Menu
Home | Monday Tip-Off

Monday Tip-Off

Monday Tip-Off: Thoughts on MyTEAM Seasons

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 thoughts on the new Seasons approach adopted in NBA 2K21’s MyTEAM.

One of the major changes in NBA 2K21’s MyTEAM was the adoption of Seasons. For those unfamiliar with the concept, MyTEAM Seasons run for about six weeks, with each Season featuring its own theme, content, and Challenges. While modes of play such as Domination remain unaffected by Seasons, and Triple Threat Offline simply gains new rewards as each new Season begins, Season-based content such as The Agenda has a time limit. If you have any unfinished business on The Agenda by the time a new Season begins, too bad; it’s a new day in MyTEAM.

The Seasons approach is not unique to MyTEAM and NBA 2K, of course. It’s a form of the “games as a service” model that mobile and Triple-A games alike are using with ever-increasing frequency, which invites cynicism because of the way those mechanics utilise FOMO to push microtransactions, season passes, and so on. Less cynically, however, it’s a way to keep content fresh and not overwhelm late adopters with an overabundance of content. I’m generally in favour of Seasons in MyTEAM, but I do have a few criticisms and concerns that I’d like to discuss. Along with a few other aspects of the mode, the approach could be even better in NBA 2K22.

Read More »

Monday Tip-Off: The Case of the Mysterious Screenshot

Monday Tip-Off: The Case of the Mysterious Screenshot

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 the story about a mysterious screenshot that I found in my collection.

For a long time – far too long, in fact – I left my weekly articles until the last minute. Not just writing them, but coming up with the topic, too. Even after I devised lists of ideas for future articles, I didn’t always have anything prepared by the time Monday, Wednesday, and Friday rolled around. In recent years, I’ve made a point of building up a buffer of articles based on my list of topic ideas. It’s meant that I’ve always got something ready to go, and if I’ve set aside the time, I’m able to schedule features a week or two in advance.

This prep work has been important for time management, consistency, and quality. Even though I’ve been pleased with certain articles that were actually written at the last minute, I’m far more satisfied with features that I haven’t had to rush. Part of preparing articles in advance is ensuring that I have appropriate screenshots to use, which means taking the time to fire up the necessary games to capture them, and set up any specific scenarios as required. It’s usually obvious why I have a particular screenshot in my archives, but recently I discovered one that left me stumped. This mysterious screenshot was for an article idea that I’ve completely forgotten about.

Read More »

Monday Tip-Off: Ready (To Not Be) Player One

Monday Tip-Off: Ready (To Not Be) Player One

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 more thoughts on the online scene in NBA 2K. Specifically, in order to improve the quality of play, gamers must be ready to not be Player One.

I’m fortunate in that I’m not completely reliant on the online scene to enjoy basketball video games. I grew up gaming in a time before online play was common – or for that matter, possible – on the virtual hardwood. Dynasty was my mode of choice in NBA Live, and I’ve also racked up many hours playing single player MyCAREER in NBA 2K. I’m therefore able to enjoy the offline experience, which is vital given that the online scene in NBA 2K has a myriad of problems, ranging from technical issues and design flaws to toxic attitudes and a sloppy style of play.

At the same time, while I find it easy to eschew the online scene, I would prefer it to be better than it is. Obviously I’d like to jump in on occasion, having developed an appreciation for it over the past generation. Even if I’m not partaking in it myself, I’d still like to see the scene thrive and be the best possible experience for those who are playing it; especially gamers who play exclusively online. I’ve previously discussed vital changes that the developers need to implement, such as proper matchmaking. Today however, I want to focus on the problem of how so many gamers aren’t ready to drop their Player One mentality online, and how that could possibly be remedied.

Read More »

Monday Tip-Off: Current Gen Rec vs Next Gen Rec

Monday Tip-Off: Current Gen Rec vs Next Gen Rec

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 my experiences playing Rec games in the Current Gen and Next Gen versions of NBA 2K21.

Back in December last year, I declared that The Rec in NBA 2K21 was garbage. I stand by that opinion, and the conclusions I drew about who we should blame for the current state of the mode. In short, blame can be attributed to toxic attitudes within the basketball gaming community, but Visual Concepts themselves share responsibility given how the online scene panders to elitism and focuses on pushy recurrent revenue mechanics. The Rec went from being a hit-and-miss experience that could be quite fun at the best of times, to an absolute nightmare.

And so, I gave up on it. It was a healthy decision, especially since I wanted to move away from MyCAREER and its connected experiences. As unfortunate as it was that it took all the fun being sucked out of the mode to break my habit, it did at least prove to be adequate incentive. Of course, I did still dabble with MyCAREER in NBA 2K21 Next Gen in order to play through the story and earn a Trophy, with a view to playing the occasional online game. If nothing else, I was curious to see if anything would change, and wanted to keep tabs on the scene in order to advocate for improvements. With that being said, what is The Rec like on Next Gen compared to Current Gen?

Read More »

Monday Tip-Off: No, You Don’t Deserve to Get Paid

Monday Tip-Off: No, You Don't Deserve to Get Paid

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 blunt truths about paid mods, and modders that insist that they deserve payment for their work.

Way back in September 2016, I wrote an article explaining why we don’t allow paid mods in our community. I intended it to be an article that I’d link to whenever the subject came up, and over the years, it’s proven to be handy to have at the ready. The short version is that from a legal standpoint, charging for mods could land us in a lot of hot water, and we’d rather avoid that. It’s also never been the done thing in our community, and we’ve been committed to that stance for almost 25 years now. The fact of the matter is that it could cause a lot of headaches, and we don’t want that.

There’s another reason that we’re against the practice of paid mods, however; one that hasn’t really been discussed. The simple fact of the matter is that you don’t deserve to get paid for your mods. I don’t deserve to get paid for the mods I’ve made over the years, either. No one deserves to get paid for creating mods for a basketball video game, or any game for that matter. The key word here is “deserve”, which implies that one is entitled to be paid, and that simply isn’t the case. Please don’t get me wrong here. I don’t say this to diminish the efforts of modders in our community and beyond. It’s important to understand and accept this blunt truth though, so let me explain.

Read More »

Monday Tip-Off: Pick Your Modding Projects Wisely

Monday Tip-Off: Pick Your Modding Projects Wisely

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 need to be wisely judicious when picking modding projects to undertake.

I had what you might call a modding disaster last week. A project that I’d started on a whim went up in flames when an unexpected glitch ruined the better part of a day’s work, to the point where I had to abandon it. To say that it was extremely frustrating is an understatement. It was, after all, time that I could’ve spent on other modding projects that I’ve been trying to finish for a while now. Beyond that, I liked how it was beginning to come together. There was still some work to do, but it probably would’ve only taken another day or so.

I’ll describe the project and the resulting disaster in more detail momentarily, but in the aftermath of losing all that work, it really impressed upon me the need for good modding habits. There are reasons that we can find ourselves being pulled in many directions by appealing ideas for modding projects, why we neglect what’s already on the workbench for that shiny new spark of inspiration. Even if you only stick to one project at a time, however, there are pitfalls that can catch you out no matter how long you’ve been modding. Sometimes you won’t even consider them until it’s too late, and both time and work is lost. It’s why we need to pick our modding projects wisely.

Read More »

Monday Tip-Off: Are Short Quarters The Standard?

Monday Tip-Off: Are Short Quarters The Standard?

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 games being designed around playing on short quarters rather than the regulation length of 12 minutes.

Playing on 12 minute quarters rather than shorter settings has been a point of pride for me over the years. Well, pride may be too strong of a word – it’s not really any kind of accomplishment, after all – but I always felt fulfilled when I could play through a full 82 game season with regulation quarter lengths. The downside is that even in my favourite franchise experiences, I usually didn’t play more than a couple of seasons unless I resorted to simulating. As I’ve grown older and gained new responsibilities, I’ve had to make peace with the idea of simming games.

It’s been harder to warm up to the idea of playing on short quarters, though. It just doesn’t feel right; it’s not “sim”. If nothing else, I don’t like that the minutes per game averages for my team don’t line up with the rest of the league. The addition of an accelerated clock in various NBA Live titles over the past generation, as well as the ability to normalise stats in NBA 2K’s franchise modes, has provided a solution here. Of course, in MyCAREER, longer quarters allow for more Badge progress in short order, and there’s no normalisation option for stats. Caring too much about that does seem like folly however, as it feels like games are designed for short quarters.

Read More »

Monday Tip-Off: How My NBA Live Roster Updates Stopped

Monday Tip-Off: How My NBA Live Roster Updates Stopped

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 the story of how I stopped releasing roster updates for NBA Live, and my current stance on making any further roster mods.

In April 2013, I released the last of my current roster updates for NBA Live 2005 through to NBA Live 08. Although I mentioned at the time that it may well be the end for me making roster updates for those games, I did want to leave some wiggle room in case I returned for the 2014 season. As it stood, it’d basically taken me all season to get a new roster out. It’s safe to say that by that point, I was feeling significantly burned out on making roster updates for NBA Live. I could see the end looming, but I didn’t want to make the call. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone, or feel like I’d failed.

To that end, I made preliminary preparations for a 2014 season roster. I moved the existing players around, changed jersey numbers, and even worked on a few logo updates. When that season passed by without a roster, I did the same thing for the 2015 campaign. That time, I even made a spreadsheet, intending to map out the bio data and some preliminary ratings for players that I’d need to create. I’d repeat the process of preparing a roster – even if it was just to create a save file ready to work on – over the next few years. Despite a small spark of willingness, those projects never came to fruition. This is how my NBA Live roster updates ultimately stopped.

Read More »

Monday Tip-Off: In The Shadow Of Their Predecessors

Monday Tip-Off: In The Shadow Of Their Predecessors

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 thoughts on the way that every new NBA 2K game finds itself in the shadow of its predecessors, and the cyclical nature of critique.

Not everyone has been entirely happy with NBA 2K21, but what else is new? While the NBA 2K series continues to be very successful, opinions of recent releases have been much less favourable than their predecessors. Legacy issues, practices that are lacking in goodwill, and product fatigue, have all led to an increasingly dissatisfied userbase. In turn, this dissatisfaction has inspired gamers to reminisce about titles from just a few years ago. To that end, the last few games have been unfavourably compared to the likes of NBA 2K15, NBA 2K16, and NBA 2K17.

A recent Twitter thread criticising NBA 2K21 drew an interesting reply about these comparisons. In response to the assertion that NBA 2K21 is the worst game in the series, the Tweet pointed out that it’s a title bestowed on just about every NBA 2K game when it’s new. It specifically noted similar remarks about NBA 2K17, a game that’s now being held up as a benchmark that newer games have failed to reach. While it’s a generalisation that deflects some valid criticism of NBA 2K21 and its immediate predecessors, it also raises a pertinent question: do we forget our own criticism, with revisionist history and nostalgia unfairly casting a shadow over every new game?

Read More »

Monday Tip-Off: Less Online, And I Feel Fine

Monday Tip-Off: Less Online, And I Feel Fine

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 generally avoiding the online scene in NBA 2K21 has led to a more positive experience.

Don’t get me wrong; NBA 2K21 has its issues on Current Gen and Next Gen, though especially the former. It has its frustrating moments, and that’s when I usually end up putting it aside. However, I have honestly been enjoying the Next Gen version enough to want to play it regularly. Beyond a handful of improvements and appealing content, the main reason I’m having a better time on the virtual hardwood as of late is that for the most part, I’m not playing online. That means no more organising online sessions, or jumping into The Rec to play with randoms.

That’s not to say that I’m completely eschewing the online scene. MyTEAM’s Agenda does steer me in that direction in the quest to gain XP and level up, but other than that, I don’t go out of my way to play online. Again, there are some frustrations that you will encounter because of the legacy issues in NBA 2K21, but by avoiding online play, I’m at least dodging the ones that are user-driven and self-inflicted. It’s felt so refreshing to dive into other experiences, especially ones that I haven’t had enough time for in previous games thanks to MyCAREER and its connected modes. Of course, while I do feel fine about my recent gaming habits, it’s also unfortunate.

Read More »

Monday Tip-Off: Who Wants NBA Live To Return?

Monday Tip-Off: Who Wants NBA Live To Return?

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 my thoughts on the interest in the return of NBA Live, and the brazenly dismissive attitude that some people have towards the idea.

The announcement that EA Sports will be reviving its college football franchise at some point in the future drew a lot of interest last week. There was scepticism too, of course. Madden doesn’t have the best reputation these days, and so the prospect of getting a virtually identical game, except with college teams, is one that many gamers are leery of. Nevertheless, there’s also excitement and optimism, and those feelings have spread to the basketball gaming community. If EA’s college football series can return, then maybe we can look forward to NBA Live making a comeback, too.

Not everyone is excited by or supportive of that prospect, though. The idea that gamers want to see NBA Live return was met by some with mocking scorn and derision. Prominent voices in the community, and their followers alike, ridiculed the idea that anyone is interested in – or should be interested in – a return for NBA Live. Now, I understand being sceptical about the NBA Live series, and feeling burned by it. I understand being satisfied enough with NBA 2K to not be personally interested in an alternative. However, anyone sneeringly denying there being any interest in NBA Live returning is being profoundly myopic at best and a blatant shill at worst.

Read More »

Monday Tip-Off: “It’s Business” Is Not An Excuse

Monday Tip-Off: "It's Business" Is Not An Excuse

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 rebuttal to the idea that the fact developing video games is a business is somehow an excuse for lousy practices.

Video game development is a business. There is a business side to the creation of video games that, to the companies developing and publishing them, is just as crucial as the artistic side. There, I admitted it. In fact, I never denied it. If a business doesn’t turn a profit, it doesn’t keep operating for very long. If a product isn’t profitable, it’s going to have a very short shelf life. This is basic economics, so even when we’re grumbling about questionable practices regarding design and recurrent revenue mechanics, we understand that video game developers need to make money. But

But, there are good ways and bad ways to do business, even when it comes to the often downright predatory and exploitative practice of microtransactions. The goal of turning a profit does not excuse issues with the product itself. There is nothing wrong with expecting value for money and satisfaction with your purchase, and speaking out when you feel that a product has failed to deliver in that regard. When the pursuit of profits – especially through recurrent revenue mechanics – actively interferes with the quality of a product, it’s fair to criticise developers for compromising the experience. Saying “it’s business” is no excuse for design choices that are anti-consumer.

Read More »

Monday Tip-Off: The Reddit Post That Tried to Warn Us

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 reflections on a Reddit post that tried to warn us about some looming issues with the direction of the NBA 2K series.

There’s a Reddit post that I’ve mentioned and linked to in quite a few articles since it was made in the official NBA 2K subreddit back in 2018. That post was titled “The ‘MMO-ification’ of NBA2K and the perils of ignoring player retention: Thoughts from a former MMO developer“, and it was very well-received. After all, this wasn’t just a random gamer speaking out in frustration, or even a prominent content creator or pundit. This was someone who worked in video game development, and saw first-hand how certain approaches affected both gamer enjoyment, and a game’s success.

The criticisms this former EVE Online developer made were astute, and they were on the money about it only being the beginning. Their post touched on matters that many reviewers, and even content creators and community leaders, tend to ignore. It spoke about design philosophies – matters beyond tech and specific game features – that were responsible for problems in the games, and painted a worrying picture for the future. Today, I’m revisiting that Reddit post, and picking out some relevant quotes that identify problems that were troubling in NBA 2K18, and have remained so in its successors. As you’ll see, the insights of that Reddit post were almost prophetic.

Read More »

Monday Tip-Off: Ain’t No Love in the Heart of The City

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 my thoughts on how The City is perpetuating a troubling issue with MyCAREER and its connected modes.

Adding an open world environment to MyCAREER has, unsurprisingly, been a rather divisive decision since The Neighborhood debuted in NBA 2K18. Some gamers loved the idea, and were wowed from the very first reveal trailers. Others aren’t so keen on the concept, seeing it as a waste of time. Now that The City has taken its place in NBA 2K21 Next Gen, gamers who loved The Neighborhood have been delighted by an even larger hub world. Those who disliked The Neighborhood have no love for The City for many of the same reasons as before, only now on a much grander scale.

Of course, even if you love The City, the feeling isn’t mutual. There’s an aspect of The City that is, to quote a salient Reddit post, “downright contemptuous of players and hostile towards newer players”. Unlike The Neighborhood, The City isn’t welcoming to everyone; well, not immediately, anyway. This year, we have to prove that we’re worthy of taking part in the main hub world of MyCAREER, making use of all the familiar facilities that we’ve had at our disposal these past few years. To me, the title of Bobby Bland’s song – or for that matter, the Jay-Z song from the NBA 2K17 soundtrack, which sampled it – aptly describes The City’s cold, elitist heartlessness.

Read More »

Monday Tip-Off: Playing The Long Game

Monday Tip-Off: Playing The Long Game

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 recap of my experiences vying for The Long Game Trophy by playing all four years of a college career in The Long Shadow, NBA 2K21 Next Gen’s MyCAREER story.

I have to say that as far as Trophies and Achievements are concerned, The Long Game is aptly named. Spending four years in college at the start of a MyCAREER game is definitely a lengthy slog! There’s no simulating – not that you’d really want to, when you’re grinding for VC and Badges – and with only nine other teams, it can be repetitive. At the same time, the idea appealed to me. Less than 1% of PlayStation 5 gamers have attained the Trophy for completing The Long Game, so it’s obviously a rare feat. I figured it would be interesting to take the road less travelled.

It’s also the first time we’ve had this opportunity in MyCAREER. Every other game that’s included a college career has seen our MyPLAYER declare for the Draft after their freshman year. Now we actually have a choice, and it’s a decision that we have to weigh up as a real player might. Is it worth taking the extra time to develop before entering the league – especially as it’s grinding against easier competition – or do you go after the big bucks (or in this case, VC) as soon as you can? To me, the choice was easy. I’ve been a one-and-done player before; now that I have the opportunity, I’m playing The Long Game! Please be advised that there are some story spoilers ahead.

Read More »