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Interview: Eastside Hockey Manager

Thunderbolt just had the chance to discuss the upcoming Eastside Hockey Manager with some of the guys from Sports Interactive. Miles Jacobson (Managing Director) and Riso ìRizî Remes (Lead Programmer of Eastside Hockey Manager) kindly answered all of our questions, so please read on.

Sports Interactive is known for making football games (or soccer games as Americans like myself call it). Did you feel any pressures or difficulties branching off into an entirely new sport with Eastside Hockey Manager?

Miles Jacobson ñ No, not really. We know that EHM isnít going to be an overnight million seller, it will take time and we have that time to take, but weíre very proud of the work that Riz and his team have done on the game, and are looking forward to the experience of trying to break into new markets.

Before we get into the detailed questions, can you describe Eastside Hockey Manager to our readers who may not have heard of the game at all?

Risto ‘Riz’ Remes – EHM is a management game where youíll take assume the role of a General Manager with a team of your choice from over 20 different leagues around the world and try to guide them into championships. You can shape your team to your liking through trading, scouting, drafting, practice, coaching and media interaction while guiding the team from season to season.

Thunderbolt: The game seems complex. Will it be accessible to those who arenít hockey-enthusiasts, or is it strictly for the die-hards?

Riz – Weíve tried to ensure that the game is relatively easy to pick up and learn even though you arenít a die-hard hockey fan. But at the same time, we have wanted to add enough depth into the game to satisfy the hardcore fans who like to get all the detailed stats and reports on their team while tweaking their own tactics and lineups.

Do you think fans of the other Manager games will like this one?

Riz – As a sport, I think hockey makes for a wonderful management game because of all the different rules surrounding the player movements and leagues. If you like other management games, it should be an interesting game even if you havenít followed hockey before.

The other games in the Manager series were simply enormous due to the thousands of different players and countless teams. Will Eastside Hockey Manager rival the other games in scope, and what sort of licenses have you acquired?

Riz – We are currently looking to include about 20 different leagues and the game will feature around 20,000 players and staff members. Because hockey is not as widespread globally as football, I donít think we will ever match the football game in the size of the database.

MJ ñ weíll be releasing a list of the different leagues that will appear in the game soon, once all the licenses are taken care of.

What are some of the best features fans should look forward to?

Riz – My personal favourites include a nifty scouting system that allows you to send scouts all over to globe to different places to track down possible new players and maybe scout upcoming opponents. Naturally the in-game engine that simulates the actual action on ice is one of the main pieces of the puzzle and with the amount of detail that has gone in, it should be a treat to fans of the previous freeware game. Basically the sheer scale of things and the amount of information about different leagues and players will be something to look forward to.

Right now this game is only for the PC. Think it will ever be ported to any consoles?

MJ ñ There is a possibility that it might be on console at some point, but weíre keeping our options open at the moment

So whatís the release date for Eastside Hockey Manager, if youíre at a liberty say?

MJ ñ All will be revealed shortly! It will be a Summer release, but until all the licenses are signed, we canít really set an official date.

Will Sports Interactiveís new publishing deal with Sega affect future games in any way?

MJ – Sega and our partnership is based on trust ñ they are trusting us to make great games, and thatís what we intend to do.

Now that there have been hockey and soccer (or football) Sports Interactive games, what sport is next? Think youíd ever cater to Americanís needs with a baseball game?

MJ ñ Youíll have to watch this space. As Iíve said many times, our growth into other sports will be organic, as we have to be working with the right people, but I wouldnít discount baseball as a sport that we would consider.

And finally, whatís your favorite hockey team and what other hockey game is slowing down productivity the most down at the office?

Riz – New York Rangers (yeah, I knowÖ I think ESPN NHL Hockey has taken its toll with the dev team at times.

Thanks a lot for your time, and good luck working on Eastside Hockey Manager. I hope ESPN NHL Hockey doesn’t delay the game.

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003. Get in touch on Twitter @akarge.

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