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The Friday Five: 5 Ways the CPU Messes With You

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 ways that the CPU will mess with us in basketball video games.

As we all know, multiplayer gaming has its ups and downs. Whether it’s the pain of getting less than ideal teammates online, the frustration of encountering cheesers who spam exploits, or dealing with that one friend who takes things too far messing with you while you’re sitting on the same couch, there are times when you’d prefer to be enjoying single player gameplay. Of course, the single player/offline experience isn’t immune to such chicanery, as games will pull some dirty tricks in order to prevent you from beating them. CPU opponents in basketball games are no different.

To some extent, this is a necessary evil. As far as basketball games have come, they still have limitations. Gameplay is now more realistic with CPU opponents that are bolstered by AI that is smarter, but it still can’t match the creativity and cleverness of a human brain. Tilting a few aspects of the game in the CPU’s favour and including comeback mechanics allows it to be competitive and challenging, though can feel like artificial difficulty. There are also moments that are more benign and don’t necessarily stand in the way of winning, but nevertheless feel like the CPU is messing with us. Here are five examples of the CPU thumbing its nose at us on the virtual hardwood.

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Pink Diamonds Aren’t Forever: 2K’s Latest PR Blunder

Redeeming Locker Code for Pink Diamond LeBron James (NBA 2K19 MyTEAM)

It’s the holidays; I shouldn’t be writing a negative or critical article. As we wind down 2018, I wanted to focus on having fun with basketball video games, reflect on the year that was, and then get back to critique and heavier topics in the New Year. Sadly, we have a controversy on our hands. In case you missed the drama, a Locker Code for a Pink Diamond LeBron James got out into the wild on Christmas Day. Naturally, a lot of MyTEAM gamers were quick to snap it up, bolstering their collection with a card that most of us probably wouldn’t ever get our hands on otherwise. It was, if you’ll excuse my tongue-in-cheek usage of a clichéd phrase, a Christmas miracle.

And then, 2K went Ebenezer Scrooge on MyTEAM gamers. After the code had been in the wild for several hours, its reward changed to a LeBron James Free Agent card. The worst was yet to come however, as gamers discovered that the original card had been removed from their collection entirely. Some logged on to discover it was gone, while the more unlucky gamers had it stripped from their lineup as they were using it, resulting in wins counting as losses and other rewards going missing. It would seem that the Pink Diamond wasn’t meant to be released, but its removal has led to another PR blunder for 2K Sports, when they could’ve spread some Christmas cheer.

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Wayback Wednesday: My NBA Live 2004 Dynasty

Select Dynasty Team 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 my memorable NBA Live 2004 Dynasty game.

In a Wayback Wednesday feature a month ago, I reminisced about my NBA Live 06 Dynasty with the Chicago Bulls. It was one of my all-time favourite experiences on the virtual hardwood, and at the time, I enjoyed documenting it in the Stories section of our Forum. It wasn’t my first story topic however, nor was it my only memorable Dynasty game. A couple of years earlier, I’d taken control of the Bulls in NBA Live 2004, playing through a season of ups and downs on route to what was an unlikely championship to say the least.

What was originally meant to just be a first look at the newly renamed and revamped Dynasty mode would turn into an experience that had me hooked for several months. Although I’d been a fan of the franchise concept since it was introduced back in NBA Live 2000, I would suggest my NBA Live 2004 Dynasty is what really solidified my appreciation for the mode. Join me as I take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Holidays on the Virtual Hardwood

Holidays on the Virtual Hardwood (NBA Jam: On Fire 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 few thoughts on what I’ll be doing on the virtual hardwood these holidays.

With 2018 rapidly drawing to a close and Christmas Eve upon us, I’m in the mood to kick back with some gaming on the virtual hardwood…and maybe the virtual blacktop as well. While I’ll be spending time with family, going away with friends over New Year’s, and of course preparing future content for the NLSC, I’m looking forward to just relaxing with one of my favourite hobbies. With no less than four current hoops games out at the moment, the holidays make the process of juggling several titles a little bit easier.

Being that it is one of my favourite hobbies, basketball gaming is something that I’ve come to associate with the holidays. The school holidays were a time when my cousin and I would run franchise games in NBA Live 2000, replay the 1995 season in NBA Live 95, and defeat and play with every team in NBA Jam Tournament Edition. These days, I don’t have as long of a break and do have a few more responsibilities to get back to, but I’ll still have time to hit the virtual hardwood. The question is: what will I focus on playing as I wind down 2018? These are my current basketball gaming plans for the next week or so.

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The Friday Five: 5 Weird Trades in My NBA 2K19 MyCAREER

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 weird trades that have gone down in my NBA 2K19 MyCAREER.

One of the things I love about franchise modes in basketball games is the ability to control everything. You get to assume control of every player on the team, call the shots as the coach, and make roster moves as the GM. At the same time, I’ve also enjoyed not having as much control in the career experiences. I’ve come to like the challenge of only focusing on what I can control – developing my player and playing the role that’s required of me – and trusting the AI to take care of the rest. Obviously, that includes making the right moves to build a winning roster.

I would make a joke here about how that’s unlikely since I’m playing for the Chicago Bulls, but I need to save my shots at GarPax for later in the article. Besides, it seems that quite a few of the virtual GMs in my NBA 2K19 MyCAREER have seen fit to pull the trigger on some eyebrow-raising trades. Being a seasoned franchise gamer, I’m no stranger to the CPU making unusual trades, but the career modes do add a further element of surprise when your own team makes deals that are beyond your control. As the All-Star Weekend and trade deadline loom, several such swaps have already occurred in my game. Here are five of the weirdest trades to date.

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Wayback Wednesday: Dev Console in NBA Live 2003 PC

Dev Console in NBA Live 2003

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 dev console that was featured in NBA Live 2003.

During what I’m unofficially dubbing the Golden Age of NBA Live, the PC release was often the definitive version of the game. If nothing else, there was so much that our modding community could do with it. Even when certain games fell short of our expectations, we’d do all we could to enhance them with mods. In the process, we discovered a lot of hidden content and features. One interesting feature that we found but didn’t really utilise all that often was the dev console in NBA Live 2003.

While the presence of a developer/debug console isn’t unusual in other types of video games, they don’t appear all that often in basketball titles. One might argue that there’s less use for the functionality when it comes to the virtual hardwood, but there are still a couple of nifty things that were possible with the dev console in NBA Live 2003. I had some fun with it in a Dumb Mondays feature around four years ago, but I feel that it deserves a Wayback Wednesday profile as well. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: The Joy of Dunking Once Again

Dunking on Lonzo Ball (NBA 2K19 MyCAREER)

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 reflections on how fun it is to be dunking once again in MyCAREER.

It’s funny how things work out. A few months ago, I mentioned that I was burned out on career modes and looking to take a break. While I have indeed set up a game in MyLEAGUE with the Chicago Bulls, I have actually found myself primarily playing MyCAREER so far in NBA 2K19. The experience has been a lot better than in NBA 2K18, from the story to the gameplay. I’ve also been determined to grind my Badges and increase my ratings without paying for any Virtual Currency, so that when we finally get to play some squad games of 2K Pro-Am in the new year, I’ll be ready.

Something that’s made MyCAREER a lot more enjoyable in NBA 2K19 is that I’m actually dunking again. I’ve ended up going with the same Archetype as last year – Sharpshooting Playmaker – and while inside scoring obviously isn’t the forte of that build, my dunking rating is high enough to throw down a few slams every now and again. It seemed that should’ve been the case in NBA 2K18 as well, but as I noted around this time last year, I was left with a serious case of dunk envy. I’m pleased to report that the issue seems to have been resolved this year, which has made racking up points a much more fun and diverse experience.

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The Friday Five: 5 Worst Parts of Playing With Randoms

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, I’m breaking down what I feel are the five worst parts of playing with randoms online.

One of the best parts of modern basketball games is that we’re able to meet up with a bunch of other people we don’t know to play online. Likewise, one of the worst parts of modern basketball games is that we’re able to meet up with a bunch of other people we don’t know to play online. Snarky echoes aside, online gaming will always be a mixed bag, no matter what the genre. Not everyone is about playing fair, or being cooperative. The experience is usually better if you’re teaming up with people that you know, but that isn’t always feasible.

That’s when you end up teaming with randoms. Again, this isn’t unique to basketball games, but hoops games present some unique drawbacks. Since there’s only one ball, not everyone can take an active role at all times as they might in other genres, such as a shooter. Everyone is used to being Player One, and is therefore unwilling to defer to teammates they don’t know. In all fairness it isn’t always a nightmare, and it’s better than not being able to play at all, especially with the new restrictions on team Pro-Am. Nevertheless, it’s often a less than ideal basketball gaming experience. Here are, in my opinion, the five worst parts of being in that situation.

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Wayback Wednesday: Mentors in NBA 2K15’s MyCAREER

Channing Frye, one of the mentors in NBA 2K15's MyCAREER

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 mentors in NBA 2K15’s MyCAREER.

NBA 2K15 stands out as quite a noteworthy game in the NBA 2K series. It was the first time that the PlayStation 4/Xbox One version was ported to PC, and the first PC release to be available exclusively through Steam with no disc-based physical copies. The game also continued the story-driven MyCAREER concept, becoming the first game in which you didn’t start your rookie season on opening night. The story of how you make it to the league featured cameos from NBA players who acted as mentors, with the real players voicing their virtual counterparts in cutscenes.

On one hand, this was an improvement over similar cutscenes in NBA 2K14, in which the MyPLAYER character was voiced while the NBA players’ dialogue was just text. On the other hand, many of their performances were notoriously and hilariously bad, as discussed in an article over on Cracked a couple of years ago. Nevertheless, it was an idea that had merit, influencing presentation and features in subsequent games. At the very least, there’s some humour to be found with the mentors in NBA 2K15, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Crafting a MyCAREER Story

NBA 2K19 MyCAREER Story Scene

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 future NBA 2K games could craft a better MyCAREER story.

As much as I’ve criticised the approach, I am somewhat fascinated by the concept of the MyCAREER story. It’s been done rather badly in a couple of games, be it the way it’s affected the gameplay experience, the narrative, or both. As such, it would be nice to have the option of a straightforward career mode. At the same time, a lot of effort has gone into the approach over the years, and it’s paid off with a couple of rather good and enjoyable tales. Since the concept doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, it’s vital that Visual Concepts does the best job possible with it.

When it comes to the MyCAREER story approach – in particular, the times it hasn’t been done well – there have been a few common drawbacks since its debut in NBA 2K14. Ill-fitting back stories and unlikeable personalities for the player character, annoying NPCs and cringe-worthy cutscenes, a lack of story branching, meaningless decisions, and general intrusiveness, are among the most prominent issues. The good news is that these problems can be remedied, and if backed by a well-written narrative with characters that aren’t annoying in a bad way, a story can enhance MyCAREER. To that end, this is how I’d like to see the MyCAREER story crafted in future games.

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The Friday Five: 5 Tips for Managing & Earning VC in MyCAREER

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 offers five tips for earning and managing VC in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER.

Fighting the urge to buy VC to level up faster in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER? You’re not alone, as the game is designed to push you in the direction of microtransactions. Since the situation is unlikely to get better anytime soon, I’ve decided that it would be more productive to focus on some content that helps gamers rather than critiques 2K’s design choices. After all, while microtransactions are strongly encouraged, VC can indeed be gained without spending real money. With that in mind, I’ve devised five tips that I hope will be useful for both earning and managing VC.

Before I get to the tips, I should emphasise that it’s still going to be a long process. As the push for recurrent revenue is quite aggressive, the grind is very real. Perseverance will pay off, however. Aside from the pre-order bonus for the standard edition, I’ve not spent any VC that I didn’t earn in-game, and as of this writing, I’m sitting at 74 Overall (starting from the base rating of 60). I did skip The Prelude for this player, though as a bonus tip, I would suggest that you play through it in order to get a head start on upgrades and Badges, as well as an opportunity for a higher salary out of the gate. With that being said, let’s take a look at some strategies for VC budgeting!

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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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