NBA Live

Monday Tip-Off: How My Basketball Gaming Habits Changed

Ben Gordon in NBA Live 06

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on how my basketball gaming habits have changed over the years.

I’ve been playing basketball games for quite a while now. It’s an interest that began as I was entering my teenage years, intensified in my mid-to-late teens when I created the NBA Live Domain and then subsequently took over running the NLSC, and has since continued into adulthood. Now that I’m in my early thirties, I’m finding that I’m approaching the hobby differently. I’m still passionate about it, but with different priorities and responsibilities, I’ve had to ration my time and make a few adjustments to the way that I play. Of course, there have been gradual changes to my habits ever since the very beginning of my interest in basketball gaming.

The evolution of basketball gaming, as well as my own changing tastes, have both played a role here. Picking up two annual releases rather than just the one is a major factor as well. With NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 coming out next month, I’ll once again be faced with the prospect of dividing my time between two current games. Just how much I enjoy those games will also depend on my expectations and tolerance for legacy issues, which have been shaped by all my years of basketball gaming. As I prepare for the next batch of previews, and the new games themselves, I thought that I’d reflect on how my habits have changed over time.

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The Friday Five: 5 Basketball Games I’m Oddly Nostalgic For

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 basketball games that I’m oddly nostalgic for.

We each have our all-time favourite basketball games. Even when they’ve been surpassed by new titles, it’s natural to feel nostalgic towards old favourites. In the best case scenario, some of them may still hold up reasonably well, and be fun to play years later. As far as the sim-oriented basketball games are concerned, my list would include NBA Live 95, NBA Live 96, NBA Live 2000, NBA Live 2004, NBA Live 2005, NBA Live 06, and now that a few years have passed, NBA 2K11, NBA 2K12, and NBA 2K13. In terms of arcade basketball games, there’s NBA Jam Tournament Edition, NBA Street Homecourt, and more recently, NBA Jam: On Fire Edition.

I’m nostalgic for those titles because they rank among my all-time favourites, but then there are also basketball games that I feel an affinity for, even though they wouldn’t make my personal top five or ten. Some of those games are quite flawed, or at the very least haven’t aged too well, yet there’s something that draws me to them. Sometimes it’s the general atmosphere, sometimes it’s an ultimately inconsequential detail such as the soundtrack, and sometimes it has more to do with when they came out and where I was at in my life at the time. Whatever the case may be, these are five basketball games that I’m oddly nostalgic for, given the circumstances.

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Monday Tip-Off: Gameplay vs. Game Modes

MyCAREER in NBA 2K17 with the Denver Nuggets

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 the debate regarding the importance of gameplay vs. the importance of game modes, in basketball video games.

For the most part, we basketball gamers can generally agree that we want to see the games that we play get better and better with each release. Of course, we’re not always on the same page as far as the specific improvements are concerned. At the very least, we may prioritise them quite differently. We need to realise that these differing points of view are equally valid; it’s perfectly fine to like different aspects of the games, and as such, have a keener interest in seeing them improve compared to others. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to see your fellow basketball gamers talking about something that doesn’t interest you, and not feel that they’re missing the point.

Perhaps the best example of this is the whole gameplay vs. game modes debate. It’s fair to say that most basketball gamers would agree that both gameplay and game modes are the most important aspects of any given release, but disagree on the importance of those aspects in relation to one another. I’ve recently seen a few comments that have derided the importance of game modes, and over the years, there have been more than a couple of remarks that have downplayed the necessity of getting the gameplay experience right. To that end, I thought that I’d offer up my thoughts on the debate regarding gameplay vs. game modes.

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The Friday Five: 5 More Random Basketball Game Facts

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 collection of five more random basketball game facts, that I hope you’ll find interesting.

If you enjoy trivia, raise your hand! I’m going to pretend that I actually see people either raising their hands or keeping them down, and then assume that everyone’s hands are in fact raised. That way, I can say of course everyone enjoys trivia! In all seriousness, it’s fair to say that most people enjoy hearing an interesting fact or two about one of their hobbies or interests, and in our community, that may well refer to a favourite basketball game. From Easter Eggs to unusual facts and figures, there’s some interesting basketball video game trivia that we can talk about.

As you’ve no doubt gleaned from the title, this is actually a sequel article to a Friday Five column that I posted a few years back. Now, they say that sequels are never as good as, or better than the originals – with a few noteworthy exceptions, of course – but with all the basketball games that have been released over the years, this is a topic that could probably become a series. As such, I’ll probably revisit it again down the road, but for now, let’s take a look at five more random basketball game facts that hopefully at least a few of you won’t have heard, and will be interested to discover.

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Wayback Wednesday: Tweaked Roster Updates

Cover player Jason Kidd dribbles the basketball in NBA Live 2003

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 tweaked roster updates for NBA Live.

One of the key elements of roster updates, be they official updates or community-made rosters, is tweaking player ratings for more realistic performance. Whether it’s correcting the guesswork that’s originally needed when assigning ratings for a rookie player, or accounting for a drastic change in performance compared to the previous season, adjusting player attributes is an important part of creating a desirable gameplay experience. In some cases, gamers have ended up making major adjustments to all players, in order to counteract gameplay quirks and try to inject a little more realism into the game. These were known as tweaked roster updates.

It’s an outdated practice now, but many years ago, creating a tweaked version of a roster was considered a necessity if you wanted to try and enhance the experience for your fellow NBA Live gamers. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: It’s Time to Retire “Cartoonish”

LeBron James 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 a discussion of my least favourite buzzword, “cartoonish”.

Fellow basketball gamers, we’ve got to talk. I know that I’ve gone on about this before, in previous articles and on the NLSC Podcast. It’s admittedly hard to broach this subject without sounding like a broken record, a fanboy stamping my feet, or a tyrant aggressively attacking freedom of speech. Hear me out though, because our credibility as a gaming community is at stake here. Alright, that might be a bit of a melodramatic exaggeration, but it is one of our worst habits, and we let ourselves down whenever we fall victim to it.

It’s been run into the ground more than jokes about blowing 3-1 leads, or the Crying Jordan image macro. It’s not making us look smart and knowledgeable about our hobby, even though we absolutely are. It’s tired, lazy, and uninspired. And so, it’s time to do something about it. It’s time to expand our vocabulary. It’s time to learn how to properly critique, instead of relying on snark and overused buzzwords. Quite frankly, it’s time to grow up. It’s time that we retire the word “cartoonish” to describe textures, animations, and other aspects of basketball video games that we don’t like.

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The Friday Five: 5 Lost Official Downloads for 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 five official downloads for basketball games that have been lost over time.

In our community, we know the pain of lost files. Mods, especially big projects, have been hosted all over the place throughout the years. As a result of sites being closed down and files being deleted from free hosting services after a period of inactivity, we’ve lost a lot of releases, especially from the early days. We’ve salvaged and re-uploaded files whenever possible, but there are a lot of mods that are seemingly gone for good. Of course, in theory, it is possible to create new versions of those mods which may be just as good as, or even better than the originals. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with official downloads, such as patches and downloadable content.

Just as we’ve tried to preserve our database of unofficial patches and mods over the years, we’ve also done our best to keep a repository of official downloads. If you browse our Downloads database, you’ll find a bunch of the old official patches for NBA Live on PC, as well as demos, manuals, and so on. There are some official downloads that we haven’t been able to salvage though, which means if you don’t already have a copy of them installed or backed up somewhere, you’re out of luck. This week’s Five is a list of five official downloads that have been lost to time…at least as far as I’m aware.

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Wayback Wednesday: A Look Back at DSTATS in NBA Live

Shaquille O'Neal dunks in NBA Live 2000

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 DSTATS in old NBA Live games.

For an enthusiastic franchise mode gamer, detail is paramount. On top of having a quality gameplay experience throughout the schedule, our enjoyment of a franchise mode is driven by the depth of the features, as well as the accuracy and realism of trades, free agency, and player performance. Simulated player stats that are wildly inaccurate can really detract from the franchise experience, especially during the first couple of seasons which are usually expected to somewhat resemble reality. The sim engine is an area where basketball games have greatly improved over the years, but in earlier NBA Live titles, realistic stats were achieved through the use of DSTATS.

DSTATS data provided the development team and modders alike with greater control over simulated player stats, but the approach also had a few noteworthy drawbacks. It’s an outmoded concept, but one that’s interesting to revisit, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Cheesiest Moves 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 cheesiest moves that you’ll encounter in basketball video games.

We all want to see basketball games continue to get better, and eliminate cheesy moves and tactics as much as possible. Well, most of us do, at any rate. Judging by some of the 2K Pro-Am games that I’ve played in NBA 2K16 and NBA 2K17, a few gamers probably wouldn’t be happy if a few of the exploits and loopholes were taken care of! Nevertheless, I feel confident in saying it’s what a majority of basketball gamers want to see, and that it ultimately remains a goal of the development teams at both EA Sports and Visual Concepts. If you look back at basketball video games through the years, you can see improvement in that regard.

No game is going to be perfect though, and completely eliminating cheese is easier said than done. Gamers are always going to seek out the most effective tactics, and while these days that usually does mean playing smart basketball, there are still exploits to be found here and there. Throughout all the generations of basketball video games, there have been unstoppable moves and cheap tactics that gamers have discovered and exploited for easier wins. For this week’s Friday Five, I’ve compiled a list of what I feel are five of the most infamous gameplay exploits; indeed, the cheesiest moves you’ll come across in basketball video games.

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Wayback Wednesday: Generated Rookie Names in NBA Live

Generated Rookie in NBA Live 2000

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 generated rookie names in NBA Live.

Now that the 2017 NBA Finals are in the books, everyone’s attention has turned to free agency and this year’s Draft. In a couple of days we’ll find out where all the top prospects will end up, but with custom Draft Classes, basketball gamers have already been creating their own scenarios in NBA 2K17. Of course, without a custom Draft Class in place, the new rookie crop will be completely fictional, with generated names, ratings, and attributes. In the early days of franchise modes, fictional rookies with generated names were the only option, barring any editing of the DBF files for NBA Live on PC.

As a result, there were some very weird and wonderful results with the randomly generated rookie names in NBA Live, as well as a few Easter Eggs here and there. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Missing Former Modes & Features

Roster Editing is greatly missed in NBA Live

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 modes and features that are missing in recent games, and as such, tend to be sorely missed.

With their annual releases, sports video games are often criticised for being little more than a patch, roster update, or expansion pack sold at retail price. While it’s an understandable criticism, and those of us who buy the games every year certainly do want to get value for money, it is selling developers like EA Sports and Visual Concepts short. A lot of time and energy goes into the development of the games, and while the results aren’t always want we want, we generally see some pleasing improvements, and new content beyond updated rosters for the new season. Of course, it’s always frustrating when it seems like one step forward, two steps back.

As much as we hate to see new games make missteps in terms of the gameplay experience, it’s arguably even more frustrating when modes and other features that we really enjoyed in previous games are cut from future releases. Even though there may be perfectly valid reasons for their removal – technical or otherwise – it generally doesn’t lessen the sting of losing the experiences and functionality they provided. As I look ahead to NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18, and think about the news I’d like to hear in the upcoming preview season, I can’t help but reflect on some of the modes and features that I miss in both games.

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The Friday Five: 5 Mods I’d Like To Make This Year

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 mods that I’d like to make before 2017 is through.

Although I don’t get involved with the modding scene as much as I used to, I still like to whip something up and release new mods whenever I can. I really enjoyed going back and updating my 1996 season mod for NBA Live 2004, and with some of the great court and jersey mods that Murat has been working on, I’m looking forward to releasing another new version in the not too distant future. These days I’m primarily focusing on content such as articles, videos, and the NLSC Podcast, but I do have a list of ideas for mods that I’d like to make, and there are some in particular that I’d really like to find time for, some of which I’ve discussed in two previous columns.

Please note that this is not intended to be an announcement, a To Do list, or anything like that. There’s no guarantee that I’ll be able to make these mods this year, or ever for that matter. However, at least one has already seen a couple of beta/demo releases, and others are ideas that probably wouldn’t take too long to create, in between the other content that I’m working on (as well as other site updates, and of course, my day job and personal life). However, when the itch to get back into some modding starts to flare up, these are the mods that I’d be most interested in creating in the near future…time permitting, of course.

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Wayback Wednesday: Freestyle Challenge in NBA Live

Freestyle Challenge Menu in NBA Live 2005

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 Freestyle Challenge in NBA Live.

EA Play 2017 introduced us to The One, the new single player career mode that is set to debut in NBA Live 18. The depth of game modes has been a problem for the NBA Live series since its reboot in 2013, but as I’ve discussed in various 20th Anniversary of NBA Live retrospectives and Wayback Wednesday articles, there was a time when EA were consistently doing some very innovative things with their basketball games. I’ve already talked about the much-missed All-Star Weekend mode that was introduced in NBA Live 2005, but the addition of the Slam Dunk Contest and Three-Point Shootout also led to the inclusion of another mode: Freestyle Challenge.

A spinoff of the All-Star Weekend, Freestyle Challenge provided basketball gamers with something else to play in between the deeper game modes. It’s a mode that doesn’t get mentioned very often, but it was definitely an interesting concept, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Failed Ideas Newer Basketball Games Salvaged

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 ideas that were busts in older basketball video games, but have since been implemented more effectively.

Sometimes, disappointing basketball video games still bring surprisingly good ideas to the table. Likewise, even the best basketball video games can have features that seem kind of weak compared to the rest of the product. And of course, ideas that were good in theory can be executed poorly, regardless of the game’s overall quality. In the best case scenario, great ideas that didn’t pan out the first time around or were overshadowed by their game’s shortcomings can be dusted off, polished up, and put to use in much better releases. If an idea has merit, it’s worth revisiting.

While it may be harsh to call some of the ideas I’m discussing here “failures”, their first incarnation was at the very least problematic, and their basic concepts ended up being shelved for at least a few years. Upon making their way back into more recent basketball video games, they’ve benefitted from advancements in technology and fine-tuning of the original concept, ultimately working out a lot better as a result. Some credit therefore has to be given to those original ideas, which obviously weren’t all bad. Not every one of these ideas is universally liked by basketball gamers, but at the very least, they’ve been salvaged and done better since their debut.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Importance of Consistent Controls

NBA Live 16's Practice Gym

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 importance of consistent controls in NBA Live and NBA 2K.

The preview seasons for NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 are tantalisingly close…presumably. We should get another glimpse at NBA Live 18 this weekend at EA Play, and with Live scheduled to come out this year, hopefully 2K won’t drag their feet putting out information, especially since they’re once again pushing early pre-orders. In any event, it hopefully shouldn’t be too long before we start hearing about improvements and changes to gameplay mechanics, AI, modes, and all other aspects of the games. Controls will be a key point of interest, specifically whether or not there have been any major changes or enhancements.

When it comes to the responsiveness and fluidity of the controls, as well as their depth and influence over the action, it’s probably safe to say that most of us still want to see some further improvement. It’s vital that we have control over advanced moves, don’t get stuck in animations or experience too many canned moments, and not suffer stiffness or a lack of responsiveness on the sticks. Beyond those mechanics however, there’s an important design concept that EA and 2K both need to keep in mind: the controls should be relatively consistent from year to year.

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