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Impact
Impact!
NHL.com's Online Magazine
September/2003, Vol. 2, Issue 1
  • Fedorov, Hatcher, Kariya, Selanne find new homes for 2003-04

  • Wigge: Detroit 'Hatches' time-honored blueprint for success

  • Mighty Ducks have reloaded for another Cup run

  • Great Outdoors: NHL hockey embraces the brace of winter

  • Neilson changed hockey, won friends

  • Brooks 'a relentless advocate' for hockey

  • World Cup 2004: A world-wind of hockey on the horizon

  • Behind the scenes: Making a hockey video game

  • Photo of the month

  • Back issues of Impact

  •  
    Sega Sports NHL 2K3
    Impact! Magazine and SEGA Sports have teamed up to show you some of the behind-the-scenes secrets video game companies use to create an experience so real that people have to check the TV twice to make sure they're not watching a live broadcast.

    Screen shots
    A behind-the-scenes look at the
    making of a hockey video game

    By Robert Picarello | Impact! Magazine



    The Flyers just spanked the Red Wings and, face it, you're gloating. So what do you do with the endorphin rush? Anyone who has been to a Flyers game and watched them win knows that feeling. It brings on that indescribable urge to take to the streets outside the freshly renamed Wachovia Center, waving your jersey in the air while high-fiving any fellow fanatic who crosses your path.

    When you're at home watching the game, you miss out on all of this fun. There's no one to witness your glory and no one to taunt in defeat. Well, that's all in the past as SEGA Sports has managed to bring that home-ice advantage right into your living room with NHL 2K3.

    NHL.com's Impact! Magazine and SEGA Sports have teamed up to show you some of the behind-the-scenes secrets video game companies use to create an experience so real that people have to check the TV twice to make sure they're not watching a live broadcast. Impact! offers you an insider's look and front-row seat so you can see how video games become life-like and what it takes to transform your sofa to a seat on the bench in South Philly.

    The Players

    SEGA Sports starts the game development process by watching hundreds of hours of actual NHL action. They closely observe each player's moves so they can emulate them in the video game. The result? Players move naturally on the ice with the same mannerisms as their real-life counterparts.

    Sega Sports NHL 2K3
    In NHL 2K3 goalies aren't the stiff stick-like figures you see in other games. A feature known as "Reactive Goalie Positioning" allows them to move from a dive to another save motion like a real NHL netminder without ever having to return to a center or idle position.

    Arguably the most important player in any hockey game is the goalie. But these aren't ordinary goalies -- the netminders in "SEGA Sports NHL 2K3" aren't the stiff stick-like figures you see in other games. A feature known as "Reactive Goalie Positioning" allows them to move from a dive to another save motion like an NHL netminder without ever having to return to a center or idle position. As for the rest of the team, you can rotate the Flyers’ offensive, defensive, power-play and penalty-kill units independently and set strategies for each of these lines on the fly, just like coach Ken Hitchcock. Defense-minded players may choose to program their team to trap in the zones, while other players may want their teams to play at a faster pace and a more wide-open style.

    Each player in "SEGA Sports NHL 2K3" also is rated in more than 50 different categories, resulting in unique players that perform like their real-world counterparts. Grinders battle for pucks in the corners, elite players see the ice and create opportunities, and fast skaters -- like Mark Recchi -- exploit their speed.

    No Detail is too Minor

    Once they have studied the players and scanned their faces into the system, SEGA Sports invites pros to come to their state-of-the-art motion capture studio, where they film the pros' moves and literally put them in the video game. They dress the NHL stars in a black spandex suit that is covered with ping-pong balls. These white balls act as sensors, which enable SEGA Sports to capture the players' actual moves on the ice. The Flyers’ Jeremy Roenick, who was the cover athlete for SEGA Sports NHL 2K3, took part in the motion capture and his signature moves were incorporated into the game.

    Sega Sports NHL 2K3
    The Flyers' Jeremy Roenick, (left in the faceoff circle) who was the cover athlete for SEGA Sports NHL 2K3, took part in the motion capture and his signature moves were incorporated into the game.

    Our Ice

    SEGA Sports wants fans to feel like they're stepping out onto the ice at the arena, so they take digital photos of every arena for reference, capturing each and every detail. How realistic is it? You can actually see banners hanging from the rafters! Check out the NHL.com ads along the boards in each arena. Now that's cool.

    I Want My ESPN

    "SEGA Sports NHL 2K3" brings these components all together with an ESPN broadcast system where scores, highlights and more, are presented in the network's famous style. While you're thumping the opposition, a play-by-play commentary with convincing situational analysis and awareness will be sure to mark all your plays. Next-generation technology meticulously displays details such as glass reflections and ice texture as well as your team’s uniform fabric and decals.

    On the Road

    Online video gaming has become the biggest trend in staging the ultimate grudge match. Imagine taking on the role of Jeremy Roenick and playing a random fan of the Red Wings in Detroit – complete with full taunting and chat communication – without ever having to leave your living room?

    Sega Sports NHL 2K3
    Each player in "SEGA Sports NHL 2K3" is rated in more than 50 different categories, resulting in unique players that perform like their real-world counterparts.

    "SEGA Sports NHL 2K3" made that a reality and was the first hockey video game that enabled two people across country to play one another online via the Xbox video game system from Microsoft. Two years ago, SEGA was the first game company to introduce online play. Translation? With "SEGA Sports NHL 2K3" fans no longer have to play against the computer or their friends on the couch. Now, they can play against people they've never met across the country!

    So there you have it. That's a snapshot of how a video game is made. Maybe it's time for you to put down the remote and pick up your video game controller. Who knows, maybe Jeremy Roenick will be on the other end of the connection the next time you're playing "SEGA Sports NHL 2K3."

    Just remember, if you can't make it to all of the Flyers’ games, you now have an outlet to release your hockey stress with "NHL 2K3." Now get out on the ice -- I mean in front of the TV -- and start playing!