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Monday Tip-Off: How MyCAREER Could Truly Let Us Be The Story

Vic in NBA 2K16 MyCAREER

We’re at midcourt, the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Get your week started here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to basketball video games.

If you’ve tuned in to Episode #130 of the NLSC Podcast, you’ll know that I’m not the biggest fan of the story in this year’s MyCAREER. If you’ve been listening to the NLSC Podcast for a while now, you’ll know that that’s been a recurring complaint of mine since MyCAREER adopted the story-driven approach beginning with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One version of NBA 2K14. Reading some of the posts that have been made about MyCAREER since the release of NBA 2K16, it seems I’m not alone in my criticism.

Specific criticisms of the writing aside, my discontent with MyCAREER can be summed up as such: a story that’s too linear without branching options, choices that are largely cosmetic and inconsequential, and in NBA 2K16 in particular, a protagonist that’s intended to have very specific characteristics, which conflict with the RPG elements and “put yourself in the game” aspect of the mode. To that end, the tagline of “Be The Story” becomes a little ironic.

However, since I’m often advocating for constructive criticism – fans not fanboys, critics not haters, and all that – it seems only appropriate that I put my money where my mouth is, and offer up some suggestions as to how the mode could be improved. The story-driven approach to MyCAREER probably isn’t going anywhere, so how do I think Visual Concepts can best put it to use? Well, let’s take a look at how I feel that we can better “Be The Story” in NBA 2K17 and beyond.

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The Friday Five: My Birthday Five

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 basketball video games, the real NBA, or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

Yes, October 16th is my birthday. Today, I’m no longer an old man of 30, but an older man of 31. Appropriately enough, I’m eating cake as I write this Five; Boston Mudcake, despite the fact I’m a Chicago Bulls fan. All in all, I’ve had a pretty relaxed day today, not quite as productive as I’d normally like to be, but hey, I had the opportunity to take a day off, and it’s my birthday.

I hadn’t really prepared a topic for this week’s Five, beyond the fact that I knew that I was going to call it my Birthday Five, and talk about something that was somehow related to my birthday, while still tying it in to the stuff we cover here at the NLSC. So, what I’ve decided to do is talk about some of the ways I feel that we change as we get older, as it pertains to being a basketball fan, and a player of basketball video games. These are my reflections, on my 31st birthday, about growing up. Well, growing older, at any rate.

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Monday Tip-Off: Head in the Cloud – Basketball Video Games & Always-On

Gaming in NBA 2K14's MyCAREER

We’re at midcourt, the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Get your week started here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to basketball video games.

Always-on remains a controversial issue in video gaming, right up there with downloadable content, microtransactions, and third party developers producing platform exclusives. So strong is the backlash against it, Microsoft even had to change its approach with the Xbox One, and is arguably still feeling the effects of its initial stance as the console continues to be out-sold by the PlayStation 4. The message is clear: gamers do not like always-on.

As the online component of basketball video games has become a bigger part of the experience, our community has started to feel the sting of always-on and cloud saves. Key game modes require a constant connection to the Internet, and while a couple of them can also be played offline, issues can arise when there are temporary connection or server issues. But what happens when the server is shut down for good?

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The Friday Five: 5 Silly Things I’ve Done 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 basketball video games, the real NBA, or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

When it comes to basketball games, I like to think of myself as a member of Sim Nation…shout out to Da_Czar. Although some of the improvements to basketball games in recent years have challenged my perception of how realistically I play, and what realism truly means, on the whole I would say that I do indeed prefer a true to life style of play, and want to see NBA Live and NBA 2K reflect the real NBA as closely as possible. Of course, I also believe there’s a need for more casual, or “arcade style” gameplay settings, too.

I also have to admit that my approach to basketball games hasn’t always been so sim. When I first started playing NBA Live 95 on Super Nintendo, my approach was definitely more casual, and less focused on realism. However, even after I took an interest in playing basketball games more realistically, I’d occasionally take a break from that style, in the name of doing something fun. Not that I don’t consider playing realistically to be fun, but sometimes, a break from the norm and a bit of silliness is refreshing. And, as you’ll soon find out, I’ve done some quite silly things with basketball games from time to time.

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Monday Tip-Off: Fanboys, Haters, and the Basketball Gaming Community

Fanboys, Haters, and the Basketball Gaming Community

We’re at midcourt, the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Get your week started here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to basketball video games.

In last week’s Friday Five, I talked about aspects of online culture that I dislike. While I’d rather not spend too much time dwelling on the negative – incidentally, that would be another pet peeve of mine when it comes to online culture – I did touch on something that I’d like to talk a little bit more about today for Monday Tip-Off: fanboys and haters within the basketball gaming community.

I don’t want to make a sweeping, generalised, melodramatic statement such as “Fanboys and haters are ruining the basketball gaming community”, because that’s not exactly true. Unfortunately, such a statement isn’t completely without merit, either. At the very least, it’s reaching some incredibly silly levels, with severe tunnel vision and an almost complete lack of perspective. Granted, this is often the case in any fandom, but since this is our community we’re talking about, I’d like to see us do better.

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The Friday Five: 5 Aspects of Online Culture I Dislike

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 basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

NBA Live 16 and NBA 2K16 are in stores now, and to that end, it would make sense to discuss one or both of them in this week’s Friday Five. However, I’d like to spend a bit more time with both games before I offer up any impressions, and discuss certain elements of them in detail. Furthermore, this week’s topic – five aspects of online culture that I dislike – is one that I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while. The timing isn’t completely inappropriate either, as we see a lot of this stuff pop up whenever new games are released.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I maintain that we have a good thing going here at the NLSC, and I do like being a part of an online community. I also believe that the World Wide Web in general is a fantastic invention that continues to innovate, and it’s done a lot to make video games a bigger business, and an even more enjoyable hobby. However, there are some negative traits that permeate online culture, especially in gaming communities. When it comes to the five things I’m about to discuss, I think we need to either grow up, or get over ourselves…or maybe both.

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Monday Tip-Off: Lost Forever – The Missing Trophies & Achievements

We’re at midcourt, the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Get your week started here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to basketball video games.

For some gamers, Trophies and Achievements in video games are of great importance. For the gamer who strives for 100% completion, there are few things as satisfying as the sight and sound of a notification informing them that a Trophy or Achievement has just been unlocked. It’s a concise representation that yes, you did indeed do just about everything you could with a game, and then some. And, if you’re the kind of gamer who likes to brag about such things, it’s right there in your public profile, for everyone to see.

For other gamers, Trophies and Achievements are nothing but a nuisance, a meaningless aspect of modern games that are only useful to people who want to brag about ultimately useless accomplishments. You play the games because you’re interested in them, not to get some virtual pat on the back for performing some mundane task. Simply put, Trophies and Achievements aren’t something that everyone is interested in, or obsesses over.

Personally, I find myself somewhere in the middle. I’m not obsessed with collecting every single Trophy or Achievement in every game I play, but I also find them to be fun goals to shoot for, when I’m looking to extend my gaming experience. Basketball video games have had some fun and interesting challenges in the form of their Trophies and Achievements, but in some cases, shooting for 100% completion becomes impossible sooner than you might expect. Servers are inevitably shut down at some point, at which point Achievements involving online play or timed content become lost forever.

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The Friday Five: My Plans for Tip-Off Weekend

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

I’ve been a bit caught up with a few matters this week, I’m currently in the process of setting up a brand new gaming PC, and this evening I’m catching up with a friend who’s leaving the country very soon. Arcane and I also weren’t able to get together to record a new episode of the NLSC Podcast, but we’ll be back with a new show next week. However, I did want to get a new Friday Five out today, though it’s going to be a little shorter than usual, and somewhat “last minute”.

I’m guessing most of you will be alright with that though, as chances are you’re getting ready for the NBA 2K16 Early Tip-Off Weekend. That’s certainly on my agenda, and to that end, this week’s Five is all about my plans for the next few days. Without any further ado, here’s what I’m planning to do as soon as my schedule is clear, and, to quote The Vogues, no one owns a piece of my time.

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A Starting Guide for Being a Better Teammate in NBA Live Pro-Am

When it comes to NBA Live Pro-Am, I’m not the greatest. I shoot just over 30% from beyond the arc and I’m pretty bad at defending the perimeter. However, I take pride in the fact that I’m a low maintenance teammate. On offence, I always look for good shots and generally pass the ball when they’re not there for me, and I always run back on defence and contest shots to the best of my ability. I might not be the most skilled, but I like to think my general awareness of my surroundings makes up for that. The same cannot be said about some of the people I’ve had to share a team with.

Teammates in Pro-Am can make or break a game. Sometimes you can get a good mix of people who are both skilled and are willing to play the game in the right spirit. Then you get those who may be one, but not necessarily the other. In light of this, I’ve decided to come up with a few suggestions on how to be a better teammate in NBA Live Pro-Am.

Please note that while I’m having a rant against people who are generally bad teammates, I’m by no means perfect. I’ve been guilty of all these annoyances at least once, and it’s okay to slip up every now and then. These suggestions are directed to those who are repeat offenders.

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Monday Tip-Off: How Much Does It Cost To Get Michael Jordan In A Video Game?

We’re at midcourt, the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Get your week started here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to basketball video games.

If you’re a basketball fan, you know who Michael Jordan is, even if you weren’t around in the 80s and 90s. Likewise, even if you were around in the 80s and 90s but weren’t a fan of basketball, you still knew of him, and at least a couple of noteworthy facts about His Airness. Such was his impact upon popular culture.

I was around during that era, and a basketball fan to boot. As many of you may already be aware, I was also a big fan of Michael Jordan, and he remains my all-time favourite player. I was therefore very excited when it was announced that MJ would grace the cover of NBA 2K11, a game which also included a celebration of his career in the form of the Jordan Challenge. Visual Concepts and 2K Sports were probably pretty happy about the arrangement too, as NBA 2K11 sold over five million copies, and was very well received by critics and the basketball gaming community alike.

Michael Jordan is still featured in NBA 2K, and indeed graces the cover of the Special Edition of NBA 2K16. 2K’s partnership with MJ has obviously been very beneficial to the visibility, sales, and reception of their game, but how much does that partnership cost them? While we don’t have any specific figures, some recent reports have given us fodder to speculate.

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The Friday Five: 5 Most Significant Patches & Mods

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

I make a habit of mentioning it in our file additions bulletins, and it’s absolutely true: we have a really talented community here at the NLSC, when it comes to our patches and mods. I’ve usually shied away from compiling “best of” lists, or handing out community awards for patching, as it can easily lead to tension and bad blood. Furthermore, everyone’s hard work deserves recognition, and there have been a lot of great patches and mods throughout the years, all of which are significant in their own right.

However, there are a handful of releases that stand out from the pack, being patches that were particularly popular and well-crafted, and in some cases, drew a lot of interest from outside of our community. To that end, in this week’s Friday Five, I’ve selected what I feel are the five most significant patches and mods to come along so far. Without any further ado, let’s take a look.

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The Friday Five: 5 Worst Features in Great Basketball Video Games

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

In last week’s Friday Five, I took a look at the five best features in subpar basketball video games. It wasn’t the easiest list to compile, since the main reason subpar basketball video games have that reputation is that they don’t have much going for them in the first place. However, even in the worst releases, there are usually some good ideas, and concepts that have merit.

This week I’m going in the other direction, as I take a look at five of the worst features in some of the best basketball video games. All things considered, this was probably the tougher list; while no game is perfect, great basketball video games don’t achieve that status by having too many game-breaking flaws. Nevertheless, some of the best games have had their weaknesses, and surprisingly disappointing features. At the very least, there might be a mode or feature that just doesn’t seem as good when compared to everything else in the game. With that said, let’s get started on the Five.

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20th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 97 Retrospective

NBA Live 97 Retrospective

To mark the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re posting content for every game in the series, including retrospectives, patches, countdowns, and more. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with the NBA Live series and would like to take a drip down memory lane, or you’ve only recently started playing basketball games and would like to learn a little about what they used to be like, we hope that you enjoy the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content here on the NLSC!

NBA Live 97 was another step up from NBA Live 96…depending on which platform you were playing on. If you were playing the game on Super Nintendo, you’d notice a couple of new features, and some new animations. On PC and PlayStation, however, the jump was a little bigger. Not quite NBA Showdown to NBA Live 95 big, but still fairly noticeable, especially in terms of the visuals. Let’s take a look back at the game that described itself as the “soul of hoops”, and proudly announced that it featured Shaq.

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20th Anniversary of NBA Live: Exploring the NBA Live 96 Executable

Gary Payton dribbles up court in NBA Live 96

It’s time to go Easter Egg hunting in the executable file of NBA Live 96 PC! While the editor that Tim and Brien made for NBA Live 96 was sufficient for most of our needs when creating roster updates, at other times, we needed to open the exe file with a Hex Editor. Doing so allowed us to change things like the year of the previous season’s statistics (for example, from the default 94/95 to 95/96), edit team names, or watermark a patch by adding a message to the credits and copyright screens.

This was all done quite easily, as all you had to do was search for the appropriate text strings in the Hex Editor of your choice. As long as you didn’t try to make any team names longer than they already were, or touch anything that you really shouldn’t, you couldn’t really go wrong.

While poking around in the NBA96.exe file, you can find a few interesting and amusing Easter Eggs. As part of our 20th Anniversary of NBA Live celebrations, I thought it’d be fun to fire up HxD, comb through the NBA Live 96 executable file once again, and share some of my discoveries. Let’s get started!

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The Friday Five: 5 Best Features in Subpar Basketball Video Games

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

Generally speaking, when it comes to subpar basketball video games, we don’t have too many good things to say about them. However, even the worst basketball video games can sometimes boast really good features. Those features may not be enough to save the game from bad reviews and the scorn of basketball gamers, but they’re still worthy of recognition. Indeed, it’s frustrating to see such appealing features, and not be able to enjoy them because the rest of the product isn’t up to scratch.

Perhaps even more frustrating, however, is when those great features in bad games are never really followed up on, and end up being absent in future releases. In this week’s Friday Five, I’m taking a look at five of the best features in five of the most notably subpar basketball video games that I’ve played. Let’s begin.

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