Monday Tip-Off

Monday Tip-Off: Planning a Return to Franchise Modes

Starting a new Franchise Game (NBA 2K18)

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 making a return to franchise gaming this year.

My recent Wayback Wednesday series on franchise modes in NBA Live and NBA 2K served to remind me of just how much fun I’ve had with them over the years. I’ve wanted to return to franchise gaming for a while now, and writing those articles only added to my enthusiasm. I’ve gravitated towards MyCAREER and other modes in recent years, which is funny given that in MyLEAGUE and MyGM, we now have some of the deepest franchise experiences in the history of basketball video games. There are reasons why my habits have changed, of course, but I do feel like it’s time to make a return to franchise modes.

Now that NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 have been out for over a month, receiving multiple official patches and roster updates, it’s an opportune time to dive into the franchise experience. With the 2018 season tipping off, my interest in creating a fictional reality on the virtual hardwood has also been piqued. I do still have an interest in the card collecting modes, online team play experience, and MyCAREER, so I’ll have to ration my basketball gaming time accordingly. Beyond that, however, I do have a few other matters to consider as I plan a return to the franchise experience that I enjoyed so much as a younger basketball gamer.

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Monday Tip-Off: Late 90s Basketball in NBA 2K18

NBA 2K18: Michael Jordan Dunk

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 handful of screenshots from a game between the ’98 Chicago Bulls and ’97 Miami Heat in NBA 2K18.

Today, I turned 33. It’s funny to think that I’ve now been running the NLSC for around half my life! As I’ve said in previous articles, it’s hard to say just how long I’ll keep doing this, but I’m not intending on giving it up anytime soon. I still have a great deal of passion for basketball video games, as well as creating content based on them. After all, I’ve been playing basketball games and watching the NBA for a long time now. It’s a little overwhelming to think that it’s been twenty years since I was getting ready to watch the 1998 season, the last year that the Chicago Bulls were champions. Unfortunately, I don’t think that they’ll be anywhere close to that this season!

It’s important that we keep moving forward, and as I said in Episode #226 of the NLSC Podcast, it’s my intention to try to enjoy this season a little more than I have in recent years. There’s nothing wrong with reminiscing from time to time however, and thanks to the historical content in NBA 2K18, I can indulge in that nostalgia on the virtual hardwood. For this week’s Tip-Off, I’d like to share some screenshots that I took during a game of NBA 2K18 PC, using the 1998 Chicago Bulls against the 1997 Miami Heat. It was a fun game to play, and I’m looking forward to using the historical squads a little more often this year. Without further ado, here are the screenshots!

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Monday Tip-Off: Roster Editing & NBA Live

Kyrie Irving dribbles the basketball in NBA Live 18

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 current lack of roster editing functionality in NBA Live.

With NBA Live 18, EA Sports’ long-running basketball series has taken some pleasing steps forward. While there’s still room for improvement, it’s had the best reception of any NBA Live game on the current generation, among gamers and reviewers alike. There’s more fluidity on the sticks, the controls have been expanded, and with The One, the game has a much deeper career mode along with some solid connected experiences. NBA Live appears to be on the right track, and even cracked the top twenty downloaded games on the PlayStation Network in September.

The team at EA Tiburon has to feel pleased with the more positive reaction to NBA Live 18, not to mention motivated as they begin work on next year’s game. However, there is one feature that’s conspicuous by its absence in NBA Live 18, and that’s roster editing. We haven’t seen roster editing in the series since NBA Live 10, and gamers are understandably getting impatient to see it return. While other areas of the game have rightfully been prioritised, roster editing is a staple that must return in NBA Live 19. That’s assuming, of course, that there isn’t a way for it to be implemented in this year’s game.

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Monday Tip-Off: Recreating Game Covers in NBA 2K18

NBA Live 06 Cover in NBA 2K18

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 recreations of past video game covers in NBA 2K18.

I’d like to tip this week off with something fun. It’s not that I don’t enjoy tackling more serious topics related to basketball gaming, as last week’s feature demonstrates. After all, it’s important that we critique, and share constructive ideas about our hobby. At the same time, we should also celebrate our passion for basketball gaming, and there’s always room for some levity. Although I have my criticisms, I’ve been having fun with both NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 so far. As I mentioned in Episode #224 of the NLSC Podcast, I’ve enjoyed playing some games with the classic teams in NBA 2K18.

While I was messing around with the retro squads, an idea came to mind. The huge amount of historical content in NBA 2K18 means that the game includes many former basketball video game cover players, spanning as far back as the mid 90s. With that in mind, I thought that it might be fun to try to recreate some of those old covers, using NBA 2K18’s classic teams. The results are a little mixed as some were definitely easier to recreate than others, but hopefully you’ll enjoy seeing what I’ve managed to put together. Let’s tip things off with a classic.

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Monday Tip-Off: Goodwill, Greed, and NBA 2K18

The Neighborhood in NBA 2K18

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 thoughts on the current controversies surrounding NBA 2K18, and the goodwill that Visual Concepts has lost.

I’ll admit that there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to write this column. I’ve already discussed the matter in Episode #223 of the NLSC Podcast and in the NLSC Forum, and I’d rather not sound like a broken record. Furthermore, it’s all too easy to come across like a hater, gleefully indulging in some opportunistic bashing simply because there’s a controversial issue that’s a hot topic at the moment. However, it is a big deal, and it’s something that we basketball gamers shouldn’t let slide. I am of course referring to the aggressive implementation of Virtual Currency in NBA 2K18.

By now, if you haven’t played NBA 2K18 and felt the sting of VC gouging, you’ve no doubt heard other basketball gamers expressing their outrage. Perhaps you’ve even read about 2K reaching out to a site that published a negative review, asking them to reconsider their score. These are disturbing and disheartening practices for a company that is the brand leader, with a vast majority of the market share. As a game, NBA 2K has gone from strength to strength in many aspects, stepping up to deliver great experiences on the virtual hardwood as the NBA Live series has faltered. That’s earned them the adoration of gamers, but right now, that goodwill lies in ruins.

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Monday Tip-Off: Is It MyCAREER, or The Shammy Wells Show?

Shammy Wells in NBA 2K18'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. This week, I’m tipping things off with a look at how Shammy Wells is shaping up to be the real protagonist in NBA 2K18’s MyCAREER, at least in my game.

Early on in NBA 2K17’s MyCAREER, I remember feeling like Justice Young was the real star of the story. He was getting more shots, he was levelling up a lot quicker than I was, and in terms of the narrative, he was the one driving the action. As the year progressed, I surpassed him in Overall Rating and on-court performance, and by the time we hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy, it was clear that The President of Basketball was indeed the protagonist of the story, and the star of the team. Despite my usual aversion to the story-driven approach in MyCAREER, I did enjoy last year’s tale. In terms of gameplay, I also liked having Justice as my teammate.

My reactions to the MyCAREER story in NBA 2K18 are…well, not so positive. I’ll go into that in greater detail at a later time, but suffice to say, I’m not a fan of the writing, characters, or the plot in general. As for the gameplay, I knew that I’d have to grind my way up again – it’s always the way – but I wasn’t counting on being outshone by a fictional player once again, and even more so than before. Through the early stages of MyCAREER in NBA 2K18, I have to admit that it doesn’t really feel like the story is actually about my career, at least on the court. Instead, it feels like D.J. is merely providing the soundtrack to The Shammy Wells Show.

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Monday Tip-Off: MyTEAM Packs vs. Real Card Packs

MyTEAM Lineup 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. This week, I’m tipping things off with a video comparing the value of MyTEAM packs to real packs of basketball trading cards.

The odds and overall value of the packs in MyTEAM have been discussed at length since the mode debuted in the NBA 2K series. As someone who used to collect basketball trading cards, I’ve often wondered how MyTEAM’s virtual packs stack up against the real thing. Are the pack odds as unfairly weighted as they sometimes seem to be? How would a box of packs in NBA 2K17’s MyTEAM, featuring a total of twenty player cards, compare to a couple of real packs of basketball trading cards, which generally include ten to twelve cards apiece?

I decided to put those questions to the test. A while back, I bought a box of League packs in MyTEAM, and spent a few minutes opening them all. I also picked up a couple of brand new packs of Panini NBA Hoops trading cards off eBay, and opened them up as well. The results were certainly interesting, and since I’ve been sitting on the footage for a while now, I’m pleased to finally present to you my comparison of MyTEAM Packs vs. Real Card Packs!

Check it out here on our YouTube channel if you can’t see the embedded video. Are you surprised by the results? What have your experiences been like when it comes to buying packs in MyTEAM? Let me know in the comments section below, and feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum! With NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 coming out this week, I’ll be looking to do some more video features, hopefully on a more regular basis. Stay tuned, and be sure to subscribe to us on YouTube! In case you missed it, I also posted a video last week featuring some of NLSC THRILLHO’s best moments in NBA 2K17’s 2K Pro-Am. Catch it here if you haven’t seen it yet.

Monday Tip-Off: Everything’s Coming Up THRILLHO!

NLSC THRILLHO 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 highlight reel from NLSC THRILLHO’s season of 2K Pro-Am in NBA 2K17.

When NBA 2K17 was released, the very first thing that Arcane, Kenny, The X, Valor, and I did was to play a game of 2K Pro-Am. We’d had a lot of fun with the mode in NBA 2K16, and having created our players in last year’s Prelude, we decided to jump right into the 2K Pro-Am experience. With the exception of a short break earlier this year, we’ve been enjoying some regular sessions over the past twelve months. However, as we discussed in last week’s Podcast, with this year’s Prelude and NBA 2K18 both right around the corner, we’ve been rapidly approaching the end of our season. On Saturday, we enjoyed a win that felt like a great game to end on.

Through all the ups and downs, we’ve had some really fun times running with our NLSC THRILLHO squad in 2K Pro-Am. We’re still deciding whether we’ll keep the name for NBA 2K18, but in the meantime, I’ve put together an extended highlight reel of memorable moments where everything was definitely coming up THRILLHO! Check it out below, or catch it here on our YouTube channel.

I hope you enjoyed the reel! If you’d care to check out some of our less spectacular moments, last December I put together a reel where it definitely seemed like nothing was coming up THRILLHO. Thanks to Arcane, Kenny, The X, Valor, and zzcoolj21 for being great teammates and a lot of fun to chat to and joke around with as we play. Here’s to more fun times NBA 2K18’s 2K Pro-Am, which of course is now part of The Neighborhood. Hopefully, the mode will be great from the moment we enter our name, THRILLHO or otherwise.

Monday Tip-Off: Metacritic Scores & Basketball Games

Giannis Antetolounmpo dunks the basketball in NBA Live 18.

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 Metacritic scores, and how they relate to basketball games.

We’re less than three weeks away from the release of NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18. It won’t be long before publications are getting their hands on the finished games, and vying to be the first to post their reviews. The most glowing reviews will be shared by the games’ official social media accounts, while we basketball gamers discuss the merits of each reviewer’s critique. At the end of the day, however, their approval or disapproval of each game will contribute to their respective Metacritic scores. Like all developers, both EA Sports and Visual Concepts will be hoping for the best result possible, as Metacritic scores are the yardstick for successful releases.

Generally speaking, that’s an understandable approach. While there can certainly be a disconnect between the opinions of professional reviewers and the general public, along with sales, Metacritic scores are a reasonable barometer for a game’s success. At the same time, when it comes to basketball games, and sports games in general for that matter, I’d argue that they’re not always accurate or fair. I’m not a huge fan of awarding numerical scores to games of any genre, and as far as basketball games are concerned, the extent to which the importance of Metacritic scores can be overblown is comparable to the overemphasis on overall ratings in the games themselves.

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Monday Tip-Off: PC Basketball Gamer? Get a Gamepad!

NBA Playgrounds PC Gamepad Configuration

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 advice to PC basketball gamers, regarding the necessity of a dual analog gamepad.

With last week’s gameplay blog, we’ve learned that there will be a few tweaks to the controls in NBA 2K18. Beyond those changes however, the general approach will remain the same. The game will still feature the Pro Stick, which is used to perform both dribbling moves and specific types of shot attempts on cue. Dual analog controls aren’t an issue on Sony and Microsoft’s consoles, which have made use of controllers with two sticks for a few generations now. The approach can cause problems for PC users however, especially if they prefer to use the keyboard to play games.

It’s admittedly less of an issue than it used to be. Both NBA Live and NBA 2K have featured dual analog controls for over a decade now, so a majority of gamers have made the adjustment and picked up a gamepad for their PC. There are a few holdouts, though. Every so often, someone will ask for help using the keyboard with a PC version of NBA 2K or NBA Live, or complain that the keyboard controls are lacking. This is fair enough, as everyone has their own preference, and the keyboard is a viable option for many other games. However, if you’re a PC basketball gamer who wants to have complete control, there’s really only one solution: get a gamepad.

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Monday Tip-Off: How My Basketball Gaming Habits Changed

Ben Gordon in 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. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on how my basketball gaming habits have changed over the years.

I’ve been playing basketball games for quite a while now. It’s an interest that began as I was entering my teenage years, intensified in my mid-to-late teens when I created the NBA Live Domain and then subsequently took over running the NLSC, and has since continued into adulthood. Now that I’m in my early thirties, I’m finding that I’m approaching the hobby differently. I’m still passionate about it, but with different priorities and responsibilities, I’ve had to ration my time and make a few adjustments to the way that I play. Of course, there have been gradual changes to my habits ever since the very beginning of my interest in basketball gaming.

The evolution of basketball gaming, as well as my own changing tastes, have both played a role here. Picking up two annual releases rather than just the one is a major factor as well. With NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 coming out next month, I’ll once again be faced with the prospect of dividing my time between two current games. Just how much I enjoy those games will also depend on my expectations and tolerance for legacy issues, which have been shaped by all my years of basketball gaming. As I prepare for the next batch of previews, and the new games themselves, I thought that I’d reflect on how my habits have changed over time.

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Monday Tip-Off: Gameplay vs. Game Modes

MyCAREER in NBA 2K17 with the Denver Nuggets

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 the debate regarding the importance of gameplay vs. the importance of game modes, in basketball video games.

For the most part, we basketball gamers can generally agree that we want to see the games that we play get better and better with each release. Of course, we’re not always on the same page as far as the specific improvements are concerned. At the very least, we may prioritise them quite differently. We need to realise that these differing points of view are equally valid; it’s perfectly fine to like different aspects of the games, and as such, have a keener interest in seeing them improve compared to others. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to see your fellow basketball gamers talking about something that doesn’t interest you, and not feel that they’re missing the point.

Perhaps the best example of this is the whole gameplay vs. game modes debate. It’s fair to say that most basketball gamers would agree that both gameplay and game modes are the most important aspects of any given release, but disagree on the importance of those aspects in relation to one another. I’ve recently seen a few comments that have derided the importance of game modes, and over the years, there have been more than a couple of remarks that have downplayed the necessity of getting the gameplay experience right. To that end, I thought that I’d offer up my thoughts on the debate regarding gameplay vs. game modes.

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Monday Tip-Off: Double Overtime THRILLHO

NLSC THRILLHO Pre-Game 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 video feature, specifically a recap and highlight reel from one of NLSC THRILLHO’s recent games in NBA 2K17’s 2K Pro-Am.

As Arcane and I discussed in Episode #215 of the NLSC Podcast, we recently had a very enjoyable session of 2K Pro-Am that included an exciting double overtime victory. Despite a few mistakes here and there, Arcane, zzcoolj21 and I were able to eke out the win for NLSC THRILLHO, producing some highlight plays along the way. I naturally made sure to capture the footage, beginning with zz’s three-pointer that sent the game into overtime, and have put together a video recap/highlight reel of what turned out to be a very enjoyable and rewarding game. Watch it below, or catch it here on the NLSC YouTube channel if you’re unable to see the embedded video.

I hope you enjoyed it; it’s certainly fun for me to watch again! I’d like to get back to creating some more video content, and have a couple of ideas for a weekly video feature that I’m hoping to launch soon. I also hope to shake things up with a few more videos here and there for Monday Tip-Off, Wayback Wednesday, and perhaps even The Friday Five. In the meantime, I’ve been uploading clips from the NLSC Podcast to our YouTube channel, spotlighting some major discussions. Stay tuned for more articles, videos, and other original content, and be sure to check out this previous feature for some of NLSC THRILLHO’s more frustrating moments in 2K Pro-Am.

Monday Tip-Off: What Happened To The Preview Season?

The NBA Live 18 Preview Season is Underway

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 another underwhelming start to the preview season.

In recent episodes of the NLSC Podcast, as well as bulletins covering tidbits about NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18, I’ve talked about this year’s preview season being a little slow to get underway. It’s frustrating, as I found myself discussing the same issue around this time last year. I had hoped that with the return of NBA Live, we might also see a return to the days where there was a constant stream of preview media and information about the upcoming games. Instead, it’s been the same trickle of info, and relative radio silence from both EA Sports and Visual Concepts.

We obviously know that NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 are coming out, and we’ve seen glimpses and heard a detail or two here and there, but that’s it. We know what NBA 2K18’s pre-order bonuses are, but we haven’t heard anything about new features or improvements. We do know a little more about NBA Live 18 coming out of EA Play, but the hype train stopped rolling shortly afterwards. With the way info is held back until it’s almost too late, it’s difficult not to ask the question: what happened to the preview season?

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Monday Tip-Off: It’s Time to Retire “Cartoonish”

LeBron James in NBA Live 18

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 discussion of my least favourite buzzword, “cartoonish”.

Fellow basketball gamers, we’ve got to talk. I know that I’ve gone on about this before, in previous articles and on the NLSC Podcast. It’s admittedly hard to broach this subject without sounding like a broken record, a fanboy stamping my feet, or a tyrant aggressively attacking freedom of speech. Hear me out though, because our credibility as a gaming community is at stake here. Alright, that might be a bit of a melodramatic exaggeration, but it is one of our worst habits, and we let ourselves down whenever we fall victim to it.

It’s been run into the ground more than jokes about blowing 3-1 leads, or the Crying Jordan image macro. It’s not making us look smart and knowledgeable about our hobby, even though we absolutely are. It’s tired, lazy, and uninspired. And so, it’s time to do something about it. It’s time to expand our vocabulary. It’s time to learn how to properly critique, instead of relying on snark and overused buzzwords. Quite frankly, it’s time to grow up. It’s time that we retire the word “cartoonish” to describe textures, animations, and other aspects of basketball video games that we don’t like.

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