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The New Sound of the Premier League

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NBA 2K12 Developer Insight 11 - Audio

  POSTED September 23 |   VIEWS 10669

Joel Simmons, NBA 2K12 Audio Director, with the newest Developer Insight. He gives you a rundown of all the new additions to Audio in NBA 2K12.

 Screenshots Gallery

3-Man Booth with Steve Kerr

It’s been a great year, filled with major upgrades to the audio in NBA 2K12.   As many of you know, we’ve added 5-time NBA Champion and long-time analyst Steve Kerr, to our broadcast booth.  Steve brings a wealth of basketball knowledge and creates a great chemistry and balance with Kevin Harlan and Clark Kellogg.  This is our biggest year ever in the franchise in terms of new dialogue, more than doubling the amount of new content that was introduced in 2K11.

 

As with a real-life 3-man booth, the sports video game equivalent is much more flexible and dynamic with the ability to deliver various combinations of two-man and three-man commentary exchanges.  It also goes a long way to eliminate the predictability of a typical 2-man booth where following a play-by-play call, you’ll always expect to hear a comment by the same color analyst after each play.  Having a 3-man booth also enables each color analyst to fully contribute their unique insight on trends within the game; both Steve and Clark have side-by-side content where they each start their own thought on a topic, followed up by the other analyst.  This allows them to agree or disagree, as well as choose to expand on a topic as best fits the situation.

PLAY 3-MAN BOOTH AUDIO CLIP HERE

Within the context of your Association or NBA Today in NBA 2K12, you’ll notice that you’re not just hearing last year’s content split between Clark or Steve, but instead hearing complete coverage of the analysis. This brings a new dynamic to the broadcast experience, and opens the door for even deeper systems that push the boundary of sports dialogue presentation.

All New Color Commentary

One of our top priorities for 2K12 was to completely revamp our color commentary.  Adding Steve Kerr was the perfect catalyst to make broad changes across all color.  Clark Kellogg’s dialogue has been redone for 2K12- and in a big way. In addition to tens of thousands of new lines, nearly all of the existing lines (97 %+) have been re-tooled into a new 3-man commentary AI.

One of our primary considerations in 2K12 was to avoid re-recording the same line-types with new writing. Instead, we wanted to fundamentally change how the existing systems worked, while adding new ones.  We also expanded coverage for hundreds of areas where variety and detailed analysis was lacking in prior years.  For example, as you take your team through the season, one of the early-game analysis segments may discuss the fact you’re playing in the second game of a back-to-back.  Prior to 2K12, when this analysis was triggered, only one angle was covered.  For 2K12, this scenario takes into consideration the quality of the season to this point and whether the game was won or lost last night.  This is just one example of hundreds of areas that have received a complete color analysis overhaul.  We’ve taken this type of approach with nearly every area of color commentary and we’re really excited about the new direction for deepening the realism brought to each game of NBA 2K12.  

PLAY NEW COLOR CLIP HERE

Another couple areas that received a lot of focus this year are clutch moments and late game analysis.  New content from Kevin Harlan really adds to the intensity of big moments down the stretch, with his signature high-energy play-by-play calls: an area we had wanted to expand on for quite some time.   The new late-game play-by-play calls, combined with the brand new color commentary, help make the big moments in games feel much more authentic. 

PLAY LATE GAME CLIP HERE

 

Greatest Players Mode

Undoubtedly one of the most exciting areas for dialogue this year is the “NBA’s Greatest” Mode.  The first question was how to provide the best broadcast experience within the context of games from the 60’s all the way up to the present era.  We decided to take an archival perspective on the broadcast commentary, which allowed us to analyze the body of work for a player’s entire career while still calling out the in-game action as it ‘occurred’ in the archival tapes.  With the Bill Russell game in particular, we simulated a “lo-fi” sound that added to the vintage feel.  

PLAY GREATEST PLAYERS (LO-FI) CLIP HERE

The common thread between all of the”NBA’s Greatest”match-ups is that we wanted to provide more than just a background of each player’s career highlights. More so, we wanted to provide real-time recognition for the play-by-play and color commentary systems with specific calls on all of the player’s signature moves: Bill Russell’s dominance in the paint, Kareem dropping another deadly sky-hook, the Showtime Lakers’ fast-break and so on. 

PLAY GREATEST PLAYERS CLIP HERE

Once we started down this path, we realized that there would be an enormous amount of content needed to do the Legends justice and so we committed many days of recording for this feature alone.  You can probably imagine the efforts of our team but also the analysts.  Kevin, Clark, and Steve all had an absolute blast working on the Greatest Players commentary this year, and I think their enthusiasm and passion for the history of the game really shines through.

 

David Stern and Adam Silver

A new milestone for the NBA 2KFranchise and one of the memorable experiences of this year’s development cycle was our recording sessions with NBA Commissioner David Stern and Deputy NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.   For the first time in a sports video game, the draft feels and sounds like the real thing. 

PLAY DRAFT AUDIO CLIP HERE

Whether you are in Association or in My Player, David Stern and Adam Silver lend their voices to Rounds one and two of the Draft.   As with all dialogue systems, we are always planning on expanding support for deeper name database coverage each year, and we’ve got a great head-start with 2K12.

 

Studio Upgrades

One of the challenges with sports video-game commentary is the requirement to support not only the normal range of statistics for 12 minute quarters, but also the low-ranges for 4 or 5 minute quarter lengths.  We took on the challenge this year by developing more modern analysis systems that use appropriate ratios to provide a more accurate perspective on what the statistics reveal based on the quarter lengths.   While this is something that applies to our booth commentary as well, the requirement for supporting deeper statistical ranges during the halftime show makes a big improvement in the accuracy and variety.

PLAY STUDIO AUDIO CLIP HERE

Damon Bruce returns to the HP Halftime Report with an assortment of new analysis angles including a weekly and monthly awards segment for NBA Today and, for the first time in 2K12, also introduces the game during the loading screen.

 

Arena Specific Music, PA Sound Effects, and Crowd

We added over 500 new arena-specific sounds and music clips to enhance the realism of the uniqueness of each NBA arena in 2K12.  You’ll hear the fire-truck siren after a big dunk by Josh Smith, or the screech of a hawk after a clutch basket in Atlanta.  While many new sounds were added for the superstars of the NBA, this year we made a big effort in expanding coverage to a lot more players.   When Jonas Jerebko drops in a bucket, you’ll hear his customary horn sound effect, and custom-style situational PA calls were added for dozens of players including the likes of Ty Lawson and Tayshaun Prince:

PLAY PA MODERN SOUND EFFECTS AUDIO CLIP HERE

This year we wanted to recreate vintage sounds for “NBA’s Greatest” games, such as the unique organs of the Showtime Lakers, and Dr. J’s Philadelphia 76’ers:

PLAY PA VINTAGE SOUND EFFECTS AUDIO CLIP HERE

It was really interesting to research how the use of music and PA sound effects has evolved over the years.  In the modern era, the 30 NBA arenas utilize hundreds of custom sounds and unique music bits, whereas the arenas of the 60’s and 70’s typically relied on the sparse use of organ or music.  Taking into account these differences and creating vintage content were additional ways to differentiate the “NBA Greatest” games from those of the current era.

This year was also a big year for improving the crowd sound.  Thousands of new crowd chatter lines were added, as well as a host of fan-instruments like air-horns and hand-drums.  We also were really focused on getting a better mix between the primary crowd sound and the layers of chatter, whistles, PA announcer, and music.  This was our second year of developing our dynamic mixing approach to give the true feel of a broadcast, while maintaining the extreme moments of the crowd.  The crowd this year is louder than ever when D-Wade dunks to tie the game with 3 seconds left in the 4th quarter, but you can still hear the commentators fighting against the roar of the Miami crowd.  The lulls in a lop-sided contest are more noticeable, and there’s a bigger contrast to the emotion and volume of the intense moments.  The advancements for 2K12 have brought us much closer to our goal of matching the sound of a broadcast crowd.

 

Dialogue Patching 

On the more technical side of things, we’re really happy to announce that we’ll be able to fix commentary bugs post-launch.  This is something that we’ve been planning to implement for many years, and it is finally a reality.  We’ll be listening to feedback from the community in addition to continuing our own testing, and will address any issues in a patch.  It’s great to be able to provide updates that can immediately improve the broadcast experience, where in the past we could only make these changes for the subsequent title.   Thank you for the great feedback and suggestions we received for NBA 2K11, and we hope to hear from you again after October 4th!

 

- Joel Simmons

Audio Director

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