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Monday Tip-Off: Returning to Ultimate Team in NBA Live 18

LeBron James on the Bulls in Ultimate Team (NBA Live 18)

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 as I finally get stuck into Ultimate Team in NBA Live 18.

Since the reboot of the series with NBA Live 14, Ultimate Team has arguably been my favourite game mode. There are a couple of reasons for that. First of all, the franchise modes in the last few NBA Live games haven’t been as deep as I’d like, which limits their appeal. Having dedicated a lot of time to MyCAREER and 2K Pro-Am in recent NBA 2K games, I also haven’t felt inclined to double up with the career modes in NBA Live. Second, upon trying out Ultimate Team, I found the concept more appealing than I ever thought I would. As someone who collected basketball trading cards back in the 90s, it’s felt quite nostalgic, and has been fun to play.

So far, I’ve spent most of my time with NBA Live 18 playing through the early stages of The One, several LIVE Events, and some Play Now games here and there. I’ve wanted to get back into Ultimate Team though, and looking at some of the lineups that my fellow gamers have been sharing here in the Forum, my eagerness to put together my own super squad has been growing. Since everyone on the NLSC 2K Pro-Am squad has lost their enthusiasm for the mode, I instead chose to spend a few hours last Friday evening playing Ultimate Team. I’ve got a long way to go in terms of building my lineup, but I’m already reminded of what drew me to the mode.

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The Friday Five: 5 Things a New NBA Jam Needs to Have

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 things that a new NBA Jam game needs to have.

Tim Kitzrow’s Tweet confirming that a deal for a new NBA Jam is “in the works” comes as promising news for those of us who love the long-running arcade basketball game series. While we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves until a new game is officially announced, it’s good to hear that EA Sports apparently has interest in making further use of the trademark. The 2010 reboot was a solid and somewhat underrated game, maligned due to its association with NBA Elite 11. On Fire Edition meanwhile was one of the best, if not the best, arcade hoops titles released to date.

It’s been over six years since OFE came out though, and while it was nice to get a new arcade game in the form of Saber Interactive’s NBA Playgrounds, we need a Jam for the current generation. Hopefully a deal will get done and a new game will be in the pipeline, but if that happens, there are a few things it will need to have. The downside of NBA Playgrounds is that it’s light on features, and in some respects, old school in a way that doesn’t hold up. A new NBA Jam game needs to avoid those shortcomings, as well as some problems that have presented themselves over the course of its own lineage. Here are a few suggestions on how that could be achieved.

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Wayback Wednesday: Street Hoop for Neo Geo

Street Hoop Intro

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 Street Hoop for the Neo Geo, recently re-released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Growing up in Australia in the 90s, I have to admit that I was completely ignorant of the Neo Geo. The Super Nintendo and SEGA Mega Drive (known as the Genesis in NTSC regions) were the popular consoles, and as it stood, I was a Nintendo fanboy. As such, it wasn’t until years later than I learned about some of the other consoles that were also vying for a share of the market back then, or the library of games that were exclusive to those platforms. Those games included several basketball titles, such as the one we’re looking at today: Street Hoop.

In the wake of NBA Jam’s success, several developers tried to emulate its style with their own arcade basketball games. In 1994, Data East threw their hat into the ring with Street Hoop, released exclusively for the Neo Geo. How does it stand up against NBA Jam and other arcade hoops games? Thanks to the recent re-release on PS4, X1, and Switch, we can take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: To Be, Or Not To Be, A Developer

NBA Elite 11: A tough game to be a developer on

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 appeal of being a developer working on basketball video games, and a story about an opportunity that I had some ten years ago.

For those of us who have grown up playing video games of any genre, the prospect of one day being able to work on them ourselves is very appealing. From what we’ve heard from people in the industry – including former community members who have been hired by EA Sports and Visual Concepts – it is indeed an amazing and exciting career, in many ways a dream job. It does come at a price, however: long hours, harsh deadlines, and intense scrutiny from a target audience that can often be extremely toxic. Much is demanded of a video game developer, and it’s clear that you need to be all in on the job, as well as willing and able to weather the tough aspects of the gig.

I don’t believe that I’ve ever told this story publicly, but around ten years ago, I had an opportunity to join the team at EA Canada as a developer on the NBA Live series. As my continued presence here and lack of in-game credits would indicate, I didn’t take the job. It was a difficult decision for reasons I’ll get into shortly, but beyond any personal issues or possible concerns about the direction of NBA Live, I had to ask myself one rather pertinent question: did I really want to do it? Would it truly be a dream job for me, one worth moving to the other wide of the world for? In short, and with apologies to William Shakespeare: to be, or not to be, a developer?

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The Friday Five: Top 5 Legends Needed in NBA 2K

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 Legends that need to be added in future NBA 2K games.

There’s no denying that the NBA 2K series has done some incredible things with its historical content over the past eight years. Beginning with the Jordan Challenge and NBA’s Greatest, and continuing with the addition of several more historical squads including the 1992 Dream Team, we’ve had the opportunity to indulge our nostalgia, as well as play out so many Past vs. Present scenarios on the virtual hardwood. The presence of so many Legends has also unquestionably benefitted MyTEAM, allowing us to put together some amazing fantasy squads that are a lot of fun to play with.

Of course, it’s difficult for Visual Concepts to achieve complete accuracy when it comes to the historical content in NBA 2K. Unlike current players, who are all covered by the licensing agreement with the NBA Players Association, Legends are not automatically licensed to be included in video games. Several Legends – or in the case of Legends who have passed away, their estate – have retained the rights to their likenesses, and for one reason or another, have declined to appear in the games. Obviously that’s a legal barrier that needs to be cleared, but assuming it’s possible, here are the Top 5 Legends that need to be added to NBA 2K’s historical teams.

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Wayback Wednesday: The EA Graphics Editor

EA Graphics Editor Logo

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 EA Graphics Editor.

Although our modding community continues to produce excellent content for the most recent NBA 2K games, the process has become a little more difficult from NBA 2K15 onwards. While the decision to port the PlayStation 4/Xbox One version to the PC has allowed the platform to receive the best version of the current release, it has put a few limitations on what can be achieved through modding. At the very least, it’s made the process a little tougher. This has led to people in the community expressing their frustration with the current state of modding.

I can certainly sympathise with that point of view, and I’d love to see future versions of NBA 2K be more modder-friendly. However, I also remember the early days of modding NBA Live on PC. I’ve talked about how difficult it could be in a previous Wayback Wednesday feature, though it’s something that got better over time; not just because of changes to the games, but also thanks to the hard work and ingenuity of the people making the tools. Undoubtedly, one of the most impressive and important tools is the EA Graphics Editor. It’s a modding tool that’s served us well for a long time, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Basketball Gaming Questions for 2018

James Harden Drives in NBA Live 18

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 basketball gaming questions that are going to be answered over the course of 2018.

It’s the beginning of a new year, which means we’re heading towards the halfway point of the NBA season, and we’re also a few months into the lifecycle of the most recently released basketball games. By the end of 2018, we’ll have at least two new releases – NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 – but we’ve still got several months of basketball gaming before then. Needless to say, as we compile our Wishlists for the development teams at EA Sports and Visual Concepts, we’re naturally hoping to see our most desired improvements in the new games come September.

However, it’s also fair to wonder about the current basketball games, and hope that they’ll hold up until their successors are released. Personally, I do feel a sense of optimism about the future of basketball gaming, but at the same time, I also have a few concerns. I’m sure that I’m not alone in that regard, and with that in mind, it’s crucial that we speak up when we have the opportunity to provide constructive feedback. The questions I’m posing here, I feel, cover some of the most pressing issues regarding NBA Live, NBA 2K, and NBA Playgrounds. Whatever the future holds, we’re sure to get an answer to some of these questions by the end of 2018.

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The Friday Five: 2017 Year in Review

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 recap of the year 2017 here at the NLSC, and a look ahead to 2018.

It’s the final Friday of 2017, which means we’ve also reached the final Friday Five of the year. As we’ve mused several times on the NLSC Podcast, the year seems to have just flown by, and it seems like only yesterday that I was writing the Year in Review for 2016, as well as our traditional New Year’s greetings. Either we’re all getting older, or we’ve just had a lot of fun over the past twelve months. Nevertheless, I’m going to assume that my calendar is correct, which means it’s time to look back at the year that was here at the NLSC.

2017 was another eventful year across the board, especially as we had three new games to play. Those releases had their highs and lows, with a little bit of controversy and a couple of surprising additions along the way. In our community, we saw a lot of great mods released for games new and old, and some interesting discussions take place in the NLSC Forum. We maintained our regular schedule of original content throughout the year – for the most part – and managed to cover some topics that have been on the To Do list for some time. We’re looking forward to our 22nd year in operation in 2018, but before that, let’s take a look back at what happened in 2017.

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Wayback Wednesday: The Life in NBA 08

NBA 08 Featuring The Life

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 Life in NBA 08.

Sony’s NBA series was one of the last major competitors to the two big brands in sim-oriented basketball games, NBA Live and NBA 2K. The games are part of a lineage that includes the NBA ShootOut series, known as Total NBA in PAL regions. Being developed by divisions of Sony Computer Entertainment, the games were naturally exclusive to the PlayStation consoles, with the exception of NBA ShootOut 2000 which saw the series’ lone PC release. Generally speaking, the games did receive some positive reviews, but over the years they were unable to best NBA Live or NBA 2K in terms of sales or overall quality.

Nevertheless, the NBA series did boast some innovative features, some of which have since been adopted by NBA Live and NBA 2K in some form. A prime example is the mode known as The Life, a narrative-driven experience that predates the use of stories in MyCAREER by several years. The mode and the story changed from year to year, but in this article I’m primarily focusing on the PlayStation 2 version of NBA 08, as it’s the game I have in my collection. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: MyCAREER vs Reality; Bulls vs Celtics

Bulls vs Celtics in MyCAREER (NBA 2K18)

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 comparison of the Chicago Bulls’ recent game against the Boston Celtics to its virtual equivalent in my NBA 2K18 MyCAREER.

Merry Christmas and Season’s Greetings, basketball gamers! I hope you’re enjoying the holiday season with friends and family, and are looking forward to a day packed with NBA action. For those of you who are playing MyCAREER, 2K Pro-Am, or The Playground in NBA 2K18, be sure to take advantage of the double experience points on offer! If you’ve made a decent amount of progress on the Road to 99 and currently find yourself inching very slowly towards the next cap breaker, it may be a good opportunity to make some further headway. That’s assuming, of course, that you can fit it in with the rest of your holiday plans.

I’ve been playing a bit of MyCAREER myself as of late. I’m not enjoying it as much as I did last year, but it’s had its moments, and it’s the best way to grind for the Badges that are essential to succeed in 2K Pro-Am. After hearing from 2K Support that there’s nothing that can be done about my dunking problem, I’m also toying with the idea of grinding up a second MyPLAYER. For now though, I’m sticking with my original MyPLAYER, especially as the real season has caught up to my game. That gave me a fun opportunity to play the Bulls’ latest game against the Celtics, the same day that I watched the real contest on TV. Here’s how they compare.

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The Friday Five: 5 Best Modes 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 list of what I would consider to be the best modes we’ve seen in basketball games so far.

With the holiday season upon us and Christmas just a few days away, I’m in good spirits, and I hope that you all are, too. Generally speaking, I like to mix up the topics and tone of The Friday Five, alternating between celebration, critique, interesting trivia, and thoughtful discussion of basketball video games. With this being the season of goodwill, I’m definitely in the mood to talk about something more positive in regards to basketball gaming. After all, I’m sure that many of us will be hitting the virtual hardwood whenever we can over the next few weeks, sinking hours into our favourite game modes.

As such, this week I’m offering up my picks for the best modes in basketball gaming to date. Not to harp too much on something I’ve said many times before, but while the gameplay experience is paramount, deep modes are what keep us hooked on a game until the next one comes out (and sometimes, even beyond that). It’s hard to pick just five, as there have been some exceptional modes in basketball games over the years, each catering to different tastes. I’ve personally had fun with a variety of modes throughout several releases, and I know that many of you can say the same. I would nominate these five modes as being the best of the bunch, in no particular order.

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Wayback Wednesday: Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside

Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside

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, it’s a video retrospective of Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside for the Nintendo 64.

When Kobe Bryant played his final NBA game, I dedicated a Wayback Wednesday feature to his history in basketball video games. With his jersey retirement ceremony taking place this week, it seems only fitting that I look at one of those titles in more detail. Released for the Nintendo 64 in 1998, Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside was the first of three Nintendo-exclusive games endorsed by the Black Mamba, and one of two titles that featured the rising star on the cover that season. I’ve mentioned it in several articles to date, so an in-depth retrospective is somewhat overdue.

An article didn’t feel like quite enough to mark the occasion, and it’s long been my intention to get into the habit of creating more video content for my weekly features. With that in mind, I’ve put together a video retrospective of Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside, which you can watch below, or check out here over on our YouTube channel. Without any further ado, let’s take a look back…way back…

I hope you enjoy the retrospective! As 2017 draws to a close, I probably won’t be releasing any new videos over the next couple of weeks, but I’m looking forward to creating them more often in 2018, along with my regular written features. To that end, be sure to subscribe to the NLSC on YouTube, and keep it locked to the NLSC every Wednesday for more retro basketball gaming content.

Monday Tip-Off: MyPLAYER Dunk Envy in NBA 2K18

A Dunk in MyCOURT (NBA 2K18)

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 something that’s been bothering me in NBA 2K18’s MyCAREER: an inability to dunk.

I know today’s NBA has become about three-pointers. Me, I’m still partial to dunks. It’s a love that carries over to basketball video games, especially when it comes to the career modes. By equipping my player with flashy dunks that I could never perform in real life, I’m able to live out some fantasies on the virtual hardwood. I realise that dunking on every play isn’t exactly sim, and that goes against my usual approach to basketball games. What can I say; it’s fun to dunk as often as possible! Unfortunately, it’s something that I’m missing out on in this year’s MyCAREER mode.

That’s not to say I haven’t been involved in some tremendous slams in some capacity. Consider this moment from a recent one-on-one game against Arcane on MyCOURT:

As a Two-Way Slasher, Arcane is naturally going to have an easier time dunking than my Sharpshooter Playmaker. However, I rarely seem to be able to trigger a dunk, no matter whether it’s MyCAREER, 2K Pro-Am, or The Playground. MyCOURT? No problem. Any of those other game modes? I’m laying it up nine times out of ten, even in situations where I have ample room and sprint. As noted here in the Forum, I don’t seem to have the same problem with a brand new MyPLAYER with the same hybrid Archetype, and I’ve also seen other Sharpshooting Playmakers dunking more often in 2K Pro-Am games. At this point, I’d settle for being able to perform rim grazers!

It seems to be an issue with tendencies for MyPLAYERs created during The Prelude, or at least, before a recent patch that addressed the issue. I’ve contacted 2K Support in the hopes that my original MyPLAYER can be fixed, as I don’t relish the thought of going through the grind again with a new player, nor losing the pre-order bonus clothing (simply due to principle). Assists and threes may be the strengths of my Archetype, but I should at least be able to dunk more often than I do now. With any luck, it’ll all be sorted out soon, and I’ll be making proper use of my flashy dunk packages. Until then, however, I have a serious case of MyPLAYER Dunk Envy.

The Friday Five: 5 Players Who Abruptly Left the NBA

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 players who left the NBA quite abruptly.

Not all NBA players receive a big send-off when they call it a career. Farewell tours are generally reserved for future Hall of Famers, and even then, that’s something that only happens when a player makes a definitive declaration that the current season will be their last. Even when a player leaves the NBA without a big announcement or much fanfare, it isn’t necessarily a surprise. If they’re getting on in years and have already enjoyed a lengthy career, there’s usually no mystery as to why they’ve decided to hang it up, and are no longer a fixture after being around for so many years.

And then, there are the players who appear to leave the NBA quite abruptly and without any kind of statement, even when they seem to have several seasons left in them. Some quietly go overseas to play, or officially retire a few years later, but whatever the case, they’ll fail to latch on with a team and then that will be the last we’ll ever see of them in the NBA. While that’s inevitable given the limited amount of roster spots and the constant influx of new talent, we are left wondering what happened when prominent players seemingly just disappear. Here are five such players whose NBA careers came to a rather abrupt halt.

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Wayback Wednesday: Midweek Patch Report & Webmaster News

Patrick Ewing in the Complete Update for NBA Live 96

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 old columns, the Midweek Patch Report and Webmaster News.

If you’ve been around the community for a long time or perhaps read some of my previous articles, you may know that I used to run a site called the NBA Live Domain before I took over the NLSC in August of 2001. It started out as a place for me to host my own patches for NBA Live, but after a while, I felt like branching out with feature articles and the like. I experimented with the odd opinion piece and even created a subsite dedicated to covering the real NBA, but the columns that stuck were the Midweek Patch Report, and Webmaster News.

Both were regular weekly columns that became fixtures of the NBA Live Domain until I closed the site in December 2001, in order to properly focus on updating and developing content for the NLSC. They were instrumental in my development as a content creator though, so join me today as I take a look back…way back…

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