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.
In this week’s Monday Tip-Off, I discussed our fondness for continuing to make patches for older basketball video games. As I said in that article, there’s a lot of nostalgia in going back and updating an old game, and it can also be a very rewarding experience, especially when there’s still a contingent of basketball gamers playing older releases. I certainly know a thing or two about that, as I was still releasing multiple roster patches for the last four PC versions of NBA Live up until a few years ago. As you may have noticed, I’ve also released a couple of smaller patches in recent weeks.
Since I’m still in the mood to talk about patches, I thought that for this week’s Friday Five, I’d take a look at five of my favourite patches that I’ve made for the NBA Live series. I’d talk about my work on NBA 2K, but I only have one release for that series: an open source roster with some minor edits and additions. Needless to say, when it comes to patching, I have a much longer history with NBA Live, and a much bigger catalogue of releases. So, without any further ado, here are my five favourite patches that I’ve made over the years.
1. 1995/1996 Season Patch for NBA Live 2004
The 1996 season mod for NBA Live 2004 is one of the biggest projects I’ve undertaken, and it’s one of the patches that I’m most pleased with, and proud of. With several members of the community helping out with the courts, jerseys, and other art patches, it came together to be – in my humble opinion – a fairly comprehensive and accurate representation of the season in which my beloved Chicago Bulls became the first team to win 70 games, and captured their fourth NBA championship. As you might expect, ’96 still stands as one of my favourite NBA seasons, which naturally goes a long way in making this one of my favourite patches that I’ve made.
A couple of years earlier, I made a 1996 season patch for NBA Live 2001. I was pleased with the way it turned out, but the NBA Live 2004 version was much better. On top of that, NBA Live 2004 is a much better game than NBA Live 2001, so it was more fun to play with current and retro season roster patches alike. Overall, I felt a great sense of accomplishment when I released the ’96 rosters for NBA Live 2004, especially as I’d managed to convert a couple of NBA Live 2003 faces for use with the project. Since I was mostly just making roster patches and not really doing anything with art updates at the time, it felt rather satisfying.
2. The Hangar Practice Court Patch for NBA Live 08
Court patching definitely isn’t my forte, but over the years, I have made a few practice court patches for NBA Live. It all started with a re-creation of the practice court in NBA Live 10, which was dubbed “The Hangar”. It took a couple of versions and changing up the court I was using as a base to get it looking right, but as of the most recent release, I’m very happy with how it turned out. From the blue sky in the windows to the colour of the lines and wood textures, from the designs on the backboard stanchion to the screen on the wall featuring Dwight Howard, I feel that I did a pretty good job remaking The Hangar for NBA Live 08.
Not only do I feel good about the final result, but it was fun learning some new patching skills. As I mentioned above, over the years I’ve mostly created roster patches, but in the past five or six years, I’ve dabbled a little more with making some art patches as well. The process of finding appropriate images to replace the default textures, recolouring the lines, and achieving the effect I wanted took some trial and error, and at times was frustrating, but it really paid off when it all came together. I used that knowledge and experience to make a few more court updates, most recently an adidas-themed one inspired by the practice court in NBA Live 15.
3. Current Roster Patches for NBA Live 2005-08
When I was making current roster patches for NBA Live PC, I’d sometimes continue to maintain updates for the previous release for a season or so. It was a heavy workload though, so eventually I stuck to just updating the most recent game in the series. However, once I learned how to convert rosters between NBA Live 2005, NBA Live 06, NBA Live 07, and NBA Live 08, I was able to maintain updates for them simultaneously, in a fairly efficient manner. I continued creating those updates for a few years, through to around the end of the 2013 season.
Unfortunately, a few years of creating roster patches for four games at once – on top of several years of making roster patches before that – took its toll, and I suffered some serious burnout. As a result, I’ve had to step away from making them. I did have fun making those updates though, and I always felt a sense of pride and achievement whenever I published a new release. In particular, I enjoyed adding bonus content, such as the three iterations of Team USA in the 2013 patches. Sometimes I feel tempted to get back into it, but it takes a lot of time and effort. With everything else I’m doing these days, I’m not about to make any promises. That said, my rosters for NBA Live 2005 through 08 do remain some of my favourite patches.
4. Ultimate Jordan Roster
This may sound like a strange inclusion, because it’s a patch that I haven’t made yet. Or more accurately, it’s a patch that I haven’t finished yet. I have released a couple of beta versions of the Ultimate Jordan Roster however, and it’s already shaping up to be one of my favourite patches. A 30 team roster celebrating Michael Jordan’s career is something that I’ve been thinking of doing since the Jordan Challenge was announced for NBA 2K11, and for a long time, it looked like it might never come to fruition. However, I gave it a shot last year, and with the demo/beta approach to releases, I have a good feeling that it’ll become a reality.
At present, I’ve only released a version for NBA Live 08, but my intention is to convert it for use with NBA Live 2005, NBA Live 06, and NBA Live 07 as well. I’d also like to throw in some bonus teams so that at least a few of MJ’s teams have more than one opponent, but completing and polishing up everything for the teams I’ve already put in the game is the bigger priority. Again, it may seem odd to list an unfinished project among my favourite patches, but given that Michael Jordan’s my all-time favourite player, this idea has been a long time coming, and it’s already seen some progress, for me it already ranks up there with my other favourite works.
5. Current Roster Patches for NBA Live 96
With the turnover in our community in the twenty years that the NLSC has been around – yes, as of August, this site will be twenty years old – many of you may never have downloaded my original roster patches for NBA Live 96. However, that’s where I got my start in patching NBA Live; I discovered the NLSC (then the NBA Live Series Center) in August of 1997, and was very excited to find that Tim’s editor could assign a date of birth and proper Draft information to my created Michael Jordan. I checked out the current roster patches that were available at the time, decided to try my hand at making some of my own, and as they say, the rest is history.
If not for my interest in making roster patches for NBA Live 96, I probably wouldn’t have become as involved in the community I did, and thus never had some of the amazing experiences that I’ve been fortunate enough to have since taking over the NLSC in August 2001. I continued making NBA Live 96 roster patches for a few years, culminating in a complete update release that included logo updates created by a fellow Live 96 enthusiast. When I put together the “Definitive” roster update as part of our 20th Anniversary of NBA Live celebrations, it certainly brought back some fond memories. It may not be some of my most technically impressive work, but my NBA Live 96 roster patches nevertheless remain sentimental favourites.
While I don’t release patches as often as I used to, it’s certainly something that I’ve enjoyed doing, and I still like making something new every once in a while. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed my work over the years, as well as this look back at some of my favourite patches. As always, if you’ve got any thoughts on this week’s column, feel free to comment below, as well as take the discussion to the NLSC 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.