Next Gen Blog #2 Movement & Contact (w/ video)

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Next Gen Blog #2 Movement & Contact (w/ video)

Postby TGsoGood on Thu Oct 15, 2020 1:17 am

NBA 2K21 Next Gen Gameplay Courtside Report #2 - Movement & Contact

Welcome back to part two of our three-part Courtside Report series on next-gen gameplay! Last week I talked about some of the great additions you can expect to try out with the shooting, dribbling, and passing when you getf the game in your hands this November. Today, we’re going to dive into some of the tech that we were able to create to make NBA 2K21 on the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S truly feel like a next-generation experience.

Next-Gen Movement

There’s nothing more exciting for a developer than the arrival of new consoles. Every new generation gives us the opportunity to step back and reimagine how we can push the sports gaming genre forward. If I had to pick one aspect of gameplay that’s probably benefited the most from the jump to next-gen, the answer would probably have to be on-court locomotion. Movement is the foundation for a solid basketball game. When that foundation isn’t solid, a lot of aspects of the game fall apart. We put a lot of resources toward improving locomotion with and without the ball, and I’m excited how far it’s come to kick off year one of the next generation of 2K hoops.

Dribble movement: The dribbler was rebuilt from the ground up for next-gen and the difference is night and day. We retained the concept of signature dribble styles that we introduced a couple years ago, but otherwise, everything was scrapped and re-architected bringing a completely different feel with the ball in your hands for next-gen. Additionally, protect and post movement saw massive upgrades. The aspect of dribble movement that excites me the most is the predictability and consistency of it. It’s much easier to go exactly where you want on the floor, and in the manner that you’d expect to get there. No unwanted turns or having your player face the wrong way. No bursting up to speed or failed cuts. It just works. And because it’s built using the same engine as the Pro Stick dribble move system, movement and moves work cohesively together. Player speeds are more accurate to real life and the sense of weight feels more realistic. It’s a complete package and I don’t think I can overstate how much it’s elevated my enjoyment of playing the game.

Defense and Off-Ball:
All non-dribbling movement from on-ball defense, to off-ball offense and defense is run by our motion engine which is in its third year of development. The motion team has been working tirelessly to bring a next-gen improvement to moving without the ball, and it both looks and feels fantastic. Here are some of the upgrades that stand out:

Unique contextual motion assets for various basketball situations (Transition Stops, Leak Out, Guard Break, Anchor, Space Perimeter) bring an awareness to the look of the players on the floor and give them more life.
Improved pathing, cuts, and stops make defenders feel more grounded and fix a lot of the sliding from the previous generation.
Overall improvement to motion stability and response. In other words, we smoothed out the twitchiness and players can more accurately follow exactly what you’re doing on the sticks.
Updated player-size detection logic and greater emphasis on player differentiation. Bigs move like bigs, and guards move like guards. This includes a lot of new animation content to support signature motion styles.
Left stick taps allow you to play quick steps which are really helpful when you need to make subtle adjustments to your defensive position.

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Foot Planting: Sliding in basketball is no good. But it’s something we’ve had to live with in the past because of limitations in technology. I’m happy to say that the next-gen version of NBA 2K21 takes a huge leap in that department. Our engineers re-wrote our foot planting tech from scratch and it led to one of the most striking visual improvements when you compare next-gen to previous generations. Players can now take procedural steps instead of sliding their feet when they need to make micro-adjustments. I love seeing proper footwork as players are making hard cuts, accelerating, stopping… even just standing and making subtle movements in place. It just brings 2K hoops one more step (see what I did there?) closer to real life.

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Body Ups: That’s our internal name for all of the interactions between the ball handler and defender. It’s always a tricky balance trying to accurately model the cat & mouse game between the offense and the defense. Our goal with body ups was to highlight the improvements that we were able to make to both dribbling and defensive movement. To that end, it meant less canned interactions and doing a better job of respecting user control. I think the next-gen version of NBA 2K21 strikes a great balance between rewarding taking proper driving angles and respecting contact. Attempting to drive head first directly into a defender will stop them in their tracks, lead to charges, or force pickups. When ball handlers get to the hip of the defender but the defender matches well, it will lead to more realistic rides that neither player will feel stuck in. And on the other extreme, slow footed (or slow to react) defenders will be punished with blow by’s and if they try to force the contact too late, might get hit with a blocking foul. Strong ball handlers can also hard stop out of a ride and crab defenders more effectively so it’s not always about speed when trying to probe into the paint. The logic for the types of resolutions that play out is much more robust and takes into account every little detail you can think of. The end result is a better 1-on-1 game that more accurately mirrors the real NBA.

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Off-Ball Contact: Just like with body ups, we wanted to translate those same principles off-ball. The motion team completely re-worked the off-ball contact system, which now features everything from “let throughs” (incidental contact) to hard collisions. There’s a great freedom of movement when you’re working away from the ball but also realistic contact when it’s called for, all with no snatching or sliding. My favorite aspect of these collisions can be seen in the new screen interactions. Gone are the “vacuum screens” that have plagued basketball games in the past where defenders would get pulled into a screen collision and run in a direction they weren’t asking for. You can reject screens appropriately, go over or under as you’d expect, and “die” on a screen if you have a weak defender trying to barrel through a big. It all looks great, but more importantly, feels great for both the offense and defense to get the outcomes that make sense in such an important aspect of team basketball.

Impact Engine
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One of the biggest challenges we face when balancing offense and defense is contact in the paint. As you can tell, with next-gen we really stress the importance of respecting user control and not warping defenders into place for the sake of game balance. But it’s vital to be able to have reliable contact, especially for protecting the basket, in order to prevent bloated points in the paint. For NBA 2K21 next-gen, we developed a new in-air contact shot system that we internally call the Impact Engine. The goal was to completely remove the snatching that we’d been using in past games and resolve collisions on the fly as players hit each other in mid-air. The Impact Engine and next-gen console power gives us the flexibility to do just that. By creating reliable contact when players are in flight, we no longer have to take control of defenders while they’re on the ground and pull them into place just to force certain outcomes. This will be most noticeable for paint defenders as they’ll have the freedom to maneuver their players into position and make a play on the ball themselves rather than the game dictating what happens based on whatever animations happen to trigger. To further aid paint defense, the logic that goes into block targeting was improved and we’re using IK more heavily now to get the hand to track the ball (as well as to minimize clipping.) One of the main beneficiaries of the new engine is that we now have contact alley-oop and putback dunk-ons for the first time in 2K, which look sick and feel rewarding when you can pull them off!

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On-ground contact also saw major upgrades, specifically with charge and block fouls. Beating the shooter to the spot and getting set will yield a lot more successful charge calls on the offense while being late will give you more blocking fouls. We’ve also added “crash” layups for the situations where the shooter barrels into the defense but a charge or block aren’t warranted. These animations will help convey to the player that they’re forcing the issue and hopefully teach them to respect paint defenders next time they go inside. If you can’t get around the defense, sometimes it’s better to shoot a floater or pull-up jumper.

PS5 Trigger Effect
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Something that always excites us as developers is the introduction of new hardware features that come along with new consoles. When we first heard about the PlayStation 5’s adaptive triggers and haptic feedback, we immediately began brainstorming ways to use them to enhance the gameplay experience. As soon as we got our hands on the dev kits, our lead engineer experimented with several different prototypes to figure out what made the most sense for a basketball game.

For the adaptive triggers, we opted to use them to convey energy/fatigue. As you move around the court, you’ll feel more and more resistance on the Sprint trigger as your player’s energy drains. We also use adaptive resistance in the post game. Strong post players will feel very little resistance on L2 when backing down weaker opponents, but you’ll have to use more force to pull L2 when it’s the other way around. It’s very interesting to play with and helps immerse you into the experience of actually being on the basketball court!

As for haptic feedback, we used it to accentuate our various collision systems. Boxouts, body-up rides, off-ball collisions/deny/rides… basically any situation where players make significant contact will vibrate the controller at various intensities depending on the strength of the players involved and the severity of the impact. It’s so dope to feel the difference in your hands between a grazing bump and hard hit. It’s also a great reinforcement tool to understand when you’re making players work too hard on the court, which could hit their energy/stamina levels and potentially cause wear-and-tear on their bodies with our in-depth injury system.

There’s so much more that happened on the engineering front to raise the bar in building NBA 2K21’s next-gen tech, but these are just the main ones I wanted to bring to your attention for today. New technology is always exciting and I love seeing how advancements in the hardware lead to advancements in the software, which then birth new gameplay features and push the genre forward. Make sure to check out next week’s final gameplay Courtside Report as I reveal details about player builds, badges, takeover, and improvements to AI!


· Mike Wang @Beluba (NBA 2K Gameplay Director)
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Re: Next Gen Blog #2 Movement & Contact (w/ video)

Postby sticky-fingers on Thu Oct 15, 2020 2:51 am

Full of bullshit.
And those "next graphics" are even worse than i saw on first trailer ; and clearly you can see that they reuse lot of current gen faces.
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Re: Next Gen Blog #2 Movement & Contact (w/ video)

Postby Dee4Three on Thu Oct 15, 2020 2:57 am

Yeah, I have already accepted the fact that the graphics are not a significant improvement, and do not sell the game (even over the current gen PC version). Meaning, graphics are not superior enough for someone to buy the new version based on the graphical appeal alone.

About the dev blog, as always these ideas sound great, but we have heard many of them before. Let's see if they execute, especially on the footplanting and defense front.
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Re: Next Gen Blog #2 Movement & Contact (w/ video)

Postby sticky-fingers on Thu Oct 15, 2020 3:10 am

About gameplay, we have i think the same expectations and the same doubts.

The only thing i can talk about after those trailers and short videos are graphics and animations because its something we can already judge now.

And as you mention after the first trailer, on those short videos, we can already say that sliding is still there. Perhaps not as bad as 2K18~21 current gen, but there's unecessary and strange slides on those few videos.
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Re: Next Gen Blog #2 Movement & Contact (w/ video)

Postby Issy on Thu Oct 15, 2020 3:40 am

I'm sorry but to some minors details this is the same game...

2k generates millions $ and employs hundreds of people but you wonder what the fuck did they do the last 3 years?

For example what does the art department do all year round? why the floors are always the same, why no one notices that the accessories dont even match with the unfirom?
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Re: Next Gen Blog #2 Movement & Contact (w/ video)

Postby Dee4Three on Thu Oct 15, 2020 5:31 am

Reminder again on the promises of the past.

NBA 2K20 devblog.

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My video showing the unbelievable poor player movement and footplanting in the game.

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Better defensive AI and better footplanting/player movement has been consistently promised every single year with these dev blogs, yet the product doesn't match in the least. In the very short gameplay videos for next gen PS5, we have already seen

- Hardaway Jr skating following by floating about the court on a drive (And his speed breaking)
- Lillard doing a complete skate/slide into a canned charge (He looks like he is skiing)
- Dlo going in slow motion followed by leaping for a dunk (With no momentum going into it), and it being the same dunk we have seen since 2K13 (Some recycled animations are expected, but why show ALL OF THESE in the gameplay videos promoting the game?)
- Slipping through other players (Full limbs going through other players)

etc.

I am not optimistic.... we have been told lies and half-truths for a long time now.
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Re: Next Gen Blog #2 Movement & Contact (w/ video)

Postby sticky-fingers on Thu Oct 15, 2020 7:33 am

last mini videos in 4k

phpBB [video]
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Re: Next Gen Blog #2 Movement & Contact (w/ video)

Postby miki_92 on Thu Oct 15, 2020 8:32 am

so hair is still not moving, yikes
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Re: Next Gen Blog #2 Movement & Contact (w/ video)

Postby TRIIIAD on Thu Oct 15, 2020 11:12 am

miki_92 wrote:so hair is still not moving, yikes


To be fair, hair physics are the last thing on the list of needed gameplay improvements :lol:
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Re: Next Gen Blog #2 Movement & Contact (w/ video)

Postby Andrew on Thu Oct 15, 2020 12:53 pm

Once again, there are some things in the blog that sound good, but I'm highly sceptical. We've heard it all before, and it what we're being told doesn't quite match up with the clips we're seeing. It seems every generation we're told that there's finally the tech to sort out foot planting, but we've yet to see the results bear that out.
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Re: Next Gen Blog #2 Movement & Contact (w/ video)

Postby miki_92 on Thu Oct 15, 2020 7:11 pm

TRIIIAD wrote:
miki_92 wrote:so hair is still not moving, yikes


To be fair, hair physics are the last thing on the list of needed gameplay improvements :lol:

Oh believe me I know but at least I could spot something new that will tell me, hey they actually worked on the game

after I don't even know how many years I didn't bought the game and not planning to even if it's on sale, you are not selling me same copy-pasted gameplay for 4 years, f that

this game has nothing to do with basketball anymore, it's just there to print money for Take Two

sad thing is that 95% of their player base are casuals that get hyped up by more sweat and buzzwords that we can see in this blog and are ready to throw fortune @ 2K

At least EA was honest that their next gen game will not be that much different, these guys are straight up lying telling people it's built from the ground up
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Re: Next Gen Blog #2 Movement & Contact (w/ video)

Postby Rugshtyne on Thu Oct 15, 2020 7:51 pm

Lol, they literally put emphasis on foot planting and the next video they show is Mitchell sliding into stop. Watch his right leg :lol:
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Re: Next Gen Blog #2 Movement & Contact (w/ video)

Postby Pdub on Thu Oct 15, 2020 8:13 pm

Just reminds me of EA's blogs as they went downhill. The Czar team set blogs were the shit back when.
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Re: Next Gen Blog #2 Movement & Contact (w/ video)

Postby Andrew on Thu Oct 15, 2020 8:20 pm

If you look at the official NBA 2K Twitter, most of the Tweets in the past week or so - outside of ones promoting Next Gen - have been about new clothing items. Pretty much gives you an idea of where the focus lies.
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Re: Next Gen Blog #2 Movement & Contact (w/ video)

Postby jmmontoro on Fri Oct 16, 2020 4:46 am

The game has lost its focus in the last few years. It's all about the hype, pay to win, arcade gameplay, and nothing about skill, play-calling or actual basketball.
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Re: Next Gen Blog #2 Movement & Contact (w/ video)

Postby rickberge on Fri Oct 16, 2020 10:50 am

Can someone explain or show what is the expectation for foot planting in a video game?

I know what foot planting is, just trying to see if we can realistically replicate foot planting in a video game or better yet a basketball game without some sliding.
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