Joel Servitja: “Getting close to a realistic simulation is a big challenge”

In an exclusive interview with TalkBasket.net, Joel Servitja, Project Leader and co-founder at U-Play Studios, talked about the new video game “International Basketball Manager“.

Here is what the experienced game designer said:

On the new gameplay features: “The game includes the full license of Euroleague Basketball – which means that it contains the real teams of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and the 7DAYS EuroCup in season 2017-2018.

The user interface is renewed and the game menus are much more pleasant and intuitive. To follow-up the match we’ve created a new 2D visualization mode, featuring the classic badges representing players, in which you can watch their moves in the court. Apart from this 2D mode, you can also follow-up the match, the energy of the players and the global stats of the team through text in real time.”

On the UI and the game mechanic: “When you create a new league, you have 2 game modes. The first one is to receive offers from teams. You will start with one of the worst teams in the game. There are 8-10 teams to choose from different countries. If you reach all the milestones suggested by the board, your reputation will improve and you will get new offers from teams which have more ambitious objectives. Obviously, the goal of this mode is to get an offer from a team in the American Basketball League (unofficial NBA) and win the championship. If you can’t achieve the team’s objective and you are fired, you’ll get new offers form other teams in the following season.

The other mode is to choose –without any kinds of limitation– the team you prefer from the roaster of leagues included within the game. There are 12 leagues in total, apart from the European and International competitions. You must select a team and reach the goal set by the board. If you can’t achieve it, maybe the board gets rid of you. If that’s the case, you’ll have to start a new game.

In both modes you will have to manage every issue related to a basketball club –sports and finances too. In the sports issues you will have to sign the best employees according to your budget, transfer the players you don’t need anymore, sign new players who can improve your squad, choose your tactics, set a training plan, take care of the your junior teams, and look for promising future stars.

With regard to business issues, you will have to find the most profitable sponsors for the team, reach a deal with kit suppliers, search for a travel agency, renew the contracts of the players,and decide everything related to the pavillion, such as the price of the tickets, improve the building, increase the capacity. Both the sports and the business issues are important to reach the goals set by the board.”

On the most challenging aspects during game development: “One of the harder aspects of games like that is the database of teams and players. There’s a lot of data we have to compile, and it has to be done as good as we can to represent reality as it is. For example, if there’s a player who catches a lot of rebounds or dishes a lot of assists, the database must show this information.

Another issue which made us work for a long time is the engine backing the match simulation. Getting close to a realistic simulation is a big challenge. Capturing the stats of the players in a simulation is not easy. Luckily, we can be proud of our work in this sense.

We have been able to provide the user a broad control of everything that happens in the court. For instance, in advance tactics, we can decide whether a player should be making a foul if the match is drawn and the rival has got the last ball. That’s a decision that a coach must take in real life –do you prefer sending your rival to the free shot line and get the last ball of the match? Or do you prefer defending the ball and play the aggregate time? You can even decide which player will be making the last shot! This is the accuracy contained in International Basketball Manager.”

On the tips he can give to players for a successful player and team development: “If you’ve got a good team but you aren’t able to achieve the expected results, you should find out which factors may influence in the performance performance of your players. Are they fit? Are they motivated? Are you sharing the minutes between players properly? If the players play for too long, their energy might decrease and they might underperform.

There are so many variables that can influence your team! Revise the tactics –check the interior and exterior play. You must take a look at defense too. I know that it sounds topical, but in this game the winner is not always the best team, every little stat is important!

Nevertheless, even if you think that everything is under control, your team can also have a bad day. What’s sure is that that if your team is good and you do the things right, your team will end up in the top of the league, and the worst teams will appear at the bottom.

Another advice is to look for new promising stars with the scouting option. There are young players all around the globe who can become stars if you train them properly. Sign those whose progression is a matter of fact and take care of their evolution.”