
The walls of the conference room have been barren, conserve for a white board. The blinds were drawn. It was an empty canvas, save for the menagerie of casually dressed individuals seated around a extended slab in the middle of the room. Various ages, diverse ethnicities vogue alternatives ranging from basketball shorts to a red Blackhawks jersey to a neon-green T-shirt with an image of a traditional NES cartridge found over the phrases "blow me."
Nash sat down, dressed each and every bit as casually as his hosts in blue jeans, a T-shirt and a ball cap. The introductions had been produced by Rhinehart: Rick Nash, meet the folks behind the pixels, and vice versa. The manufacturing crew was there to mine Nash for bits of data, trivia and nuance that could increase the NHL 2K9 gaming expertise.
The inquiries started.
Bishop mentioned that the purpose for this title was to increase the enjoyable factor and the consumer-friendliness. So he asked Nash what makes video game hockey entertaining for him.
"I would say the objective-scoring. The a lot more you make the dekes, or the plays between the legs, the specific moves that you can do ... everybody plays the games to score individuals highlight reel objectives," he advised a captivated audience.
"Like that aim towards Phoenix?" Bishop asked, referencing Nash's now-legendary goal from final season.
"Yeah," explained Nash, "I just blacked out and the puck is in the net."
Having the man who scored a single of YouTube's best aim-scoring hits in front of a gaggle of Web savvy fans was like having Sam Raimi speak to a space of aspiring reduced-budget horror directors -- they desired to know the magician's tricks.
"I view it, and I nevertheless can't feel it really is me," stated Nash.
But he's watched it, analyzed it, even attempted to recreate it for CBC Sports given that then. "It really is actually a quite easy move. I just did the exact same move twice.
"If we could turn the cameras off ..." he said, drawing laughter.
To defend the mystery of his traditional aim, a quick summary: A tiny toe drag, a tiny shielding the puck with his leg and 3 Coyotes defensive players biting on all of it.
Someone asked about the trick-shot competition introduced at the NHL All-Star Game last season, and whether or not inventive objective-scorers like Nash could compete with the wizardry of Alexander Ovechkin's try. "Other guys can do what Ovechkin did. I just think a great deal of guys have been nervous," mentioned Nash.
The queries continued.
Toughest goalie he is faced: Roberto Luongo. What's it like to perform with Nikolai Zherdev? Entertaining, but they're not the ideal line combo considering how considerably they each get pleasure from carrying the puck. How did the Blue Jackets perform so properly against the Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings this season? "That was our coach's claim to fame, beating Detroit," explained Nash. "We just pounded them. We did not attempt and make plays. Their 'D' are all all-stars."
What is your fighting record?
Nash, who rarely fights, smiled. He recalled a brawl against Jim Vandermeer, then of the Chicago Blackhawks, from earlier this season.
Nash stated he received 1 bomb in during the brawl Vandermeer later on confided in Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock that he believed Nash may have broken his jaw.
"It went Ok," Nash said, acknowledging the hell he caught from his general manager for dropping the gloves. "Almost everything occurs so quick. Believe in me, I wouldn't contact him out on my personal."
One more question: "Have you ever been involved in any locker area pranks?"
Nash looked down for a second to let the memories to flood back ... or at least the ones he could share. "Yeah Rangers Jersey, there are usually pranks going on."
Missing socks, missing belts, toes reduce out of dress footwear, laces cut on skates. Two years in the past, he explained, the Blue Jackets referred to as up a player from Syracuse, who showed up with a brand new company suit and an unbridled enthusiasm for currently being in the NHL. As he participated in the pregame skate, a couple of the Jackets went to the locker space, discovered the suit, and reduce all of his pockets out. The kid comes back in later on, will get dressed, goes to place his belongs back in his suit, and then spare adjust travels by way of the vandalized pocket down to the floor like a slot machine just paid out Martin St.Louis Jersey.
Ray Whitney had a wonderful prank, he mentioned. "His sister was a cop, and I guess there's some kind of powder that makes you flip purple. [A teammate] was going to planet championships, and Whitney put the powder on all his [gear]. When you sweat, your skin practically goes purple, like Barney or some thing. So his complete arm was purple, his body ... he did not know what was going on. It was classic."
His hosts asked him about taking part in for Hitchcock, about his diet regime, employing iPods for breaking down opponents. Did it have anything to do with the creating of NHL 2K9? Did not matter: It was damn excellent conversation.
Finally, the conversation turned back to game. Nash wants to see far more scoring. "It cannot be as well flashy. You can't have a man flipping the puck up whilst he's skating down the ice, doing things you would not see in a actual game," he explained, hoping for much more sensible one particular-on-1 play among defensemen and forwards in the next edition.
One particular of the developers asked if there was 1 tendency Nash wished modified in his very own personalized player ratings for the game.
"What's my speed at proper now?" asked Nash Mats Zuccarello Jersey.
"twelve," was the response, to laughter around the space.
"Possibly puck possession then," stated Nash.
One of Nash's ultimate stops on Day A single of his 2K Sports activities duty was in a specialist sound studio, the place the production group captured audio from him for use in NHL 2K9.
"We have contextual on-ice player chatter that you will hear in certain scenarios even though enjoying the game. Whenever we have a hockey player come to our offices, we request them to come into the audio room so we can add new player chatter," stated Rhinehart.
So Nash got his voiceover on, yelling into the microphone this kind of well-worn hockey phrases as:
�?"I am open!"
�?"Clear the puck!"
�?"Watch the middle!"
�?And, due to the fact you usually want a tiny trash-talk, "How'd that come to feel?"
Nash sold every line like a professional. "He's a gamer. He thinks it really is an honor, it truly is a great issue," said Joseph Resnick, his agent. "He grew up playing games, he nonetheless plays them and he loves them."
The next morning, he would virtually go inside the game: Donning the black motion-capture body suit, covered in tiny reflectors, resembling an cast-off from a lower-price range room journey you may well see at two in the morning on the Sci-Fi Channel.
"To me, he seems like Robocop. Or Tron. Both 1 is a good comparison," stated Resnick.