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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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Wayback Wednesday: Bonus Teams in NBA 2K

Michael Jordan on Team Jordan in NBA 2K11

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 bonus teams in NBA 2K over the years.

A couple of weeks ago, I took a look back at the bonus teams that were featured in older NBA Live games. While NBA 2K has become better known for providing basketball gamers with a wide selection of historical squads, it has also featured a variety of bonus teams from Decade All-Stars and developer teams to sports brand and Draft Class squads. While some of them certainly were not essential, they did inject a little extra fun into the game. As with the bonus teams in NBA Live, they provided a means of shaking things up with an enjoyable change of pace.

These bonus teams may now be overshadowed by a bevy of historical content in the form of retro and All-Time squads, but they’re still an important part of NBA 2K’s history of going above and beyond the bare minimum of including all the current NBA teams. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Why Starting Ratings Must Be Higher

Starting Ratings make online play tough (NBA 2K19, Jordan Rec Center)

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 ideal starting ratings for career modes, and why they must be a little higher than they currently are.

The only reason that I’m considering spending any time in MyCAREER this year after feeling burned out on the experience is to build a player for the online modes. Since our NLSC squad has spent a little time in the Jordan Rec Center so far, I’d like to have a player that stands a chance of being competitive online, without having to spend any money on VC this time around. Fortunately, Badges are easier to earn in NBA 2K19, but the process of levelling up from 60 Overall is still quite a daunting task if you don’t have a stack of VC on hand for an initial boost.

In previous articles, I’ve talked about how the grind has turned me off MyCAREER, and how it makes starting over every year feel wearying and unsatisfying. While I’ve vaguely touched on some solutions, I’d like to offer up some more definitive ideas on how to address the problem. One of the key issues that must be addressed is the low starting ratings we begin with every year. It’s a delicate situation as those ratings can’t make the game too easy or too hard, the journey too long or too short. Throw in the matter of competitive and accessible online play, however, and I think it’s clear that starting ratings in MyCAREER must be higher.

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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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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Jam TE PC No Points Challenge

Alonzo Mourning dunks in NBA Jam Tournament Edition PC

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 on a retro basketball gaming challenge with the PC version of NBA Jam Tournament Edition.

It’s been far too long since I made a video feature, despite my intention to produce more video content this year. Better late than never though, as I had a fun idea for this week’s Wayback Wednesday. Whenever I played NBA Jam Tournament Edition solo back in the day, I tended to play with Tag Mode off, and scored most of the team’s points with the player I was controlling. However, playing point guard for our Pro-Am squad in NBA 2K has given me a taste for racking up assists, which left me to wonder: can I win a game of NBA Jam TE with my CPU teammate scoring all of our points?

I fired up my old favourite, and gave the No Points Challenge a shot. Let’s take a look back…way back…

Catch it here on our YouTube channel if you can’t see the embedded video, and while you’re there, be sure to subscribe! With any luck, I’ll be able to produce some more videos in the not too distant future. I’ll probably also look to upload some excerpts from the NLSC Podcast – which will also be returning soon – so stay tuned for that. I may also tackle some other retro basketball gaming challenges for future Wayback Wednesday features, so if you have any suggestions in that regard, feel free to post them in the comments below!

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Monday Tip-Off: Overtime for NBA 2K17 & NBA 2K18 Online

No one online in Old Town (NBA 2K17, MyPARK)

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 by firing up NBA 2K17 and NBA 2K18 to see if anyone is still playing them online.

Unless 2K plans on extending their support for NBA 2K17 beyond the 27 months the company pledged following the controversy surrounding NBA 2K14, the game’s servers will be shut off at the end of this year. That gives anyone who is still playing the 2016 release a couple of months to get as much out of it as they can before online support finishes. Anyone still playing NBA 2K18 will have a little longer, as its servers aren’t due to be shut down until the end of 2019. This approach essentially affords each game two seasons worth of online support, plus three months.

While that won’t appease everyone, it’s a reasonable assumption that most gamers will have moved on to a new release in that time. Indeed, we can assume that a bulk of the fanbase has already moved on to NBA 2K19, but how many people are holding out and still playing NBA 2K18? For that matter, how many people have stuck with NBA 2K17 for the past couple of years, or picked it up again? I recently booted up both games on PlayStation 4 to see if I’d find many people still active in MyPARK and Pro-Am Walk-On, rather than hooping it up in NBA 2K19. The results were certainly interesting, at least on the Australasian servers.

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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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Wayback Wednesday: Bonus Teams in NBA Live

RBK Bonus Teams in NBA Live 06

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 bonus teams that have been featured in various NBA Live games.

In the years following Lakers vs Celtics, it was a big deal when NBA games finally included the entire league. Once that became standard, we eventually reached a point where some sort of additional content was expected. NBA 2K has set the bar here with its historical teams, but there was a time when EA’s series was also going above and beyond simply featuring the current NBA rosters. These efforts include the Decade All-Star teams, which I talked about last week, as well as the FIBA squads that would be added in later NBA Live games.

Those weren’t the only playable squads outside of the NBA teams, though. I discussed the unlockable developer teams in a previous Wayback Wednesday, but in the years that followed that era, NBA Live featured a number of other bonus teams. While they weren’t necessarily as unique as the developer teams, or as exciting as the Decade All-Stars and FIBA squads, they were still noteworthy additions to NBA Live’s rosters. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: When Good Intentions Become Gatekeeping

Jordan Rec Center 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 NBA 2K19’s approach to Pro-Am and the Jordan Rec Center, and how good intentions have turned into gatekeeping.

For the past couple of weeks, our official NLSC squad – the one that has gone by the names of both THRILLHO and GrindTime – have brought back our Friday night tradition of getting together to play online. We’ve been playing a few games in the Jordan Rec Center in NBA 2K19, and while the experience has had its usual ups and downs, it’s been more fun than Pro-Am in NBA 2K18. Even at a measly 64 Overall – I’m currently refusing to buy VC to upgrade quicker – it’s been fairly enjoyable. The fact that the rest of the guys have been grinding more frequently certainly helps.

However, the experience could be a lot better and more appealing; not just for us, but for NBA 2K gamers in general. The problem is that in NBA 2K19, there’s a barrier to enjoying Pro-Am games, and getting to play at all for that matter, which wasn’t there in years past. This year, five users per side are required to start a game of Pro-Am, or a walk-on game in the Jordan Rec Center. Previously, three users per team was the minimum required to get a game going. 2K is obviously aiming for a particular type of experience with this decision, but the approach has resulted in those modes being far less accessible, essentially gatekeeping and promoting a sense of elitism.

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The Friday Five: 5 Teams to Play With in NBA Live 19 & NBA 2K19

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 teams that rank among the most appealing to play with in NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19.

A new season is upon us! If you’ve been holding off on starting your main Franchise, MyLEAGUE, or MyGM game until opening night rosters are finalised, the time has come. Many of you probably have the perfect team in mind already, but if you’re like me, you may be mulling over a few possibilities. One of the most frustrating moments you can have in basketball gaming is to get about ten games into a franchise game, and realise that you don’t enjoy playing with the team you selected. That’s not too far in to start over, but it’s better to pick a suitable team the first time around if possible.

So, who to pick? I’m sure that the Golden State Warriors will be a popular choice once again, especially online. Their new starting lineup of five All-Stars – at least once DeMarcus Cousins is healthy again – will be quite a quintet to run with. They are a little cheap on the virtual hardwood though, and a stacked team isn’t to everyone’s liking when it comes to franchise modes. A few teams have shaken up their rosters and made big acquisitions this offseason, and while it remains to be seen how well they’ll fare in real life, they should be a lot of fun to guide to victory in NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19. Here are five teams to consider this year.

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Wayback Wednesday: Decade All-Stars in NBA Live

Michael Jordan Dunk (Decade All-Stars, NBA Live 2004)

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 Decade All-Stars in older NBA Live games.

I’ve mentioned the Decade All-Stars in several previous articles, including my first look back at Legends in Wayback Wednesday, my NBA Live 2000 retrospective, and as an example of content that I’d like to see return. However, apart from a profile of the 50s All-Stars on the anniversary of the BAA-NBL merger to form the NBA in 1949, I haven’t yet dedicated an entire feature to talking about those squads. Given how popular they were, and how much I personally enjoyed having them, it’s time to rectify that with a long overdue retrospective.

A lot of older basketball gamers who played NBA Live back in the day no doubt remember the Decade All-Stars quite fondly. It’s interesting that many of us do feel nostalgic for them now, considering how they were the original attempt to capitalise on nostalgia in basketball video games. For those who remember them, and for those who don’t know what all the fuss is about, let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: My Experiences Updating NBA 2K11 (So Far)

NBA 2K11 2018 Roster Teaser (Kevin Durant vs LeBron James)

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 my experiences so far in creating a roster update for NBA 2K11.

As I discussed in a previous article, during the offseason I found that I’d developed a new interest in getting back into modding. One project that quite appealed to me was the prospect of finally getting more involved with NBA 2K modding by updating the rosters for an old favourite, namely NBA 2K11. After posting a teaser video, I’ve been working on the project whenever I can find the time. It remains a work in progress, and unfortunately with the 2019 season set to tip off this week, it’s unlikely that the roster will be ready in time for opening night.

That’s mostly because other responsibilities have gotten in the way here and there, but as it’s my first proper attempt at a roster update for NBA 2K11, it also continues to be a learning experience. It has been enjoyable so far though, and it’s been interesting to compare and contrast the process with making roster updates for NBA Live PC, as I did for many years. To that end, I figured that I’d share a few thoughts on the process so far, and at the same time, provide a status report on the project. With any luck, it won’t be too far into the new season before I can release rosters for both the 2018 and 2019 campaigns.

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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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Wayback Wednesday: BIG Moments in NBA Live 14

BIG Moments: A Win is a Win (NBA Live 14)

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 BIG Moments, which debuted in NBA Live 14.

Since I covered NBA 2K17’s College DLC last week, I’d say it isn’t too soon to go back to the beginning of the current generation of NBA Live this time. It’s been a long time since EA Sports’ game was the premiere NBA sim, and this generation has once again seen the game rebuilding over the course of a few years, as it’s fought to regain its share of the market. The process has had its up and downs and it seems to be paying off with NBA Live 19, but even when the series was in rough shape, there were flashes of brilliance and good concepts. One of those ideas was BIG Moments.

A fresh mode that brought dynamic content to the game, BIG Moments is an idea that EA Sports could stand to revisit in future releases, even as NBA Live explores new modes of play such as LIVE Events and Court Battles. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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