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Wayback Wednesday: DBF Files in NBA Live

NBA Live 08 Players DBF in DB Commander

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 DBF files in the PC versions of NBA Live.

Our community has produced several amazing mods over the years. We’ve been able to go from fairly basic roster updates to comprehensive total conversions, and a wide variety of tweaks and enhancements. Of course, some games have been easier to mod than others. The feasibility of modding a game generally comes down to the format and structure of the files; the easier they are to decode and manipulate, the easier it’s been to develop tools to edit them. At times, developers have gone out of their way to make this task easier. CustomArt is one such example, while DBF files are another.

In short, the adoption of DBF files greatly expanded what we were able to accomplish with roster editing in NBA Live. It’s easily one of the most important developments in the history of our modding community, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Double-Dipping With Basketball Games

Michael Jordan Card in MyTEAM (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 double-dipping with basketball games on multiple platforms.

As someone who grew up playing a variety of video games on both computers and consoles, I’ve never cared for PC vs Console wars. I’ve enjoyed the hobby on both platforms, with the benefits that they each provide. Whether I’ve played a game on PC or console depends on whether or not it’s available on all platforms, the hardware I’ve had at my disposal, and if multiplayer is involved, which platform my friends are on. Of course, there are some games that I’ve enjoyed so much that I ended up double-dipping and buying them on a second platform as well.

Needless to say, basketball games are among the titles I’ve double-dipped with. In fact, when it comes to NBA 2K, I’ve double-dipped in recent years with the PC and PlayStation 4 versions; the former for single player gameplay and modding, and the latter for online play with the other members of the NLSC squad. While it’s worked out for me, in particular helping out with content creation and news coverage, I have to admit that one version of the game has usually somewhat gone to waste. With the amount of time we can sink into basketball games these days, it’s difficult to get the most out of a title on two different platforms. This year, I’m trying to remedy that.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways NBA 2K Pushes Microtransactions

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 ways that NBA 2K pushes microtransactions on basketball gamers.

As much as I’ve criticised microtransactions in previous articles, I have to admit that I’m guilty of partaking in the practice. On some occasions, I’ve been more willing to drop some spare change on content because I’ve been enjoying the game so much. At other times, it’s been through gritted teeth because the grind has been so painful, and I’ve wanted to play online sooner rather than later. I’ve never broken my budget with microtransactions, but simply out of principle, this year it’s been my goal not to spend any real money on any form of virtual currency (in particular, Virtual Currency).

So far, I’ve made good on that resolution. The only VC that I didn’t earn in-game was the 5000 VC pre-order bonus for the standard edition of NBA 2K19. I’m currently 73 Overall, and I would have to say that grinding up the hard way has been a rewarding journey. It is most certainly a grind though, especially now that ratings upgrades are getting more expensive. You really notice how actively (and sometimes, aggressively) 2K pushes microtransactions when you’re trying to avoid them! Metaphorically, it’s gone from a gentle nudge to a firm hand shunting you in the small of your back. Here are five ways that NBA 2K games pressure us in the name of “recurrent revenue”.

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Wayback Wednesday: My NBA Live 06 Dynasty

NBA Live 06 Dynasty: Championship Celebration

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 my memorable NBA Live 06 Dynasty with the Chicago Bulls.

Even as the years have gone by and technology has allowed basketball video games to get better and better, we still have our all-time favourites from yesteryear. As I’ve said in previous Wayback Wednesday features, it can be a lot of fun to revisit old games – it’s one of the main reasons I do flashback content every week – but some of them do show their age, making it difficult to spend a lot of time with them. On the other hand, some games are easier to stick with or revisit time and time again, with their overall experience being just as satisfying years later.

For me, an example of such a game would be NBA Live 06 PC. The reason I’ve been able to dust it off time and time again is because I’ve kept the save file of one of my all-time favourite basketball gaming experiences, namely my Dynasty game with the Chicago Bulls. It’s a game that spawned not one but two Dynasty story topics, so I felt that it would only be appropriate to reminisce about it in a Wayback Wednesday article. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Addressing the Situation with 2K Pro-Am

The New 2K Pro-Am Squad Requirements amount to Gatekeeping (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 by addressing the situation with 2K Pro-Am in NBA 2K19.

As you may or may not be aware, a significant change has been made to 2K Pro-Am in NBA 2K19. Whether it’s organised squad games or the Jordan Rec Center – this year’s version of Walk-On – you need five users per side to start a game. In previous games, it was possible to play with at least three users per side, with the remaining spots being filled by AI players. This has made it more difficult for a lot of people to play a mode they’ve enjoyed in recent years. Our NLSC squad is in that boat, and so we’re among the people wanting to see the old functionality patched into the game.

However, not everyone is on board with that idea. 2K themselves haven’t made it a priority to address the situation, and there’s also been pushback from NBA 2K19 gamers. It’s admittedly hard to please everyone in this situation, but the change was myopic, while the pushback has highlighted some of the toxicity that sadly exists in the NBA 2K community. To that end, I’d like to address both Visual Concepts and the dissenting gamers in this week’s Monday Tip-Off. Call it an open letter, call it a rant; call it whining if you’re the close-minded and toxic type. It’s a situation that I believe must be addressed, and to that end, I’m stating the case for my side.

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The Friday Five: 5 Times Games Messed Up Player Appearances

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 lists five times that basketball games noticeably messed up player appearances.

Developing basketball games – or any video games, for that matter – is harder than a lot of people realise. It bears mentioning, as some gamers do go overboard in their criticism and suggest that making a flawless game is a simple task. In our modding community, we have a bad habit of denouncing the art teams in particular. It should be noted that it’s a lot easier to mod a finished game than it is to create one in the first place, and that individual modders aren’t under the same restrictions when it comes to spending a lot of time on a single player face, or other art assets.

With that being said, there are times when there have been notably unusual mistakes or unimpressive results, particularly when it comes to player appearances. I’m not just referring to player faces that don’t look as realistic as we’d like, though there certainly have been some noteworthy examples in that vein over the years. However, there are times when player appearances have been messed up in ways that go well beyond a cyberface that looks a little off. Be it an oversight in development, some kind of technical limitation, or another cause entirely, here are five times that we looked at a player in a hoops game and noticed that something definitely wasn’t quite right.

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Wayback Wednesday: Trivia in Basketball Games

Trivia in NBA 2K9

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 trivia in basketball games.

Wait a minute, I hear you saying. Don’t most of my Wayback Wednesday features concern trivia about basketball games, specifically titles that are at least a few years old? Well, yes, but this time, I’m talking about the way that basketball games have literally indulged in trivia, presenting gamers with questions that they can answer as well as listing interesting NBA facts. So yes, I am getting a little meta here, presenting some trivia about trivia in basketball games! After all, it’s something that has been featured in various titles over the years, dating way back to the mid 90s.

It may seem like an unusual feature to focus upon, but I do believe that it’s part of the nostalgia for some beloved favourites. It’s also a concept that has evolved over time, and come to be used for more practical and tangible purposes. With that being said, let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: The In-Universe Value of VC (NBA 2K19 Edition)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a look at the in-universe value of VC in NBA 2K19’s Neighborhood.

Last year, I calculated the in-universe value of Virtual Currency in NBA 2K18’s new open world, The Neighborhood. I noted that most consumables and clothing cost as much as a single game’s base salary for your MyPLAYER (if not more), which was already stretching reality. Converting VC to real dollars via the salary that’s listed on our MyPLAYER’s bio card determined that 1 VC was equivalent to around $29. This meant that in-universe, a basic t-shirt cost over $17,000, while a headband would set you back a whopping $29,000. That’s some serious sales tax!

In NBA 2K19, VC rewards were increased slightly. It’s possible to negotiate a higher first year salary upon completing The Prelude, incentive-based bonuses come along quite early in your career, and there are other ways of earning some extra VC. The catch is that upgrades are still quite expensive, as are clothing items. In other words, it’s been more of a case of inflation rather than parity. With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to make the same conversions and determine the in-universe value of Virtual Currency in NBA 2K19 as well. Are the prices just as ridiculous when you put a real dollar value on them this year?

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The Friday Five: 5 Games That Felt Like Backwards Steps

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five basketball games that felt like backwards steps following their predecessors.

Ideally, each release in an annual basketball game series should improve upon the title that came before it (and indeed, all previous games in its lineage). That’s not always feasible, and missteps will happen from time to time when new ideas and technology don’t pan out as intended, so it’s always welcome when a new release is able to build upon the success of its predecessor or bounce back after a disappointing game. I feel that this is a good year for basketball games, with NBA Live 19 continuing a steady improvement for NBA Live, and NBA 2K19 addressing many of NBA 2K18’s issues.

We’re not always so lucky. As much as sports games are often criticised for seemingly releasing the same game every year with new art and rosters, there are times when a new title leaves us wishing that that was indeed the case. It’s impossible to live up to everyone’s expectations, and whether or not certain changes are for better or worse is often subjective, but there have been basketball games that were definite backwards steps for one reason or another. Let’s take a look at five prominent examples and the ways in which they can be considered backwards steps when compared to the games that came before them.

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Wayback Wednesday: Ultimate Team in NBA Live 14

NBA Live Ultimate Team Logo (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 Ultimate Team in NBA Live 14.

The concept of Ultimate Team actually originated in EA Sports’ UEFA Champions League 2006-2007, released for the Xbox 360. It didn’t debut in the FIFA series until FIFA 09, launching in March 2009 as paid downloadable content. Other games in the EA Sports lineup began adopting their own versions of Ultimate Team, with Madden adding the mode as free DLC for Madden 10 in January 2010, and NHL 11 including it at launch. It has since become a staple game mode in EA Sports games, alongside the various franchise and career experiences.

However, with the NBA Live series being derailed by the attempted revamping and rebranding with NBA Elite 11, it wouldn’t be until the release of NBA Live 14 that we finally saw Live Ultimate Team. It was reasonably solid upon its debut, and while it hasn’t been greatly expanded upon in subsequent games, it remains a mode with a lot of potential. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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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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