Old Time Hockey’s Karthik Venkateshan has told Stevivor the initial difficulty of the game’s Story mode “was a hard choice and an experiment of sorts”.
“We really wanted to try something different and deliver a classic sports narrative where you are put in the shoes of terrible last placed team,” Venkateshan, a Producer at developer V7 Entertainment, said. “We completely understand that it is counter intuitive to virtually every game that is ever made, but this was a hard choice and an experiment of sorts when it comes to an unprecedented space in sports narratives, especially within the context of hockey video games.”
As we’ve detailed in our review, Story mode focuses on the Schuylkil Hinto Brews, a 1975-76 season Bush Hockey League that’s utterly useless. Devoid of skills, any player of Old Time Hockey will find it near-impossible to win any of the Hinto Brews’ first eight games.
“That is really the goal of the first act of the story mode,” Venkateshan asserted. “It is about six to eight games before you start to get better and better by being an aggressive hockey team.
“There are so many more games to play after that first few games, we really hope people stick through that first few, and then the story gets even better as the manager does creative things to get your team going in the right direction.”
Part of the exercise is to realise you’re not playing an EA sports hockey game, and then plan accordingly, as I remarked to Vankateshan.
“One of the things that a lot of people are still trying to wrap their heads around is that [feeling of], ‘I don’t need to win to advance’,” he said. “You only need to complete the primary objectives to keep moving the calendar and story. A win is not necessary — because the team sucks — and that is by design… as you have figured out by now.
“Because we are making a sports game which has a lot of precedence set to it — this is not the first or second hockey video game ever to be made — the expectations are higher than say for that a title that has never been done before.”
While V7 Entertainment is receptive to fan feedback, already patching the game to improve player receptiveness, there are no plans to change the opening to Story mode.
“We are going to stick with this for now,” Venkateshan said. “Otherwise the scripted moments loses its charm and that’s a shame. It is really just a handful of games and we really hope that hockey fans will stick with it.”
Other alterations to Story mode are in the pipeline, including additional control schemes.
“One of the things we are thinking about is if we can allow two-button and retro controls for story mode,” Vankateshan said. “The previews and feedback have really opened our eyes to other things that we have missed in terms of how people like to play and have fun. We realise that there is a good portion of the market who want to play through the story mode without the advanced controls, meaning they want a true old school experience and they don’t care about advanced control gimmicks to go through the fun story lines.
“We hope to have a patch in a few weeks for that.”
Old Time Hockey is now available on PC and PS4. It also heads to Xbox One and Nintendo Switch later this year. We’ve reviewed Old Time Hockey here, calling it a great representation of 70s bush league hockey.