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Last Thursday, myself and Craig Gonzalez were fortunate enough to be on the NBA 2K13 developer call.  On the call were Erick Boenisch, producer of NBA 2K13, and Mike Wang, senior gameplay designer.  As is the case with most 2K Sports developer calls, it was very informative and they take alot of questions and answer them for us fans.

However, I'm going to selfishly cut right to the chase...

For the first time in the history of sports video games on consoles, NBA 2K13 has classic teams included , and for the first time ever..THEY CAN BE USED HEAD TO HEAD ONLINE!  Yes! I can finally take my 1986 Boston Celtics against my cousin's 1991 Detroit Pistons (aka "Bad Boys") and settle some old debates.  Wanna take a classic Jordan Bulls team against a Magic Johnson led Lakers team? Sure thing.  Do it up.  I'm gonna give some serious credit to 2K for this one because during last year's call for NBA 2K12, myself and others kept pressing on them on "Why have all these classic teams and players, yet not allow them to be used online?"  Well, they heard our voices, and to their credit, they put it in there. Thank you 2K Sports.  This is huge.  And yes, the 1992 Olympic "Dream Team" can be used online too.

Oh wait, I guess there was other news on the call too.  The devs also said this game represents NBA 2K's "biggest incremental upgrade ever."  More on that in a bit.

One of the things that was interesting about the upcoming NBA 2K13 is that rapper JayZ was named executive producer.  Everyone, including myself, thought this was a gimmick.  I do realize that JayZ is quite a businessman, but still, including a rapper as your E.P. on a sports video game just sounds kind of silly.   However, his role, according to 2K Sports, went well beyond being a celebrity figurehead.  As can be expected, he handpicked the game's soundtrack, but we are told his involvement went way deeper.  According to producer Erick Boenisch, Jay Z gave some quality feedback about NBA sytle presentation and how to further make it authentic.  Jay Z also gave constructive game feedback.  Interestingly, Jay Z also chaffed at the idea that Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen weren't giving their rights to the game to use them in the appropriate classic teams and US Olympic Dream Team '92.  Jay Z was able to interface with both Pippen and Barkley and get them signed for the game.  Nice job, Jay Z.   And, as only he can, Craig Gonzalez asked the question "Because Jay Z is executive producer, will Jay Z's Nets get a big team ratings boost?"-  to which the producers responded "No.".. and laughed.  

Here's some other bullet points from the call

- All classic teams available at start.  No need for "unlocks" like last year to be able to use them.

- New improvements to Association Mode.  All rosters are CBA complaint (apparently a huge undertaking).

- New season feature called "Play Today", where you can take over your team on a real world date (into the real NBA season) and have your team's current record/roster to start with, as will the rest of the league.

- Total Sim Control

- In season "GM Sit Down" feature in career mode.  Your player can demand a trade, urge to fire a coach, complain.  GM will respond based on your stature and clout within the team and league.

- Flopping is now included in the game. (For better or worse!  But it is a real dynamic in the real NBA, so I guess why not?)

- Better artificial Intelligence all around. Aggressive players play that way.  Passive ones play passive.  Defenders play better lanes.  Better matchup recognition.

- Lead passing now helps the fast break.  Kind of a big deal, since in previous iterations of NBA 2K, players would tend to stop to catch a pass, often killing the fast break.

-Online tuning.  Online ball stealing (to an unrealistic degree) has been tweaked from last year's game.

- Presentation improvements.

- More historical/classic teams than last year.

-iOS and web apps that let you interface with your team management remotely when you aren't even at your game console.

-Too many tweaks and realism adjustments to name..

In short, it sounds like there's much in store for the NBA 2K13 release.  Gotta say, I can't wait for October 2nd to get here.  Since NBA 2K11, the series has basically been on a level no other sports video games have touched.  2K12 carried that tradition on.  It looks like NBA 2K13 will add to that.. and then some.

Oh, and did I mention that classic teams can be used online?

"BIRD..FOR THREE!!"

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Myself and Craig Gonzalez were fortunate enough to be on the NBA 2K12 developer call on Wednesday September 28th. Representing 2K Sports on the call was Erick Boenisch, producer of NBA 2K12, and Mike Wang, senior gameplay designer. Full audio of the call can be downloaded HERE.

One impression I had throughout the call was that this sounds like a year of subtle refinement for the series to existing gameplay mechanics. Lots of animation refinement, online refinement, gameplay refinements, etc. One thing that seems to stand out is that there doesn't seem like there's that huge 'Back of the Box' highlight feature beyond the 15 NBA Legend Scenario mode (Called NBA's Greatest.) Each of the 15 legends has a one showcase game represented, which contrasts with last year, where the classic teams that were included were ones that made the cut because that team and that year was a showcase historical scenario for Michael Jordan.

It sounds like 2K has really done their homework with the classic teams. Uniforms, sock styles, signature shots, tendencies, you name it. Even era-specific broadcast cameras ans styles are included, which even includes black and white presentation for the Bill Russell era classic team(s). There are 34 classic teams in the game, however there was no mention of whether or not real, named rosters extend beyond the starting five, which they didn't last year. We shall see.

My Player mode has also received some attention. This year the "entering the NBA experience" for your My Player is a bigger deal, and the presentation for that mode really emphasizes that point. Eric Boenisch says that My Player probably saw the most attention/upgrade this year.

There's also new animation programing that allows the various animations to "mesh" between moves... (Such as running, and then having that animation meshing into one of the 30,000 different shot animations without a visual hitch. Very interesting. Much talk on the call was about enhancing the on-court experience. There's also a very vocal, very integrated 3 man commentary booth with the inclusion of Steve Kerr.

Also, they talked about how the server-side online play code has been re-written to enhance performance. That is music to the ears of many, since in previous years lag has sometimes dogged the overall online experience.

After the call, I'm left with the impression that NBA 2K12 looks like a very solid, very refined release. This seems to be backed-up with the just-published today IGN REVIEW of NBA 2K12. (9.5 Editor's Choice). Stay tuned for more impressions once we receive our copies of the game.

Scott Hemphill

Senior Writer
Consolesports.net

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Kotaku.com has a nice interview with EA's John Riccitiello in which he explains why it was his decision to cancel NBA Elite 11.  Take a look at the interview, it's really interesting.

Riccitiello started his tale by talking about the creative team behind the NBA series, a team ready to transform EA’s long-standing NBA Live series into 2010′s NBA Elite 11.

 

“A year and a half ago the [development] team in Canada came forward and they said, ‘Look, the way we’re going to take 2K on is that we’re going to fundamentally innovate. And we’re going to essentially give you dual-analog controls that give you an enormous amount of fidelity over the way you play the game.’ You can literally take the ball from left to right, left to right, drive to the basket, switch the ball to your left hand and do a left-handed dunk. And they showed me that gameplay and put the controller in my hand, and I said, ‘This is about as much fun as I’ve ever had playing any sports game. “They said, ‘We’re going to do this for next year.’ But it was a complete rewrite of the technology. It was an ambitious plan.

Kotaku: How A Big Video Game Was Killed

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JordanInGame

Baskeball gaming - at least in 2010- became a one-horse race as of two days ago with the "delay" of EA Sports' NBA Elite 11 that is now pushed back to 2011.  That leaves hoops gamers with just one option presently, and that is 2K Sports' NBA 2K11 featuring Michael Jordan.

2K Sports was kind enough to send me an early copy of the game yesterday, so I dove into it for this hands-on preview.

Judging by my several hours with the game last night, I think it is safe to say that 2K Sports has done it again, and even topped themselves in ways I never would have guessed.   You see, not only is NBA 2K11 the deepest simulation of the game of basketball to date, but it is also a feature-rich product that delivers way more than the standard current-day NBA teams and rosters.  By signing Michael Jordan, 2K Sports decided to use his likeness to its fullest.  Of course you get the standard NBA 2K game modes, such as Season, Situation Mode, The Association, NBA Blacktop, Online Leagues, Playoffs, etc.   However, this year, we also get Jordan specific modes, such as The Jordan Challenge and "Creating A Legend" mode.

 

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Got word last night via a GameStop automated phone-call regarding my NBA Elite 11 reservation that EA has "delayed" the game for 2010, pushing it back to 2011 at the very least. (I would argue...doesn't that make the game NBA Elite 12 then?)   This is huge news in the gaming industry for obvious reasons, however i have to credit EA for reading the responses from gamers who tried the demo and hated the game.  What his means for New NBA Jam, which was supposed to be a download code that game with Elite 11 (and allegedly the only way one could acquire NBA Jam) is unknown.  Hopefully, that means EA will release New NBAJam as a XBOX Live/PSN download for all interested players.  That could be a "win" for us all.

My guess would be that EA is only temporarily calling this a "delay", and NBA Elite 11 will be cancelled outright in favor of NBA Elite 12 for next fall.  The game simply has that far to go in development, plus a 3 month headstart (at least) would mean that everyone who wants an NBA game this year would probably already have purchased NBA 2K11.  We'll see.

Intrestingly, if Elite 11 moves from "Delayed" to "Cancelled", as I am predicting-  not since Madden 96 (Playstation 1) has an EA release been cancelled because of quality concerns as well as the competition's game. (Back then, Sony's NFL GameDay was at a level that Madden 96 was not.)

Ironically- that cancelled, Madden 96 game was being developed by Visual Concepts...now the core development group behind 2K Sports' games.  EA "fired" Visual concepts after the Madden 96 mess, and went with a little known company called Tiburon to develop Madden 97 (Playstation 1)

Scott Hemphill
Co-Founder, Senior Writer
Consolesports.net

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