Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.
Great gameplay is paramount, deep game modes keep us hooked, but another essential element of any basketball video game is customisation. It’s an area where NBA Live has been lacking since its comeback in 2013, and although NBA Live 16 did see the return of gameplay sliders, roster editing was still missing. It’s an issue that many of us have grown impatient about, and to that end, it’s vital that roster customisation returns to NBA Live in the next full release. If what’s coming in the first quarter of this year is a stripped down release or demo as currently speculated, it would be understandable if there isn’t any roster editing in that.
But yes, the next full version of NBA Live absolutely needs to provide us with roster editing functionality. As I’ve said many times before when discussing this topic, it’s nice to have the official roster updates, but there are times when we want (and need) to make our own changes, and we should be able to do that. Roster editing has been a staple of basketball video games for a long time now, and there are a few functions in particular that we need to have. Without any further ado, here are five roster customisation features that I believe NBA Live needs moving forward.
1. Trades, Free Agency, and Lineup Editing
Let’s tip things off with one of the most basic elements of roster editing: moving the players around. While official roster updates have become a standard part of post-release support in basketball video games, they have their limitations. They’re generally only pushed through once a week, which means we have to wait for transactions and significant lineup changes to be reflected in the game. Since the updates have to be finalised and queued up to be pushed through at the scheduled time, there’s always a chance that a trade, signing, or lineup change will miss the deadline, and we’ll have to wait at least another week to see it in NBA Live.
If we can make those changes ourselves, however, the problem is basically eliminated. We need to be able to trade players between teams, sign players from and release players into the Free Agent pool, and change the default lineups as desired. The functionality is already there in Dynasty Mode; we just need to be able to use it to create custom rosters as well. This also includes the ability to edit rotations by assigning minutes in addition to changing the starting lineup and bench order. Again, since those functions are already in the game, we just need full access to them outside of Dynasty for custom roster creation.
The fact that we can now create a player for NBA Live’s Rising Star and LIVE Pro-Am modes, and scan our own faces for them using the mobile app, is definitely awesome. It’s certainly fun to put ourselves in the game, but let’s face it: we want to create other players as well, and preferably, as many as possible. Whether it’s adding all of our friends to the game, creating a missing player while we’re waiting for the next official update, or making a retro season or other type of customised roster, we want to be able to add new players to the game. Some concepts in basketball games do become outdated, but the traditional Create-a-Player definitely isn’t one of them.
I would also suggest that a returning Create-a-Player function should be deeper than ever before. One of the problems with created players in older games is that they really stood out from original players with real face textures. It’d be awesome if we could use the face scanning feature for regular created players as well; imagine putting together a team with all your friends, with their actual faces! We also need to be able to assign animations and tendencies, complete bio data (including Draft information), and sculpt quality faces when not scanning them in. It’s a staple of roster editing, and it needs to return alongside the other vital customisation functions.
3. Edit Player
Creating players is important, but what about those original players? There are times when we need to make changes to them as well, be it their ratings, tendencies, animations, or even something as simple as their jersey number or positions. Speaking from experience, it’s very easy to overlook something here and there when making roster updates, so there are going to be times when the official roster has inaccurate jersey numbers, ratings, and other data. That’s not a knock on EA Sports – like I said, I know how easy it is to overlook things, and human error is inevitable – but we need to be able to fix these issues ourselves when we find them.
An Edit Player function is the solution here. We need to be able to look up a player and edit basically anything about him, from bio data to ratings to contract information for Dynasty Mode. Assigning new animations such as dunking, dribbling, and celebration packages also feels like a standard feature these days. I’d personally advise against giving users full access to edit ratings during a Dynasty game, but we at least need the ability to edit jersey numbers and positions in the mode, for when we want to assign a specific number or switch a player’s primary and secondary positions. At the end of the day, Edit Player is just as vital a function as Create-a-Player.
4. Roster Export/Sharing Facilities
Of course, we’ll need to save all of the changes we’ve made when editing the rosters in NBA Live. Once we’ve saved those changes, we’ll most likely want to share what we’ve created with our fellow basketball gamers. I’m guessing it’s highly unlikely that we’ll be able to distribute saved rosters the old fashioned way, so an in-game sharing function is essential here. In-game save sharing systems are problematic in that they cease to function once a game’s servers have been shut down, but they’re unquestionably preferable to the inability to able to save and share rosters with each other at all.
With that being said, I do have an important suggestion to make here. NBA 2K’s approach of publicly shared files is definitely a good idea. The EA Locker in NBA Live 10 was functional, but it was restricted to users on your friends list. This was inconvenient, as you constantly needed to approve requests and then cull your friends list to share files. It’s also potentially a privacy concern. It’s one thing for your profile name to be listed next to a roster, another to have to connect with people you don’t know in order to share it. As such, public sharing is the way to go. And while we’re on the subject, letting us share sliders and other saved settings would be great, too.
5. Custom Teams/Team Editing
Now we’re getting to roster editing features that aren’t quite as urgent. The features I’ve outlined above are essential, and urgently need to be added to NBA Live. A wider suite of creation and customisation tools can feasibly wait a little longer, but it’s still worth mentioning them. What kind of functions am I talking about? Well, creating brand new custom teams for a start, with a selection of ready-made logos, and the ability to important custom designs. We haven’t had Create-a-Team in NBA Live since 2000, and while we can get by without it – and there are more important roster editing functions to add – I believe it should be on the road map for a future release.
In a similar vein, there’s the ability to edit the existing teams. The ability to modify coaching strategies and tendencies is already in NBA Live 16 of course, and we do need that to remain, but I’m talking about changing a team’s name and branding, similar to what we’ve seen in NBA 2K these past couple of years. As before, that would include the ability to either import designs or select from some pre-made branding. If head coaches can be hired and fired in Dynasty Mode, then the ability to change the coach in the default rosters would also be handy. In short, once the basics are accounted for, I’d like to see NBA Live’s creation suite expand and innovate.
That’s a basic outline of what I feel needs to be done as far as incorporating roster editing functions into forthcoming NBA Live games. What other roster editing and customisation features do you want to see added in NBA Live? Have your say in the comments section below, and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum! That’s all for this week, so thanks for checking in, have a great weekend, and please join me again next Friday for another Five.