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Monday Tip-Off: What Actually Ruins Basketball Video Games?

Victor Oladipo in NBA 2K19

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on the matter of what actually ruins basketball video games, and what are really more minor gripes.

Having been a part of the online basketball gaming community for over twenty years and admin of the NLSC for going on eighteen, I’ve both seen and taken part in some spirited discussions about the hobby. Our conversations about basketball video games have run the gamut from excitedly positive to furiously negative, depending on the issue and the quality of any given title. Given that we all have different tastes and expectations of basketball video games, our opinions will differ when it comes what will ruin our experience on the virtual hardwood. That’s fine, and to be encouraged!

Of course, it’s easy to exaggerate, especially when a pet peeve is involved. I recall one Forum member fuming over the use of the word “City” on the team statistics menu in NBA Live 2001. As they correctly pointed out, teams such as the Warriors, Jazz, and Pacers all take their names from their state rather than their city, making that label inaccurate. It’s a valid point, but a minor detail that was correct for most of the teams, and a criticism that paled in comparison with other issues in NBA Live 2001. Such issues are worth pointing out, but as we compile our Wishlists, it’s important that we prioritise problems that can ruin basketball video games, ahead of minor annoyances.

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Wayback Wednesday: Old School Introduction Videos

NBA Live 96 Introduction Video Capture

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at the introduction videos that were featured in old school basketball video games.

I’ve been producing Wayback Wednesday as a weekly feature since November 2015, and yet somehow, I’ve never discussed the introduction videos that were featured in old basketball games. I’ve talked about music, and I even posted a breakdown of NBA 2K12’s introduction video with comparisons to the real highlight clips, but I’ve yet to profile the intros that greeted us upon firing up some of our old favourites, despite the fact it’s a very obvious choice of topic for a Wayback Wednesday feature. Well, better late than never, right?

Lengthy introduction videos are seemingly being phased out, but you certainly don’t have to be a grizzled basketball gamer in your 30s to remember them. However, there was something special about the intros in old school basketball games. If you watch them today, you might just feel pumped up to play those old titles again, just as you were all those years ago. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Hoops Universe Released; Available in our Downloads Database

Hoops Universe Preview

NLSC Forum member Dr has released a new basketball video game titled Hoops Universe. The game is completely free and features customisable graphics, with a default roster filled with fictional teams and players. Created in Stencyl, the game will run on both PC and Mac.

Hoops Universe features a retro-themed aesthetic, similar in style to old games such as Double Dribble, or Namo Gamo’s Basketball Classics. The current release is a work-in-progress, and Dr B is inviting feedback over in the NLSC Forum. A fully-fledged game may be released on Steam at some point, but for now, releases will be made freely available in our Downloads database.

Check it out here! For more information, previews, support, and feedback, please see this Forum topic.

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The Friday Five: 5 Most Significant Years in Basketball Gaming

The Friday Five

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 lists what I feel are the five most significant years in the history of basketball gaming.

2019 is upon us, and as always, I’m hoping that it’ll end up being a fantastic year for basketball gaming! Hopefully, we’ll be able to get a lot of enjoyment out of the 2018 releases for the next eight or nine months, and then get our hands on even better titles to close out the year. While the success of basketball games ultimately rests with their respective developers, we shouldn’t underestimate the impact that we can have as a community. As such, it’s important that we speak up with constructive feedback, so that we can do our part in making 2019 a big year on the virtual hardwood.

There have been quite a few milestone years for basketball video games over the past three decades. They’ve marked significant improvements within the genre, through the release of many memorable games that have gone down as classics. Of course, there are also years that have been significant in terms of basketball gaming for far less positive reasons. As we tip off a new year and hope for the best when it comes to the future of basketball gaming, I feel there’s value in looking back at the road that hoops games have travelled. After all, it’s essential that forthcoming games not only build upon the success of their predecessors, but also avoid some of their pitfalls.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways the CPU Messes With You

The Friday Five

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 lists five ways that the CPU will mess with us in basketball video games.

As we all know, multiplayer gaming has its ups and downs. Whether it’s the pain of getting less than ideal teammates online, the frustration of encountering cheesers who spam exploits, or dealing with that one friend who takes things too far messing with you while you’re sitting on the same couch, there are times when you’d prefer to be enjoying single player gameplay. Of course, the single player/offline experience isn’t immune to such chicanery, as games will pull some dirty tricks in order to prevent you from beating them. CPU opponents in basketball games are no different.

To some extent, this is a necessary evil. As far as basketball games have come, they still have limitations. Gameplay is now more realistic with CPU opponents that are bolstered by AI that is smarter, but it still can’t match the creativity and cleverness of a human brain. Tilting a few aspects of the game in the CPU’s favour and including comeback mechanics allows it to be competitive and challenging, though can feel like artificial difficulty. There are also moments that are more benign and don’t necessarily stand in the way of winning, but nevertheless feel like the CPU is messing with us. Here are five examples of the CPU thumbing its nose at us on the virtual hardwood.

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Monday Tip-Off: Holidays on the Virtual Hardwood

Holidays on the Virtual Hardwood (NBA Jam: On Fire Edition)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on what I’ll be doing on the virtual hardwood these holidays.

With 2018 rapidly drawing to a close and Christmas Eve upon us, I’m in the mood to kick back with some gaming on the virtual hardwood…and maybe the virtual blacktop as well. While I’ll be spending time with family, going away with friends over New Year’s, and of course preparing future content for the NLSC, I’m looking forward to just relaxing with one of my favourite hobbies. With no less than four current hoops games out at the moment, the holidays make the process of juggling several titles a little bit easier.

Being that it is one of my favourite hobbies, basketball gaming is something that I’ve come to associate with the holidays. The school holidays were a time when my cousin and I would run franchise games in NBA Live 2000, replay the 1995 season in NBA Live 95, and defeat and play with every team in NBA Jam Tournament Edition. These days, I don’t have as long of a break and do have a few more responsibilities to get back to, but I’ll still have time to hit the virtual hardwood. The question is: what will I focus on playing as I wind down 2018? These are my current basketball gaming plans for the next week or so.

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Monday Tip-Off: Double-Dipping With Basketball Games

Michael Jordan Card in MyTEAM (NBA 2K19)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on double-dipping with basketball games on multiple platforms.

As someone who grew up playing a variety of video games on both computers and consoles, I’ve never cared for PC vs Console wars. I’ve enjoyed the hobby on both platforms, with the benefits that they each provide. Whether I’ve played a game on PC or console depends on whether or not it’s available on all platforms, the hardware I’ve had at my disposal, and if multiplayer is involved, which platform my friends are on. Of course, there are some games that I’ve enjoyed so much that I ended up double-dipping and buying them on a second platform as well.

Needless to say, basketball games are among the titles I’ve double-dipped with. In fact, when it comes to NBA 2K, I’ve double-dipped in recent years with the PC and PlayStation 4 versions; the former for single player gameplay and modding, and the latter for online play with the other members of the NLSC squad. While it’s worked out for me, in particular helping out with content creation and news coverage, I have to admit that one version of the game has usually somewhat gone to waste. With the amount of time we can sink into basketball games these days, it’s difficult to get the most out of a title on two different platforms. This year, I’m trying to remedy that.

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The Friday Five: 5 Times Games Messed Up Player Appearances

The Friday Five

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 lists five times that basketball games noticeably messed up player appearances.

Developing basketball games – or any video games, for that matter – is harder than a lot of people realise. It bears mentioning, as some gamers do go overboard in their criticism and suggest that making a flawless game is a simple task. In our modding community, we have a bad habit of denouncing the art teams in particular. It should be noted that it’s a lot easier to mod a finished game than it is to create one in the first place, and that individual modders aren’t under the same restrictions when it comes to spending a lot of time on a single player face, or other art assets.

With that being said, there are times when there have been notably unusual mistakes or unimpressive results, particularly when it comes to player appearances. I’m not just referring to player faces that don’t look as realistic as we’d like, though there certainly have been some noteworthy examples in that vein over the years. However, there are times when player appearances have been messed up in ways that go well beyond a cyberface that looks a little off. Be it an oversight in development, some kind of technical limitation, or another cause entirely, here are five times that we looked at a player in a hoops game and noticed that something definitely wasn’t quite right.

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Wayback Wednesday: Trivia in Basketball Games

Trivia in NBA 2K9

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at trivia in basketball games.

Wait a minute, I hear you saying. Don’t most of my Wayback Wednesday features concern trivia about basketball games, specifically titles that are at least a few years old? Well, yes, but this time, I’m talking about the way that basketball games have literally indulged in trivia, presenting gamers with questions that they can answer as well as listing interesting NBA facts. So yes, I am getting a little meta here, presenting some trivia about trivia in basketball games! After all, it’s something that has been featured in various titles over the years, dating way back to the mid 90s.

It may seem like an unusual feature to focus upon, but I do believe that it’s part of the nostalgia for some beloved favourites. It’s also a concept that has evolved over time, and come to be used for more practical and tangible purposes. With that being said, let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Games That Felt Like Backwards Steps

The Friday Five

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 list of five basketball games that felt like backwards steps following their predecessors.

Ideally, each release in an annual basketball game series should improve upon the title that came before it (and indeed, all previous games in its lineage). That’s not always feasible, and missteps will happen from time to time when new ideas and technology don’t pan out as intended, so it’s always welcome when a new release is able to build upon the success of its predecessor or bounce back after a disappointing game. I feel that this is a good year for basketball games, with NBA Live 19 continuing a steady improvement for NBA Live, and NBA 2K19 addressing many of NBA 2K18’s issues.

We’re not always so lucky. As much as sports games are often criticised for seemingly releasing the same game every year with new art and rosters, there are times when a new title leaves us wishing that that was indeed the case. It’s impossible to live up to everyone’s expectations, and whether or not certain changes are for better or worse is often subjective, but there have been basketball games that were definite backwards steps for one reason or another. Let’s take a look at five prominent examples and the ways in which they can be considered backwards steps when compared to the games that came before them.

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Monday Tip-Off: Juggling Multiple Basketball Games

2018 Basketball Games

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on juggling time between multiple basketball games.

Compared to other sports, we’re in an enviable position when it comes to basketball games. There are two developers working on sim-oriented titles, and while one game is in the lead, the other is steadily improving and becoming a viable option. We’ve also seen the resurrection of the arcade basketball genre, providing us with a brand new alternative to the sim experience. Throw in a wonderful retro concept in the form of Basketball Classics, and we’ve got quite a few options these days as far as the virtual hardwood is concerned.

That does present a certain problem, of course. There are only so many hours in a day, and only so many of them that we can commit to video games. With so much to do in modern basketball games, it can be difficult to spend ample time with each of them if you do decide to buy more than one. As far as problems go, this is admittedly very low stakes, and indeed a desirable one to have, but those tougher issues in life are beyond the scope of a website dedicated to basketball gaming! In any event, if you’ve invested in more than one basketball game this year and you’re trying to get the most out of each, know that you’re not alone.

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The Friday Five: Top 5 Developer Cameos in Basketball Games

The Friday Five

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 countdown of the Top 5 developer cameos in basketball games.

The first video game Easter egg dates back to 1979, when Warren Robinett added a means of accessing a hidden screen in Adventure for Atari 2600, which displayed the message “Created by Warren Robinett”. At the time, Atari did not give credit to any of their developers for fear of having to negotiate expensive salaries for well-known and highly regarded designers, and Robinett’s Easter egg was his response to that policy. Since then, video games have come to credit their design teams, and these days, key developers are well-known to gamers, and often interact with us.

Of course, the credits screen isn’t the only place that developers have had a presence in their own games. Several basketball games have included secret unlockable bonus teams featuring members of the development team, though the practice has largely been phased out in recent years. We still see developer cameos in other areas of the games though, as they lend their names (and sometimes faces) to fictional coaches, NPCs, and generated rookies. They’ll also pop up in a few other places outside of the credits. Playable or not, developer cameos have provided some amusing moments in basketball games, and this week, I’m counting down my picks for the top five.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ideas for Basketball Games from Other Genres

The Friday Five

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 list of five ideas that future basketball games should consider borrowing from titles in other genres.

Basketball games, like all sports titles, differ from other genres of video games when it comes to their nuances and our expectations. In many video games, there are several breaks from reality that are not only acceptable, but desirable. The lack of realism in specific aspects of gameplay doesn’t break our sense of immersion the same way it will in a game that is attempting to accurately depict a sport. To that end, certain features, functions, and concepts that we find in other genres of video games aren’t necessarily a good fit in basketball titles.

At the same time, while Da_Czar’s famous catchphrase of “Don’t play video games; play basketball!” is a great philosophy for developers and basketball gamers alike, the fact remains that basketball games are still video games. There are aspects of real life, such as commercial breaks, that they don’t need to replicate. Similarly, there are good ideas for features, functions, and even content that can be utilised by a wide variety of genres. Even though the concepts aren’t basketball-centric in and of themselves, they could still greatly enhance future NBA Live and NBA 2K releases. Here are five such ideas that basketball games could stand to borrow and make their own.

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The Friday Five: 5 Outmoded Features in Basketball Games

The Friday Five

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 takes a look at five features in basketball video games that have become outmoded.

Something I’ve really enjoyed doing with my Wayback Wednesday articles this year is to look at specific features in old basketball games. I do want to get back to doing some full retrospectives on older titles, but I feel that it’s interesting to look back on older features, options, and gameplay mechanics that hoops games used to have. As I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion, there are certain aspects of those older games that I’d love to see implemented once again in future titles. In some cases of course, the basic concept would have to be updated and reworked a little.

On the other hand, there are certain features and functions that can definitely stay in the past. They aren’t necessarily bad or beyond being reworked into a newer concept, but they’ve become outmoded. There simply isn’t the need for them that there used to be; either another feature or function does the job better, or advances in technology and game design have rendered them largely useless. They are nevertheless important parts of basketball gaming history though, and it’s interesting to see how some of them have evolved or been replaced over time. To that end, let’s take a look at five outmoded features that no longer need to be staples of basketball games.

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The Friday Five: 5 Features That Are Older Than You Think

The Friday Five

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 list of five features in modern basketball games that are older than you may realise.

We’ve seen some really cool features in basketball video games over the past couple of generations. Extensive historical content, brilliant presentation, and innovative approaches to modes, have all continued to push the basketball gaming experience further and further. Not every idea pans out, and there are always some of us who prefer an old school approach when it comes to certain features, but the amount of innovation and creativity is still very impressive. Of course, not all of those concepts and features are necessarily brand new ideas.

As I’ve discussed in many Wayback Wednesday features, there was an impressive amount of innovation in several early basketball video games as well. Modern tech has allowed developers to push the envelope even further, but it’s interesting and sometimes surprising when we look back and see that certain features were attempted many years ago, with varying degrees of success. That isn’t a bad thing, as good and creative ideas should be revisited when the technology allows them to be even better, perhaps even the way that they were originally envisioned. Those original attempts do deserve credit though, as they demonstrate that some features are older than we think.

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