NHL 10: Being David Steckel

Career modes in sports games can dangle the carrot of being a superstar in front of your eyes, but the reality is often much different.

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With the fervor of the men's Olympic hockey tournament still blazing in my veins, I fired up NHL 10 on Sunday night and dove into the Be a Pro mode for a nice long stretch. The next thing I knew, it was after midnight, my created left winger had made the first line of my minor league team (the Hershey Bears), and I was nearly halfway through my team's season. Along the way, I started thinking about how sports games dangle the carrot in front of players' eyes.

My very first game back in NHL 10--after weeks of playing other games--was a revelation on ice for my created player. He was a flash of maroon and white, racking up three assists and a gorgeous one-timer goal in a lopsided 6-0 victory against a division opponent. It was by far the best I'd played since owning NHL 10, and I wasn't exactly sure how much of that success was due to Olympic inspiration, blind luck, or some other cause.

It was that single game's effort, after all, that got me promoted to the first line--for which I rewarded my team with a string of subsequently mediocre performances, a few goals and assists here and there, and at least one game where I racked up three back-to-back interference penalties (which I still think are called too frequently in the game).

Despite spending experience points to upgrade my player's attributes, my uneven play continued throughout my session with the game. So what, then, was going on in that game where I could seemingly do no wrong? Was it simply the fact that I had been away from NHL 10 for a while and that absence had given me a clearer vision of what I needed to accomplish on the ice? Was I just in the right frame of mind when I began--I tend to get antsy when playing sports games--and my performance suffered as my anxiety increased? Or maybe the game is just screwing with me. Perhaps a line in the code flipped a switch and decided that, at least for one game, my NHL 10 Be a Pro would be playing like an American version of Alex Ovechkin.

Whatever the cause, I can say that I had more fun in that one stellar performance than I've had in the entirety of my mediocre NHL 10 career so far. And I'm not sure how I feel about that. On one hand, a great night on the ice feels that much better, simply because I've struggled for so long. On the other, half the reason I previously gave up on NHL 10 (and on NHL 09's career mode, and gave up on my created pitcher in MLB 09: The Show) is simply because those great performances were too few and far between.

Granted, this is early in my career, and it can only get better. I've got more experience points to earn, more attributes to grow, and presumably more goals and assists to rack up. Still, even once my player gets called up to the NHL, I'll be a little fish in a big pond. Perhaps those infrequent golden performances are NHL 10's method of keeping me into the game while I continue to work on my player and my skills. But I have to wonder if the occasional taste of being Alex Ovechkin is enough reward for spending the majority of my time being David Steckel.

Discussion

25 comments
mechberg
mechberg

@Thrice8 -- Yeah I don't really mean to disparage Steckel. Instead, I feel like the goal of the mode should be to make you feel like a superstar like Ovy more often, not just a dependable guy on the third or fourth line. I suppose you need to work towards that goal but, in my case, I lose interest too quickly.

Thrice8
Thrice8

@brian ekberg: i actually played with steckel when i was in high school- and let me just say, while he was NOT a good skater by any means, he has one of the best pairs of hands i have ever seen, this coming with a guy who has played against a number of current american NHLers from the midwest. i can only imagine what it would be like to play against ovechkin- it would probably no fun being made to look that bad! also- EA definitely needs to overhaul the NHL series BAP mode. ex- in both NHL 09 and NHL 10 i have played probably 60+ games with my created player per season and both times ended up with 200+ points in both of those seasons- both years my player won virtually every major offensive award, league mvp, playoff mvp and inevitably the cup. all of his linemates also had career seasons as a result. however, even with crazy 4+ point performances a night, the experience points for attribute upgrades still was minimal, meaning, after year one i was still only an 82 overall. currently i'm halfway through year 2 of this guy's career and i'm still only an 84 overall. EA needs, needs, needs performances to equal rewards! the current system is broken, and as soon as i am bored of playing the same teams with the same players over and over again, i end up not playing BAP. furthermore, they really need to allow people to carry over their players from one game to another, it would have been awesome not to relive my rookie year over and over again everytime EA puts out a new title.

Gregdawg08
Gregdawg08

I've been playing recently as well. I actually made it up to the Hurricanes top line and my play got a lot better when that happened. Keep working at it and you'll get more consistent good performances.

mayjaChance
mayjaChance

I've been playing the 'My Player' mode in NBA 2k10, and finding it ridiculously difficult. Even though I've been defending like crazy, keeping my man to an average of 6 points, scoring an average over 15a ppg, and getting at least 3 rebounds & assists per game (playing small foward), I still can't get past the summer series. The difficulty setting seems to have no effect on this mode. It's driving me nuts.

BulletsnOctane
BulletsnOctane

Was drafted by the Canucks. In 24 games as a Moose defensiveman, I had | G 1 | A 21 | +/- 21 |. I thought that that was pretty good. Would love to have scored more, but the forwards were killing it. There were droughts, and I wasn't too sure about my performance overall. The stats are good, but overall, I thought I could have used more seasoning. Nope. I was soon on the starting line of the Manitoba Moose, rocking it, right? Well, not too long after that they called me up to Vancouver. I was shocked. I played very well. I had a goal and an assist in my very first game in the show, so to speak. Loving it. I'm 31 games into my professional career with | G 7 | A 22 | +/- 29 |. Now in the first line of the Canucks, in the playoff chase. We have the best record in the league, only 7 up on Columbus, thanks to Luongo and the Sedin brothers. Loving every minute of it. I wish I had more time to play it. There are too many games that I own that distract me, and all I want to do is finish the regular season and make it to the finals (doesn't everyone?). Stick with it. It's so much fun.

bukkookkub
bukkookkub

Just continue what you're doing. I used to think that, in the beginning. In 09, I had tremendous games, where I would score an avg of 1.7 goals a game and have at least 2 assists. However, once I started nhl10, I felt like, I was a pee-wee, playing in the AHL. I could not score a goal to save my life.. However, after game after game, of pushing through it, I ended up getting the hook, again. It really is all about second chances and crashing after your shots. Never give up! Goals seem harder this year, which is good. Once i got promoted to the NHL, I actually broke out, and easily climbed to the top in points. I actually did alot better in the NHL my first year, than my AHL career. Maybe because of the pressure, and maybe because I didn't want a subpar goalie behind me in the AHL, again. Now i'm almost done with my second season, and I'm leading in points/assists/and goals. It feels damn good. Some games, I have one goal, and 2 assists or so.. and sometimes (one game I scored 5 goals, 4 assists) :) you have those games... Keep going Brian, I know exactly what you're talking about. Just haunt the offense, while on defense, and follow all of your shots looking for second chances. Dekes, and last second passes go along way in confusing the goalies as well.

buzzguy
buzzguy

I totally find myself going through streaks in sports games, just like real-life sports! And just like real-life, I think it's all "mental". As soon as I get into "the zone", I rack-up the winning streaks.

Polybren
Polybren

Yeah, that good games/bad games thing is pretty close to actually playing a sport. Sometimes things click, and when they do, it makes everything worthwhile.

hobbes19tom
hobbes19tom

My experience is from real life. I felt a hell of a lot better after a hockey game we won 6-0 and I got a couple of points. I think the Be a Pro mode is very realistic. And sometime reality can be a little tedious and a little mediocre. But as others have said on here, I think thats part of the draw. The stellar performances seem that much better after you've put in the time to get better at your game. Getting thumped by the computer and losing a fight and spending five minutes in the box might suck, but at least you're still playing hockey.

Qirexian
Qirexian

@BrianEk - Or even when time's running out and you're trailing by a goal; I don't think a third line would enter the game in a moment like that. Like I said though, simulation isn't necessarily fun. Still, if there was a fun way to pass the time while sitting on the bench this wouldn't be a biggie. As far as difficulty settings go, being an NHL games veteran and playing on a low difficulty can be a walk in the park, but the real challenge is playing against an important AI and actually trying to do what a player in your position is supposed to do on the ice. Higher difficulty settings are always more rewarding when success comes. Sure, you can't always be Ovvie right from the start, but more solid performances come with time..

ut40755
ut40755

@brianek heh, well iv pretty much been playing nhl nonstop for like 3 years. and despite how much fun i have with BAP mode, it needs to be more challenging. like i said though, they shouldnt just make it harder, there just need to be more adjustable options. i would also love it if goalie BAP mode was remotely playable. you cant even do have the animations a CPU goalie can, and u cant see the puck in front of you when playing with BAP camera. plus the CPU will make auto saves for you when you dont want to, and it screws you up if you know whats really coming.

mechberg
mechberg

@ut40755 -- Sure, too much success works to the opposite effect. That's just a problem I haven't run into yet. ;)

Supersonic64
Supersonic64

I found be a pro to be TOO easy, so I had to raise the difficulty. I was averaging 6 points a game in the NHL, breaking Gretzky's record, which is absurd for playing as a defenseman who is a 79 overall rating, so I found the flaw to be too easy. I do agree with the penalties being too frequent

ut40755
ut40755

i sort of agree with the article, but you have to look at it from both sides. wouldnt the game get boring if you got hat tricks every game? i play BAP mode all the time, and lately iv been enjoying grinder. however, my second season on the red wings, they gave me captaincy. which was amazing cause iv never gotten captain in BAP mode in the 2010 or 09. but after a few games, i stopped playing cause i felt like there was nothing left to achieve. sure, i could play a few more seasons and get more exp and make my player SLIGHTLY better, but whats the point? what else is left to achieve except playing for the sake of playing. and snipers arent even fair. iv won the cup and had the most points out of all players in my first season with every sniper iv made. that shouldnt happen... my opinion is BAP should have more options to make it more or less realistic, for the people who want to be a gretzky in their 3rd season, or someone who really wants to put in the work to just make it to the first line after 4-5 seasons, and everyone in between.

mechberg
mechberg

@Qirexian -- You bring up some good points, especially regarding play time. It's weird to me that, even though you might be on the third line, you always start the game on the ice. While the option that would force you to play "true" shifts would be an interesting addition, I doubt many people would use it. Most people want to be on the ice as much as possible.

metaljeff
metaljeff

NHL 10 BAP Mode Rules!!!...This article is pointless CRAP!!!...How DARE you write this little whiny girl piece just because you suck...

ChamomileBaths
ChamomileBaths

@ bladescorpion THAT is annoying. I can have a great streak going and then after losing two games I get the "we can't accept losing" notification from the coaching staff.

ChamomileBaths
ChamomileBaths

I found that when I settled into my role I did a lot better (when I was playing in the NHL). I think the AI is much more exploitive once they figure out you're taking a lot of risks. I can rack up streaks of 5 plus wins regularly if I focus around playing my role. I'm guessing down the line I can become the hero.

Qirexian
Qirexian

Hmmm... or you can just realize that your created pro kinda sucks... Kidding! Be a pro is far from perfect, especially when it comes to how the teams treat your created player. This was a lot worse on NHL 09 where a couple of those mediocre performances bounced you straight back to the AHL, while this doesn't really happen on NHL 10. Then of course, there's the position of your player. I've always played like a center and I believe this is the most fun position on the field, as you can be both the playmaker and the scorer, while you are also in charge of faceoffs; in a game with many interruptions your team has got the edge (if your pro is good at faceoffs, that is). The game can actually become way too unrealistic as far as playtime is concerned. Having the option to call line changes, you can get in and play for as long as your player is fresh, even if you're a part of the third line. I guess this is something that can be "allowed", as a fully realistic game wouldn't necessarily be fun. Still, every single time my pro's on the bench, I keep thinking that playing a mini game that could increase your team's momentum would be much better than actually watching the game..

crazy098
crazy098

I donno, I made a defensive dman, and I finished my first season with 20 goals, 60 points and my second season with 40 goals, 84 points. I've also had a teammate step in for me when I didn't want to fight (I still controlled him though).

bengino
bengino

The truth is, i don't mind the Be A Pro mode, it just seems like you spend far too much time watching, and while i do realize that it is the way it rolls into real life, it becomes a little annoying especially when you are a "filler" on the bottom lines. One thing that is truly aggravating, is that no matter who your teammates are, you are ALWAYS the only one to drop the gloves, i mean really? Nobody else takes offense to some of the questionable hits?

Bladescorpion
Bladescorpion

i gave up on be a pro when pheonix demoted me from big club to minor despite the fact I was 3rd in points on the team...

bschroth
bschroth

I imagine that's a tough issue for the developer. How many attribute points to let the player start out with? Maybe they need to do some dice roll for created players? Some rookies step into the league and are impact players from day one, like Crosby. While others, not so much, like Steve Bernier a former first round draft pick. Very interesting

thewolf619
thewolf619

That is the definite draw. Just like it is in real life. To get that game winning goal or walk-off homerun. To bring the go ahead run in from second on a nicely placed single through the gap in second. It's why I love these modes. I'm playing RTTS in MLB10 and can't stop playing. The prospect of being a pinch-hitter coming into a tie game, at the bottom of the 9th, 2 outs, and a man on second, and hitting a gapper for the win is awesome.