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 recap of the year 2017 here at the NLSC, and a look ahead to 2018.
It’s the final Friday of 2017, which means we’ve also reached the final Friday Five of the year. As we’ve mused several times on the NLSC Podcast, the year seems to have just flown by, and it seems like only yesterday that I was writing the Year in Review for 2016, as well as our traditional New Year’s greetings. Either we’re all getting older, or we’ve just had a lot of fun over the past twelve months. Nevertheless, I’m going to assume that my calendar is correct, which means it’s time to look back at the year that was here at the NLSC.
2017 was another eventful year across the board, especially as we had three new games to play. Those releases had their highs and lows, with a little bit of controversy and a couple of surprising additions along the way. In our community, we saw a lot of great mods released for games new and old, and some interesting discussions take place in the NLSC Forum. We maintained our regular schedule of original content throughout the year – for the most part – and managed to cover some topics that have been on the To Do list for some time. We’re looking forward to our 22nd year in operation in 2018, but before that, let’s take a look back at what happened in 2017.
1. The 2017 Games
Three NBA-licensed video games were released in 2017: NBA Live 18, NBA 2K18, and NBA Playgrounds. This meant that for the first time in around ten years, we had at least two sim-oriented games and an arcade title on the market. Before the release of NBA Playgrounds, I suggested that 2017 was shaping up to be a very strong year for basketball gaming. All things considered, I don’t believe that 2017 turned out to be a bad year for virtual hoops, but it’s probably fair to say that it fell a little short of my expectations. It seems quite a lot of people in the community feel that way to some extent, as this year’s games brought a mixture of good news and bad news.
NBA Live returned, and while there’s still work to be done, it’s made some pleasing strides in the right direction, especially with some of the post-release content. The greedy approach to NBA 2K18’s in-game economy was the controversy of the year, though not everyone was pleased with the game in general, either. It does have its good points, though I personally feel it’s a bit of a disappointment. I’d say the same for NBA Playgrounds, which is fun, but could’ve been so much more. All three titles have room for improvement, but there are reasons to be optimistic moving forward, and as it stands, many gamers have been getting some enjoyment out of the 2017 releases.
2. Our Modding Community
Although there are sometimes unpleasant and needlessly dramatic incidents, for the most part, I can’t say enough good things about our modding community. I’d suggest that we’re as passionate as any modding community you’ll find, and collectively, we’ve managed to do some great things for the most recent releases, as well as some of our old favourites. Releases for the last few PC versions of NBA Live have slowed down at this juncture, but there are still some great mods being made for NBA 2K13 and NBA 2K14, such as URB by skoadam and slimm44. Dee4Three, PeacemanNOT, TGsoGood, and many others have made great mods for NBA 2K17 and NBA 2K18.
I’ve also been impressed by the willingness to share knowledge, and create tutorials and resource lists. Even before NBA 2K18’s release, many Contributors were making plans and discussing strategies on how to tip off modding for the new game as soon as possible. If I do have a concern, it’s that a lot of modders are hosting their releases externally, in order to make use of ad links. I understand their reasoning, but this has meant that I’ve had to delete a lot of files from the Downloads database when they’ve been lost to dead links. I encourage everyone to use our hosting facilities as much as possible, so that we can ensure that mods remain available for years to come.
3. Our Content
As I mentioned, we once again maintained a regular schedule of original content here at the NLSC throughout 2017. The only exception was the NLSC Podcast, which had only 40 episodes this year. While that isn’t a bad number, technical issues and other factors led to us missing more weeks than we’d have liked. It’s something we’ll try to avoid as much as possible in 2018, though we’ll likely keep releasing the show on Sunday. We’ll also look to get some special guests on from time to time, including developers, and perhaps also a few members of the community. I’ve also stopped uploading parts of the show to our YouTube channel, so I might start doing that again.
We had better luck with my weekly features: Monday Tip-Off, Wayback Wednesday, and of course, The Friday Five. I managed to cover some topics that I’ve wanted to write about or produce videos on for some time, including Lakers vs Celtics, Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside, and franchise mode retrospectives. I’ve also enjoyed covering topics such as goodwill, cover re-creations, gamer attitudes, comparing real card packs to the packs in MyTEAM, PR disasters, Metacritic scores, and various lists of trivia. The 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content has drifted from its original premise and is heading into triple overtime, but it’s become a fun part of our retro coverage.
4. The Forum
One of my goals with the NLSC Forum in recent years has been to stimulate more discussion. A lot of the chatter these days is mod-related, which isn’t a bad thing, but we’ve become less inclined to talk about what we’re playing, share advice and stories, and discuss ideas for future releases. There are a lot of factors at work here, as forums like ours now indirectly compete with social media and sites like Reddit, in terms of providing a place to discuss hobbies and interests. As we’ve been around for over twenty years now, we’ve also seen a lot of turnover in our membership. The Forum is only as good as we make it, and not everyone feels inclined to create topics.
With that being said, the NLSC Forum does remain active, and I remain committed to making it a quality community hub for basketball gamers. We’ve had some lengthy and productive discussions about our issues with the games, made some constructive suggestions, shared videos and screenshots, and generally chatted with each other about what we’re doing on the virtual hardwood. A couple of weeks ago, I created a bunch of topics for NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 that I hope will stimulate more discussion in the months to follow. In short, if you want to talk about basketball games, I encourage you to head on over to our Forum and join in the conversation!
5. Looking Ahead to 2018
My goals for the NLSC in 2018 remain very similar to the ones I had for 2017. Keep supporting our modding community and producing original content, and always look for ways to improve on both. I think we were successful to some extent, but like the games themselves, there’s still room for improvement. I’d like to reintroduce The Tuesday Triple as a weekly video feature, and make more videos in general. I want to avoid missing weeks with the NLSC Podcast, keep writing what I hope are interesting articles, and of course, dabble with some modding of my own whenever I can. We may look to add some more creators to our staff in 2018 to help expand our content.
As for the games, I hope that some more patches and post-release content can see us through to the 2018 releases, and provide us with some positive gaming experiences as often as possible in the meantime. In terms of what we can do as a community, I believe we must keep speaking our minds, and continue to provide detailed and constructive feedback to the teams at EA Tiburon, Visual Concepts, and yes, perhaps even Saber Interactive. I hope that we can keep producing outstanding mods, and enjoy each other’s company as we discuss the hobby we’re so passionate about. 2017 was pretty good for us, but I’m eager to do my best to ensure that 2018 is even better.
I’d like to extend a huge thanks to everyone who has supported us throughout 2017. I hope that you’ll stick with us in 2018, and be part of what I believe is a great and supportive basketball gaming community. Thank you also to everyone who has made donations or supported us on Patreon. Along with our advertising revenue, it’s helped us to keep the lights on, and we expect to be around for a while yet. As always, I invite you to comment on our feature content, and take part in the discussions in the NLSC Forum. That’s all for this week, and 2017, so have a great weekend, a safe and fun New Year’s Eve, and please join me on the first Friday of 2018 for another Five.