NBA 2K12 Developer Insight #5 – My Player

2k Sports just dropped their new Developer Insight with the focus on the My Player mode.
NBA 2K12 Developer Insight #5 – My Player

Hi everyone!
Erick Boenisch, Producer for NBA 2K12, back again. I know you’ve all been waiting to hear what’s new in My Player this year, and I’m pleased to tell you that we have a LOT going on. All of our improvements stem from the ideas that you, our fans, have brought forward to us. With your help, I feel that we have collectively developed the single best career mode in sports video gaming. With that being said, let’s check out what’s new…

Rookie Showcase + Pre-Draft Interviews
The road to the NBA is a lot different than what you encountered in 2K11. Gone are the monotonous Draft Combine and Summer League games. This year, you are immediately thrust into the Rookie Showcase upon creating your player. Taking place in the historic Madison Square Garden, the Rookie Showcase is an exhibition featuring all of the top prospects in the draft competing against each other. The Rookie Showcase is a big event; every scout and GM in the league will be on-hand to assess your performance. Your play in this game plays a significant role in where you get drafted in the NBA Draft.

While your performance does indeed play a significant role in where you get drafted, it doesn’t play the ONLY role. Our first new feature this year, and one of my favorites, is Pre-Draft Interviews. After the Rookie Showcase game is over, a number of GMs will come visit you in the locker room for a sequence of interviews.

Each GM will ask you a couple of unique questions. Their questions are going to be very specific to the current makeup of their team with respect to your chosen position. For example, if you are a point guard and the Bulls choose to interview you, they are likely going to tell you that Derrick Rose is their guy and they are only looking for some energy off the bench. Are you comfortable with that role? If you’re not, be honest and tell them. Or don’t. The choice is ultimately yours. How you answer these questions definitely plays a big role in where you end up getting drafted. If your answers are music to the ears of the GMs, word will spread that you are an easy going personality who would gel with just about any team. On the other hand, if you answer negatively or arrogantly to all of the questions, teams will start to develop character concerns that could cause you to plummet in the draft. The important thing is to be honest and let them know how you really feel.

2011 NBA Draft
So you played your heart out in the Rookie Showcase and answered every Pre-Draft Interview question to the best of your ability. Your hard work is about to pay off, it’s draft day! Upon entering the draft room, you’ll be met by another new feature this year, the Mock Draft.

Ronnie played so-so in the Rookie Showcase, but the scouts weren’t wild about his answers during the Pre-Draft Interviews. In fact, one of his listed weaknesses is, “Scouts say he is delusional about his own abilities.”

The Mock Draft is dynamically created for you based on the type of player you created, how you performed in the Rookie Showcase, and how you chose to answer your Pre-Draft Interview questions. Every player in the draft has a full scouting report available so, should you be so inclined, you can read up on all the other prospects who are vying to be a top pick. The important thing to note is the Mock Draft is NOT how the draft is going to play out, it’s merely a prognostication by a draft pundit who has done his homework!

Once you continue past the Mock Draft, the NBA Draft will finally commence. Herein lies the first surprise that I’ve been dying to tell everyone about for a long time. Through our great partnership with the NBA, I’m extremely proud to announce that were able to get Mr. David Stern into the studio to record all necessary audio required to have him announce the entire 1st round of the draft (Association Spoiler: Our great partnership also allowed us to secure Deputy Commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver. When the 2nd Round of the draft rolls around, Mr. Silver will walk onto the stage and call out the remainder of the draft. Now seriously, how many other sports games out there would go to this level of detail to bring you what you truly want? Answer: None).

Once your player is finally drafted (Ronnie fell to #20, where the Timberwolves nabbed him), you will pose with Mr. Stern for a picture before being whisked away to our next new feature in My Player this year…

Contract Negotiations + Spending
In NBA 2K12’s My Player, you’ll be negotiating for every last penny when it comes time to sign a contract. Now, it’s important to note that rookie contracts in the NBA are more or less slotted, so you won’t be doing any real negotiating immediately after getting drafted. Once your rookie contract is up, you’ll be on your own to negotiate the best deal possible. When this time comes, a number of teams interested in your talents will approach you with an opening offer. From there, you can choose to do a number of things including accepting the offer, negotiating a better deal, or simply ignoring the offer altogether. One important note on negotiating is that you have to know your limits. If you press your luck at the negotiating table, teams will start to become frustrated, and will eventually walk away if you push too hard. It’s a game of give and take. Like any negotiation, you’re going to have to make concessions on something they want in order to get something you want.

Every 14 days during the season, your team is going to drop that next paycheck on you. Using the new ‘My Purchases’ menu, you’ll be able to spend your hard earned money on a number of things including: Purchasing skill points, increasing your attribute caps, purchasing signature animations (Kobe’s jumper, Jordan’s dunk package, etc.), hosting Youth Basketball Clinics (that raise your Local Fan Support), and much more. These items can give you a distinct advantage in your career, so you’ll definitely want to squeeze every dollar from a team when contract time rolls around.

Hall of Fame
For two years now, people have constantly been asking me, ‘What is the goal of My Player?’ I always felt it was an open book. We gave you the tools to do what you wanted with your career. You could play one season and achieve gratification. Or you could play multiple seasons and become the best player in the NBA. With NBA 2K12, I’m pleased to say that we have implemented a new addition that provides a definitive answer to this question. Your goal in My Player is now very simple, make the Hall of Fame!

Based on your position and play style, we give you 15 goals at the outset of your career. In order to make the Hall of Fame, you will need to accomplish 10 of those goals before you retire. The goals range from ‘Win the MVP award’ to ‘Score 20,000 career points’ to ‘Get 50 A+ teammate grades’ (this one is much harder this year!). Throughout your career, you’re constantly going to be striving for that next goal that gets you one step closer to your induction ceremony.

That’s right, making the Hall of Fame in 2K12 isn’t a simple pat on the back with a ‘Congratulations’ dialog. When you make the Hall of Fame, you’ll be constructing your very own hall of fame speech.

The Hall of Fame speeches are tailored to your My Player based on how his career played out. If you never managed to get that elusive NBA championship, you can lament about that during your speech. You can thank your teammates and the fans for getting you where you are. You can pat yourself on the back and talk about how everyone tried to hold you back from achieving your goals. The choices are entirely yours. This is all about your career; go out however you want…

Play Next Key Game
At this point, you’re probably telling yourself, ‘I don’t have the time to play through an entire career and make the Hall of Fame.’ I hear you, loud and clear. New to NBA 2K12’s My Player is the ability to play only the ‘Key Games’ in your schedule. We’ve taken the liberty of highlighting the most important games during the season (these may be Rival games, or Key Player matchups, or games that have playoff implications). With this option, you’ll be able to play through an entire season in a fraction of the time it took you to play through a season in previous years. Don’t worry though, your simulated stats for the games you choose to not play will still count towards your Hall of Fame goals!

For those of you who want to control every single step of your career, we still offer you the ability to play every game on the schedule. You can even do a little of both. As always with this mode, the choice is yours.

Endorsements
NBA 2K11 introduced the concept of endorsements to My Player mode. I’m proud to announce that we have significantly increased the quantity and improved the quality of endorsements this year. In total, we have five times as many endorsements this year over last. Endorsements are earned by being the best player you can be on the court. If you dominate on the floor and carry yourself well in the press conferences, good things will come.

If it sounds like I’m being a little vague here, that is intentional. While I understand you are here to learn about everything we’ve done with My Player this year, I also don’t want to spoil everything. The element of surprise holds a lot of value in my opinion. I’ll give you one little tidbit that should grab your attention; you’ll be starring in your own commercials this year…

Player Abilities
No folks, we’re not done yet. Not even close. With 2K12, we’re giving you a whole new way to upgrade your My Player. Your player now has a number of skill ‘Abilities’, in addition to his existing attributes, that you will be able to upgrade throughout his career. These Abilities are broken down into the following categories: Shooting, Layups/Dunks, Dribbling, and Post Moves. Within each category is a set of specific skills/moves. For example, in the Dribbling section you will find Sizeup, Hesitation, Crossover, In and Out, Spin, Behind Back, and Stepback. Each skill is rated on four skill levels: Poor, Average, Good, and Great.

Continuing with the dribbling example above, in previous years, your player did not have a proficiency level with each individual skill. As he crossed certain rating thresholds, he would simply gain access to new animations and ultimately, his success rates for the moves would increase as well. With 2K12, you will need to upgrade the skills individually for your player. It’s entirely possible for your player to have an incredible Crossover skill only to have a poor Spin move or Stepback. To play the way you want, you are going to need to upgrade specific skills and develop go-to moves. No longer will you be able to be a master of every move unless you invest the skill points required to develop these. And trust me, that won’t be easy. These cost a LOT of skill points to upgrade!

Things You Need To Know
I realize I’m starting to run a little long here, so I’d like to take this opportunity to combine some other features I wanted to discuss into a more condensed section.

Dynamic Goals
New to My Player 2K12 is the concept of Dynamic Goals. These are in-game objectives that contextually trigger, with respect to what is currently happening in the game. For example, if the man you are guarding runs down the court and drains two buckets in your face, you might get a Dynamic Goal telling you to shut down said player the next time down the court on defense.

Dynamic Goals are designed to help your My Player achieve success. There is no penalty for failing a Dynamic Goal, but should you complete one, a handsome Skill Point reward awaits. To help give you a better idea of what other types of goals you can expect to see during the course of a game, here are a few examples:

Starting Out Strong: Make 3 of your first 4 shots.
Finish Strong: Raise your FG% to 50% before the end of the game.
Foul Trouble: Don’t pick up another foul for the remainder of the quarter.
The Essence of Clutch: Score the go-ahead points and win the game.

Drills
Drills in My Player have been completely revamped . This year features a more diverse set of drills that will offer you a greater challenge, while ultimately making you a better player at the same time. Here are the drills you will be playing this year:

Shooting
Dribble Course (re-done!)
Knockout
Around the World
2 Man Rebound & Post-Up
Screen and Read
Sign Out
Fastbreak
Full Court Pressure

Wondering what many of these are and how they work? Don’t worry, once you get the controller in your hands, the game will walk you through it. I must say, these are a lot of fun this year!

Press Conferences
NBA 2K11 saw the introduction of our Press Conference feature. Due to the extremely positive feedback we received on this, we decided to blow it out this year. In total, we ended up with over four times as many questions as we had in the game last year. What this means for you is a LOT more categories and specific events that the reporters will be asking you about. You will be seeing a lot fewer generic questions and a lot more specific questions about the game that was just played, the current state of the team, and your thoughts on…just about everything.

Another change to the Press Conference system is that you will no longer be answering with a direct personality-type answer. Last year you would select an option like, “Answer with Arrogance.” This year, we have created 3-6 word mini-answers that give you the gist of what the long answer is. We don’t want you to pick a personality-type and just answer that every game for the desired results. Instead, this year, we’re trying to get you to answer with how you really feel. The end result is a much more organic press conference where there isn’t a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer…most of the time…

Player Buzz
In My Player 2K12, you will be able to easily track the current state of your League-Wide Popularity, Teammate Chemistry, and Local Fan Support in our easy-to-read My Buzz menu. Your values are simply shown on a 0 to 100 scale. If you have treated your teammates poorly in the press conferences and you feel like they are shutting you out on the court, drop by this menu and take a closer look to see what they think about you.

New Milestones
Things are a little more expensive this year. Attributes cost a little more to upgrade, and the above-mentioned Abilities are VERY expensive to upgrade. To compensate for this, we tripled the amount of milestones in the game this year. Milestones are the stepping stones on your path to the Hall of Fame. Every time you achieve a milestone, you will be rewarded with skill points. Plus, who doesn’t like receiving more awards?

Starting Rating
One major change to the mode this year based on the overwhelming feedback from our great community is the starting rating of the My Player. Last year, your player started out in the 37-41rating range. This was definitely very low, but left you a lot of room for improvement. Unfortunately, it also meant you were quite inept at many fundamental basketball skills. This year, your player is coming out of the gate in the low 60s.

Upgrading your player isn’t going to come any easier this year with the rating change. Attribute upgrades have become a little more costly across the board to keep things balanced. I believe this change is a very positive one for the mode. Thanks for all the great feedback on this folks.

Run Plays
I trust at this point that you’ve all read Rob’s great insight on playcalling and the playcall system. If you haven’t, I recommend you give that a read. I’m pleased to say that you’ll be able to take advantage of these advancements in My Player mode this year. Users who are interested in running plays / having plays ran will be able turn this option ON at any time in-game or in the menus. For those users who enjoy freelancing in the game and don’t want to follow set plays, you can simply keep this option turned OFF and play however you want. I highly recommend everyone give Run Plays a shot this year. I think you’ll find the gameplay team here has put together something pretty special in My Player mode.

Wrapping Things Up
My Player has seen a lot of changes this year, obviously. There are still many more system level changes that I didn’t get into as they didn’t really fit into any of the above categories. For example, our gameplay team spent a considerable amount of time ensuring that your teammates play true to their tendencies. The days of Dwight Howard stepping back for a 3 are long over. I think you’ll find the AI within this experience to be greatly improved over last year.

For the first time, I can take a step back and look at all that we have accomplished with My Player in 2K12, and I can honestly say that I’m amazed at just how far this mode has come this year. There have been so many improvements across the board. I would like to thank everyone in the community who continues to provide us with the comments, ideas, and inspiration to continue developing this mode into what it has become. This one is for you…