I’m Brandon Akiaten, Producer/Director of ‘The Life’ for NBA 09 The Inside. This year is our debut of ‘The Life’ onto the PS3. We introduced this feature previously on the PS2 version and our goal was to bring the end user closer to the experience of an NBA player. Beyond the bright lights, the hardwood floor, and the excitement of the crowd, our goal was to show that it takes more than practice to make it as an NBA star. We want the end user to experience the conflicts, the victories, the losses, the limelight and all that comes with the entire package… a perspective that very few get to see.
As fans we pay for our ticket and expect a show, and then we go home after a few hours and go on with our day. These athletes have to live with the wins, the losses, the injuries, the hype, the criticisms, the business, and the drama. We need to remember that these basketball players are humans and go through struggles of their own. We wanted to explore what kind of character and integrity it takes to endure that and still perform on the grand stage of the NBA. Flash and money is certainly part of that lifestyle, but stuff like that does not last the test of time. The integrity and value of a character’s heart does.
In the past we did this by creating a compelling storyline centered on a point guard, driven by a unique gameplay experience. This year we raised the bar and created 3 unique storylines focusing on all five positions with gameplay that is customized to their role on the court. With the advanced features of the PS3 we have gone beyond the sim experience in our product and put the end user in the drivers seat of an entertaining, cinematic experience. To really put you in that role we’ve created scenes on the court that set the user up for what he’s supposed to do. For example, the user will watch a scene in the team huddle during the timeout and the Coach will give you some direction as to what he wants you to do once the game resumes.
To further support that, we’ve added dynamic overlays to give you a quick snapshot of the list of goals we want you to achieve. The unique thing about this, is that we have the ability to put you in game winning situations. We will give you goals that direct you to make a specific number of shots, in any given amount of time. If your team is down by 8 points late in the 4th quarter, we will put you in the position to turn the game around. Although you have control over every person on the team, your ultimate goal is to achieve these goals with your created character. This type of experience also extends off the NBA court. The user will experience scenes in a blacktop environment where the action and dialogue become the catalyst for the mini-game right after. These scenes are also accompanied by a dynamic overlay that explains the rules of the game.
What makes The Life stand out as a feature in NBA 09 The Inside is the storytelling and unique way the gamplay relates to that story. The majority of our story scenes take place on a playable court, and dialogue within the scene actually applies to the game you are about to play. In the past loading screens and extra UI pages disrupted this experience. We’ve minimized all of that by loading the scene and game together before the scene is even played, and created dynamic game instruction overlays that appear while the scene is playing. This gives us the ability to enter the game following the story scene seamlessly without any disruptions. The most engaging thing about this experience is that you get to be the hero in games and scenarios partnered with some entertaining cinematics.
You won’t find a cinematic sports experience like this anywhere else. It’s a labor of love for us and we hope you enjoy the unique perspective we are bringing to basketball gaming. Above is a trailer we created that gives a taste of what you can expect with The Life mode. We have two other trailers that we’ll be rolling out over the coming weeks so keep an eye out for them.