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NBA 2K Roster Creators: Who Are The People Behind The Work?

NBA 2K19

NBA 2K Roster Creators: Who Are The People Behind The Work?

One of the things that really helps to set NBA 2K apart from other AAA titles is its community, and their involvement in ensuring that rosters within the game are always at their most updated and accurate. 2K and their devs do a fantastic job of keeping the rosters updated themselves, but once the NBA season is over they don’t need to make changes as they really look to ramp up to the next iteration of the game. We also don’t have any college sports games anymore so we don’t have the ability to use upcoming draft classes that represent what we see in real life. That’s what the roster creation community is for and how they come into play.

If you’ve read my articles that have covered NBA 2K, you’ll notice that at some point I use custom rosters to help with whatever article I’m trying to write at that point. There are a lot of options to choose from in the community but there’s always a few creations that stand out, whether it be for the upcoming year’s draft class or for keeping rosters as accurate as possible through free agency right up until the next year’s game drops. I had the luxury to talk to four of the creators that have kept us going over the last few years of 2K: Michael M. (@NationalBBalla3), Curtis M. (@SkillzFromThe6), Ronyell W. (@YeLLzStAR) and Bill F. (@Prof2kTweets). I wanted to pick at these guys to see what went into their process in doing what they do as well as see where their love for NBA 2K came from.

How long have you guys been playing NBA 2K? What really got you hooked on the game and made you say “this is it, this game is dope”?

NationalBBalla3: I actually started out playing NBA Live on my Xbox 360. Once NBA Live went on their creation hiatus, I bought games in the NBA 2K series. I was absolutely hooked right then. I never went back to Live since 2K10. I have always been hooked on franchise modes because they bring the most realism to the game. The growth of the game from NBA 2K10 to NBA 2K18 is absolutely insane.

SkillzFromThe6: I’ve been playing since NBA 2K8. I love the game of basketball, so all I needed was a game to play and there 2K was with their nice trailers — it was the music of their trailers that really got me.

YeLLzStAR: I think I’ve been playing since 2K5 if I recall — it’s been awhile though. I got hooked on the game immediately as I’m a realism and franchise mode fiend. The presentation made me feel like I was being plugged into a real life game as opposed to Live (where I was moving from) that had an arcade-like feel at the time. There were a million idiosyncrasies that grabbed my attention but the player movement was what really put it over the top.

Prof2kTweets: I have been playing 2K since the original on the Sega Dreamcast. My friend let me borrow it and I ended up just trading a different game for it because I didn’t want to give the game back. I loved creating my own character and just dominating teams with my guy. I honestly was also into NBA Live at the time but once 2K also utilized the right analog stick, I was more into 2K from then on outside of a dunk contest mode in NBA Live.

What made you transition from being a fan of the NBA 2K series into a position where you wanted to create roster content for the game?

NationalBBalla3: My road to being a content creator is actually rather strange. It actually all started when there were minor bench players missing in the game, and so I would just create them and add them to their respective teams. I think it was on NBA 2K15 where I started to really make a bunch of players and draft classes. I pretty much just kept them for myself to use in my own personal MyLeague.

SkillzFromThe6: I’ve always made my own rosters for myself and my brother to play. We’d make our fantasy players and just play the game. One day I decided to make a FIBA roster so my brother and I could play with Team Canada, so I ended up making like 10 teams; I uploaded it to 2K. After that a random guy on Twitter asked me to make FIBA basketball jerseys for him, so I did. I think he told me after doing it to upload them to YouTube. Believe it or not, that’s how I transformed to creating more roster content and also became a content creator on YouTube as well. I’d really love to thank that guy one day.

YeLLzStAR: So being that I am a franchise mode guy, the more I played the mode the more I noticed the disconnect between casual gameplay and franchise mode gameplay, not to mention what was needed for proper statistical generation. Even when the game played great for a full season with proper stats and all, once the next season started there would be modifications needed if you were a true sim head. All that being said, I started as a follower of OS vet Nogster’s general edits that were primed to get the game to be “playable.” It got to a point where I asked him if I could use his roster as a base to overhaul every single player in totality and see if it could be done in a way that perfectly blended gameplay, stat generation and season progression/regression without me having to do much extra in between.

Prof2kTweets: I created content for other games for years, originally for Blizzard games then Halo custom maps. My favorite was re-creating “Complex,” a level from Nintendo 64’s Goldeneye, for Halo 3. 2K over the years began rolling out different customization options tools and I got hooked instantly. They had some of the best customization tools at the time and I just ran with it. My friends and I loved doing fantasy drafts and I was really into the history of the NBA — having had a close relative play for the Boston Celtics in the early days of the league. I decided to start creating legends that were missing from the game to include in the fantasy drafts that my friends and I would do. Eventually I took every player in the game and put them in the prime of their career and added all my created legends to that roster, uploading it as my Legends Prime All Time Teams roster. It was a hit, even though I released it way into the year. From then forward I started coming up with different roster ideas that played off my original content.

What’s your process when you create your roster(s)?

NationalBBalla3: I have always been a fan of completeness. I want every player that is NBA-eligible to be in the game. Growing up in a family that has been around basketball, I’ve been around a lot of the D-League (now known as the G-League) and saw how hard those guys work to get to the NBA. It is impossible for me to create every single possible guy that can sign with an NBA team in the game. So, starting in 2K16, I created all training camp invitees and just added them to the free agent pool. As far as draft classes go, I released I think two on NBA 2K17 that were based off of SportsGamingRosters and EmbraceThePace’s rosters, but with my own edits. The summer leading into 2K18, Embrace and I got into contact with each other and I helped him with his offseason roster last year creating many camp invitees and two-way players. I wanted these draft classes to be completely full with all 150 real players, which was able to be accomplished with two of the four draft classes. Embrace, DaInfamousNY, SkillzFromThe6, SportsGamingRosters and I came up with an idea to create community draft classes. This year we released four draft classes and we accumulated over 290,000 downloads.

SkillzFromThe6: My process when I create my roster is to search the player up on RealGM.com for their stats; I also used DraftExpress before they went to ESPN for scouting reports. I look up player images on google and search on YouTube for highlights of the player. If I’m making a college roster, I go to the team website of the respective player instead of going to RealGM.

YeLLzStAR: The process I use is long as hell, so if an in-depth breakdown is what you’re looking for it may be a better idea to check one of our podcasts floating around the OS forums. Essentially I have to start by watching hours upon hours of gameplay using all different team/player types and use that information to find the commonalities and variables. I then make a spreadsheet of everything. I mean EVERYTHING. You can see the spreadsheet at SimWorld NBA Central. After doing this I make sure everything is equal in regards to sliders, tendencies, ratings, etc. and do even more testing. I then have to find the ceiling and floor of every editable item to see how it actually plays out in-game. Once that’s done, I start creating scales for each editable item; more in-depth testing is done after plugging in all of those edits. Once I’m satisfied with this step, I test all different variables with different rotations, players, plays, play types — did I mention that the testing all has to be done in CPU versus CPU mode to eliminate any bias in data due to my greatness as an NBA 2K player (or otherwise)? This whole long, exasperating process ends with even more testing and tinkering to create outliers to the scales and balancing of anything that doesn’t translate to gameplay and stats, at the same time taking into account changing seasons and team dynamics by using slider adjustments. After all of this, you know what happens? More testing. It really is a crazy process for me, and I may be leaving something out, but that’s my process in a nutshell.

Prof2kTweets: At this point, my process is copying what I’ve done from years prior; this takes a ton of time and requires me to have multiple TVs and consoles hooked up next to each other. 2K added the All Time teams content (which was my project for years) to the game which cut my time down from over 100 hours a year to a more reasonable amount of hours depending on the project being worked on.

Is there or has there been anybody that has influenced you throughout your time in creating rosters for NBA 2K?

NationalBBalla3: Mainly EmbraceThePace. Since using his draft classes in 2K15, he really showed me how much time and effort he puts into every single player that he creates. He really gave me my first break in the 2K community and I am truly grateful for that.

SkillzFromThe6: People that have influenced me are my brother, Tgor from OS, Mike Stauffer (bedwardsroy19) and EmbraceThePace of course.

YeLLzStAR: As mentioned earlier, Nogster’s approach was fresh for me and early on I had different people join in on the project to help with the enormous amount of work; one such person is OSer that goes by the name of youALREADYknow (big shouout bro, wherever you’re at). The biggest influence came from my partners in crime that create the fictional draft classes and fictional NBA roster portions of the SimWorld projects.

Prof2kTweets: I haven’t been influenced by anybody else throughout my time creating rosters for 2K, but I have gotten tons of feedback over the years that have influenced my work going forward.

Is there anything you feel could improve the process in creating custom rosters?

NationalBBalla3: I think the community should come together and create rosters and draft classes together. Too often I see multiple creators creating the same exact player; it would save everybody the time if we all split up the work and then had a project moderator or two to help maintain consistency.

SkillzFromThe6: 2K took away the ability to look at the overall rating while you’re doing the attributes. Editing the player’s appearance in the roster instead of outside in the CAP menu would be great as well.

YeLLzStAR: Oh boy. Bring back the option to apply tattoos! It really kills the immersion to not have this ability. Honestly, about a million CAP features need to be added back, but I’ll leave that stuff for the guys in those OS forum threads. More mass editing options (please put lateral quickness back in the quick edit menu). Allow us to type in values using a keyboard as opposed to sliding a scale or meter; if we do stay on a scale, many tendencies and ratings should be tied together on said scale(s). Allow us to sort and edit without the screen reverting back to its default sorting. Obviously there are tendencies or IQs that should be added like “run the break,” “crash the glass” and others that I could go on and on about. A good reference would be to allow us to have the options that we were available to use in REDitor, which we used last gen.

Prof2kTweets: I really feel that 2K needs to add a description box. They used to have it and it was very useful when looking at different rosters to tell you what the creator did. I ended up getting on Twitter to help explain my content better to people who were curious. I feel 2K needs to go back to the facial molding they had before this year. It’s very difficult to create accurate faces using the current creation tools. I would like to see body types be a real thing; wingspan should actually be shown rather than be scaled out of 100, and it should require me to check said scale by another means. I would love to see a holding area that allows you to store a player, and or groups of players that you don’t want on any specific teams or in free agency. This area would also allow you to unload multiple players on to a single team at once if desired. I’d also like to see Create-A-Team be a real option within roster creation. Being able to create teams and put them into custom rosters would give even more control to content creators. This was a feature previously in 2K in some form but it involved exporting teams from a Franchise/MyLeague.

You’ve each gotten thousands of downloads for your created rosters. Is there anything you want your fans and followers to know? Is there anything you have in mind for NBA 2K19?

NationalBBalla3: Unfortunately, I won’t be creating any content for NBA 2K19. I’m going to pursue my Bachelor’s degree in Sports Administration and will also be working as well. I will still be posting content on my Twitter (@NationalBBaller3). There will be many other creators working on draft classes, such as SkillsFromThe6, SportsGamingRosters and ToreyJones.

SkillzFromThe6: I appreciate the love and support. I hope you guys continue to use my rosters; I work really hard on them every year. I think I made like 190 rookies for NBA 2K18. I’ll also be making another college roster for NBA 2K19, as long as they have the same features of course. Duke is gonna be very scary.

YeLLzStAR: Unfortunately there isn’t anything for me to share as there will not be a SimWorld roster project for NBA 2K19. I would like to plug in here that if you haven’t already downloaded or aren’t familiar with the project, you can check it out at NBA2KGOAT: A SimWorld – Hyperballer – DC Collaboration (NBA 2K18 for Xbox One). You can also check out our alternate NBA Universe at SimWorld NBA Chronicle.

Prof2kTweets: I’ve gotten millions of downloads over years — I’ve got around 42 million and counting as of today. I want my fans and followers to know just how much I appreciate them using my content over the years. You guys have all kept me going. I’ve considered giving up multiple times just to work on other projects not related to 2K but because of all the fan and follower support, I keep coming back year after year. I couldn’t do any of what I do without the support I get from all of you.

After talking to all of these awesome creators that put their heart and soul into giving us top-notch rosters, I personally had a newfound respect for each and every one of them. Do you like the work that these guys do? Feel free to drop a comment and leave any suggestions or thanks to the guys that keep us playing NBA 2K during off times!

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  1. These guys are awesome (as is 2Ks openness in letting us share rosters) they give the game more replayability after the draft and most of their detail is next level. Never forget 2K Stauff started out like these guys.
    They're gonna do great things with the new CAP.
    Cool piece. Seeing Nogster's name thrown around was a blast from the past.
    Those who create the actual rosters deserve all the love they get, but I also tip my cap to those who've mastered certain supporting elements over the years. Tgor's 2K create-a-player faces are the best I've ever seen and I'm looking forward to what he has in store for his return this year. And a personal favorite of mine from years ago was OS user portlandblazer, who used to create near perfect renditions of classic players during the XBox 360 years and was painstakingly accurate when it came to giving players accurate accessories and shoes.
    Here's hoping 2K19 continues to deliver on the roster customization front. I always keep my fingers crossed upon release that something strange hasn't happened (i.e. the create-a-player setback in 2K18) that hamstrings these guys from providing their best work.
    Thanks for the shout out my friend. I will be making draft classes this year. PS4. I hope I can continue the great work we all did on the 2018 classes.
    www.sportsgamingrosters.com
    Please, can we create a 2K19 OS COMMUNITY roster, so that everyone can make sliders and draft classes to match that same base roster. Would make things so much easier for everyone as it'd take less time and would eliminate the "is X draft class good with Y roster" questions. My only wish for the community with 2K19.
    And yes, I'd GLADLY help out.
    For you Xbox users dont sleep on Vannwolfhawks custom roster. His roster played more NBA realistic than any roster I've ever played with, pretty close with SimWorlds roster. His roster pretty much saved NBA2K18 for me.
    Reading this makes me think 2K and really all sports games need to make a way to import content created for previous version of the game. (Really all AAA sports games). So much rework done every year. Imagine where things would be if people didn’t have to make the same players every year, etc.
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports
    One thing I'd like to see is to be able to have a search box, so that I could just type in a player's name and have the system pull all the versions of that player.  That way if I want the 86 version of Jordan on my team I don't have to scroll through 60 plus teams to trade him with someone on my current team.  Or dropping him into free agency is still bad because there is still a lot of scrolling back and forth between teams.  Its a nit-pick thing I know.  And I LOVE that there are so many teams.  But it does make changing players more cumbersome.  Adding a "search" feature would go over like crazy with the community.
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A father, dedicated sports fan and gamer. FIFA, Madden, NHL, NBA 2K are what I play majority of the time. Manchester United runs in my blood. Chicago Bulls and Denver Broncos drape the walls of my man cave. Play hard, or don't play at all.

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