Features

Wayback Wednesday: My NBA 2K13 MyCAREER

Finals MVP in NBA 2K13's MyCAREER

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. This week, I’m taking a look back at my memorable MyCAREER game in NBA 2K13.

I’ve been playing basketball video games for more than two decades now. There are two main reasons that I remain a fan of the genre: I’m passionate about the sport, and I’ve had so many fun experiences with both sim and arcade basketball games over the years. I’ve previously compiled a list of some of my favourite experiences, one of them being my MyCAREER game in NBA 2K13 PC, in which I played for the Denver Nuggets. An enjoyably successful rookie season with some interesting twists and turns set the bar high for future games, and indeed, it hasn’t been until this past year with NBA 2K17 that I’ve had a similarly great experience with MyCAREER.

It was the first time that I played MyCAREER almost exclusively, so NBA 2K13 stands as the game that really got me hooked on the mode, while developing a genuine interest in the single player career experience. Join me as I take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Should NBA Live 18 Be More Traditional?

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. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on the best direction for NBA Live 18.

EA Sports has their work cut out for them when it comes to NBA Live 18. The series hasn’t been the dominant brand in sim-oriented basketball games for more than a decade now, with cancellations and subpar releases combining to erode the trust of the fanbase. At the same time, it’s also shown potential and promise, and judging by some of the whispers from gamers who have been involved in recent playtesting sessions, there’s cause for optimism. NBA Live 18 obviously has a lot to prove, and as I’ve said many times before, it needs to be a well-rounded product. Improved gameplay is paramount, but deeper modes and roster customisation are also vital.

I think most of us agree on that, and we all have our own specific suggestions as to what we’d like to see out of future NBA Live releases. My first seven Friday Five articles of 2017 were dedicated to discussing ideas for this year’s game and beyond, and it’s been a recurring topic in the Forum and on the NLSC Podcast. For EA Sports to make a dent in Visual Concepts’ share of the market, their next game needs to be a quality release with an appealing hook, such as an All-Star Weekend mode. However, their overall approach and direction is also important, and that’s something that I’ve been thinking about lately.

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The Friday Five: 5 Preferable Pre-Order Bonuses

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. This week’s Five is a list of pre-order bonuses that I believe would be preferable to offer gamers every year.

Yes, I know. The whole concept of pre-ordering is one of the biggest problems with video games these days, right up there with always online connectivity, and the need for day one patches. Ideally, we’d all band together and refuse to pre-order, in an effort to curb the practice. However, that’s not going to happen. Developers obviously want to move their product, which means providing gamers with an incentive to put their money down as soon as possible. That incentive comes in the form of a variety of pre-order bonuses, which in theory reward gamers for having faith in a title.

In practice, pre-order bonuses can be a little underwhelming. If you’re not into “ultimate collector’s editions”, the physical extras such as hats and posters aren’t going to offer much incentive, but even if we just focus on the in-game items, certain pre-order bonuses can leave something to be desired. The “Early Tip-Off Weekend” bonus for pre-ordering the last couple of NBA 2K games is a great idea that should be retained, but there are a few other things that both Visual Concepts and EA Sports could be doing to reward loyal customers who pre-order. In some cases, that simply involves a slightly different approach to what they’re already doing.

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Wayback Wednesday: The Referee in NBA Live 2000

Referee at Tip-Off 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. This week, I’m taking a look back at the addition of a referee in NBA Live 2000.

On this day in 1988, the NBA decided to add a third referee to officiating crews, a change that went into effect the following season. Referees are often unpopular figures in any sport, and the NBA has seen its fair share of officiating controversies over the years. Whether it’s some of Joey Crawford’s antics, free throw discrepancies, or other bewildering calls, I’m sure we can all name an incident involving a referee that makes our blood boil. The officiating in basketball video games tends to be more consistent – that’s how it’s programmed, after all – but until NBA Live 2000, EA’s games lacked an actual referee on the sidelines.

It probably doesn’t sound like a big deal now, as we obviously expect to see more than one referee on the sidelines of contemporary basketball video games. At the time however, it was a significant addition to the presentation in NBA Live. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Some More Thoughts on Constructive Feedback

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. This week, I’m tipping things off with some more thoughts on how we can give better feedback as a gaming community.

If you haven’t yet checked out the interview that our friends over at Operation Sports conducted with the NBA 2K team, I highly recommend giving it a look. I obviously got a kick out of seeing JaoSming and Leftos taking part, and hearing the NLSC receive some flattering mentions, but those were far from the only parts that I enjoyed. All the guys participating in the interview provided an interesting insight into how they came to join the team at 2K, what it’s like to work in the industry, and how their perception of video game development changed from when they were members of the community. It’s a four part series, and you can begin with Part 1 here.

The interview also discusses the importance of community feedback, noting that even when the developers aren’t replying to comments, they are reading them. There were some good tips on how to get noticed, whether you’re seeking employment at Visual Concepts, or simply want to provide the developers with feedback for official patches and future games. Some of their comments got me thinking once again about the way we give feedback – not only to 2K, but also EA – and how we can do a better job in that regard. Personally, it’s also made me reflect a little on the way that I’ve critiqued the game and offered up feedback in recent years.

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The Friday Five: 5 NBA 2K Features I Want To See Return

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. This week’s Five is a list of features that I’d like to see return in future NBA 2K games.

While many of us do have our gripes with recent NBA 2K games, for the most part the series has been very solid for a long time now. Unlike NBA Live, it hasn’t been set back by frequent changes in direction. Instead, it’s continued to build upon its established foundation, and the quality of the experience has been fairly consistent as a result. The depth of the modes and the assortment of features and options have gone a long way in making NBA 2K successful. From robust single player experiences to different modes for online play, to roster editing and customisation, there’s a lot for basketball gamers to sink their teeth into.

Unfortunately, some features have fallen by the wayside over the years. There are various reasons for their absence in recent titles, from technical issues to design choices. Thankfully, we have seen some really great features make their way back into the game, such as the “Start Today” option in MyLEAGUE and MyGM. However, there are still some other features from past NBA 2K titles that would make a deep and well-rounded product even better, if they were to return. These are the five features that spring immediately to mind for me.

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Wayback Wednesday: The ’91 Warriors & ’02 Kings in NBA 2K12

The '91 Warriors vs. the '02 Kings in NBA 2K12

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. This week, I’m taking a look back at the 1991 Golden State Warriors and 2002 Sacramento Kings in NBA 2K12.

As I discussed in a previous Wayback Wednesday retrospective, the success of the Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11 and the looming lockout in 2011 gave Visual Concepts plenty of incentive to expand upon the historical content in the game. The result of course was NBA’s Greatest, which cut down on the specifics of the challenges (just win the games), but provided us with a larger roster of historical teams and NBA Legends. Deciding to take things one step further, 2K also provided basketball gamers with a couple of other historical teams to play with: the 1991 Golden State Warriors, and the 2002 Sacramento Kings.

Given the popularity and reputation of those two teams, the announcement of their inclusion was greeted with enthusiasm. However, their presence in the game wasn’t without controversy. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: The Great NBA 2K Camera Angle Debate

2K Camera Angle in NBA 2K17's 2K Pro-Am

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. This week, I’m tipping things off with some opinions on the camera angle settings in NBA 2K.

If you’re a long-time basketball gamer, you’ll probably remember a time when changing the camera angle simply wasn’t an option. Whether it was a broadcast-style sideline view, an isometric angle, or a perspective from behind the player you were controlling, most games didn’t give you a lot of choice when it came to the camera. In the mid 90s, however, a choice of camera angles and various zoom options began to make their way into basketball games. In recent times, there’s been a focus on authentically replicating the broadcast angles for all 30 NBA teams.

This wider variety of camera angles has sparked some passionate debates over the years, specifically over which is the best camera angle to use. In NBA 2K, the discussion has pretty much boiled down to the broadcast camera – either the authentic angles, or ones inspired by them – and the 2K camera and its variants. Basketball gamers certainly seem to have some strong opinions about which camera is the best, or for that matter, which is the “correct” setting to use. As I’m a passionate basketball gamer myself, I obviously have a few thoughts on the subject.

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The Friday Five: Top 5 PR Disasters in Basketball Gaming

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. This week’s Five is a countdown of the Top 5 PR Disasters in Basketball Gaming.

Video games are serious business…well, just about as serious as a hobby can get, anyway. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry with passionate consumers who naturally want value for money, and to be valued by the companies making the products they’re buying. The relationship between gamers and developers can be contentious at times, and while our behaviour admittedly hasn’t always been exemplary, there are certainly times when EA Sports and Visual Concepts have made disappointing decisions, or acted in a way that left a lot of basketball gamers feeling unappreciated or ripped off.

There have been several unfortunate incidents over the years, so as with any Top 5, I can’t account for all of them, and even if you do agree with my picks, you may not agree with the ranking. I’ve tried to base my selections on a combination of the severity of the incident, the long-term impact it’s had, and the general level of outrage that I’ve observed within the community. Finally, as always, these lists are intended to offer up my take on a subject while beginning the conversation, not ending it. With that being said, let’s tip off the countdown with number five.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live’s Classic Custom Teams

Custom Teams 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 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. This week, I’m taking a look back at the classic custom teams in old NBA Live games.

If you asked me to name a popular Wishlist item regarding roster management in the past decade or so, custom teams would have to be at the top of the list. When it comes to NBA Live, we haven’t had an in-built Create-a-Team function since NBA Live 2000. The option has also been absent from NBA 2K on the current generation, making it a more recent addition to the Wishlists sent in to Visual Concepts. Although you could argue that there are more pressing issues with both NBA Live and NBA 2K, it’s something that still bugs basketball gamers as it’s a feature that’s fallen by the wayside, and one that could be found in very old titles.

Of course, the custom teams that could be found in the first few iterations of NBA Live were a little different to the functionality that we want to see return. They do have their own nostalgic charm of course, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: How Modding Has Changed

Andrew's 1997/1998 Roster Mod for NBA Live 96

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. This week, I’m tipping things off with a look at how modding has changed over the years.

As of last August, the NLSC has been around for twenty years. I’ve had the privilege of running the site for fifteen of those twenty years, and suffice to say quite a few things have changed during that span. It’s been interesting to observe those changes, and of course, crucial to adapt to them. As you might expect, that’s sometimes been a challenging task. While we’ve expanded our content and commitment to covering basketball games during their development, a big part of what we do here in our community still revolves around modding. I expect that will always be the case, and as I’ve said before, we can be proud of the work we’ve done in that regard.

Of course, there have been changes to modding, too. For a start, instead of “modding” and “mods”, in years gone by we mostly used the words “patching” and “patches”. Once we started covering NBA 2K in greater depth and creating content for it, the word “modding” came to be used more frequently, either to distinguish it from NBA Live patching, or simply because the term was more common in other gaming communities. Whichever term you prefer, the changes to modding in our community extend well beyond the name for the hobby.

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The Friday Five: 5 Strange Occurrences in My NBA 2K17 MyCAREER

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. This week’s Five is a list of five strange occurrences in my NBA 2K17 MyCAREER game.

Having played through the first season in NBA 2K17’s MyCAREER and started on my second, it’s fair to say that I’ve greatly enjoyed the mode, really for the first time since NBA 2K13 if I’m to be completely honest. The story was unintrusive, I found myself back on the Denver Nuggets, and it was a lot of fun dominating the league and setting some records on route to the NBA championship. Jumping to the Chicago Bulls and turning up the difficulty level has freshened things up in my sophomore season, and although I’m not playing the mode as frequently as I was a few weeks ago, I know that I’ll eagerly pick it up again whenever the mood strikes.

The experience has been fun, and I do feel that it’s the best incarnation of MyCAREER since the implementation of the story-driven approach, but there’s definitely been some weirdness. Now, there’s an element of fantasy to all of the modes in a basketball video game, and since strange and unexpected things do happen in the real NBA, it can be tough to say what’s realistic and what isn’t. At the same time, certain events are highly unlikely, and only seem to occur in video games in the name of shaking things up. When it comes to strange occurrences in my NBA 2K17 MyCAREER, here are five that come to mind.

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Wayback Wednesday: FIBA Teams in NBA Live 08

Team USA, one of the FIBA Teams 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. This week, I’m taking a look back at the FIBA teams in NBA Live 08.

Bonus teams and content are something that we arguably take for granted in basketball video games these days. Both NBA Live and NBA 2K used to feature Decade All-Star teams, and of course, 2K has boasted an impressive selection of historical teams in recent years. Euroleague teams have also been featured in NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, as well as the past few NBA 2K titles. However, the interest in bonus teams really picked up after a selection of national squads was added in NBA Live 08, along with a mode representing the FIBA World Championship (now the FIBA World Cup).

The FIBA teams were a popular choice for bonus content in a few NBA Live titles, and I’m sure that many gamers would like to see them return. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Giving NBA 2K17 Online One More Try

Post Game Stats in NBA 2K17's 2K Pro-Am

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. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on my recent experience playing NBA 2K17 online.

Along with my co-hosts Arcane and Kenny, I’ve mentioned in various episodes of the NLSC Podcast that I’ve recently grown weary of playing NBA 2K17 online. After really getting into 2K Pro-Am last year with NBA 2K16, and constantly playing it for the first few months after NBA 2K17 came out, our interest in and enjoyment of the mode took a sudden downturn. After some frustrating sessions of both 2K Pro-Am and MyPARK – including one where we dejectedly called it a night after only one game – we all decided to take a break from the online modes in NBA 2K17, at least for a little while, but possibly until NBA 2K18 was released.

For the next couple of weeks, we stuck to the single player modes in NBA 2K17, or indeed, played other games altogether. However, I did find myself wanting to give 2K Pro-Am at least one more try, and I’ve taken part in a couple of sessions with the guys each of the past two Fridays. There was familiar frustration, but also the same recognisable fun and enjoyment from more positive sessions in the past. As a result, I may not be finished with the online experience in NBA 2K17 just yet. For other basketball gamers who have grown tired of online play, you can probably relate to the following reflections.

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The Friday Five: 5 Times Basketball Games Predicted The Future

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. This week’s Five is a list of five interesting coincidences where basketball games seemingly predicted the future.

With a bit of creative thinking and hindsight, it’s not too difficult to find “correct predictions” everywhere. Take Michael Jordan’s “Total D” basketball trading card from 1995, for example. Noting that the one-time Defensive Player of the Year is still generally known more for his dunks and scoring outbursts than lockdown D, the back of the card refers to him as an “Aerial Wizard”. A reference to his high flying exploits, or a prediction of his second comeback with Washington, as well as the team’s name change a year before it was even announced? I’ll let you be the judge.

If you’re thinking rationally, you’ll have correctly written off the above suggestion as nothing more than a couple of fun coincidences. As I said though, it isn’t too difficult to take those coincidences and spin a story about them eerily predicting the future. To that end, this week’s Five is all about basketball video games that predicted one thing or another…or so it would seem. And no, the inclusion of the Charlotte Bobcats in NBA Live 2004 doesn’t count; they’d already been unveiled, and we all knew they would be making their debut the following season.

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