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David Littman's Blog: What's new in EA Sports NHL 11

Broken sticks, like this Alex Edler one, are one new feature in EA Sports' NHL 11.

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Broken sticks, like this Alex Edler one, are one new feature in EA Sports' NHL 11.

For the hockey fans who look forward to my blogs (I know of at least two and I am their son), sorry I have taken so long since my last one.

I have been very busy making not just one video game, but two. I had been the line producer of NHL 09 and NHL 10, but I have spread my wings a bit lately to include another sport: I am now the creative director for our hockey and basketball franchises here at EA Sports.

My role is to oversee the creative vision for both franchises and oversee the development and execution of that vision in our games. This year, these games are NHL 11 (for the XBOX 360 and PS3), NHL Slapshot (for the Wii), and NBA Elite 11 (for the XBOX 360 and PS3). My love of hockey (and an incredible team) has helped us make great hockey games. My love of video games (and a different incredible team) has helped us make a great basketball game.
 
Since this is a hockey site, though, I will concentrate on that part of my job.
 
NHL 11 is coming out Sept. 7th. This year NHL 11 has a major new mode called Hockey Ultimate Team. We wanted this mode to become the biggest online dynasty mode the world has ever seen. Think of it like a fantasy league, but where you get to actually play the games with your team. All of the players from more than 10 leagues around the world are available, including the NHL, American League, Canadian League and many Euro leagues. The players (around 4000 of them) are actually virtual hockey cards. You can earn them, buy them, sell them and trade them. Once you have your team, you put your players on the ice and play games against opponents from around the world.
 
I never got to do that with my Topps hockey cards – although I did get bubble gum so it probably evens out.
 
Here is how it works:
 
You are the GM and you get an expansion team in our online league called the EAUHL (EA Ultimate Hockey League). The first batch of cards you get are lower-level players with only a few NHLers. But the more games you play and the more games you win, the more pucks you will earn (the official EAUHL currency). With these pucks you can buy more card packs or go to the auction house and make trades for specific players. You can also earn or buy jerseys (including the rare Hartford Whalers jersey card).

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You will also get training cards you can put on players. CHL players like Taylor Hall have 12 training card slots, so you can train them to become superstars. But, like in the real world, there is a salary cap; you can’t have every star player in your lineup. You have to be smart. Think you can do a better job than the GM of your favorite team? Here is your chance. 
 
The best part is you take this team online to compete against the world in monthly seasons, monthly playoffs and tournaments. We estimate there will be around 500,000 GMs in this league all playing against each other online. The winners will be eligible for lots of cool real-world swag.
 
Who would be on your Ultimate Team?
 
Over the next few months, I will keep you updated on the EAUHL and also talk about NHL Slapshot for the Wii (where you can play as Wayne Gretzky and is also available on Sept. 7th) and other subjects like why hockey people are the greatest.

A native of Flushing, N.Y., David Littman was drafted by the Sabres in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. He spent four years at Boston College before turning pro in 1989. Over the next 10 years, Littman would play in the ECHL, IHL, AHL and NHL (with Buffalo and Tampa Bay). He currently works as a producer for the wildly popular EA Sports NHL series of video games. Read his other blogs HERE.

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