home > interview > Interview: NBA 2K6 on Launch Day
GamesFirst! Online since 1995

View Image Gallery || Get Prices

Interview: NBA 2K6 on Launch Day
game: NBA 2K6
posted by: Aaron Stanton
publisher: 2K Sports
developer: Visual Concepts
date posted: 12:54 PM Wed Nov 16th, 2005
last revision: 12:57 PM Wed Nov 16th, 2005

Advertise on GamesFirst!

Click to read.2K Sports was kind enough to sit down with a number of different gaming sites this morning to talk about some of their upcoming Xbox 360 titles, such as NBA 2K6, NHL 2K6, and Amped 3. We here at GamesFirst had a chance to throw some of our questions to members of each game\'s development team, giving the people involved with the projects one last chance to speak their minds before the games hit the shelves.

Editor\'s Note: This article focuses on NBA 2K6 for the Xbox 360. Click here to read the Amped 3 interview.

NBA 2K6:

Sports titles have always been important to the success of any game console; they\'re the second best selling genre in the console industry, with nearly double the sales of shooters, racing, and role playing games by themselves. Only Action titles sell better than sports games, and you can bet that you\'ll find a strong sports line-up at the front every next generation launch. 2K Sports is doing what it can to help the Xbox 360 launch with enough sports titles to shoulder its way through the dark waters of the next generation wars. One of 2K Sports\' contributions is NBA 2K6, an updated and reworked release of the popular Xbox and PS2 versions of the game that are currently available. But how much really has changed?

\"We\'ve completely reworked the the graphics engine,\" said Jeff Thomas, Vice President of Sports Development at the 2K Sports studio Visual Concepts. \"Physics and collision detection are much better on the 360. And the character models. The character models have been completely redone.\"

The pre-release images of NBA 2K6 for the Xbox 360 have made quite an impact with its portrayal of real time cloth rendering. Every item of clothing worn by the players in NBA 2K6 is animated using physics independent of the player it\'s attached to. \"We put lots of focus on the clothes,\" Jeff said. \"There are two straps that hold the clothes to the shoulders, and (all the movements) are being done with math and physics.\"

That level of detail isn\'t capable of being produced on the original Xbox or PS2. These graphical updates currently exist only in the Xbox 360 version of the game. Jeff Thomas was also eager to point out other aspects of the character models that have seen updates, indicating less obvious - but potentially more important - improvements.

\"There\'s a muscle layer with skin over it,\" Jeff said. \"That\'s what I\'m talking about barely scratching the surface (of the next generation). You\'ll see player expressions tied better to what happens in the game. And their eyes track much more intelligently.\" This is a change from generations past, when character animations made the players appear like plastic dolls marching around the court. \"The character\'s eyes (in NBA 2K6) will start to track the ball, then the head turns to follow,\" Jeff adds, obviously proud of the work that\'s gone into this new version of the game. \"It looks so much more natural.\"

At the time of the interview, early reviews for NBA 2K6 had just appeared on the internet from 1up.com and IGN.com. Both magazines gave the title scores lower than the Xbox version of the game, despite reporting that the new 360 title ports the gameplay mechanics almost bolt for bolt from Microsoft\'s older system. While IGN scored both versions of the game similarly, 1up.com game NBA 2K6 on the Xbox 360 a 70%, twenty points lower than the 90% they gave the same title on the Xbox.

\"I don\'t think that\'s true,\" Jeff Thomas said when asked what he thought of comments in the IGN.com review that suggested the graphics quality of some elements of the game - such as the coaches, cheerleaders, and the courts - were less impressive than the rest of the title. \"Everything they mentioned (in that review) got graphics updates. The coaches, the cheerleaders, the fans. Everything has been redone.\"

Jeff also emphasized their decision to stick to realistic visuals. \"We wanted to make a game that was like a broadcast,\" he said, pointing out that many people mistakenly associate almost stylized graphics as more realistic, more next-gen in nature. \"Everything (in NBA 2K6) was geared towards realism. We were really trying to mimic what a T.V. broadcast would look like.\"

However, graphics updates are only part of what make a game a next generation title. In their reviews of NBA 2K6, both 1up.com and IGN expressed the opinion that, \"We should expect more from our next-gen titles.\" They were referring to what they considered near identical gameplay between the title on the Xbox and the Xbox 360 versions of the game.

\"(NBA 2K6) as a whole is very similar to the PS2 version,\" Jeff replied when asked what he thought of the concept that NBA 2K6\'s gameplay dynamics on the 360 are \"an exact port\" of the PS2 and Xbox versions. \"I think (the reviews) failed to address the fine tuning in this version,\" he added. \"We added to it, cleaned it up. It\'s a polish thing, we did. When the public gets their hands on the game for themselves, I think they\'ll like what they find.\"

Editor\'s Note: We\'d like to thank Jeff Thomas for the time he spent talking to us about NBA 2K6. It\'s always interesting to see how developer visions turn into actual games. NBA 2K6 was released on November 15th, 2005, the same day as this interview.

Click images for larger version

Click for larger. Click for larger. Click for larger. Click for larger. Click for larger.