Monday Tip-Off

Monday Tip-Off: My Greatest Basketball Gaming Weakness

2015 NBA Finals Prediction: Warriors in 5

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.

“You run a basketball video game website. You must be pretty good at them!” I’ve heard that once or twice over the years, usually when people have invited me to play online. Uh, yeah, sure…I’m, like, the best at them. All those years playing basketball games, watching basketball, playing in the local league as a teenager…yeah, I’m amazing, definitely the best. Absolutely, no question at all…

Just in case my intended tone has been lost in writing…no, of course I don’t actually believe that. I do love basketball, and I’d like to think that I have a fairly good knowledge of the sport. I believe I have at least a basic understanding of all the ins and outs, and in turn, that makes me a little more than competent when it comes to playing basketball video games. I’m a lot better when it comes to playing against the CPU, as that’s mostly what I do. I’ve had some record-breaking seasons playing on harder difficulty levels, but when it comes to playing online, I’m probably just a little better than OK. As I’ve said many times before, online is not my mode of choice, so that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Still, I’ve won online games before, and I’ve definitely won a lot of games offline. I am, at the very least, competent, capable, and have knowledge of what I’m doing on the virtual hardwood. However, there’s one area in particular where I’ve often struggled in basketball video games. One weakness, one Achilles Heel, one aspect of the game where I’ve never really excelled…

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Monday Tip-Off: Moderation in Moderating

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.

August 26th marked my fourteenth year running the NLSC; you may have seen my post celebrating the occasion in the Forum, or on our social media pages. I’d like to think that I’ve done a good job over the years – I’ve certainly tried my best – and improved in the role along the way. Creating content for the NLSC can be time consuming and at times arduous, but it’s something I do enjoy. I also enjoy taking part in the Forum, but that also involves a task that can be even tougher: moderating.

That is to stay, it’s the approach and philosophy of moderating that can be tough. Performing the actual functions of moderating is certainly straightforward enough. However, there’s a delicate balance to maintain, when the aim is to foster a welcoming and friendly community that is as drama-free as possible, while also allowing everyone to speak freely and not feel bullied by the moderators. So, to tip things off this week, I wanted to give everyone a bit of an insight into how we try to maintain that balance.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Gaming Rotation

Michael Jordan Menu 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.

As a gamer, I tend to stick with the genres and video game series that I’m interested in, and familiar with. I don’t buy a lot of brand new releases every year, so my gaming rotation is usually comprised of the latest version of NBA Live and NBA 2K, the latest WWE game, a favourite that may be at least a few years old, and the occasional big release if it’s one that I’m interested in (such as Grand Theft Auto V, a couple of years back). If I happen to pick up something cheap in a Steam/Green Man Gaming/GOG sale, it’ll probably work its way into the rotation at some point, too.

To that end, 2015 has actually been a bigger year than normal for me, in terms of gaming purchases. In addition to NBA Live 16, NBA 2K16, and WWE 2K16 – the series I pick up annually – there’s also been Mortal Kombat X and Fallout 4. On top of that, I picked up the PC version of Grand Theft Auto V, to give me something else to play on my new gaming rig. While MK X came out earlier this year, everything else was released (or in the case of GTA V PC, picked up) around the same time. The result is a handful of AAA games that you can potentially spend a lot of time with, all vying for time in my gaming rotation.

First world problems, right? I’m not complaining about it though, just stating a fact: I’m spoiled for choice at the moment. I’m obviously going to be spending time with the basketball games, given that I’m running a website dedicated to basketball gaming and am passionate about them, but beyond that, how do I fit everything in alongside producing content for the NLSC, working a day job, and socialising? Well, I do have a system…sort of…

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Monday Tip-Off: Ego & The Modding Community

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

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 you’re no doubt aware from our regular file additions bulletins, we have a very talented and enthusiastic modding community here at the NLSC. We’ve been able to do some great things throughout the years, not only keeping games up to date, but creating new experiences, and even fixing some annoying problems. We can be proud of what we’ve accomplished in our community in terms of modding, and I’m sure we can look forward to many more fantastic releases in the future.

However, while I’ll gladly sing the praises of our community, and I truly believe that we have a good thing going here, there is a darker, more unpleasant side to modding culture. There’s a lot of talent and creativity in our community, which is great, but unfortunately where there’s talent and creativity, there’s often ego. While there’s nothing wrong with having a healthy ego, there are some people who take it too far. That’s when it becomes a problem, and people become difficult to deal with.

Sometimes, the problem simply lies with the individual. Some people are arrogant, rude, and difficult. There’s not a whole lot that you can do about that. However, there are also ingrained aspects of the modding culture we’ve cultivated which contribute to the problem. Difficult individuals are unlikely to change their ways, but as a community, we can work together to develop new attitudes and fresh approaches that benefit the modding community. That’s what I’d like to talk about today.

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Monday Tip-Off: My Basketball Video Game Collection

Derrick Rose dribbling in NBA Live 16

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.

So, for the first few weeks of Monday Tip-Off, I’ve been posting my opinions on a variety of subjects. There’ll be plenty more opinion pieces coming your way in the Mondays ahead, but for this week, I wanted to do something a little different. This week, I wanted to talk a little about my basketball video game collection.

When it comes to the hobby of game collecting, I can’t imagine a lot of people are stocking up on basketball titles; after all, basketball gaming is a niche demographic to begin with. Also, as I understand it, when it comes to sports games, a lot of people trade in the previous season’s release when they pick up the current title. For the most part, however, I’ve kept my older basketball games – at least on one platform, when I’ve double-dipped – and more recently, I’ve been expanding my collection with a few bargains on eBay.

As I’ve mentioned a few times on the NLSC Podcast, I’m intending to put them to use for features here on the NLSC in the coming weeks and months. Obviously, we’ve tipped off our 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content – incidentally, more of that stuff is on the way – but there have been quite a few basketball games over the years, good, bad, and just plain interesting. I’m looking forward to talking about them a little more, revealing a few old gems, as well as some not-so-fantastic releases you may have forgotten about.

For now, though, I wanted to give you all a current catalogue of my collection. I’ve been meaning to take a photo with all the boxes, discs, and cartridges, but for the moment, a simple list will have to suffice.

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Monday Tip-Off: Limited Locker Codes & Time Zones, An Odd Combination

Getting MyPLAYER Dunk Package via Locker Codes in NBA 2K15

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.

The 2016 NBA season tips off in just a couple of days, so I’m expecting to see the official social media accounts for NBA 2K start dropping some goodies in the form of Locker Codes for NBA 2K16 very soon. While the random rewards aren’t always particularly generous, they do provide a good opportunity to stock up on Virtual Currency or MyTEAM points, snag a great MyTEAM card, or unlock an animation for your MyPLAYER. If you’ve got the game fired up when Locker Codes drop, it’s well worth punching them in.

However, there’s the rub: it’s very easy to miss out on redeeming a code, especially if you’re on the other side of the world. And even if you are in the same time zone as Visual Concepts, you have to be fast – sometimes, ridiculously so – in getting into the game, and punching in the codes. Otherwise, you’re not getting any freebies.

On one hand, this is fair enough. There’s only so much stuff that 2K can freely hand out, when grinding and microtransactions are both part of the game. However, with the size of the NBA 2K user base, and its distribution throughout the world, I do feel that 2K could stand to be a little more generous with the Locker Codes; both in giving gamers world-wide a chance to redeem them, and in the rewards that they yield.

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Monday Tip-Off: How MyCAREER Could Truly Let Us Be The Story

Vic in NBA 2K16 MyCAREER

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 tuned in to Episode #130 of the NLSC Podcast, you’ll know that I’m not the biggest fan of the story in this year’s MyCAREER. If you’ve been listening to the NLSC Podcast for a while now, you’ll know that that’s been a recurring complaint of mine since MyCAREER adopted the story-driven approach beginning with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One version of NBA 2K14. Reading some of the posts that have been made about MyCAREER since the release of NBA 2K16, it seems I’m not alone in my criticism.

Specific criticisms of the writing aside, my discontent with MyCAREER can be summed up as such: a story that’s too linear without branching options, choices that are largely cosmetic and inconsequential, and in NBA 2K16 in particular, a protagonist that’s intended to have very specific characteristics, which conflict with the RPG elements and “put yourself in the game” aspect of the mode. To that end, the tagline of “Be The Story” becomes a little ironic.

However, since I’m often advocating for constructive criticism – fans not fanboys, critics not haters, and all that – it seems only appropriate that I put my money where my mouth is, and offer up some suggestions as to how the mode could be improved. The story-driven approach to MyCAREER probably isn’t going anywhere, so how do I think Visual Concepts can best put it to use? Well, let’s take a look at how I feel that we can better “Be The Story” in NBA 2K17 and beyond.

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Monday Tip-Off: Head in the Cloud – Basketball Video Games & Always-On

Gaming in NBA 2K14's MyCAREER

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.

Always-on remains a controversial issue in video gaming, right up there with downloadable content, microtransactions, and third party developers producing platform exclusives. So strong is the backlash against it, Microsoft even had to change its approach with the Xbox One, and is arguably still feeling the effects of its initial stance as the console continues to be out-sold by the PlayStation 4. The message is clear: gamers do not like always-on.

As the online component of basketball video games has become a bigger part of the experience, our community has started to feel the sting of always-on and cloud saves. Key game modes require a constant connection to the Internet, and while a couple of them can also be played offline, issues can arise when there are temporary connection or server issues. But what happens when the server is shut down for good?

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Monday Tip-Off: Fanboys, Haters, and the Basketball Gaming Community

Fanboys, Haters, and the Basketball Gaming Community

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 last week’s Friday Five, I talked about aspects of online culture that I dislike. While I’d rather not spend too much time dwelling on the negative – incidentally, that would be another pet peeve of mine when it comes to online culture – I did touch on something that I’d like to talk a little bit more about today for Monday Tip-Off: fanboys and haters within the basketball gaming community.

I don’t want to make a sweeping, generalised, melodramatic statement such as “Fanboys and haters are ruining the basketball gaming community”, because that’s not exactly true. Unfortunately, such a statement isn’t completely without merit, either. At the very least, it’s reaching some incredibly silly levels, with severe tunnel vision and an almost complete lack of perspective. Granted, this is often the case in any fandom, but since this is our community we’re talking about, I’d like to see us do better.

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Monday Tip-Off: Lost Forever – The Missing Trophies & Achievements

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.

For some gamers, Trophies and Achievements in video games are of great importance. For the gamer who strives for 100% completion, there are few things as satisfying as the sight and sound of a notification informing them that a Trophy or Achievement has just been unlocked. It’s a concise representation that yes, you did indeed do just about everything you could with a game, and then some. And, if you’re the kind of gamer who likes to brag about such things, it’s right there in your public profile, for everyone to see.

For other gamers, Trophies and Achievements are nothing but a nuisance, a meaningless aspect of modern games that are only useful to people who want to brag about ultimately useless accomplishments. You play the games because you’re interested in them, not to get some virtual pat on the back for performing some mundane task. Simply put, Trophies and Achievements aren’t something that everyone is interested in, or obsesses over.

Personally, I find myself somewhere in the middle. I’m not obsessed with collecting every single Trophy or Achievement in every game I play, but I also find them to be fun goals to shoot for, when I’m looking to extend my gaming experience. Basketball video games have had some fun and interesting challenges in the form of their Trophies and Achievements, but in some cases, shooting for 100% completion becomes impossible sooner than you might expect. Servers are inevitably shut down at some point, at which point Achievements involving online play or timed content become lost forever.

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Monday Tip-Off: How Much Does It Cost To Get Michael Jordan In A Video Game?

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’re a basketball fan, you know who Michael Jordan is, even if you weren’t around in the 80s and 90s. Likewise, even if you were around in the 80s and 90s but weren’t a fan of basketball, you still knew of him, and at least a couple of noteworthy facts about His Airness. Such was his impact upon popular culture.

I was around during that era, and a basketball fan to boot. As many of you may already be aware, I was also a big fan of Michael Jordan, and he remains my all-time favourite player. I was therefore very excited when it was announced that MJ would grace the cover of NBA 2K11, a game which also included a celebration of his career in the form of the Jordan Challenge. Visual Concepts and 2K Sports were probably pretty happy about the arrangement too, as NBA 2K11 sold over five million copies, and was very well received by critics and the basketball gaming community alike.

Michael Jordan is still featured in NBA 2K, and indeed graces the cover of the Special Edition of NBA 2K16. 2K’s partnership with MJ has obviously been very beneficial to the visibility, sales, and reception of their game, but how much does that partnership cost them? While we don’t have any specific figures, some recent reports have given us fodder to speculate.

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