This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at Dynamic Season in NBA Live 10.
While I still consider the PC version of NBA Live 06 to be the last truly well-rounded instalment in the NBA Live series, NBA Live 10 has to be given its due. It holds up quite well, and EA Sports definitely should’ve continued to build on it rather than changing directions with NBA Elite 11. Had EA not elected to take that risk, the series might be in much better shape, and the landscape of basketball gaming would likely have been very different these past seven years. In addition to its mechanics and overall gameplay being very solid, NBA Live 10 also featured some innovative modes and concepts, including the one we’re looking at today: Dynamic Season.
Dynamic Season was an effective way of implementing an idea that basketball gamers had wanted to see for some time, and it’s something that EA Sports should definitely consider bringing back in future NBA Live games. Let’s take a look back…way back…
The concept of Dynamic Season was simple. In a nutshell, NBA Live 10 gamers were able to create their own version of the 2010 season, as it happened. By using the “Today’s Games” option, you could play the latest games in the season using up-to-date rosters and Dynamic DNA data. NBA Rewind allowed you to go back and play previously completed games, which also used accurate rosters and Synergy data. The results from unplayed games were downloaded and merged into your Dynamic Season, combining the outcomes of the real season with the games you’d played. At the end of the year, you could play through your own version of the 2010 Playoffs.
In other words, Dynamic Season provided a means of doing something that a lot of gamers had long wanted to do: play along with the real NBA season, with accurate and automatically updated rosters. All the transactions and lineup changes were handled by the Dynamic DNA updates, which also accounted for changes in performance and tendencies, including hot and cold streaks. If you wanted to go back and change the results from earlier on in the season, all you needed to do was select the game on the calendar and replay it from a snapshot of the rosters and player data at that time, even if things had drastically changed since then.
It was a great way of implementing the concept. The Season modes in earlier games offered a means of playing along with the real season, assuming you kept up to date and managed the rosters for every team in the league. With the options that are available in NBA 2K18’s MyLEAGUE mode, you could feasibly create a similar experience this year, especially if you used the “Start Today” option now that the 2018 season is underway. However, Dynamic Season took care of everything for you, and continuously merged your results with real NBA scores. The ability to play and replay games for any and all teams made it a reasonably deep and varied experience.
To that end, Dynamic Season demonstrated the vast potential of EA Sports’ new partnership with Synergy Sports. Not only did it allow them to push through constant roster updates and use real data to implement more advanced player AI in terms of tendencies and abilities, but it could be used to create dynamic new experiences. With the speed at which the data came through for Dynamic Season, not to mention the availability of past and current games for all 30 NBA teams, gamers could easily play the mode daily. It could be a refreshing break from Dynasty mode, since you didn’t have to play all of your team’s games, and there were no other tasks to worry about.
At the same time, Dynamic Season did have its limitations, specifically in terms of its replay value. The ability to play any game on the calendar provided a content-rich experience during the 2010 season, and it felt rewarding to have your efforts culminate with your own version of the 2010 Playoffs when it was done. Of course, once the 2010 NBA season was in the books, that was all for Dynamic Season in NBA Live 10 as well. It was basically a one and done deal, rather than a mode that you could replay over and over again. If you missed out on the experience when the game was new and the 2010 season was in progress, you were out of luck.
Admittedly, that isn’t necessarily a drawback, and conceptually speaking, it makes perfect sense. The whole idea of Dynamic Season was to play along with the current season, with the NBA Rewind feature providing gamers with an opportunity to go back if they picked up NBA Live 10 halfway through the year, or simply missed a few games here and there. If you wanted a deeper mode with replay value, that’s what Dynasty was for. Dynamic Season was a mode driven by online connectivity and content updates, while the game was current. Therefore, with each new NBA Live that was released, you’d have a new season and a new dynamic experience.
Of course, EA Sports hit a snag in that respect. With the postponement and eventual cancellation of NBA Elite 11, EA announced that they would continue to push through roster updates for NBA Live 10 throughout the 2011 season. Unfortunately, although the roster and player DNA updates continued, there was no new content for Dynamic Season. Presumably there were technical limitations that made it unfeasible, but it underscores how Dynamic Season became redundant after the 2010 season had finished. Compare this to a mode like Ultimate Team, which is still playable as long as the servers are active, even if there’s no new content being pushed through.
Unfortunately, Dynamic Season is another feature that has fallen by the wayside since NBA Live’s reboot. We’ve seen NBA Rewind implemented in the form of regular challenges, with the object being to replay games using real data and achieve various statistical goals. That was a good idea too, as were BIG Moments. Sadly, they too are no longer available as of NBA Live 18. Moving forward, I’d like to see EA Sports bring back those modes, fleshing out NBA Live with more NBA-oriented content that is dynamic and a little different from the usual career and franchise experiences. New ideas are important, but it doesn’t hurt to revisit great concepts from the past, either.
On that note, I would absolutely describe Dynamic Season as a great concept. It represents the innovative nature of older NBA Live games, which is sometimes underrated. It provided gamers with an experience that they’d wanted, without compromising the traditional franchise mode. It’s an example of how EA’s partnership with Synergy is more than just a gimmick, and not just about roster updates and player data. “Dynamic” is admittedly a buzzword that can be thrown around too easily, but it aptly describes the experience on offer in Dynamic Season. It’s a concept that could be done even better today, and as such, I’m all for bringing it back.