Thursday officially belonged to NBA 2K15 on the sports video game news front. A new trailer—all 30 seconds of it—and an exciting new game mode has many gamers—including myself—wanting to fast-forward to October 7.
If you are a gamer who enjoys creating your own little sports world, chances are you're going to love the game mode 2K Sports announced for NBA 2K15.
It's called My League, and if I can put on my gamer hat for a minute, it sounds about as robust and all-inclusive as any franchise mode ever produced.
Ladies and gentleman, if this delivers the way it sounds, that's not an overstatement. Per Steve Noah of Operation Sports, who broke the news, here are some of the things fans will be able to control and/or include in their My League experience:
- Customized Rosters
- Season length (14/29/58/82 games)
- Play a single season or 80-year franchise
- Postseason series lengths
- Fantasy drafts
- Salary cap (decide whether to have a cap or if there will be a hard cap)
- Trade logic settings
- General settings, including team chemistry, lineup management and prospect scouting
- Difficulty settings
- Trade negotiations difficulty
- Contract negotiation difficulty
- CPU re-signing aggressiveness
- Morale difficulty and effects
- Chemistry difficulty and effects
- Trade frequency settings
- Blockbuster-trade frequency
- Injury effects
- Draft-class quality (full customizing and editing of draft classes)
- Full create-a-player option
- Player-progression rate
- In-season training effects
- Player non-financial ambitions factor
- Normalize play to simulate minutes
- Manage or play with all teams
If gamers are allowed to create teams and use them in the league, I'll probably be getting a divorce in October. If not, then perhaps just a separation is in order. Either way, I'll need some time to myself.
The mode is only offline, but 2K promises that there will still be online leagues with improved functionality. The prospects of the My League mode sound like a huge improvement over the My GM mode from NBA 2K14.
While there were some bright spots with My GM, there were a lot of missteps. The salary-cap engine was a mess, you couldn't edit players and the injury effects were less than realistic, to name a few.
In this interview I did with 2K Sports producer Erick Boenisch last year, he talked about the mode being just the first step toward something bigger. It seems as if the concept is ready to grow.
We're obviously very early in the information process about My League, but to say that the details released today aren't impressive would be a lie.
Several of the details of the mode were revealed to Noah in an interview with Boenisch and fellow 2K producer Rob Jones.
Two points of the interview stood out as particularly exciting tidbits, and a seed for huge news in the near future was planted.
The first is in reference to the editing of draft classes. When asked whether gamers would be able to edit the rookies in the draft classes, the producers' response was:
"Yes, you have full editing over the draft class. In addition, we have added back in a robust create a player system. Details on this will come closer to launch."
In a sports gaming world with no college sports titles available, that is music to our collective ears. Having the ability to make any players we want available to draft into our virtual league potentially adds unprecedented replay value.
The second part of that answer is perhaps the most exciting. The robust create-a-player option could be the biggest news yet. If 2K allows PS4 and Xbox One users to use their Kinect and PS4 cameras to capture their own faces, it will take the entire create-a-player concept to the next level.
EA Sports has utilized the GameFace option for years, but that is a PC-based application. There are times where the render or your computer doesn't translate accurately to the game.
If this is native on the console, the results could be more lifelike.
With the help of current-generation technology, a camera-based facial-render engine could help gamers create the most authentic created players ever seen.
The other point that really stood out was the new injury system. Jones and Boenisch offered a relatively long and detailed description of the new approach. The 2K Sports team is calling it Injuries 2.0. Here's what Jones and Boenisch had to say about it:
With ‘Injuries 2.0’, every player has a unique durability rating for 16 different body parts (think left foot, right foot, left ankle, right ankle, etc.). This level of control allows us to pick a player like Russell Westbrook and say that he has a right knee with a significantly higher chance of getting injured than his left knee, or any other body part for that issue. In short, player injuries are going to be a lot more relevant, and a lot less random.
That is awesome news for gamers who love realistic sports-gaming experiences but bad news for Derrick Rose's virtual knees. If this works as it sounds, gamers who run with the Chicago Bulls will be on pins and needles when Rose plays in the game, the same way Bulls fans will be in real life.
Boenisch and Jones continued:
Body parts are going to wear down over the course of a career, as more miles are put on the body. Significant injuries to a body part will often shorten the lifespan of that body part before it becomes a real problem later in a player’s career. These injuries, depending on the severity, can forever change a player. Some players will never get back to their former selves after they blow out a knee, for example.
Are we talking degenerative conditions in a video game? Please stop it. We can't take anymore. We tap out.
If this mode functions as it is billed, it will be as if the developers and producers somehow transported my thoughts into a sports video game.
There's actually even more on this front. How about career-ending injuries? Like Ragu...it's in there.
NBA 2K15 also introduces the concept of career ending injuries to our game. In truth, they don’t happen very often (as they shouldn’t!), but they do happen. Players with continued injury problems to a body part will feel those aches and pains and retire at an earlier age than a player who has managed to stay relatively healthy throughout their career.
All of those things are determined by system logic, algorithms and formulas. A gamer won't actually be able to see how this works.
What about the aspects of this improvement that gamers will actually be able to see in the game's presentation?
According to Boenisch and Jones, there will be several visual details that represent the injury, the effects and the recovery.
Players who are nursing an injury will sometimes wear an accessory to help improve their recovery. We're talking about knee braces, arm sleeves, etc. There was no mention of facial masks, but it would seem feasible with broken noses being a fairly common injury in the NBA.
We've seen the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant and the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James and Kyrie Irving don the masks in recent years. Heck, Richard Hamilton wore one for most of his career.
All and all, this is perhaps the biggest mode-specific news for the series since My Career was originally launched.
Earlier in the week, we found out that the beloved Crew Mode would be returning to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, but up until Thursday, we had almost no information about the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions. That has certainly changed.
It's also been made clear that the PS4 and Xbox One will have something equal to or perhaps better than Crew for gamers who have taken the next step in their console ownership.
Stay tuned on this front, as there are still more details to be revealed before the October 7 release date.
On most days, a trailer would be the biggest news of the day for an upcoming video game release.
Because of the enormity of the My League announcement, the 30-second sizzle trailer featuring Oklahoma City Thunder star and NBA 2K15 cover athlete Kevin Durant gets second billing.
KD posterizes the Golden State Warriors' Andre Iguodala in the video you can see below.
There are a few things to pick up from the snippet.
One of the most noticeable things are the big-head signs of Durant in the crowd. These have become commonplace in sports arenas all over the world, so it only makes sense that they would be included in a sports video game.
New sneakers for KD and Iggy are also part of the goodies. Even after scanning over the video four or five times, there's probably a couple other minute details that escaped my eye.
The graphics don't seem to be headed for a huge improvement; then again, NBA 2K14 was so downright gorgeous that it's a bit unrealistic to expect the bar to be raised on that end in a year.
Quite honestly, with the My League mode and promises of other additions to a package that already includes The Park, My Career and My Team, gamers will be just fine with minor upgrades over the stellar visuals from NBA 2K14.
If you love video game basketball, today was a good day.
Follow me on Twitter.