While they might not have been fans of the individual teams, most NHL fans will say they miss some of the league's relatively recent departures. Teams like the Hartford Whalers, Winnipeg Jets, and Quebec Nordiques aren't on the ice anymore, but they can always exist in video games. The upcoming NHL 2K8 will be bringing hockey fans a host of customization options that will let them create not just their dearly departed organizations, but also brand-new teams entirely of their own making. To get the scoop on 2K8's beefed-up customization tools, we spoke with Scott Krager, project manager with NHL 2K8 developer Kush Games.
GameSpot: Why the big leap in customization options? Is this a result of fan demand or just something the development team was interested in?
Scott Krager: I would say some of both. With the power of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, we're now able to do a lot more graphically, and Create Team was an area that we could apply this to. The mode as a whole is something we've wanted to build on for a couple of years now, so it really made sense to give the end user the ability to customize some of the things we were already doing for the NHL teams.
In fact, a lot of this applies to more than just Create Team, as Create/Edit Player has been enhanced quite a bit as well. The two features together really give you a wide range of customization on both large and small scales. The NBA 2K and MLB 2K series have had quite a bit of success with Signature Style, and these enhancements fit nicely within that category in NHL 2K8. We really wanted to make players stand out on the ice both visually and with their abilities, and we feel both areas are well represented in the game.
One of the more unique aspects of the NHL is the wide variety of equipment available, so making a player like Alex Ovechkin a great stickhandler with good speed and a deadly shot is one thing, but doing that and giving him his own custom pair of CCM skates with yellow laces, his trademark tinted visor, and the exact glove model and color pattern really takes it to the next level.
So to sum up, we knew from the beginning that this was something that fans wanted to see and would really appreciate. At the same time, it also seemed like a natural addition to our feature set based on what we were doing, and it was something that we really felt would add a lot to the overall experience.
GS: Big, open-ended question here, but tell us about the new create-a-team options. What kinds of things can you customize?
SK: All of the basics are still there, like choosing your team name and city (many of which are supported in the commentary), selecting a logo, and customizing the details of your arena. Much of the new functionality comes in the ability to customize uniforms and equipment on a much deeper level.
You can create home, away, and alternate uniforms this year, and all three can be quite different from each other. For example, you can create more traditional-looking home and away uniforms, and then get a little creative with the alternate, much like some of the NHL teams have done in the past. On a smaller level, you have control over everything from sleeve-number placement, to helmet color, to uniform style, to the color of the outline around the numbers on the back of the jersey. This flexibility really allows for some unique, yet realistic jerseys to be created.
Additionally, after you've created your team, you can use Edit Player to customize details like glove pattern and goalie pad design for individual players on your team, which really brings the whole package together and gives you the ability to make your team appear as authentic to the NHL as you want.
GS: What kind of options are there for equipment customization? What real-life brands are in the game?
SK: There are really too many to list, but here are some of the more interesting new options:
- Tucked or untucked jerseys
- Shorts length
- Undershirt color
- Knob size at the end of the stick
- Tape length on both the stick blade and shaft
- Tape color
- Leg-tape type and pattern
- Stick curve
- Skate blade holder style
Additionally, we have dozens and dozens of sticks, skates, helmets, gloves, and other pieces of equipment, including several that are specific to individual players such as Sidney Crosby's RBK 9K gloves and Jason Spezza's Sher-Wood SOP wood stick.
As far as real-life brands, we basically licensed every significant hockey-equipment manufacturer in the sport, including:
- Nike Bauer
GS: Is there a cap to the number of teams you can create?
SK: You can create up to 5 teams in NHL 2K8.
GS: Can you play with your created team online?
SK: No, created teams are not available online this year.
GS: Describe your favorite created team that you've seen so far during development.
SK: We have almost all of the old NHL logos available in Create Team, so one of the coolest things you can do is recreate some of the old NHL franchises like the Winnipeg Jets, Quebec Nordiques, or Minnesota North Stars. You can then take these teams into franchise. So, if you're a die-hard North Stars fan who feels they shouldn't have moved to Dallas in the first place, it's completely within your ability to change it back.
It's always interesting to see some of the nontraditional teams that people come up with as well. Using our new color picker, you can create pretty much any possible color, so teams can end up looking super cool to rather horrific if that's what you choose to do. Overall, that's really one of the best things about the enhancements to Create Team and Create Player. There are tons of options with a wider range of customizability than we've ever had before, and it's up to you how far you want to go with it.
GS: Thanks for your time, Scott.