Monday Tip-Off

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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Monday Tip-Off: Why Basketball Games Need Custom Rosters

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 last week’s Monday Tip-Off, I talked about why basketball video games need to have robust game modes. As I explained in the article, having a variety of deep, engaging modes goes a long way in making a basketball video game feel complete, and fully featured. Combined with satisfying gameplay, appealing bonus content, and a bevy of customisation options, the end result is a well-rounded, quality release. In other words, the kind of basketball video game that we all want to see and play.

One of the customisation options that every basketball game absolutely must have is roster editing. When NBA Live and NBA 2K launched on the current generation of consoles, both games were missing the comprehensive roster editing tools that were available in previous releases. NBA 2K14 had some basic roster editing functionality, while the ability to customise rosters was completely absent in NBA Live 14. NBA 2K has since brought back roster editing, but unfortunately, it’s yet to return in NBA Live.

Moving forward, it’s absolutely essential that both games offer roster editing and that the functionality continues to expand and improve. Let’s take a look at why this is such a vital feature in basketball video games.

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Monday Tip-Off: Why Basketball Games Need Robust Modes

Dwyane Wade with the basketball 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.

I’d like to talk a little more about something that I touched upon in last week’s Friday Five. From time to time, I’ll see one of my fellow basketball gamers opine that game modes don’t really matter. While everyone is entitled to their own opinions and preferences, and I’ll always advocate that everyone should play basketball games in a way that they enjoy rather than how someone else insists they “should”, I have to be honest here: I’m definitely puzzled by that point of view.

When it comes down to it, basketball video games absolutely need to have robust depth modes. These days, that means a franchise mode, a single player career mode, a card collecting mode, and a mode that offers some sort of online league or squad play. I’m confident that a lot of people will agree with me here, but for those who don’t feel that modes are all that important, please allow me to explain why many of us believe that they’re vital to basketball games.

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Monday Tip-Off: An Ode to Disappointing Screenshots

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.

Today’s column has nothing to do with being disappointed in the screenshots that we see during the preview season. That does happen, of course, but it’s an entirely different issue. No, I’m talking about the times when we’re playing NBA Live or NBA 2K, something really exciting happens, and we immediately have to fire up Instant Replay to enjoy it again. Unfortunately, when we do, we discover that certain aspects of the play don’t look quite as good as they did the first time around. That’s when we end up with screenshots that can be pretty funny, but also disappointing when we’re after a cool shot.

The technology that’s used in basketball video games specifically (and gaming in general) has come a long way, and you can easily spotlight the improvements with side-by-side comparisons of screenshots and videos. There are still limitations of course, and while they aren’t always noticeable during gameplay, they can be painfully obvious when we watch the action again from a closer angle, and in slow motion. Today’s games look much more realistic than their predecessors, but you can still expect a few glitches to jump out and spoil your screenshots and videos now and again.

This week’s Monday Tip-Off is all about memorable basketball gaming moments that don’t end up looking so good. This is an ode to disappointing screenshots.

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Monday Tip-Off: Tracking Down Old Patches

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

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

You may not have noticed it, seeing as how we’re talking about content that appears at bottom of our Forum and Downloads section, but I recently tracked down my old pack of roster patches for NBA Live 96, which contains some of the earliest work that I released. It took a bit of detective work, including hitting up archive.org to find out the filename, and then finally locating it in my backups. While I have unfortunately lost some of my early work forever – or so it would seem, anyway – I was quite happy to discover that I still had those particular releases.

Originally, I was just trying to track down my 1997/1998 roster patch for NBA Live 96, to grab a screenshot for my Friday Five article on lost NBA Live saves. That’s when I discovered I couldn’t find any of my old roster patches. Originally, I used another screenshot in its place, published the article, and then spent the rest of the evening trying to find those old rosters. I was reluctant to accept that they were gone forever, and as it happens, my persistence paid off. As I said, I found an old link that revealed the filename, and from there, a search of my backups yielded the file.

Needless to say, while I was in that folder, I continued to have a look around…

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Monday Tip-Off: No Conspiracy with NBA 2K Modding

MJ and Pip in the He's on Fire 2K14 mod for NBA 2K14 PC

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 many respects, our modding community for NBA 2K is still going strong. We have modders developing updates for NBA 2K16 PC, as well as some of the other recent releases, chiefly NBA 2K14. Thanks to the talents, intuition, and perseverance of some of our most dedicated members, we’ve been able to make some in-roads into modding NBA 2K16, despite the challenges posed by the new file containers that were introduced in NBA 2K15, the first time the PC version was ported from the PlayStation 4/Xbox One release.

Of course, the last two PC releases aren’t as moddable as their predecessors, which has understandably led to some grumbling. However, it’s also given rise to conspiracy theories that 2K Sports are trying to shut down the modding community, especially in light of a couple of former NLSC team members being hired by Visual Concepts. It’s a frustrated declaration that I often see whenever the difficulty in modding the latest NBA 2K releases is discussed, and I can appreciate the sentiment. We’ve been able to do some great things through modding, and it’s a shame that the hobby has suffered a few setbacks due to technical limitations these past couple of years.

However, it’s a misguided suggestion, and also a little insulting to a couple of people who have done some outstanding work for us. To that end, I feel it’s an issue I should discuss in more detail.

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Monday Tip-Off: Should Basketball Video Games Have DLC?

Alex English in the NBA 2K12 Legends Showcase DLC

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.

Let’s broach a controversial topic today: downloadable content. Downloadable content is a polarising aspect of modern gaming to say the least, as many gamers despise it, and believe that it’s ruining the hobby. At the same time, there are plenty of gamers who will enthusiastically tell developers to shut up and take their money when appealing DLC is announced. In my view, there are valid arguments on both sides.

DLC isn’t something we’ve had to deal with much when it comes to basketball video games. These days, sports games are expected to receive updates throughout the season, and those updates are included in the price of the game. While they do have bonus content that could feasibly be expanded with DLC, sports games generally don’t lend themselves to the concept as much as games that can receive new maps, weapons, missions, characters, and so on.

It would be feasible for EA Sports and 2K Sports to offer that kind of content for NBA Live and NBA 2K though, so I ask the question: should basketball video games have DLC?

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Monday Tip-Off: NBA 2K Locker Codes Disappoint Again

Entering a Locker Code 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 week, the official NBA 2K Twitter account topped one million followers. To celebrate, a new Locker Code was redeemable for 48 hours, providing gamers with a random prize for punching it in. Judging by some of the Re-Tweets by Ronnie 2K, a decent amount of people did receive worthwhile prizes, including Diamond and Amethyst cards for MyTEAM. As is the case with anything that’s luck of the draw, some people do appear to have been very lucky.

At the same time, it seems that a lot of people were not. Upon entering the code in both the PC and PlayStation 4 versions of NBA 2K16, I received 500 VC in each. Of course, I’m not really in a position to complain, as several people (including Arcane, as he mentioned on last week’s Podcast) received as little as 200 VC. This led to several NBA 2K gamers voicing their displeasure, and the official Twitter account even dipped back below one million followers after a short-lived hashtag campaign, though it did recover and its follower count is now at 1.01 million.

Simply put, there is an issue with Locker Codes in NBA 2K, and things don’t seem to be any better than when I broached the topic in one of my first Monday Tip-Off columns last year. This isn’t the first time that the value of random Locker Code rewards has been criticised, so what needs to change?

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