Hello 2Kers! For those of you that don’t know me already, my name is Erick Boenisch, Senior Producer on NBA 2K18. Some of you may know me by my online handle, SimBaller. It’s my honor to be the first person to welcome you to NBA 2K18! The team here at Visual Concepts has made some HUGE strides with the game this year, which we will be telling you about in the coming weeks.
For today, I feel privileged to kick it all off with a detailed dive into what we have done with MyGM/MyLEAGUE this year. Without any further ado, let’s get to what you came here for!
Innovation. Authenticity. Engagement.
Those are the exact three words I lead off with last year in NBA 2K17’s MyGM/MyLEAGUE blog. We have used those three words to serve the NBA 2K community well for many, many years now. In a space where other developers continually shy away, the team here at Visual Concepts has once again delivered a robust and thoughtful list of franchise features that will keep you coming back for more.
In the franchise landscape, we have been pushing the envelope for the entirety of the current generation of consoles:
- At the dawn of the next gen, NBA 2K14 presented us with an entirely new mode, MyGM. MyGM aimed to personalize the experience of being a GM. It put you face-to-face with your owner, staff, and players. Your actions drove the narrative of your franchise, unlike any mode had ever done before.
- NBA 2K15 brought us the wildly popular MyLEAGUE mode; an experience that brought forth the tenet of complete user control and customization.
- NBA 2K16 introduced Team Relocation, giving you the ability to relocate your teams to new cities, and create entire new arena/court floor/uniform designs.
- NBA 2K17 saw the introduction of the League Expansion feature, Dynamic Rule Changes, the Start Today game mode, the ability to upload and share your created team packages, and so much more.
In NBA 2K18, we are taking MyGM to the next level (and SO much more).
MyGM: The Next Chapter
Not that long ago, you were one of the brightest stars in the NBA. Personal accomplishments long since satisfied, all that mattered to you was getting another ring. On a warm, May night at the 2011 Western Conference Finals in Dallas, it all came to a sudden end. Your knee, it was finished. Now what?
Fast forward six years and you find yourself at the outset of MyGM: The Next Chapter. After a number of interviews over the last couple years, you have just landed a job as the GM of an NBA team. Widely respected for your on-court success, you have finally found an owner that believes the very drive that propelled you to the top of the NBA will help you propel his team to an NBA title.
With NBA 2K18, we are introducing an experience you won’t find in any other game; a narrative-driven story-based franchise experience that maintains all of the user control and team building aspects that you have grown to love from MyGM over the years.
While MyCAREER focuses on your life as an NBA player out to achieve superstardom, MyGM: The Next Chapter aims to view the NBA world from the complete opposite perspective. Centered around you, the GM, you will need to navigate backroom scenarios while dealing with expectations from your owner, your staff, the press, other GMs, and of course, your players.
How your MyGM experience turns out is completely up to you. Your path will be determined by the choices you make and the answers you provide at the many key points in the narrative. Understand, I’m intentionally being a little vague regarding the main plot of the story, as I want you to experience it firsthand rather than through thinly veiled spoilers. Just know that the intent is for an engaging experience that steers clear of the typical sports clichés you may be conjuring up in your head.
As a franchise diehard myself, I understand the importance and integrity of team building to your franchise experience. We’ve designed a story that will delight and entertain without infringing on the plans you have for your roster. Draft, trade, and contract decisions are not spoon fed by the writing. Make the story your own, and build a winner!
Over the past many years, we have added feature after feature to our MyGM and MyLEAGUE modes. During that time, the line between the two modes became fairly blurred, in my opinion. NBA 2K18 provides you with two very unique experiences, that couldn’t be more different from each other. MyGM: The Next Chapter will be the story-based narrative described above, while MyLEAGUE will continue to live and grow as our fan-favorite franchise mode that affords the user complete customization and control over their league.
Pioneering is something that I personally enjoy doing. Delivering new experiences creates a certain energy within the development team, and from this energy, I’m confident that our foray into telling a narrative through a franchise mode will resonate with all of you. Enjoy the ride!
2017 NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement
With the ratification of the new NBA/NBPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, there were a large number of considerations for us to ponder. Supporting the new changes was never a question; our continued aim is to be fully authentic. That will never change. The following are some quick hits of changes that we have implemented to show you the breadth of our coverage of the changes, no matter how minute they may be:
– Super Max Contracts: We all read about Steph Curry’s 5yr/$201M contract this summer. And James Harden’s 4yr/$169M extension that will pay him $228M over the next 6 years. Known colloquially as Super Max contracts, NBA 2K18 fully implements Designated Veteran Contracts and Designated Veteran Extensions, as well as Rookie Scale Extensions into the game this year.
– Exception Amounts: The MLE will increase in value by 45% from the amounts in the 2011 CBA.
– Rookie Scale Contracts: The Rookie Scale will be increased by 45%, with existing rookie scale contracts being amended to reflect the 45% increase (phased in over a 3-year period).
– Minimum Annual Salary: The league minimum contract will rise by 45% starting with the 2017-18 NBA season.
– Annual Increases: Players with ‘Bird Rights’ will now be eligible for 8% annual raises. Non-Bird players are eligible for 5% annual raises.
– Maximum Salaries: Players will have new maximum salaries calculated using the actual Salary Cap.
– Over-38 Rule: Formerly the Over-36 Rule (which we did not support in previous NBA 2Ks), teams are now bound to the contract restrictions of signing a player that turns 38 during the contract.
– Stretch Provision: When a player is waived using the Stretch provision (new to NBA 2K), the team will not be able to re-sign or re-acquire the player until July 1 of the season where the contract ends.
– Roster Minimums: Teams are now required to carry 14 players (up from 13) on the roster at all times, unless granted an exception.
– +More: There are many more rule changes/new features supported in NBA 2K18 including New Timeout Rules, New Trading Deadline date, Player ETOs, Moratorium Period (detailed below), Two-Way Contracts (detailed below), (Ted) Stepien Rule, and more.
Authenticity is a very important word here at Visual Concepts. While some of these changes may be small in nature, the sum of their parts makes them critical to an authentic team-building experience.
NBA 2K18 introduces the ability for you to send down and call-up your players using the G-League (formerly known to you as the D-League). While the G-League games themselves aren’t user-playable, the feature allows you the opportunity to provide critical game experience for your young players who aren’t getting any court time with the NBA team. Players who have received limited game time in the NBA can potentially accelerate their development as a player with a properly timed send-down. Additionally, the G-League is an excellent scouting tool for young players who might have gone undrafted in previous drafts (they will help to populate the league), as their statistical performance will be a good indicator of what type of player they can become at the next level.
Taking full advantage of G-League availability are Two-Way Contracts. With the ratification of the new CBA, NBA teams will now have two additional roster spots designated for players on “two-way contracts.” Always aiming for completely authenticity, NBA 2K18 fully supports this new addition to the league. Any player with three or fewer years of NBA service is eligible to sign a two-way contract. A player on a two-way contract can spend a maximum of 45 days with their NBA team (during the G-League season). Once the player has run out of NBA-days, he must spend the remainder of the season in the G-League, unless converted into an NBA minimum contract player. NBA 2K GMs would be wise to utilize this to their advantage as you can more easily keep hold of developing talent, while being able to bring the players up to the NBA team to check in on how they are progressing (and to use them as stop-gaps when injuries hit your roster).
Free Agent Moratorium
Any NBA fan knows the nearly week-long NBA Moratorium period is one of the most exciting times of the year. Rumors are flying on where free agents are going to land. Players are coming to verbal agreements with teams they intend to sign with once the moratorium is lifted. NBA 2K18 introduces a 3-day Free Agent Moratorium period prior to the start of Free Agency. While players can’t officially be signed during the moratorium, you CAN come to binding (no DeAndre Jordan moments, sorry) verbal agreements with players, whose contract offers will be finalized as soon as proper Free Agency starts. This is a fast-paced, dynamic time period that will quickly weed out teams who, as Isaiah Thomas would say, aren’t willing to bring out the Brinks truck.
International Draft Prospect Stashing
The ‘Draft-and-Stash’ is a strategy employed by a number of teams when drafting players, particularly later in the draft. NBA 2K18 introduces this feature for the first time. Select international prospects in draft classes will be flagged with the number of years they will remain ‘overseas’ before they are free from their current professional contract and are eligible to sign with your team. This will create additional intrigue in the draft as there now has to be valuation considerations with respect to how many years the player will be unavailable before he can sign. I’ve really been enjoying this particular addition to the game, as it spices up one of my favorite periods of the NBA season!
This new feature can be summed up by the following explanation: The Ultimate Research/Player Scouting Tool. As you can see from the picture, this tool allows you to plot any two data sets against each other to find outliers. For example, I can plot all of the players in the league by their MPG versus their RPG. The resulting data plot will quickly show me players who are pulling in big rebounds in little minutes, or, conversely, players who play big minutes yet are well behind the league curve in rebounding. When looking for players to fill out your roster, the information is invaluable as it allows you to pinpoint the exact player you need.
You can plot players based on raw stats, per game stats, per 36 minutes, or per 100 possessions. From there, you can reduce the data set to last 10 games, last 20 games, home games, away games, this season’s stats, last season’s stats, or total career stats. Additionally, you can create charts by setting items such as salary, age, height, wingspan, and more. This is the type of feature that you will only find in NBA 2K! We are dedicated to providing you the richest and deepest franchise experience on the market, and it’s this kind of feature that exemplifies our intentions.
Trading Draft Rights
During the real NBA Draft, it’s very common for a team to draft a player, only for the rights to that player (as he has not yet signed a contract) to be traded to another team later in the draft. In previous iterations of NBA 2K, you were unable to trade (or trade for) a player that was selected in the current in-progress draft. NBA 2K18 introduces the ability for draft rights to a player to be traded, after the player has already been selected by a team. From personal experience, I can say this feature makes the drafting experience a lot more dynamic and exciting!
Cap Holds/Renounced Rights
New to NBA 2K18 is the concept of Cap Holds and Renouncing Rights to a player. In the NBA, a free agent continues to count as team salary towards your salary cap until they are signed (by your team or elsewhere). This placeholder salary against your salary cap is known officially as a ‘Cap Hold’. Known in some circles as the ‘Michael Redd Rule’, this concept closed a loophole allowing a team to use all their available cap space before re-signing their own free agents. If you know that you are not going to re-sign a given player, you will have the ability to Renounce your rights to that player. Renouncing a player removes the salary hold against your team’s salary cap, but this also forfeits your Bird rights for the player (if applicable). Fortunately, with our free agent setup, we have made it easy for you to renounce the rights to players on a daily basis, as the free agency period progresses. While this may sound a little intimidating at first, I’ve found that it greatly increases your flexibility and the strategy when trying to land free agents. All in the name of authenticity!
Improved Draft Class Generation
We spent a fairly considerable chunk of time early in development this year re-thinking how we generate prospects, particularly with respect to their player types. Looking back on 2K17, we just weren’t satisfied with the breadth of players coming out of the generated draft classes. With NBA 2K18, players now have a more appropriate spread of attributes and tendencies with respect to their given player type. Our new system allows us to more easily update the generation templates outside of the typical monolithic patch release, meaning we can continue to update this logic all season long based on your feedback.
Alternate Uniforms for Created/Relocated Teams
NBA 2K16 introduced our very powerful suite of tools that allow you to create every aspect of a team from the ground up. The designs made by the community have been…stunning (and with NBA 2K17’s addition of team sharing, you now know that as well). One consistent bit of feedback I have received is the desire to create additional uniforms for these teams. NBA 2K18 introduces the idea of an Alternate Uniform into the jersey creation process for your created/rebranded teams. We have also added the ability for you to copy either your Home or Away uniform into the Alternate slot should you do a complete re-design, but want to keep the old design around for ‘throwback’ nights. I’m always reading feedback from our community, so I know how many of you out there are going to enjoy this addition!
Rebranding in Existing Arena
When doing a team rebranding, you can now create a new court floor inside your team’s current arena. What this means is you no longer need to build a new arena just because you want a new floor. Example, if you are the Lakers and you want to design a new court, you can put that new court floor right inside the Staples Center. No more generic arenas for rebranded teams (unless you want to create something from the ground up, that is).
All-Star Selection Experience
We’ve had a lot of different solutions in previous years for how to handle All-Star games. This year, we added a new system that I am really enjoying. After every season, we will pick a new host city for the All-Star game. We built a logic system in the backend that delicately balances things like city prestige, years since it was last hosted in the city, team age (newly created/relocated franchise get a large boost to their chances), and more to boil down which team is appropriate to host the next All-Star game. The announcement of the host city selection is now a formal event in our offseason. As a MyLEAGUE user, you can of course override our selection to anything you want. Additionally, we have modified how we build arenas such that we can put a customized all-star court floor into the host city’s appropriate arena. No more generic arenas for the all-star game. Every all-star game will have its own custom floor with that year’s all-star logo emblazoned on the court.