Thursday, September 29, 2011

LA Lakers Play of the Day

What good family ?

Today we bring you the Lakers for our play of the day. While we do not yet know what exact offense the Lakers will run. No offense shows off the nested branching and persistent offensive options in NBA 2K12 like the Triangle Offense. So sit back relax and enjoy !

Here is the youtube link.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Heat Play of the Day

What's good family ?

Today Czar brings you the Miami Heat for our play of the day. The heat have one of the largest playbook's in the game with 44 stock plays. 38 of those are unique to their system. The heat have so many interchangeable parts you will see any one of 4 players handling the basketball depending who is on the floor.

When the BIG 2 are on the floor Lebron takes care of most of the ball handling for the team. When Lebron is out Dwade steps in as the primary facilitator. When neither of them is on the floor the reigns are handled by Super Mario and on some set's Mike Miller.

Last year certain plays allowed a non pg ball-handler to initiate the offense. However that ability was tied to a specific player and play. This year, if a player has the ability to run the offense, he can take the point for practically any play regardless of who the play was designed for.

This really opens up your offensive flow and allows for much needed variability from the AI against teams with multiple play initiators.

Without further adieu I bring you the Miami Heat Play of the Day !

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Play of the Day. Dallas Mavericks

What's happening family. As you requested in the comments section of my recent blog what yall really want. I am happy to provide the SimNation with Da_Czar's NBA 2K12 Play of the day. We will kick this series off with the Dallas Mavericks.

Be sure to check back with us after launch as I plan to bring you much more information on team specific playbooks and get into some of the new defensive options in the game this year.

If your a new visitor thanks for dropping by. And if your one of the regulars. Your seat is always warm and waiting. Thanks again and enjoy !

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Basketball vs Videogame

While it remains to be seen what kind of video game NBA 2K12 will be upon release. One thing is for absolute certain... It is one HELL of a BASKETBALL game.

As a video game you may not like isomotion vs right stick dribbling. You may prefer physics in real time vs the animations and physics engine of 2k. You may disagree with the color palette or think myplayer is not all that it should be.

However when it comes to actual basketball strategy 2K12 is the absolute best there has ever been...  Period !

2K12 does things both offensively and defensively that have never been done, either at all ... or to this degree; in a basketball game.

No one outside of the dev team has spent as much time with this game as I have. In the last 2 days alone I have spent easily 18-20 hours a day; capturing and analyzing this game.

There are things I don't like about the game. There are very few 2 player animations in comparision with 2K11 but some of them can still be a bit grabby. Although the ones that are allow you to break out of them or spin out of them I still wish they weren't there.

Despite my pleading they decided to leave in some automatic defensive stuff like if you don't move your stick on defense and you man passes or jab steps sometimes your player will feint at the passing lane or react to the jab step. I freaking HATE that with a passion. They have it so that if you start to move when that happens your player immediately reacts to your command. Once or twice however,  I was trying to back up and would get pulled into the passing lane feint move.

Another thing that bothers me is the new physics effect you when your bumped by other players. ( of course) Sometimes the bump causes you to feel a bit weightless and for a slight instant you can loose control of your player. Yes it's a nitpick and it doesn't happen often but hey, I wish the players had more weight on them in these instances.

The fact of the matter is that NONE of the nitpicks above keep me from enjoying this game. It still feels fresh, new, fun, and entertaining.

The reason why is simply this. Animations can get old, but strategy lives forever.

When the offensive and defensive sides of the pick and roll are working like they should; every time you run it your straight Forrest Gump. It's a box of chocolate's and you never know what your going to get.

What that means is each possession you still have to make the right decisions and then execute upon those decisions for 48 minutes to secure a victory. It's complete interaction. No sitting and watching. Almost every move in the game can be broken out of.

The team and player differentiation is absolutely off the charts. No two teams that I have watched or played has felt the same. Their offense is different and although the cpu does not walk the ball up the floor that I have seen, there is a noticeable difference in the tempo's teams play with. It seems that the cpu get's the ball into the front court at the same speed and then varies from there. So it is difficult to detect at first but after awhile you start to feel the difference

And on top of that it is absolute F.U.N.

Those who have been with the SIM Nation know that if I don't like something I tell you. ( NBA 2K9, NBA 2K10). You also know that I am never afraid to like something that most may not.

With that said I absolutely LOVE NBA 2K12.

I know without a doubt that some people legitimately may not like NBA 2k12 as a video game. But as a BASKETBALL game there has been no better attempt to replicate the intracasies of the NBA. If you haven't checked out the series on Inevitability . Check it out to see what kind of strategy awaits you on Oct 4.

On that day all of the SIM Nation, young and old, will all join hands and sing that old SIM Nation spiritual

Don't play video games. Play BASKETBALL !

Your President,


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fast Breaks are BACK !!!

What up Family ?

I know a lot of you have been concerned with the fastbreaks in 2k for a couple of years now. Simply put 2k12 MIGHT have the best fast breaks in the series. I will have to wait until I get home and check out some of the runner ups.

You willl see 3-2's and 2-1 fastbreaks. You will see them hit the trailer for 3's. You will see a player ( not always the 4) running down the middle of the floor ahead of everyone. You will see some 3 point shooters spot up and others go to the basket. Only time will tell if the right players are always doing the right things.

AI will even push when numbers are even depending on the ballhandler. I witnessed one cpu team get 16 fb points at halftime of one game. That is obviously a high and other times I have seen both teams have between 6-12 for a half.

Overall very very good logic and implementation especially in comparison with 2k11.


Don't play videogames... Play Basketball !!!

PS. There are games where if you control your turnovers and depending on whose playing there are only 2-4 fastbreaks points at the half so it varies. Turnovers are death. Also if your too aggressive going to the Offensive boards some teams will make you pay.

What yall really want ?

What's happening family ?

Listen I am at 2k working but I have a question. The plays are too complex to do a full blown 10 teams in 10 days type of concept for this year this late in the promo cycle. Would you prefer me to blow out 2-4 teams and take you in depth thu them or do something less intesive but cover more teams ? Something like Play of the day ?

I am going to cover some plays for all 30 teams after I get my official copy of the game. So you will have that if your wanting to know your offense better. I am leaning towards something like play of the day because I can show you more teams and you can probably get that content sooner. Plus like I said you will be getting in depth info on all 30 teams after my copy arrives.

What say ye SIMNATION ?

El Prez

Don't play video games Play BASKETBALL !

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back in the saddle

What's happening family ?

Just wanted to let the faithful know the President is back up at 2K for a minute. I have a lot to do and a short time to get it done so I won't be posting an awful lot but I may drop some tidbits now and again.

After being away from the game for about 6 weeks I can already notice even more polish on the title since the last time I played it. Controls are much more responsive than 2k11. If you spent any time with 2k11 the difference is immediately noticeable. Graphically the game looks dam good.

On the AI front. This is hands down the smartest computer opponent I have faced both defensively and offensively. If inside drive was the AI standard then you can go ahead and reserve that title for 2K12.

Some of you have seen my blogs on the plays in 2K12 and wondered if the defense has the capability to provide balance. So far the answer is a resounding Yes.

I am not a great cheeser by any means so take this with a grain of salt but thus far I have not been able to spam the lead pass or the hop step. I have seen the cpu wade get bumped when hop stepping directly into a defender and loose the ball. As I understand it the worse the ballhandler the higher the liklehood of a unsuccessful hop step.

The games have a terrific pace for them that seems perfect for a 12 minute per quarter game. Only time will tell but I won't have the opportunity for many full games @ that time signature.

Well it's time for me to jump back in considering my limited time I won't be taking many questions but if you post one and I can get to it during a break I just might.

Time to go. Granger is killing the Knicks right now... Its going to be a long few weeks til I get my copy : (

Hoopcetera hoopcetera hoopcetere,

The Prez,


Don't play videogames... Play BASKETBALL.

No time for punctuation and spell checking so please forgive me.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Inevitability Part 2

This is a continuation of my last blog entry on Inevitability. If you have not read that, today's entry may not make much sense. You can check out part one here.

We already covered what happens if the 2 decides to run off the single screen ( set by the 1) of this Celtics 13 entry.

Today we will see what happens if the 2 (sg Ray Allen) decides to run off the double screen set by the  5(c) and the 4(pf).
To have one of the most dangerous catch and shoot players in the history coming off a double screen is always a tasty option. If Ray Allen ( the 2 in the diagram) is open you hit him with the pass. There is a high probability however that the defense will assume Ray is the primary scorer for this play and try to switch out or fight through the screen to make it a difficult pass.

The truth is Ray is merely a decoy. As you see here the 1 will clear out to the corner and leave Paul Pierce ( 3 man in diagram) with plenty of space to operate only 16 -18 feet from the basket.

Those watching carefully will notice we received no roll/ fade protection for Ray as he is running his man off the double screens. This is because the more the defense fights to keep the ball away from Ray. The more open the isolation opportunity for Pierce.
Let's recap our options to this point in the play. We had a rub opportunity for the pg very early in the play. We have 2 options for getting Ray Allen open jumpers off screens. We have an Isolation for Paul Pierce at the top of the key.  Then, finally , we have a 1-4 Pick and Pop for Garnett and Rondo. 

Next let's look at when happens if we choose to the dribble entry to start the play.  As the 1 dribble's right at the 3 man. The 2 dives into the paint and get's his head under the rim (just like before).

Once again the 2 has a decision as to which way he wants to run off the available screens.

If he decided to run off the single screen set by the 3 ( Paul Pierce). Then immediately after he clears the screen the 3 will run off the double screen set by the 5 and the 4. The 5 and the 4 will again initiate a double post movement after setting the double screen.

The dribble entry can imply more pressure on the defense with this floppy screen action because you now have 2 legitimate jump shooters coming off of the screens; with Allen at the 2 and Pierce at the 3.  The defender will have to pick one to deny as he can't manually guard both players.

Because of the personnel in this play neither pass option has a pick and roll attached like it did on the pass entry version. Please refer to this step in Inevitability part 1 ( if your confused). 

If the 2 (Ray Allen) decides to run off the double screen set by the 4 and the 5. This opens up a new option for the play. As the 2 runs off the double screen we want to draw the attention of the defense, so look for a quick roll by the 5 and a fade by the 4 after their respective screens.

Once again we should have an opportunity(option) to spoon feed Ray an open 3.

However, Ray is again, a pawn in this play. The real scoring option is the 3 (Paul Pierce ) As he should now have prime post position after setting up for the possible screen on the 2.

Now in addition to the other scoring options we mentioned earlier we add two more for Pierce. One coming off a double screen where he is a secondary option. And another, with him in prime post position using Ray Allen as a decoy.

One play... Many options.

Hopefully you can start to see that simply knowing or recognizing a play set is only half the battle. The defense should still have to work and stay balanced in their defensive attack or risk giving up a quality shot elsewhere.

I am not trying to tell you this is the end all be all of play systems. There will undoubtedly be some issues. However, there can be no doubt about the depth and authenticity of what 2k is bringing to the table this year. This is just one single play for the Celtics. At my last count the C's had just under 40 plays in their default playbook.

Good luck stopping someone who knows them all.

With warmest swishes,

The Prez !

Thursday, September 8, 2011


What's happening family ?

I want to take a moment to say thank you to everyone who has dropped by Sim Citi to read or get involved in the discussion. The response has been tremendous and it is greatly appreciated.

Similar to the Matrix and Mr. Smith's infamous speech about it, hoop games on offense all suffer from some degree of inevitability. The vaunted memory and processing capacity ( yes I am joking) available in the current gen systems is no match for the supercomputer between your ears. So, eventually, users are bound to figure out how to stop a cpu attack.

In NBA 2K11 the AI and users were greatly hindered by the cpu's limitation of 4 plays per player. I mean even the lowliest of basketball IQ's are going to be able to figure out a play if it is ran repeatedly over the course of a 48 minute game. Even more so if this is a team you happen to play 4 times in a season; then meet them in the playoffs.

You already know from the play-calling insight about the living branches. I will take you through one play today to give you an better idea of how 2K's Living  Branches aim to make the inevitable... a little bit less so. This is a medium difficulty play so if your new to the series please don't panic. There are plenty of simple plays you can run that will not be difficult or confusing to understand. To our advanced users there are definitely more advanced and complex plays in the game than what we look at today.

Let's travel to bean town to check out the Celtics 13 entry play. This is a variation the C's run on a floppy play.  If you watch them a good deal I am certain you have seen them operate out of this play. Here is the base set for this play.

The play begins with a pass from the pg (1 Rondo) to the sf ( 3 Pierce). The red squiggly line represents a dribble entry option. So if Pierce is overplayed/ fronted, OR if you prefer the options on this dribble entry because of matchups you can dribble Pierce out.

We will proceed with the pass branch for now. On the pass the sg (2 Ray Allen) will dive into the paint and get his head under the basket. The 1 will follow his pass and curl around Pierce.  ( If you have a jump shooter in for rondo or Ray at the 1, feel free to use this as a rub opportunity for a quick jumper)

In 2k11 come hell or high water the 2 would always come off the screens on the same side. So once you saw the initial action as a defender you knew with certainty where the play would terminate.

NBA 2K12 introduces dynamic floppy decisions.  This means that the only person on the floor who knows which screens the 2 will come off of is the 2.

Let us continue as if the 2 decided to run off the single screen by the 1. As the 2 clears the screen by the pg (1). You can see the 1 will immediately run off a double screen set by the 5 and 4.

This actually happens as the same time the 1 comes off the single screen above, but I broke this out so as not to make the diagram too busy to understand. Consider this a slo-mo replay. As the 1 comes off the double screen we have the roll/ fade protect we talked about in the last blog. Only this time we have a double post.

If the sg is open off the screen you hit him for the open jumper.

If the defender guarding the 2 happens to smell out the screen play and deny it. You have a release option to the 1 on the opposite side of the floor.

Knowing this is the Celtics and with the authentic plays we knew there is a good chance that that is Rondo on the other side of the floor at the 1. Doc wouldn't want him chucking up that Jumper so we have a Pick and Fade assigned to finish that branch off should you need it.

Whew... now... what happens if the 2 decides to go off the double screen ?

and what about about that dribble branch option. Is the play the same or different if you dribble entry ?

Sounds like excellent fodder for part two of this blog.


El Presidente'

Monday, September 5, 2011

Roll and Fade Relieve Pressure

What's happening Family ?

Besides the many large scale improvement's to the play-system in NBA 2K12. There were a number of minor improvements recommended to help with the overall flow of the game on the offensive side of the basketball.

Some of these improvements will provide much needed relief against high pressure defenses. As well as create secondary scoring opportunities off of primary action.

When talking about screen and roll/fade opportunities most people are only concerned with the on ball pick and roll/ pick pop situations. This simplified view of the screen can lead to a powerful advantage for the defense in video game basketball.

Let's look at a basic double screen on the tail end of a floppy play for the 2 man (Shooting Guard). When you don't have the threat of any roll / fade action on your off-ball screens the defense holds an advantage. Especially once they become familiar with the play !

A savvy defender will switch to the 4 ( the red 4 is on defense) and have him jump the passing lane.

With no roll/ fade from the 4 and 5 on offense the defense has the advantage. They have their 2 trailing the offensive 2 to keep him from fading to the corner. They also have the 5 defender able to cover both the 5 and 4 on defense because of their close proximity.
This has been a standing issue in most video game attempts to replicate the sport we love. Almost all games have suffered from a mild to severe case of CSS syndrome. ( Czarism... chronic statue screen syndrome). Here is a video of NBA 2K11 demonstrating classic CSS.

A similar play diagram in NBA 2K12 might look like this
As you can see immediately after his screen the 5 offensive player is cutting to the basket. This will serve to hold the 5 defender and keep him from hedging or helping on the screen. The 3 on offense set's his screen and then fades a bit to create separation.
Now if the 3 defender attempts to shoot the gap, the point guard has the alley to the 5, the dump off to the 3, or the pass to the 4 if the defense wants to rotate.

All of these options naturally come about by simply adding intelligent fade or roll's within the context of the play design.  If it works correctly it gives the user a basketball solution to fix a basketball problem      ( In the words of the wise and talented @nelsonblake2 )

So while not every screen in every play will provide you the protection of the Roll and Fade. The threat alone, combined with a successful execution of it early in the ball game; are enough to relieve some of the pressure.

Hoopcerely Yours,

President Da_Czar


If you haven't already (don't tell me you don't have a dollar)  be certain to support the Nation's own @sageinfinite

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Between the lines

What's good Family ?

I hope your all enjoying a safe and festive Labor Day weekend if your in the States. To the rest of the Nation around the world I hope your weekend is enjoyable as well.

To the untrained eye NBA 2K12 may not have that one single gameplay advancement that is overwhelmingly impressive. However, the strength of this years title, could lie in the combined effectiveness of the numerous smaller changes. This polish, and fine tuning, that is usually only accomplished with matured code; can add up to a great gameplay experience.

One of those changes that many may have overlooked is the removal of the force field that kept the offense from going out of bounds.

At first glance, this may not appear to be all that significant. I am of the opinion that it adds a critical and much needed dynamic to the series.

When most gamers speak about control in a digital hoop game. They are generally talking about dribbling the ball and the responsiveness that goes along with it. But there is another type of control that must find it's way into simulation gaming.

Self control !

Not being able to go out of bounds creates a fearless offensive player. It gives the offense an advantage when he should be at a disadvantage. If the user is aware that running out of bounds is not a possibility they can gamble without consequence; and apply pressure to the defense without retribution. This creates an imbalance that can lead to more fouls, clipping and the possibility of baseline exploits.

In these situations, the ball-handlers attempt aggressive drives where they would normally exercise caution. This can also negate the effectiveness of having the defender shade towards the middle of the floor; in an attempt to force his man baseline.

The unintended effect of this design decision creates a virtual no win scenario for the defender. The defense is in danger of having a foul called as well as getting beat; and with no help from the sideline, the best course of action is to retreat and try to protect the paint.

When the sideline witness protection is turned off. You have a completely different dynamic on baseline and sideline drives to the basket.

Now that an offensive player can step out of bounds he must re-evaluate his decision making process when considering a drive in the corner or near the sidelines. The defenders shade towads the middle of the floor can increase pressure on the offense and encourage him to drive baseline; despite the limited spacing available.
Now, depending on the matchup, the defender is holding all the cards. All he has to do is maintain his spacing and cutoff angle and guide the offensive player into the second defender... the baseline. An aggressive defender can also choose to risk a foul and body up as the offense begins his drive. On the body up he adjusts his cutoff to a more aggressive angle forcing the offense into the hot box. ( This is real basketball theory. Not a definition of what is or is not possible in NBA 2K12)

As the offense enters the hot box or the hot corner, traps and rotations start to look very inviting. The more aggressive the trap the better, because the offense can only retreat so far.

So, while it does not create much chatter in an insight, and can easily be overlooked. You can clearly see that the lack of an Obi-Wan forcefield can make all the difference between the lines.

Your President,


Friday, September 2, 2011

Seat at the table

Whats good family ?

I know some of you are eagerly awaiting my preview of NBA 2K12. But there is a reason for my silence. 2K gave the Sim Nation a powerful gift this year. After retiring from Operation Sports I was allowed an inside view into the development of NBA 2K12. While I am not the first to have the opportunity it has certainly never been done to this degree. That is a credit not to me of course, but to the good folks over at 2kSports.

While I have had unique looks at both EA and 2K in the past. This... was entirely different. I was allowed to not only watch their process, but interject, suggest, and haggle (rarely successful) for changes that benefit our community.

Before I left for 2K I combed though OS and 2K's forums and read , started or inquired into already established threads about what the Nation was interested in. It was fun as well as challenging to solicit feedback from those who had no idea they might end up contributing directly to the making of NBA 2K12.

Some leaped at the chance unknowingly, to their own benefit. While others, amazingly, passed on the opportunity like Rondo does open jumpers at crunch time.

While I can’t and won’t say what all has been added or adjusted to the game as a direct result of your input and analysis. I will say this. Practically everything I had on my list was either already worked on, fixed on the spot, or improved upon as much as was possible at that stage in the development cycle.

It was an amazing experience to witness the translation of community feedback into tangible improvements in the game. To say 2k does not care or listen to its fans is not only a fallacy. It's almost offensive.

2k was more than generous with their time and human resources and never made me feel like I should just shut up and go stand in the corner. Although Mr Lee, an incredible lead engineer might prefer that.

The standing internal motto at 2k was simply this. Does it make the game better ? If it did and the resources were available they went at it with reckless abandon.

Far from a one way exchange I received an edumacation (Jethro) on the trials and challenges that face a team as they translate thought into action, action into math, and math into code.

When I check back in with you. I will talk a bit about the process and maybe even diagram a play or two for you.

We all know that we are a passionate but admittedly niche community. What does it say then about 2k that in a year with no competition, they would pull out all the stops and give our community, THE Sim Nation a seat at the table ?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Welcome to the Spot !

Whats going on family ?

Want to start by saying thank you to all my longtime supporters. Some of you have followed the journey since the beginning and your support is greatly appreciated. 

Many of you who do not visit Operation Sports may not be aware that
, just before summer started, I stepped down from my position at Operation Sports as a Video Editor. I want to take a moment to thank Big Steve at OperationSports.  He has always had a great appreciation for what I do and has given me tremendous support over the years. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at OS and I am certain Steve and I will work together again in some capacity in the future.

From now on this blog will be the center of the Czar universe. You may find me working with other gaming sites, or going solo. But whatever is going on with Czar you can find out about it here.


I found my home and began posting on Operation Sports back in Sept of 2002. Although I wrote many posts on gameplay and Basketball, I officially became Da_Czar on August 25, 2006 with a post called the Czar breaks down play of the day. Targets AI ! 

After years and years of typing I said to myself there has to be an easier way. With the release of NBA 2K7 many users struggled with the implementation of Isomotion and understanding momentum. As I grew weary of re-typing the same advice over and over. Czar decided to take it to the airwaves with his first video.

I find it hilarious when people who haven't seen any of our previous work say your trying to be like (insert any name here). Not knowing that I been doing this for sometime now. 

Not many if any were breaking down videos when Czar brought you classic's like this from NBA 2k7.

We brought you created characters and comedy with Czar's co-host MistaBuss

Our evolution continued with the innovative and original 10 teams in 10 days pre release series for NBA 2k11.

So from here on out expect Czar to consult, coerce, ghost develop, encourage, challenge and threaten companies into making their games more inline with what the Sim Nation can enjoy. I am open to working with any company that is open to working with me. 

Wether you find us doing freelance work for established sites or going solo, know that your support is always appreciated !
I want to thank Mrs. Czar for her dedication and understanding. Sageinfinite for lacing Czar with some of the hottest custom tracks on the internet. My man Deuce Tre'  Kdre and the ENTIRE SIM NATION for their continued support.
Sincerely yours,

President of the SIM Nation