Video Game Designers Add Physicist to Fold to Improve Puck Physics in 'NHL 15'

By Davidson, Neil | The Canadian Press, September 8, 2014 | Go to article overview

Video Game Designers Add Physicist to Fold to Improve Puck Physics in 'NHL 15'


Davidson, Neil, The Canadian Press


NHL video game designers add physicist to fold

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TORONTO - Hockey may not be rocket science but that didn't stop EA Sports from recruiting a scientist who worked on the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, the world's largest particle collider, to revamp puck physics for "NHL 15."

Producer Sean Ramjagsingh said they thought the video game puck overhaul would take two to four years. The physicist they hired did it in 10 months, making the puck react more realistically.

"Literally real-world math being dropped into our game," Ramjagsingh explained at a recent demo at the Toronto Maple Leafs' suburban practice facility.

A bad bounce can mean a pass back to the blue-line turns into a breakaway.

"Which is something that would never happen in our game before," he said.

Combine that with improved player models, jerseys and equipment, when a puck in the game hits a goalie or other player, it will cause the jersey to move. Then it hits the equipment below and reacts accordingly, depending on the puck speed and the surface it is hitting.

The result is more realistic to look at, while showing goalie saves that game designers had never seen before.

"Now we're seeing pucks squeak through places it could never go before," Ramjagsingh said, "because it's real puck physics."

"NHL 15," available Sept. 9 on Xbox One and 360 and PlayStation 3 and 4, marks the first time EA Sports' hit title has come to next-generation consoles. The game, developed at EA Canada in Burnaby, B.C., looks great but some will lament the absence of features like Online Team Play on the next-gen versions.

Ramjagsingh cited "technological hurdles" in working on the new consoles but says OTP will be added in a future update.

Still Ramjagsingh says the upgrade in visuals and game play make this the biggest leap in the game from year to year.

The new version features upgraded arena depictions, from scuffed boards and glass to skate marks on the ice. And it boasts 9,000 unique spectator models, meaning the entire lower bowl of an arena can be filled with everything from fans holding signs to those with faces painted.

"We want to get to the point where if you're a season ticket-holder, you can go find your seat in the arena (in the game)," Ramjagsingh said. "And we're almost there right now."

The NBC broadcast package is integrated into the game, featuring Mike (Doc) Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and analyst Ray Ferraro. That includes video of the commentators introducing games with Emrick and Olczyk, not to mention more than 35,000 lines of audio recorded for the game.

It took the broadcasters 13 to 14 sessions, each seven to eight hours, to do it.

Game designers also borrowed from their counterparts at EA's UFC game, although not for the fighting part. Instead they shared technology on improving facial animation.

Player ratings in the game are calculated by a pro scout, with the numbers updated as the season wears on.

"All the players we work with always want to be a little faster, a little stronger. a little quicker as well," Ramjagsingh said. …

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