Monday Tip-Off

Monday Tip-Off: Clickbait & Basketball Gaming

Paul George 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.

At long last, we’re on the verge of getting trailers and substantial information on NBA 2K17! It’s been a quiet preview season, with gamer frustration coming to a head on social media last week following some ill-advised trolling by 2K community representatives. Many of us have been frustrated at the lack of news and previews, but with less than a month until the Early Tip-Off Weekend, it would seem that the wait is finally over, as the first gameplay trailer is reportedly set to be released this week.

Without much in the way of news, all we’ve been able to do is wish, want, and speculate. Even in the busier preview seasons of years gone by, a significant part of covering basketball video games has been wondering what if, and talking about what we want to see. When there is news, it’s going to be posted and analysed. Should anyone that’s producing basketball gaming content secure some kind of an exclusive – a tidbit of information, a developer interview – they’re obviously going to push and promote it, us included. All content creators want to build their audience and brand, but there’s an underhanded way of doing so.

It’s the bane of the Internet, and the basketball gaming community is certainly not immune from it. Today, we’re talking about clickbait.

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Monday Tip-Off: When Is It Time To Shelve Basketball Games?

DeMarcus Cousins dunks the basketball in NBA 2K16

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games.

Last Friday night, the regular NLSC 2K Pro-Am crew got online to play a few games, as we usually do. As we’ve mentioned on the NLSC Podcast, and in the Forum, our record isn’t exactly stellar across our three Pro-Am teams, but we still enjoy getting in some games each week, picking up the occasional win here and there, and joking around on the party chat. We started our most recent session in high spirits, but after only a few games, we were feeling disenchanted and ready to call it a night.

I’m sure that Arcane, Kenny, and I will discuss it in more detail on this week’s Podcast, but in short, it was one of our worst sessions of 2K Pro-Am. Aside from our own mistakes – and the usual MyPARK cheese that spills over into 2K Pro-Am – we really seemed to be battling some gameplay quirks in all three contests. I can’t speak for the rest of the guys, but when we decided to call it a night early, I found myself wondering if I wanted to keep playing 2K Pro-Am in NBA 2K16. Mulling that over led me to ponder another question: when is it time to shelve basketball games?

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Monday Tip-Off: Pre-Order Bonuses & Basketball Video Games

Final NBA 2K17 Pre-Order Bonuses

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.

By now, you’re probably aware that the 1992 Dream Team will be among the pre-order bonuses for NBA 2K17. While a lot of the pre-order bonuses are more or less cosmetic, adding the Dream Team for the first time since NBA 2K13 is offering users an enticing expansion to the game’s historical content. For at least some basketball gamers who might have been on the fence about pre-ordering the game, it’s a genuine incentive to put their money down. To that end, it’s certainly a smart business decision on the part of Visual Concepts.

However, from the point of view of the consumer, it’s also a disheartening practice that is all too common with video games these days. Whenever content is restricted to being a pre-order bonus – particularly content that feels like it should be included out of the box, and especially if it’s been featured in a previous title – there’s going to be controversy, and goodwill is going to be tested. It does lead me to ask the question: should content like the 1992 Dream Team be pre-order exclusive? For that matter, should basketball video games have pre-order exclusive content at all?

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Monday Tip-Off: Fun with Basketball Video Game Glitches

Headless Utah Jazz Players in NBA 2K11

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.

Although glitches are generally seen as a problem in gaming – and for good reason – they’re not always a bad thing. Sure, they aren’t a lot of fun when they cause games to crash and lock up, or ruin features and functionality, but when glitches are relatively harmless, they can be pretty funny. I wouldn’t say that it’s as common in basketball video games as it is in other genres, but there are even times when bugs and glitches can be advantageous, making certain tasks easier, or even completely bypassing difficult and tedious sections of a game. TV Tropes calls them Good Bad Bugs, and the speedrunning community obviously knows them very well.

A lot of people are probably familiar with the “Jesus Bynum” glitch that drew a lot of negative attention to the NBA Elite 11 demo. Although most people probably never experienced the glitch for themselves, it became a symbol of the game’s problems. While NBA Elite 11 was shaping up to be a disappointing game for other reasons before it was ultimately cancelled, the Bynum issue is really more of an example of a glitch that is fun and amusing; something weird that obviously shouldn’t be happening, but certainly funny when it does. With that in mind, I thought I’d talk a little about some amusing glitches today, and share a few of my favourites.

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Monday Tip-Off: Reflections on NBA Live Community Events

At EA Tiburon for the NBA Live 16 Community Event

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.

When I logged into Facebook this morning, “On This Day” presented me with a look back at previous posts that I’d made on July 25th. As it happens, on this day last year, I made a post letting my friends and family know that I’d be heading to the United States in the near future. The trip was for an NBA Live 16 community event that was being held at EA Tiburon in Orlando, but as I didn’t have clearance to talk about it openly just yet, I held back on the details and simply posted a teaser photo. I also had to be very coy on the NLSC Podcast, when discussing upcoming playtesting sessions and expressing a desire to be a part of them.

The NBA Live 16 event was one of the best that I’ve ever attended. While the game still had a ways to go – then and now – it was fun to get some early hands-on time with it, and experience the improvements. I also really enjoyed having the opportunity to meet with the developers and provide feedback to them directly. On top of all that, the whole event was extremely well-organised, with every detail taken care of, and maximum time allotted for gaming. Past events were fun and productive, but several years of organising them have definitely given EA Sports’ community managers the opportunity to make them better and better.

Since it’s been almost a year since the last one I attended, I thought that I’d reflect a little upon the NBA Live community events that I’ve been a part of. Hopefully, last year’s won’t be the last.

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Monday Tip-Off: Where Is The Preview Season?

Paul George with the layup in NBA 2K16

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games.

If you’re a regular listener of the NLSC Podcast, you’ll have heard me describe the current time of year as a very quiet period. After the initial flurry of deals, all of the major free agent signings are over and done with. There’s been Summer League play, of course, but here in the basketball gaming community, we’re anxiously awaiting the start of the preview season. With NBA Live 17 being pushed back to early 2017, we’re obviously not going to hear much about it for some time. NBA 2K17 will be dropping in mid September, but details on that release are similarly scarce.

That isn’t anything too out of the ordinary, though. Even when both titles have been released around the same time, Visual Concepts has often waited until almost the last minute before finally revealing the juiciest details on the next NBA 2K game. I would suggest that a lot of the time, the information has been worth waiting for, and the success of the series certainly speaks for itself. At the same time, I miss the days of getting a steady flow of information, and feeling really hyped about the upcoming releases.

As such, I find myself asking: where is the preview season?

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Monday Tip-Off: Enjoying a Flawed Basketball Video Game

NBA Live 16: Basketball

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.

With message boards and social media providing us with a plethora of platforms to speak out on, we gamers are not shy about expressing our opinions on the games we play. It’s a key part of being a gaming community, and it serves an important purpose, given how much contact we now have with video game developers. It’s usually a bit easier to talk at length about the things that we don’t like rather than the things that we do, but in doing so, we are able to provide constructive feedback. While we may be a niche demographic compared to other genres, the basketball gaming community is no different in that regard.

The basketball games that we play have come a long way over the past couple of decades, and generally speaking, most of us have at least one release that we enjoy. We do have high expectations however, and when a particular title doesn’t measure up, we’ll certainly express our disappointment. The interesting thing is, although some basketball gamers will indeed put aside a game that they find disappointing, many others do continue to play games despite their frustration with glaring flaws. In short, even when a title is problematic, we often find a way to have fun with it.

So, how do we find ways to enjoy flawed basketball video games?

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Monday Tip-Off: Superstition & Basketball Gaming

Kyle Lowry dribbles the basketball in NBA 2K16

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games.

Our server move is now complete! While we’re still ironing out a few issues and making sure that everything is working as intended, most of the basics seem to be in order. That means I can get back to spending some more time creating content, and actually talking about basketball video games. I’ve been compiling some ideas for future columns, as well as some videos that I’d like to try to make in the coming weeks. This week, however, a fun idea for a topic came to mind: superstition and basketball gaming.

I don’t think of myself as a very superstitious person in general – my uncanny ability to jinx NBA teams aside – but over the years, I’ve developed a few habits when it comes to basketball video games. It may not be entirely accurate to call all of them superstitions, but it does make for a catchy title, so I’m going to run with it anyway. Basically, they’re the little things that I do in the hopes that they’ll improve my chances for success on the virtual hardwood.

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Monday Tip-Off: What The NLSC Means To Me

NLSC Logo

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.

As I write this week’s Monday Tip-Off, we’re still preparing to move to our new server. We’ve encountered a couple of snags, but if all goes well, we’ll be at our new home within the next couple of days, hopefully with as few interruptions as possible. My apologies for the downtime in the Forum and Downloads section in the past twenty-four hours; I had anticipated a quicker move, and did not want to jeopardise the proceedings that were already underway. There will be some further interruptions and downtime as we complete the move, but if you’re reading this, we’re either back up and running temporarily, or the move is complete.

In trying to sort out the server move over the weekend, as well as taking care of a couple of other matters, I haven’t had an opportunity to prepare a column or video feature for today. With Monday rapidly drawing to a close here in Australia, I’ve found myself scrambling to find something to write about, while I continue to take care of matters behind the scenes to get the NLSC onto its new hosting. After tossing around a few ideas, one topic came to mind that was quite obvious, given the circumstances.

What does the NLSC mean to me?

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Monday Tip-Off: Basketball Gaming in the Offseason

LeBron James dribbles the basketball in NBA 2K16

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games.

The 2016 NBA season is in the books, as the Cleveland Cavaliers made history by coming back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Golden State Warriors, putting a damper on the Warriors’ own historical campaign. For basketball fans – or at least, those of us who are mostly interested in the NBA – so begins the wait until next season, with the Draft, Summer League, and potential offseason movement breaking up the monotony along the way. With the Olympic Games being held this year, we’ll also get to watch another international basketball tournament.

For those of us who are also basketball gamers, we have a few things to look forward to as well. It will be some time before we hear anything about NBA Live 17, and we likely won’t hear much about NBA 2K17 for at least a couple of months yet, but nevertheless, we have a new game coming out in September. Until then, we obviously have several years’ worth of games at our disposal, which can help us get our basketball fix while we wait for the new releases, and the 2017 NBA season.

So, what does the offseason look like when it comes to basketball gaming, and what are some of my own plans?

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

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

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games.

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

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

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

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

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

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games.

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

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

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

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

LeBron James dribbles the basketball in NBA 2K16

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games.

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

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

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

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Monday Tip-Off: The New Game Blues of MyCAREER

Dunking in NBA 2K13's MyCAREER

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games.

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

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

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

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Monday Tip-Off: When Awesome Presentation Isn’t So Great

Shot Chart with ESPN Presentation 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.

There are a lot of ways that you can see just how much basketball video games have improved over the years. You can compare screenshots, and gameplay footage. You can read retrospectives and reviews, comparing and contrasting their critique. Best of all, you can get some firsthand impressions by playing an old favourite from many years ago; it won’t be long before you notice some outdated tech that’s come a long way since then. Not every basketball video game is better in every single way than all of the titles that came before it, but the further back you look, the more progress you will see.

Another method of seeing just how far basketball video games have come is to glance back at our old Wishlists. We have Wishlists dating back to 1997, when the community was awaiting the release of NBA Live 98. Take a look back at those articles in our content portals, and you’ll see that a lot of the things that we were asking for have since become a reality. Multi-season franchise modes, online leagues, historical teams, single player career modes, full TV-style presentation…a lot of our wishes have made their way into NBA Live and NBA 2K over the years.

When it comes to in-depth broadcast presentation, however, you may have to be careful what you wish for. Sometimes, awesome presentation isn’t so great.

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