We recently got a chance to sit down with ESPN Game's Craig Howe, Brand Manager of ESPN games, to see how Konami's ESPN NBA Tonight was coming along.
GameSpot: What do you think most fans will think of when they hear about ESPN basketball, and how are you incorporating that feeling into the game?
Craig Howe: What you're going to see with a lot of the sports that ESPN covers, from a broadcast standpoint, is that integration is the number one thing that we want people to take from ESPN. And that's all the familiar graphics you'd see on an ESPN broadcast both from SportsCenter and from NBA 2Night. And far and away, Stuart Scott is kind of a NBA-lifestyle icon, so him doing the commentary along with Brent Musburger, who does all the NBA radio for ESPN, that two-man team, I think, is going to be really compelling to gamers.
We've also got their authentic camera angles. I keep hitting on this because very few people really concentrate on bringing the action to life in new and innovative ways. I think gamers love it.
GS: So all the NBA teams will be represented?
CH: Yeah, we have the full NBA license. Everything that ESPN's broadcast covers involves more than just graphics you slap on the upper right-hand corner of a game. They've provided all the in-depth statistics that we need as well. So all the research on the players and teams for next year we've already got at our disposal. We can make our ratings as accurate as anyone possibly can. It's great for the development team because when you have those assets at your fingertips, you can spend so much more time working on the gameplay and graphics than on having to research all the statistics on the players and teams.
GS: I bet. Are you going to motion-capture any of the players?
CH: Yes, we are. We are doing that at the end of this month. Marcus Camby of the New York Knicks and potentially Eric Snow of the Philadelphia 76ers, who was the Sportsman of the Year. So it's always really great when you can associate high-quality people with your products. He's a really great spokesman. Even just in terms of motion capture, he's a cool guy to use.
GS: So when you capture them they'll also supply their signature styles?
CH: Yeah. The cool thing is Marcus Camby is a seven-foot-tall forward for the New York Knicks and Eric Snow is the prototypical point guard. So we've got, in addition to all the motion capture we've done, we've got the fingerprints of two totally different styles of player, which is really cool.
GS: And the commentators, of course...
CH: Yes. Brent Musburger and Stuart Scott are going to be doing it. And we're thrilled to have Stuart Scott because he is a great voice for basketball.
GS: And what's the release date for the games?
CH: We're looking at the start of the NBA season for the Dreamcast and probably sometime in November for the PlayStation 2.
GS: Thanks again, Craig.