NBA Live

Monday Tip-Off: Has Traditional Basketball Gaming Come to an End?

Taking on Kyrie Irving in MyCAREER (NBA 2K18)

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. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on the way basketball gaming has changed in recent years, and whether the traditional approach has become outmoded.

Basketball video games have obviously been around for a long time, bringing great enjoyment to people who love both the sport and gaming. Compared to other sports, basketball has proven to be a little harder to accurately represent in a video game, with so many variables affecting the level of realism. While arcade-oriented games often still hold up thanks to their casual approach, sim-oriented titles tend to show their age. Whether it’s the shot distribution, scores that are too high or too low, a lack of realistic strategy, or a shallow season mode experience, a lot of classic games do leave something to be desired, as much fun as we had with them when they were new.

Fortunately, basketball gaming has improved in leaps and bounds over the years. From deep and engaging modes to smarter AI and more realistic gameplay, we’ve been able to enjoy experiences on the virtual hardwood we could only dream of all those years ago. However, it feels as though basketball games have set a new course in recent years, shifting away from the experience that we’ve traditionally wanted. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s important that the games keep up with changing trends and demographics, but as we discussed in Episode #236 of the NLSC Podcast, it sometimes feels like traditional basketball gaming is coming to an end.

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Monday Tip-Off: Advice for the Modding Community

Basketball in the Supreme Update Mod for NBA Live 07

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. This week, I’m tipping things off with some advice for the modding community, in light of a few concerns that have been raised recently.

Whenever I discuss the modding community here at the NLSC, I always preface my remarks by acknowledging how talented it is, and how much great work it’s produced over the years. It’s something that I do believe, and I feel it’s important that we take time to acknowledge the effort that modders put into enhancing our basketball gaming experiences. Of course, it’s also a statement I feel I have to put out there as something of a disclaimer when I address problems in the modding community, to emphasise that it’s not meant as a slight. Unfortunately, I feel compelled to do that today, due to some excellent points that were raised in this topic.

I was originally going to reflect on my concerns in a lengthier piece, but the more I thought about it, the more that seemed like the wrong approach. I feel it would be more effective if I addressed the issues directly and succinctly, offering up my advice on how we can avoid these pitfalls as a community. By clearly identifying these issues and offering some solutions in point form, I hope that this article can be a straightforward guide to cultivating healthy attitudes and good habits in the modding community, as well as provide explanations as to why we’ve come to adopt certain customs, rules, and etiquette in regards to the hobby.

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Monday Tip-Off: To Be, Or Not To Be, A Developer

NBA Elite 11: A tough game to be a developer on

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. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on the appeal of being a developer working on basketball video games, and a story about an opportunity that I had some ten years ago.

For those of us who have grown up playing video games of any genre, the prospect of one day being able to work on them ourselves is very appealing. From what we’ve heard from people in the industry – including former community members who have been hired by EA Sports and Visual Concepts – it is indeed an amazing and exciting career, in many ways a dream job. It does come at a price, however: long hours, harsh deadlines, and intense scrutiny from a target audience that can often be extremely toxic. Much is demanded of a video game developer, and it’s clear that you need to be all in on the job, as well as willing and able to weather the tough aspects of the gig.

I don’t believe that I’ve ever told this story publicly, but around ten years ago, I had an opportunity to join the team at EA Canada as a developer on the NBA Live series. As my continued presence here and lack of in-game credits would indicate, I didn’t take the job. It was a difficult decision for reasons I’ll get into shortly, but beyond any personal issues or possible concerns about the direction of NBA Live, I had to ask myself one rather pertinent question: did I really want to do it? Would it truly be a dream job for me, one worth moving to the other wide of the world for? In short, and with apologies to William Shakespeare: to be, or not to be, a developer?

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Wayback Wednesday: The EA Graphics Editor

EA Graphics Editor Logo

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at the EA Graphics Editor.

Although our modding community continues to produce excellent content for the most recent NBA 2K games, the process has become a little more difficult from NBA 2K15 onwards. While the decision to port the PlayStation 4/Xbox One version to the PC has allowed the platform to receive the best version of the current release, it has put a few limitations on what can be achieved through modding. At the very least, it’s made the process a little tougher. This has led to people in the community expressing their frustration with the current state of modding.

I can certainly sympathise with that point of view, and I’d love to see future versions of NBA 2K be more modder-friendly. However, I also remember the early days of modding NBA Live on PC. I’ve talked about how difficult it could be in a previous Wayback Wednesday feature, though it’s something that got better over time; not just because of changes to the games, but also thanks to the hard work and ingenuity of the people making the tools. Undoubtedly, one of the most impressive and important tools is the EA Graphics Editor. It’s a modding tool that’s served us well for a long time, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Basketball Gaming Questions for 2018

James Harden Drives in NBA Live 18

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. This week, I’m tipping things off with some basketball gaming questions that are going to be answered over the course of 2018.

It’s the beginning of a new year, which means we’re heading towards the halfway point of the NBA season, and we’re also a few months into the lifecycle of the most recently released basketball games. By the end of 2018, we’ll have at least two new releases – NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 – but we’ve still got several months of basketball gaming before then. Needless to say, as we compile our Wishlists for the development teams at EA Sports and Visual Concepts, we’re naturally hoping to see our most desired improvements in the new games come September.

However, it’s also fair to wonder about the current basketball games, and hope that they’ll hold up until their successors are released. Personally, I do feel a sense of optimism about the future of basketball gaming, but at the same time, I also have a few concerns. I’m sure that I’m not alone in that regard, and with that in mind, it’s crucial that we speak up when we have the opportunity to provide constructive feedback. The questions I’m posing here, I feel, cover some of the most pressing issues regarding NBA Live, NBA 2K, and NBA Playgrounds. Whatever the future holds, we’re sure to get an answer to some of these questions by the end of 2018.

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The Friday Five: 5 Best Modes in Basketball Games

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of what I would consider to be the best modes we’ve seen in basketball games so far.

With the holiday season upon us and Christmas just a few days away, I’m in good spirits, and I hope that you all are, too. Generally speaking, I like to mix up the topics and tone of The Friday Five, alternating between celebration, critique, interesting trivia, and thoughtful discussion of basketball video games. With this being the season of goodwill, I’m definitely in the mood to talk about something more positive in regards to basketball gaming. After all, I’m sure that many of us will be hitting the virtual hardwood whenever we can over the next few weeks, sinking hours into our favourite game modes.

As such, this week I’m offering up my picks for the best modes in basketball gaming to date. Not to harp too much on something I’ve said many times before, but while the gameplay experience is paramount, deep modes are what keep us hooked on a game until the next one comes out (and sometimes, even beyond that). It’s hard to pick just five, as there have been some exceptional modes in basketball games over the years, each catering to different tastes. I’ve personally had fun with a variety of modes throughout several releases, and I know that many of you can say the same. I would nominate these five modes as being the best of the bunch, in no particular order.

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Wayback Wednesday: Midweek Patch Report & Webmaster News

Patrick Ewing in the Complete Update for NBA Live 96

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at my old columns, the Midweek Patch Report and Webmaster News.

If you’ve been around the community for a long time or perhaps read some of my previous articles, you may know that I used to run a site called the NBA Live Domain before I took over the NLSC in August of 2001. It started out as a place for me to host my own patches for NBA Live, but after a while, I felt like branching out with feature articles and the like. I experimented with the odd opinion piece and even created a subsite dedicated to covering the real NBA, but the columns that stuck were the Midweek Patch Report, and Webmaster News.

Both were regular weekly columns that became fixtures of the NBA Live Domain until I closed the site in December 2001, in order to properly focus on updating and developing content for the NLSC. They were instrumental in my development as a content creator though, so join me today as I take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Most Useless Features in Basketball Games

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of some of the most useless features and functions that we’ve seen in basketball games.

We’ve come to expect a significant amount of depth in basketball video games, not only in terms of the modes and gameplay, but also features and functionality. Be they big or small, glamorous or mundane, frequently used or just handy to have when we need them, there are numerous features and functions that go a long way in providing a well-rounded basketball gaming experience. And then, there are the features that aren’t so useful. Of course, usefulness can be subjective. If you enjoy outfitting your player in different clothing, for example, you’ll find that feature a lot more useful than someone who has no interest in that aspect of the career modes.

Taking a look at features of questionable usefulness, some are good ideas that just haven’t been executed well, while others are pointless at best. Certain features have seen their usefulness decline over time, either due to neglect or redundancy. Whatever the case may be, sometimes you’ll see a feature or function in a basketball video game, and wonder why the developers spent any time implementing it. Other times, you may wish that they spent a little more time on a feature, in order to make it more worthwhile. Without any further ado, here are five features that we’ve seen in basketball games – past and present – that I would rank among the most useless.

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Monday Tip-Off: How Modding Projects Fall Apart

Abandoned 1998 Season Modding Project (NBA Live 2003)

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. This week, I’m tipping things off with a look at how modding projects fall apart, while discussing a recent personal example.

Although I’m not as involved with modding as I once was, I won’t deny the lure of working on roster updates. I’ve previously discussed some of the mods that I’d like to make, should I be able to put aside the free time and get sufficiently motivated. That certainly still holds true, and as previously mentioned, I do have a list of modding ideas, similar to my lists of topics for the Monday Tip-Off, Wayback Wednesday, and Friday Five features. Every so often, I might do a little bit of preliminary work on one of those ideas, but aside from one or two beta releases, a majority of them haven’t progressed any further than that.

I’ve really enjoyed producing my Wayback Wednesday content since I introduced the feature a couple of years ago, as it’s been a way to reminisce about old favourites, and talk about some interesting modes, community history, and basketball gaming trivia. It’s also provided an opportunity to indulge in some retro gaming, which I enjoy doing across a variety of genres. Of course, I sometimes find myself becoming drawn towards an old release, especially if it’s one that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time modding. Such was the case with NBA Live 2003, where I recently toyed with the idea of a mod, only to be reminded of how easily projects can fall apart.

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The Friday Five: 5 Quietest Additions in Basketball Games

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of some of the quietest additions that have been made in basketball games over the years.

Not all additions to basketball games receive a big announcement and a lot of fanfare, be they a brand new feature, or content pushed through during the season. As demonstrated just last week, new content in particular can be added very quietly. Of course, when it comes to the preview season, both EA Sports and Visual Concepts do tend to go to much greater lengths to inform us about new additions to NBA Live and NBA 2K. It stands to reason, as along with improvements to existing features, any exciting new additions are strong selling points that are likely to move units.

With that being said, even during the preview season, there are additions that seem to fly under the radar. There are a few reasons as to why this may happen. A long time ago, the preview season wasn’t as comprehensive and in-depth as it is now. There’s also oversight, and underestimation of a feature’s appeal. Alternatively, something may be kept under wraps to keep it a surprise, though this runs the risk of wasting a good selling point. Some additions may be kept quiet to avoid potential controversy. Whatever the case may be, there have been several additions to basketball games that have had little to no hype or promotion. Let’s look at five of them.

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Wayback Wednesday: Lakers vs Celtics and the NBA Playoffs

Lakers vs Celtics and the NBA Playoffs

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m presenting a video retrospective of Lakers vs Celtics and the NBA Playoffs.

The rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics stretches back decades in NBA lore. It seems only fitting that as the latest chapter of their epic saga was drawing to a close in the late 1980s, Electronic Arts decided to name their new five-on-five basketball game after the rivalry that had produced so many memorable moments. A forerunner to the NBA Live series, Lakers vs Celtics and the NBA Playoffs was EA’s first real effort to make a sim-oriented NBA title. Over the years, it’s rightfully come to be considered a classic, introducing many features that have since become staples of basketball gaming. Let’s take a look back…way back…

Check out the retrospective over on our YouTube channel if you can’t see it embedded here. Speaking of retrospectives and looking back at the history of the NBA Live series, I’m hoping to finally finish up our extended 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content by the end of 2017. Wayback Wednesday will of course remain a regular feature here at the NLSC, so check in each and every week for more retro basketball gaming content. In the meantime, do you have any memories of Lakers vs Celtics that you’d like to share? Add them in the comments section below, and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum!

Monday Tip-Off: Fans, Not Fanboys; Critics, Not Haters

Dwight Howard Dunks (NBA Live 18)

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. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on how we can be better fans and critics, and avoid being haters and fanboys.

In one of the earliest Monday Tip-Off features that I posted, I discussed the issue of fanboys and haters in the basketball gaming community. Glancing back at a couple of the comments, I perhaps didn’t explain my point clearly enough. Needless to say, it’s virtually impossible for anyone to be completely impartial. We’re all going to have our own preferences, and a bias that’s tough to completely put aside. To a certain extent, a strong devotion or aversion to a brand is a justified reaction to continued enjoyment or disappointment. Taken to the extreme, however, we just end up getting on each other’s nerves, and ultimately doing ourselves a disservice.

The motto I’ve adopted in regards to the NLSC is “fans, not fanboys; critics, not haters”. In other words, we should look to enjoy basketball gaming and celebrate our hobby, but at the same time, we shouldn’t shut down criticism and pretend that there aren’t any problems. Similarly, we should point out the things that we dislike and make constructive criticisms, but we shouldn’t blindly bash the games, nor tell our fellow gamers that they shouldn’t enjoy themselves. It’s easy to forget that enjoyment and criticism aren’t mutually exclusive, and that we’re not all divided into fanboys and haters. At least, we certainly shouldn’t be aiming to be in one of those two groups.

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The Friday Five: 5 Little Details Basketball Games Have Nailed

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five concepts and little details that basketball games have captured extremely well.

It bears repeating that it’s alright to criticise basketball games. As I’ve previously discussed, and will no doubt touch upon again in the future, it’s something that gaming communities can easily forget. Any gaming community that censors and discourages criticism is doing a disservice to the games that they’re interested in, and ultimately, themselves as consumers. Constructive criticism should always be encouraged over nastiness and abuse, but we must remember that it’s OK to point out the things that we dislike, while also discussing the elements that we enjoy.

By the same token, of course, it’s also fine to take a break from criticising the aspects of basketball games that we don’t like, to marvel at the things we do enjoy about them. In that regard, it’s quite often the little things that really make the experience. Basketball games have come a long way, and while improvements to graphics, AI, controls, and so forth are often more readily apparent, there are a lot of concepts and smaller details that are very impressive in their own right. They may be subtle, but often contribute that extra bit of authenticity to the overall experience. Here are five examples of little details that basketball games have really nailed in recent years.

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The Friday Five: 5 Players & Their Forgotten Final Seasons

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five NBA players whose careers petered out, with their final seasons being somewhat forgotten.

Not all NBA players get a big send-off, or season-long retirement tour. Even if they were big stars at one point, some players end up spending their latter part of their careers in relative obscurity. There are many causes of that phenomenon, from injuries and basketball-related reasons to unfortunate personal problems. Whatever the case may be, for some fallen stars, it’s easy to forget the brief stints they had with certain teams towards the end of their careers. Indeed, it sometimes comes as a surprise when you look back and realise how long their careers lasted, or how recently they retired.

You’ll often come to those realisations when you fire up old basketball video games. When I cover those older titles for features such as Wayback Wednesday, I’m not only reminded of the experiences I had with those games, but of what the league looked like at the time. Old games serve as a time capsule for seasons gone by, making them effective reminders of the often overlooked later seasons of many players’ careers. For this week’s Friday Five, I’m taking a look back at the forgotten final seasons of five players who were big names at one point, but became somewhat overlooked as their careers wound down.

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The Friday Five: 5 Players Still Active in Games After Their Careers Ended

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of players who remained active in basketball video games after their careers ended in real life.

The rosters in basketball video games are, quite obviously, affected by events that occur in the real NBA. With strange and unfortunate twists of fate, as well as other unusual circumstances, video game rosters can quickly become outdated, or contain other oddities. I discussed the unusual situation with Michael Redd in NBA Live 2003 in last week’s Wayback Wednesday, as it was a particularly rare curiosity. A more common phenomenon is the continued appearance of players in the active rosters of basketball games, a year or more after they’ve played their final game. That’s what I’m taking a look at today.

Keep in mind that I’m not talking about players who have simply remained playable in video games after their retirement. With all the historical content in Ultimate Team and MyTEAM, as well as the extensive roster of retro teams in NBA 2K, there are obviously a lot of retired players who are still in the games. I’m also not counting appearances on the previous season’s All-Star squads in the default rosters. This is a list of players who, for one reason or another, remained in the active rosters of video games after their careers came to an end in real life. These players facilitated a few “What If?” scenarios, and at times, made maintaining roster updates a little tricky.

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