First Look: NBA Live 10
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Jonah Ballow catches up with Sean O'Brien, lead producer for NBA Live 10 to find out how EA Sports revamped the video game this year and a first glance at the virtual Jonny Flynn. Download the demo on September 17 for the Playstation 3 and XBOX 360. NBA Live 10 will hit stores on October 6.
Jonah Ballow with Sean O'Brien
Jonah: I think NBA games and really video games as a whole have taken a big step in not only the lives of the fans but the players who are actually in the games themselves. Looking at NBA Live 2009 versus the 2010 version that is going to be coming out on October 6, what are some of the differences fans can expect -- what is going to change as far as this year's title?
Sean: Well, Jonah this year for us is what I like to call an overhaul for the game, especially with 5-on-5. A real focus on just the authenticity of the sport, getting a lot of the fundamentals of the game of basketball into play, fixing things like rebounding, passing, shooting, giving more control to the user. I like to say too, more control than ever given before in a basketball game. The stuff you do when you have the ball in your hand from when you try to breakdown your defender to the shot selection in the lane. The ability to chose whether you finish with your right or left hand. We really focused on player movement, so off-ball and away from the basketball, how guys move, ensuring that they are contextually doing the right things whether they are spacing or setting a screen, or on the help side playing defense. Also, a lot of the 1-on-1 matchups, so both how you guard the basketball, how you break somebody down and really making that game within a game both on the perimeter and in the post. Above all, I think one of the things we really wanted to focus on this year is player and team differentiation.
We have a unique and an exclusive agreement with a company called Synergy Sports, which provides us with authentic tendencies and data that are tracked throughout the course of the NBA season. This is a company that not only works with us but works with 25 or 26 of the 30 NBA teams to provide them with data that actually helps them scout their opponents, scout themselves to understand how they are doing and different lineups are doing throughout the course of the season. The fact that this service evolved throughout the course of the year for connected consumers will change your gameplay experience and really differentiates player-to-player, team-to-team, and possession-to-possession. I think this is a huge selling feature for the game and how it plays this year.
Jonah: One of my main issues with video games and NBA games in the past couple of years is that it didn't really feel like a game that possibly took place in April when your playing the Clippers and it's not a sellout game. If you were playing the Lakers and it's a couple of games away from the playoffs that the crowd would be more involved and you would feel a different electricity inside that stadium. Is that issue going to be resolved? Are you going to have a different feeling from a game-to-game basis?
Sean: Absolutely. If you are a connected consumer and what I mean by that is -- if your XBOX 360 or your Playstation 3 is actually connected to the Internet, you don't have to be playing an online game versus somebody else. As long as your connected and you receive your dynamic DNA updates, you have that ability to actually not only have the game change, so if Kevin Love is killing it out there on the floor and has had a great 2-3 weeks, you actually see his tendencies, how he shoots the ball, the amount of shots he takes to where he shoots it from -- all of that changes but also the atmosphere as well. You hear storylines coming into the game with Marv Albert and Steve Kerr talking about some of the things that are happening, if there is an injury. Like the example I used for Kevin Love, if Kevin has had a great couple of weeks, Marv will actually reference that, the crowd will be aware if it's a regular season game, if it's a conference or division rivalry game, if it's a playoff game or Finals game, it's something that has never been seen before or heard before. We are trying to be a relevant NBA offering. So, when I consume the game of basketball, I typically will go to ESPN.com or NBA.com if I'm looking to see what's going on in the league. If I'm looking to watch on television whether it's Turner or NBA TV or ESPN, then at the same time I want NBA Live 10 to be that third medium to where I get a relevant NBA experience. In this case, it's an interactive experience.
Jonah: That sounds really exciting; it pretty much feels like you are going to follow the NBA storylines throughout the NBA season with the video game. Also, I want to talk about one of the most exciting aspects to the title this year is the throwbacks. It looks like you guys are adding a lot of jerseys and shoes. Each player will have his specific shoes that he wears on the floor and also the throwback jerseys, which I know is one of the most popular things in professional sports is to wear the throwbacks.
Sean: To use the Timberwolves as an example, having the Mitchell & Ness 92'-93' Twolves jersey in there, having the home and away for every single team in the league. We added over 500 different shoes to the game this year. Really getting down to the detail and a lot of the intricacies of the culture and the sport itself. Obviously, throwbacks jerseys are a big part of the sport, player tattoos, and footwear with shoes is such a big part of the game itself. We got a lot of sneaker-heads, we got a lot of hoop-heads that enjoy playing the game for that reason to see what the footwear is going to look like, to get a chance to see what the new throwback looks like or new road jersey. Whether it's a St. Patrick's Day jersey, all that stuff is shown in the game and adds a different dimension as well.
Jonah: We've talked about the Wolves' a couple of times and we are here in Minneapolis and we just learned that Ricky Rubio is going to stay over in Spain for the next two years at least. What about the video game? Is there a chance that we are going to be able to play as Ricky Rubio or is he going to be on one of the FIBA European League teams?
Sean: You can play with Ricky Rubio on the Spanish National Team within the FIBA tournament but because he didn't make the trip over seas this year, he is not suiting up for the Timberwolves but Mr. Flynn is going to be there at the point. You know, Minnesota looks like a very young and exciting team to watch, especially with Kevin Love who is a part of the EA Sports family being on the cover of NCAA Basketball 09 last year. There are a lot of good things happening this year. To be very honest with you, Minnesota is a lot of fun to play with in the game because of that. I will tell you what; a virtual Jonny Flynn is a heck of a lot of fun to play with.
Jonah: The real Jonny Flynn is great too. We saw him do a one-handed windmill dunk in Vegas during Summer League action. How do you take in account a guy who hasn't yet stepped on the floor in an NBA game? We obviously saw him play at Syracuse and at Summer League. How do you take in account his attributes there and place them in the NBA game this upcoming season.
Sean: Well, that's the beauty of what we do with Dynamic DNA. Synergy Sports also follows college basketball and tracks all the major conferences, so we actually have data and tendencies from Jonny Flynn at Syracuse amongst all of our other rookies as well. We factor that into their game, so right out of the gate he is going to be, obviously it's going to be slightly modified because of the college game versus the pro game but he will have similar tendencies that he had at Syracuse and the beauty of it is as he plays, hopefully he will improve over the course of the year as he gets use to the NBA game, you will see that reflected in the way the game plays as well. If he continues to be able to break guys down, plays great defense, and really shoot the ball, then you will see that in NBA Live 10 and you can see Jonny Flynn evolve as he does evolve throughout the course of the year in real life.
Jonah: That's great to hear and we know that the game is going to be released here in October. How about the demo? I have the Playstation 3, so basically you can demo these games for free and check it out. When is the demo going to drop on the Playstation Store and XBOX Live?
Sean: For the Playstation Store, you will see it on September 17 and it's a two-team demo. We gave you plenty of time to actually play the demo itself, so you get a real good experience. What we have been doing is really trying to encourage people to download the demo, it is free like you mentioned both on the XBOX 360 and Playstation Network and really get a taste for what it's like. It's completely revamped and we are really encouraging people to go out and check it out and make a determination on just how great Live is this year for themselves.
Jonah: I think the plan here is to hopefully get a couple of copies and hand them out to a couple of the players and get their reactions. Hopefully I can take them on, I know I can probably beat Al Jefferson in NBA Live 10 but not on the floor.
Sean: That's the beauty of video games.
Jonah: As you said, on September 17 you can download the demo on Playstation 3 and the XBOX 360. Sean O'Brien, the lead producer for NBA Live 10, we can't wait for this title to come out and thanks so much for your time today, I appreciate it.
Sean: Thank you Jonah.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Jonah on Twitter.