Examiner chats with Rob Jones, Senior Producer of “NBA 2K16,” who discusses the game’s development cycle, improved A.I. and the constant battle of trying to top yourself when you’re at the top of the NBA video game food chain.
Patrick Hickey Jr.: What was this year’s development cycle like?
Rob Jones: This year’s development cycle was one of the toughest ones we’ve ever faced. The team undertook the task of really delivering a brand new experience with the MyCareer story, new features from Customization to Online modes, and a revolutionary jump in gameplay. They delivered this much while shortening the development cycle by a month. It was truly a testament to the passion that our team has for this game, the NBA and their love for our fans.
PH: What singular aspect of the game are you most proud of?
RJ: I’d be hard pressed to put one singular aspect of the game above another. I’m a gameplay guy at heart, so the advancements in Artificial Intelligence really stand tall to me.
PH:“NBA 2K15” was such a solid game. How hard is it to try and top yourself?
RJ: It’s a constant challenge, but the members of the Visual Concepts Dev team have a habit of looking at the glass as half full most of the time, so we’re constantly trying to get more water into it. Let’s just say, our continuous thirst drives us.
PH: What do you think was the biggest criticism of last year’s game and how have you addressed it in “NBA 2K16”?
RJ: Well, over the span of the year, we had a couple of criticisms that really stood out. From a gameplay standpoint, the zig-zag mechanism that would allow you to get by everyone was one of them. The demi-god created players also posed a balancing problem and finally, input lag while playing online. Each one of those areas was carefully looked at. Most people who have had early access to the game report that it is nearly impossible to cheese the game with the zigzag. We rebalanced how you can create players to ensure that you couldn’t create an army of Kevin Durants, and we spent significant time addressing the native input lag associated with playing online multiplayer. Such lag can never be eradicated as it is native to packets going and coming between clients and server, but we did look to improve it.
PH: What was it like to work with Spike Lee on this game?
RJ: I think it was a seriously positive experience for both sides. Not only did we deliver a brand new level of quality in the storytelling experience in a sports game, but we also learned much about how to create a more intense and engaging user experience for years to come. Spike learned as much as he taught, and the collaboration was very much a two-way street. I want to thank Spike for the story he created and the stories that the dev team members will be able to tell for years to come.
PH: How do you want this game to be remembered?
RJ: Not to sound too much like the Brain from those Animaniacs cartoons, but here goes…”The same way we always want to be remembered…The best sports game of all time.
PH: Bottom Line, why should some buy this game?
RJ: NBA 2K16 is by far the best sports game to come out this year. It’s wealth of deep modes will keep gamers engaged throughout the entire year while the revamped gameplay and AI has reached a level untouched by other sports games. As a simulation of the NBA world, from strategy to personality and presentation, NBA 2K16 is the only game to look at.