2K's roster files have never been easy to work with, compared to the DBF files NBA Live PC utilised back in the day. Vlad did some tremendous work for a few years there, but it wasn't easy to crack open. I have a feeling nothing much will change there, though if some of the organisation changes in NBA 2K16 are any indication, the art files are probably still going to be reasonably modder-friendly.
The other barrier will be the encryption on save files, which is a by-product of being tied to Steam/PSN/Xbox Live accounts, due to the online content, microtransactions, and so forth. I expect that's going to remain an issue, because of the digital platform. That means custom rosters will have to be distributed in-game. Viable enough, but it doesn't help if the servers are down, or when they're eventually shut down.
I talked about this in last week's Friday Five
, and I believe the best solution is more in-game customisation. Venturing outside of what I expect to see into what I'd like
to see for a moment: we can already edit a lot of player attributes and assign them in Create-a-Player, but access to a few more hidden attributes and bio data would help us create detailed rosters. The more detailed the player creation tools, the less need we have to externally edit the rosters. If there was Create-a-Team with the same functionality as the team creation in 2K Pro-Am, team re-branding and relocation, and now league expansion, we could feasibly do everything we used to do, in-game. As I said in the article, the same infrastructure could be used to import custom textures, with a feature like EA's old Face in the Game, as well as the face scanning we have now, allowing us to easily put new faces into the game. It would be amazing if the only external manipulation we had to perform were on the custom textures that we wanted to import.
I didn't mention it in the article (only five points, and I have to admit that it completely slipped my mind), but native support for custom files - ie what the External File Plugin has achieved - would also help immensely. NBA Live's CustomArt folders definitely made those games a lot easier to mod, especially the approach in NBA Live 2005-08.
Incidentally, some time back I passed along these ideas (with additional details) to the development team, because it never hurts to ask and suggest things. Getting back to my expectations, I'm not sure that I expect many of those ideas to be implemented in NBA 2K17, but I feel there's a chance we could see some deeper in-game customisation tools. If there's a need for a lot of external manipulation/modding, then hopefully Greg or someone else with similar knowledge can figure things out. Otherwise, we'll need to figure out a way to make do with the tools we do have.