An Email Interview with Ray Carsillo
By Patrick Hoffman
When it comes right down to it, I am a hockey geek.
I am someone who is obsessed with the game, constantly follows the game and am a geek who tries to immerse himself in every aspect of the sport. You can say I am darn proud of it!
I was lucky enough to conduct an email interview with another hockey geek, Ray Carsillo. If you look him up online, you will see that he has an abundance of experience in both the comic book and video game industries while also being someone who has been involved in what seems like every area of geekdom.
Ray was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to tell us how he got into hockey, who his favorite team and players are, and he also tells us about his experience playing hockey video games.
Let's give it up for Ray and see what he tells us here:
PH: Growing up, how did you become a hockey fan?
RC: It's funny, no one else in my family is really into hockey. My mom got me into baseball, my dad got me into football.
I guess I just grew up in the right area during the right time (north New Jersey in the early-mid 90s). My friends were all Rangers and Devils fans and I wanted to be part of those conversations in the winter. Then the Rangers had that magical run in 1994 and I was hooked.
PH: Who is your favorite team(s) and player(s)?
RC: I'm a diehard New York Rangers fan. All-time favorites are Mike Richter are Mark Messier. Current favorites are Henrik Lundqvist and Brady Skjei.
PH: Since you have covered video games for a long time and obviously have played them for even longer, what are some of your favorite hockey video games?
RC: There are so many from over the years. Of course, NHL 94 is up there, but also Wayne Gretzky 3D Hockey, and NHL 09 holds a special place in my heart as the first hockey game I covered as professional game reviewer.
PH: What is your favorite thing when it comes to playing a hockey video game? How is it different from every other gaming experience?
RC: I love micromanaging my team and taking the Rangers to the Cup Final every year. I start wheeling and dealing as soon as possible to build a roster that fits my style.
I think what makes NHL video games special is the pace. It's faster than any other major sport and it plays like that. I can normally get a full game done in 20 minutes (4 minute periods). I think the NHL series does a great job of making you feel like you're playing what you watch every night at an arena or on TV.
PH: Since first being developed, how do you think hockey video games have advanced? Do you think they could advance even further?
RC: Hockey games have advanced tremendously. There's obviously all the online and visual components that have come about as technology has increased, but being able to control franchises for years, the addition of arcade-like modes like NHL Threes, and the encouragement of community around these games have all been huge steps forward over the years, while also paying homage to what has come before.
I think the only way they could advance further is to either bring back some fan-favorite modes like the EASHL eSports tournaments, or to incorporate a story mode like what we've seen in Madden, FIFA, and NBA 2K the last few years. Visuals are always going to improve as hardware improves, so I can't wait to see how crisp things become on Xbox Scarlett and PS5. But if I knew any other ways they could improve, I might be making the games instead of just reviewing them, haha.
PH: Since we all love hockey here, we all know that NHL 20 is due to come out shortly? What can you tell us about it since you interviewed someone on the creative side of the game?
RC: Yes, I recently sat down and chatted with William Ho, the Creative Director for NHL 20. Some of the stuff I'm most excited about again comes down to further micromanaging my team in Franchise Mode. Coaching schemes affording certain players bonuses really puts a bigger emphasis on chemistry like never before. A smarter CPU GM function should allow for easier trades, or at least better feedback when you get turned down.
For the more casual gamer, the latest trend in games also hits NHL this year. Yes, there is now a Battle Royale-esque, tournament-style mode in World of CHEL. It'll be interesting to see how that resonates with fans, because I'm still on the fence about it personally, haha.
PH: When it comes to NHL 20, what are gamers going to like about it?
RC: It depends on what you're looking for from a hockey game. Hockey fans of all types should find something they can enjoy. Whether it's the more casual CHEL modes, where you can play 1-on-1-on-1 or the new tournaments that have arisen within that mode.
Franchise is deeper than ever. HUT returns with more legends than ever before. And there's even more customization options in CHEL if that's your thing. It's not mine, but I'm sure there are some folks out there who obsess over the color of tape they wrap around their stick, heh.
PH: Do you think someone will develop a hockey video game to compete with EA Sports? Why or why not
RC: Unfortunately, I don't think so. Sports games have become somewhat niche, and hockey is the most niche of all of them.
For a company to put together a team to compete would require far more resources than is financially feasible for a game developer at this point, especially with hockey. I think part of the only reason EA Sports continues is they've had the hockey pipeline in place for so long it'd probably be harder to dismantle that than to keep it going, which thankfully they have to all of our benefit.
PH: Is there anything else you’d like to share with hockey fans/video gamers?
RC: I'll probably be picking up NHL 20 on Xbox One, so if you see "StrongProtector" on the ice, you'll know who you're going against. If I go PS4, it's "WiseLeaderKing".
Otherwise, feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram or follow and like my Geeks Who Like Sports podcast, available via all major podcasting services. Feel free to reach out. I love talking sports and games with people, even if we disagree.
Patrick covers the NHL for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave.
He has previously covered the league for WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.