The Friday Five: 5 Reasons We Compile Wishlists

Masked LeBron James in NBA Live 14

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

It’s Wishlist Season again here at the NLSC! As you may have already seen, we’ve started compiling our Wishlist for NBA Live 15 and in this week’s Tuesday Triple, JaoSming outlined some of the things that he wants to see in NBA Live 15 and NBA 2K15 alike.

Of course, the concept of the Wishlist does invite some scepticism, as a contingent of basketball gamers are unsure that it’s worth all the effort, or that it will make any difference to the upcoming games. I take a far more optimistic point of view however and see the Wishlists as an important undertaking for our community, to help improve the games that we’re so passionate about. As such, this week’s Friday Five highlights the importance of our Wishlists, as I take a look at five reasons why we compile them.

1. The developers are paying attention

LeBron James dunks against the Spurs in NBA Live 14

First and foremost, compiling Wishlists is a worthwhile endeavour because the developers at EA Sports and Visual Concepts – EA in particular – are indeed aware of us and are keeping tabs on our feedback and reactions. We’re not just posting suggestions, ideas and bug reports for the sake of it; that feedback is actually reaching the people who are responsible for creating the games that we’re playing, where it can be put to good use.

Our pre-release and post-patch interviews with gameplay designer Scott O’Gallagher provide some fine examples of how the current NBA Live developers are checking in on things here at the NLSC, but we’ve obviously been on their radar for quite some time. Talking to the developers at the very first community event I attended for NBA Live 07 back in 2006, I was blown away by how much they knew about us. Having Tim Tschirner, one of our co-founders, on the team at the time no doubt helped with that, but it was great to hear them bring up articles and Wishlist ideas that we’d posted. It reassured me that our feedback doesn’t go to waste, so to anyone who has constructive feedback, I say speak up. The right folks are listening.

2. It lets developers know they’re on the right track

Free Throw Shooting in NBA Live 14

As much as gamers like to insist otherwise when things don’t turn out quite as well as hoped, the people making basketball video games are passionate about what they do and they do know a thing or two about the sport. It would be insulting to suggest that there are no good ideas coming out of the development teams at EA and 2K, or that they have no idea about what needs to be done to improve their respective games, instead relying solely on fan input to be able to do their jobs.

However, we are their customers and as I mentioned above, they are most definitely listening to our feedback, so it’s important that we mention issues we want fixed, improvements that are needed, and additions that we want to see. Both developers obviously have their own plans for the future and a checklist of things that need to be done, but it’s good for them to know how closely that gels with what their audience wants, and whether certain elements of their blueprint need to be tweaked.

Speaking of which…

3. We can highlight finer details that might get overlooked

Derrick Rose shoots the jumpshot over Chris Bosh in NBA Live 14

I don’t want to draw too many comparisons between creating roster updates for basketball video games and actually creating the games themselves, as the latter is obviously a far bigger and more complex endeavour. However, there are some similarities when it comes time to present the finished product to the public; namely, it’s impossible to guarantee that there will be no issues whatsoever, or that no detail has been overlooked. Try as you might to avoid them, mistakes and oversights will happen.

That’s why it’s helped me greatly over the years when users who have downloaded my updates point out problems and details that I’ve missed, from crashes to incorrect jersey numbers, to players whose ratings haven’t been updated in a while. It’s easy to lose sight of some of the finer details when looking at the big picture and considering all the things that the developers are trying to do to make a product they’re going to sell, certain ideas and issues may fall by the wayside. It’s important that we point them out and let the developers know that addressing them will have an impact on our enjoyment of the games, so that they may be given some attention and consideration.

4. It’s a fun subject to discuss

Dwight Howard blocks a shot in NBA Live 14

So, compiling Wishlists to send in to the developers has an obvious constructive purpose, that being to let them know what we want out of the games and how we think they could be improved upon. It’s something that benefits us as consumers, which is a good enough reason to do it, but there is another reason why we go to the trouble of compiling the Wishlists and spend our time discussing these issues: simply put, they’re fun to talk about.

Needless to say, we’re enthusiastic about basketball video games in our community, mainly NBA Live and NBA 2K. It’s fun to talk about what we want to see in those games and get creative with ideas, just as it’s fun to speculate on who will win the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award, or suggest moves that teams should make to improve their chances of competing for a ring. It’s fun to consider all the possibilities, even (or perhaps especially) the far out and crazy ideas. It gets us pumped up and makes for good conversation between people who share a common interest.

5. We’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain

Kyrie irving in NBA Live 14

That might sound a little cliché, but it’s absolutely true. This is what I say to anyone who is sceptical or hesitant about posting ideas for the Wishlists, on the basis that their feedback might not yield the desired results. After all, what do you stand to lose if you post your thoughts on what you’d like to see in a basketball video game, and those ideas don’t make the cut? The half hour of your time that it took to type them up, perhaps? Hardly a major sacrifice for most of us and if it is, then I’d suggest that gaming probably isn’t the ideal hobby for someone whose time is so valuable.

What do you stand to gain, on the other hand? In short, improvements that you want to see in games that you’re interested in playing. Glance back at our previous Wishlists and you’ll see quite a few items that made their way into the games. Yes, it doesn’t always happen right away, features do get removed and sometimes certain ideas just aren’t feasible for whatever reason, but there really is nothing to lose by throwing your ideas and constructive feedback out there. If you’re passionate about basketball gaming and you’ve got an idea to share, there’s no good reason to hold back when the opportunity is right there to have it read by the people who can take it and actually put it to good use.

That’s going to do it for this week. Don’t forget to post your feedback in our NBA Live 15 Wishlist thread, let me know some of your fondest wishes for both NBA Live and NBA 2K in the comments below and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum. Thanks for checking in this week, please join me again next Friday for another Five.

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