This is The Tuesday Triple, where I attempt to break down random topics into three points, and maybe an “and one” if I need it. Similar to the established Friday Five by Andrew, the topics will be related to basketball video games and their communities as a whole.
This is the best time for basketball video game communities to put out their wishlists for NBA 2K15 and NBA Live 15. You can see in our Forums that the EA developers are looking for your wishlist items for next year’s game. This is one of my favorite times of year when it comes to our basketball video games. We get to wonder what next year will bring, get excited as we near our first teasers just a couple months away, while also enjoying the best of college and professional hoops. So rather than highlight my three most wanted specific features for next year’s games, I want to put out my three wishlist overarching features that affect the game as a whole rather than a specific tweak or mode addition.
Free Throw – Unlockables Everywhere
This is something I’ve brought up a couple times during the NLSC Podcast and in previous features. I want my unlockables back, ideally something similar as the NBA Live 2004/2005 days. EA came close this year with NBA Live 14, where every mode counts towards your XP levels which then unlocks Ultimate Team packs every 5 levels. You can see similar influences in NBA 2K, where VC controls everything from dunk packages for MyCAREER players, MyGM abilities, apparel, Blacktop players, and MyTEAM packs. VC has been mostly recognized as a headache rather than something that enhances the user experience, the idea to keep players playing and providing rewards through a currency that can be spent in any mode is a fine theory.
What I want to see is a mixture of everything. I love the idea of rewarding the user for playing, but the XP system from EA this year is too geared towards Ultimate Team, and VC barely provides enough of a payout to be worth the time. I guess I would want to see a Team Fortress 2 system of unlocking, where players could randomly unlock content, or still pay for it with in game currencies. I would want to see tons of content to unlock too, from fantasy and retro uniforms, special balls like the ABA ball or even the shortly used Cross Traxxion ball, maybe some extra cameras or game filters, and of course players who are legendary, on the development team, or maybe even some amateurs or dunk professionals. I liked NBA Jam: On Fire Edition’s wide variety of unlockables, so maybe something to that extent. In the end it could be everything from cosmetic to fun to gameplay enhancing unlockables, but I haven’t felt truly rewarded playing NBA games for extended periods of time for years, and I think an unlockable reward system would fix that.
Layup – Simple Fun
In the last generation, NBA Live had some great “simple fun” with the shootaround gyms when the game initially started up and during load times. 06 and 07’s temples were great to look at going into that generation of consoles, 08’s empty gym was spooky in its ambience, 09’s multicourt practice facility with your favorite NBA team was immersive, and 10’s hanger put superstars on the court with hidden connections (’03 Draftees, previous ROYs, etc). NBA 2K’s Blacktop mode used to be the 2K brand of simple fun with customizable pickup games, the right analog controlled dunk contest, and 21 which was unmatched for local multiplayer fun/rage. I guess by simple fun, I mean modes that can just be played with no need to care about how well you play or have any real repercussions. Blacktop mode in NBA 2K14 is kind of like that, but the lack of options, presentation issues on Next Gen, and position issues on current gen, just make it seem like an afterthought. NBA Live 14’s recently added shootaround could have been something special, but the nauseating camera and long load times ruin any chance of that mode being anything more than a jumpshot timing testing ground.
I really want to stress how amazing it was loading into a playable gym in NBA Live 06 through 10. I would love to see 2K or Live load into a shootaround mode again, with local and online multiplayer, minigames, and even customizable locations. 2K could throw in that HORSE mode from 2K12’s DLC. Having a mess around mode like that is the best way I can think of to include some simple, quick, fun into either of these games.
Half Court Shot – Sandbox Elements
This is fairly obvious to anyone who has played NBA Live 14 or next gen NBA 2K14; but even if we get the customization options of current gen games on next gen, we would still be missing out. NBA Live 10 had a global ratings editor, NBA 2K had create-a-team as well as custom arena music, and Live 2005 let me run a 6 team season mode. On top of that, I am genuinely surprised we have yet to see a gameface (scanning the user’s face into the game) for the career modes, user access to AI level configurations, or at the very least let the user change the control configuration. Basically, if it affects how the game plays, I would want to edit it to my liking (which is why I play the PC version of these games).
In the end, I just want a game that rewards me for all the time I spend playing it, giving me some simple fun when I don’t have the time or will to play a full game or competitively, and let’s me play how I want to play. Too much to ask for or not enough? Let me know in the comments below, and let me know if you can think of other ways to have simple fun in a simulation basketball game or other unlockable ideas. Thanks for reading!