Sports Gamers Online

NBA 2K16 Breathing Life into Physics


2K recently released the direction and vision the development team was given before creating NBA 2K16.  Mike Wang’s description was that they wanted 2K16 to be “as beautiful as a motion capture movie.”  In order to bring “life to the game,” 2K re-wrote its’ motion system, enhanced AI, and upgraded the physics engine to simulate movie magic.

Much of 2K’s focus was on the fluidity of player movement, better AI towards player awareness, and continued evolution of in game PHYSICS.  We have all witnessed losing control of ball handlers and/or defenders for a split second during intended defensive on-ball bumps, or chasing through offensive and defensive screens, or during unintentional ball handler collisions like the dreaded ill-advised spin move.  The re-written motion system has made interactions like these APPEAR and FEEL more seamless.   Combined with improved AI, players will look to have more purposeful movement on and off the ball, on both sides of the floor.  As shooters look to get free off the ball, they will show the awareness to change their route as defenders look to impede their progress to disturb offensive flow.  Because of smoother move transitions, good ball handlers should free themselves effortlessly as well.

New AI also includes the re-working of “rhythm features, badges, and game logic.  There should be no more bumper car- over-penetration by point guards who would normally just set up plays, and no more repeating of the same moves with STAR players that are on a HOT streak without the defense adjusting.  To enhance the feeling of the game’s INTENSITY, 2K has paid more attention to authenticating Teams’ coaching and Players’ signature styles of play.  In other words, defensive awareness and positioning will have some influence on how and where the offense should attack and late game moments will now play out differently depending upon game situations.  For example, in a close game, coaching can now have more influence as a team changes its’ defensive scheme to force other players to become X-factors in order to carve out a win.

Lastly, the continued evolution of 2K’s PHYSICS mechanics will once again reinforce the ball to player and ball to environment interactions.  Apparently ball and rim physics received major upgrades that have increased the FEEL of gameplay action.  The flight of the ball after rim contact, as well as rim, player, and stanchion contact, now have new synergy that will show the deflating sound of a brick and the impact of a power dunk with more break-away rim flex and stanchion movement in close quarters low post animations.  In order to provide a more natural looking pivot and change in direction, 2K switched its’ focus to heel/toe planting, blending techniques and inverse kinematics during the foot planting re-write also.   I must say that of all the physics improvements, I am most excited for the mass/strength mechanic as it pertains to bigger player vs smaller player collision and interaction.  Far too long have smaller players been able to hold their positioning against bigger, stronger players.  Bigs should be able to destroy, disrespect, and disregard any single smaller player with a two handed power dribble, shoulder to chest or face of defender, power dunk.

The details released sound like welcomed additions to the feel and look of NBA 2K16 gameplay.  Here is a look at the rest of the intended improvements.

  • New Post Game!  Post has been rebuilt from the ground up and is better than ever. We’ve moved post back to a hold of L2/LT to give you quicker access, free your right thumb up for other actions, and to better mirror defensive movement. There are hundreds of new animations, better freedom of movement, lots of new moves and collisions, a new post cutoff system, and just a better overall feel to the play in the paint.
  • Loads of passing improvements: faster ball speeds, better pass animation selection, completely re-written pass lane selection, ability to immediately break out of catches, step in catches around the rim, step out catches when crowded, less sliding on standing catches, boat loads of new content, and much much more. We’ve even added a new option to allow you to pick what’s most important when using directional passing. So you can go with the default tuning or you can bias it more toward stick direction or receiver openness.

New passing controls:

A/CROSS = Best Pass (gives you the best pass for the situation you’re in)

B/CIRCLE = Tap for Bounce Pass, Double Tap for Flashy Pass, Hold for dribble pitch/handoff (hold to bring the selected receiver toward the ball, release to pass or handoff if close enough)

Y/TRIANGLE = Tap for Lob/Overhead Pass, Double Tap for Alley-Oop, Hold for Lead to Basket pass (hold to make the receiver cut toward the hoop, release to pass… awesome addition!)

  • Improved pick controls and animations – Ability to quickly toggle between roll or fade as well as switch pick side without having to wait for a timer. You can also call for an early slip or fade at any point. The new pick controls give you ultimate flexibility to read the defense and adjust in real time just like an NBA point guard would.
  • Controllable “flick flick” finishes give you the ability to control how and where you finish your up and unders and step thru shots (previous years you were stuck with whatever the animation wanted to do)
  • Pump fake, draw foul shots have returned
  • MUCH more responsive defensive movement both onball and off which feels fantastic and really helps balance the game.
  • A bunch of new jump shot types to cover various cases to prevent weird facing and momentum pops. We’ve also given you the ability to maintain your dribble when pulling off a hop shot and tweaked shot release speeds to remove some of the delays and hitches you may have seen in the past.
  • Support for signature size-ups in all 4 directions. Over 200 new size-up animations really boost the floor game and makes it a lot more fun to break down the defense with your favorite ball handlers. All size-ups are completely branch-able at any time and look great.
  • Brand new dribble crowd system allows you to body up the ball handler while he’s standing in triple threat or dribbling. This makes the physical onball defenders feel much more dominant. The moving body up ride system also saw a ton of improvements. Collisions are much more appropriate, more intense, and more responsive for both the dribbler and defender. In a nutshell, playing on ball defense is nice now.
  • Speaking of on ball defense, we’ve also added a new Dynamic Defense Assist feature. The harder you press the Intense-D trigger, the more assist we give you as an on ball defender. I can’t overstate how much this feature improves the ability to play defense online. There’s also a slider, so you can tweak the strength yourself or turn it off.
  • Boxouts and rebounding have been re-designed from the ground up. The major difference you’ll feel is that you now have complete control over how your player moves and interacts during boxouts. It allows players to read and react on the fly and turns rebounding into a game of skill.
  • Blocking is another area that has gotten a lot of love. As a blocker, you can now choose to go up conservatively with verticality or more aggressively to try and make a bigger play on the ball. We’ve also implemented point IK, which allow blockers to track the ball in real time and react to different situations in a dynamic way. For me, swatting a shot into the stands is probably the most gratifying thing to do in NBA 2K16. The improved physics on blocks make these scenarios look great too.
  • Layup strips have been improved and are a much more reliable counter against guys going to the rim.
  • We’ve re-worked the off ball collision system to allow you to deny with more physicality and chuck cutters away from the ball. It’s especially awesome to see guys trying to fight their man off while being grabbed to try and get open for those last second buzzer beaters.
  • For jump shooters, we’ve added some of the post-release follow through antics that shooters tend to do in real life. So on high percentage shots you’ll see guys leaving their hand up on the follow through or heading back upcourt early as they watch the flight of the ball. You’ll see players try to “will the ball in” with their body language, follow their shots, or even celebrate early like Steph Curry on a buzzer beater. It may be a small detail, but it’s one of my favorite features this year.
  • Shot percentages have been re-tuned and provide much more expectable results. We do a much better job now of detecting shot defense and responding with realistic outcomes (fewer missed easy layups, more bricks when heavily contested, and contested jump shot values that match real life stats.) Also, just about every variable we have in our shot heuristics can now be re-tuned post-release without having to create and release a patch, ensuring that we’ll be able to fine tune the system based on community feedback so that everybody’s happy.
  • Ball handling saw its share of upgrades. Lots of new content to freshen up cuts, first steps, and overall movement… as well as plenty of ambient, bring the ball upcourt dribbles which the sim community loves.
  • One quick gameplay camera thing… for fans of the 2K camera, we’ve added a “Flip Style” option that lets you choose between “Swivel” (what it’s always done) and “Cut” (immediately change camera angle with a cut.) So for those gamers who like playing “north/south” but hate the swivel effect on change of possession, there you go. There’s also a new “2K Wire” camera option which is kind of a hybrid between the 2K Cam and Wire cam. You might want to check it out.
  • And last but not least, no 2K basketball game would be complete without a massive content refresh. Last I checked, we were somewhere in the neighborhood of 9,000-10,000 new animations. So you’ll be seeing some new stuff for sure.

Stay tuned to Sports Gamers Online for all of the latest NBA 2K16 news and more tips once the game releases!

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