Features

Monday Tip-Off: Got Next Gotta Go in MyPARK

Got Next in NBA 2K17's MyPARK

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 my thoughts on the “Got Next” approach in MyPARK.

Along with the other members of NLSC THRILLHO, I’ve been finding 2K Pro-Am a little more frustrating than usual lately. The most recent patch opened up matchmaking across different tiers, which results in more games, but also frequently matches us up against Elite level teams who are more serious about online gaming, or have achieved that status through cheesy builds. We’ve still had some enjoyable games, but a few tough nights, combined with rising frustration with some of NBA 2K17’s issues, have encouraged us to head to MyPARK instead. After an enjoyable experience with Park After Dark #3, it’s something we’ll probably do more often.

Even though I generally prefer five-on-five gameplay with NBA rules, the streetball approach of MyPARK is a fun change of pace. I like the more casual atmosphere, and when there’s only three of us online, a three-on-three game without AI players of questionable skill level feels like a more streamlined experience. I find that I’m less frustrated, perhaps because even though I do want to win and we do compete, losses don’t seem to sting as much in shorter games. However, there is one frustrating element of MyPARK, and it’s something that’s always bothered me about the mode: Got Next. For me, Got Next gotta go.

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The Friday Five: 5 Tips to Endure a Long MyCAREER Season

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 tips for enduring a long season in MyCAREER.

I’m almost at the end of the regular season in my rookie campaign in NBA 2K17’s MyCAREER. As much fun as I’ve had so far, it’s definitely been a grind, especially since I prefer to play twelve minute quarters. Even with shorter quarter lengths, 82 games is quite a marathon, and it’s difficult not to get impatient once you’re past the All-Star break, and the postseason is looming on the horizon. Of course, if you’re battling to qualify for the Playoffs, each game is going to have more meaning, and that should hold your interest. However, if you’ve already clinched a Playoff berth, a little bit of boredom might start to set in.

Fortunately, there are a few ideas that can make tedious stretches in MyCAREER a bit more fun. Some of these suggestions arguably apply to MyLEAGUE and MyGM as well, but I personally find that boredom during the regular season is more of a problem in MyCAREER, since you’re locked to a single player, and you obviously don’t have all the team management functions to change things up. With that being said, here are five ideas that have helped break up the boredom for me, and will hopefully help some of you make it through the regular season grind, whether you’re playing MyCAREER or another mode.

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Wayback Wednesday: Dynamic DNA in NBA Live 09

Dynamic DNA Tendencies for Ben Gordon in NBA Live 09

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 Dynamic DNA in NBA Live 09.

Generally speaking, most of us want five-on-five basketball games to be realistic; “sim”, as we usually put it. One of the key elements of delivering realism in NBA Live and NBA 2K is to ensure that the players resemble their real life counterparts, not just in appearance, but in the way that they play and perform. As the years have gone by, both games have introduced new ratings, tendencies, and other attributes that are intended to make the action on the virtual hardwood more closely resemble what we see during an NBA broadcast. While there’s still room for improvement, basketball video games have also come a long way in that regard.

EA Sports took a big step towards making NBA Live more realistic with the implementation of Dynamic DNA in NBA Live 09. Not only was it an improvement in player AI and differentiation, it was also a step forward in terms of the official roster updates. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: The Mixed Bag of CPU Teammates in 2K Pro-Am

Tip-Off 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 the quality of CPU-controlled teammates in NBA 2K17’s 2K Pro-Am.

As the artificial intelligence in basketball video games has become more sophisticated, CPU-controlled teammates have thankfully become much more reliable. That’s not to say that there aren’t any frustrating moments where they seemingly forget how to play basketball, but compared to early hoops titles, there’s less of a need to frantically switch control of players and take charge of everything yourself. Needless to say, if you’re locked to controlling a single player – as is the basis of modes such as MyCAREER and 2K Pro-Am – it’s even more important that CPU-controlled teammates are competent.

Barring a connection problem, you’ll never start a game of 2K Pro-Am with more than two AI players. If you consistently run with a full squad of five players, they’ll seldom be an issue at all unless someone fouls out, or is booted due to a low teammate grade. However, if you frequently jump online to play 2K Pro-Am, chances are you’ll deal with a CPU-controlled teammate at some point. It’s at that point you’ll discover that although AI in basketball games has come a long way, the quality of your CPU teammates is still very much a mixed bag.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ideas for MyCAREER Stories

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 story ideas for MyCAREER.

The story-driven approach to MyCAREER appears to be here to stay. Fortunately, as of NBA 2K17, it’s not quite as intrusive as it once was. In the absence of an option to skip the story altogether, keeping the narrative to the background is definitely for the best. It would also be preferable if the gameplay experience drives the story, rather than the other way around. In any event, there are some basketball gamers who do enjoy the story aspect of MyCAREER, and as such, I expect it’s something that Visual Concepts will double down on in future NBA 2K titles.

With that in mind, what kind of stories should MyCAREER try to tell? We’ve seen a rivalry with Jackson Ellis, an undrafted player battling for a place in the league, a Spike Lee joint, and the tale of a dynamic duo. I believe that the next step would be to introduce more than one story, preferably with branching plot points and impactful decisions that underscore the RPG aspect of MyCAREER. To that end, I have five ideas for stories that would provide gamers with a varied career mode experience, and more replay value than what is currently offered.

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Wayback Wednesday: Online Team Play in NBA Live 08

Gilbert Arenas dribbles the basketball 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 Online Team Play.

As the years have gone by, the online experience has become more and more significant in basketball video games. I personally didn’t have a lot of interest in online modes for many years; a slower connection didn’t help matters, and for the most part, I was simply more interested in the offline experience. That’s changed somewhat over the past couple of years, as I’ve come to enjoy regular games of 2K Pro-Am. However, there was another online mode that caught my attention almost a decade ago, and appropriately enough, it was the forerunner to the Pro-Am concept: Online Team Play in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version of NBA Live 08.

At the time, it was something of a groundbreaking addition for basketball video games, and a concept that both EA Sports and Visual Concepts should perhaps think about implementing once more. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: MyCAREER’s Funniest Text Message

Checking the phone in NBA 2K17'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.

I realise that not everyone is fan of the virtual Twitter and text messaging in NBA 2K17’s MyCAREER. For some people, it’s a pointless annoyance, an unnecessary addition that has nothing to do with gameplay or replicating the experience of being an NBA player. I can certainly understand that point of view, but I have to admit, I kind of like it. For me, it contributes to the immersive nature and world building aspects of MyCAREER, making the mode seem more alive with something that’s very prominent in the real world. Beyond that, of course, some of the messages and Tweets are actually pretty funny…though not always for the right reasons.

There’s unquestionably a lot of intentional humour in MyCAREER’s text messages and Tweets. Certain Tweets represent (with painful accuracy) some of the less intelligent things that we basketball fans are prone to putting out there on social media. There’s in-jokes, banter with other players, and texts that add minor plot points to the background storyline. There are supportive Tweets from Leftos, which I always enjoy. And then, there are the text messages that are just plain weird, and most likely glitched. That’s the type of message I’m sharing with you today.

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The Friday Five: 5 Miscellaneous Suggestions for NBA Live

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 originally planned for last week’s Five to be the final instalment in my current series of articles discussing what I’d like to see in future NBA Live games, beginning with NBA Live 18 later this year. However, there are a few more ideas that I wanted to put out there, as they didn’t quite fit into any of the previous areas that I was focusing upon. While it’s crucial that core elements of the gameplay and existing game modes are fixed and enhanced, and that features such as roster editing return, there are a couple of other ideas that I believe would help make future NBA Live games even better.

These are the ideas that cater to specific needs and preferences, and contribute towards making NBA Live a deep and well-rounded game. Again, getting the gameplay right, enhancing the existing game modes, and implementing roster editing are all improvements that are absolutely vital, but once progress has been made on those fronts, it’s important that NBA Live innovates and expands upon its content, as the series once did so well. There are certainly more than five things that can be suggested here, but these are the ideas that either appeal the most to me, or I believe will have the biggest impact.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA All-Star Weekend in NBA Live

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 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend is almost upon us. While not everyone is a fan of the midseason classic, I’ve always enjoyed watching the pickup atmosphere of the Rising Stars game (in all its various formats), the drama of the Three-Point Shootout, the creativity of the Slam Dunk Contest, and the stars going head to head in the All-Star Game itself (though it’s sadly no longer as competitive as it used to be). I know that I’m not alone in my enjoyment of the All-Star Weekend’s main attractions, and for many years, a lot of us wished that those events were playable in basketball video games. Then, along came NBA Live 2005.

In featuring the All-Star Weekend, NBA Live 2005 boasted one of the most significant additions in the history of the series – not to mention basketball gaming in general – and the mode was a lot of fun to play back in the day. It’s well worth reminiscing about, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Pro Stick vs. Shoot Button in NBA 2K (Part 2)

Shooting a jumpshot with the Pro Stick 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.

A few months back, I discussed the pros and cons of the Pro Stick and Shoot Button in NBA 2K, and my preference for using the button. Since the changes to the shooting mechanics in NBA 2K17 had just been announced, I noted that I’d be open to changing my approach, depending on the precision that was required when using the Pro Stick, and whether or not it offered a noticeable advantage. I also mentioned that I was more inclined to use the Pro Stick for shots in the paint, because of the ability to perform floaters and other elusive shots on cue, as well as have more control over dunk and layup animations.

NBA 2K17 has been out for about five months now, and has received eleven official patches, as well as several tuning updates. With all the gameplay tweaks, and having tried out more than a couple of different jumpshot animations for my MyPLAYER, there have been plenty of variables as I’ve experimented with both methods of shooting the basketball. I expect to be playing NBA 2K17 for several months yet, so the experiment is ongoing. As I look ahead to future NBA 2K releases, I must admit that my mind isn’t completely made up about which method I favour, and the direction that the controls and shooting mechanics should take.

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The Friday Five: 5 Suggestions for Ultimate Team in NBA Live

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.

We’re coming to the end of my series of Friday Five articles on the key improvements and additions I’d like to see in NBA Live 18 and beyond. Having covered gameplay, Dynasty, Rising Star, LIVE Pro-Am, and roster editing, it’s now time to talk about Ultimate Team. Ultimate Team has been a fairly solid mode since it was introduced to the series in NBA Live 14, and reasonably popular. There’s definitely still room for improvement though, and since the card collecting/team building modes are such a big part of sports games these days, I do have a few suggestions on how it can improve.

Before I begin, I want to give an honourable mention to pack odds. Fair odds and value are always an important issue when it comes to the team building modes, and although Ultimate Team’s packs aren’t too unfair, they could stand to be a little better. Whether it’s the packs bought from the store, or reward packs that are earned by completing a challenge, I’d like to see some guaranteed rare cards, especially when Legends are up for grabs. With that being said, here’s my list of five suggestions that I believe would enhance Ultimate Team in future NBA Live games.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live PC Mod

Shaquille O'Neal dunks in NBA Live PC for NBA Live 06

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.

Inspired by last week’s dig through the archives, I went rummaging again to see what else I could find. My search yielded some preview screenshots for the NBA Live PC mod, which became the NLSC’s comprehensive roster update for the PC version of NBA Live 06 for several years. Since I enjoyed looking back at my 1996 season mod for NBA Live 2004 last week, I thought that I’d do the same for a current roster update that I maintained for one of my all-time favourite games in the series. With NBA Live 06 being next up in our 20th Anniversary of NBA Live retrospectives, it also seemed fitting.

So, why did the mod bear that name, and how did it come about? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Is the Future of Modding In-Game?

Team Designs, an example of in-game modding 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.

TGsoGood offered up an interesting question in the Forum a couple of weeks ago, concerning the current state of modding. He noted that while modding has always had its ups and downs, the hobby is not quite what it used to be, at least for the most recent releases. While modders have been a little more active so far this year, and the tools and resources at their disposal are the best they’ve been since the PC started receiving the same version of NBA 2K as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, as TGsoGood alluded to, we’re not finding ourselves in a new golden era of modding.

With that being said, there are plenty of users who are customising NBA 2K17. As TGsoGood also pointed out, gamers are making great use of the team rebranding and roster customisation options to create a variety of modifications that are distributed through the in-game sharing facilities. Therefore, the question before us is this: is the future of modding in-game? Since Arcane and Kenny aren’t involved with the modding scene, I decided that I’d tackle the issue in this week’s Monday Tip-Off, rather than on the NLSC Podcast.

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The Friday Five: 5 Suggestions for Rising Star in NBA Live

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.

So, we now know that the next NBA Live game – presumably titled NBA Live 18 – will be released later this year, and is intended to be a fully-featured title. While there is understandably some disappointment and scepticism within the NBA Live community at the moment, there is also an opportunity for the development team to go all out in enhancing game modes, and adding features such as roster customisation. As I’ve outlined in recent editions of The Friday Five, those are some very important and overdue improvements that are vital to NBA Live getting to where it needs to be.

I’ve already covered Dynasty and LIVE Pro-Am, but there’s much work to be done with Rising Star as well. Career modes are extremely popular these days, therefore it’s crucial that Rising Star is brought up to speed, and given the depth that will make it a more engaging and enjoyable experience. From the action on the court to the features that make a career mode more immersive, there are a couple of key enhancements that Rising Star should receive in forthcoming NBA Live titles. This week, I’m discussing five of them.

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Wayback Wednesday: My 1996 Season Patch for NBA Live 2004

Shaquille O'Neal Cover Shot in the 1996 Season Roster for NBA Live 2004

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.

Last week, I wrote an article talking about the lure of roster modding. As I explained in that feature, while modding in general is something I don’t do as much as I used to, there’s always the temptation to get back into it. I really did enjoy making those current roster updates for so many years, as well as the occasional special project. One such project was my 1996 season patch for NBA Live 2004, which thanks to the contributions of some of our best art modders at the time, turned out to be reasonably comprehensive…at least compared to some of my previous retro season patches.

To this day, it remains one of my favourite patches that I’ve made for NBA Live 2004, or indeed, any other game. I recently came across some old preview images of the patch in my archives, and figured it would be fun to share them, along with a few reflections on the mod. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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