NHL 12 Title Screen

NHL 12, by and large, is an amazing game. It’s both accessible and deep, and while I’m generally a single-player sort of guy when it comes to sports games, a 12-person online match is quite an experience.

So, while in general I give big ups to this game, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.  One of the things that I find super irritating is in the Be a GM mode.  Making trades is a key part of being a successful GM, and it’s way harder than it should be to make this happen.  Here’s why: it’s pretty much impossible to find a player that you want, much less make the deal happen.

In my experience, I often have a player I want to unload, but I don’t have a great idea who I want in return.  Or maybe even I know that I need to fill a certain position, but that’s all.  In these situations, it’s extremely frustrating to try and find the right player.  I made a little video to show what has to happen if I wanted to find a replacement for the Detroit Red Wings’ Nicklas Lidstrom:

It went a little fast, so here’s a breakdown:

  1. Pick a team to trade with
  2. Scroll through the list of positions until you get to Defensemen
  3. Move to the “trade value” to sort by something at least a little bit useful
  4. Don’t find anyone that’s right?  Back out of the menu and pick the next team
  5. It does save your position (thankfully) but not your sort order, so you’ll have to re-sort by trade value again
  6. Repeat.  A lot.

It’s quite annoying to try and locate a potential trade partner this way.  It seems like EA just didn’t plan on searching for a player to trade for as a possible use case.  There is the “trading block” feature that CPU teams could put players they want to get rid of onto…but it never works out that the person that you want is on the trading block.  And there’s only three slots after all.

How could you make this better?  Here’s one easy way - just let the user move through the teams without backing out of the current one.  On the main trade screen, the left and right trigger buttons (XBox controls) switch teams, but that doesn’t work when you’re looking at one team’s players.  Let me swap teams there and you’re saving me a ton of work.

What about an even more excellent solution?  A whole different interaction that would let you search through players from any team.  I want to see all the defensemen in the league sorted by trade value and let me find the right guy that way.  I like hockey, but I don’t know the ins and outs of every team and every player.  So make it a little easier on me by helping me filter through all the players to find a good replacement for my aging superstar.