Home | NBA Live 09 | NBA Live 09 Q&A with Brian Ullrich

NBA Live 09 Q&A with Brian Ullrich

One of the perennial areas of concern in basketball games is defense. At the Community Event, I saw Lockdown Defense coming into play a lot more often but in some of the recent videos players have had an easier time getting to the hoop. Is this a reflection of an easier difficulty setting in the videos, and have any adjustments been made to the defensive AI?

I’m glad you asked that question because there has been a lot of talk about this one. The build you saw at the community day was very representative of what is in the final game with respect to lockdown defense and how easy or hard it is to get to the hoop. I think the game has a very good balance when it comes to how hard it is to get to the rim and I think most of the guys at the community event would agree with that – at least that is the feedback we got from you all.

I’m not sure which specific videos you are talking about, but I do know that when we make videos we are usually looking to showcase some specific feature or gameplay element, so we choose clips that just show off that one thing. It’s hard to judge what the game experience will be like from a short video, but the good news is the demo will be out very soon, so everyone can see more of the game and decide for themselves after playing it.

The main reason our community is so PC orientated and hoping for a return to the platform is our love of modding and tinkering with the games. Is there any chance some official tools could be developed to bring that culture to the consoles and distribute unofficial rosters and custom gear etc through the EA Locker?

I think the consoles are definitely moving more in that direction. This year we added the ability to share your slider settings through EA Locker (so now you can share rosters, settings, created players and scenarios), and we let you designate locker uploads as private (only for your friends) or public (anyone can get) to make it easier to share stuff.

A big nitpick amongst us Dynasty geeks relates to the simulated stats, which in the past have yielded odd results like Steve Nash leading the league in scoring, bench players barely seeing any minutes, etc. What improvements have been made in this area?

We tuned the numbers for the simulators quite a bit this year, primarily based on feedback from the community wishlists, so hopefully you will see improvements. I also know we made some late tweaks to the formulas after the June community day based on your discussions with Jeremy Tiner (Dynasty producer). I’m sure you will let us know how these work out. 🙂

On the subject of Dynasty Mode, have issues such as undersized generated rookies, CPU teams trading too frequently and award selections received any attention this year? Is there anything else about Dynasty Mode you can tell us at this time?

Those issues have been addressed this year. Jeremy will be releasing some more info on new Dynasty stuff soon, so I will leave that to him.

Although the news that NBA LIVE 09 would boast 24 FIBA teams, the omission of certain teams such as New Zealand has led to some grumbling in the community. Is there any particular criteria for selecting the teams or is it mostly a licensing issue?

Yes, we selected the teams primarily based on FIBA rankings. We did make some adjustments based on making sure certain territories were adequately covered, but it was primarily based on the world rankings at the time (last year).

Will the daily updates with NBA LIVE 365 contain roster updates such as lineup changes and new players added where necessary as well as updating Player DNA and DNA tendencies, or will those changes only take place in regularly scheduled releases during the year? Basically, do you anticipate changing a lot of data daily?

The daily updates will include line-up changes, roster moves, ratings changes (based on updated stats), and injury updates. We will also be doing regular updates on equipment and shoes. New players will be handled slightly differently. If a player appears in a real NBA game that isn’t on our roster, Dynamic DNA will automatically create a generic place holder player for him as part of the daily updates. However, that player may not look or play much like the real player until we can manually create the new player and add him to the next update. I am guessing that this may take a couple of days for a brand new player, but it shouldn’t be any more than that.

Users can choose whether or not they wish to use the latest updates for offline play, but a few people have wondered if it’s possible to grab official roster updates without applying the updated tendencies as well. Is this possible, or will users have to tweak the new rosters if they preferred previous DNA data?
No, if you get the update you will need to take everything. It would be cool if we could allow you to only update certain things, but the way it works this year is you have to take everything if you want updates.
With Player DNA, Signature Playcalling and new featured scorer logic, is shot distribution more realistic than in previous years where certain scorers were not always aggressive enough? How is this affected in Dynasty Mode when players get traded and users start creating their own NBA reality?

The featured scorer data you get through Dynamic DN A will make a big difference in shot distribution, since it is taken from the real NBA shot distribution. As for Dynasty, you will be starting with at least a snap shot of this data, so it will make it better, but I imagine that the further your Dynasty gets from the real NBA, the more it will differ.

Can you please confirm whether or not the following features are in the game?
  • Reorder Roster function in Dynasty Mode
    The depth chart screen controls player rotation
  • View contract lengths along with Interest and Salary in Trade Players screen
    No, just the current year’s salary
  • 29 and 58 game schedule options for Dynasty/Season Mode
  • A standalone NBA Playoffs Mode
    No, not this year.
Will a demo be released around the same time as last year for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3?

Yes, it will be in early September.

Are you able to reveal any of the artists on this year’s soundtrack?

We usually announce this every year before launch some time, so I don’t want to spill the beans. Marcus can probably let you know when this is coming out.

Is there anything else you can reveal about NBA LIVE 09 at this time?

Just that I think the game is looking and playing great. I know talk is cheap, so I’ll just say the demo is just around the corner and you’ll all get a chance to try it out for yourselves very soon.

Moving forward, how satisfied are you with NBA LIVE 09 and what are your goals looking ahead to NBA LIVE 10?

I believe people are going to be very happy with NBA LIVE 09, but one thing about producers is we are never 100% happy with anything 🙂 – there is always room for improvement.

I think the thing that I am most satisfied with is how the NBA LIVE franchise continues to innovate. The thing that drives me crazy is when sports games quit trying to do new and exciting things every year, but that is definitely not something you can say about NBA LIVE. We have come up with some very new and innovative ideas (OTP last year, Dynamic DNA this year), and we will continue to take that approach with NBA LIVE 10. You may not always like everything we try, but hopefully you like some of it, and appreciate the fact that we keep trying to do cool new stuff.

A big thanks to Brian for taking the time to answer our questions. NBA Live 09 is slated for release October 7th in North America and October 3rd in European markets.