The Friday Five: 5 Things NBA Live 14’s Dynasty Mode Needs

Welcome everyone to another Friday here at the NLSC and another edition of The Friday Five! If this is your first time checking out The Friday Five and you’re wondering what it’s all about, this is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

The announcement of Rising Star mode in NBA Live 14 came as very welcome news as single player career modes have become extremely popular in sports games, to the point where they’re basically a must for any title. Given how much I’ve enjoyed MyCAREER in NBA 2K13, I’ll certainly be giving it a look. However, I’m still very much a Dynasty Mode fan, so I’m hoping that it has also received adequate attention as NBA Live looks to make a strong comeback. As such, this week I’m taking a look at the five things that I believe Dynasty Mode needs to do or have to provide a deep and enjoyable experience in NBA Live 14.

1. The Reorder Rosters Screen

Reorder Rosters Screen in NBA Live 06

It sounds like such a small thing, yet for those of us who like to tinker with our roster, it is absolutely essential. It’s been missing from Dynasty Mode in the last few NBA Live games and was sorely missed as a result. Instead, we’ve had to make do with the Rotation screen, which is clumsy, contrived and doesn’t allow us to perform simple tasks such as set the bench order so that our desired sixth man is first on the list of bench players on the substitution screen. Even adjusting the starting five is more of a hassle than it needs to be.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for the Rotation screen, so I’m certainly not advocating its complete removal. I’d like to see NBA Live take the same approach as NBA 2K here, with the starting lineup, bench order and inactive roster being adjusted through the traditional Reorder Rosters screen. The lineup that’s been set subsequently appears on the Rotation screen, where the user can take things one step further by assigning everyone’s minutes, preferably by using the actual number of minutes and not a percentage of the available playing time in 5% increments. It’s far less convoluted and as a result, much easier to get the results that we want. It may be a small thing, but it’s still very important and its return is overdue.

2. Accurate simulated stats

A boxscore in NBA Live 08

Now, this is something that’s certainly easier said than done, especially as a Dynasty game develops into its own alternate reality with players moving around and new lineups taking shape. Just as in real life, a player’s numbers are going to change if they suddenly find themselves in a situation where they’ll have to share the ball more or their role/playing time changes significantly.

However, when the rosters are still mostly the same as in real life, players should be putting up the kind of stats you’d expect their real life counterparts to be producing. That means the right players scoring the most points for their respective teams, realistic upper limits for the league’s statistical leaders and certainly none of the anomalies that we saw with the simulated stats in NBA Live 08 PC. I’d also like to see prominent bench players have their roles accurately reflected in simulation, so that we don’t consistently see a Sixth Man of the Year who averaged 8 points in 20 minutes per game. If the aforementioned rotations are implemented properly, hopefully that won’t be an issue.

3. Better development and practice facilities

The Academy in NBA Live 09

With the inclusion of the Academy, NBA Live 09 and NBA Live 10 took a step in the right direction as far as player development is concerned. Allowing for minor improvement through the course of the season through training drills is the right approach, but there is definitely still room for improvement. For example, NBA Live 10 didn’t have any drills that affected a player’s shooting ratings; needless to say, we should be able to develop all of a player’s ratings through the training sessions. Those sessions are also too few and far between at one per month. One per week would be more realistic, without making it too easy to turn a scrub into a star. I’d still want to see good balance there.

Even if player development drills are only going to take place once a month, something that we should be able to do at any time is partake in a five-on-five scrimmage with our roster. There’s no reason that we shouldn’t be able to do that as often as we’d like, as limiting scrimmages to a monthly training session is needlessly restrictive in a mode where it would greatly help to get a feel for new players after we make changes to the roster. If there’s any way we can get free throw shooting practice into the game as well, that’d also be a definite plus.

4. Good AI/logic when it comes to awards and roster management

Award Winners in NBA Live 06

This is something that both NBA Live and NBA 2K have had their issues with over the years. Like simulated stats, it must be noted that achieving anything close to perfection is a tall order, but I’d like to see as much fine tuning as possible when it comes to the selection of All-Stars and the annual award winners. Granted, we do see some questionable selections in real life too, but in video games the no-brainers seem to get snubbed a bit too often. To that end, better selection logic definitely would not go astray.

The way that CPU controlled teams manage their rosters is a concern here as well. Star players and in particular bona fide franchise players should not be traded all that often. Trades in general shouldn’t be too numerous, nor without any rhyme or reason…for the most part. The occasional odd deal admittedly isn’t unrealistic and the same goes for free agent signings. In general, player movement should be logical and have some context, with genuinely surprising moves being kept to a minimum. The bug that sees too many big names pass up all offers and get stuck in the free agent pool, an issue that has popped up every now and again over the years, should also naturally be avoided.

Finally, CPU controlled teams have sometimes faltered in the handling of their lineups in previous games. In NBA Live 10 for example, it wasn’t uncommon to see the Cleveland Cavaliers starting Zydrunas Ilgauskas alongside Shaquille O’Neal, rather than relegating him to the bench. At other times, key role players and even stars have been benched in favour of players who should be backing them up instead. Hopefully, NBA Live 14 will see some tweaks and fine tuning in this area as well.

5. The deepest Dynasty experience possible

Free Agency Persuasion in NBA Live 08

I’m going to cheat here a bit by listing a bunch of stuff, but it all comes under the banner of having as much depth and detail in Dynasty Mode as possible. Do we want to be able to hire and fire head coaches along with other staff? Do we want to be able to select multiple teams to control, or at least have the option to switch teams between seasons? How about restricted free agency, ten day contracts and contract extensions? News and rumours? Mock Drafts? Notifications that players are mulling retirement? Multi-team trades and tradeable Draft picks? Custom Draft Classes? All-Star voting? Different simulation options and sim intervention? Advanced stats? Contract negotiations?

The answer, of course, is yes. We absolutely want that level of depth. We get incredibly geeky about this stuff and that’s the fun of the mode. I like to play as many games in a Dynasty as possible and to that end the gameplay certainly needs to deliver, but it’s all those extra bells and whistles that really make Dynasty Mode an enjoyable and addicting experience. That’s the kind of stuff it needs to bring to the table to compete with NBA 2K’s Association Mode, a mode that hasn’t received a whole lot of attention in recent years but is still very deep and definitely ahead of where Dynasty Mode was in NBA Live 10. Adding these details and options will go a long way in bringing Dynasty up to speed.

Gameplay is paramount, of course, and it’s great to see a mode like Rising Star come along, but I’m really hoping that Dynasty Mode delivers in NBA Live 14. For so long it was the flagship mode of the series and one that I’ve enjoyed greatly over the years. For NBA Live 14 to be a well-rounded game, it needs to have a good, deep Dynasty Mode. Also, if a decent amount of its features can be brought to the online arena in the form of an EA Sports Basketball Association? Icing on the cake.

That’ll do it for this week. What are the things that you feel NBA Live 14 needs to do or have as far as Dynasty Mode is concerned? Let me know in the comments below and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum. Thanks for joining me this week, please stop by again next Friday for another Five.

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August 24, 2013 3:01 am

Agree with all of the components above.

One thing I have been wanting for years is the inclusion of FIBA World Cup (formerly the World Championships) into the offseason every 2 or 4 years. Since EA has this license it only makes sense to integrate it into dynasty mode.

August 24, 2013 7:12 am

One thing I really want to see them add is draft pick that have been traded already. I hate being the Jazz with a crappy roster because a trade, and not getting the draft pick which came in it. Or another thing is that I’d love to see them add trade exceptions in the game. It’s in real life so add it in the game. Agree with everything you said above other than that though.

August 27, 2013 5:17 am

My wishlist would be identical to yours, since I always liked the managerial part of the game, and for the most part, I always felt NBA live was coming up short in that department.
The list is long: I agree that you should be able to enjoy more control without limitation and without bothering to collect points to get scout reports or to train my team.
Coaches and Head Coaches should be fired and hired, with that having an influence on the team style and the team results. I’d like to have practices and have them influence the togetherness and style of play of my team. Some players, after retiring, should become coaches themselves.
Basically, a fan expects to be able to do the things that really happen in the NBA.
Anything that gives depth to the simulation would be welcome;

the interface could also be improved: one should be able to visualize all the stats line of a player on a single page, without scrolling left and right, up and down!
Also, why is that on NBA Live you can’t see the career stats of a player, like you can on, say, It would be great to be able to actually look at the careers you contributed to create.

Also, I think many fans would enjoy a “historical dinasty” mode: Many download roster patches to play with old teams, then, why not provide it with the game, complete with actual draft classes?
One Kings fan would be able to go back to 2002 and get ready for the new season, trying to win that championship. One might want to go back to 1984, draft Michael Jordan and facing the possibility that he will not develop into the Jordan we know.

If it is well done, the possibilities are infinite.

August 28, 2013 12:13 am
Reply to  Andrew

Player card, damn it! I knew there was a short name for it! =)
I Agree about the PDA system

Too bad about the historical dynasty!

August 27, 2013 5:27 am

Also: trades should be realistic; more contract flexibility from the players and something resembling a strategy on the team side would be nice. Some teams might want to develop young talent, some others might want to just dump big contracts trying to create space for big free agents.

August 28, 2013 12:20 am
Reply to  Andrew

Also, more “narration” wouldn’t hurt.
Instead of an update “The 76ers traded Holiday to Sacramento for Cousins” something like “the 76ers try to get a big man with Cousins from the Kings, but it remains to be seen who will play the PG minutes”
Small things, but those things are what would make more enjoyable NBA Live, more than, say, a new 10.000 sneakers to chose from!

September 1, 2013 1:45 am

I wouldn’t even mind seeing somewhat of a depth chart that could go like this.

Starters Bench Reserve Inactive

I want to see mostly these things 1) Multiplayer Dynasty 2) 10 Day Contracts 3) More than one player can compete in the rising stars challenge mode. 4) Better Depth Chart kind of like you suggested or like the one I suggest. Within mine you control how many minutes each player plays. Of course you usually will give the starters more minutes.