4th Street Hockey ezv
It's been a while since I've posted an update on the progress of the 4th Street Hockey ezv (easy version) game that I've been conceptualizing for the past year or so. I started work in earnest on it after completing the 2019 football season in early May, testing algorithms and re-programming the original 4th Street Hockey computer game so that I could test run ezv.
Before I continue, I should stress that the "ezv" game is NOT a replacement for the 4th Street Hockey v3. 4th Street will continue producing seasons for v3, and I'm hoping to put out many more retro and original 6 seasons now that I have a little more time on my hands. The ezv version of the game is an alternative to v3. It plays much faster but maintains the flavor of v3, while adding some new twists that make it just as exciting and fun to play.
My goals for the game are to:
- cut down the time required to play it. If you've played v3, you know it can take a while to play a game. The target for ezv is to cut down play time to an hour or less. Regular plays in ezv take 20 seconds, with loose pucks taking 10 and faceoffs not moving the clock.
- match goals scored with actual goals scored. Because there are fewer plays, that means the shooting percentages have to be altered a bit in order to reach this goal. It isn't as big of a difference as I once thought it would be...for example, in my test run of the 2017-18 season, approximately 60,000 shots are taken in replays compared to 81,477 actual, so the targeted shot percentage is roughly 12% rather than the roughly 9% in actual play. I'm not terribly concerned with the totals of other statistics, but they all are an important part of the game (more on that below).
- give the flavor of a real hockey game. Puck movement is very similar in ezv as it is in v3, except that the rink is sectioned off differently. There are now 10 offensive zones, sectioned off by shot success into red (high percentage shots in front of the net between the circles), blue (decent percentage shots behind the yet, in the faceoff circles, and deeper than the red area, and gold (poor percentage shots near the blue line and in the corners). Teams attempt to move the puck into higher percentage areas to take shots either by skating or passing, which has been lumped together in a section on each player's card called "advance." Defense and checking have also been lumped together in a section called "defense." There is also a "shoot" section and a "breakaway" section on each skater's card.
- the "shoot" and "breakaway" sections of skater cards contain a 6x6 grid of colored (red, blue, gold, white) squares. Goalies have sections defending against shots in high percentage (red) areas, decent percentage (blue) areas, and low percentage (gold) areas. When taking a shot, the color from the skater is compared to the color found on the appropriate goalie's section...if it matches, a goal is scored. If not, the goalie's rebound section determines whether the puck is frozen or who collects the rebound. Mock-ups of the cards are show below:
The game engine is controlled by 4 dice...one d20, one black d6, one blue d6, and one red d6. A set of strategy cards is used in conjunction with the d20 to decide whether a player will attempt to advance the puck, shoot the puck (if in the offensive zone), or dump/clear the puck. The black d6 identifies players involved in matchups. The blue and red d6 determine matchup winners and are used to determine play results off player cards. You'll find that the game is very fun and easy to play, and moves along at a remarkably fast pace!
Blocked shots are still a very important part of the game, but fewer players...in particular defensemen...will literally control a game with their shot-blocking ability. Big hits dislodge pucks and sometimes injure other players. Some guys can't stay out of the "sin bin." Some players are adept at creating turnovers. You'll want good faceoff guys on the ice in critical situations. Good penalty killers will be a staple of your defense. A defenseman who can't move the puck up the ice will haunt you time and again. All of these characteristics are handled in a very simple, elegant manner.
I've still got some work to do on the game, but it's getting very, very close to completion. I plan on releasing it at the same time or slightly before the next v3 season release later this summer. A computer version of the game will also be available, although possibly not at the same time.
The first retro season release in quite a while will be the 1972-73 WHA. I can't guarantee its accuracy, as the record-keeping for this league was extremely poor and very little information can be found on most of the individual players, but I'm doing my best! Regardless, it's a very fun season with TONS of scoring. The history of the league is mesmerizing!