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Wayback Wednesday: The Legacy of NBA 2K18

Wayback Wednesday: The Legacy of NBA 2K18

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 NBA 2K18, and the legacy that it has created.

The NBA 2K18 servers are no more. Well, I imagine they’re still physically around. It’s highly unlikely that 2K instructed someone to take a sledgehammer and go all Triple H on them, rather than just switching them off. The point is that online support has ended, which means MyTEAM, the first version of The Neighborhood, and all other connected content is gone. With this infamous release being officially put out to pasture, I believe it’s an apt time to offer up a final take on the game, and reflect on its legacy.

I know that it’s fairly recent by Wayback Wednesday standards, but it was released going on three years ago, which is about how old the All-Time College Teams DLC for NBA 2K17 was when I covered it. Besides, NBA 2K18 came out last decade, and that makes it sound old, right? Hey, it’s my feature, and I’ll bend the rules if need be! In any event, a retrospective of this controversial game feels quite timely, so let’s take a look back…not too far but still wayback…

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Monday Tip-Off: The Avatar’s New Clothes

Monday Tip-Off: The Avatar's New Clothes

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 about the increasing focus on getting new clothes for your avatar in the career modes of NBA Live and NBA 2K.

There’s a well-established video game trope that TV Tropes calls “And Your Reward Is Clothes“. It refers to unlocking new clothes for the player character (or characters), sometimes by completing tasks or purchasing them from an in-game store, or perhaps by finishing the game and continuing the adventure with post-ending gameplay. They may convey or accompany other bonuses, or they may just be for bragging rights. A good example of the latter is the “I completed Vice City and all I got was this lousy t-shirt“, unlocked when achieving 100% completion in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Clothing items, and the ability to acquire new clothes, have become an increasingly prominent part of basketball video games. Although they are ultimately just cosmetic, they’re nevertheless a significant part of the game’s culture, especially when it comes to the online scene. It’s one of those aspects of modern games that make me feel like a dinosaur, because to my mind, there’s far too much focus on them. Although they’re something that can be ignored, the pursuit of new clothes and the focus given to dressing up your avatar is presenting some problems, and detracting from the overall experience. That may sound melodramatic, but allow me to elaborate.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K13, Executive Produced by Jay-Z

Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K13, Executive Produced by Jay-Z

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 role Jay-Z played as an executive producer on NBA 2K13.

Back in December, I wrote an article about Jay-Z’s forgotten cameo in NBA Live 07. I received some nice compliments from people who enjoyed learning about that for the first time, as well as some suggestions to look back at Jay-Z’s involvement as an executive producer on NBA 2K13. That topic was actually already on my list of ideas for Wayback Wednesday features, but since it’s been requested, I figure there’s no point delaying it any further. After all, it’s even better if I can cover these topics when there’s interest, and to that end, I’m open to suggestions!

For now though, let’s focus on Jay-Z and his role with NBA 2K13. Obviously, the rapper wasn’t actually spending hours coding at Visual Concepts’ studio in Novato, but as it turned out, he had a significant impact on the game. His title also briefly inspired a trend in our modding community. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: How Career Modes Overtook Franchise Modes

Monday Tip-Off: How Career Modes Overtook Franchise Modes

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 look at how career modes ended up surpassing franchise modes in popularity.

As a long-time basketball gamer, it’s been interesting to not only see how the games have evolved, but also how trends and attitudes have changed. A noteworthy example of changing trends is the popularity of franchise modes. There was a time when they were considered the pinnacle of modes in basketball games, a dream come true for those of us who remember playing the basic single season modes of early titles. These days, they’re seen as passé; something for “old heads”, despite the fact younger hoops gamers enjoy them too. If nothing else, they’re no longer the flagship mode.

That distinction now belongs to career modes, and their connected online experiences. In some respects, it’s not surprising. It took longer for fully-formed career modes to make their way into NBA 2K and NBA Live, and there had been an interest in seeing them for quite some time. Indeed, the franchise modes were often used to simulate a single player career mode, so gamers clearly wanted that type of experience. The shift towards career modes is still interesting however, especially as they’ve drawn in gamers who have traditionally been all about franchise play. How did this happen? Well, I have a few theories as to how career modes gained and maintained popularity.

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The Friday Five: 5 False Memories in Basketball Gaming (Part 2)

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 more examples of false memories of basketball games.

A lot of people don’t want the truth to get in the way of a good story. Many others simply don’t have as good of a memory as they believe they do. Let’s face it: most of us have remembered something incorrectly at one time, particularly when it comes to video games (basketball or otherwise). As I said in my previous Friday Five article on this topic, there are plenty of reasons for this: rumours and urban legends that just refuse to go away, fuzzy memories of games we haven’t played for many years, or forgetting that something was the result of a mod and not in the game by default.

This week, I’m taking a look at five more examples of false memories in basketball gaming, while once again trying to get to the bottom of how those faulty recollections came about. Sometimes it’s the aforementioned lapses in memory, or changes made by mods being remembered as default features. Other times, it’s the result of technical limitations. Less benignly, it may be deliberate misinformation, or at the very least, exaggeration to make a point that results in the truth getting mixed up with hyperbole. Whatever the case may be, we’re left with false memories of basketball games, and I’ve got five more examples that I’d like to debunk today.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Hangtime Retrospective

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Hangtime Retrospective

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 NBA Hangtime.

One of the benefits of Wayback Wednesday is that eventually, everything becomes “retro” enough to talk about. As it is, I’ve bent the rules slightly with some more recent games from time to time, but generally speaking, I’ve preferred focusing on titles that are several years old. To that end, I’ve tried to cover many of the classics before touching on more recent nostalgia. However, there are several titles from the early days of basketball gaming that I still haven’t covered, but definitely mean to get to. NBA Hangtime is just one of the games that are overdue for a retrospective.

Perhaps it’s only fitting that I’ve yet to cover the game, going on five years of running Wayback Wednesday features. As popular as it was with basketball gamers in its day, it does tend to be overlooked when we discuss the best arcade hoops titles. It was a strong follow-up to NBA Jam Tournament Edition – one of my personal favourites – and a game that I really enjoyed on the Nintendo 64. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: How I Cut Back Playing Online

Monday Tip-Off: How I Cut Back Playing Online

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 discussion of how I cut back playing online (or, how I began to enjoy basketball games again).

Dated references to Dr. Strangelove aside, I’ve found that I’ve enjoyed NBA 2K20 a lot more when I’ve eschewed online play for the single player experience. I could say the same for NBA 2K19 as well, as I mostly ended up playing MyCAREER in an effort to make it to the Hall of Fame (and succeeded in doing so).  However, I was still more inclined to play online last year, having gotten into the habit of grinding up a player that was viable for Pro-Am and Playground games. The rest of the NLSC squad was also giving online play one last try, whereas this year we’ve given up on it.

I definitely miss the camaraderie and fun of a virtual hangout with my fellow gamers and basketball-loving friends, but I’m not missing the frustration that we experienced so often over the past couple of years. I’ve expressed my criticisms of online play in NBA 2K before, but because we enjoyed getting together to play some games, it had become part of my gaming routine. Changing that has been easier in NBA 2K20, where I’ve spent more time getting into MyTEAM, playing with the historical teams, and getting ready to start a MyLEAGUE game. However, it’s unfortunate that online play has become so unappealing, and that I can no longer get into it with my friends.

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The Friday Five: 5 Predictions That Were Way Off

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 NBA predictions that ended up being way off.

Here it is, the first Friday Five of 2020! It’s been a while since I’ve covered a topic related to the real NBA rather than the virtual hardwood, so I thought that I’d tip off the year (and decade) with a change of pace. Don’t worry, I’ve still got plenty of topics related to basketball video games that I’ll be covering in my features, but this week, I’d like to talk about NBA predictions. After all, we’re rapidly approaching the midway point of the 2020 season, and we’re starting to get a clearer picture of the top teams and how they stack up against one another.

It’s as good a time as any to start throwing out some midseason predictions, but keep in mind that there’s a lot of basketball left to play. A lot can change very quickly in the NBA, and while we can make educated guesses in our picks, a seemingly likely outcome can be denied by a twist of fate. At the same time, some people – including supposed expert analysts – will make wild predictions. Some may be trying to get ahead of the curve by expecting the unexpected, while others are relying on sources that are less than reliable. Whatever the case may be, we’ve seen some bold and crazy predictions over the years, with these five examples turning out to be quite wrong.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2000 & NBA Live 10 Trivia

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2000 & NBA Live 10 Trivia

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 some trivia for NBA Live 2000 and NBA Live 10.

Happy New Year, everyone! It’s strange to tip off a year with a retro feature, but it is Wednesday, and on Wednesdays we go way back. Speaking of which, as part of the lead up to the release of NBA Live 18 and NBA Live 19, I posted a couple of articles containing trivia facts about NBA Live 98 and NBA Live 08, and NBA Live 99 and NBA Live 09. I’d intended to do the same thing this year with NBA Live 2000 and NBA Live 10, ahead of the release of NBA Live 20. Of course, NBA Live 20 was ultimately cancelled, so I didn’t get an opportunity to do so back in September.

Looking back, I’m certainly glad I didn’t run it pre-emptively while we waited for that announcement! However, it seems like a waste of a good Wayback Wednesday idea to let it go, and of course, it all ties in to the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live content that we’re doing despite the series going on hiatus once again. With that in mind, here are the trivia facts I would’ve originally shared to celebrate the release of the third NBA Live game with a year ending in zero. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: 2019 Year in Review

Monday Tip-Off: 2019 Year in Review

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 look back at the year that was 2019 in basketball gaming, and our community here at the NLSC.

We’re at the start of a new week, but a couple of days away from the end of the year, not to mention a decade. Given the timing, I’ve decided to use this week’s Monday Tip-Off to reflect on the past twelve months, just as I did last year. Although this isn’t The Friday Five, I will be using a similar format on this occasion, as I’d like to take the opportunity to spotlight some of my favourite content from the past year, and discuss various aspects of the hobby under their own subheadings. If you’ve missed out on any of these features, I’ll be linking to them so that you can check them out.

Overall, it’s been another successful year here at the NLSC. Our modding community is still productive, and we’ve been able to do some fun things with our content. We expect to be around for some time yet, and basketball gaming itself is still thriving. There have been some ups and downs as there always are, and that does leave us with a few issues that we need to deal with moving forward. However, I’m confident that we can come together as a community and work out appropriate solutions. Without any further ado, here are my reflections on the final year of the 2010s, and an editor’s pick of articles, podcasts, and other features that I’m particularly proud of.

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The Friday Five: 5 Landmark Basketball Games of the 2010s

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 were landmark releases during the 2010s.

It’s the final Friday Five of 2019, and indeed, the final Friday Five of the decade! As the 2010s draw to a close and a new generation looms on the horizon, it feels like a good time to reflect on the decade that was in basketball gaming. Originally, I was going to compile a Top 5 countdown of the best basketball games of the decade, but it’s difficult not to omit some worthy candidates in a list of five. It’s also potentially a very boring countdown, given NBA 2K’s dominance and NBA Live’s struggles over the past ten years. The more I thought about it, the less appealing the idea became.

As such, I’ve decided to talk about landmark releases, as there have been a handful of those during the 2010s. That may sound like a distinction without a difference, but to me, a landmark game doesn’t necessarily need to be one of the best or the absolute pinnacle of its genre; just one that had a great impact and was very influential. Of course, there is some overlap as the games I’m listing here are great releases and could be candidates for a “Best Basketball Games of the Decade” countdown, but the point is that wherever you rank them, there’s no denying their importance and effect. These games represent important milestones in basketball gaming over the past decade.

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Wayback Wednesday: Christmas on the Virtual Hardwood

Wayback Wednesday: Christmas on the Virtual Hardwood

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 Christmas content in basketball video games.

Merry Christmas and Season’s Greetings, basketball gamers! I hope you’re enjoying the festive season, and are looking forward to some of the marquee games that are set to tip off this Christmas Day. Since this week’s Wayback Wednesday has fallen on Christmas Day itself, I thought it would be fun to look back at how the occasion has been celebrated on the virtual hardwood. After all, a lot of video games have included Christmas content as Easter eggs – if that’s not too ironic a turn of phrase – and there are even seasonal games, such as the classic Holiday Lemmings.

Basketball games tend to have a more straightforward approach to the matter, but there’s still some interesting history with the virtual hardwood and the holiday season. With that in mind, and in the spirit of the season, let’s deck the halls, rock around the Christmas tree, and take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Too Much at Stake to Experiment

Monday Tip-Off: Too Much at Stake to Experiment

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 how we’re less inclined to mess around in basketball video games these days, because there’s too much at stake to experiment.

During our discussion of franchise gaming in Episode #303 of the NLSC Podcast, I mentioned how franchise modes are a throwback to the days when we were freer to experiment with basketball video games. It’s something that I’ve thought about a lot since getting into MyCAREER and the online scene in recent years. As much fun as I’ve had with those modes, I’m aware of how careful I’ve had to be in order to enjoy myself. A wrong choice can easily torpedo a saved game, wasting hours of grinding with undesirably dire consequences.

Of course, you could argue that that’s part of the challenge now; a key component of an evolved experience. You have to think about your decisions and choose wisely, and if you don’t and suffer because of it, then it’s on you for not playing the game properly. I understand that, and there’s merit in having to commit to a choice, as well as fun in an experience that’s curated to some extent. However, if the consequences are actively discouraging us from experimenting and seeing everything that a game has to offer, that’s rather unfortunate. We still have that freedom to experiment in a mode like MyLEAGUE, but in MyCAREER, there’s simply too much at stake.

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The Friday Five: 5 Retro Teams You Can Create in NBA 2K20

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 retro teams that you can create in NBA 2K20, using assets that are already available.

One of my ongoing series here in the Friday Five suggests retro teams that I’d like to see included in future NBA 2K games. The more historical content we have in the game, the less we have to create for retro modding projects, and the more we have to play with out of the box. Of course, the amount of content that’s already in the game provides us with a good starting point for several retro projects, including adding or replacing the existing classic teams. With that in mind, I’ve got five suggestions for teams that are quite feasible to create – or get a head start on creating – in NBA 2K20.

Whether you simply reuse their assets or borrow players from their existing All-Time and retro teams is up to you, and depends on what kind of project you’re making. If it’s a roster that you intend to share publically, you might not want to spoil any of the existing squads’ lineups. Note that I’ve picked teams that already have the appropriate courts, logos, and jerseys in NBA 2K20, with the assumption that you’ll either reuse those assets, or overwrite the existing retro teams. For this list, I’ve also avoided simply rolling a team backwards or forwards a season, though there are plenty of ideas to explore there as well. Without any further ado, let’s get to the suggestions!

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Wayback Wednesday: Jay-Z in NBA Live 07

Wayback Wednesday: Jay-Z in NBA Live 07

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 promotion that put Jay-Z in NBA Live 07.

I’m sure that Jay-Z needs no introduction for basically everyone reading this. As a rapper, producer, and record executive, he’s considered one of the best and most influential names in his genre. He’s also proven himself to be a highly successful businessman, and as of 2019, is a billionaire. On top of that, he’s married to Beyoncé, making him half of one of the most prominent power couples in the entertainment industry. Again, this is all widely known, as is Jay-Z’s love of basketball and his involvement with the sport, as he formerly owned a stake in the Brooklyn Nets.

What you may not know is that Jay-Z has an interesting history with basketball video games. His songs have been featured on various soundtracks, and of course he was an executive producer on NBA 2K13 – a topic I’m sure I’ll discuss in a future Wayback Wednesday feature – but he was also playable in NBA Live 07. JaoSming covered this noteworthy appearance several years ago, but it’s a piece of basketball gaming trivia that still tends to be overlooked. With that in mind, let’s take a look back…way back…

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