Features

The Friday Five: 5 Issues with MyCAREER/Pro-Am’s Grading Logic

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.

I’m on a real 2K Pro-Am kick lately, as I’ve really been enjoying getting together with Arcane, Kenny, and other members of our community to play a few games each week. However, while we do have a lot of fun at the Joel Anthony Arena – whenever we’re lucky enough to play there – we also have our fair share of frustrating moments. As I mentioned in Monday Tip-Off, some of our problems are self-inflicted, but there are a few issues that I would say do stem from gameplay imbalance and quirky logic. Obviously, these problems also affect the MyCAREER experience as well.

Apart from the story-driven approach, issues with the grading logic are one of my biggest complaints when it comes to MyCAREER (and now Pro-Am as well). Having recently gone back and played a few games of my memorable MyCAREER in NBA 2K13, I was frustrated to realise that I’m still experiencing some of the same problems in NBA 2K16. In order to enhance the MyCAREER and Pro-Am experience in NBA 2K17, I believe that the following five issues need to be addressed.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live Halftime Shows

Midwest Division Halftime Video in NBA Live 99

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 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.

As basketball video games have continued to harness the power of improving gaming technology, we’ve expected more and more of them. While most of our desires have been centred on gameplay and game modes, presentation is an area that a lot of basketball gamers have wanted to see enhancements in over the years. While slick presentation will only briefly mask gameplay and game mode deficiencies, it’s nevertheless important in terms of creating atmosphere, and adding those extra touches of reality that we tend to enjoy so much.

In the past few years, basketball video games have come to include very detailed and realistic TV-style presentation. Whether it’s NBA Live 16’s NBA on ESPN segments hosted by Jalen Rose, or NBA 2K16’s pre-game, halftime, and post-game shows featuring digital versions of Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kenny Smith, we’ve come to expect great production values that mimic a real NBA broadcast. Back in the day, of course, breaks in the action were spiced up in a far more modest manner.

Today, we’re talking about the halftime shows that appeared in the early versions of NBA Live. Without any further ado, let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: My Recent Experiences with 2K Pro-Am

Tipping Off in the Joel Anthony Arena in 2K Pro-Am in NBA 2K16

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.

If you’ve caught some of the recent episodes of the NLSC Podcast hosted by Arcane, Kenny, and myself, you’ll have heard us talking about our recent games of 2K Pro-Am in NBA 2K16. I realise that audio content isn’t for everyone, and a written article can sometimes be better at starting discussion, since it’s easier to directly quote and respond to each other’s points. To that end, I thought I’d follow on from Kenny’s first official edition of The Sunday Substitute with some of my own thoughts on 2K Pro-Am.

As I’ve said many times before, I’m not a big online gamer. I prefer the franchise mode experience, and I’ve come to quite enjoy the card collecting, team building modes as well. However, playing basketball video games online is significantly more fun when it’s done with friends, so I’ve really enjoyed getting together with Kenny, Arcane, and some other members of our community for a few games each week. As Kenny noted in the Forum, our record isn’t stellar, but we have a good time…for the most part.

So, what are my overall impressions of 2K Pro-Am to date, and what would I like to see done moving forward?

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The Sunday Substitute: Achieving 99 Overall in NBA 2K

The GOAT, often rated 99 Overall

Welcome to the Sunday Substitute; 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 making a contribution to the team.

Today I’m going to talk about 99 overall players. In real life, you may associate one or two players with the number, but it is a completely different story in NBA 2K16. In 2K PRO-AM, you will see at least one on the highly ranked teams, while in MyPARK, there are generally as many 99 players as there are players that are over 7-feet tall. However, even though the rarity of this calibre of player in real life versus online is an issue, I want to first delve into what kind of attributes make a 99 overall player.

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The Friday Five: Final Results of My 5 2016 Season Predictions

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.

The 2016 season is close to being in the books, and could be over in two more games. I’ll be honest: it hasn’t been my favourite NBA season. The fact that the Chicago Bulls had a disappointing year definitely doesn’t help, but apart from the Golden State Warriors’ impressive, record breaking performance, I didn’t find it to be especially noteworthy. I found myself tuning out during the year, and there were a couple of months where my subscription to NBA League Pass Broadband was definitely going to waste. While there have been some good games, and a couple of exciting moments in the 2016 Playoffs, I’ve mostly been underwhelmed by this season.

Having said that, I made five predictions before the season began, which I later revisited as the year progressed. Now that the 2016 campaign has almost wrapped up, I thought I’d look back at those predictions one last time, and tally up the final results. So, how did I do? Did I manage to at least do a little better than my record in the Bold Predictions segments of the NLSC Podcast? Well, let’s take one last look at my five predictions for the 2016 NBA season.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 95 Patching

1997/1998 Rosters from Lutz's NBA Live 95 Roster Patches

Welcome to Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! This is a feature where we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in 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.

For as long as the NLSC has been around, so has the NBA Live patching community. In 2008, patching – or modding, as it’s more frequently called these days – finally came to NBA 2K, when NBA 2K9 became the first game in the series to be released on PC. As a community, we’ve been able to do some amazing things for both NBA Live and NBA 2K: comprehensive multi-season roster mods, enhanced textures for team and player art, and even changes to the animation files, to name but a few. We’ve hit some roadblocks along the way – as NBA 2K15 and NBA 2K16 modders can attest – but it was pretty difficult back in the days of NBA Live 95, too.

Thanks to the efforts of our founders, Tim, Lutz, and Brien, it was possible to create custom rosters for NBA Live 95, and eventually, custom art files as well. Compared to what they were able to achieve with the editing tools for NBA Live 96 onwards, creating rosters for NBA Live 95 was much trickier, and a lot more finicky. Through going back and creating the Definitive roster patch for NBA Live 95 as part of our 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content, as well as putting Stephen Curry into the game for last week’s feature, I was reminded of both the fun and the frustration of patching NBA Live 95.

With patching/modding being such a big part of what we do here at the NLSC, I thought it’d be interesting to look back at what the community had to work with in the early days. So let’s indeed take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Are You Modding For The Right Reasons?

Andreas Dahl's Next Gen Practice Court Patch for NBA Live 06

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.

In previous Monday Tip-Off columns, I’ve discussed a few issues related to our modding community: problems with ego, why modders stop modding, and why people make mods for older basketball video games. In a couple of those features, I’ve touched upon the right reasons and the wrong reasons to get involved in the modding scene for basketball video games. While I don’t want to harp on the same topics over and over again, sometimes they do bear repeating, especially when certain issues arise time and time again.

We recently had another incident in the Forum which reminded me that although we are a talented modding community, unfortunately there are some individuals who do have a bad attitude. I suppose it’s inevitable and it’s always disappointing, but it’s perhaps even more disappointing when I see other people defend and enable that behaviour. While everyone is entitled to their own point of view, I’d suggest that you’re betting on the wrong horse if you’re on the side of the person who’s throwing a tantrum like a toddler.

I feel like we need a refresher here, so having said that, what are the right and wrong reasons to mod, the good and the bad attitudes to have towards the hobby?

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The Friday Five: 5 Frustrating Design Choices in Basketball Games

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’s stating the obvious, but we’re pretty fond of our basketball video games around these parts. We may get frustrated and grumble when we encounter a bug or some other quirk in a game, but I’d like to think that for the most part, a majority of us are enjoying our time on the virtual hardwood. No game is ever going to be perfect or completely bug-free, and new gaming tech is always being developed and refined. All the same, we generally find a way to enjoy basketball games, especially if they receive official patches that are able to stamp out some of the most troubling issues.

Of course, bugs aren’t the only issues that cause us to become frustrated with basketball video games. Sometimes, our complaints are with the design choices that are made when developing hoops titles; the approach to certain features. While there may be a rhyme and reason to some of those choices, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t annoying, or problematic. In this week’s Friday Five, I’m taking a look at five design choices that cause their fair share of frustration for basketball gamers.

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Wayback Wednesday: Stephen Curry in NBA Live 95

Viewing Stephen Curry in NBA Live 95

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 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.

With Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors advancing to the NBA Finals, the MVP and his team are obviously looking forward to the prospect of repeating as NBA Champions. Topping off their 73-9 season with the Larry O’Brien trophy will certainly add to their claim of being the best team of all-time, though any match-ups with great teams of the past can obviously only happen in basketball video games. Various simulations in NBA 2K16 have tried to judge how Michael Jordan and the 1996 Chicago Bulls would fare in 2016, but how would Curry perform in the mid 90s? Say, if he were patched into NBA Live 95, taking the place of his father, Dell?

As it happens, I’ve done just that, and put together a video recapping the results. So, how does Stephen Curry fare when he’s dropped into NBA Live 95, with the Golden State Warriors of 1995? Let’s take a look back…way back…

Check it out here on our YouTube channel if you can’t see the embedded video. This was certainly a fun thing to try, so I hope you enjoyed the video as much as I enjoyed putting it all together. If you’d like to dust off NBA Live 95 and play with Stephen Curry yourself, download the mod I created here. Stay tuned for more video features, retrospectives, and other Wayback Wednesday content, coming your way every week here at the NLSC!

Monday Tip-Off: Why Do We Care About Cover Players?

LeBron James dribbles the basketball in NBA 2K16

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.

The reveal of the cover player for NBA 2K17 is just a couple of days away, set to coincide with the grand final of the Road To The Finals Pro-Am tournament in NBA 2K16. Stephen Curry seems like a good bet to appear on the cover for the second year in a row, perhaps joined by Klay Thompson, or maybe even the Golden State Warriors’ entire starting five. Paul George also seems like a distinct possibility, seeing as how he was the cover player of the MyNBA2K16 app, and appeared in the trailer announcing the Legend Edition of NBA 2K17 featuring Kobe Bryant on the cover.

Admittedly, for a lot of gamers, the player that appears on the cover of NBA Live and NBA 2K is largely unimportant. In the grand scheme of things, it has no bearing on the quality of the game, and is mostly only significant in terms of marketing. I imagine that under normal circumstances, very few people would flat out refuse to buy a game if a certain player was on the cover, and anyone who does was probably looking for an excuse not to buy it anyway. Yet, as often as it’s dismissed as an irrelevant topic of discussion, it’s something that we inevitably end up talking about every year.

So, why do basketball gamers care about who’s on the cover of NBA Live and NBA 2K?

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways We Mess Up Franchise Mode Games

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.

As I’ve mentioned in recent episodes of the NLSC Podcast, I’ve just started Dynasty and MyLEAGUE games with the Charlotte Hornets in NBA Live 16 and NBA 2K16 respectively. I’d like to have some fun with at least one of the franchise modes while I’m waiting for the release of next season’s games, and since I haven’t been able to get my previous attempts with the Chicago Bulls off the ground, I thought I’d try again with the Hornets. With any luck, one of these new attempts will pan out.

Of course, the success of a franchise game doesn’t just come down to luck. Good fortune is a factor to some extent, but I would suggest that we create our own luck, and there are ways that we shoot ourselves in the foot when it comes to franchise gaming. I figure that if I discuss some of the ways that we mess up in those modes, I might just be able to avoid a few of those pitfalls. Without any further ado, here are five mistakes that can quickly ruin franchise games in NBA Live and NBA 2K.

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Wayback Wednesday: Double Dribble Video Retrospective

Double Dribble Title Screen

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 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.

I’m long overdue to do another video retrospective for Wayback Wednesday, and a recent incident involving Family Guy inspired me to cover a game that’s been on my list for a while: Double Dribble, for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Double Dribble is a game by Konami that a lot of you have probably heard of, and it’s a hoops title that I wanted as a kid, but never actually played until many years later. Having played the game since as an adult, I certainly have a few thoughts on it that I’d like to share with my fellow basketball gamers. Since it’s recently come up in gaming news and been thrust back into the public eye, now seems like an opportune time.

It’s a significant basketball video game in its own right, one that’s worth revisiting if only for its memorable animated dunking cutscenes. With that said, let’s take a look back…way back…

Catch the retrospective here on our YouTube channel if you can’t see the embedded video. Making another video retrospective has certainly got me in the mood to get back to creating them, so stay tuned for further video content, as well as other Wayback Wednesday features, coming your way every week here at the NLSC!

Monday Tip-Off: The New Game Blues of MyCAREER

Dunking in NBA 2K13's MyCAREER

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.

In the best case scenario, the release of a new NBA Live or NBA 2K title will tip off several months of enjoyable basketball gaming. Ideally, we’ll see enhancements to the gameplay and game modes, with troublesome issues being resolved and much-desired features being added. In short order, we’ll start building our Ultimate Team or MyTEAM, meet up with friends for some Pro-Am games, choose a team for Dynasty, MyLEAGUE, or MyGM, or step into the shoes of an NBA player with a new Rising Star or MyCAREER game.

Of course, even if we’re enjoying a new basketball video game as much as its predecessor – or enjoying it more, as the case may be – it’s possible to feel at least a little bit of regret about what we’ve left behind. If we spend a lot of time with a game, sinking hours upon hours into a mode that has us hooked, it can be hard to move on. The bar will be set very high for the next game, and recapturing the magic that enchanted us for close to a year is easier said than done.

That’s how I felt when I made the jump from NBA 2K13 to NBA 2K14, and tried to follow up on a memorable MyCAREER experience.

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The Friday Five: 5 Trades You Make in Franchise Modes

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 appealing aspects of the franchise modes in NBA Live and NBA 2K is the ability to make the trades that you’d love to see happen in real life. Frustrated that your favourite team can never seem to pull off a blockbuster deal that lands them a superstar? In franchise modes, you can make it happen, and live out a few fantasy scenarios. Of course, just as in real life, you’ll need to deal with the restrictions of the salary cap, as well as convince other teams to agree to the trades that you offer. I’d suggest that a few of us have found out that building a great roster isn’t always easy.

When we don our virtual GM suits and start wheeling and dealing, there are some common types of trades that we end up making. Sometimes, we try to be realistic, while other times we’ll make unthinkable deals. Some trades are very good, some trades are very bad, and some trades work out very differently than how they looked on paper. Sometimes, they can make or break the franchise mode experience. In this week’s Friday Five, I’m looking at five types of trades we’ll make when we play through a franchise game in NBA Live or NBA 2K.

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Wayback Wednesday: Long-Lost NBA Live 2002 Preview Screens

Steve Francis in NBA Live 2002

Welcome to Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! This is a feature where we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in 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 next game that I’ll be looking back at as part of our 20th Anniversary of NBA Live celebrations is NBA Live 2002. As I’ll discuss in more detail in my retrospective, NBA Live 2002 was a controversial release, as it was the first game in the series to be console exclusive and also had its fair share of issues. At the same time, it’s also a game that I managed to have a considerable amount of fun with back in the day, and I kind of have a sentimental attachment to it, as it was the first new NBA Live game that came out after I took over the NLSC in August 2001.

On a recent dig through my archives, I uncovered a collection of NBA Live 2002 preview screenshots that were posted on the NLSC all those years ago, but had since gone missing following a couple of hosting and design changes. I’d previously searched high and low for them, but I just couldn’t seem to find them anywhere. Now that they’ve turned up, I thought it might be fun to exhibit them again, especially with NBA Live 2002 being the next game I’m posting a retrospective on. It’s also a reminder that NBA Live’s graphics have indeed improved over the years.

So, what did basketball video games look like in 2001? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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