Saturday, May 4, 2013

What Do We Do Now? Now We Play the Game...

My favorite video game franchise has been the EA Sports NHL series of games.  I've been playing different versions of them since 1995 on three different platforms:  SNES, PC, and PS2.  I tried to play the one for the Wii but it sucked, as did the NHL 2K11 or 2K12 game I tried on the Wii.  The last one I had was NHL 2007 and the problem is that when you play it nowadays there are so many players who don't exist or should no longer exist because they retired and such.  The problem is they stopped making those for the PS2 after NHL 2009 and since I don't feel like spending $300 for a PS3, my latest big time-killing project is to convert the 2009 rosters to 2013 rosters.

If I had the PC version I suppose I could just download something or if I even had the Internet for the PS2 I could get a more updated patch.  But I don't.

Anyway, the first step was to find a current list of 2013 players.  The HockeyDB site is good for that, except you can't get the whole NHL at once.  Instead you have to go team-by-team and dump the rosters into Excel.  Then some players are listed twice because they switched teams.  So I went to TSN (Canada's ESPN) and checked to see what team the player was currently on.

The next step then is to get the 2009 roster.  If this were on the PC that would be fairly easy.  Instead I had to go back to HockeyDB and get the 2009 rosters by team and put them into Excel.  And then open the game on the PS2 to delete those scrubs who aren't actually in the game in order to get an accurate listing--more or less.

(Are you starting to get a sense of how time-sucking this all is?  $300 for a PS3 is starting to sound pretty good.)

And then I had to compare the 2013 list to the 2009 list in Excel to find out who didn't exist, who shouldn't exist, and who switched teams.  That ends up being probably over 700 players, maybe closer to 1000.  So yeah that took a while to line it all up.

The next step was to copy the list into a separate worksheet and weed out only those who don't exist in 2009.  Except there's a little wrinkle there:  some of them DO exist in the game, just not in the NHL.  The game comes with rosters for the AHL, Swedish Elite league, Finnish league, German league, and Russian league.  So some of your guys are in the minors or if they're foreign born they might be in one of the European ones.

What I had to do was go back to HockeyDB, look up the guys to get their age (plus height/weight in case I needed to make them) and add it to the spreadsheet.  For like 200 guys.  Again, it took a while.  I took a scientific approach in who to look for in the game.  Since it's the 2008-2009 season, you figure it probably won't have anyone currently under 23 because they would be too young back then.  So there's no point looking up 18 and 19-year-olds.  So I just looked up the 23 and ups on HockeyDB to find where they were playing in 2007-2008ish when the rosters in the game would have been made.  Then I had to go into the game and see if the player was there and drop them to free agency.  The wrinkle there is you have to make sure the team has 18 skaters and 2 goalies, which means sometimes you have to move someone from another team over to drop the one you need.

After all that work I whittled it down to only 160 players I needed to create.  But actually creating them from scratch would take forever, so instead I went into the Player Editor to just edit existing players I no longer needed.  So retired guys like Mike Modano, Joe Sakic, and Paul Kariya are still in the game, just with new names and stats!

And did I mention how hard it was to find stats?  I looked around the Internet and on like the 5th page of Google results someone finally had a list of player ratings from NHL 2013 I could download.  I had to compare that to the list of guys I needed to create in order to have what their rating should be.  The only downside is it's just the overall rating not all the stats.  Oh well.  I'll take what I can get.

Anyway, so over a couple of days I had to go into the game to edit players into new players.  I found the easiest way was just to sort my Excel list by ratings and then when I went down the list of free agents in the game I'd just take whatever the rating of the player was and match it to my Excel list.  So if on the free agent screen in the game the next player is a right wing with a rating of 72, I go to the Excel list, find a right wing of 72 (or possibly 73 or 74 as the list narrows) and then I just have to change the name, age, height, and weight and they're ready to roll.  Much easier than dicking with all the little stats.

That's pretty much where I am now, but there are still several steps to go.

First I have to take all these players I created and put them on the right teams.  Then I have to trade some players from one team to another if they moved teams in the last few years.  And I still have to cut some players who shouldn't be on the current rosters.  The thing that's going to make all that a chore is the salary cap.  There's both a maximum of $56.7M and a MINIMUM of $40.5ish.  The minimum is what's usually hanging me up, but I'm sure the maximum will come into play for some.

And then what?  My next time-consuming project is always to make my own team.  I've been doing that since 1995 too.  Though back then you could only make players.  In the last decade you could make a whole team with its own city and logo and such.  I actually started on that by editing a few players to make them fit my mold for players, which is FAST because I like a high-tempo game.  None of that neutral zone trap shit for me.

After that?  Then we finally play the game.

Someone suggested you talk about real life on your blog.  Now you can see why I usually don't.  Real life is BORING.  At least mine is.  But if you enjoyed that I will happily inflict more of it upon you.


  1. LOL I found it interesting. Who suggested to talk about real life on a blog? Thanks for putting up the pic of my book. In the A to Z challenge a lot of people talked about real life and for the most part it was a snooze fest. I'm not saying what I blog about is any better, but I tend to be interested in the things I blog about. Maybe I'm just a narcissist.

  2. A bit of real life is good. I bet your life is more interesting than you realize.

  3. Sounds pretty boring, maybe I should blog about feeding my dogs. I like the pic of Occulus you have up there too.

  4. I have to say: I read this post, clicked to comment, and saw Tony's comment first. That made the entire post worth it. You and Tony should team up.

    So I found this interesting in the way it was aggressively UNinteresting. Is this really something you enjoy? It's like the time I had Middle Daughter show me how to play The Sims. "First you have to get a house and furniture, and then you go find a job."

    I ALREADY DO THOSE THINGS. I can see the appeal of running a hockey team. Intellectually, I mean. I'd never want to do it but I can see where someone might. But what you're doing isn't running a team. It's programming a game. Which, okay, that might be fun, I guess, since I periodically blog about my efforts to create a superpopular videogame, so I have come full circle and I now find this the most enthralling blog post ever.

    Do I win?



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