Inside the Developers Studio: Erich Waas

104 11

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.

Comments are closed.


11 Author Replies

    Loading More Comments

    Please enter your date of birth.

    Date of birth fields