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The Friday Five: 5 Modding Pipe Dreams

The Friday Five: 5 Modding Pipe Dreams

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is a list of five modding pipe dreams.

Even though I haven’t been regularly modding for about a decade now – and to that point, does time ever fly! – I can’t help brainstorming ideas for projects. Maybe I’m looking for the one that will inspire me to get back into the hobby on a more regular basis. Maybe I like the idea of getting back into modding more than making the necessary commitment to a large project, especially after experiencing such burnout after all those years of working on roster updates for NBA Live PC. If nothing else though, I enjoy sharing those ideas, in case it inspires someone else to explore them.

For all the wonderful mods that have been made over the years, there are a few ideas that we haven’t fully explored. There are some games that didn’t receive as many releases, mostly because the necessary tools came later in their release cycle when everyone was ready to move on. Some ideas just weren’t possible at the time, but may be worth revisiting now that we have better tools and more knowledge. And of course, there are the modding ideas that remained pipe dreams because they were simply too ambitious or time-consuming, but could still happen if the interest and dedication is there. As such, I’m throwing out five more ideas for the community’s consideration.

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Wayback Wednesday: The All-Time Teams in NBA 2K

Wayback Wednesday: The All-Time Teams in NBA 2K

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m taking a look back at the introduction of the All-Time Teams in NBA 2K.

In many respects, NBA 2K18 was a turning point for the series. MyCAREER added The Neighborhood, a concept that has since evolved into The City. While it wowed gamers when it was unveiled, it’s unfortunately taken the mode in a direction that has less and less relevance to basketball. It also introduced a new motion system that in the opinion of many NBA 2K gamers – and I’m among them – is inferior to games that came before it. Paying for haircuts, a MyPLAYER character who gave up basketball to be a DJ, B-Fresh…in short, NBA 2K18 isn’t one of the series’ strongest releases!

At the same time, it unveiled a welcome addition to the series’ complement of retro content: the All-Time Teams. It’s all too easy to dismiss the All-Time Teams as one of the weaker ideas for bonus squads in NBA 2K, merely combining already-licensed historical players with current stars. As a concept, it’s nothing we haven’t already done with roster mods, going right back to the early days of NBA Live on PC. However, All-Time Teams are an important expansion of the retro content in NBA 2K, even if they aren’t as exciting as specific classic teams. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Focusing On What I Find Fun

Monday Tip-Off: Focusing On What I Find Fun

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on focusing on what I find fun in basketball gaming.

I realise that sounds like a strange thing to say. Whether it’s a video game or any other hobby, the point is to enjoy the time you’re spending with it. It doesn’t make sense to not have fun! And yet, that is something that happens with video games, particularly newer releases. I promise this isn’t just another rant about microtransactions, although they undoubtedly play a major role in this. Modes like MyTEAM and MyCAREER are designed in a way that intentionally limits the fun if you intend not to spend, and that’s an issue that was created by the adoption of recurrent revenue mechanics.

However, it’s bigger than that. Even when you’re past the unpleasant grind, indeed even if you pay to skip it, modern basketball games aren’t as fun as they should be. Moreover, ideas that should be fun in theory end up detracting from the enjoyment, either because of the looming shadows of microtransactions and FOMO, or simply less than optimal design. The frustrating part of that is how easy it is to get hooked despite these obvious pitfalls, which of course is completely intentional. However, once you can break free of that spell and start focusing on what is fun, basketball gaming will return to being the enjoyable pastime that it should always be.

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The Sunday Substitute: The MyPLAYER Transaction Report (Part 4)

My player winning the NCAA championship in NBA 2K21.

Welcome to another week of The Sunday Substitute! It’s a collection of articles where I document some of my basketball video game memories. Once again, I’m continuing with my series within a series: The MyPLAYER Transaction Report.

Part 4 of The MyPLAYER Transaction Report is where my interest in career modes starts to wane. I begin to load manage my gaming habits, spending my time more evenly between the modes. Rather than completing seasons, my eyes are more firmly on PSN trophies. As a result, there’s only one completed season here, and it’s spread across two entries.

There are some noteworthy moments here, though. I’m involved in my first-ever trade, and I played for both 2022 NBA Finals teams in the same season, the Warriors and the Celtics. It’s also very Junior-centric, with three different builds across NBA 2K21. Can you believe I had five builds in NBA 2K21 all up?

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NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week: December 10th, 2022

NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week

Get ready for more fantastic highlights from the basketball gaming community in the NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week, curated by Dee4Three! New and old games alike are featured in this celebration of spectacular moments on the virtual hardwood. To submit your clips, post them in this topic, or hit up Dee on Twitter.

A heavily-guarded three-pointer is impressive, we’ll marvel at a circus shot, and a gamewinner at the buzzer will bring us out of our seats. At the end of the day though, what makes an exciting highlight reel in basketball, virtual or otherwise? Dunks, dunks, and more dunks! This week’s NLSC Top 10 Plays is packed full of slams, courtesy of titles representing the current NBA, classic NBA, and college basketball. By all means keep those other highlights coming, but as I’m sure you’ll agree, you can’t go wrong with dunks!

What was your favourite highlight this week? Sound off in the comments below, and once again, get in on the fun by sending us your best plays! Remember, as long as it’s a basketball game, it’s eligible for the countdown. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to us on YouTube for more basketball gaming videos.

The Friday Five: 5 Weird Outcomes in Franchise & Career Games

The Friday Five: 5 Weird Outcomes in Franchise & Career Games

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is reflecting on five weird outcomes in my various franchise and career games over the years.

There are many ways to play franchise modes in basketball video games. I’ve always preferred a more straightforward approach: take control of a team with current rosters, leave injuries and CPU trades on (assuming they’re optional), and play through the season to create my own reality. While this may be more conventional than a fantasy draft or using a heavily customised roster, it’s not immune to weird outcomes. Sim engines are prone to producing unexpected results, from season standings and Playoff outcomes to weird league leaders. Obviously, this happens in career modes as well.

Of course, when we’re talking about realism and weird outcomes with sim engines, it isn’t easy to define what that actually means. Results and player movement may not reflect reality, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re unrealistic in nature. In real life, we do see puzzling trades, bewildering awards and All-Star snubs, and teams that are surprisingly better or worse than expected. Some outcomes are unlikely, but weird things do happen practically every year in the NBA. With that being said, sim engines do produce some illogical and weird outcomes that are unrealistic and highly unlikely given the circumstances. Here are five examples that I’ve encountered.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K13 Retrospective

Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K13 Retrospective

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m taking a look back at NBA 2K13.

As a 90s kid who grew up with NBA Live, that series has been the focus of several of my retrospectives. In addition to Wayback Wednesday features, I’ve also covered every NBA Live as part of our 25th Anniversary celebrations. I haven’t celebrated NBA 2K’s milestones in the same way, mostly because while I do consider myself a fan of the series now, I don’t have the same nostalgia for and experience with it going right back to the beginning of my basketball gaming. Games like NBA 2K14 and even NBA 2K11 have only become some of my all-time favourites in retrospect.

However, there are NBA 2K titles that I’ve played enthusiastically from launch, and am nostalgic for. Indeed, this year marks the tenth anniversary of the first 2K title that I was hooked on from day one: NBA 2K13. While the cancellation of NBA Live 13 was another blow for EA Sports, it opened up an opportunity for me to expand my basketball gaming horizons, and Visual Concepts didn’t disappoint. Even putting aside my personal affinity for NBA 2K13, I believe it’s one of the strongest releases in the NBA 2K series. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Fixing & Enhancing Old Mods

Monday Tip-Off: Fixing & Enhancing Old Mods

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with a discussion of fixing and enhancing old mods.

It’s vital to know when to step back and stop working on a creative project. You may be familiar with the phrase “put down the brush”; the advice given to painters so that they can declare a piece finished, and avoid ruining it with unnecessary changes. The brush is quite literal there, but as a metaphor, it applies to any art or creative work. In video game and software design, it may take the form of “feature creep“. Just as extra brushstrokes can spoil a painting or stand in the way of its completion, a game or app can become bloated or delayed indefinitely if you don’t “put down the brush”.

The same goes for a creative endeavour that our community enjoys: modding. It’s all too easy for projects to be pushed back, or indeed never released, because we get hung up on minor details that aren’t a problem, or can be fixed later. It’s the reason why Version 1.0 doesn’t need to be the best and definitive version of a mod. To that point though, once the work is out there, we can always go back and try to fix a minor issue, or add further detail and content. This obviously happens quite often, but what about particularly old mods? Frankly, I’m all for it! Just because a mod is old and largely “finished”, there’s no harm in releasing new fixes and further enhancements.

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NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week: December 3rd, 2022

NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week

Get ready for more fantastic highlights from the basketball gaming community in the NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week, curated by Dee4Three! New and old games alike are featured in this celebration of spectacular moments on the virtual hardwood. To submit your clips, post them in this topic, or hit up Dee on Twitter.

Dee promised that this week’s NLSC Top 10 Plays would be a treat, and I’d suggest it’s fair to say that the countdown delivered! We’ve got gamers digging deep into the archives to find circus shots, classic games still getting a run, and an assortment of incredible passes and spectacular finishes across a variety of modes and titles. To that point, five different games are featured this week, ranging from NBA Live 96 through to NBA 2K23. I think Dee put it best when he called this week’s countdown a backboard shattering good time!

What was your favourite highlight this week? Sound off in the comments below, and once again, get in on the fun by sending us your best plays! Remember, as long as it’s a basketball game, it’s eligible for the countdown. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to us on YouTube for more basketball gaming videos.

The Friday Five: 5 Roster Oddities in Basketball Games (Part 2)

The Friday Five: 5 Roster Oddities in Basketball Games (Part 2)

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is a list of five more roster oddities in various basketball games.

I’m always trying to brainstorm interesting ideas for my weekly features, and while that’s obviously a good idea, the downside is that as new topics come to mind, others get pushed aside. This is a follow-up to a Friday Five that I published way back in 2017, and considering how many other sequel articles I’ve written since then, it’s definitely overdue! On the plus side, letting the topic breathe (and then some) has allowed me to revisit other games, and discover examples that I might not have thought of had I written Part 2 closer to Part 1!

With that being said…roster oddities! There have been a number of interesting and quirky ones over the years, sometimes due to oversight, other times due to a game’s rosters capturing a very specific moment in time. In the first instalment, I covered Clyde Drexler coming off the bench in NBA Live 95 PC, oddities with M. Williams in NBA Live 09 PS2’s rosters, Brad Daugherty’s extended NBA career on the virtual hardwood, Kobe Bryant’s premature prominence in the first NBA Courtside, and the weirdness of roster editing functionality in NBA Full Court Press. In that same vein, here are five more examples of roster oddities that you may or may not remember.

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Wayback Wednesday: Revisiting the NBA Live 95 Rosters

Wayback Wednesday: Revisiting the NBA Live 95 Rosters

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m taking a look back at the rosters in both versions of NBA Live 95.

The interactive almanac aspect of basketball video games doesn’t begin years later when we start going wayback. Sure, that’s when we’re reminded of strange stints, forgotten returns, and other roster trivia. However, from the moment a basketball game becomes one of our favourites and we spend countless hours with it, its rosters are intertwined with our fond memories on the virtual hardwood. We remember the players on the team that we played with most often, as well as the players on the opposing squads that we faced in our most memorable, challenging, and epic games.

Those memories come flooding back when we revisit a title. However, depending on whether you spent time with the PC or console version of NBA Live 95 – or indeed, if you played both – you’ll recall two very different rosters. While the console version of NBA Live 95 featured final 1993-1994 season rosters, the PC release was updated to include the Class of 1994 rookies, as well as player movement accurate as of February 1995. As such, each captures its own snapshot of a memorable era in NBA history. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: I Still Can’t Put NBA 2K14 MyCAREER Aside

Monday Tip-Off: I Still Can't Put NBA 2K14 MyCAREER Aside

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some reflections on how it’s been impossible to put NBA 2K14 MyCAREER aside for very long.

We’re approaching the tenth anniversary of NBA 2K14’s release. Not only was the PC version one of the most well-received and heavily-modded games in our community, but the PlayStation 4/Xbox One version was one of the most impressive launch titles in basketball gaming history. Of course, NBA 2K14 hasn’t been a frequent part of my rotation for the last ten years. As I’ve discussed in several articles and on the NLSC Podcast, sourness towards the brand and some iffy first impressions turned me off the game for years. Revisiting it on a whim in 2021 completely changed my mind!

Despite my burnout on MyCAREER, revisiting an earlier iteration of the mode in NBA 2K14 reminded me of why I was drawn to the career experience in the first place. When NBA 2K21 and NBA 2K22 failed to hold my attention, playing through multiple seasons in NBA 2K14 MyCAREER became a staple of my gaming habits for over a year. I put the game aside when NBA 2K23 came out, wanting to give the new release my full attention and a fair chance. Although I’ve enjoyed NBA 2K23 far more than its immediate predecessors and it remains in my rotation, so does NBA 2K14. Even if I’m not playing it every day, it isn’t long before I fire it up again.

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The Sunday Substitute: The MyPLAYER Transaction Report (Part 3)

My player on a Gatorade billboard.

Welcome once again to The Sunday Substitute! It’s the series that was gaining splinters on the bench, but after three appearances in a row, could be considered part of The NLSC rotation. In this edition, we’ll continue with Part 3 of The MyPLAYER Transaction Report.

The MyPLAYER Transaction Report is where I detail my single-player career experiences from NBA 2K10 to NBA 2K23, with a few NBA Live games in between. I aim to play at least one game for all 30 NBA teams.

In Part 3, I will mention the remaining three MyCAREER players on my Worst to Best list, plus my campaign in The One from NBA Live 19. At this point, I would like to shout out Chris Smoove. His video helped me piece together the story behind my Lakers stint.

Speaking of the Lakers, the City of Angels is where we begin this transaction report. Yes, even my least favourite teams get my services at some point.

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NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week: November 26th, 2022

NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week

Get ready for more fantastic highlights from the basketball gaming community in the NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week, curated by Dee4Three! New and old games alike are featured in this celebration of spectacular moments on the virtual hardwood. To submit your clips, post them in this topic, or hit up Dee on Twitter.

Every week, the NLSC Top 10 Plays provides ten great examples of how there are so many ways to enjoy basketball video games, whether it’s the latest release or an old favourite. This week, you’ll find Kobe Bryant throwing it down in his namesake MyNBA Era, fantasy squads making moves in MyTEAM, Street Legends colliding with NBA stars, and an incredible showing in the slam dunk contest. Whatever the game, mode, or rosters, the result will always be an action-packed countdown of poster dunks, big defensive plays, and flashy moves.

What was your favourite highlight this week? Sound off in the comments below, and once again, get in on the fun by sending us your best plays! Remember, as long as it’s a basketball game, it’s eligible for the countdown. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to us on YouTube for more basketball gaming videos.

The Friday Five: 5 Reasons to Play Older Basketball Games

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is a list of five reasons to play older basketball games instead of, or in addition to, their newer counterparts.

Nostalgia gets a bad rap these days. I can understand why, as I’m sure it’s frustrating for younger people to keep hearing about everything being better back in the day (you have no idea how old I feel when I say that). Of course, films, shows, and yes, video games of yesteryear, weren’t perfect. With video games in particular, technological advancements have resulted in significant improvements since the early days of the medium. Unfortunately, that’s also brought recurrent revenue opportunities that interfere with design, prioritising earning power over gamer enjoyment.

There are plenty of reasons, and certainly a ton of pressure, to move on and play the latest NBA 2K. In the best case scenario, a new release is another worthy addition to the series, and one that will keep you entertained for the next year. Unfortunately, when it comes to annual sim basketball games, not every release is better than the last. That streak was broken a long time ago for NBA 2K, and even earlier with NBA Live before that. It’s just the way it goes. A new idea or change in engine doesn’t pan out, or a game is tainted by aggressive microtransactions. You may be left wishing you were playing an old favourite, and why not? Here are five reasons to play older titles.

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