NBA Live 2003 Interview
1. Can you explain your role with NBA Live 2003 and how long you have been in the industry?
Tim Tschirner: My responsibilities for NBA Live 2003 include producing the PC version and the online feature for the PS2 version. I'm also doing a lot of design work and look after some of the visual aspects and the database. I have joined EA in early 2000.
We received a recent beta release of NBA Live 2003. I noticed the lack of in-game injuries. Is this something that was not fully implemented in the release we received?
In NBA Live 2003 players can get injured during gameplay only after hard fouls. We are aware that a lot of our users would like to see a bigger variety and frequency of in-game injuries and we will definitely address this going forward. Unfortunately there wasn't enough time to properly include this in NBA Live 2003.
3. Why aren't you guys adding the ability to trade draft picks like we can do on Madden? Do you have any plans to include future Franchise mode features like trading of draft picks or true three-way trades?
We would have loved to include this feature, but our focus for NBA Live 2003 was to enhance the gameplay and make this game the most fun to play basketball game on the market. We still made some enhancements to Franchise Mode this year by including a new Offseason design and adding features like MVP Watch and Upcoming Free Agents. Going forward, we definitely have plans to include the trading of draft picks in future versions of NBA Live. We actually have a lot of cool new features and ideas lined up for Franchise Mode.
4. Last year there wasn't much difference between the passing of players with high and low passing ratings. What changes were made to differentiate the Jason Kidds from the poor passers?
We did a fair amount of work this year in adjusting the success rate of attempted passes based on the passing rating. If a player has a low passing rating there are basically two things will be more likely to occur: a bad pass which misses the intended receiver altogether (creating a loose ball) or a pass that is intercepted by the defense. Players with higher passing ratings will also use more advanced passing techniques (such as the low bounce post-entry pass) in certain situations to further decrease the probability of a pass being intercepted. However, we ultimately want the users' abilities to be the greatest determining factor in pass success.
5.Are there some players who are better at avoiding blocks ? Is it still easy to block with a tall player without any relation to his blocking rating? In the version we received, there seems to be too many blocks and steals. Has anything changed since? Iverson shouldn't be able to swat a shot from Shaq straight up.
One of our goals for NBA Live 2003 was to make playing defense as fun as playing offense. A lot of work went into redesigning and tuning the way blocks and steals are being executed and they feel very satisfying now. Ultimately we wanted new users to be able to pick up the game and have instant success on defense and I am confident that we achieved that. You will find that as you play on higher skill levels (especially Superstar) the number of blocks and steals becomes quite realistic - we are forcing you to learn how to take intelligent shots and make smart passes. In user vs. user games the stats we are getting are near perfect, and an experienced user will be able to play a full game and only be blocked or have the ball stolen by the CPU a handful of times. Now if a user makes it their sole purpose on defense to block CPU shots, they can definitely block more shots than in a typical NBA game, but they will also quickly discover that on the higher skill levels playing this type of defense will only guarantee one thing: a loss.
You will also notice that certain players use animations that allow them to switch hands in the air, do reverse lay-ins, etc. These types of shots are far more difficult to block than basic dunks and lay-ups. Also, players with a high block rating are more likely to be successful in their block attempts through a variety of different factors such as jump velocity, reach and in-air positioning. So in other words, the likelihood of AI blocking any shot from Shaq during the normal course of gameplay is about the same as it is in reality - very very slim. He might get dunked-on by Shaq alot, though.
6. What are some of the post up moves that can be done using the new Freestyle Control?
The new EA Sports™ Freestyle Control essentially gives the user Total Player Control on all areas on the court. In the low post the following moves can be performed: Backdown, spin-off backdown, jump hook, dunk, drop-step, pump-fake and lay-up.
If you are in a triple threat position in the post, you can also execute these moves: Protect the ball overhead, palm the ball away from the defender, shoulder fakes right and left and a different drive animation from each of these triple threat positions. For example, palm the ball away from the defender followed by a quick drive left or right from this position. It is absolutely awesome!
When you have the ball in the post with a good ball handler, you can use the Freestyle Control to face up your defender and use any of the 8 triple threat moves in combination with 16 different drive animations from these hold positions. This gives the best overall players in the game an incredibly huge arsenal of moves down low. This addition is so innovative that it will change the way people play basketball games from now on.
Another important addition to the post game is that we give superior post players a boost in the strength and speed in which they execute post moves, much in the same way we give superstar ball handlers a greater ability to break down their defenders using the Freestyle Control in the open floor. This makes a player like Shaq or C-Webb much more effective in getting to the hole from the post than a player like J-Kidd or Iverson.
7. Are there any differences between the pc version and the other versions?
The PC Version features both our all-new EA Sports Online service and Direct Internet Connection Online play. The Franchise Mode runs over a period of 25 years (as opposed to 10 on the consoles), there are more controller configuration options and we have included historical Career Stats for all players. There are also more slots available for Created Players.
8. Will Yao Ming or any other players that were not on rosters as of August 31st be added in your online roster updates?
Yes. We are currently planning to make Roster updates available on our new PS2 Online service once a month. All players that have signed a contract at those dates will be included in the Roster update. It would have been great to be able to include Yao Ming right out of the box, but we cannot include Players in the final product who haven't signed a contract by the time of Roster approval. To this date Yao Ming has not signed a contract.
9. Will there be an alley-oop lay-up for guys who have low dunk ratings like in nba2k2?
Yes, players with low dunk ratings will go for lay-ups instead for dunks in an alley-oop situation.
10. Will we be able to trade draft picks? Have they expanded on the 3 way trade feature that was in NBA Live 2001 which didn't really work?
Even though the three team trade feature worked fine in NBA Live 2001, we felt that it might have been confusing to some users (you either needed to control two of the three teams involved in the trade or toggle the "Modify CPU Rosters" option to On), so we decided to not include it in NBA Live 2003. Going forward, we definitely have plans to include three team trades in future versions of NBA Live.
11. Why is there no in-game save?
Simply because there wasn't enough time to implement it this year. It is definitely on our wish list for future versions of NBA Live.
12. What are the minimum and recommended system requirements for the PC version?
We are still working on determining the actual minimum system requirements. The recommended requirements are:
- Pentium III 700 MHz or equivalent AMD processor
- 128 MB RAM (256 for Windows 2000 and Windows XP)
- 32 MB DirectX 8.1 compatible video card
- Sound card with DirectSound support and DirectX 8.1 compatible driver
- 12x or faster CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive with 32-bit driver
- 700 MB of free Hard Drive space
- DirectX 8.1 compatible GamePad with 10 Buttons and 2 Analog Sticks
We support Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, Windows ME, Windows 2000 and Windows XP. The game will not work under Windows 95 and Windows NT.
13. Is the scout report for rookies better? (new draft options?)
I think we are offering a very in-depth scouting report on each rookie available in the draft, so this feature has not changed from NBA Live 2002.
14. Will a demo be out before the PC launch date?
A downloadable demo will be available after the PC launch date.
15. How complete is the PC version as of now (% wise)?
Will gamers be able to patch up the PC version with their own custom art as in previous NBA Live PC games?
Yes, the PC version of NBA Live 2003 will be patchable. It will offer more patching abilities than NBA Live 2001 PC did.
16. Last of all, when is the official release dates for each of the NBA Live 2003 versions?
In North America, the console versions will be released on October 15th and the PC version on November 5th. All versions will be available in the rest of the world a couple of weeks later.
17. Will gamers be able to play online multiplayer with NBA Live 2003? Has problem of printing out the stats been corrected since NBA Live 2001?
NBA Live 2003 offers online play on both the PS2 and the PC. On the PS2, users can connect to our NBA Live Server and search for other gamers to play against. They can also download Roster updates.
The PC version has two different online game modes. Direct Internet Connection allows you to play someone else over the Internet (or any network that uses the TCP/IP protocol) by typing in their IP address and directly connecting to him. LAN and Modem-to-Modem play are not supported this year. The other online game mode is our new EA Sports Online service that has an expanded feature set like Match up, Clubs and Tournaments.
The problem of printing out the stats has been corrected; you will be able to save stats after completing an online game.
Thanks to everyone who provided the questions as well as the folks at EA Sports for setting this interview up.