NBA Live 10 Dynamic Season Hands-On

One of the standout features in NBA Live 09 is its Dynamic DNA system, which takes data based on the real-world performance of individual NBA players and integrates it into the game. This means that in-game players benefit (or suffer, in some cases) from the performance of their real-life...

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One of the standout features in NBA Live 09 is its Dynamic DNA system, which takes data based on the real-world performance of individual NBA players and integrates it into the game. This means that in-game players benefit (or suffer, in some cases) from the performance of their real-life counterparts over the course of the actual NBA season, so if Kobe Bryant changes up his game and posts up more, taking fewer outside jumpers, then the in-game Kobe reflects that change. It's an interesting feature and one that's begging for greater integration in the NBA Live series, which is exactly what EA Sports is doing with NBA Live 10 and the new Dynamic Season mode. But the impetus for creating Dynamic Season also stems from watching how people play NBA Live. "Dynasty modes have been a part of sports games for a long time. We've found there's a percentage of people who play Dynasty mode and focus on year one, or focus on keeping their team up with real life," says Garreth Reeder, producer on NBA Live 10. "Our goal was to create a connected, solo mode that used the daily DNA feature and would allow you to play along with the real NBA season with an up-to-date, daily roster."

"There are people who really like to be the GM, do drafts, sim ahead, and do all of these things," he adds. "But there's a huge part of our consumer base that are solely focused on the real NBA season. They're either following their team or just the NBA in general. That's who we're targeting with this mode."

When you enter the Dynamic Season area, there are four main options to choose from: Today's Games, Rewind Calendar, My Playoffs, and Dynamic Season Menu. If you select Today's Games, you're presented with all of the games scheduled to take place on that day, allowing you to jump right in and start playing. And while Dynamic Season mode tracks what your favorite team is (which is based on the number of times you play with a team), you're not restricted to a single team's schedule. "We thought, let's open this up and make it more of a sandbox mode," Reeder explains. "I'm a fan of certain teams, but I don't want to be constrained to that team. I really want to get that feeling of, it's Friday night, and there are some great games on ESPN tonight--maybe it's Lakers versus Celtics or LeBron versus Kobe. We really wanted people to say, 'I can follow my team, but there's a great match-up tonight. I want to play that game.'" Today's Games features all of the current rosters (including injuries and trades), DNA, and actual stats from the NBA, so you're getting an authentic setup, and while the outcome of your game may be wildly different from what happens in the real game, those results (both real world and in-game) still get calculated and merged, carrying on to the next game in the season.

Whereas Today's Games lets you play current NBA match-ups, Rewind Calendar lets you go back to any point in the season to play a game. "Because of our partnership with Synergy Sports, we have Rewind Games in NBA Live 09, so we've created an entire calendar [for NBA Live 10] that gives you every game from every NBA team through the whole year," says Reeder. "There are over 1,200 games in an NBA season, so at the end of the year, you can play any one of those games and you'll have the roster, the DNA, the box score, everything from every game. It's completely authentic to everything happening on that day." So, if you have a player who was injured in real life and couldn't play in a game that you want to play in NBA Live 10, he won't be available to you. Likewise, let's say you play a game where you know a particular player was injured late in the 4th quarter and had to sit out for a couple of games, but in your game he doesn't get injured--he still won't be available to you in those games he had to sit out, even if he wasn't injured in your game. In other words, Rewind Calendar games always reflect what's happening in real life, but your stats and results will still merge into the mode. "The games that you're playing are your own," Reeder explains. "Something we've been throwing around the office is that real life is kind of your sim engine this year. We keep all of your player stats and your record, if you've won or lost. And then, when we're merging the real results back in, you're really getting that effect of taking your games and combining it with real life. The more you play, the more you change the alternate reality of the NBA season."

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An alternate reality is probably the best way to describe much of Dynamic Season mode, particularly the playoffs, which--not unlike Dynasty mode--use the team records from your Dynamic Season to generate brackets. "When the real playoffs start, we open up an option in the game called My Playoffs. When you select that option, we calculate your current standings and we make a playoff bracket based on your season," says Reeder. "So if you make Golden State the number four seed in the West, when you go into My Playoffs, we'll create a bracket based on your season and allow you to play through the playoffs and get an eventual championship." Also like Dynasty mode, Dynamic Season takes into account different stats for the purposes of awarding players with MVP, rookie of the year, and other honors. And if you still want to play with the real-life NBA playoff setup, you can do that by going back into the Today's Games option, but those games won't have any impact on the rest of your season.

Though Dynamic Season is a stand-alone, single-player mode, it does have some online functionality outside of downloading data for rosters, stats, and DNA. "We keep track of things like the community stat leaders and which players people are using, so [we can find out] who's going to be the leading scorer in everyone's Dynamic Season, collectively," says Reeder. "Maybe it's going to LeBron James averaging 40 points a game, but we don't really know. It's going to be interesting to see. We also keep track of all the games people are winning and losing. We have a screen that shows something that's almost like season standings--how many wins and losses do all of these teams have. Then we rate the NBA teams by how many wins they have collectively. We also have a record book screen where we keep track of your personal team and player records, but we also compare your record with whoever out there in the world has the highest record." You can also view other leaderboard-style statistics, including people who have played the most games total or the people who have played the most Rewind Calendar games.

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All of this should help reinforce the notion that while you're playing through the NBA schedule with realistic scenarios provided by DNA, stats, and rosters from actual games, you're still free to create your own version of the NBA season. "I'm interested and excited to see how into it people get," says Reeder. "It'll be neat to go to that leaderboard screen and check out who's playing every day." Look for more on NBA Live 10 before its release on October 6.

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