Hey everybody…hope you’re all enjoying the first half of the NBA season. The team here in Orlando at EA Tiburon has been hard at work to bring you the second significant Content Update for NBA LIVE 14. Early on, we committed to bringing our fans along on this journey by constantly improving our game and with this latest update, not only are we going to provide improvements to 5-on-5 gameplay and visuals, but we’ve included an entirely new onboarding mode as well. So with that, let me describe what’s in this update and what you can expect to see and feel when you get it.
From the start, many of you have told us that your biggest frustration with the game is the lack of in-game tutorials or a practice mode. We hear you loud and clear, and it’s been a priority for our team to build something that helps fans come to grips with the intricacies of NBA LIVE. The first step down this road is the new Shootaround mode, which you’ll see in the update. In Shootaround, you can take ANY NBA player into the gym and get a feel for all the dribbling controls and signature moves, as well as the many ways you can shoot the ball and various gather types. This is the place where you can learn the timing and flow of dribble moves for each of your favorite players, as well as see how each guy handles the ball. Without a defender in your face and no shot clock to worry about, it’s our hope that you can take your time to really get a feel for how to best string moves together and become a more effective player.
Similarly, you can work on various shots and moves to better understand each player’s release point and shot timing. In a previous update, we tweaked the timing of shots to make jumpers a little easier to hit and now you can focus on really dialing-in your timing in a stress-free environment.
It’s our hope that you come out of Shootaround mode feeling more confident about your game and are able to translate the skills you’ve worked on out on the court in game situations. We want you to feel prepared when you’ve got the ball in your hands, down by 1 in the 4th with 10 seconds left on the clock.
We also understand that there’s still a lot more to learn in NBA LIVE and that Shootaround mode doesn’t touch on every single control offered in our game. Our team is committed to delivering a robust, comprehensive onboarding experience, but it takes a lot of time and resources to build up a brand-new mode from scratch. Shootaround is our first step down that path, and puts us in a good place moving forward to expand into a much deeper experience in the future. We are looking forward to your feedback and hearing what you like about Shootaround and what else you want us to include in next year’s game.
In addition to the new in-game Shootaround mode, we’ve also got numerous tutorial videos available here on the website to help with things like shooting, offensive and defensive post play, gameplay tips and tricks and offensive and defensive play-calling. It’s our hope that by combining the info in the videos with the hands-on experience in Shootaround that you can get a more complete picture of all the things you can do in NBA LIVE.
Since we shipped NBA LIVE 14, our graphics team has revisited some of the lighting and textures in order to further improve the game’s visuals. We realize that the lighting technique we used caused some players to look smooth, clay-like or even “plastic.” After tuning lighting and color values with think there’s a marked improvement, and we’ve made sure to touch every player and every uniform to enhance their look. Some of the changes are subtle, but overall you should see that every player on the court looks better and they’re really starting to pop from the gameplay cameras. Again, these are transitional steps which not only help us right now, but as we continue work on the franchise. We can take the lessons we’re learning here and use them to continue to refine and improve our visuals moving forward.
Some of our more invested fans may have heard about the recent head scans we’ve been doing with various NBA teams. These scans will help ensure we have the best possible player likeness in future editions of the game, bringing us closer and closer to photorealistic players. The actual head scan is just the first stage of a multi-step process that goes into creating an in-game asset. We take that scan, put it through a pipeline, hand it over to an artist who then spends some time with it to ensure that the likeness is spot-on before it can be seen in the game. That, along with a brand new character lighting technique, will allow us to get the players and their likeness to where you expect them to be. Based on what I’m seeing so far, you’re not going to be disappointed with the way our players look in future editions of the game. The process is simply too long and complex to include in a Content Update, but we’re doing the work now so it can be included in next year’s game.
Gameplay has been a big focus of previous updates, and that continues here. We’ve improved responsiveness and control for first steps, plus dribble moves, which will give some of the league’s best players a more explosive first move and the ability to quickly change gears to blow by a defender. We’ve made multiple improvements to passing with ball physics, pass speeds and branch points within animations for improved responsiveness. We’ve worked to make passing and catching feel better and improve animation quality. Better responsiveness improves your ability to move the ball around the perimeter in the half court. Also, you’ll see how much better the overall flow of the game feels, especially in transition. Preserving momentum while passing and catching on the run makes transition more fun, and provides more opportunities to push the ball to a teammate and get to the basket for an easy bucket.
A FEW OTHER DETAILS
In addition to all the changes I’ve already described, we’re also introducing the official court and jerseys for NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, as well as some additional Adidas Hardwood Classic uniforms and a new basketball complete with the signature of new NBA commissioner Adam Silver. For all you LIVE Season fans, we’ve moved the camera to default to normal broadcast view rather than player lock and we’re adding variety in the types of Challenges you’ll see day-to-day. We’ve also addressed some additional camera issues that you’ve pointed out in Big Moments in LIVE Season, as well as some other bug fixes in that mode and Ultimate Team.
While we’re on the topic of LIVE Season, I just want to take a moment to recognize the team for all the good work they’ve done providing fresh content throughout the season. So far we’ve posted over 13,000 updates from Synergy Sports driving not only roster updates, but player performance as well, which is pretty staggering. There’s still plenty more where that came from, as we remain committed to keeping our game up to date with everything that’s happening in the NBA.
BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE
The last thing I want to mention is that everything we’re doing here—from the improvements we’re making in gameplay and to our visuals, to providing the start of our onboarding experience with Shootaround—is being built with the future in mind. We’re making these additions with an eye towards rebuilding NBA LIVE, making sure everything we do today can continue to be improved and iterated upon for next year’s game. Don’t think that we’re doing all this work at the expense of the next NBA LIVE. Instead, we’re building for next year’s title and including everything we can in the current game right now to improve the experience for our loyal fans—the fans who have been there since day 1. We sincerely thank you for sticking with us, and I personally want you to know that we’re all working our butts off to deliver the best possible next-gen basketball experience both right now and in the years to come. We’ve still got a long way to go on this journey and we want to keep hearing from you along the way to help shape the future of NBA LIVE and the future of basketball gaming.