Monday Tip-Off

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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Monday Tip-Off: A Tale of Two Franchise Games

Chicago Bulls Dynasty in NBA Live 16

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.

In the last couple of episodes of the NLSC Podcast, Arcane and I have gotten back to discussing what we’re doing with basketball video games each week, be it NBA Live 16, NBA 2K16, or both. If you’ve listened to Episode #145, you may recall that I mentioned that I’ve started both a Dynasty game in NBA Live 16, and a MyLEAGUE game in NBA 2K16. In each game’s franchise mode, I’ve elected to take control of the Chicago Bulls, and make one offseason move: signing Ben Gordon.

On the surface, the more logical course of action would seem to be opting for completely different experiences in each game’s franchise mode. However, I thought that it would be interesting to see how the same approach would play out in each game, and how the results of each franchise game would ultimately compare to one another. Aside from differences in gameplay, MyLEAGUE is also a much deeper mode than Dynasty, which is likely to be a big factor in changing up the experience.

So, as I look to tip off both franchise games, what are my expectations?

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Monday Tip-Off: Sportsmanship & Online Basketball Gaming

Kevin Durant dunking in NBA Live 16

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.

If you caught Episode #144 of the NLSC Podcast, you’ll know that I went on a bit of a rant about a recent experience I had while playing NBA Live 16 online. In a nutshell, I had an opponent who was losing quit with a couple of seconds left in the fourth quarter, to avoid the loss and rob me of the win. Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly pleased by that turn of events. The word I used on the Podcast was “scumbag”, and I stand by that description. It was not the sporting thing to do, plain and simple.

The matter of sportsmanship in online basketball gaming is an important one, and since podcasts aren’t everyone’s favourite medium, I’ve decided to write about it in this week’s Monday Tip-Off. Of course, the issue isn’t exclusive to basketball games, but when it comes to both major hoops titles, unfortunately there aren’t really any measures in place to prevent or at least discourage it. Don’t like the way things are going? Want to avoid picking up a loss? Then just quit, or cause a disconnection. Or preferably, don’t. To put it bluntly, it’s incredibly poor form, and shouldn’t be allowed.

You may feel that it isn’t a big deal, that it’s just the way it goes with online play. I would strongly disagree with that assertion, however. This is something that both EA Sports and 2K Sports need to find a way to address, and behaviour that certain basketball gamers need to cut out.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Hall of Fame Ratings Scale in NBA 2K16

Michael Jordan vs. Shawn Kemp in NBA 2K16

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.

In last week’s Monday Tip-Off, I discussed how ratings have improved in NBA Live 16, with each week’s roster update. I mentioned that I hoped to see that trend continue, and made note of NBA 2K16’s Hall of Fame ratings scale as a concept that EA Sports should also consider adopting. This week, I’d like to talk a little bit more about that revised approach to player ratings in NBA 2K16, as it’s also something that 2K Sports should definitely stick with.

From the moment that the Hall of Fame ratings scale was mentioned during the preview season for NBA 2K16, it struck me as an excellent idea. There will never be universal agreement about player ratings, and supposedly “perfect” ratings won’t overcome gameplay quirks, but we obviously want ratings to be as accurate as possible. In devising the Hall of Fame concept, I believe that 2K has enhanced their ratings system with a fair and logical approach.

So, what is the Hall of Fame ratings scale, and why was I so pleased to see it adopted in NBA 2K16?

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Monday Tip-Off: How Ratings Got Better in NBA Live 16

NBA Live 16: Stephen Curry

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.

The official roster updates for NBA Live 16 haven’t exactly received universal acclaim so far. In addition to a couple of players still lacking proper faces, there have been lingering issues with missing players, incorrect jersey numbers, and other anomalies with player bio data, though subsequent updates have included several fixes on all those fronts. I do suspect that there may still be some issues with the update system that’s in place, and the lack of in-game roster editing functionality is sorely missed as a result. However, except for a couple of weeks over the holiday break, the weekly updates have been coming through consistently, and on time.

Each week, the official NBA Live website spotlights the biggest movers and shakers in the latest roster update, and there have been some significant ratings changes since NBA Live 16’s launch. Generally speaking, I feel that some really good work has been done with the ratings in the NBA Live 16 roster updates, as the season has progressed. Having made unofficial roster updates for NBA Live for many years, I appreciate the constant balancing act of not getting too carried away boosting and decreasing ratings, and the pain of getting overall ratings to look “correct”, without skewering the individual ratings to make it happen.

So, what stands out to me the most when it comes to the improved ratings in NBA Live 16?

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Monday Tip-Off: Playing 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 basketball video games.

Based on past polls, mod releases, and general discussion, a majority of basketball gamers move on to the latest game in the series they play, usually within a couple of months of its release, if not immediately. While retro gaming is a popular hobby, sports games generally aren’t an ideal genre for it. After all, most fans prefer to play with the latest rosters, and take advantage of the improvements and additions that are made year-to-year. As a result, sports games don’t move well in the second hand market, with lower trade-in prices owing to the annual releases, and less interest in playing them once they’re outdated.

Of course, sometimes we do go back and play older basketball games. I’m sure we all have some old favourites that we can dust off and nostalgically enjoy despite their age, and certain titles do become classics. Arcade-oriented basketball games such as NBA Jam and NBA Street also tend to age a little better, since they’re adopting a more casual and less realistic approach to the sport in the first place. However, some of the best sim-oriented titles in the past decade or so also hold up respectably well. As such, if you have a new roster patch or an old season save game, an older title might still hold a lot of appeal.

But then you’ve got basketball gamers who aren’t going back to older games; they haven’t stopped playing them in the first place. Whether it’s because they’re unable to upgrade, or don’t wish to upgrade, they shun the latest releases in favour of an older game. So, for this week’s Monday Tip-Off, I wanted to take a look at some of the reasons why we play old basketball video games.

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Monday Tip-Off: A Look at Basketball Video Game Story Threads

Ben Gordon dunks in NBA Live 06's Dynasty Mode

We’re at midcourt, 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.

If you’ve browsed the NLSC Forum, chances are you’ve noticed our Basketball Video Game Stories section. It’s a place where you can entertain your fellow basketball gamers with ongoing coverage of your exploits in NBA Live and NBA 2K, whether you’re playing through the franchise or single player career modes. Over the years, we’ve had some very creative and popular story threads, many of which are now enshrined in our two Story Hall of Fame subsections, so that we can easily go back and enjoy them all over again.

However, story threads have somewhat fallen out of fashion. While we still have gamers posting in the Basketball Video Game Stories section – and we certainly encourage everyone to make use of it, if they feel so inclined – it sadly seems that we’re past the heyday of the story thread. There are a few reasons for this, which I thought I’d explore in today’s Monday Tip-Off, in addition to shining a spotlight on the section and the practice of maintaining story threads in general.

So, what are story threads all about, what was so enthralling about them, and why are they kind of becoming a thing of the past?

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Monday Tip-Off: Why Modders Stop Modding

Ultimate Jordan Beta for NBA Live 08 Screenshot

We’re at midcourt, 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.

In my first Friday Five of 2016, I mentioned that one of the things I wanted to do this year was get back into modding (or patching, to use the term that was originally popular in our community). While I’ve shifted towards creating other types of content in recent years, the lure of modding as a creative outlet can be relatively strong at times. As I said in the Five, I don’t think I’ll ever be as prolific as I once was, or sometimes wish that I could be, but I’d like to try and get a little more involved with modding once again.

Of course, there are several reasons that I’ve stepped away from modding in recent years. They’re the same reasons that most modders come and go as the years pass in our community, though since I’m running the NLSC and have found other content that I enjoy producing, I’m obviously still around. With my intention of getting back into modding every now and again, I wanted to talk a little about some of those reasons why modders stop modding. Aside from answering a few questions about why I’m not making roster updates anymore, I’m hoping that it can facilitate a little more understanding in the community, and make the modding scene a friendlier place.

So…why do modders call it quits?

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Monday Tip-Off: My Ultimate NBA Video Game

Anthony Davis dunks in NBA 2K16

We’re at midcourt, 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.

‘Tis the season to make Wishlists…both in the sense that development is well under way for both NBA Live 17 and NBA 2K17, and the fact that for those who celebrate it, Christmas is almost upon us. For some of you, one or both of this year’s games might be in your stocking, but at this point, you probably know what to expect when you get a hold of them. The visions of the NBA video games that dance in our heads – not unlike the sugar-plums that Clement Clarke Moore wrote about – likely won’t be coming to fruition just yet.

In interviews with us and other websites, NBA Live Executive Producer Sean O’Brien has talked about wishing he could take the game he sees in his mind, and immediately give it to us. At the same time, I have to imagine that for Leftos and the rest of the guys at Visual Concepts, the gears in their heads are always turning, as they think of ways to make NBA 2K even bigger and better. And of course, we basketball gamers can come up with some creative ideas as well.

To that end, for this week’s Monday Tip-Off, I wanted to talk about my vision of the ultimate NBA video game. I want to keep things as practical as possible, but for the sake of fantasy and what-ifs, I’m also going to assume that the available technology can handle all of the concepts competently, and that licensing, likeness rights and so on would not be an issue. With that said, what would my ultimate NBA video game be like?

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Monday Tip-Off: Cheating in Basketball Games

Tim Duncan vs. Zach Randolph in NBA 2K16

We’re at midcourt, 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.

“If you cheat, you’re only cheating yourself.” It may sound like a trite and corny saying these days, but it still holds merit. There are times when it’s fun to use cheat codes or hack a game, and a lot of old school games all but require hint books and walkthroughs, but playing “legit” tends to be the more rewarding experience. Still, if you really want to cheat or cut corners in a single player experience, and you’re having fun doing so, so be it. Even if you do find that it gets boring after a while, you’ve only spoiled your own experience. No harm done, and you can just start all over again.

Of course, it’s a different story once you bring a second player into the mix. The connected experience is a big part of basketball games these days, and something that a lot of gamers really enjoy. However, more and more often, I’m seeing complaints from basketball gamers whose experience has been affected by people cheating online, generally through the use of hacked players in MyPARK. In turn, gamers with hacked players have defended the practice, and dismissed the complaints as petty whining. It’s a controversial practice and a divisive subject, so I thought it was definitely worth taking a look at.

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Monday Tip-Off: My Ultimate Fantasy Team for NBA Live & NBA 2K

90s Lineup in NBA Live 15 Ultimate Team

We’re at midcourt, 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.

As I’ve mentioned in previous editions of The Friday Five and on the NLSC Podcast, I’ve become a fan of Ultimate Team since it finally made its debut in the NBA Live series in NBA Live 14. With Dynasty Mode and Rising Star still needing to be fleshed out into deeper experiences, Ultimate Team has pretty much been my mode of choice in NBA Live these past few years. I’ve also taken an interest in MyTEAM in NBA 2K, but I do prefer EA’s approach to the concept, and 2K has a lot more to offer in its other modes. Of course, MyTEAM does have one distinct advantage over Ultimate Team, for me at least: Michael Jordan.

Needless to say, when I drew a Michael Jordan card in NBA 2K14’s MyTEAM, I was pretty happy. With my nostalgia for the players of the 1990s – the era I grew up watching – I also had a lot of fun putting together a 90s squad for my Ultimate Team in NBA Live 15. However, I’ve yet to construct my ultimate fantasy team in either game, though it would currently only be feasible in NBA 2K. I thought I’d tip things off this week by sharing that lineup with you all.

Before we get going…just in case it isn’t clear, this isn’t a squad of the players that I believe to be the greatest of all-time (though there certainly is some overlap with that list). This is simply a fantasy lineup that I’d love to be able to put together to play with in Ultimate Team or MyTEAM, assuming that every player was available in both games. Having said that, let’s begin with my starting five…

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