NBA Live 13 Advisory Council Diary – Entry #1
On April 10th, the selected members of the Advisory Council got to take their first trip down to Orlando to attend the first NBA Live 13 community event. Taking place at EA SPORTS’ Tiburon Studios, the road to NBA Live’s return finally began. I wanted to use this diary as a chance to update the community as best as I can and show everyone what is taking place at these events. Although I am under very strick NDA from EA (NDA = Non Disclosure Agreement), which basically means I can not shed light on any actual NBA Live info until granted permission, it doesn’t hinder my ability to tell you about the trips and explain the events in general terms however; so I’ll do my best.
My flight from Toronto to Orlando lasted a little over 2 1/2 hours and I arrived on Tuesday at approx 12:45pm. The first arrivals alongside of me included Don Thompson and Steve Bascombe – who lives literally 25 minutes away from me in Ontario, which is crazy! After a shuttle took us to the hotel, we all unpacked and headed down to the lobby to await the arrival of the other Ad Council members.
All of Tuesday was spent at the hotel. As other Ad Council members showed up, we all introduced ourselves and filled our afternoon with NBA Live 13 talk and comparing notes and feedback. Right around supper time, EA SPORTS’ Tiger/NBA Live community manager – John Coleman came down after work to check up on us and hand out our NDA’s. We all had some dinner together and talked about our various backgrounds in gaming.
To be honest, I was a little worried with so many newer faces heading down to the event. I believe NBA Live needs really honest and intelligent feedback moving forward due to what has transpired over the past few years. Within one day, any worry I had quickly vanished. Let me say that the dev team and John Coleman really did a great job picking the squad. There were a few guys selected who have never been to an event before, and have no affiliations to the gaming industry. Scott O’Gallagher, Steve Bascombe, Don Thompson and Harold Biscocho are all very intelligent and passionate gamers. Not only did they all bring something different to the table, but their openness, creative thinking and personalities have made them great selections and people I would consider friends.
Wednesday was the day we were all waiting for and our chance to finally see NBA Live 13 and meet the team. What I can tell you about NBA Live and our trip is this – the team assembled to work on Live is amazing. I was incredibly impressed on how passionate and smart the guys are. Each and every one of them WANTED to work on NBA Live and look at it as a big moment in Tiburon’s history to deliver this product successfully. We got to see the game in many different ways and learn the direction and focus for not only this year, but for where they wanted to take NBA Live in the years to come. The most impressive thing that I noticed personally, was that many of the team had been listening to feedback and ideas prior to the event. Many had been listening in to some of my podcasts and regularly tune into shows like Da Czar’s and the Game Changer Radio Show. That alone was a sign of dedication. I’m positive that this passion and hard work will show up on the final product.
So Wednesday was an exciting day and in the late afternoon we finally got to get our hands on the game. Obviously this is where I have to stay silent, but again, I love this team and love the direction they’re taking so think positive people!
For those who haven’t visited EA Tiburon in Orlando before – the place is gorgeous. I really can’t put into words what type of working environment these guys have. I have been there before, but every time I go my jaw drops. I even got to go upstairs and congratulate the Tiger Woods team I worked with in September on a successful release! It sounds cliche, but I seriously haven’t met a bad person at Tiburon yet. All of these guys love talking to the community and talking games in general.
One of the most exciting parts of the trip was early on Thursday morning, when we all went to RDV Sportsplex to play ball with the rest of the dev team. Now for those who don’t know, fellow Game Changer Dougie Veney has played a ton of basketball in his lifetime, and Scott O’Gallagher…he’s a pro baller. Scott plays over in Europe and let me tell you this – that dude can ball. Hesitations, crossovers, deadly accurate aim…that man has it all. There were numerous broken ankles after the 2 1/2 or so hours we spent at the gym. There were a ton of great ballers and there are some devs on Live 13 who can really light up the hoop. They take it very seriously and play competitively too…there weren’t many easy moments in that gym.
Another great experience, at least for me personally, was that Kotaku’s sports writer – Owen Good was in the building looking at various EA titles. Although I’ve had conversations with Owen over Twitter, I’ve never had the chance to meet him. I’ve been following Owen’s writing for quite some time and I’ve always loved his opinions, thoughts and writing style. With so many writers in the industry these days, Owen is one of few I trust and look up to as a writer. Owen spent some time with us and also came out to ball with us which was great. It’s always amazing to meet people you never thought you’d have a chance to meet.
So after some ball we went back to Tiburon to continue work. We had a lot more play testing time on Thursday and the devs were right there with us taking notes and asking opinions. That’s the great thing about these trips. When we are in there playing the game, there are numerous dev members there with us – playing with us, asking us opinions and helping us. It’s very hands-on and it’s nice to see them being able to take feedback directly from us. They took a survey that all of us had to fill out that basically asked us for our feedback on what we saw and what we wanted moving forward. It was very detailed and I was informed that all of the dev team would see and read reports on this feedback – a very comforting feeling. At the very end of the day, we went up to a meeting room and looked at a prototype of something they’re working on. Being that I can’t say anything, lets just say this – it blew my mind. There are very few times in sports games where my jaw drops, but this was one of them. The future for NBA Live is very bright indeed.
I’d like to thank everyone at Tiburon for their hospitality and time throughout the week. From John, to the dev team, to all of my fellow Ad Council members – it was a week I’ll always remember and I’m honored and blessed to be a part of it. At the end of the trip I felt very confident with NBA Live in the hands of the Tiburon devs. I know there is a long process ahead of us and still a ton of work to do, but I feel positive after my week in Orlando that the direction is moving forward and making great strides. The team is solid, the committee they selected put in a ton of work and will continue to do so, and I can’t wait until I can share my thoughts with you and show you where NBA Live 13 is going. If you haven’t begun to start anticipating NBA Live 13 – you might want to now. Live’s back baby!