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 discusses some of the changes I’d like to make to the NLSC and our community in general.
Tomorrow marks my sixteenth anniversary as webmaster/administrator of the NLSC. I took over the site from Tim on August 26th 2001, a little less than two months before my seventeenth birthday. In other words, at this point I’ve basically been running the site for half of my life, which is kind of an overwhelming thought to be honest! I’ve had my ups and downs during that time – personally, professionally, and with the NLSC itself – but I don’t regret taking the gig for a minute. It’s given me a lot of creative satisfaction, fascinating insight into one of my favourite hobbies, and some tremendous opportunities.
Like a lot of people, I often look at milestones and anniversaries as an opportunity to reflect and take stock of things. It doesn’t pay to dwell too much on the past, but no matter what you’re doing, it’s important to learn from experience. One of my goals is to keep the NLSC relevant and maintain a certain level of quality, while also looking to get even better. I’d like to think that I’ve had some success in that regard, but at the same time, there’s still work to be done. I may be covering some familiar ground here, but as I look forward to bigger and better things, here are five changes that I’d like to make to the NLSC and our corner of the basketball gaming community.
1. Increased Discussion & Interaction
This is one of the more puzzling and frustrating issues I’d like to resolve when it comes to the NLSC. We still have a lot of people visiting the site and registering in the Forum, so there hasn’t really been a drop in traffic over the years. However, there has definitely been a noticeable decline in discussion and Forum participation. The activity in our modding sections has remained fairly consistent, but we’re just not talking about our gaming experiences as readily as we once did. Whether it’s the topics in the Forum, or the comments section on feature articles, it doesn’t seem like people are as willing to start or jump into discussions these days.
There are a few factors at work here. These days, anyone providing a discussion area is indirectly competing with Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, all of which cater to a variety of topics and interests. When it comes to feature articles, it’s also on us to provide engaging content that stimulates discussion; in that regard, I’m certainly open to topic suggestions. And of course, we’ve had a lot of turnover in the community in the twenty-one years that we’ve been around. All the same, we do still have people regularly visiting, so I’d really like to see us become chattier again, and talk enthusiastically and in-depth about basketball video games.
2. Greater Use of our File Hosting Facilities
One of the reasons we opted for dedicated hosting when we moved last year was so that we could continue to provide file hosting facilities for our modding community. A lot of modders are still making use of those facilities, but many others are choosing to host their work elsewhere, and simply add external links in our Downloads database. While this is certainly an acceptable practice, and we still very much appreciate the contributions, in the past couple of years I have had to delete a lot of files because of dead links. This is one of the things that we hoped to avoid by allowing modders to upload their work to our server.
I realise that there are very understandable reasons to host mods elsewhere, be it download speed, more control over the hosting, promoting your own website, or using advertising links. However, it’s a real shame when great work is permanently lost (or at least goes missing for a long time) because it’s been uploaded to a site that removes files after a certain duration, or a set period of inactivity. For that reason, I do ask that modders consider using the NLSC for hosting, or at least as a mirror, because our aim is to preserve work so that it’s always readily available. It’s always disheartening when someone reports a broken link, and all I can do is remove the file.
3. Deeper Resources in the Wiki
Ah, the NLSC Wiki. One of the tough lessons that I’ve learned in my sixteen years of running the NLSC is that sometimes, you have to cut your losses and let things go. If it’s not working out, or you’re not enjoying doing it anymore, it’s time to shake things up and try something else, or take a different approach. Despite being very much aware of that, the Wiki is one thing that I’m still a bit stubborn about. It’s something that the community hasn’t really taken to over the years, probably because we already have so many resources available in the Forum. As such, I have considered cutting it from time to time. I just can’t bring myself to do it yet, though.
That’s mainly because I’ve spent a considerable amount of time adding content to it over the years. With that in mind, cutting it would feel like a waste, especially when it still has the potential to be a handy resource. It’s definitely been a convenient way of providing resources such as the DBF editing guides and codes listings, with the added bonus being that the community can add further information and make corrections as necessary. There may come a day when I decide that we have to cut our losses with the Wiki and focus our energy elsewhere, but in the meantime, I would like to see our community try and make better use of it.
4. More Cross-Platform Content
Over the years, the NLSC has gained a reputation as a site that’s focused on modding the PC versions of basketball video games. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course. Our community has done some outstanding things to enhance the PC versions of NBA Live and NBA 2K, and modding is obviously a big part of what we do here. We started out focusing pretty much solely on the PC versions of NBA Live back in 1996, so it’s also understandable. All the same, I do feel that that reputation does hold us back in some ways, especially with most of the NBA 2K userbase being on the consoles, and NBA Live currently being exclusive to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
In-game customisation aside, modding is always going to be primarily a PC thing, at least when it comes to basketball video games. There is a lot of content that applies to multiple platforms however, especially with the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One versions being more or less identical. When it comes to our original content, I’ve been trying to cover more topics that appeal to basketball gamers in general, and that’s something I’ll continue to do. Going back to my first point, sharing our gameplay experiences and general advice in regards to playing the games would help solidify our community as being a place for all basketball gamers, regardless of platform.
5. Better Integration Across The NLSC
When we revamped the NLSC (and officially rebranded from being the NBA Live Series Center) around this time in August 2011, one of the aims was better integration across the entire site. The Downloads section was now part of the Forum, and the logins for the front page and the Forum were connected. This was done so that everyone would be able to easily log in from either place, and also make Forum posts and comment on front page articles using the same account. Over the years, the software and plugins that we’re using have been updated, which has unfortunately ended up adversely affecting that functionality to some extent.
Ideally, I would like everyone to be able to log in anywhere on the site, and automatically be logged in on the front page, Forum (and thus Downloads section), and Wiki. That’s a bit hard to accomplish at the moment, and while the link between the front page and the Forum is functional, the plugin no longer works perfectly in terms of account creation. I am always on the lookout for new plugins that will help us become more user-friendly however, as improving the experience for the NLSC’s visitors remains one of my goals. In the meantime, we’ll continue to make the best of the current arrangements.
While there are changes I’d make to the NLSC and our community as part of a continued effort to improve, I do still feel that we have a great thing going here. The NLSC means a great deal to me, and I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. Thank you to everyone for your support over the past sixteen years; I still plan on being around for a while yet, and I hope that you’ll stick around, too. Once again, topic suggestions for our original content are most welcome, so hit me up in the comments, or in the Forum. That’s all for this week, so thanks for checking in, have a great weekend, and please join me again next Friday for another Five.