The answer is simple, get to the root of the problem, and slow down the animations. Back when NBA Live 09 came out, the development team gave us the ability to edit all ratings of players in the game (See picture below).
During one of my game sessions, I was annoyed how the players were moving; there was a specific animation that was pissing me right after the inbound. Whenever the point guard caught the inbound pass after a bucket, he turned around so quick every time, and it just looked so unnatural. At some point I exited the game, and started to look at all the ratings in the game. I noticed an athleticism section and it showed all the ratings that involved athleticism, like speed, quickness, lateral movements, and I started turning down some of the ratings of the Atlanta Hawks players. I saw how some ratings were in 90’s and 80’s range, and just turned them down (-20 or -30 in some cases) without caring about overall ratings. After I was done tweaking, I then went into a game with the Hawks to see if the player movement would change, and noticeably, they did, I didn’t notice them right away, I had to go back a few times and tweaked here and there, but you get the idea. Players started to move slower on the court, but the actions looked more realistic on the court than it did before. I noted all the changes I did universally on paper, and then applied it to all the teams, It took a while, but I ended being satisfied with the game afterwards because the animations looked more realistic, and it started to look like real basketball. If only the development team gave us the ability to take out certain animations it would have been perfect. They also had ratings on the mentality of players, so if players didn’t react to a rebound you would just turn up the defensive board awareness and it would work. Something that simple made me enjoy the game even more.
Going into the next generation of basketball games, I know, the development team will lock all the abilities to edit ratings and in game stuff due to the synergy feature. It’s tied to the rating system somehow, but down the line, if you want the game to flow like a real NBA game, player animations have to be slower than the current setting you have them at. If you have a player like Jeff Teague and you set his speed rating to 99 because he’s fast, and in the game he moves unrealistically fast, similar to a torpedo, you have to change the way the speed settings works because it won’t look realistic. Instead of having the rating system from 1-100, maybe have it from 1-50. Player movement to me is much more important than having someone rated 93 overall, it just looks good on paper and feeds the egos of many. I asked one of the development guys when I was at EA Studios last year if the rating system is somewhat tied to the animations, he said no, but I didn’t believe him because when I was playing NBA Live 13, there was the same issues with certain animations being too fast and looking unnatural, so I didn’t believe him. So basically I’m sticking to my theory until proven wrong.
I’m going to compare two videos right now, the 1st video is the leaked video of NBA Live 13, and the 2nd video is of NBA Live 09 with my tweaked “Athleticism” ratings, and you tell me which player movement looks better. Also, before you start ripping how shit both games look, I’m not saying look at that, I’m saying look at the way the players move up and down the floor, and react in the half court, and compare the two video.
NBA Live 13 leaked video:
NBA Live 09 video:
NBA Live 14: Next Gen Trailer
*Notice how they slow down the animations in this trailer proving my point*
I may not be correct on my theory, but I’ve noticed that slowing down the speed of the game doesn’t affect the animations the way it should, you have to get to the root of the problem whether be in the ratings that’s affecting the stiff movement or something else, it has to be figured out. But once the animations are fluid, you should be able to feel the impact of each collision and have it looking more real, and authentic than ever before!!