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The Friday Five: 5 Odd Aspects of 2K’s Early Career Modes

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 aspects of NBA 2K’s early career modes that look odd in retrospect.

TV Tropes enthusiasts will no doubt be familiar with the term “Early Installment Weirdness“. To quote the laconic definition, it refers the phenomenon of “first releases of franchises that include very surprising differences in specific tropes or even the absence of a trope that later became predominant in that work”. To put it another way, the first season of a TV show or the early titles in a video game series may have elements that were changed or phased out, retroactively making them look very strange and out of place compared to what came afterwards.

Being a genre that has evolved over a number of years and generations of hardware, basketball games are no exception. Certain controls and gameplay mechanics, and even features of the staple game modes, have drastically changed as concepts have evolved and technology has improved. Of course, less pleasing developments such as the introduction of microtransactions have also fuelled changes that leave us wishing we could go back to the old days, and the old ways. The single player career mode in NBA 2K – originally called My Player, now branded MyCAREER – features some prime examples of aspects that now seem quite odd. Let’s take a look at five of them!

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Wayback Wednesday: 10 Longevity Records in Basketball Games

Wayback Wednesday: 10 Longevity Records in Basketball Games

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 ten longevity records players have set on the virtual hardwood.

With the Atlanta Hawks’ 2020 season officially over, Vince Carter has officially retired after 22 seasons in the league. The player once dubbed Half-Man, Half-Amazing, has certainly had a wholly amazing career. Beyond his breathtaking dunks, 360 layups, and other highlights, Carter set new marks for longevity, not only by playing the most seasons in NBA history, but also becoming the first player to appear in four different decades. Not bad for a player who briefly gained a reputation – albeit one that was somewhat overblown – for being fragile and constantly injured!

Needless to say, Vince Carter’s lengthy NBA career has set a few records in video games as well. However, he’s not the only player who holds some longevity-based distinctions on the virtual hardwood. I ran through these in Episode #329 of the NLSC Podcast, but I know that audio content isn’t for everyone, and it pays to have trivia like this written down as well. These records span many years of basketball gaming, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: 3v3 Pro-Am in NBA 2K20 is…FUN?!?

Monday Tip-Off: 3v3 Pro-Am in NBA 2K20 is...FUN?!?

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 some thoughts on how 3v3 Pro-Am in NBA 2K20 has been…dare I say it…fun.

I’ve been critical of the lack of proper matchmaking and new restrictions on 5v5 Pro-Am since the latter was introduced in NBA 2K19. Last week, I noted that it took all three of our teammates quitting for Kenny and I to have one of the best games we’ve ever had in The Rec. I’m on record declaring that NBA 2K’s online experience is in really rough shape, regardless of its general popularity and engagement numbers. Despite some fun games here and there, I stand by that as being the case on the whole. There are many improvements that could be made to online play in NBA 2K.

However, I have found an online mode in NBA 2K20 that has been fun more often than not. So fun in fact, I’ve titled this article like a clickbait YouTube video. The NLSC squad hasn’t had a 5v5 Pro-Am game this year as we haven’t had the numbers, but on a few occasions we have been able to get three of us together. Normally in that situation we’d head to The Rec, where it’s a little easier to control things when you account for more than half of the team, or maybe The Playground, but not so much this year. Instead, we’ve given 3v3 Pro-Am a try, and I’d have to say that it may be the most consistently fun online mode in NBA 2K20.

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The Friday Five: 5 Mods That Might Make a Comeback

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 mods that might just be making a comeback.

It’s funny how modding trends have changed over the years. I remember the days when we were very limited in what we could do with the early NBA Live games, but still made the most of the tools at our disposal. By the end of NBA Live’s run on PC, we’d created a wide variety of impressive projects as a community. When we took up NBA 2K modding after the series arrived on PC, we found ourselves back at square one for a time. Fortunately, new tools were made, new techniques were discovered, and great works have followed, spanning two generations of PC ports.

There are some mods that we don’t see as much of anymore, for various reasons. Times change, tastes change, and certain things are either no longer possible, or not as easy as they used to be. With that said, as times change, some things end up coming back into style. What’s old is new again, as the saying goes, and I believe there are some mods that might end up making a comeback in the near future. Perhaps I’m wide of the mark on these predictions; I may be putting too much stock into some recent releases, or I may be projecting because I find these ideas intriguing. All the same, I’d like to put the ideas out there. If these mods do make a comeback, so much the better!

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Wayback Wednesday: The Joy of Boot Disks

Wayback Wednesday: The Joy of Boot Disks

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 use of boot disks to play games on PC, in particular NBA Live 96.

Oh, I’m going wayback for this one! Way back to a time long before I worked in IT and could easily troubleshoot PC problems. Back to a time when my understanding of hardware and software was pretty decent for a ten or eleven year old, but certainly nowhere close to what it is today. We’re going back to a time when floppy disks were actually a thing, and not just an antiquated image used for the Save icon. It’s an era when computers were less powerful than the smartphones we now all carry around in our pockets, and weren’t always built for heavy duty gaming.

Today, we’re talking about boot disks. These days, boot media – generally in the form of a flash drive, as even optical discs are becoming outmoded – is still around, and is often used for installing and troubleshooting operating systems such as Windows. Back in the 90s, however, they were a way of getting games to run. Indeed, if your PC was getting a bit long in the tooth and the game was particularly demanding – at least by the standards of the time – boot disks were often the only way you’d get to play them. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Thank You, Rec Quitters!

Monday Tip-Off: Thank You, Rec Quitters!

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 thank you to the Rec quitters that left Kenny and I to play 2-on-5 in a game last Saturday.

Because The Rec can be very hit and miss when it comes to having fun and playing a good game of virtual basketball, I’ve played much less of it this year. It’s a bit more enjoyable when you head there with a friend or two, but with three fifths of our regular NLSC squad understandably skipping NBA 2K20 after being disappointed with NBA 2K19, most of the times I’ve ventured into The Rec, I’ve gone there solo. Kenny and I have hopped on for a few sessions together though, and while there’s been frustration, we’ve at least been able to work (and commiserate) together.

That’s what we did last Saturday. Both of us were having a quiet evening at home – kind of the way it goes with the current pandemic, after all – so I hit him up about jumping on for a game or two. The first game was a frustrating overtime loss that we really shouldn’t have been in a position to win, yet could’ve if not for poor decision-making and clock management by our teammates. Thanks to some mic trouble, we also weren’t able to chat during that contest. After resolving that issue, we decided to play one more game, in which our three teammates all quit in the first quarter after we fell behind 15-5. As I said, I’d like to send out a thank you to those Rec quitters.

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The Friday Five: 5 Best NBA CAPs in NBA 2K20’s Neighborhood

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 of the best NBA CAPs I’ve seen in NBA 2K20’s Neighborhood.

Since the introduction of Park, 2K Pro-Am, and ultimately The Neighborhood, it’s been interesting to see what kind of players people create. I don’t mean their build or Archetype, though that’s obviously an interesting discussion as well. I’m talking about the appearance gamers choose for their MyPLAYERs. Whether it’s through the face scanning capabilities or expanded face creation tools, we’re invited to insert ourselves into the game. While a number of gamers do indeed choose to do this, it seems that many prefer to create an original avatar, or in some cases, run with an NBA lookalike.

I would suggest that most gamers choose custom faces and NBA CAPs for the same reason that I gave up on face scans: the functionality is cumbersome, buggy, and takes too long to inform you that a scan has failed. Even when a scan has been successful according to the app, the game will often inform you that there’s a problem, with the condescending error message “try again and play close attention to the instructions”; instructions, mind you, that along with any troubleshooting info, do not exist. It’s no wonder people prefer to role play as a goofy avatar, or as an NBA player. Some of the NBA CAPs are quite good, with these five ranking among the best I’ve seen so far.

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Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places (Part 3)

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places (Part 3)

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 even more NBA players who became familiar faces in strange places, and those stints in video games.

It’s time to once again look back at the various stints of NBA players that we may have forgotten, or at least don’t think about too often. We expect to see role players bounce around the league, as teams seek out their services to bolster their rosters. Although it’s getting more and more common to see perennial All-Stars changing teams in their prime as well as late in their careers, it’s still often a surprise, and seeing them in their new uniform takes some time to get used to. Funnily enough, photos of them wearing their old jersey eventually seem like the stranger image!

As I’ve noted before, in addition to photos, footage, and records in resources such as Basketball Reference, we’ve got another way of documenting familiar faces in strange places: video games. Fire up an old video game, and you’re bound to see at least a few players on teams you don’t remember them playing for, including some big names who were in the midst of a less memorable stint than one that usually comes to mind. I’ve got another ten examples to share today, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: We DO Give a Damn ‘Bout a Bad MyREP System

Monday Tip-Off: We DO Give a Damn 'Bout a Bad MyREP System

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 some thoughts on the importance of fixing MyREP, not just in terms of its rewards system, but also allowing it to carry over year-to-year.

Keeping an annually-released basketball game fresh in a way that satisfies its toughest critics – the hardcore hoops gamers – is easier said than done. Take a ranking and rewards system such as MyREP, for example. If it’s the same year after year, we’re prone to complain about it being too stale and familiar. If it changes, there’s bound to be a lot of people who preferred the old system, as well as those that were open to a change, but aren’t feeling the new approach. There’s also the issue of having to start over from scratch every year; a common complaint in general these days.

I want to talk about both of those issues related to MyREP: its use as both a reward and matchmaking system, and the concept of being able to carry over rep from the previous game. It’s something I’d like to see NBA 2K get right as we enter a new generation with online basketball gaming as popular as it’s ever been, yet also in rough shape. Because of its effects on features and the online experience, it’s more than a cosmetic badge. We have good reason to give a damn about a bad MyREP system. Yes, that is a reference to “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, and indeed, I’m keeping the musical motif going as I wax lyrical about this matter.

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The Friday Five: 5 Outdated Details in Basketball Games (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 outdated details in basketball games.

Developers tend to do a great job of updating basketball video games for the season they’re set in. As I noted in my previous Friday Five covering this topic, they have the benefit of being sent updated artwork from the NBA, so they’re able to account for branding changes that aren’t yet officially announced. To that end, apart from missing transactions that occur after the cut-off date, and the absence of rookies and other players who haven’t signed in time, most games don’t have too many outdated details. These days, official updates are also far more comprehensive.

With that being said, sometimes games end up shipping with a variety of outdated details. Perhaps a change was announced too late for it to be included, and in the case of older games especially, it may not be something that can be patched. Oversights happen, and inaccuracies can be caused by strange circumstances. I’ve come up with another five examples, which I’m sharing with you all today. Please note that once again, I’m avoiding the obvious examples related to cut-off dates or the old practice of releasing games with a previous season’s roster, and only noting things that were or became outdated details when a game was new and current. Let’s begin with…

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Wayback Wednesday: The Unbelievable Starting Five

Wayback Wednesday: The Unbelievable Starting Five

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 going back to NBA Live 2001 to play with the “unbelievable” starting five that was posted in our original Forum many years ago.

There aren’t too many members of our original Forum who are still active, so the legacy and impact of the infamous “I Cannot Believe My Starting Five” thread may not resonate with a lot of people in our community today. I’ve covered it in-depth in a previous Wayback Wednesday retrospective, and mentioned it as one of the most bizarre moments in the history of our Forum, but the short version is as follows. A member by the name of A.L. made a post describing a lineup they’d put together in NBA Live 2001’s Franchise mode, which included Kevin Garnett at point guard.

A.L.’s insistence that point guard was KG’s “natural position” unfortunately derailed an interesting discussion about fantasy draft and trade logic, as well as experimenting with a fun idea for an unorthodox lineup, before it even began. The thread quickly turned into a catch-all for jokes and general banter, and became the first thread in the old Forum to surpass one thousand posts. However, as much fun as it was to take part in, it’s extremely unfortunate that A.L. felt unwelcome due to the way his post was received. Furthermore, it’s a creative idea that’s at least worth messing around with, so that’s what I’m going to do at long last. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: A New Big Man on Campus

Monday Tip-Off: A New Big Man on Campus

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 recap of my experiences playing as a big man in The Rec, after years of assuming the role of a playmaking point guard.

I documented my experiences trying out a big man build that was similar to the way I played in my local league as a teenager many years ago, in a previous article that I titled MyPLAYER in the Middle. As I noted in that feature, playing as a big man after years of MyCAREER games as a point guard felt very strange and quite frustrating at times. It was, as you would expect, a major adjustment with such a drastic change in role, to say nothing of going back to being a 60 Overall after maxing out my point guard build at 99.9 Overall. At the same time, it was an interesting experience.

Of course, playing online is a whole different brand of virtual basketball, and I was curious to see how it compared to my experiences as a point guard. I’ve often heard that it’s easier to get games in The Rec as a big man, as they tend to be in higher demand due to a majority of gamers opting for point guard and wing builds. Having played several Rec games with guard-heavy squads, and sometimes struggling to get games because of people quitting to avoid that scenario, I was hopeful that that would hold true for my alternate build. As far as the quality of the on-court experience was concerned…well, I figured The Rec would always be The Rec, but it was worth a try.

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The Friday Five: 5 Funny Basketball Game Commentary Moments

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 funny moments in the commentary of various basketball games.

Commentary is an important part of presentation in basketball video games (and most sports games, for that matter). When it’s done well, it adds to a feeling of authenticity, helping to create the illusion that you’re watching a real game. It’s an area of sports video games that has greatly improved over the years, with more lines of dialogue, better reaction logic, and other enhancements thanks to improved technology. At the same time, it can still get rather repetitive after a while, and so there are many gamers who prefer to play basketball games with the commentary turned off.

There’s nothing wrong with that, and in fact, switching off commentary actually adds a certain amount of realism and immersion in career modes, where you obviously wouldn’t be able to hear the commentators while on the court. However, if you do turn off the commentary, you can miss out on some funny moments. From witty lines and Easter eggs to the occasional mistake left in by accident, there are some very amusing gems. I can’t recall anything quite as hilariously bad and sloppy as the outtakes that were left in the DLC for WWE 2K17, but the virtual hardwood has still provided us with some funny moments from the people calling the action.

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Wayback Wednesday: The Saga of DJ in NBA 2K18

Wayback Wednesday: The Saga of DJ in 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 the saga of DJ, as told by the MyCAREER story in NBA 2K18.

I know, I know. I’ve talked about the story in NBA 2K18’s MyCAREER a lot, from running jokes on the NLSC Podcast to discussing my issues with it as part of my article on the game’s legacy. However, there’s something really fascinating about it; if nothing else, it provides so many examples of what not to do with the story-driven approach to MyCAREER. Since I’ve already taken a look back at “Livin’ Da Dream” and the tale of Orange Juice, and will no doubt reflect on the stories of AI and Che at some point, it’s only fair to give DJ one more moment in the spotlight.

There’s another reason why it’s worth looking back at NBA 2K18’s MyCAREER story featuring DJ. With the servers being shut down earlier this year, it’s no longer possible to play a connected MyCAREER save, and unlike in previous games, that renders the story completely inaccessible. For better or worse – and spoiler alert, but I’d definitely say it was for the worse – the saga of DJ proved to be a turning point for the mode. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: The Changing Face of NBA 2K

Monday Tip-Off: The Changing Face of NBA 2K

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 some thoughts on the changing face and identity of the NBA 2K series in recent years.

Back in early May, I noticed a Tweet from Brian Mazique, in which he responded to the suggestion that NBA Live should be free to play as a way to win people back as they try to return to prominence. He described NBA Live as being irrelevant, noting that when it comes to NBA 2K, Visual Concepts and Take-Two are looking at games like Fortnite and Call of Duty as the competition and sources of ideas for engagement. It may sound harsh, and there are a lot of people who want to see NBA Live succeed and would be willing to make the switch if it did, but it’s an apt statement.

In fact, it’s apt on two counts. Gaining relevance and market share is obviously one of the challenges facing NBA Live, and that’s something I’ve previously discussed here in Monday Tip-Off. However, Brian is also quite right that with NBA 2K becoming a fixture in pop culture, and in some ways transcending its genre, its peers are popular games like Fortnite and the Call of Duty series. That’s a great position for NBA 2K to be in, but it’s also a troubling one for enthusiastic hoop heads. To state the obvious, those games are not basketball titles, whereas NBA 2K is. Competing with and borrowing from those games has resulted in a changing face and identity for NBA 2K.

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