Mike Wang has been embedded in the world of sports video games longer than some of its fans have been alive. As the gameplay director for NBA 2K, as well as a brief stint on EA’s NBA Live series, Wang is the perfect person to tell us just how far we’ve come on this month’s episode of IGN Unfiltered.
Most notably, Wang points out how the evolution of technology in sports games does more than just make LeBron’s face look more realistic, or makes more beads of sweat appear on Steph Curry’s brow. It’s also allowed developers to increasingly mimic the exact motions that individual players make while playing ball, lending an extra level of personality to each moment.
“When I first got into the industry, it was much more simple,” Wang said. “Everyone kind of looked the same and played the same. If you took off the jerseys and took off the skins of the players and just had skeletons running around, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell who was who or what team was what. [Famous players are] like bosses in other games. LeBron, he has skills that other players don’t have. To try and bring that into the game, that’s one of the biggest evolutions I think the game has seen since I first started.”
To hear how Wang and the rest of the NBA 2K team at Visual Concepts use new technology to advance their game, make sure to watch the full version of this month’s IGN Unfiltered (see below).
You’ll also hear stories of how Wang “immediately regretted” jumping to EA’s NBA Live (with some wild plans to reignite the series’ rivalry) and how Wang accidentally launched his career by being a sports forum regular.
You can also check out every past episode of IGN Unfiltered, where host Ryan McCaffrey chats with some of the video game industry’s biggest and brightest minds. Recent guests include BioShock Infinite writer Joe Fielder and 3D Realms co-founder Scott Miller.
Joseph Knoop is a freelance writer for IGN, and he’s morbidly curious what skeleton basketball would look like. Find him on Twitter @JosephKnoop.