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CHEL Notes - Open Beta Gameplay

NHL® 20

Hey NHL Fans,

Many of you have been asking: WHERE IS THE BETA?

Good news! There is a beta coming, and it’s coming soon. However, this year’s beta will be different than previous years, so we want to tell you a little more about what to expect.

For NHL 20, we cut the beta build eight weeks prior to today, meaning that there are 8 additional weeks that you’re not going to see and feel in the beta. You’re playing an early, work-in progress version of the game. Some of our new gameplay features were not fully ready to be included in the beta build, so we want to share important context around the gameplay experience you will be playing in the beta, specifically in comparison to where we are now and what will be in the final game.

Below we have captured the improvements in each of our three gameplay focus area, which have been addressed since the Beta experience.

SHOOTING
As part of the shooting overhaul, players will see all-new shot animations in the beta, including greater shot variety and animation coverage in all different context across the ice.

However, players may also notice inconsistencies in areas like ideal shot selection (e.g. reaching shots/getting jammed up unnecessarily/odd rotations), shot power, and shot release angles. The area where inconsistencies may be most noticeable is one-timers since all these factors come into play to deliver a clean shot.

These top priority issues are being addressed for the full game to unlock responsive shooting that will look and feel more powerful and precise.

EXPLOSIVE TRANSITIONS
Pickups add a new element of speed and creativity to the game. Whether you are receiving a pass in stride or performing a turning pick up to avoid a check, skaters will maintain speed and control, while not losing momentum. This will create more moments where you can use speed to your advantage to beat defenders wide or allow to take a advantage of an opening to get a shot off in the slot.

Since the Beta we have fixed minor issues that further improve the visual quality of pickup animations and blends.

GOALIE INTELLIGENCE
Players will see new goalie animations for controlled saves, covers, and redirects in the beta. With new goalie intelligence updates, goalies will have also more tools at their disposal to eliminate threats.

While the visual variety will be evident in the beta experience, players will notice that some areas have less predictability and polish than we’d like. This could lead to situations where the goalie may redirect the puck into a high danger area, allow soft rebounds off blocker deflections, and not triggering auto covers or getting stuck when attempting to cover.

Positioning and movement improvements have made great progress since the Beta for both AI and user controlled goalies, meaning players will see new animations and goalie intelligence, resulting in more controlled saves, covers, and redirects.

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We can’t wait for you to play and share your feedback to make the game even better for launch. If you’re interested in seeing the detailed changelog of improvements, fixes and features that are not present in the beta build, everything is below.

Don’t forget to share your feedback and we’ll see you in the beta!

Thanks,
The EA SPORTS NHL team

Shooting:
- Fixes to shot model when shooting manual one timers to improve cases where shots sometimes weren't as powerful as they should be.
- Fixes to shot model when shooting one timers where the incoming pass angle is perpendicular to their facing and wasn't accounting for them still getting their hips around and through the shot before contact, making the shots weaker than they should be. This was seen the most when taking wheelhouse one timers off the rush when still in motion (in 090, out 000)
- Fixed an issue where players couldn't take a rebound shot after a one timer or their own shot and a rebound.
- Improvements to the direction and how a player rotates into a one timer shot. Worst cases were when they would go the wrong way and spin fully around before taking the shot rather than turning through the pass direction and when they would start to rotate away before rotating towards the puck.
- Updated logic for slapshot selection based on the players current angle to the net and the direction they are skating. This also improves where the player releases the puck to give them a chance at the most ideal shot from that angle.
- Improvements in selecting the slapshot animations for the angles requested.
- Update to shot logic to prioritize shots from the best location so they aren't reaching or getting jammed unnecessarily.
- Improvements to the line a player takes in their one timer solve towards the near post. Prevents them from drifting away from the pass and solving it too late and also diminishing their angle to the net. We also don't want to see them cut in too far and hurting the amount of open net they have as well.
- Tuning down variable for acquire puck distance for one timers. Since we now solve to a specific spot and can get there with the skate model, we don't have to rely on a big radius. We also added logic this year where we can Miss or Abort the one timer if the player or puck doesn't follow the solved path by getting disrupted.
- Improvements to the possible outgoing shot angle for certain shot animations to limit odd cases where the outgoing angle was quite disconnected from the shot. We want to be responsive to what the user updates but not beyond realistic levels.
- Improved logic for when/how tuck shots would trigger relative to distance to net especially.
- Improvements for how slow speed one timers solve relative to the incoming puck angle relative to the player and the angle in which they want to shoot it.
- Tuned slow speed one timers to allow them to execute more often when they should and reduced the extreme upper body rotations that were allowed at times.
- Fix to allow a player to manually windup faster after they pass the puck as they were sometimes blocked for a set period of time. This is most important in player locked modes using manual one timers in give and go scenarios.
- Some improvements for when a player can turn to a more ideal one timer angle based on their current speed to the angle.
- update to logic for how we blend into shots from out of layered pickups to improve aesthetic quality of shot releases
- Logic improvement for one timer rebounds, giving priority to shots that can be released quicker.
- Fix for one timers from saucer passes not executing because the player was considering the puck to be too high to one time, not thinking it was going to be on the ice by their contact point.
- Fixes to not drive the player to an offside position out of the zone when solving for one timers.
- Fix for cases where blending to a shot out of protect puck was allowing unnatural quick blends to puck positions that wouldn't be possible in that short of time.
- Improvements to ai goalie logic when the puck is behind the net so that they position themselves better in the way they read the puck carriers intentions.
- Various save database tuning.
- Updated logic for looking at when a pickup and one timer are possible so that if the one timer is too far in the future, the player will play a proper catch and release one timer instead using a pickup. Most extreme cases of this would fix cases where the player would let the puck go by them to play a one timer on a bank off the boards.
- Improvements to getting player into the proper angle and position to one time the puck based on incoming and outgoing angle requested rather than trying to update in the shot/release as the body angle is most important before setup.
- Improvements to look for passes from deke nodes to respect puck positions and requested angles better as well as improve visual fidelity.
- Tuning for how quickly a player can turn to shoot when using slapshot windup to spin around and shoot the puck from backskate.
- Added ability to tune one timer shot selection and improve player facing as they prepare to take the one timer and when and how they choose to windup before the shot. Variables are off by default but being tested and will be turned on as we tune and improve the logic as needed. One of the conditions limits the start of a shot animation to wait until player is closer to their ideal facing range. Fixes floating and awkward windups for players that start a long animation while still getting into position. Another is if there is not enough time, the player will go into more of a half windup and fixes the case where a player quickly blends to the top of the windup in an unnatural way. Also added the ability to weigh how quickly the puck can reach the net into the shot selection scoring so that it isn't just about how quickly you can contact the puck if another shot could be more powerful and make up for the time putting the puck in the net itself faster.
- Update to shot model on rebound one timer shots to consider the puck behavior more and how easily the player could handle the puck to shoot the rebound. Ability to shank the shot at the bottom end is in there as well but not turned on.
- Fixed an issue for a player taking multiple shots in a row without the puck.
- Fixed an issue where a slapshot wouldn't solve and would force a pickup to solve instead of a shot.


Passing:
- Improvements to pass locations based on the acceleration of the player so it will pass to where they are starting to accel to or stop.
- Update to pass logic to be able to pass to a player by their left or right shoulder to where they can receive the puck more naturally on their forehand or backhand depending on the most ideal incoming angle and preventing players from passing into and through a players legs where they would need to stop their stride to play a more awkward pickup and can instead retain their skating and pick up the puck more naturally.
- Improvements to passing and one timers so the player can receive the puck properly in stride and not stop their momentum or turn in unnecessarily.
- Added the ability for the ai to use the new stick offset for passing that humans are using. It is a cvar that can be turned on once approved as working better. This prevents the ai from passing through a players body and to where they would prefer to receive the puck instead, giving a higher chance of being able to receive the puck in motion and more ideal shooting locations.
- improved pass targeting in one timer situations.
- Add default stick offsets to be used for all non-one timer passing situations, rather than using an animation stick offset which was at the mercy of whatever skating was doing instantaneously.
- Remove the logic which was allowing the user to override the one timer target with the LS as it wasn't obvious enough for players when they were asking to lead a player to their backhand vs pass to a one timer position. Players still have the ability to lower pass assist and also manually lead further with manual saucer passes.


Pickups:
- Improvements to detect if a player should play a leaning pickup layered animation based on what they are going to be doing in skating as they go further into the pickup. This should improve some bad arm and shoulder blends during layered pickups.
- Fixed cases where players could enter other states such as winding up for a slapshot when they should actually still be in a pickup state. This will fix cases where a player could be in a windup and still controlling the puck as well.
- Improvements for receiver to account for pass error in their skating direction and still try to receive the puck as naturally as possible.


Goalies:
- Improvements to logic for how the future puck position and the goalies position relative to their net for when to look for a cover.
- Improvements to goalie cover logic and coverage, specifically on pucks right behind them.
- Fixes for human goalie covers where auto covers wouldn't trigger reliably.
- Fixes for human goalie covers where manually requested covers weren't solving if the goalie was trying to move and was forcing the goalie to stop moving before a cover could solve.
- logic improvements to help settle goalie on the post in reverse VH if the puck is on the side of the net.
- Fix to ensure the goalie's motion is not heading into net when coming off post from VH.
- Improved logic for goalie's behavior (facing angles, decisions to hug the post and new animation data/coverage) when puck gets in around post/goal line.
- Improved goalie logic on breakaways for how/when they commit to angles and their ability to push hard to fully cover the near side post once the puck carrier has shown commitment to that short side.
- Improvements to when ai goalies will play pre-emptive saves to take away the net when they don't have time to push over and then react. Should improve cases where they would over commit when they didn't need to.
- Fix for some cases where players wouldn't take one timers when the puck was near the boards.
- Fix for goalie blend issues that caused them to duck in their motion.
- handled an the extremely rare case of a human goalie acquiring the puck while idle in desperation side poses
- Added goalie ambient animations after the whistle is blown from several cover puck positions.
- Reduced how quickly goalie will spin to face the puck behind him, as they have plenty of coverage for covers behind/beside them now.
- Update to improve goalie pickups behind their net and near the boards.
- Physics update to help improve goalies cover consistency.
- Updated goalies blocker material to better reflect the material it is actually made of. It was set to be too soft before which hurt some deflections during blocker saves.
- Added ability to tune where a user goalie would want to send the puck relative to their angle to the net when redirecting the puck out of danger. This may be needed due to the various positions user goalies find themselves in deep to their net, off line with the incoming puck angle, etc. and not wanting redirects to end up more dangerous.
- Added a fix for user goalies redirecting pucks into their own net.
- Improved audio hooks for glove saves for audio to be able to represent what they see better in how they talk about it.
- Refinements for AI goalies cover logic. Tightened distance checks when puck is to side or behind the goalie, as we have less coverage reach to those areas and reduced time looking for a cover if they want to move laterally.
- Fixes to goalie puck tracking.
- Fixed logic to prevent goalie from getting hung up on one side of the net when they should be moving to the other.
- improved ai goalie responsiveness when looking for covers around the net/crease.
- Fixes to improve goalie behavior on dead pucks in around the posts and goal line
- Fixed coverage and logic for goalie stick redirects to make them more reliable.
- Fixes to goalie cameras where Puck Visibility is hindered with certain Goalie Cameras when the puck is behind the net.
- Improvements to where goalies were staying in redirect saves too long on deflections/puck path changes.
- Improvements to the directions the goalie would want to redirect the puck relative to their current position in the net and the incoming angle and position of the puck relative to them.
- Fixes to consistency around goalies trying to pickup the puck around the net and/or through the net so that they all behave as expected.
- Removed some old reactionary saves that looked like controlled chest/gut acquires so that they don't look like failed controlled saves. Goalies should play flinching blocking saves instead in the cases they don't have enough reaction time/control to hang on.
- Added fix to goalie pickups by setting the blend off rate for the signature layers so that they blend off before the contact frame.
- Various fixes for goalie cover puck logic.
- Fix for when a goalie is moving above a certain speed, so they can try solving again sooner when the relative puck position has changed.
- Improvements to how goaltenders hold the post when the puck is at sharper angles and limit how anxious they are to move off the post which potentially gave up the short side too easy.


Physics/Collisions:
- Improved muscle setup for goalies and how they look when they fall. Should also fix issues where they would get pushed out from the net when falling.
- Fix some issues where you would visually see the puck raise up above the ice before it made a collision.
- Fixed some cases where the goalie would shake when making contact with the ice due to physics.
- Fix to reduce phantom collisions leading the puck to drop for players against goalie by using the more accurate method developed for player vs player last year.
- Updated the stick on goalie test to limit phantom collisions.
- Fix to prevent players from chopping the puck through the net. Added a new test to stick on net collision detection for fast stick movement.
- Various puck physics improvements around the net.
- Improvements to players skating in and around the net and the impacts on puck control. Trying to allow players as much freedom as they should have skating behind the net without losing the puck due to lack of fidelity in control but also ensuring they can't exploit it and cause weak goals through puck warps and over control.
- Fix for rare cases of incidental contact with players legs and the net not registering properly for losing the puck.
- Fixed issues where the puck would stop dead before a potential stick collision with the goalie due to when the update was happening in the frame.
- Fixed issues with odd puck losses due to physics.
- Fix to avoid puck warps along the boards when the puck is possessed and corrected by the board.
- Update to allow us to prevent sticks above the ice from behind from causing puck loss on incidental stick on stick collisions.
- Fix to issue that still allowed stick collisions with the puck through the net.
- Fixed an issue where the puck could get poked out of the goalie's glove.
- Improved collision detection between the puck carriers stick and net to find the balance between puck control/fidelity and puck loss when the collision is deserving/the puck gets too far from the stick.
- Fixes where updated drop puck logic was running incorrectly and players could drop the puck on shots and passes when their stick made even slight contact with the boards.
- Fixed issue where the pucks Y velocity was not correct in physics. This will most noticeably fix cases where the puck would go out of play too easily after a collision.
- Added a fix to allow a player that is blocking the goalie by diving in Ones to be pushed away to avoid interferences with the goalie for game balance.
- Increased cases where some puck collisions were causing the puck to freeze on bad contacts.
- Fixed issues where a player is blocking another from getting up for game balance purposes..
- Solved a case where the puck was going through the net mesh.
- Consistency improvements to physics reactions, with specific interest in the balance of stumbles that allow players to keep control of the puck vs lose it.
- Improvements to collision detection to avoid phantom collisions from the stick.
- Improved rare cases where during a pickup, the puck could go through the boards causing a whistle.
- Solved a case where the puck could go through the net after scoring.
- Fixed an issue where sometimes when hit while going to the bench, the goalie would get stuck in butterfly and never reach the bench.
- Improvements to physics solve to decrease the chance of phantom collisions with the puck.


Skating:
- improvements to vision control consistency.
- Vision Control during manual windups now behaves the same as regular offensive vision control off puck making it more consistent as players switch between the two.


Penalties:
- Improvements to goalie interference logic.
- Fixes for cpu penalty sliders to improve consistency throughout the slider scale.
- Fixes for cases where a penalty was sometimes not given after the user attempted a dive block at the AI and tripped them.


Offensive AI:
- Improvements to ai logic considering offside and their motion nearing the offensive blueline.
- Fix to help tone down bad behavior in offside pass cases. Should now use correct pass speed in passing analysis offside checks. Player will make better decisions if they are definitely going to be offside.
- Fixed cases where the ai will rush into the offensive zone causing an offside.
- Fixed cases where players were drifting too wide at times rather than driving in towards the far post.
- Fixed cases where ai skaters over-skate in the offensive zone instead of stopping earlier for one timer options relative to the net and defenders.


Defensive AI:
- Fixed an issue where the ai and near side defenseman specifically would frequently leave the zone instead of holding the blue line when the puck was shot on net or loose low in the zone..=
- Improvements to ai defensive skill stick logic and the angles they look to defend with it.
- When defending against a breakout, the defending AI may turn to face the rush before they have a good gap and results in giving up a breakaway.
- Improved issues in 2 on 2 scenarios where the defender guarding against the open offensive skater would stop up early and allow the open offensive skater to skate in for an tap in one-timer.
- Improved some cases where the AI defenseman will leave the front of the net to pursue the puck carrier and leave an opposing player undefended in front of the net.
- Fixed an issue where an ai defender would move to defend the middle of the ice instead of covering against the breaking winger along the boards.
- Improved cases where an ai defender that was defending against a breakout, would turn to face the rush before they had a good enough gap which was resulting in giving up odd man rushes and breakaways too easily.
- Improvements to defensive ai coverage on the penalty kill in regards to cases where they were too aggressive to help defend the puck carrier and would leave the front of the net.


Misc:
- Fix for referees not behaving properly during faceoffs/puck drop.
- Removed post whistle avoidance logic that was causing more player jitter than the collisions it was meant to avoid.
- Various crash fixes.
- Fixed cases where AFK logic could potentially kick users for bad teamplay in Ones.
- Corrected blends when passing, shooting and picking-up to improve fidelity.
- Fix to ensure goalie changes properly when user changes a scenario first and then the goalie in goalie practice.
- Fixed cases where players would unintentionally stick lift because the action would carry over if they were to lose the puck. when trying to protect the puck using the same button.
- Fixed an issue where batted pucks and bat downs weren't solving properly.
- Fixed an issue where players pinned in boardplay were losing the ability to make a play on the puck too easily (i.e. couldn't kick it).

Threes & Ones:
- Fixes for ai protect puck behavior in Ones Now.
- Fixes in Ones Now so that the ai won't see the goalie in possession of the puck the same as a player that they can check.
- Disabled Fatigue in Ones Now. A choice on the modes side. It will still be a part of Ones Online.
- Added context for end of game pressure for ai to shoot for Ones Now for players that are behind and have more urgency to try and score.
- Fixed an issue where ai players in Ones Now were spinning the wrong way.
- Fix for the puck drop position in Ones not randomizing after the first drop.
- Various ai improvements for Ones Now licensed player specific behaviors and tendencies.
- Fixed a few cases where you would see the puck warp to start plays after a whistle or goal in Threes before the start of the next possession.
- Fixed cases where a goalie would clear the puck right into the path of an opposing player.
- Improvements to make the ai goalie less vulnerable in cases where the puck is loose around the net, even when getting picked up by teammates. Goalie should stay down when the puck is close, even if his own teammate has it. Goalie shouldn't get back up until they know their teammate has control and is out of danger.
- Fixes to cases where the puck was warping on first pickup in Ones.
- Fix to Threes scoreclock to make it real time.
- Improvements to puck release points for signature slapshots to make them more reliable due to their unique contact positions.
- Fixed a case where the goalie would get stuck standing idle behind the net after passing the puck.

 


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