Monday Tip-Off

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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Monday Tip-Off: No Such Thing as Too Much Content

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.

Ask most basketball gamers, and they’ll likely agree that there’s no way that you can have too many options, or too much content, in the games they play. However, there is a vocal contingent of fans who seem to grumble about being presented with too much customisation, or game modes that they aren’t interested in. Words like “overkill” may be used, as well as more self-centred declarations like “I don’t care about that”, and its even more presumptuous cousin, “Nobody cares about that”.

The fact of the matter is, when it comes to basketball games like NBA Live and NBA 2K, you really can’t have too many options. There’s really no such thing as having too much content. After all, if you’re happy with the default settings, there’s no need to worry about changing them. Likewise, if you’re satisfied with one or two of the modes that a game offers, you can simply ignore the ones that you have no interest in playing.

So why do some basketball gamers get up in arms about having too many options made available to them, or content that they’re not interested in?

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Monday Tip-Off: What Is Constructive Feedback?

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Get your week started 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 case you’re unaware, we’re currently in the midst of compiling our Wishlists for NBA Live 17 and NBA 2K17. As always, our goal is to put together comprehensive lists of constructive feedback for the development teams at EA Tiburon and Visual Concepts, spotlighting the additions we want to see, issues that need to be addressed, and improvements that would make the things we like even better. If you take a look at the two threads, you’ll see that some great suggestions and feedback have already been posted.

The fact that we’re aiming to be constructive in our feedback is something that I make a point of mentioning whenever we tip-off our annual Wishlist threads. It’s also a reminder that I like to put out there for everyone involved in our modding community. After all, whether you’re talking about the people developing basketball video games, or the people who are making unofficial add-ons and modifications for them, it’s important to give them the kind of feedback that they can put to good use.

So, what do we really mean when we say “constructive feedback”?

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Monday Tip-Off: Modding Old Basketball Video Games

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

A couple of months ago, I talked about why we enjoy going back and playing old basketball video games. Dusting off an old favourite is almost always an enjoyably nostalgic experience; however, the further back you go, the more aware you’ll be of how much basketball games have improved over the years. Some games are fun to revisit, but you can’t always spend too much time with them as they’re just too outdated, too primitive compared to what we’re used to now. While that may mean a simpler experience with an appealing “pick up and play” factor, it can also feel a bit shallow after a while.

Of course, there are some gamers who still prefer playing older titles to newer ones, for various reasons. Whether you’re still actively playing an older basketball game, or you’re going back and playing an old favourite for a change of pace, the experience can be greatly enhanced by mods and patches. We still have quite a few people making updates for older titles, as we even had some uploads for NBA Live 2000 as recently as August last year. In terms of newer games, there’s still a thriving modding community for NBA 2K14 PC, even though a lot of gamers moved on to NBA 2K15, and subsequently NBA 2K16.

So, why do we still enjoy modding older basketball games, long after their popularity has started to fade?

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Monday Tip-Off: NBA Live 15 Ultimate Team Reel

Shawn Kemp dunks in NBA Live 15 Ultimate Team

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Begin 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 basketball gaming.

As you may have seen, in the past few months I’ve been making some videos for Wayback Wednesday. I’ve really enjoyed creating some video content for the NLSC, and I’ve been working on sharpening my video editing skills as I’d like to keep making them. To that end, I’ve made use of some NBA Live 15 clips that I’ve had saved, and put together a highlight reel of my exploits in Ultimate Team.

Since my NBA Live 15 Ultimate Team – the Breeze, named after Chicago’s team in World League Basketball – featured a healthy amount of NBA Legends from the 90s, I’ve used songs from the NBA Live 99 soundtrack as the score. Despite the fact I’m traditionally more interested in the franchise modes, I’ve become quite fond of Ultimate Team these past few years. I had a lot of fun assembling and playing with my 90s squad, but sadly, I wasn’t able to acquire Scottie Pippen. Perhaps I’ll have better luck in NBA Live 16. In any event, check out the reel below, or watch it here on YouTube if you can’t see the embedded video.

There are some rough animations in NBA Live 15, but hopefully, you still enjoyed the reel; I certainly enjoyed checking out some old highlights and putting it all together! More videos will be on the way soon, including commentary, excerpts from the NLSC Podcast, tips videos, and more. In the meantime, I invite you to check out and subscribe to our YouTube channel; I’d like to think we’re finally making good use of it! Have a great week, and be sure to check in later for Wayback Wednesday, Episode #148 of the NLSC Podcast, and The Friday Five.

Monday Tip-Off: Support for Basketball Games, Then & Now

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

When you’ve been playing video games for a long time, you can’t help but marvel when you look back at the games you used to play, and realise just how far gaming has come since then. This is particularly noticeable when it comes to genres that tend to see annual releases, as is the case with basketball games and other spots titles. Sometimes, it’s difficult to notice the changes and truly appreciate the improvements that basketball games make, until you go back and play an old release, or make side by side comparisons. While there’s still room for improvement and innovation, basketball games have undoubtedly come a long way.

Most of the improvements are obvious once you make a comparison, and they have been frequently spotlighted and discussed over the years. However, one improvement that arguably remains a little underappreciated is post-release support, specifically bug fix updates and new content. That’s not to say that there aren’t still problems and controversial practices, and I will touch on them as well. But looking back, you can see a steady improvement in this aspect of basketball games, which is encouraging as we look ahead to future releases.

So, what has the support for basketball video games been like, then and now?

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