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Wayback Wednesday: The Cancelled Trade in NBA Jam TE

Wayback Wednesday: The Cancelled Trade in NBA Jam TE

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 a cancelled trade that made its way into the arcade version of NBA Jam Tournament Edition.

We’ve just passed the trade deadline for the 2020 season, and saw a flurry of activity. In the wake of all the deals that went down, several players have been cut, many of whom will no doubt attract some interest on the open market. All of these transactions will be taken care of in NBA 2K20, which receives regular official roster updates. We’re also able to update rosters ourselves, and that’s something we’ve obviously been doing for years in our community, for both NBA Live and NBA 2K. Of course, over a decade ago, official roster updates weren’t as common.

If we go back even further, we’ll find a lot of games that didn’t receive any roster updates post-release, as well as titles that didn’t have roster customisation features. This was true of NBA Jam and its sequel NBA Jam Tournament Edition, which were stuck with out-of-date rosters once trades and signings occurred. Well, sort of. There were changes in different revisions and releases of the NBA Jam games, and on at least one occasion, an update resulted in an error due to a cancelled trade. It’s an interesting situation, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: The Art of Minimalist Modding

Monday Tip-Off: The Art of Minimalist Modding

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 idea of minimalist modding.

With all the tools and techniques that our modding community has developed for NBA Live and NBA 2K over the years, we’ve been able to produce some fantastic projects. From detailed current rosters and multi-season packs to NCAA mods and other total conversions, we’ve been able to re-skin the game and create brand new experiences. These projects can take a long time to complete, but it’s very satisfying to see them come together, for both the creator and the community. I can attest to that, having been involved in quite a few large roster projects over the years.

Of course, these fantastic projects do have their drawbacks. They can be incredibly time-consuming, so even if you have the skills to create all the necessary assets, it’s much easier if you have a few other people helping out. To that point, not everyone can do it all when it comes to modding, so it’s usually necessary to assemble a team or rely on some community contributions to get everything done. As you can imagine, the amount of time and effort required can lead to multiple delays, or projects falling through. It’s why I’ve become intrigued with the idea of creating larger projects that don’t require as much external effort; something I’m calling minimalist modding.

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The Friday Five: 5 Times Gamers Ruined 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 discusses five times that gamers themselves ruined basketball video games.

This week’s topic may seem unfair, even absurd. After all, we don’t create basketball video games; we just play them. If there’s a problem with a game, then that’s on the developers, not us as consumers, right? Well, for the most part, yes. We’re not the ones implementing microtransactions, grindy mechanics, or other undesirable ideas. We do arguably support them by continuing to buy the games and pumping money into recurrent revenue systems, but boycotts, as Jim Sterling has pointed out, aren’t all that effective. Ultimately, we’re not making design choices, or programming code.

However, we are making suggestions, and the loudest voices aren’t always expressing the best ideas. Tribalism these days goes as deep as which mode you play, as well as a preference for online or offline gaming. Not all feedback has been to the benefit of NBA Live or NBA 2K. The way we choose to play the game and use the features and functions at our disposal has also had a negative effect. Whether it’s through elitism and snobbery, or childishness and trolling, we’ve found more than a couple of ways to spoil the fun. I’m not saying that developers haven’t messed up, but these are five examples of how we as gamers and consumers have ruined games for ourselves.

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Wayback Wednesday: The ABA in Basketball Video Games

Wayback Wednesday: The ABA in Basketball Video 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 how the ABA has been represented in basketball video games.

Despite its influence on the NBA and the sport in general, the American Basketball Association doesn’t have a lot of representation on the virtual hardwood. It makes sense as the National Basketball Association became the dominant “brand” when it exploded in global popularity in the 80s and 90s, by which point the ABA had long been absorbed in the 1976 merger. Although it’s not exactly forgotten, its history is somewhat glossed over in favour of celebrating the NBA’s heritage. Of course, that’s not altogether surprising; as the old saying goes, history is written by the winners.

Still, given that the NBA does pay homage to the ABA and adopted some of its ideas including the three-point line (though Abe Saperstein’s American Basketball League did it first), it’s strange that it doesn’t have much of a presence in video games. The ABA had been gone for around two decades when I was getting into basketball and basketball video games, but I recognise its importance and would love to see it celebrated in gaming as well. What have we seen so far? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Are We Gaming Or Are We Modding?

Monday Tip-Off: Are We Gaming Or Are We Modding?

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 gaming and modding habits in our community.

One of the more disappointing trends in our community in recent years is the drop-off in discussion about the games we play. We certainly do talk about them, but there’s much less discussion about sliders, strategies, positive and negative impressions, and the general gaming experience on the virtual hardwood. This definitely wasn’t always the case in the NLSC Forum. If you dig through the archives, you’ll find plenty of topics discussing gameplay and game modes, sharing everything from suggestions and tips to criticism and praise. Within those topics, you’ll see lively discussion.

Not so much anymore, however. Conversely, activity in our modding community is still at a high level. From releases and previews to modding advice and requests for mods, there’s plenty of chatter. It’s a puzzling phenomenon, and an imbalance that I’d love to see corrected. Obviously we’re known as a modding community, but we’ve always been much more than that, in both our original content and the conversations we have about basketball gaming. In trying to determine how this trend began and what’s changed in our community, I can’t help wondering: are we actually playing basketball video games, or are we just modding them?

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The Friday Five: 5 Errors That Were Never Fixed

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 errors in various basketball video games that were never fixed.

Post-release support for basketball video games has come a long way. Official roster updates are now the norm, and while there are complaints about their quality, they at least add new content to the game, and update modes where custom rosters can’t be used. We no longer have to petition the developers to create bug fixes, and it’s much easier to provide feedback about errors that arise. Modern NBA Live and NBA 2K titles do have their problems, but we’re more likely to see resolutions, as well as content updates that keep them fresh throughout the year.

This wasn’t always the case, especially on consoles. Before the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 era, patches and updates were mostly a perk of PC releases. Even then, they weren’t as plentiful or detailed as they are now. There were a lot of errors that we just had to put up with, as there was no way that they were going to be fixed until the next game came out; assuming they didn’t become legacy issues, of course! Mind you, even when games did receive official patches, they would sometimes introduce new errors that were never followed up on with further fixes. Some of these errors were just cosmetic, some we could fix ourselves, but all were annoying in their own way.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 97 Team Editor

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 97 Team Editor

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 Live 97 Team Editor.

Once techniques have been discovered in our modding community, we’re usually able to reuse or adapt them as new games come out. The question has always been whether or not the existing tools can still be used, and if not, will anyone be able to update them or create new ones. After all, we have far more modders than programmers in the community, and indeed in recent years, many of our most useful tools have come from elsewhere. This wasn’t always the case, though. Although modders have always outnumbered tool creators, there still used to be a handful of the latter.

Our founders, Tim, Lutz, and Brien, created a bunch of useful tools for editing the PC versions of NBA Live. However, they weren’t the only programmers breaking down the games and providing a means of modding them. Case in point: the NBA Live 97 Team Editor, created by Mark Paris. Although Tim’s editor was more than sufficient for making roster updates for the game, the NBA Live 97 Team Editor was a very handy companion tool. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Rest in Peace, Kobe Bryant

Monday Tip-Off: Rest in Peace, Kobe Bryant

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 tribute to the late and legendary Kobe Bryant.

Depending on where you are in the world, the week was ending or just getting started when you heard the tragic news that Kobe Bryant had been killed in a helicopter crash in California. Following unfounded rumours and speculation, we eventually learned that his daughter Gianna, and seven other people, also lost their lives in the accident. It’s been difficult to process the news. Words like “surreal” feel so cliché at a time like this, but they’re nevertheless apt. Social media timelines and NBA broadcasts have been filled with grief and tributes since the terrible news broke.

I too feel compelled to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant, now that I’m past the initial shock. However, I will admit that I was hesitant to forego my planned column in favour of this one. I didn’t want it to be in poor taste, to come across as an opportunistic content creator who’s just trying to get clicks and attention by talking about a topical tragedy. Ultimately, I decided that I wouldn’t let cynicism deter me. Whether you cheered for him or against him, Kobe Bryant was one of the greatest players in league history, carving out a remarkable legacy in the real NBA and on the virtual hardwood alike. It’s only appropriate to pay tribute to him as we all mourn this awful turn of events.

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The Friday Five: 5 Reasons to Reactivate Old Servers

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 reasons for 2K to reactivate the old servers for previous NBA 2K titles.

As online modes and content have become more popular in basketball video games, it’s become a much bigger deal when servers finally get shut down. Not only is online play rendered unavailable, but any single player experiences that relied on connected content also become inaccessible. Early on in this generation, online MyCAREER games were intended to become offline saves once the servers were shut down. This infamously didn’t work properly for a lot of gamers in NBA 2K14, with many still being unable to access their saves once the servers were reactivated.

Since then, 2K has simply decided to follow the original plan of declaring that any online saves are “retired” once support for a game ends. It’s understandable that 2K doesn’t want to support games indefinitely, given the cost and resources involved. That doesn’t stop gamers from expressing their desire to see the old servers switched back on though, and interestingly, Chris Manning has even publicly mentioned that he’s advocated for such a thing to happen. Obviously there are a lot of reasons why it’s unlikely, contrary to clickbait videos claiming LD2K “confirmed” it. Nevertheless, there are also reasons why it should at least be considered, and here are five of them.

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Wayback Wednesday: The Legacy of NBA 2K18

Wayback Wednesday: The Legacy of 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 NBA 2K18, and the legacy that it has created.

The NBA 2K18 servers are no more. Well, I imagine they’re still physically around. It’s highly unlikely that 2K instructed someone to take a sledgehammer and go all Triple H on them, rather than just switching them off. The point is that online support has ended, which means MyTEAM, the first version of The Neighborhood, and all other connected content is gone. With this infamous release being officially put out to pasture, I believe it’s an apt time to offer up a final take on the game, and reflect on its legacy.

I know that it’s fairly recent by Wayback Wednesday standards, but it was released going on three years ago, which is about how old the All-Time College Teams DLC for NBA 2K17 was when I covered it. Besides, NBA 2K18 came out last decade, and that makes it sound old, right? Hey, it’s my feature, and I’ll bend the rules if need be! In any event, a retrospective of this controversial game feels quite timely, so let’s take a look back…not too far but still wayback…

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Monday Tip-Off: The Avatar’s New Clothes

Monday Tip-Off: The Avatar's New Clothes

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 about the increasing focus on getting new clothes for your avatar in the career modes of NBA Live and NBA 2K.

There’s a well-established video game trope that TV Tropes calls “And Your Reward Is Clothes“. It refers to unlocking new clothes for the player character (or characters), sometimes by completing tasks or purchasing them from an in-game store, or perhaps by finishing the game and continuing the adventure with post-ending gameplay. They may convey or accompany other bonuses, or they may just be for bragging rights. A good example of the latter is the “I completed Vice City and all I got was this lousy t-shirt“, unlocked when achieving 100% completion in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Clothing items, and the ability to acquire new clothes, have become an increasingly prominent part of basketball video games. Although they are ultimately just cosmetic, they’re nevertheless a significant part of the game’s culture, especially when it comes to the online scene. It’s one of those aspects of modern games that make me feel like a dinosaur, because to my mind, there’s far too much focus on them. Although they’re something that can be ignored, the pursuit of new clothes and the focus given to dressing up your avatar is presenting some problems, and detracting from the overall experience. That may sound melodramatic, but allow me to elaborate.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K13, Executive Produced by Jay-Z

Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K13, Executive Produced by Jay-Z

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 role Jay-Z played as an executive producer on NBA 2K13.

Back in December, I wrote an article about Jay-Z’s forgotten cameo in NBA Live 07. I received some nice compliments from people who enjoyed learning about that for the first time, as well as some suggestions to look back at Jay-Z’s involvement as an executive producer on NBA 2K13. That topic was actually already on my list of ideas for Wayback Wednesday features, but since it’s been requested, I figure there’s no point delaying it any further. After all, it’s even better if I can cover these topics when there’s interest, and to that end, I’m open to suggestions!

For now though, let’s focus on Jay-Z and his role with NBA 2K13. Obviously, the rapper wasn’t actually spending hours coding at Visual Concepts’ studio in Novato, but as it turned out, he had a significant impact on the game. His title also briefly inspired a trend in our modding community. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: How Career Modes Overtook Franchise Modes

Monday Tip-Off: How Career Modes Overtook Franchise Modes

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 how career modes ended up surpassing franchise modes in popularity.

As a long-time basketball gamer, it’s been interesting to not only see how the games have evolved, but also how trends and attitudes have changed. A noteworthy example of changing trends is the popularity of franchise modes. There was a time when they were considered the pinnacle of modes in basketball games, a dream come true for those of us who remember playing the basic single season modes of early titles. These days, they’re seen as passé; something for “old heads”, despite the fact younger hoops gamers enjoy them too. If nothing else, they’re no longer the flagship mode.

That distinction now belongs to career modes, and their connected online experiences. In some respects, it’s not surprising. It took longer for fully-formed career modes to make their way into NBA 2K and NBA Live, and there had been an interest in seeing them for quite some time. Indeed, the franchise modes were often used to simulate a single player career mode, so gamers clearly wanted that type of experience. The shift towards career modes is still interesting however, especially as they’ve drawn in gamers who have traditionally been all about franchise play. How did this happen? Well, I have a few theories as to how career modes gained and maintained popularity.

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The Friday Five: 5 False Memories in Basketball Gaming (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 examples of false memories of basketball games.

A lot of people don’t want the truth to get in the way of a good story. Many others simply don’t have as good of a memory as they believe they do. Let’s face it: most of us have remembered something incorrectly at one time, particularly when it comes to video games (basketball or otherwise). As I said in my previous Friday Five article on this topic, there are plenty of reasons for this: rumours and urban legends that just refuse to go away, fuzzy memories of games we haven’t played for many years, or forgetting that something was the result of a mod and not in the game by default.

This week, I’m taking a look at five more examples of false memories in basketball gaming, while once again trying to get to the bottom of how those faulty recollections came about. Sometimes it’s the aforementioned lapses in memory, or changes made by mods being remembered as default features. Other times, it’s the result of technical limitations. Less benignly, it may be deliberate misinformation, or at the very least, exaggeration to make a point that results in the truth getting mixed up with hyperbole. Whatever the case may be, we’re left with false memories of basketball games, and I’ve got five more examples that I’d like to debunk today.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Hangtime Retrospective

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Hangtime Retrospective

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 NBA Hangtime.

One of the benefits of Wayback Wednesday is that eventually, everything becomes “retro” enough to talk about. As it is, I’ve bent the rules slightly with some more recent games from time to time, but generally speaking, I’ve preferred focusing on titles that are several years old. To that end, I’ve tried to cover many of the classics before touching on more recent nostalgia. However, there are several titles from the early days of basketball gaming that I still haven’t covered, but definitely mean to get to. NBA Hangtime is just one of the games that are overdue for a retrospective.

Perhaps it’s only fitting that I’ve yet to cover the game, going on five years of running Wayback Wednesday features. As popular as it was with basketball gamers in its day, it does tend to be overlooked when we discuss the best arcade hoops titles. It was a strong follow-up to NBA Jam Tournament Edition – one of my personal favourites – and a game that I really enjoyed on the Nintendo 64. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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