MyLEAGUE-MyGM Features Developer Diary
Innovation. Authenticity. Engagement.
These are the three tenets that the franchise team has been working under for the last couple of years, and it has produced some truly unique content. We have another feature set this year that will both challenge the norm and continue to drive this portion of the sports gaming industry.
The people I am fortunate enough to work with on the MyGM/MyLEAGUE team are of a different ilk. Intense…is the word I would use to describe them. To Dave Z, Tim, Brad, Barry, Leftos, Yu, and Kefei, I salute you. For everyone else out there, let’s go learn what these fine folks have created for you this year!
I’m going to write this blog a little differently than I have in the past. We covered a lot of ground this year. I want to make sure you can understand the breadth of our scope this year, so I am going to write this in more of a list format so you can quickly consume what we have been up to. Without much further ado…
League Expansion (Blog)
Simply put, this feature is a ton of fun. So much so that we led our information about NBA 2K17 this year with this very information. A short while back, I wrote a very detailed blog explaining every aspect of this feature. Rather than repeat that all here, I would encourage you to click the link above and give it a read!
Having nearly finished the game now, and reflecting on that blog, I am beyond confident that you will all love what we have done here.
MyLEAGUE Online has seen a lot of improvements in NBA 2K17. Last year, its first year, was all about delivering a rock solid mode that provided an exciting experience for you and your friends. Personally, I think we hit that mark, and even exceeded it. This year is all about taking the foundation we built in 2K16 and adding to it. The vision for this year was to add future years to MLO and make it a continuous franchise experience. I want to inject new draft classes. To see the young kids grow into superstars. And to see the superstars decline and eventually retire. All of this, I wanted to do in a new and exciting way. One that will keep you all on your toes.
MyLEAGUE Online does not revolve around money and contracts. That is something we have limited to our offline experience. Instead, we are adding a fantasy element (of sorts) to the mode this year. That core fantasy element revolves around the concept of ‘Keepers’. Every player in the league has a number of ‘keeper years’ attached to him. At the end of every season, the GM of each team is able to keep a set number of players on their roster (this number is totally customizable by the Admin), so long as the players in question have at least 1 keeper year left. Players who no longer have any keeper years left simply become a free agent.
The offseason is a fun and integral part of our new experience. Players now age in MyLEAGUE Online. This means you have player progression, as well as player regression. The draft is the centerpiece of the offseason experience. Prefacing the draft is the draft lottery where all of the teams that don’t make the playoffs get a chance for that coveted #1 pick (this works as you know it). The draft itself is where things get REALLY interesting. The player pool for the draft is a combination of the incoming rookie class coupled with all of the available free agents (e.g. players who weren’t protected and/or have expired keeper years). This essentially means that with every pick in the draft, you are going to need to decide if you want to try and draft the next big star OR spend your draft picks on developed players. If you are at the top of the draft, you may get lucky and land a marquee player like a Paul George or John Wall. That will come at the expense of drafting and developing a young rookie, though. I’ll be the first to admit, this is a unique way to do an offseason. It’s a way though, that has provided the development team here with some really, really compelling drafts and leagues that were just downright fun to be a part of. Through those personal experiences, I can’t wait for you to actually get your hands on it to see how it feels.
As this is a MyLEAGUE experience, complete customization is the paradigm we are sticking to. New support includes:
- Admins can schedule and update the offseason draft time to one that works best for his/her league.
- Admins can import custom Draft Classes directly into MLO this year. In fact, the draft classes can be imported right up to the start of the draft. Additionally, we now allow for the editing or prospects after the class has been imported. If your league members want changes to the incoming class, you have the tools to make the changes.
- As league members can play games in any order, the concept of ‘time’ is loosely based in this experience. To combat this, we have now given Admins the ability to generate new Power Rankings, Big Boards, and Mock Drafts whenever they deem fit for their leagues.
- Admins can customize the number of Keepers teams are allowed to hold onto after each season, all the way from 0 players up to 15. The default value is 5 players, which we have found keeps things interesting going from year-to-year.
- We understand that drafting a rookie entails waiting around for the player to blossom. The last thing you want to do is invest time waiting for him to blossom, only to have him walk when his keeper years expire once he reaches his potential. As such, we have added an Admin option that allows you to add additional Keeper Years to drafted rookies. This encourages you to draft them, as you will have additional years to see them develop and take advantage of their newfound skills before they enter free agency.
- Admins will now have access to the Edit Player feature of an already running MyLEAGUE Online.
- Injuries have been added to MLO for 2K17. Injury duration is defined as number of games. For those who prefer their players to all be healthy, there is an admin option to turn injuries off.
- Admins have been given the ability to manually unretired players that have decided to call it quits.
- Admins will have the ability to re-run the Draft Lottery in the event that the guy no one likes wins it (I kid, but the ability is there!). Additionally, Admins will also have the ability to manually set the draft order for the offseason draft should your league come up with a custom way to order the draft. These two options right here, I think these really show how serious we are about letting you build your league the EXACT way you want it. Customization, all day!
Even with all of the above being added to the mode, maintaining complete reliability with an “it just works” experience was still our #1 goal for this year. Beyond that, I genuinely think you are going to love what we have done to the mode this year. I can’t wait to hear your feedback once you actually have the controller in your hands.
NEW MODE - Playoffs
Returning for the first time on the next gen consoles, is Playoffs mode. For those users who don’t want to worry about the grind and time required to play a full regular season, you can now setup and customize your very own 16-team playoff tree. Play with modern day NBA Teams. Play with Classic NBA Teams. Play with Euroleague Teams. Just play, and make it your own. The excitement and suspense of the Playoffs is now at your fingertips.
NEW MODE - MyLEAGUE Start Today
Once the NBA season starts, a new mode will open up in NBA 2K17. Start Today is a season/franchise mode that takes all of the stats/standings/injuries/etc. from the REAL NBA and applies them right into your game. For example, if you start a new Start Today experience on Christmas day, the standings and all player statistics will match exactly what they are in real life. Your job from that point will be to finish out the season and guide your team to victory (you can keep on playing for a total of 80 years!). No matter what day (in real life) you begin your Start Today experience, we will have it up-to-date to that very moment in the NBA season. This is a feature we attempted a number of years back (to moderate success) that kind of fell by the wayside as we transitioned to the next gen consoles. This year, we went full bore with the feature, and I’m extremely proud to say that the experience is more feature rich than we ever expected it could be.
Start in Offseason
Starting a new franchise mode has been the same, more or less, in every game, since the beginning of time. In NBA 2K17, when you start a new MyGM/MyLEAGUE, you now have the choice of starting at the beginning of the regular season (as it has always been) OR by starting at the beginning of the previous offseason. Did your team miss out on Ben Simmons? Maybe you didn’t like who your team took with their first round pick. Maybe you feel like the free agency period was a missed opportunity for your team. This year, we are giving you the power to re-write your team’s offseason, and potentially, their championship hopes. We really think you are going to love this addition…
Beautiful New Setup Flow
With features like League Expansion and Start in Offseason going in to the MyGM/MyLEAGUE modes in NBA 2K17, it became clear that we needed to create a new, elegant way for you to create your new league. This year, we will walk you through each feature step-by-step in order to ensure that you get the exact league setup that you want.
Dynamic Uniform Updates
All NBA season long, the team here at Visual Concepts is constantly pumping out new content to keep us up-to-date with the real NBA. This might be new/updated court floors, new/updated uniforms, arenas, and more. If you ever wanted to take advantage of the newly released uniforms (for example, the All-Star uniforms for the current season), you would have to do a complete restart of your MyGM/MyLEAGUE. No one wants to do that! In NBA 2K17, we have written a new backend that seamlessly integrates new uniform releases right into your existing save files. You don’t have to do a thing, they will just be there waiting for you to enjoy!
Dynamic Rule Changes
As time passes, the NBA changes. We’ve seen many rules that have changed the way the game is played, including shot clock changes, the addition of the 3-point shot, defensive 3-in-the-key, the hand-check, and so, so much more. NBA 2K17 introduces the concept of rules changes. As the years pass in your league, new rules will be proposed by the Competition Committee. Not all will be approved of course. In fact, very few will. You might see changes to how goaltending is called, zone defenses, the shot clock, playoff seedings, the draft lottery format, and much more. As new CBAs come into play, you might see rule changes on that end as well, including modifications to the trade rules, the salary cap, team relocation fee changes (MyGM), trading deadline changes, and more. And for the purists out there, worry not. You can disable rule changes in future years if it’s not your cup of tea. Total customization is the name of the game here at 2K. Play the game how you like.
Team Rebranding Sharing
This is a feature I mentioned in the League Expansion blog, but I want to include here in case you missed it…because I like it that much. Last year, we introduced the concept of rebranding your team by creating a new team logo, uniforms, court floor, stadium, etc. It was a lot of work for you, but with our robust tools, it was worth the effort. In NBA 2K17, you now have the ability to share your creations with the world. This means, you can simply browse complete team packages built by other users and download them right into your save files with a single button press. Don’t worry about trying to make the perfect Seattle Supersonics rebrand; it’s likely someone has already done the work. Search for ‘Sonics’, find the one you want, and add them to your league. Simple as that!
Draft Pick Protections
For the first time, you can now place Protections on draft picks that you trade away. Want to add a safeguard to your team in case things go wrong? Put a Top 5/Top 10/Lottery protection on the pick. Of course, the CPU will use this to their advantage as well. If they are a rebuilding team who is trying to get their fans to “trust the process”, they will likely insist on protections for any picks they trade in the upcoming years. This adds a new layer of authenticity to the trading game, one that you will no doubt enjoy.
Protections not enough for you? Try adding a Pick Swap to the trade. For the first time, you can now offer pick swaps as part of any trade offer you make. A team with Pick Swap Rights has the opportunity to choose between their own draft pick or the pick of the team they are trading with (once the lottery order is finalized). Think of it as insurance where you get the better of the two picks. Note that CPU teams will be cautious to add this to any trade if their team’s pick has a chance to go lotto. You really need to make it worth their while!
For those of you who really want to take charge of your on-court units, we are introducing a new feature called Advanced Rotations that allows you to control exactly who is on the court for each minute of the game. Devise gameplans that detail exactly how long you want your starting five on the floor to start the game, when the second unit should come in, and what position each player plays as different units sub in and out over the course of the game. The sheer amount of control you now have here is unparalleled in sports gaming.
Teams will now retire jersey numbers of players (post-retirement) who were instrumental in their success over a period of many seasons. The logic is actually pretty sophisticated for this. If LeBron ends up on a team, plays one great season, then moves on, it is highly unlikely (read: not going to happen) that team will retire his jersey once he calls it a career. His contributions simply weren’t meaningful enough…big picture. Sounds simple, but I’m a big stats guy, and this provides a warming sense of history to your league.
Offseason trades are now allowed at any point during the offseason (following the Draft Lottery). In previous games, we had limitations on when trades could be made in the offseason. In order to not make this exploitable during a period such as Free Agency, we now enforce the rule that prohibits trading newly signed players for a period of three months or December 15th (whichever is later).
Offseason Trade Logic Improvements
Supporting offseason trading was much more complex than just adding the option during Free Agency, for example. We wrote new offseason trade logic that takes into consideration the players on a team’s roster, who the team wants/expects to get in the draft (and what positional need that fills), the team’s current Bird Rights free agents and how likely the team is to re-sign them (e.g. the cpu now has the ability to look at a trade offer in the offseason with the thought of, “I don’t like your offer of Kyrie Irving, as I have CP3 (even though he is not on my roster RIGHT NOW) who we fully expect to re-sign in free agency thanks to the extra max year we can offer over other teams.”). Additionally, we also spent a lot of time re-writing our trade logic for Draft Day trades. In hindsight, it felt a little loose, often resulting in unbalanced offers. Those should be a thing of the past in NBA 2K17.
Easier Roster Editing
Roster editors are going to love this one. In both MyLEAGUE as well as the Roster Creator, you can now toggle an edit mode that allows you to edit all player ratings directly from the team roster pages. No more highlighting a guy, selecting Edit Player, waiting for it to load, making the changes, backing out, and repeating with the next player. It is an infinitely faster experience now.
Easier MyLEAGUE Team Swapping
For those who like to play with multiple teams at once in MyLEAGUE, we have made it significantly easier to change which team you are currently controlling. From anywhere in the mode, you can now flick the right stick left/right to toggle through the teams under your control.
New MyLEAGUE Team Control Options
In MyLEAGUE, teams can now be toggled as User Controlled/CPU Controlled even after the mode has started. For example, if you start a mode with the both the Lakers and Clippers as user-controlled teams and later decide you only want to play as the Lakers, you now have the option to set the Clippers back to cpu-controlled.
We have a new Team Rivals feature in the game this year that does a really great job of selling the drama of playing a game against a rival. When playing in such a game, the atmosphere will look and feel different compared to a game against a non-rival. As it should! You want to FEEL the energy when Cleveland comes to the Oracle. Driving this system is an all-new backend that is constantly changing the rival score between teams. For example, if you are playing a game with playoff implications that results in a lot of physical play (technicals), you can expect such a game to ratchet up the temperature with respect to the rival score. In total, there are over 20 factors that we are constantly looking at, constantly evaluating, to determine the appropriate rival level one team should have with another.
Improved Record Tracking
At the NBA level, we now track the top 100 all-time leaders for 21 different stats across career records, season records, single game records, and single game playoff records. As you play through your league, you will see players rise through the ranks. It’s pretty cool to see how this looks after simulating 50 seasons. At the Team level, we now track the 5 all-time leaders across 10 different stats, for every team. I’m a bit of a stats junkie, so this is pure stat candy for me. I hope it will be for your as well!
Draft Class Improvements
Draft Classes can now be imported and edited at ANY point (read: editing can happen AFTER importing while the season is ongoing). Additionally, Draft Classes created in-mode can be saved to their own files as well.
New Automated Scouting Logic
Your scouts are now much, much smarter when you enable automated prospect scouting. They will look at your assortment of picks and scout players appropriate for your expected draft position. They are also significantly better at sticking to your guidelines for searches (e.g. when searching for ‘Best Available’, ‘Sleepers’, etc.).
Improved Trade Rumors
Trade Rumor posts in Social Media have been greatly improved, and are much more in line with actual talks that teams are having behind the scenes. But, can you believe everything you read?
Veteran’s Minimum Contract Rule Added
Not all minimum contracts are created equal, but they kind of are. This year, we have added support for veteran’s minimum contracts. This CBA rule allocates the minimum amount of money that a team must pay a player based on his years of service in the league. The interesting part is, regardless of the amount that the team is required to pay for the player (based on his years of service), the actual cap hit for this player will likely be significantly less. As an example, Chris Andersen signed with the Cavaliers on a 1 year minimum this offseason. Based on his years of service, this means the Cavs will pay him $1,551,659. The actual amount that counts against the cap is $980,431. One bonus to this change is that it will be easier to sign aging veterans who may think they are worth a little more than the absolute league minimum. All in the name of authenticity!
‘Derrick Rose Rule’ Added
We’ve added the “5th Year 30% Max Criteria” contract signing rule (you will know this as the ‘Derrick Rose Rule’), which allows a player finishing his rookie contract to make 30 percent of a team’s salary cap when he meets the appropriate criteria.
Proper Re-Trading Rule Added
Added support for the rule that does not allow recently traded players to be re-dealt in a package (by a team over the cap) with other players (via aggregation of salary) for a period of 60 days. The team is still free to trade the player immediately, either by himself or without aggregating his salary with other salaries. In short, another step toward full sim, baby.
Trade Approval Rule Added
Added support for the rule that requires player trade approval for a player playing under a one-year contract who will have Bird rights at the end of the season. The player will only waive this provision if the destination team is a better fit for him and his career. So make it worthwhile!
Staff Editing in the Roster Creator
Staff editing is now available outside of MyGM/MyLEAGUE in the Roster Creator. This allows for shared rosters to now include edited/custom staff as part of the roster itself.
Hot Zone Customization
Hot Zones are now customizable when editing players. Edit any player in the league to your specification, or more likely, take total control when creating/using a custom created draft class.
Team Standings Logic Updated
Team Standings calculation code has been redone and now reflects all of the NBA’s latest rules and tiebreakers, including multi-team ties.
Statistical Minimums Updated
Statistical minimums have been updated to exactly replicate what the NBA uses for League Leaders qualification in a given stat (http://stats.nba.com/help/statistical_minimums.html).
New League Leader/Player Stat Filtering
League Leader Stats and Player Stats can now be filtered by Current Season, Home Games, Away Games, Wins, Losses, As a Starter, and Off The Bench. Seeing the various splits is really interesting and gives new insight into players and how they play.
New Team Stat Filtering
Team Stats can now be filtered by Current Season, Last 5 Games, and Last 30 Days. As the makeup of a given team changes over the course of a season via trades and injuries, these new toggles are great at giving you the most up-to-date information about your team or your next opponent.
New Playoff Stats Filtering
During the Playoffs, Playoff Stats can be broken down by 1st Round games, Conference Semifinals, Conference Finals, NBA Finals, and Entire Playoffs. I’ve found this tool to be useful when game planning for a team in the playoffs. It’s interesting to review the matchups series-by-series and hunt for the weaknesses.
Improved Alternate Uniform Selection
You will notice improved logic for random alternate uniform selection. The results are now more realistic with home teams being the ones wearing alternates more often, as well as teams wearing throwback historic uniforms on occasion.
‘Dead Money’ Support Added
- We now track ‘dead money’ (this article might help to explain it for you: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2591387-counting-the-nbas-dead-money) in the game, meaning teams in our game are on-the-hook for their pre-existing real world player waives and buyouts. Sim baby, all the way! These numbers can be viewed for each team on the Player Contracts menu.
Salary Cap Projections
Salary cap projections (for all teams) are now shown for all upcoming years in the Player Contracts screen. This should help you with your forward-looking team building.
Injuries have been added to the Summer League period of the offseason. While very rare, injuries that carry over into the regular season can now occur.
Player Sorting Improvements
Sorting by position or age now sorts by overall as well, so you can easily check your team’s depth chart or find the best 21 year-old free agent. My sincerest apologies for not putting this in the game about 10 years ago. You will love it, as simple as it is.
And there you have it. Innovation. Authenticity. Engagement.
Here at Visual Concepts, we believe strongly in the franchise experience. Some of our truest and most hardcore fans live exclusively in these modes, and it’s important to me that you feel we respect your purchase (because we do!). So many games in sports simply ignore their franchise mode, or they will often give you the one pity feature each year to show a heartbeat. I don’t understand that. At all. Each year I try and find a feature that pushes the envelope, something that no other game has tried or gotten right yet. The franchise genre has grown a lot in the last ten years, and it still has a lot of room for growth in my opinion. You better believe this team will be right there, continuing to push that envelope year after year after year.
Until next time folks. Enjoy your time with NBA 2K17!