MyLEAGUE and MyGM Blogs NBA2K19

Hello everyone!  As always, this is Erick Boenisch, Senior Producer for NBA 2K19.  Can you believe it has already been a year since we last did this?  On the heels of a very successful NBA 2K18, MyLEAGUE and MyGM are back, and both are (way) better than ever.  Dave Z and his team have done a fantastic job this year executing on the feature set that, through various mediums, you have all requested.

The team here at Visual Concepts spends an inordinate amount of time consuming feedback from you, our consumers.  We read the forums, follow through social, and study emails and letters sent from our fans all around the globe.  For me, personally, I find the information incredibly valuable. 

There are two approaches you can take when designing a game.  You can force your own personal agenda for the game onto the fans (which may or may not be want the fans want), or you can just take their direct feedback and apply all of that to the game.  I’m a big fan of the latter.  I always like to say, this isn’t our game, this is YOUR game.  Why guess what your fans want when they tell you loud and clear what they want?

With all of that said, let’s review what we’ve cooked up for NBA 2K19!

MyLEAGUE Online

We introduced MyLEAGUE Online into our feature set back in NBA 2K16.  It was a very well received mode that proved to be quite stable.  NBA 2K17 saw a big step forward with the concept of an offseason surrounded by the drafting of players and general player movement.  In hindsight, I’d say there was a 50/50 split between fans who really enjoyed the simplicity of playing multiple seasons with their friends, and those who were not big fans of the ‘Keeper’ approach, even if they enjoyed it more than our offering in NBA 2K16.

For NBA 2K19, we invested a considerable amount of time into MyLEAGUE Online with a unified singular goal: Bring everything that is offline directly into MyLEAGUE Online.  This means financials/contracts, league expansion, and every other related detail that has been omitted from previous editions.  The team did a marvelous job on this goal; the only item that didn’t make it over is in-season Player Training.  Everything else is in.  Let’s get into some more details on this…

What’s in 2K19’s MyLEAGUE Online:

For NBA 2K19, MyLEAGUE Online was developed with one simple goal: Bring everything that is available offline directly into MyLEAGUE Online.  This includes a LIVE offseason with real-time free agency, NBA draft, and more.  This handy new ‘League Members’ panel can be brought up from anywhere in the mode and gives you quick access to what is going on in your MyLEAGUE Online!

New this year is the ‘League Members’ panel. From any screen in the mode, you can access it by flicking down on your right stick.  This panel is broken down into three parts:

Need to review something that happened earlier in the offseason? No problem.  Now you can go back in time and review the results of every offseason time period.  Maybe you forgot what happened at the Draft Lottery, or perhaps you want to re-review the outcome of the League Meetings.  This information is all available at your fingertips, no matter where you are in the offseason.  Note that this feature is also new this year for offline MyLEAGUEs.

A fully envisioned MyLEAGUE Online is something the team has sought since we first implemented the concept back in 2K16.  The final step that we took this year was long, arduous, and absolutely worth every second.  Earlier in the year, I had a ‘Wait, What?’ moment when a fellow sports game announced they were removing their online-based franchise mode entirely.  I’m probably as confused and baffled today as I was then.  When I play this mode, I have so, so much fun.  I can speak for everyone that worked on this when I say we sincerely hope you enjoy the effort put into MyLEAGUE Online this year.  Let us know what you think of it!

Ultimate Customization – Tuning Sliders

The customization suites available within MyLEAGUE and MyGM are unarguably one of the strongest elements of these modes and what truly separates them from similar modes found in other games.  With NBA 2K19, we are going to continue to innovate on this front by exposing more game control than any other franchise mode has before. 

Building a franchise mode is an incredibly complex endeavor.  There is a fine balance between emulating a real-life league (in our case, the NBA), while also streamlining the experience, and sometimes the rules, so the casual fan can play along as a would-be GM.  Over the years, I’ve heard it all when it comes to how our modes function:  Trading is too easy.  Trading is too hard.  This guy shouldn’t sign for that much money.  Too many players are rated 90 after a few years in the league.  We hear you, loud and clear.

NBA 2K19 is taking the very ambitious approach of adding a COMPLETE set of sliders that will allow you to customize the way the game thinks and behaves.  You can customize, to your liking, how much players sign for.  You can customize HOW teams value their players.  You can customize how much a player’s age factors into their trade value.  You can customize how much draft picks are worth, not in isolation, but how much they are worth for each team state (Contending teams, Buying teams, Selling teams, and Rebuilding teams).

This won’t be a comprehensive list of what you can edit, but I’d like to take you on a quick journey, with a little more detail on the types of things you’ll be editing this year in MyLEAGUE and MyGM.

Trade Sliders

Contract Sliders

Progression Sliders

I suspect all of you will be highly interested in this set of sliders:

We have always prided ourselves on offering the most robust set of customization tools of any sports game on the market…Period.  With the additions added this year with the Tuning Sliders, we are completely confident that our users will be able to create their perfect franchise down to every…last…detail.

Oh, one more thing.  Because of how immensely detailed these Tuning Sliders are, we have added the ability for you to save and upload your sliders for other users to download and inject right into their existing MyLEAGUEs.  It couldn’t be easier.

Built strictly from the feedback of our fans, NBA 2K19 features a brand new Create Player facial sculpting system that allows for more customization than ever before!

All-New Created Player Feature

This feature isn’t exclusive to MyLEAGUE/MyGM, but I have a feeling you absolutely want to hear about it!  Easily one of our most requested features coming out of 2K18, we’ll be showing this off a little more as we get closer to launch.  Create Player (or CAP, if you will) has seen a LOT of improvements year-over-year, all based 100% on the feedback from you, our fans.

Let’s start with Facial Sculpting.  Yes, it is fully in!  In NBA 2K19, you can use both presets and full sculpting sliders to:

- Fully customize the shape and size of the Skull.

- Fully customize the shape, size, and prominence of the Brow.

- Select and colorize the Eyebrows from a library of choices.

- Fully customize the Eyes by selecting their color and controlling every aspect of the eye and eyelids with six sculpting sliders.

- Fully customize the shape, size, angle, and rotation of the Ears.

- Fully customize the position, width, and prominence of the Nose with six unique sculpting sliders.

- Fully customize the shape and size of the Cheeks.

- Fully customize the Mouth along with the thickness and prominence of the Lips with a host of available sculpting sliders.

- Select and colorize Facial Hair from 50 unique choices.

- Fully customize the width and prominence of the Chin with a set of five unique sculpting sliders.

- Fully customize Skin Color from a library of choices, while also maintaining control over Blemishes, Discolorations, Freckles, and Pock Marks.

- And finally, FULLY customize the style and color of the Hair.  Many hairstyles also allow for the customization of the length of the hair (very cool), the pattern shaved into the hair (think lines, Jumpman logos, etc.), control over the fade, and even how you shape the hair corner on the back of the neck (are you a round or a sharp corner kind of person?).

In MyLEAGUE and MyGM, you will be able to use this new suite of tools both when you want to create a new player for your league and when you want to edit a Draft Class prospect.  With what has been created here, I fully expect we will see some of the most unique and robust user created draft classes in any NBA 2K game to-date.   

MyGM: The Saga Continues (& Traditional MyGM!)

NBA 2K18 innovated on a number of franchise fronts, with one of them being a major story/franchise hybrid in MyGM: The Next Chapter.  We received a LOT of positive feedback on this mode, and to be fair, some constructive feedback on areas we could improve on in 2K19 (sorry about the forced trade!).

Before I tell you about what NBA 2K19’s MyGM: The Saga Continues feature is all about, I want to start off with this.  One of the areas of feedback we received from last year was that while many of you enjoyed the story narrative, you felt that the playthrough was a one-time thing and subsequent playthroughs resulted in a lot of button mashing as you already knew how the story played out. 

In NBA 2K19, you will now have the option of starting a ‘MyGM: The Saga Continues’ OR you can start a ‘Traditional MyGM’ experience.  Traditional MyGM has all story elements removed from it and is much more akin to what the MyGM experience was like in NBA 2K17 and prior.  Really, this is a best of both worlds situation.  Depending on your mood, you can play your story-based MyGM, or you can play classic MyGM.  Everyone wins!  Thank you all for the feedback here.  We think you will love this approach!

A few more quick words on Traditional MyGM.  You can now start with expansion, customize the league, start in the offseason, etc.  It is much more flexible than you remember.  In addition to all of this, you can now choose a difficulty level based on how adept you are at being a GM:

In NBA 2K19’s MyGM: The Saga Continues, you will find yourself at the helm of a brand new expansion franchise as you manage the wishes of your owner and all of the details that are involved in getting a completely new franchise off the ground.  This fresh take on the franchise narrative experience will keep you entertained and delighted all throughout!

Now, let’s talk about what exactly MyGM: The Saga Continues is all about.  With lessons learned, we’ve got another great experience for you this year!  The Saga Continues is a loose continuation of where 2K18’s The Next Chapter left off.  Through some creative coercion from your current owner, you will find yourself taking the reins of a brand new expansion franchise and all that goes into getting that franchise off the ground.

The uniquely compelling approach to telling the narrative this year means nearly all of the story will play out before your team even plays their first NBA game.  Your eccentric owner, Tex Towers, is a tried-and-true Texan who is a businessman through and through.  He’s not the most knowledgeable person about the NBA, but he wants a profitable franchise and is willing to take a step back to let you make all of the important decisions.  He trusts you.  He believes in you.  And you will absolutely not believe how many Texas sayings the guy has in his arsenal. 

You will find yourself convincing people to join your backroom staff, designing your uniforms, designing your arena, and more.  As this is a continuation of where we left off last year, Bob Sanderson and everyone’s favorite punching bag Andrew Sanderson will be making appearances in the story as well.  Andrew Sanderson learned a lot during NBA 2K18’s The Next Chapter, and is ready to show you that he has matured into a stand-up man.  He will be heading up another team that is going through this process alongside you.  I’d warn you to watch out for Sanderson, but I think you already know he is just the decoy.  The real problem lies elsewhere.  But where?  And what is this problem?

Everything you read in the story has meaning and will come back later.  So, pay close attention to every detail.  One of my favorite aspects of NBA 2K19’s MyGM: The Saga Continues is how much you get to interact with the story and the characters this year.  Easily my favorite scene in the narrative, you will find yourself conducting a full on investigation, while interacting in full back-and-forths with a number of characters, simultaneously.  Pay close attention to what people say in the story!  Ok, no more spoilers from me!

If you were a fan of The Next Chapter last year, this narrative is going to capture and consume you.  If you were someone who gave it a try last year, but were turned off by some of the choices (e.g. the forced trade), I would implore you to have a look at the offering this year.  The writing is fantastic, and it’s genuinely a lot of fun to live out the dream of creating a new NBA franchise from the ground up.  Let us know what you think!

New NBA Draft

One of the crown jewels of the NBA season is the NBA Draft, where teams gamble on their futures with the youth of today.  It’s one of the few days where every team is bristling with hope as ANYTHING can happen.  As I watched the draft experience play out in our game in NBA 2K18, I often felt a sense of confusion as to what this was all about.  Who are these players? 

When you watch the real NBA draft, you always feel a little more ‘in the loop’ as you are getting expert analysis explaining the strengths and weakness of each player.  In addition to a brand new look and feel, I endeavored to capture that feeling of being educated as I watched the draft unfold in the game this year.  As you play through NBA 2K19’s draft, an assortment of media pundits will provide insightful analysis on every player as they get selected, while often providing a little bit of context as to why the current team selected them.  Perhaps the team had an expiring player at a position they don’t intend to re-sign.  Perhaps the player had the best vertical at the Draft Combine and the team couldn’t pass that up.  Perhaps the player measured with the longest wingspan in the draft.  Or perhaps he was nothing more than the best player available.

This all sounds like a subtle change, but I have found myself making it all the way through drafts where in years past I would probably make my picks and sim the rest of the draft.  NBA 2K19’s new NBA draft is a best-in-class showpiece that will keep you entertained all season long!

NBA 2K19’s all-new NBA Draft features a new look and feel to support the new media analysis engine, which provides detailed feedback about every prospect as they are selected.

Historical Draft Classes 

I should probably put this one down lower, but I absolutely geek out over features like this.  Our Import Draft Class feature has silently been a highly used feature for a number of years now. 

In NBA 2K19, we now have pre-created draft classes for the following drafts:

1960 – Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, and more

1965 – Gail Goodrich, Rick Barry, Jerry Sloan, and more

1969 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jo Jo White, and more

1970 – Bob Lanier, Pete Maravich, Dave Cowens, Rudy Tomjanovich, Nate “Tiny” Archibald, and more

1974 – Bill Walton, Jamaal Wilkes, Maurice Lucas, George Gervin, and more

1976-2017 – ALL of the modern NBA!

You have the option of importing one of these classes at the start of every NBA season.  If you are a fan of the fictional draft classes, we still offer those as well!

I don’t think I need to explain to you how much fun this feature is as you can bring Kareem, Magic, Bird, Jordan, The Admiral, Iverson, Timmy Duncan, rookie LeBron, and so many more back into the NBA for your chance to guide their careers.

I recently had what turned out to be one of my all-time favorite MyLEAGUE sessions where I ran through 40 years starting with the 1976 class and loaded each subsequent class all the way through 2017.  It was a ton of fun, and made every draft ‘must-watch’ as I waited to see where all the stars would land, knowing those franchises would be changed forever.  I highly recommend you give this a try!

Player Mentorships

As young players enter the NBA, savvy teams ensure they have a veteran presence in the locker room to guide the players and ensure they go about things the right way.  In NBA 2K19, a new Player Mentorships feature has been added that allows you to assign a Mentor to any player on your team in an attempt to customize how that player develops (via his badges).

Players are at their peak learning capacity during their first 4-5 years in the league.  It is during this time in our game where they will experience their largest area of growth.  Players learn best (but not exclusively) from elder players at their own position (PG, SG/SF, PF/C).  If you assign J.J. Redick to be Joel Embiid’s mentor, it will naturally limit the amount of skills that Embiid is able to learn (Embiid is simply unable to learn some of Redick’s skills due to their very different archetype).  On the other hand, if you take a guy like Lonzo Ball and assign Rajon Rondo to be his mentor, I can selectively ask Rondo to start teaching Ball how to earn the Ankle Breaker badge, or the Lob City Passer badge, or the Pick Pocket badge, or…you get the idea.

The really interesting dynamic this adds to our game modes is that it really causes you to think and strategize even further about your free agent/trade acquisitions.  Yes, you want to always build the best team possible.  However, if you happen to have a potential young star waiting in the wings, it may be wise to put thought into acquiring a veteran player that can pass on the skills you want your young player(s) to learn.

CPU teams will be taking advantage of this new feature this year as well.  They will always be actively pursuing players to help grow their young star talent.  Expect free agency to be…a little different this  year thanks to the Player Mentorships feature!

NBA 2K19’s brand new Player Mentorships feature allows you to control the progression of your younger players.  When assigning a veteran on your team to mentor a younger player, that younger player can learn select Badges from his mentor!

Traded Player Exceptions

We pride ourselves on our aspirations of complete authenticity when it comes to delivering you the most realistic experience possible.  To that end, we are very careful with what features we choose and how we deliver them to you.  While it may appear simple on the surface, the NBA rulebook is filled with intricacies and addendums upon addendums added to cover previous loopholes.  When we add a feature, we do so in a way that remains true to the rule, but also in a way that makes the feature highly usable to you, our consumer.

In NBA 2K19, we have added a long, long, long requested feature: Traded Player Exceptions!  Explained simply, a trade exception is what is created following a trade where one team moves more salary than it gets in return.  The team that traded the larger salary receives a trade exception, which is eligible to be used at any point over the subsequent 12 months.  In the game, we allow you to easily see any Trade Exceptions your team has (and those that opposing teams have) in addition to the expiration date for each.

A recent real-world example of this exception in action is when the Pistons traded for Blake Griffin back in January.  One aspect of the trade that I personally felt was under-reported was how the Pistons created a $7M trade exception in the trade.  That is a powerful chip for a team looking to make a big move.

There are some features you add for the sake of realism.  For that immersive factor.  Then there are others you choose to add because they genuinely improve the quality of the game experience.  We have found that Traded Player Exceptions actually tick both of those boxes.  The creativity it will now allow you when trading is something the game sorely needed, in hindsight.  In a world of becoming ever more realistic, NBA 2K19 is easily the most realistic experience we have delivered yet!

New All-Star Format

The NBA has been experimenting with their All-Star Weekend template for a number of years now.  The 2018 All-Star game in Los Angeles saw the most dramatic format change to date.  With the top vote-getter in each conference being named as Team Captains, those two players perform a schoolyard pick from the remaining starters.  Once that is settled, the two captains then draft from the remaining 14 players, selected by the NBA head coaches.  As this is MyLEAGUE, you will have control over the draft and who plays on which team.  There is also an option to just auto draft the teams if this isn’t your cup of tea.

Additionally, we now also offer a proper Rising Stars game as part of our All-Star Weekend.  A game intended to showcase the young talent of the league, the format will follow the NBA’s lead with Team USA competing against Team World.  Enjoy!

In NBA 2K19, you will participate in the NBA’s new All-Star Draft, where the captain for each conference selects their team from the fan voted and coach selected players!


New Summer League

Starting this summer, the NBA adopted a new format for the NBA Summer League.  Now, all 30 NBA teams participate in the ever-growing event.  In our endless quest for authenticity, we have gone ahead and implemented a full replication of the entirety of the new Summer League format. In this new format, teams will compete in 3 preliminary games before being seeded into a tournament that culminates with the Championship Game.  Each team will play, at a minimum, 5 games.  Depending on how they perform in the tournament, teams can play upwards of 8 games.  It’s all here in NBA 2K19’s MyLEAGUE and MyGM modes!

Injury History Menu

This is a nice under-the-radar feature that, as its name implies, will show you the injury history for every player in your MyLEAGUE/MyGM.  When players become injured, you can visit their injury history page for full details of the injury (date injured, projected recovery date, whether the injury is playable or not, what positive effects a protective accessory might have on the injury, and more). 

The injury history is archived for every player moving forward, such that you can review this information BEFORE you choose to mortgage the farm for that next big free agent signing.  We’ve made all of this information easily accessible not only from the new Injury History menu, but you can also view the data of any player in the league with the link directly on their Player Card.


Draft Pick Tracking

NBA 2K19 includes a simple new interface that allows you to view all of your owned draft picks for the next 5 years, all in one single menu.  This includes all the information you need, including what team the pick originated from, and any details on pick protections (if applicable).

In addition to this, you can toggle over to another view that shows all of your team’s picks (even if you no longer own them) for the next 5 years.  This is a very handy tool if, say, you are considering ‘tanking’ next season and would like to get your 1st round pick back before doing so.  Never drive the tank without your own 1sts!  I like this feature a lot.

New this year is the ability to quickly view the draft picks that every team has along with the various protections those picks have.  Plotting out your rebuilding process has never been more streamlined than it is in NBA 2K19!

Choose Your Own Rule Changes

NBA 2K17 saw the introduction of Dynamic Rule Changes, a feature that has turned out to be a fan favorite based on all of the “add this rule idea” feedback we continue to receive on it.  One of the limitations of the feature was that you were limited to whatever five rules the game chose for you to vote on.  In NBA 2K19, we are giving you the ability to replace any proposed rule to one of your choosing from our ever-growing list of rule changes.  In fact, I expect many of you will be quite surprised by the variety in our library when it comes to rule changes…enjoy!

New Rule Changes

Continuing on with the rule changes topic, we have added a small handful of new rule changes this year; a few of which I want to highlight as they are either topical to current NBA discussions, or in the case of the last one, a little fantastical.  We are all here to have a little fun, right?

The first rule change I want to talk about is quite simple.  When enabled, 8 teams will still make the playoffs from each conference, however, all 16 teams that make it are ultimately seeded 1 to 16.  Yes, this means you can have foes from opposite conferences squaring off in the first round of the playoffs and rivals from the same conference meeting in the NBA Finals.  There has been so much discussion in the media about how we can ‘save’ the playoffs format with all the talent moving West.  Here is your chance to live it out and let us know what you think!

And now on to the fantastical.  The other rule change I want to call out (that is an office favorite) is one we have added that creates the concept of a lottery tournament.  When this rule is activated, the teams that do not make the playoffs enter into their own bracket.  The stakes?  The stakes are high!  The winner of the lottery tournament will land the #1 pick in the draft, while the remaining lottery picks will be determined by placement in the tournament.  Tankers need not apply here!  We actually have a few variants on this rule change where the top pick or top 2 picks are determined by the tournament (the loser in the Finals gets that #2 pick), while the remainder of the lottery picks are determined by team record.

As a reminder on the rule changes feature, it is entirely optional!  You will now have complete control over how little or how many rule changes affect your franchises.

Player DNA

I detailed our new incredibly robust Create Player feature up above.  Player DNA is a new feature that ties into it in that it that allows you to download, create, and/or share templates of created players via Edit Player to use in custom rosters or draft classes.  With Player DNA, you can choose to import everything about any player (past or present), just the player’s likeness, or just the player’s attributes.

You may find this handy when creating a draft class and you want to create a player in the mold of another player.  Or perhaps you just want to create yourself while giving yourself every detail of LeBron’s game.  This is yet another feature created at the request of you, our fans; we look forwarding to see what you can all do with it!

Updated Draft Lottery

Starting with the 2019 Draft Lottery, the NBA will change the draft lottery format to a system that will reduce the odds so that the team with the three worst records will share the same chance of receiving the #1 overall draft pick (14%).  Teams outside of the top 3 will have a better chance than ever at jumping up into that top 3.

NBA 2K19 fully incorporates this new Draft Lottery system into both MyLEAGUE and MyGM for your enjoyment.  As an added bonus, the old lottery rules have been added as an eligible rule change in the above-mentioned Rule Changes feature.

More Draft Picks For Trading

I mentioned this one in passing up above, but I want to bring it up again so it does not get overlooked.  NBA 2K19 adds another year’s worth of draft picks at your disposal.  While 2K18 only allowed you access to your next 4 years worth of draft picks, 2K19 now allows you access to your next *5* years’ worth of draft picks.  A subtle change, but one that allows you more flexibility when plotting out your own dynasty!

User Controllable Season Awards

This feature falls directly into the category of “The fans have demanded it!”  We have a fairly complex logic system in place that looks at every variable possible before determining the season ending awards (MVP, ROY, etc.) to players.  For the people who really want to make those decisions for themselves, NBA 2K19 now allows you to override the season awards that we select to those of your choosing.  Total customization carries through!

On-The-Fly Lineups

This is a quick and nifty little feature that allows you to set quick lineups for different types of situations (Quickness/Fast players, Best Defenders, Best 3-PT Shooters, Best Free Throw Shooters, A full Bench lineup, Your Tallest Players, and a Custom lineup slot that you can use to make your own On-The-Fly Lineup).  These lineups are all easily customized by you, the user, and are very easily accessed in-game by pressing down to activating the On-The-Fly-Coaching (OTFC) feature.  I’ve found these to be very helpful and simple to use.

Closing Thoughts

I say it every year, and at this point, the proof is simply in the pudding.  We believe strongly in the franchise experience here at Visual Concepts.  InnovationAuthenticityEngagement.  We live by that tenet, and it has served us well.

The continual feedback, passion, and enthusiasm from our fans fuels us.  For the team, it is a great reminder that what we do here positively affects millions of people all around the world.  A reminder that giving anything less than 110% is simply unacceptable.  Don’t ever stop sending ideas to us; and my promise to you is we won’t ever stop making them a reality.  We hear you!

Dave Z and his team of Jeff, Tim, Leftos, John, Yu, Daniel, Ash, and Brad put in extra time this year to make all of the above possible for you.  A huge hat tip from me to all of them.  And to all of you still reading, thank you for allowing me the time to tell you what these truly talented people have accomplished. 

Until next time, my friends.  Enjoy NBA 2K19; the team went all out for this 20th Anniversary edition!

Erick Boenisch

aka SimBaller

P.S. This is not the last you will hear from me this year.  I’ve actually spent a lot of time helping to revitalize another aspect of the game that I am incredibly eager to tell you about (and I will!).  Stay tuned and I’ll see you again before the game launches on September 7th!