Casuality Creeps Into Hardcore Games

If you read my yesterday’s blog post, you probably noticed I bought bragging rights (that would be Playstation 3) for some very unknown reason as I have no time to play it anyway in the nearly future (baby coming in any day now).

Anyway, with my newly purchased PS3 I also got NHL ’10.

There was several things that caught my eye in terms of “casual friendly”. Casual games are more about “guiding player gently to do something and then mainly rewarding the player” whereas hardcore games are more about “you gotta have fast reactions and if you fail you are dead”. Okay, that’s a tiny simplification, but you get the point.

In NHL ’10, there’s several “casual gamer” friendly things.

Tutorials/learning puck handling
Before you can play the game, you can train how to shoot, pass and do stuff with the puck. There’s practice modes to give you a soft landing on real games.

One really cool feature I noticed was that the coach gives feedback after each period. Depending how I played, I get feedback such as “good assists” or “avoid no bad penalties”. In the first game, I paid attention to these and they really felt good guidance on what to do more and what to avoid.

In-game guidance
During the game, there’s an arrow pointing “where to position”. For example, if I play the left wing attacker, the arrow points me “where I need to go”.

Many adventure or action games provide “where to go” information, but it was cool to see the same in a sports game. Really user friendly.

Okay, playing as a goalie is hardcore: “if you do one mistake the opposing team will score”. And half of the time, you just wait for action to happen, and you have no control over getting your team to win – get some points you know.

But, in “be a pro” (or in online multiplayer) there’s a really sweet way to penalize player. It’s pretty obvious for an ice hockey game: penalties. In my first games, I was tackling too hard (doing bad things) and took penalties. Well, when you sit in the bench for 2 minutes (game time, that’s like 30 secs real time) watching others play… you sort of get the idea that “maybe I should stop getting penalties”.

It was cool way to penalize the player. Do stupidities = you don’t get to play for a moment.

Okay, there’s hardcore stuff as well
I’m not trying to say that NHL ’10 is a casual game. Or that it would have anything to do with casual gaming. It’s a hardcore game. I’m just trying to make a point that there are several game design elements done similarly as in casual games. NHL has tons of hardcore things: first is the menus (they are from Dante’s hell: I have to press like 17 buttons and menu items before I get to play), then it’s the six axis controller (left stick to move, right stick handles the … well, stick. Down, up… buttons. That’s certainly not casual), difficulty levels (there’s really tough opponents), learning curve, and many many things.

But for me… it’s casual fun, I’m a casual hardcore guy anyway.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. My bro has PS3, this means we can share games… and of course play online (when he gets the router working :P). That (in addition to bluray) were sort of making me lean towards PS3.

  2. It makes since for a sport game to be more casual friendly since you may have those who aren’t hardcore gamers but fans of the sport pick up the game.

  3. Still think you shoulda got an XBox 360 ;-p But I’m sure the PS3 is nice, will get once once I got some spare moola (big tax bill coming up)

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