Interview: Rob Jones, Senior Producer of NBA 2K16
I recently got the chance to chat with Rob Jones, Senior Producer of NBA 2K16, to discuss what it was like working with Spike Lee, how customization works in the game, and what new features can be found in the latest instalment.
As we all know, 2K Game’s NBA series is annualized. What are some new features that make this years game stand out from the last?
RJ: Obviously you’ve heard the announcements that Spike Lee directed the MyCareer experience this year. We are really excited about this collaboration – he invites us to be a part of the story that he created. It’s awesome because the production value within the MyCareer mode is at the highest its ever been. In years past, we’ve had situations where people have told us, “it’s kind of cheesy”. Well, not this year! MyCareer will feel like a completely new experience.
At the end of last year, we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do, but we knew we wanted a better story and really immerse the user into an experience that makes you feel what it’s like to be an NBA player. We reached out to Spike, who wrote and directed the full story at our motion capture studio just like how he would do an entire movie. It ended up being a really great experience for us, and will be a really great experience for the user.
We are also introducing 2K Pro Am. Last year as part of The Park, you could go into an area where you could play five on five, but one of the things we didn’t like was that you had to wait to play next. In 2K Pro Am, you team up with your friends, and whenever you’re ready to go, we are matchmaking you so that you can play right away. We’re allowing you to customize arenas, uniforms – you can make a full on team! You can also upload your own logos.
That sounds amazing! To what extent can you customize the arenas and uniforms?
RJ: You can customize the arena floors and logos, what the jumbotron is, how the stands are, and you can also adjust the sounds of the arena. All that stuff is fully customizable for the user. On the uniform side, you can adjust the neckline stripes, writing, logos.
What about the t-shirt jerseys? Will we able to choose them?
RJ: No t-shirts [laughs].
Switching gears to the development side of things, can you explain what the motion capture process was like?
RJ: Obviously, during the season we can’t get any NBA players, but when they’re done, a lot of the ones we really want are local to us. We’ll spend time with them and try to recreate exactly who they are. This year, Steph [Curry] was one of the ones we wanted, so we had him come in and do all of his shots. Whether he’s coming off of a step-back, or he needs to turn, when you play as him you feel like you are him.
With someone like Kyrie [Iriving], he has a specific run when he doesn’t have the ball. So when you look at him in the game, you’ll see that it’s exactly how he runs.
Through players’ reactions after a made basket, or after a foul, we try to immerse you completely into that particular character. The big thing for us has always been signatures. We’ve expanded our signature dribbles this year, so we have over 50 people who have their own way of setting players up. That’s on top of all of the jumpers that you’ve already seen.
There are a lot of cool elements to the game, and one thing that I loved about last year was the addition of all of the European teams. Has that roster expanded at all?
RJ: I think the number of European teams is the same, but the roster is always changing because of the balance of who is important or not.
Do you have any plans to include the D-League teams at some point?
RJ: You know, we always talk about it, but not in its own mode or anything.
While those things are great, what really matters is how the game looks and plays. After playing it, it’s clearly the best yet.
RJ: It’s very, very different from last year. There was a lot of work put into making movement feel more realistic and more in-context. When you’re watching the players that are moving, you’ll see that they are aware of their surroundings. Collisions between players is a lot better, and you don’t feel as glued by multiplayer animations. It all just feels more fluid and positive.
I Agree! Thanks for chatting with me Rob.
RJ: Thank you!