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Monday Tip-Off: Not Worth an Angry Rant

Monday Tip-Off: Not Worth an Angry Rant

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 my reflections on how a frustrating gaming session isn’t worth an angry rant.

I had a rough session in The Rec last Friday. In fact, that’s been a trend whenever I’ve felt like jumping online as of late, but this was a particularly bad outing. It was the kind of unpleasant experience we talked about a lot on the NLSC Podcast, until it occurred to us how often we were repeating ourselves, and that it was getting as dull to talk about as I’m sure it was to listen to. Nevertheless, after I was done, I was all ready to have an angry rant about it. I figured a vicious spray on Twitter might be a fitting prelude to an article in which I’d elaborate upon my displeasure.

Except, I didn’t go on that angry rant on Twitter, and I didn’t write a similarly furious article. I cleansed my palate with a game in The Cages – one I didn’t care about and only played to farm the Daily Bonus VC – and then I put the game aside. Funnily enough, I found myself recalling a line from Dinotopia, a book I haven’t read in many years: “Breathe Deep, Seek Peace”. And so, that’s what I did. My thoughts on my recent experiences in The Rec and the criticisms I have of NBA 2K’s online scene haven’t changed. It’s just that expressing them via the angry rant that I was composing in my head simply wasn’t worth the time and effort to post.

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The Friday Five: 5 Terribly Named 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 list of five terribly named basketball games.

Since nothing is classier or more cultured than Shakespeare, I’ll pull a quote from one of The Bard’s most famous works, Romeo and Juliet: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” This famous quotation, often paraphrased as “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, is a metaphor which illustrates that a name doesn’t affect the nature or quality of the thing that it belongs to. Just like the idiom “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, it reminds us that superficial details aren’t everything, and that we shouldn’t make snap judgements based on them.

Of course, as The Simpsons once argued, roses wouldn’t be nearly as alluring if they were called stench blossoms or crap weed, and candy would likely be off-putting if it were called scum drops. The point is that while names aren’t always indicative or as important as we make them out to be, they do play a role in our initial impression of whatever it is they’re attached to. Even when we get past those impressions, a bad name can still stand out as an unfortunate attribute of an otherwise appealing thing. That goes for basketball video games, and there have been some terribly named ones over the years. Here are five examples that stand out to me.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K10 Draft Combine

Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K10 Draft Combine

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 NBA 2K10 Draft Combine.

Our journey to the league in NBA 2K’s career modes has taken many forms. We’ve played in Rookie Showcase games, guided Freq from high school through to the pros, experienced a college career with Pres, and took a long road through China and the G League as AI. We’ve even made it to the NBA after leaving basketball behind to be a DJ, and then drawing attention in a streetball tournament. The Draft Combine has been featured in a couple of stories (including NBA 2K20’s tale), serving as another way to prove ourselves on the virtual hardwood and raise our Draft stock.

In the very first iteration of career mode – then called My Player – the combine was the starting point for the whole experience, tipping things off before the full game was even released. The NBA 2K10 Draft Combine offered gamers a sneak peek at the mode as well as an opportunity to get a head start, though only on console. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: What Toxic Rec Players Don’t Understand

Monday Tip-Off: What Toxic Rec Players Don't Understand

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 an open letter to toxic players in The Rec, explaining a few things that they clearly don’t understand.

You might think that my week in The Rec would’ve discouraged me from playing the mode. Well, it’s certainly dissuaded me from jumping on every single night, but I will venture in there from time to time. I’ve actually had a few satisfying sessions, usually only playing one game before jumping off again. A game takes about half an hour, which is a good distraction if I haven’t been able to do any other cardio and want to get on my stationary bike. Of course, there have also been some frustrating sessions, particularly the one from last Tuesday which inspired this article.

Consider this an open letter, not only to the toxic Rec players I was squadded up with the other night, but anyone else who doesn’t understand how online team play works. Consider this a list of things not to do, and things that you should do instead. Consider this a critique of the online scene, and yet another argument as to why team Pro-Am should be as open to everyone as it used to be. And yes, consider this me using my platform here at the NLSC to blow off some steam after a ghastly game that made me far less likely to want to play in The Rec. These are the things that toxic Rec players don’t understand, and I’m going to break them down. Fair warning, it’s quite a lot.

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: Q&A with Dave Warfield

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: Q&A with Dave Warfield

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! Today, it’s an interview with Dave Warfield, who worked on the series from NBA Live 95 through NBA Live 98.

In addition to joining me on the NLSC Podcast to talk about NBA Live as we celebrate the series’ 25th Anniversary, former Lead Programmer Rod Reddekopp was kind enough to put me in touch with some other people who worked on the game in the early days. I’m looking forward to chatting to them about the history of the series, and we’re beginning those conversations today with a Q&A with Dave Warfield. As I noted, Dave worked on the series from NBA Live 95 through NBA Live 98, focusing on the menus and the games’ rosters. Read on for an insight into the development of classic NBA Live!

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The Friday Five: 5 Ideas That Were Better In Theory

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 in basketball games that I believe were better in theory.

Basketball video games – and sports games in general – are often accused of being little more than expensive annual roster updates. As my interview with former NBA Live programmer Rod Reddekopp revealed though, even in the early days, a lot of code had to be rewritten and updated every year. Unless there are significant and noticeable changes in the modes, graphics, or gameplay however, it’s quite likely that we won’t appreciate all that work. On top of that, each new game needs some kind of hook, a fancy selling point that can be promoted in previews and on the back cover.

From our point of view, we want basketball games to keep getting better and add new content, and that means exploring new ideas. Whether it’s a change to the controls or a new gameplay mechanic, improved presentation and details, a new or enhanced mode, or additional historical content, we always want to see freshness and innovation. Our Wishlists show that we have plenty of ideas of our own that we’d like to see added in future games, and developers also have their own roadmap. The problem is that not all ideas pan out, no matter how creative and promising they once seemed. Ideas like the ones I’m talking about today were good in theory, but not in execution.

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Wayback Wednesday: Players I Remember Because of Video Games (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 another selection of players that I remember primarily because of video games.

In a couple of previous Wayback Wednesday features, I recalled some of the players that stick in my mind in large part thanks to basketball gaming. Making roster updates for NBA Live is unquestionably a factor here, as I ended up spending a lot of time looking at names, researching players to create them and edit their ratings, or simply moving them around from team to team. After I stopped making rosters, I found that I was far less familiar with players at the end of the bench, and even some of the lesser-known rotation players on basement teams.

That’s led to me being able to remember benchwarmers and other somewhat obscure players from the 90s and 2000s much easier than I can name certain current players. I expect that will change somewhat now that my current roster update for NBA 2K11 is taking shape, but growing up with basketball games has embedded a number of role players from yesteryear in my memory. I figured this would become an ongoing series when I posted the first article last year, and indeed, I have another list to share with you all today. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Axing MyCAREER Stories & The Neighborhood

Monday Tip-Off: Axing MyCAREER Stories & The Neighborhood

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 Visual Concepts is unlikely to return to the old style of MyCAREER, axing both The Neighborhood and stories in future NBA 2K releases.

There’s a rather poignant analogy in Fallout 3, courtesy of Moira Brown. Discussing the post-apocalyptic world and her pet project (and the Lone Wanderer’s quest) of compiling the Wasteland Survival Guide, she compares the situation to putting broken glass back together. She notes that it’ll never be whole in the same way it used to be, but you can use the pieces to make something else, like a mosaic. As an analogy, it’s a good way of describing the inability to go back to the way things used to be, but still making the best of the situation and building something new.

We can apply this metaphor to two concepts in NBA 2K’s MyCAREER: the story-driven approach, and the game world of The Neighborhood. At this point they’re established staples of MyCAREER, but they aren’t universally liked. That’s not unusual, of course; you can’t please everyone in everything that you do. However, those two concepts do present some recurring problems, and frustration with them has been building since they were introduced. It seems that a lot of gamers would prefer MyCAREER to return to the way it used to be, but again, axing those features seems highly unlikely. Calling back to Moira Brown’s analogy, has the glass been broken?

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The Friday Five: 5 Best Things in 5 of My Least Favourite 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 list of the five best things in five of my least favourite basketball video games.

Some Friday Five topics end up being an ongoing, open-ended series, while others are covered as a two-part series, back-to-back. This is an example of the latter. Last week, I talked about five of the worst things found in five of my all-time favourite basketball games. The obvious sequel to that feature is a list of the five best aspects in five of my all-time least favourite hoops titles. I’ve also realised that I wrote a couple of similar Friday Five features going on five years ago, but these lists are more personal, and of course, new games have come out and I’ve remembered other things since then.

Just as the best basketball games that become our favourites have their flaws, games that we end up disliking usually have at least one or two good features or ideas. If nothing else, they’re concepts with potential that we’d like to see executed better, or indeed, implemented in a much better game. With any luck, these modes and features will stick around long enough to be enjoyed in a superior title, or be adapted and adopted by the competition, as the case may be. Unfortunately, some of them do fall by the wayside, and we never get to really enjoy them. Without any further ado, here are five of the best things in games that rank among my least favourite.

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Wayback Wednesday: Unlockable Jerseys in Basketball Games

Wayback Wednesday: Unlockable Jerseys 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 the practice of including unlockable jerseys in basketball video games.

I’ve previously covered throwback jerseys in basketball games, noting that their inclusion also marked the arrival of uniform selection options. Before the addition of jersey selection screens, teams with secondary road uniforms would wear them at random in exhibition play, or on Sundays in Season or Franchise modes. In the PC versions of NBA Live, we were also able to manipulate the files to switch them in and out, but it was far less cumbersome once we could easily choose which uniform we wanted a team to wear via an in-game option.

The ability to switch between a selection of alternate and retro jerseys for every team was (and is) a great feature. After NBA Live 2003 introduced the functionality, we were keen to see more content in NBA Live 2004 and beyond. New retro uniforms would indeed be added in future games, but the expanded selection also saw the introduction of unlockable jerseys. The concept has since fallen out of vogue, but for a while there, it was a standard feature in both NBA Live and NBA 2K. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Basketball Gaming Twitter

Monday Tip-Off: Basketball Gaming Twitter

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 basketball gaming Twitter.

A common online refrain is that social media is one of the best and worst things to happen to the Internet. Of course, that same statement is made of the Internet itself, in regards to society at large. There’s truth in both cases, as the Internet and social media in particular have allowed people with similar interests to connect with one another, but the interactions aren’t always pleasant. Twitter gives everyone a voice, but not everyone uses that voice wisely, or responsibly. As Owen Good once noted, there’s a difference between having an opinion, and having a point.

The basketball gaming community obviously has a presence on Twitter, serving as a connection between hoops gamers who frequent a variety of platforms, including our site and Forum, Operation Sports, Reddit, and various publications that cover video games. It’s therefore an effective way of keeping up to date with the latest news, as well as sharing content of your own. When it comes to discussion and feedback, in my observation, it’s a mixed bag. There are knowledgeable people who post good ideas and advocate for games to get better, and there are others who add very little of value to the conversation. Mind you, that’s usually how it goes with Twitter.

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The Friday Five: 5 Worst Things in 5 of My Favourite 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 list of the five worst things in five of my favourite basketball video games.

I’ve been playing basketball video games for many years now, and there are several titles that stand out as my favourites. I’m probably overdue to write an article where I rank them, either in Monday Tip-Off or as a multi-part Friday Five series. With over two decades’ worth of games, the arcade and sim subgenres, and more than one series among my favourites, a Top 5 wouldn’t be sufficient. I feel I’d end up making some very contrived selections in order to make the list of five as varied and interesting as possible, which wouldn’t necessarily allow it to be completely accurate and honest.

Obviously, games become our favourites because of their strong points. The titles we love the most are the ones that offer the best combinations of quality gameplay, deep modes, and memorable features. They’re the ones that we’ve spent hours upon hours with, creating many fond memories on the virtual hardwood. However, even the best games and the ones that rank as our personal favourites have their problems. It’s rare that there isn’t one thing that bugs us, one thing we can point to as being the worst aspect of a game that we otherwise hold dear. With that in mind, here are five of the worst things in five games that I’d rank among my personal all-time favourites.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2004’s Unusual Ratings

Wayback Wednesday: Unusual Ratings in 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 unusual ratings in NBA Live 2004.

As I noted in my in-depth retrospective of NBA Live 2004 for our 25th Anniversary of NBA Live celebrations, the game was a strong return to form after NBA Live 2003 was skewed in more of an arcade direction. It revamped the franchise experience into Dynasty mode, saw the addition of gameplay sliders, and introduced new player animations and physics with 10-Man Freestyle. It’s a fantastic game for its era, and tipped off a strong three year run for the series. I’d still rate it as one of my favourite games, and rank it among the best all-around NBA Live titles.

Of course, it does have a handful of issues. I’ve talked about some of the problems that occurred in the offseason of the new Dynasty mode, and mentioned a couple of other quirks in my retrospective. Something that a lot of gamers who played NBA Live 2004 will no doubt remember is the unusual ratings – specifically the Overall Ratings – for many of the players, past and present. As usual, there’s a story behind the oddity, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Rattling The Cages in The Neighborhood

Monday Tip-Off: Rattling The Cages in The Neighborhood

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 Cages – formerly branded as the Under Armour Cages – within The Neighborhood of NBA 2K’s MyCAREER.

I get the impression that The Cages in The Neighborhood are a love-them-or-hate-them aspect of MyCAREER in NBA 2K. Introduced in NBA 2K19, they provide an alternative to the streetball experience of The Playground. It’s not quite Slamball, but it’s a similar concept, being a rougher style of basketball involving trampolines. I have mixed feelings about The Cages, but as with any mode you’re not that interested in, it’s easy enough to simply ignore them and play something else. Not everything is going to appeal to everyone, after all.

Nevertheless, the concept of The Cages is an interesting one that’s worth a closer look. It stands as an example of creativity on 2K’s part, but also underscores one of the recurring problems with MyCAREER and its connected modes: too much focus on bells and whistles, or “flavour content”, over the core experience. The Cages are far from a vital part of the game, yet they’re not entirely unwelcome either. It’s a mode that could be better, but at the same time, it definitely shouldn’t be a priority. I’m not sure how popular it is, but it’s an aspect of MyCAREER that I haven’t really talked about much, so let’s delve into NBA 2K’s Slamball stand-in.

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The Friday Five: 5 Tips for NBA 2K20 MyTEAM

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 tips for NBA 2K20 MyTEAM.

It’s been my goal in NBA 2K20 to branch out from spending most of my time with MyCAREER and its connected online modes. I haven’t really sunk my teeth into MyLEAGUE yet, but I have played a decent amount of MyTEAM, on PlayStation 4 and PC. My lineup isn’t quite as impressive as it was in NBA 2K19, when a market crash allowed me to pick up Galaxy Opal cards at some ridiculously low prices, but I’m still liking the way my lineup is coming together. I’ve already got Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen on both platforms, which is immensely satisfying.

More to the point, I’ve been enjoying the mode. It’s refreshing to control the whole team after years of player locked gameplay, and there’s a good variety of submodes to keep me hooked on NBA 2K20 MyTEAM. In playing the mode, I’ve employed a few tactics to enjoy it to the fullest without having to spend any money to build my squad. So far it’s a case of mission accomplished, so I thought that I’d share some tips in this week’s Friday Five. It’s by no means a comprehensive guide to fun and success in NBA 2K20 MyTEAM, but as always, these articles are meant to start the discussion, not be the final word. With that being said, here are five things to keep in mind!

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