Patching (also called patchmaking, patchmaking, patch making or modding) is the term used to describe the process of creating unofficial updates and add-ons (called patches or mods) for video games. Patchmaking has become a large part of the culture of the NBA Live and NBA 2K communities and has contributed to the continued popularity of the PC version of the game. As with many modding communities, NBA Live patchmaking began with a small group of individuals who found ways of modifying the game for their own enjoyment and later shared their work via the Internet and has since developed into its own culture with many people within the community producing updates that attempt to enhance the game for themselves and their fellow NBA Live fans. With NBA 2K's arrival on the PC platform beginning with NBA 2K9, the modding community for the NBA 2K series has flourished.
Members of the community who actively create patches are referred to as patchmakers (or patch makers), patchers or modders.
Unofficial modifications for the NBA Live series are most frequently called patches and are intended to update or otherwise modify the game, usually to bring the game's rosters or artwork up to date but also to improve and enhance gameplay (or even attempt to fix bugs) or add a new gameplay experience. The words patch, update and mod are often used interchangeably though "update" is most often associated with rosters while "mod" usually refers to larger projects.
The most common types of patches include:
- Complete Updates
- Retro Patches
- Practice Gear
- Miscellaneous Art Updates (such as menu backgrounds, startup screens, basketball textures)
- Official Updates (released only by EA Sports)
The process of creating a new NBA Live patch varies from patch to patch but usually begins with an individual seeking to create a game modification intended to update or enhance an NBA Live title. These usually take the form of roster patches which allow the user to automatically use updated rosters with missing players added or may modify the game's rosters in some way (such as reverting them to an old season or adding teams and players from another pro league) and updates to the art files such as cyberfaces, jerseys and courts which may be done to enhance the quality of the original files or change their appearance completely for a desired effect (such as retro patches).
The actual steps involved in creating patches also varies depending on the patch being created and the files that must be modified. As some of these steps are quite advanced, the community has traditionally written tutorials and assisted one another in the creation of patches.
Etiquette & Culture
Although patchmaking often involves the sharing of knowledge and resources, a certain standard of etiquette has been established so that the hard work of an individual is always duly recognised. This generally involves acknowledging any contributions (such as template files, patches used as a base and compilation patches) made by a specific patchmaker so that they are credited for any original work. It is also considered a common courtesy to ask a patchmaker before utilising any of their work, unless explicitly stated that their work can be used freely so long as credit is given where credit is due. It is thus considered improper to release any patch that contains another individual's work without permission or acknowledgement of the original author.
As a community, this stance on patchmaking etiquette is usually strictly enforced which has often led to confusion and criticism from newer members of the community. The community's stance on this issue can be attributed to a long history of "patch stealing", where several former members of the community have re-released the work of others without permission or acknowledgement of the original author, sometimes with minor changes of their own however this is not always the case. While this stance is sometimes seen by newer members as egotistical, it is based upon the principle of "credit where credit is due" and recognising the efforts of the many talented patchers in the community.
There is also a standard of etiquette pertaining to requesting patches and commenting on patchmaker's work. Since patchmaking is a hobby that many enthusiasts indulge in when they have the spare time it is expected that fellow fans requesting patches will display patience and understanding that a request may not be immediately fulfilled. Similarly, the patchmaking community thrives upon feedback and hence makes use of constructive criticism to aid patchmakers hone their skills and improve their work. Insulting comments and rude remarks are considered extremely disrespectful.
Developer's Stance on Patching
Although EA Sports does not officially endorse or sanction unofficial modifications, the company is aware of the patchmaking community and has not expressed any objection to or taken action against patchmakers. The developers have even supported patchmakers through the use of CustomArt, allowing patchmakers to place custom art files in a designated folder which the games will automatically load from. EA Sports have also released their own official updates to fix problems with certain games in the series. 2K Sports has taken a similar approach since releasing NBA 2K on the PC.
Patches vs Mods
Community made content for the NBA Live series are often referred to as patches while add-ons developed for NBA 2K are usually called mods, though the terms are interchangeable. The difference can probably be attributed to the long standing tradition of calling updates for NBA Live "patches" rather than mods, with the NBA 2K community adopting the common term of "mod" upon the series' debut on the PC platform.