The competition is real on the virtual hardwood. NBA Live 14 will release on Nov. 19 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and EA Sports is serious about delivering a solid product for hoops fans.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with the game's producer, Ryan Ferwerda, about a variety of features and qualities of the upcoming game. Here's a look at the Q&A and some of the new features we learned about on Thursday.
Brian Mazique: How long has your team been working on NBA Live 14?
Ryan Ferwerda: This has been a normal developer cycle for the team. We spent the last year completely rebuilding the game from the ground up. Everything we’ve done this year has been to establish a foundation for the franchise focused on Next Gen only.
This was an opportunity to look at what we could do, long term, to utilize the hardware computing power, graphical enhancements and online connectivity of the new platforms. Looking back at what we had, we knew that in order to truly change our approach we had to start fresh with the franchise in every aspect.
We had to put into place the technologies that would help us accelerate our efforts to return to the genre in a calculated and planned approach, not just in year one, but evolutionally.
We rewrote both offensive and defensive locomotion systems, giving us the essential base to develop more authentic player movement, as well as our AI system.
BM: BounceTek is an interesting feature. Expound on what that feature means and give us some examples of how it will impact gameplay.
RF: With BounceTek we are introducing Physics to a basketball game for the first time ever. NBA Live 14 is also a rhythm-based dribble system that allows you to break out of any move when you want to.
By separating the ball and putting it into physics, we are introducing authentic responsiveness as opposed to canned animations. With this feature, the dribble can create opportunities through its mastery.
BM: One of the other features we've read about is CourtQ. Anything that enhances A.I. is good in my book. Talk a little about CourtQ and how that enhances gameplay.
RF: CourtQ powers our AI and was developed with a goal of removing subjectivity and implementing an advanced analytics based AI that updated as the season progresses. With our exclusive relationship with Synergy Sports Technology data, NBA Live 14 will be driven by over 70 player ratings, tendencies, and team stats updated an hour after every NBA game, ensuring that your game is always in-sync with the real NBA.
BM: Presentation is a big thing for many sports gamers. Solid commentary teams, cool statistic overlays and such. We haven't seen much about Live 14's presentation. What are some of the elements that will stick out to gamers?
RF: First off, we have the No. 1 ESPN commentary team with Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy calling the game. Add to that Jalen Rose who will provide game analysis, halftime and postgame. Additionally, Jalen will be providing weekly updates throughout the season that will get pushed to gamers automatically. We will also feature ESPN broadcast treatments, playoff and finals packages.
BM: I always ask this question whenever I get an opportunity to talk to a developer. How will injuries occur? Is there rhyme and reason in regards to how a player lands or falls? Also, can you talk a little about how injuries are presented? Does a player get taken to the locker room; does it depend on the severity of the injury?
RF: If a player is injured in real life, it will be reflected in the line-up for the day.
BM: Gamers also love customization. What type of customization options will be available for gamers. Will we be able to create players, teams, etc? If so, how much freedom will we have in the creative suite?
RF: In our Rising Star mode, you can custom create a player to shape and manage his career over 25 seasons. Customization will allow you to choose the path for your player, whether you want to be an athletic PG or more of a shooting PG. Hair, height, weight, tattoos, footwear, all will be customizable as well.
BM: Will gamers have an opportunity to edit player ratings, hairstyles or accessories. This is piggy-backing a bit off the customization question.
RF: In Rising Star, yes, you’ll be able to customize your player. However, NBA players will stay true to their real life counterparts, but with the power of a connected experience, we can update appearances to reflect any changes throughout the season.
BM: In regards to game modes, we've learned about Ultimate Team, which should be great in NBA Live, but what other game modes will be available?
RF: Our game modes were developed based on fan-favorite feedback and with a Connected Experience at the core. CourtQ, Live Season, Live Ultimate Team, EA Sports Hoops Network and Head-to-Head Season were built for the connected experience, while we offer a depth in offline modes such as Dynasty and Rising Star.
BM: Roster updates is something big for online gamers. Can you explain how the roster updates will work?
RF: Leveraging our partnership with Synergy Sports Technology, we will push updated roster, stats and tendencies every time you fire up the game. Gamers will no longer have to wait weeks for big updates. NBA Live will be fresh every day of the NBA season.
BM: When gamers fire up NBA Live 14, what do you want them to take away from the experience?
RF: We are completely focused on the future and delivering a game that is authentic and relevant to the real NBA season, as well as being a fun basketball experience that stays fresh all season long.
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