The following is an interview with the entire NBA Live Production Team. The answers in this interview all relate to the PC CD-ROM, PlayStation 2, Xbox and Nintendo Gamecube versions of NBA LIVE 06 and do not relate to the XBox 360 version.
What are the main improvements to NBA LIVE this year?
The main improvements to this year’s game have been the addition of Freestyle Superstars. This feature has opened up the game in the sense that users now have more control over what their in-game experience is. Freestyle Superstars means better looking players who play like their real-life counter parts and have the ability to express emotion.
There was some concern about the realism of NBA LIVE 06 after a couple of earlier videos showed guys like Tim Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal attempting windmills and other flashy dunks. How realistic is the gameplay this year? Can you outline some specific improvements?
The gameplay for this year’s title is the most authentic that it’s ever been. Every aspect of NBA basketball has been captured in this year’s version. Players will play more like their real life counterparts, users will have the ability to lead fast breaks, dunk over top of defenders, fake out defenders with passes, shoot runners and floaters, run authentic NBA offensive sets, preserve their momentum when manoeuvring around the court, and the mid range game is back.
How powerful will Freestyle Superstars™ be in NBA LIVE 06? Will it still be possible to stop players that have offensive Superstar™ moves, as well as elude defensive superstars?
The game is balanced in the sense that no one player is unstoppable. However there are players just like in real life who will demand a double team and good team defense in order to stop them on the offensive side of the ball. Defensively you will be able to manoeuvre around the court and elude stoppers; just like in the NBA it will be more difficult to do so if you are being guarded by a good defensive player.
How intelligent is the CPU this year? Will each team play a unique style of basketball resembling their real life counterparts, and will the CPU challenge the human player with smart, realistic strategies and AI?
Teams will play to their strengths. For example the Phoenix Suns will fast break more than the Milwaukee Bucks. The CPU will run offensive sets and take what the defensive gives them. Their decision making process is much quicker this year which will make them tough to beat. Defensively, teams that have players with high awareness will be faster to react to situations with swift rotations making them better team defenses. So teams that are poor defensively will allow for greater success than teams that are tough such as the Detroit Pistons.
Has the issue of players catching up/not being able to out-run or run-down the CPU been resolved?
We have implemented a brand new fast break system that will allow players to get out and run with numbered advantages (2 on 1, 3 on 1, and 3 on 2). Users will be able to capitalize on these situations.
Have blocks been toned down this year?
How have the rotations and substitution patterns been altered? Will the CPU make better use of secondary positions, and slide players over to other positions if they’re already in the lineup? For example, will Tim Duncan start at power forward but move over to centre when Robert Horry enters the game?
The CPU will utilize the player who is the best fit for that position. The substitution patterns will reflect this. This is so that if the CPU needs to put in a replacement at point guard we evaluate the best available point guard first. If we do not have a point guard available then the CPU will utilize the best player for that position. Moreover, users will always have the ability to set their own rotations and substitution patterns.
Will we have the ability to save team strategies so that we don’t have to adjust them every game?
Each team has their default set of team strategies based on their team style of play. You are currently required to change your playbook in order to change your plays. There are 30 plays that you have to choose from and each play is designed to take advantage of your teams personnel.
How has Dynasty Mode improved this year? Are there any new or especially improved features?
New to NBA LIVE 06 is the addition of Coaching Staffs and Player Evolution. The coaching staffs are made up of Assistant Coaches, Trainers and Scouts. Each type of staff has a specific function within dynasty mode. You will be able to hire up to 5 staff members but you must have at least one of each type.
Assistant Coaches train your players during the season and are always on staff working with your team. They can also work one on one with a player that you choose, to give them some extra training. Some coaches have specialties that will allow them to train players in certain attributes faster than others, i.e. Big Man coach has a bonus at teaching centers and power forwards inside scoring, blocking skills and on a player’s strength conditioning. There are 5 coaching specialties – Big Man, Shooting, Rebounding, Defensive and Guards.
Trainers are on your staff so that they can try to help your players recover faster from injuries.
Scouts as in last year’s game will provide your team the ability to scout potential draft picks for the upcoming season. They also will now be able to give the user a scouting report on your next opponent.
Player evolution is a great new feature that will allow you to see a player’s development during his career. Depending on how much a player has changed you will sometimes see a before and after snapshot of a players skills or even his overall look. This screen will show you a snapshot of a player’s attribute ratings, height and weight from a prior season and what he is currently skill wise. This will allow the user to see a snapshot of the player’s development. This screen will also show you when a player on your team has become a freestyle superstar.
Has the trading and free agency logic been changed or enhanced in NBA LIVE 06? Do teams trade more often and high rated free agents lower their asking price to latch on with a team?
We have improved the trade logic as teams are much more active. You will see more trades than you did before and teams are always looking for potential deals. The CPU GM’s follow the official NBA rules thus the limitations that are out in the real world to make a deal are evident in NBA LIVE 06.
Are there any other factors that affect whether a player signs with a team or refuses a contract?
The players look at a few different factors when considering who to sign with. Money and length of the contract are the biggest factors. As shown by the NBA money talks especially with the amount of players re-signing with their old teams so that they can get the biggest raises and the maximum 6 year deal in the league.
Is it possible to make transactions during the NBA Draft? Can we trade the rights to players and so forth?
You will not be able to make trades during the NBA Draft. We also do not have the ability to trade the rights to players due to as soon as the player is not in the league he will not be available for trading. It would be a big cheat to trade rights to players to teams that can’t sign them right away and then have them disappear due to (the fact) they aren’t in the database any longer.
Will NBA LIVE 06 feature any elements of the new CBA, such as the expanded active roster?
Due to the lateness of the CBA being finalized we did not have the opportunity to add many of the new items that are within that agreement. We did update the salary cap and some of the basic issues with free agency such as a maximum contract is only 6 years long. We will incorporate more of these changes into NBA LIVE 07.
How realistic is the stats engine this year? In recent times there have been issues with players averaging too few points, points being distributed too evenly or some players averaging too many/too few rebounds and assists.
We did some work on the stats engine and it should provide a better distribution of statistics.
Have any improvements or additions been made to player development/rookie scouting in NBA LIVE 06?
We have included a couple of new features within player development these are each player has a work ethic and a learning rating. The two ratings work hand in hand. Learning is how well a player learns from the assistant coaches. Work ethic is the player’s ability to stay in good shape. This feature allows rookies to grow at different rates and even have some players have weight issues over their career.
Are you able to view and sort all kinds of statistics, as well as listings of players in Dynasty Mode? Have any additional statistics menus been added?
No additional statistics have been added but we are looking into this for NBA LIVE 07.
Will the user be able to view boxscores from every day of the season? Also, will we be able to view/save the results/boxscores from All-Star Weekend even if we don’t get to participate in an event?
Due to memory limitations we do not allow the user to view boxscores from every day of the season. This is also why we do not show the All-Star weekend boxscores if the user doesn’t participate in the game themselves.
What kind of role will the assistant coaches and Dynasty Extras play in NBA LIVE 06? Will it still be possible to take advantage of those features if you simulate games (and don’t earn as many Dynasty Points per game)?
Dynasty Extras have been removed from the game. We felt that with the new Coaching staff that the Dynasty Extras removed some of the realism that we added with the hiring of staff to help your team during the season. You will still earn NBA LIVE Store points so you can purchase items in the store.
Will we be able to change teams of our own accord during Dynasty Mode, and/or select multiple teams?
You will not be able to change teams on your own in Dynasty mode and the user will not be able to select multiple teams.
Will some players have multiple cyberfaces that alternate game-to-game? For example, will Ben Wallace wear his hair in cornrows for away games, but have his trademark afro for home games?
We do not have multiple cyberfaces from game-to-game in NBA LIVE 06. We will look into adding dynamic appearances in next years version of NBA LIVE.
Will any new NBA Legends appear in NBA LIVE 06? Is it possible to get a list of the Legends that will appear in the game?
No new legends have been implemented into NBA LIVE 06.
What kind of PC will you need to run NBA LIVE 06?
This is the recommended system requirements:
- Windows 2000/XP (95, NT, 98/98 SE & ME not supported)
- 1.0 GHz Intel Pentium III or higher
- 256 MB RAM
- 1700 MB free hard drive space
- 32 MB DirectX 9.0c Compatible Video card
- 16x CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive using 32-bit CD-ROM driver
- Sound card with DirectSound support and DirectX 9.0c compatible driver
- Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 SP1
- DirectX 9.0c
Will the PC version differ from the console versions in any way?
All the same features will be in both the console and PC versions of the game.
Will the PC version have a different user interface than the console versions?
The PC version will still maintain the same interface it had in previous years.
Have any improvements/additions been made to NBA LIVE 06’s Create-a-Player Mode? Are there any other new roster management functions or Create modes?
In NBA LIVE 06 Create Player mode we improved the players facial features as well as the players muscle tone, body size and skin texture. There are no new roster management features or create modes.
As always, the community is interested to know whether this year’s game will be patcher friendly. Will NBA LIVE 06 be patcher friendly as far as rosters, art and audio are concerned?
NBA LIVE 06 will allow the modding community the ability to modify the players likenesses and art. Audio is much harder to modify due to the structure that is in EA games not allowing the user to change audio files. This is something we have had in the past but with the technology in place it is not possible.
Will in-game saves be featured in NBA LIVE 06? What about the ability to save screenshots and replays?
You can save screenshots just like in prior years. Replays and in game saves are not available at this time but is something we are always considering implementing.
Can you confirm whether any of these features will be in NBA LIVE 06?
- Ability to place players on IR without replacing them on the active roster – No
- Ability to fake a pass – This is one of the superstar abilities of our playmakers. These players are unique in that they are able to distribute the ball in a number of different ways. The fake pass is one of those ways.
- Ability to handcheck/push a player to commit an intentional foul – Continuously pressing the steal button will cause you player to commit a hard foul. These can be executed both from a stationary position and while on the move which is useful in trying to prevent an easy basket.
- Option of displaying 2D or 3D player portraits – No
- Ability to trade a player for a blank roster space (either for cash or just for convenience in the default rosters) – No
- Team rankings (like the old days: offense, defense, ball control and overall) – No
Have any new Hardwood Classics jerseys been added this year?
There are 12 new Hardwood Classic jerseys that have been added into this year’s game.
What improvements or changes have been made to online play with NBA LIVE 06? Will the game be playable over a LAN? Will Xbox Live be available outside North America?
We have added the Freestyle Challenge modes for the 3 point contest and dunk contest modes. This will allow players to play head to head online in these new modes.
At this time we do not have the ability to allow the user to play game over a LAN. Xbox Live will not be available outside of North America.
Is there anything else we should know about NBA LIVE 06 that you can reveal at this time?
We have a new passing and receiving logic that allows users to preserve their momentum. This compliments the fast break system in that the game is more free-flowing which allows users to be more creative and expressive in the open court.