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Inside the Developers Studio: Erich Waas

Erich Waas's Avatar + Posted by Erich Waas on Jun 27, 2007 // Director, Product Development - San Diego

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1. What game do you have at E3 this year?
NBA 08 on the PlayStation 3. It was the first franchise at 1080p and 60 frames per second when the PS3 launched and we’ve made great strides since and added a lot to NBA 08.

2. Describe it in five words or less.
Cooler than a pet monkey.

3. What did you do on this game that you couldn’t do on another platform?
Thanks to the PS3′s cell processor, NBA 08 runs in Full HD — 1080p and 60fps. Not up-scaled to 1080p. Not a choice to run at 1080p OR 60fps. True Full HD. At the same time, we have detailed sweat that you can see rolling down players’ faces, head and eye tracking and facial animation for all 10 players at once. Additionally, thanks to the cell processor, we simulate cloth not just for the 10 players on the court but the bench players for each team as well. We also have such a variety in our arena crowds that you’ll only see 2 in every 2048 crowd members with the same model, wearing the same clothes and doing the same animation. And we do this from our “Behind the Player” cam which is more demanding on performance (because more is being drawn) than the sideline or broadcast cam you will see in other basketball games. There is also a lot of new ball physics that has been added to NBA 08 as well as a total of 2,000 unique animations within the game and 4 times the amount of AI routines for greatly improved variety of gameplay. With art assets created with native 1080p in mind as well as audio, we also have more data than can be stored on a dual layer DVD.

4. Do you have any “firsts” in this game that have never been done before?
NBA 07 was the first BluRay title at 1080p and 60fps. It was also the first sports game to offer new content the Friday of each and every week during the NBA season (6 months) through our “Games of the Week” feature. Both of these are available in NBA 08 as well as a new level of play control fidelity in a basketball game through the use of the SIXAXIS controller. We’re tying animation to SIXAXIS functionality and going beyond jukes, cross-overs and spins. You’re able to rock the SIXAXIS controller back and forth to dribble the ball between the legs. You’re able to move the ball around while in a “triple threat” situation to help keep defenders from stealing the ball as well as improve your chances of a successful pass. Along with this, you can select between bounce passes, chest passes and lob passes. Conversely, on defense you’re able to get high or wide by tilting the SIXAXIS controller forward or backwards. By widening the defender’s stance and arms on defense, there is a greater chance in deflecting a bounce pass or closely defending the ball handler to keep them from successfully executing a juke move (although this will fatigue your player faster). By putting the defender’s hands straight up in the air, there’s a better chance of tipping a lob pass and the shot percentage of a shooter is reduced.

5. What do you think is the coolest aspect of this game?
I’m very excited about what NBA 08 offers and it’s hard to nail it down to one aspect. The game looks and plays even better than last year but our “Games of the Week” feature is what provides our fans with new playable content each week involving games that just took place in the NBA. For instance, the week after Kobe went on a 4-game streak of scoring over 50 points, we dedicated that week to fun segments of each of those games for gamers to play while sports shows were still talking about it. Our progression system would be a close second. Did I mention how good our game looks this year?

6. How does this game use the PS Network?
Other than some of the fastest, smoothest and most authentic game play you mean? We’ve got a lot going on this season. Aside from great head-to-head play online, we’re incorporating the comprehensive SportsConnect system from our MLB franchise. You’ll also be able to earn goals toward your progression system created player – have I told you about our Progression System – more to come on that later. We’ll also post complimentary weekly content every Friday along with leaderboards for you to post your accomplishments.

7. If you could sit one person in front of your game for an hour, who would it be?
Eva Longoria. I would play against the Spurs and abuse Tony Parker. As the hour progresses, Eva would lose respect for the real life Tony and become enamored with my game playing skills. It’s the kind of special story we’d later be able to tell our children. There’s no “off” on my genius switch. But seriously, I’d love to play with Maurice Lucas. He’s my all-time favorite NBA player and was instrumental in the Trail Blazers winning it all in ’77.

8. What game do you most want an hour to sit in front of yourself (besides your own)?
SingStar on the PS3. I absolutely love that franchise. I hope the booth is sound proof though because I hear neighborhood dogs howl whenever I bust out the microphone.

9. How many E3’s does E3 2007 mark for you?
I’ve been to every single E3 sans one. Even the two E3′s in Atlanta where I thought I lost my liver in Buckhead. I’m not sure how many that makes…eleventy?

10. Describe the pre-2007 E3 experience in five words or less.
Much better than last year.

11. Most over used phrase or expression during E3 season.
There are a couple of overused phrases heard during E3. A couple include, “Never before has a game….” or “this feature offers a whole new level of….” but the most often heard phrase at E3 has definitely been, “Hey, can you get me a party ticket?”

12. You are asked to make suggestions for an E3 survival kit- what three items HAVE to be included?
Dr. Scholl’s inserts, Chaser and talcum powder.

13. What advice would you have for someone who has never experienced E3?
I’m not sure how the new format will change things but for any video game fan, attending an E3 is a must. It’s sensory overload and there just isn’t enough gameplay time over the three days. I would also recommend that you stuff yourself before attending because there isn’t a food cart or restaurant in a 3 mile radius that doesn’t have a half hour line attached to it. Oh, and you should check out NBA 08 first.

14. Describe what you anticipate from 2007’s newly formatted E3 in five words or less.
Serenity by comparison.

15. What’s your favorite part about developing games for a living?
Developing games for a living is unbelievable. Other than a little male pattern baldness and a sun tan that mostly comes from the monitors in my office even though I live in San Diego, I’m very lucky. Not just because I get to make games for a living but that I get to combine my passion for games with my passion for sports. It’s like combining chocolate and peanut butter–the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Except for the last few weeks of a product cycle when we’re trying to ship the title and everyone has to respond to last minute issues that arise, most of the year is a blast. The NBA 08 team is filled with characters who are a lot of fun to work with. There’s one guy on the team who can be a little managerially intensive by the name of Igor. But he’s a good guy at heart and a talented programmer and as long as I buy him ice cream when he’s working late, he’s pretty happy. Now I realize that most of the public reading this has no idea what I’m talking about but the opportunity to zing a team member in a public forum is pretty priceless.

//Add Your Own

115 Comments

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1

+ AznSniper on June 27th, 2007 at 7:49 pm said:

interesting……now if only we can have all our games upscaled to 1080p at 60fps and all the upcoming games already at that scale


2

+ Godofwar55555 on June 27th, 2007 at 7:49 pm said:

Wow, this was a long and interesting article. I am kind of surprised that this game really uses the SIXAXIS Ps3 controller. This game shows off two of the Ps3′s best features, 60 fps and full 1080p. This is going to be an example of what the PS3 can do. This was a good article and keep it up Sony. I cannot wait for E3

[]^XO


3

+ SonnyJim on June 27th, 2007 at 7:52 pm said:

sounds like an awesome game


4

+ tearsofash on June 27th, 2007 at 7:54 pm said:

Too many sports games on here…


5

+ self.confessed.cynic on June 27th, 2007 at 7:55 pm said:

hehe, I dont particularly like sports games myself, but I can imagine playing this at a friends house – sounds great.


6

+ Al2x on June 27th, 2007 at 7:58 pm said:

6th Comment, I can’t wait for this game!


7

+ KEFIOX on June 27th, 2007 at 7:58 pm said:

Very cool, too bad I’m not into sports games, lol


8

+ Al2x on June 27th, 2007 at 8:01 pm said:

BTW, how do you guys get the gravatar to work? I have it set up, and it’s displaying the picture I want on the gravatar website, but it still isn’t displaying on this website…


9

+ Ghostm on June 27th, 2007 at 8:06 pm said:

After reading this interview. It sounds like there’s a ton of work that went into NBA 08. Looking forward to see how good you guys implement the SixAxis controller this time. It wasn’t that great on the first title. “Step your game up!”


10

+ GFXology.com on June 27th, 2007 at 8:09 pm said:

Is it just me, or does Shaq have hair in that screenshot?


11

+ Duke on June 27th, 2007 at 8:17 pm said:

how could they disgrace shaq like that


12

+ Mana Knight on June 27th, 2007 at 8:21 pm said:

Glad to hear about the game. I actually liked NBA 07 a lot, so I’m looking forward to this. I was hoping the game would have all the modes the PS2/PSP version of NBA 07 had, but that’s all right. Game looks like fun.


13

+ nmc75 on June 27th, 2007 at 8:26 pm said:

Fling Igor!


14

+ Godofwar55555 on June 27th, 2007 at 8:28 pm said:

True HD, 1080p, Cool.

[]^XO


Erich Waas's Avatar

15

+ Erich Waas on June 27th, 2007 at 8:30 pm said:

Hmmm…the screen shot you currently see is of our PS2 NBA 08 game. We’ll replace it with a PS3 screen shot very shortly…I hope.


16

+ fireras on June 27th, 2007 at 8:31 pm said:

Hey Erich, When are we gonna give “The Life” a go on the PS3…is it in this year’s game? Is there a plan to put it in a future game? What’s going on with this and why can’t be have it now, if its not in this year’s game?

Look forward to hearing more about you’re game man….I won’t lie and say it’s as much of a sim as 2kSports…but its fun as hell and the mini-games on the PSP are awesome…”The Life” on PS3 would really give it some extra points from me.


17

+ womfalcs3 on June 27th, 2007 at 8:36 pm said:

Thank God. I was going to comment on the screen shot.

Anyway…

Great features, and I love the MLB ’07 online features that will be implemented in NBA ’08. It looks like you guys will be all over the online updates, so that’s a plus.

Thanks.


18

+ Herby on June 27th, 2007 at 8:38 pm said:

Erich your answers where very funny.
This was a great article.

All the features are really exciting. Love the part about the fans. I can’t wait to see how the game looks.

Can we have some High-Res screen shots please?
Tell the web master.

Go Heat !!!


19

+ GFXology.com on June 27th, 2007 at 8:39 pm said:

Haha, I was hoping that wasn’t the PS3 Version, phew.


20

+ homy on June 27th, 2007 at 8:40 pm said:

I hope they take out the clothes wrinkles in NBA 07. Those wrinkles are pretty meh.


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+ Erich Waas on June 27th, 2007 at 8:50 pm said:

I just sent a new screen shot to the web master so you’ll see a PS3 screen shot shortly. But hey, I think the PS2 screen shot shows that the game looks good on that console as well! (I’m shameless.)

A lot the people that I talk to are asking when The Life will make its PS3 debut. Vol. 3 will be on the PS2 this year but not on the PS3. We are working on our PS3 solution (both for technology and design) but we want to ensure that the quality of this mode meets our expectations (as well as yours) for anything we do on the PS3. We are definitely working on this though and are looking to innovate within the mode so that it’s different than the experience that currently exists on the PS2.

And I assure you Heat fans that Shaq’s head is shaved on our PS3 version. But unlike me, he shaves his head by choice. Although I’ll take my shaved head look to my only other hair option–the dreaded comb over.


22

+ AnubisHades on June 27th, 2007 at 8:55 pm said:

oh wow reading about last years game made me excited for the 08 game. :( now I have more games to buy.


23

+ fireras on June 27th, 2007 at 8:57 pm said:

Thanks for the response man….I hope you guys take your time with The Life of PS3 but still you know how we gamers are..lol.

Just gimme some great mini-games tho and a good franchise and I’ll be str8 for now…but next year, The Life better be there or else….

*pumps angry fist*


24

+ omegasyde on June 27th, 2007 at 9:06 pm said:

Wait a Second Erich.

No, ” The Life” mode for the ps3?

Sorry but I guess another year that NBA Live 08 will get my money instead of your product.
Not only do graphics sell games but features do to. Good responses,
BUT NO “THE_LIFE”!!!!!
Come on man, get with it before your title becomes as generic as Madden.


25

+ f1ssi0n on June 27th, 2007 at 9:17 pm said:

I am happy to hear that you have put so much into NBA 08. I liked NBA 07 for the PS3, but always felt that there was something lacking and it did not have the same depth as its PS2 counterpart. I would really like to see ‘The Life’ make its way to the PS3 platform because, aside from all of the spectacular audio and visuals that come along with the PS3 title, it is that particular feature that sets your title apart from your competitors.


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+ Erich Waas on June 27th, 2007 at 9:20 pm said:

Trust me. We all want The Life on the PS3. And as tough as the gaming elite can be to please sometimes, I have to hear about it from my friends (all the time) when we play games at one of our houses.

But we are taking steps to make this happen and we’ve included a deep progression system in NBA 08. You can create a player, assign him to your favorite team and earn points within each game as well as milestone goals to buy attributes and gear to improve your player’s performance. Regardless of the mode you play, Season, Exhibition, Online, NBA Replay, Games of the Week–they’ll all help you improve your character. You can then take your team with your own player and challenge others.

I know, I know–it’s not The Life. But it’s a great system and it’s a first step of a three year plan to really develop this into something I can’t talk about. We have packed a lot of new features into NBA 08. I know I won’t win all of you over at once but I’ll get there. I’m just too darn likeable (although I have a couple of ex-girlfriends who disagree) and the NBA franchise is doing a lot of good things that you’ll see this year and next.


27

+ blizzard182 on June 27th, 2007 at 9:26 pm said:

So my wallet keeps getting thinner. Damn.

Thank god for the new screenshot. I was going to say that if that was the PS3 version, it was kind of crappy, but now that we know that was PS2, then I must say it looked amazing.

Nice interview too.

I was wondering what surprises do you have for E3. Can’t wait.


28

+ lennygundam14 on June 27th, 2007 at 9:34 pm said:

wow, NBA 08 looks way better than last years, I hope the gameplay is better than last years also


29

+ morlock on June 27th, 2007 at 9:38 pm said:

Vill there be an online mode where you play 5 vs 5. Or is it just gonna be a standard 1 on 1 online matches?

Would be really nice to be able to create teams (clans =) ) and compete with other teams, have this been done before in a sportstitle?


30

+ stawnkald on June 27th, 2007 at 9:40 pm said:

I really, really enjoyed NBA 07, I actually am at the all-star break in my season and I NEVER actually get that far in a hoops game. So to get that kind of replay value makes me happy.

Hopefully I’ll finish it by the time 08 comes out.

Now I know The Life isn’t in there, but is there going to be a Franchise mode or at least multiple seasons within the Season mode, or is it just a single year? MLB 07 The Show has had me in its grasp with that insane Franchise setup and I’d love something similar in an NBA game. I’d really prefer that over The Life actually.

Anyways, thanks for the update on the game, I’ll be one of the first to own it!


31

+ TerHizzle91 on June 27th, 2007 at 9:51 pm said:

k so sony whats the deal with releasing a european release date guide and not releasing one for us here in the states?!?


32

+ fengli2008 on June 27th, 2007 at 9:53 pm said:

It sounds good!


33

+ KanoBlade on June 27th, 2007 at 10:09 pm said:

No offense, but do you have to say “Thanks to the cell processor…” every five lines, it’s not like you can thank an AMD Athlon for it, we know you’re developing on the PS3.

But aside from that, it’s great to see you responding to comments!


34

+ CrimsonCalibur on June 27th, 2007 at 10:11 pm said:

Erich Waas, Great follow up posts. Thanks for taking the time to come back and talk to us.


35

+ MasterCharged on June 27th, 2007 at 10:15 pm said:

Al2x just give it 24 hrs and you will be able to see it.


36

+ MasterCharged on June 27th, 2007 at 10:16 pm said:

this game looks exciting, i can’t wait


37

+ chacal81 on June 27th, 2007 at 10:19 pm said:

Why do all the players have the same shoes? Why is sweat more important than gameplay? Why do everyone have the same speed? For sixty bucks I can get NBA LIVE for the ps2 and 2K7 for the 360. SCEA is Sony. All your games should be the best since you know how to tap into the 7 or whatever how many cell processors we have. I love my ps3 but it’s all hype right now. Keep up the love!


38

+ seph1r0th00 on June 27th, 2007 at 10:37 pm said:

This game looks amazing. I really like the features you guys are putting into this game. A must buy for any Sports game enthusiast. I will definitely be picking it up.


39

+ buzzku09 on June 27th, 2007 at 10:38 pm said:

Any chance you get rid of the shot meter thing. I scored over 100 points on the demo with the 2 min quarters. Dirk refuses to miss 3′s.


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40

+ Erich Waas on June 27th, 2007 at 10:46 pm said:

The NBA PS3 lead programmer (Andy) has mentioned that it wasn’t just the cell processor because he had a big part in getting us to Full HD. I suppose I should be thanking him as well (and not say cell processor again–doh!) so thanks to Andy! (Andy prefers praise while Igor prefers ice cream.)

This thread is really putting me in an awkward position because the NBA team is reading this thread as well. Since I thanked Andy, I now need to thank the graphics programmers…and the artists…and…

I think all basketball games that are out there realize that multiple box connectivity is an interesting thing to reach for. There are a lot of issues that have to be resolved though since 10 box connectivity usually requires a server side solution to execute and latency is automatically doubled in this structure as opposed to the peer-to-peer connection. In a sports title, especially one that’s always active like baskketball, latency kills game play so while we want to do this, the solution takes some engine rework. It is something that we’re looking into though.

We did a lot of work this year to bring over MLB’s SportsConnect technology for online play and it’s going to allow us to do more online than we could previously do. As a quick side, I’ve seen MLB 07: The Show mentioned and if you’re a sports fan, you really should play this game. I’m playing through my second season in The Show mode myself. Love it.

I want to also mention that the AI in NBA 08 is much improved this year. It’s much more challenging and a lot of fun. Last year was spent creating a tool that allows the designers to create an amazing amount of content for specific situations all based on what is happening around each player on the court. NBA 08 gets the results of this and as I mentioned, there is 4 times as much AI content as last year. You’re also not going to have 3-point fests when you play online (except in rookie mode).

We have also added yet another feature to NBA 08 PS3 called “KeyControl”. This feature allows you to control the ball handler while also controlling another teammate. You can now select another player and execute two-man plays like a pick-and-roll, cut him to the basket, send him out to the perimeter or even choose the player you want to alley-oop to. All while also controlling the ball handler.


41

+ burrow carnivale on June 27th, 2007 at 10:46 pm said:

I NEVER log into these things, but that Eva Longoria comment was worth the price of admission. Hilarious. Love seeing those personalities come out here…


42

+ coolguy2000 on June 27th, 2007 at 10:48 pm said:

Erich,
Do you know who is going to be on the cover for NBA ’08 yet? If it’s Kobe again, I have no complaints :)


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43

+ Erich Waas on June 27th, 2007 at 10:52 pm said:

And we have quite a few real shoes in this year’s game that you can earn through NBA 08′s progression system. We have prototypes of shoes that aren’t even out yet from the major shoe companies and they were scanned today and will be in our in-house builds by the end of the week.

Oh, and I should mention that we have commentary in this year’s game. When The Life was first created, we really wanted to get the sounds and feel through audio of what a player hears on the court. I still think this is a very compelling way to play the game but a lot of gamers kept telling us that they wanted commentary. So we teamed up Mark Jackson (for color commentary) and Kevin Calabro (play-by-play) this year.


44

+ GFXology.com on June 27th, 2007 at 11:00 pm said:

I was pretty disappointed with today’s late and only blog post…..but Erich you’ve impressed me with all your post-blog replies. I hope future Sony posters are taking notes from you. This is how we like it, keep it up.


45

+ dml102 on June 27th, 2007 at 11:29 pm said:

Very interesting. But please sony…. KOJIMA! KOJIMA! KOJIMA! KOJIMA!!! ok sorry lol


46

+ chacal81 on June 28th, 2007 at 12:02 am said:

What’s up 2nd family? I got a link through my Gmail about playstation and the iphone teaming up? Go ahead SONY, burst my bubbles or give me a reason to buy a iphone.


47

+ chacal81 on June 28th, 2007 at 12:10 am said:

I have an idea; what if the players’ attributes were updated on a game to game basis? If Kobe scores 50 in real life he gets a boost in the game, if Dwayne Wade gets injured he loses a step. And if a team is on a slide then the whole team suffers. We need player specific dunks, passes, lay-ups etc.


48

+ indigovenom on June 28th, 2007 at 12:10 am said:

i dont really buy sports games, but this sounds really good. Also, if the 6axis works like i think you mean then i might have to buy this. Commercials focusing on the 6axis feature would be so dope! and hillarious! Erich, make it happen. Most importantly, either you have nothing to do or you are just the coolest sony dev. either way you’re the man in my book. Your participation in this blog is 2nd to none. You just raised the bar dude. I hope others will follow in your foot steps.


49

+ chacal81 on June 28th, 2007 at 12:19 am said:

Sony loyals, I can sense the evil empire shaking in their pink little boots.E3 is around the corner and sony is making their move. SCEA, let’s bury the evilbox 360.


50

+ MasterCharged on June 28th, 2007 at 12:20 am said:

NBA 08 will rock. i wish that more devs would reply as much as you


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