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Monday Tip-Off

Monday Tip-Off: Basketball in Other Video Games

Basketball in Fallout: New Vegas

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 basketball’s presence in other genres of video games.

Here at the NLSC, we cover basketball video games; you may have noticed! We were founded as a fansite for NBA Live way back in 1996, existing for many years as the NBA Live Series Center. As the NBA 2K series grew in popularity and was finally ported to PC, we began covering it as well. When we re-branded ourselves as simply the NLSC in 2011, we decided that we’d officially dedicate ourselves to basketball gaming as a whole. Be it NBA Live, NBA 2K, NBA Jam, NBA Playgrounds, or any other hoops title, it’s a welcome topic in our Forum, and something we’ll consider creating content for.

Of course, while we’re passionate about basketball games in this community, most of us tend to play a variety of other genres, too. From platform and action games to first person shooters and RPGs, our interests extend beyond the virtual hardwood. The funny thing is that basketball tends to follow us around, showing up in settings where elements such as playcalling AI, realistic stats, and accurate player ratings are of no importance. Just for fun, I thought that I’d take a look at some other games where basketball makes a cameo, despite the title otherwise not having anything to do with the sport, or any of its most famous players.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Perils of Digital-Only PC Releases

LeBron James attracts fanboys and haters (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 the drawbacks of the PC versions of basketball video games being digital-only releases.

It’s not fashionable to admit it, but I’m still a fan of physical media. Part of that comes down to where I live, of course. Australian Internet speeds don’t always make digital releases for PC games desirable, and certain streaming services are either unavailable, or don’t carry the same selection as their US counterparts. A DVD, Blu Ray, or game disc not only alleviates any issues with Internet speed and data limits, but also offers a physical collectable that I can put on a shelf. Be it TV series, movies, or video games, I enjoy seeing them all lined up in my collection.

Of course, I also enjoy the benefits of digital releases. They obviously provide a lot of convenience, and save on shelf space. There’s no need to drive to the store, or wait for copies to arrive in the mail. Physical media can be lost or damaged, while a digital release can just be downloaded again. When they’re tied to a platform such as Steam, there are no issues with lost or invalid serial numbers, and patches will come through automatically. These days, we don’t actually have a choice in terms of the only PC sim basketball video game, as NBA 2K is only released via Steam. It’s preferable to having no PC version at all, but there are some perils to digital-only PC releases.

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Monday Tip-Off: Absolute Controls Are Absolutely Best

James Harden dribbles the basketball 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 a few thoughts on the Absolute controls setting in NBA 2K games, and why I feel they are the best approach.

It took me a while to get used to the controls in NBA 2K. Having spent years playing NBA Live, it was difficult getting used to dribbling moves being performed with left stick movement and the Isomotion trigger. Even after the series adopted right stick dribbling controls in NBA 2K13, I wasn’t quite as proficient in pulling off slick moves and breaking ankles as I had been in NBA Live. Eventually, I discovered the root of my clumsiness on the sticks: the default Camera Relative controller setting, which makes stick movement dependant on your player’s position relative to the camera.

The Absolute setting, which standardises stick movements no matter where you are on the court and which camera angle you’re using, made NBA 2K’s controls far more accessible to me. It helps that it’s the same approach that NBA Live has always used for its right stick controls, but aside from familiarity, I’ve always felt it simply made more sense. There’s a legacy issue in NBA 2K where the Camera Relative/Absolute setting randomly resets, which means I’m always checking to make sure that it’s still set to Absolute before I start a session. After all, when it comes to dribbling controls, I strongly feel that Absolute controls are absolutely best.

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Monday Tip-Off: Building My 90s All-Stars Ultimate Team

Ultimate Team: Scottie Pippen 90s All-Stars (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 an update on my efforts to build a team of 90s All-Stars in NBA Live 18’s Ultimate Team.

As I’ve noted in previous articles and in episodes of the NLSC Podcast, my current mode of choice in NBA Live 18 is Ultimate Team. Unfortunately, Franchise mode just isn’t where it needs to be yet, and while I do like the concept of LIVE Events and LIVE Run, living in Australia, I’ve found online play to be very choppy so far in NBA Live 18. While I obviously hope NBA Live 19 will see an improvement in both of those areas, for the moment I am enjoying playing Ultimate Team. I was taken in by the mode when it debuted in NBA Live 14, so even if those other modes were more appealing to me right now, I know that I’d still be spending some time with LUT.

I spent a considerable amount of time with Ultimate Team back in NBA Live 15, and managed to put together a team comprised of 90s Legends. As Legends packs began to be released for NBA Live 18, I decided that I wanted to try that again, especially as it’s currently still the only way to play with Legends in NBA Live. After drawing Scottie Pippen a few weeks back, those efforts got off to a very promising start. After adding John Stockton and Karl Malone last week, I found myself with a formidable starting five that’s reminiscent of the old 90s All-Stars squad. While I’m quite satisfied with that lineup, I wanted to round out the bench with some more 90s players.

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Monday Tip-Off: All That’s Leaked is Hot Air

Kyrie Irving dribbles the basketball 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 a few thoughts on the annual round of deceptive, clickbait content that claims to be leaked footage and information.

The preview seasons for NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 are still at least a few months away, but it seems that the fakers are getting an early start. Over the past couple of weeks, supposed “leaked” details and fake trailers for this year’s games from EA Sports and Visual Concepts have been making the rounds, and sadly, it seems a lot of people have been fooled. As we discussed in the most recent episode of the NLSC Podcast, these practices do nothing to help the basketball gaming community. We need to be aware that people are trying to fool us and call it out, not entertain the notion that clear fakes and clickbait lies are leaked media and reliable scoops.

This behaviour is nothing new, and I’ve discussed it before. As long as online gaming communities have been around, there have been trolls signing up to forums or getting in touch with fan websites, claiming to have insider information. With social media and YouTube providing platforms for virtually everyone to have their say and create content, it’s easier than ever to spread misinformation and hoaxes. The more tech savvy trolls can easily whip up screenshots and even videos that can be presented as leaked previews of an upcoming release. At a glance, the better fakes may be halfway convincing, but really, the only thing that’s leaking here is a bunch of hot air.

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Monday Tip-Off: Juggling Realism in MyCAREER

Press Conference in MyCAREER (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 how MyCAREER should handle the amount of realism in all of its facets.

Although a shift in gaming practices may sometimes suggest otherwise, it’s fair to say that we generally want basketball video games to be as realistic as possible. Even if we’re indulging in a fantasy by putting ourselves into the NBA and simulating the life of a professional basketball player, the general aim is to mix reality and fantasy. Sure, the tales that are now told through MyCAREER may be a bit far-fetched, our abilities are greatly enhanced, and we receive a lot of attention for a raw prospect, but apart from that, the gameplay and overall experience is intended to mimic real life.

This premise has made MyCAREER an extremely popular and successful mode. As I’ve said before, it’s made a fan out of me, despite traditionally preferring the franchise experience. However, as MyCAREER has expanded and introduced new concepts, from the connected online experiences to the hub world of The Neighborhood, there have been more and more inconsistencies with the way the mode has handled realism. Some of them are quite puzzling, and difficult to justify or reconcile with other design choices. Moving forward, the MyCAREER team will need to decide how to handle realism; specifically, when to be strict, and when to take liberties.

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Monday Tip-Off: Quest for a Reliable Jumpshot

Shooting a jumpshot on MyCOURT (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 reflections on my experiences trying to find a reliable jumpshot for my MyPLAYER in NBA 2K18’s MyCAREER and 2K Pro-Am.

When The Prelude was released in September last year, I agonised a little over the MyPLAYER Archetype I wanted to run with. Although I was tempted to run with a Pure Playmaker, I decided that I’d give Sharpshooting Playmaker a try. It seemed like a solid choice, especially as we wanted to make sure that we had at least a couple of viable threats from the outside on the NLSC’s 2K Pro-Am squad. Given that I like to rack up assists and run the offense, retaining the key skills and Badges of a Playmaker also seemed like a wise idea.

The results have been mixed. The Sharpshooting Playmaker Archetype doesn’t have a Hall of Fame level Badge, which locks me out of attaining one of the Trophies. As I’ve previously discussed, due to what seems to be an issue with my player’s dunking tendencies, I can very rarely throw down, even though I’ve upgraded my rating to be able to unlock a few fancy dunk packages. My biggest issue, however, is that I’m yet to find a jumpshot animation that I’m comfortable with. I’ve tried several jumpshots, from real players’ signature animations to custom jumpshots of various combinations. Unfortunately, none of them have been as reliable as I’d like.

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Monday Tip-Off: Modding Projects I’m Working On

Ultimate Jordan Roster for NBA Live 08: Michael Jordan vs. Jazz

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 previews of modding projects that I’m working on, as well as a few ideas I’m toying with.

I’m a bit under the weather today, and seeing as how I wasn’t able to prepare anything for this week’s Monday Tip-Off ahead of time, I don’t have a full column or a video feature for you. However, I thought that I’d follow up on something that I mentioned in Episode #238 of the NLSC Podcast, regarding next month and modding. I don’t want to reveal everything just yet as I’m still getting everything sorted, but I’d like to make March a celebration of modding in our community. I’m hoping to release some new work of my own, and get all of our active modders in on the act.

With any luck, that will all be tipping off in just a few days when March is upon us, but in the meantime, I wanted to share some previews of what I’ve been working on here and there, as well as a few ideas that I’d love to see come to fruition, if and when I can make time to work on them. With that in mind, I am a little hesitant to share some of these images as I’d rather not announce anything that I’m not going to be able to get finished, so please keep in mind that those ideas aren’t set in stone. I do have a couple of projects that are progressing quite nicely though, so without any further ado, here are a few things that I’m working on right now.

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Monday Tip-Off: What I’m Playing (February 2018 Edition)

Playing through Ultimate Team (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 some quick thoughts on what I’m playing in NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18, at least as of February 2018.

NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 have been out for about five months now, and so far, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time playing both titles. As discussed in the latest episode the NLSC Podcast, I’ve settled into a routine as far as what I’m playing in each game. Although I might branch out and change things up from time to time, the modes I’m currently playing are the ones I expect I’ll remain hooked on until the 2019 season releases. As I’m running a bit short on time today and am still working on a few of other features that I hope you’ll find entertaining, I’ve decided to run with a quick column this week, discussing my current basketball gaming habits and rotation.

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Monday Tip-Off: Has Traditional Basketball Gaming Come to an End?

Taking on Kyrie Irving in MyCAREER (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 the way basketball gaming has changed in recent years, and whether the traditional approach has become outmoded.

Basketball video games have obviously been around for a long time, bringing great enjoyment to people who love both the sport and gaming. Compared to other sports, basketball has proven to be a little harder to accurately represent in a video game, with so many variables affecting the level of realism. While arcade-oriented games often still hold up thanks to their casual approach, sim-oriented titles tend to show their age. Whether it’s the shot distribution, scores that are too high or too low, a lack of realistic strategy, or a shallow season mode experience, a lot of classic games do leave something to be desired, as much fun as we had with them when they were new.

Fortunately, basketball gaming has improved in leaps and bounds over the years. From deep and engaging modes to smarter AI and more realistic gameplay, we’ve been able to enjoy experiences on the virtual hardwood we could only dream of all those years ago. However, it feels as though basketball games have set a new course in recent years, shifting away from the experience that we’ve traditionally wanted. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s important that the games keep up with changing trends and demographics, but as we discussed in Episode #236 of the NLSC Podcast, it sometimes feels like traditional basketball gaming is coming to an end.

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Monday Tip-Off: An OT Victory for NLSC GrindTime

NLSC GrindTime Boxscore in 2K Pro-Am (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 video of a recent overtime victory for our official 2K Pro-Am squad in NBA 2K18, NLSC GrindTime.

As Arcane and I discussed in Episode #235 of the NLSC Podcast, last Friday we made an unlikely return to 2K Pro-Am in NBA 2K18. After some rough sessions and generally feeling disenfranchised with the game, everyone on the squad decided that it would be best to take a break. However, we felt like giving it another try last week, and subsequently, “just one game” became three. We were victorious in the latter two games, with the second win coming in overtime following a clutch three-pointer by The X. It was definitely one of the more satisfying games NLSC GrindTime has had.

Since I saved the footage of the final few seconds of regulation, as well as the entire overtime period, I thought I’d share it with everyone to tip off a new week of gaming here at the NLSC. Watch it below, or check it out here on our YouTube channel.

Moving forward, NLSC GrindTime might have a run every now and again. As I’ve previously discussed, it’s a wise idea to take a break from a game if it’s becoming more frustrating than fun. It may not be something we do every week, as was the case with NLSC THRILLHO in NBA 2K17, but as long as we can have some competitive games and wins like this one, we’ll hit up 2K Pro-Am from time to time. I’ll be sure to share any noteworthy highlights, as well as put together some other video content throughout 2018, so please subscribe to our channel, and stay tuned for more features.

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Monday Tip-Off: Advice for the Modding Community

Basketball in the Supreme Update Mod for NBA Live 07

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 for the modding community, in light of a few concerns that have been raised recently.

Whenever I discuss the modding community here at the NLSC, I always preface my remarks by acknowledging how talented it is, and how much great work it’s produced over the years. It’s something that I do believe, and I feel it’s important that we take time to acknowledge the effort that modders put into enhancing our basketball gaming experiences. Of course, it’s also a statement I feel I have to put out there as something of a disclaimer when I address problems in the modding community, to emphasise that it’s not meant as a slight. Unfortunately, I feel compelled to do that today, due to some excellent points that were raised in this topic.

I was originally going to reflect on my concerns in a lengthier piece, but the more I thought about it, the more that seemed like the wrong approach. I feel it would be more effective if I addressed the issues directly and succinctly, offering up my advice on how we can avoid these pitfalls as a community. By clearly identifying these issues and offering some solutions in point form, I hope that this article can be a straightforward guide to cultivating healthy attitudes and good habits in the modding community, as well as provide explanations as to why we’ve come to adopt certain customs, rules, and etiquette in regards to the hobby.

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Monday Tip-Off: A Stop Sign on the Road to 99

Road to 99: 99 Overall

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 losing interest in MyCAREER, and the long grind on the Road to 99 in NBA 2K18.

As I mentioned yesterday in my first attempt at hosting the NLSC Podcast solo – don’t worry, I’m not intending on making that a regular occurrence! – I’ve lost my interest in MyCAREER and its connected modes. This is in stark contrast to last year in NBA 2K17, where I reached the second season. I even played twelve minute quarters and abstained from simulating, except for a few minutes of garbage time in a handful of games towards the end of my rookie year. Although we briefly took a break from the mode, the NLSC’s official 2K Pro-Am squad was also active throughout the year. In short, I had a lot of fun with MyCAREER and the connected online experience.

That hasn’t been the case this year. I’ve spoken before about the lack of goodwill, and the ridiculous in-universe value of Virtual Currency. On the Podcast, we’ve discussed our frustration with the lack of balance and proper matchmaking in online gameplay, as well as some of the gameplay quirks that bother us the most. Admirably, Arcane is already through to his second season, and currently sits at 92 Overall. I did intend to grind my way to at least 90 Overall – I’m presently at 89 – but right now, I can’t see it happening. Forget about 2K Pro-Am; at this point, I’m not interested in playing the single player experience of MyCAREER. I’ve reached a stop sign on the Road to 99.

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Monday Tip-Off: Returning to Ultimate Team in NBA Live 18

LeBron James on the Bulls in Ultimate Team (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 as I finally get stuck into Ultimate Team in NBA Live 18.

Since the reboot of the series with NBA Live 14, Ultimate Team has arguably been my favourite game mode. There are a couple of reasons for that. First of all, the franchise modes in the last few NBA Live games haven’t been as deep as I’d like, which limits their appeal. Having dedicated a lot of time to MyCAREER and 2K Pro-Am in recent NBA 2K games, I also haven’t felt inclined to double up with the career modes in NBA Live. Second, upon trying out Ultimate Team, I found the concept more appealing than I ever thought I would. As someone who collected basketball trading cards back in the 90s, it’s felt quite nostalgic, and has been fun to play.

So far, I’ve spent most of my time with NBA Live 18 playing through the early stages of The One, several LIVE Events, and some Play Now games here and there. I’ve wanted to get back into Ultimate Team though, and looking at some of the lineups that my fellow gamers have been sharing here in the Forum, my eagerness to put together my own super squad has been growing. Since everyone on the NLSC 2K Pro-Am squad has lost their enthusiasm for the mode, I instead chose to spend a few hours last Friday evening playing Ultimate Team. I’ve got a long way to go in terms of building my lineup, but I’m already reminded of what drew me to the mode.

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Monday Tip-Off: To Be, Or Not To Be, A Developer

NBA Elite 11: A tough game to be a developer on

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 appeal of being a developer working on basketball video games, and a story about an opportunity that I had some ten years ago.

For those of us who have grown up playing video games of any genre, the prospect of one day being able to work on them ourselves is very appealing. From what we’ve heard from people in the industry – including former community members who have been hired by EA Sports and Visual Concepts – it is indeed an amazing and exciting career, in many ways a dream job. It does come at a price, however: long hours, harsh deadlines, and intense scrutiny from a target audience that can often be extremely toxic. Much is demanded of a video game developer, and it’s clear that you need to be all in on the job, as well as willing and able to weather the tough aspects of the gig.

I don’t believe that I’ve ever told this story publicly, but around ten years ago, I had an opportunity to join the team at EA Canada as a developer on the NBA Live series. As my continued presence here and lack of in-game credits would indicate, I didn’t take the job. It was a difficult decision for reasons I’ll get into shortly, but beyond any personal issues or possible concerns about the direction of NBA Live, I had to ask myself one rather pertinent question: did I really want to do it? Would it truly be a dream job for me, one worth moving to the other wide of the world for? In short, and with apologies to William Shakespeare: to be, or not to be, a developer?

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