Features

The Friday Five: Best Sim Basketball Game of Each Generation

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

When we look back to rank and rate basketball video games throughout the years, it’s important that we keep a few things in perspective, such as the technology of the time, and a game’s improvement over its immediate predecessors. With the way that basketball titles and other sports video games have improved, it’s not always a fair comparison once a few years have passed, to say nothing of a generation or two. Even though they’ve been surpassed, certain basketball games definitely deserve to be recognised as the best sim title of their day. As such, today I’m picking the best sim basketball games in five distinct generations, or eras if you prefer.

I must emphasise that these are my personal picks, and that I’m not presenting this list as infallible, definitive, or above question. There are several worthy candidates that you might prefer, and I obviously reserve the right to change my opinion in the future as well. However, as it stands today, these are my selections for the best sim-oriented basketball video games in each generation, starting from the early days of basketball gaming and going right through until today. Without any further ado, let’s tip things off with basketball games from the 16-Bit era and earlier.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Legends in NBA Live 2000

Michael Jordan in One-on-One in NBA Live 2000

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content.

Today, December 7th 2016, is Larry Bird’s 60th birthday; Happy Birthday, Larry Legend! To mark the occasion, I’ve been trying to think of basketball video gaming topics that are related to the Boston Celtics great. Since I’ve already talked about Bird’s presence in NBA Jam Tournament Edition as a secret player, that idea is out. Glancing at the list of topics that I’ve compiled for future Wayback Wednesday features, I noticed one that’s probably overdue, and certainly has ties to Bird: NBA Legends in NBA Live 2000.

I remember that many of us were very excited to hear that a selection of NBA Legends from the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s would be featured in NBA Live 2000. The long-awaited addition of Michael Jordan was obviously a huge selling point, but the inclusion of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, Isiah Thomas, and other all-time greats, also came as very welcome news for basketball gamers who wanted to see some historical content in NBA Live.

It’s the kind of content in basketball video games that helps us reminisce, so it’s only appropriate that we take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Fixing NBA 2K’s MyPLAYER Archetypes

Choosing MyPLAYER Archetypes in NBA 2K17

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games.

When the concept of MyPLAYER Archetypes was first announced for NBA 2K17, it struck me as being a very good idea. It seemed like a great solution to the issue of gamers creating maxed out 7’3″ players, a practice that frequently upset the competitive balance in modes such as MyPARK and 2K Pro-Am. On top of injecting a little more realism into MyCAREER, MyPLAYER Archetypes seemed to be a logical answer to egregious min-maxing and gaming of the upgrade system in order to create overpowered players.

I maintain that it was a very good idea in theory, and something that should remain in future NBA 2K games. However, MyPLAYER Archetypes haven’t been quite as effective in preserving competitive balance as I would have hoped, as some gamers are still creating cheesy players. Conversely, in other ways they’re too restrictive, allowing for little variation between certain playing styles. Since we’re in the thick of Wishlist season, I thought that I’d throw out a few ideas that could possibly improve MyPLAYER Archetypes in NBA 2K18 and beyond.

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The Friday Five: 5 More Patches I Always Wanted to Make

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

A little over two years ago, I wrote a Friday Five column about five patches that I always wanted to make, but never did. Since then, I’ve given a couple of them a try, releasing beta/demo versions of an Ultimate Jordan Roster, and a fictional league roster inspired by World League Basketball. They’re a couple of projects that I’d like to return to when I have the opportunity, as I do like to get back to my roots and make some patches from time to time. It’s been a while since my last release, so I must admit that I am getting the itch to work on something beyond my regular columns and other features (although I certainly do enjoy creating that content, too).

Because I don’t have as much free time as I used to, these days I prefer to focus on making smaller patches that fill a particular need, or works that are creatively satisfying, rather than the regular roster updates that I used to create. When I’m trying to come up with some fun ideas for patches, I still tend to think back to projects that I’ve envisioned in the past, but never got around to making. Following on from my previous Five, here are some more patches that I didn’t end up creating, some of which I might take a shot at sometime in the future.

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Wayback Wednesday: The Original NLSC Roster Updates

1998 Bulls in the NLSC Roster Updates for NBA Live 97

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content.

Years before I was maintaining the NLSC roster updates for NBA Live, Tim and Lutz were creating the site’s original patches. We’ve seen a lot of fantastic roster updates over the years that have brought attention to the NLSC and been very popular in the community, and that great work certainly continues to this day. However, when you’re talking about the roster updates that made this site what it’s become and inspired so many other people to get into the hobby, you can’t go past those original releases by Tim and Lutz.

Those roster updates are still available in our Downloads section, and if you’re ever in the mood for some retro basketball gaming, I’d definitely recommend downloading them. If you’re newer to the NLSC community though – and especially if you’ve mostly been involved with the NBA 2K modding scene – it might be difficult to appreciate how important and influential those original NLSC rosters were. While I do encourage you to experience them for yourself if you can, I feel it’s important that those early roster updates get their due, especially in light of 2016 marking our 20th Anniversary.

Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Crafting NBA Live’s Comeback

Derrick Rose on the New York Knicks in NBA Live 16

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games.

Last week, we received a very small snippet of news about NBA Live 17, courtesy of a brief interview with Senior Producer Mike Mahar. While we still don’t know a lot about what’s happening with NBA Live, we do know that the development team is still working on a console version of the game, and that a release is slated for the first quarter of 2017. We also know that there’s a different team working on NBA Live Mobile (thus its development does not affect the console version), and thanks to Mike’s interview, we’ve discovered that gameplay, animations, and new ways to play certain game modes have been a focus.

Of course, when it comes to future NBA Live releases, the proof will be in the pudding. After all, we’ve heard those promises before, and while the series has made progress since its rocky return with NBA Live 14, there’s still plenty of untapped potential and room for improvement. I would really like to see NBA Live get back to where it once was, and I hope that whatever EA Sports is working on right now will be a big step in the right direction. What do I consider the “right direction”? Well, here’s how I would craft NBA Live’s comeback.

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The Friday Five: The NLSC 2K Pro-Am Squad

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

Between some of my recent columns and the weekly “Our Week in Basketball Gaming” segment on the NLSC Podcast, I talk about 2K Pro-Am a fair bit. There are other topics that I’ll be touching upon in upcoming articles, but The X suggested this topic to me on Twitter, and it was too fun of an idea to put off for another week. Since this is the Friday Five, and there are five regulars in our 2K Pro-Am squad (NLSC THRILLHO), the format lends itself quite nicely to putting together a fun write-up about our crew.

The five of us started playing 2K Pro-Am together about six months ago, ultimately creating a couple of squads in NBA 2K16. Arcane and I were a little late to the party, but once the two of us joined in and we were getting in games with all five regulars, we had a lot of fun, and a few very satisfying victories. We’ve been doing a little better this year, though we’ve still got a long road ahead of us if we want to reach the Elite tier, and unlock logo importing (which shouldn’t be necessary, but that’s a topic for another time). Without any further ado, let me introduce you to the key members of NLSC THRILLHO!

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live Championship Screenshots

Boston Celtics Championship in NBA Live 08

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content.

When posting bulletins about the NBA Champions around ten years ago, I included screenshots of the winning team taken from the current NBA Live game. With the standalone Playoffs mode, it was easy enough to fire up the PC version, load up the latest NLSC roster update, and sim through a postseason. Because NBA Live’s simulation engine could be unpredictable, I usually had to place star players on the injured reserve so that the appropriate teams could make it through to the NBA Finals, and the correct team then win the championship.

I usually held off on capturing the screenshots until the series was close to being decided, so that I could make sure the teams were playing in the correct venue (and in one instance, wearing the correct jerseys). I came across those old NBA Live championship screenshots while digging through my archives recently, and I thought that they’d be fun to share for this week’s Wayback Wednesday.

Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Decorating MyCOURT & Mulling MyCAREER

Shooting around on a Chicago Bulls MyCOURT in NBA 2K17

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games.

My NBA 2K17 MyPLAYER is currently sitting at 92 Overall, which means I’m getting close to hitting all the level caps and maxing out my ratings (at least without levelling up MyPARK rep, anyway). This also means that it takes several sessions of Doin’ Work to unlock the next upgrade. With only one Playmaker Badge left to unlock and upgrade through the MyPLAYER Store, and new ratings upgrades only becoming available every other in-game week or so, I’m currently earning more VC than I can spend on improving my abilities.

As such, I can spare more VC to spend on frivolities such as MyPLAYER clothing, and decorating MyCOURT. Having purchased a few of my favourite jerseys and outfitted MyPLAYER with Michael Jordan’s shoes and uniform, I decided that MyCOURT could use some rebranding. I definitely like the changes I’ve made and I’m enjoying MyCAREER a lot, though I have to admit that I’ve been thinking about my future. Normally, I’d prefer to stay put with the team that drafted me, but as of late, I can’t help thinking that I should keep my options open.

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The Sunday Substitute: Badges in NBA 2K17

The week is in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter, which means it’s time for the Sunday Substitute! It’s the article where I get some valuable minutes while the star is resting on the bench. I might not have the time to do this every week, but I like to think I’m still contributing to the team effort. I have been gaining a few splinters on the bench for the last few months, but today I’m ready to get back into it and talk about badges in NBA 2K17.

Over the past few 2K PRO-AM sessions I have had with fellow NLSC team members, I have learned that badges are vital in online play. Both mine and Andrew’s numbers have gone up considerably since we’ve unlocked significant badges for our respective archetypes. In some games, my shooting has been off the charts because of my Hall of Fame Corner Specialist and Catch and Shoot Badges, and Andrew’s passes have been more on point with the Gold Dimer badge.

Despite how NLSC THRILLHO have improved after acquiring badges, there are still a number of issues that badges seem to be creating online. It seems like lesser-rated players are becoming more overpowered because of outside shooting badges. People are still zigzagging and hitting those perfect jump shots, and corner threes are almost automatic unless you practically foul the shooter.

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The Friday Five: 5 Players You Find in 2K Pro-Am

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

It took a while for the NLSC 2K Pro-Am squad to click last year, but we had so much fun playing the mode that we definitely wanted to create a squad again this year. As we’ve mentioned on the Podcast, the NLSC THRILLHO – that’s an old Simpsons reference, for those of you who are unaware – hasn’t been winning quite as many games as we’d like. We’re still doing better than last year though, and despite occasionally grumbling about this and that in NBA 2K17 (such as the lack of logo importing before reaching Elite level), we keep jumping on every week to get a few games in. I think it’s safe to say that we’re still enjoying ourselves.

If you play 2K Pro-Am regularly, chances are you’ll encounter the same team more than once. Playing at the times we do, and especially given our location, there are times when we’ll face the same squad two or three times in a single session. This leads to some fun rivalries, not to mention becoming very familiar with certain players. Of course, even if you’re facing a host of different opponents, you’ll certainly run into the same types of players quite often. For your consideration, here is a breakdown of five of the players you’re likely to encounter in 2K Pro-Am.

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Wayback Wednesday: My Player in NBA 2K10

Summer Circuit Game in NBA 2K10's My Player

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content.

On this day in 2001, the NBA D-League (then known as the NBDL) tipped off its inaugural season with the Greenville Groove hosting the North Charleston Lowgators. The league may have changed its name, and neither of those teams is still active, but over the past fifteen years the D-League has become a stable farm league for the NBA, with several noteworthy alumni. Despite its growth and increasing importance to the NBA, to date the D-League hasn’t had much of a presence in basketball video games. However, it played a significant role in NBA 2K10’s My Player mode, the first incarnation of what is now known as MyCAREER.

Since it’s the fifteenth anniversary of the inaugural D-League season, and I’ve been playing quite a bit of MyCAREER in NBA 2K17, I thought I’d look back at My Player in NBA 2K10, while also touching on the D-League’s role in the mode. The possibility of starting out in the D-League is something that quite a few gamers have expressed an interest in seeing return, and the prospect of multiple career paths is something that I find intriguing as well. My Player itself has undergone a lot of improvements on top of being rebranded into MyCAREER, but what was that first version of the mode like?

Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Fixing NBA 2K’s Grading Logic

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games.

Something that I’ve complained about on the Podcast, as well as in previous columns and most recently in this Forum thread, is the problematic nature of the grading logic in NBA 2K. Although there have been some subtle improvements in recent years, it’s extremely rare that I play a game of MyCAREER or 2K Pro-Am where I’m not hit with a deduction that leaves me grumbling, and wondering how the grading logic figures that I should be penalised. Even in situations where my grade should take a hit, there are deductions that seem needlessly harsh.

Of course, at a certain point you need to channel those complaints into something more constructive, namely suggestions and solutions. Since we’ve tipped off the NBA 2K18 Wishlist, it’s come time to start talking about some of the improvements and additions we want to see, and how we believe certain problems should be addressed. Since I’ve been playing a lot of 2K Pro-Am and MyCAREER in NBA 2K17, my issues with the grading logic sprang immediately when I was considering what I wanted to talk about this week. Without any further ado, here is an outline of how I feel the grading logic can be fixed in future NBA 2K releases.

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The Friday Five: 5 MyCAREER Story Theories

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

One of the most common complaints about the current approach to MyCAREER mode is that the story is basically on rails, and the player character’s back story is predetermined and not always “one size fits all”. Although we can customise our MyPLAYER’s appearance and make a few decisions along the way, the impact those choices have on the plot is minimal at best. When it comes down to it, taglines like NBA 2K16’s “Be the Story” ring a little hollow, since they suggest a deeper connection to the character than we might have, and more influence over our destiny than the games actually allow.

Of course, while we may not be able to change a lot of what we see in the cutscenes, there’s still room for some imagination as we play the games. If fan fiction and ambiguous endings have taught us anything, it’s that we can interpret stories in differing and creative ways, and make up our own minds about certain plot points. To that end, I thought I’d have a little fun and throw out five theories – or if you prefer, five alternate interpretations – for the MyCAREER stories we’ve seen so far. Needless to say, there are some spoilers here (both for the games and other media), so proceed at your own risk.

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Wayback Wednesday: Remembering Roster Players

Roster Player dunks the basketball in NBA Live 98

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content.

The issue of missing players isn’t as prominent as it was in the early days of basketball gaming. Video games have become a huge industry, authenticity is the name of the game, and the licensing agreement with the NBA Players Association ensures that all active players are represented in NBA Live and NBA 2K. These days, active players who aren’t included at launch are added via official roster updates, so most of the issues with missing players involve historical players that couldn’t be licensed. Fortunately, as the addition of Steve Nash in the latest NBA 2K17 roster update demonstrates, that doesn’t have to be a permanent problem either.

As I’ve discussed in previous articles, this wasn’t always the case. Due to certain players retaining full control over their likeness rights, and sometimes signing exclusive deals with specific developers, some of the biggest names in basketball have been missing from classic hoops games. In some cases, however, they didn’t leave a vacant spot on their team’s roster. Some games elected to include placeholder players, which many old school basketball gamers came to call Roster Players, after the name they were given in various editions of NBA Live.

Roster Players have an interesting legacy in basketball gaming, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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