An NBA basketball game lives and dies by its dynasty mode because, except for online play, that's where most hardcore hoops nuts will spend the majority of their time. We recently spoke with NBA Live 06 producer Dean Richards about the dynasty mode in NBA Live 06, to get an idea of what's new for this year and just how the mode will work in the context of 06's other big new game play addition: freestyle superstars.
GameSpot: Can you explain the changes made to create a deeper dynasty mode?
Dean Richards: Player evolution is our newest feature within dynasty mode. This feature actually gives you a snapshot of your player's career as he progresses from a rookie to a seasoned veteran. It will display a player's physical changes as well as changes to his ratings, making a user aware if a player has developed into a freestyle superstar.
Another new feature of our NBA Live 06 dynasty mode that ties into player evolution is the ability to hire a coaching and support staff that will play an integral part in your team's success. The staff will consist of assistant coaches, scouts, and trainers. Each staff member will have his own unique job on the team. Assistant coaches help you train players, scouts provide information on upcoming players for the college draft as well as give you reports on your next opponent, and trainers can be assigned to helping your injured players heal faster. These new features allow users to tailor training programs to fit the style of players on their team. This ultimately allows a player to develop his own freestyle superstars.
GS: Can you give us some general tips on managing your staff in dynasty mode?
DR: There are three strategies to use when you hire your coaching staff. Assistant coaches should be hired when a team is in a youth movement. It will help improve your team throughout the season. Scouts should be used when the team is going to be picking up a bunch of youth in the next draft. This will allow the user to scout more players, thus giving them a better picture of what kind of talent is out there and who can help the team. Trainers are useful, but one trainer should be able to cover what you need. If your team is old, but still good, you might want to pick up a second trainer so that you can keep your old players on the court instead of the injured reserve list.
GS: Can you tell us about the other improvements to the artificial intelligence, game engine, and graphics in this year's game?
DR: We have improved the court spacing/balance, which adds to the fluidity of our game. Players are able to maneuver around the court with and without the ball as they would in a real NBA game.
We have also improved the strategic element of our game with the addition of new team-specific offensive sets--these are based on the type of personnel a team has on the court. We have improved the open court transition game with our fast breaks and we eliminated the stop-and-go feel of previous years with a new passing and receiving system that allows you to make these plays on the move.
We also enhanced overall team defense with our defensive rotations such that your CPU teammates will help you out to the strong side of the court. Graphically, we have an all-new graphics engine, as we not only wanted to make sure the players of the NBA play like their real-life counterparts, but also that they look the part.
GS: What challenges have you faced during the development process for NBA Live 06?
DR: The biggest challenge was being able to find the balance between the freestyle superstars' abilities and how they interact with each other, the more generic players, and every other aspect of the game. We knew it was imperative to get this right if it was going to feel like authentic NBA basketball. We wanted to make sure that the risk/reward and the ability to perform freestyle superstar moves still stayed within the authenticity of the sport. I play this game every day and test it to see that it feels right, and I'm excited that we have achieved this goal.
GS: Thanks, Dean.