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Monday Tip-Off

Monday Tip-Off: Revised In-Universe Value of VC in NBA 2K20

Monday Tip-Off: Revised In-Universe Value of VC in NBA 2K20

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 another look at the in-universe value of VC in NBA 2K20’s MyCAREER.

Didn’t I already examine the in-universe value of VC this year? I did, but since then, one of the patches quietly nerfed salaries and some of the incentive payouts. To that end, I’m interested to see how the in-universe value of VC has been affected by the new base salaries. Since the prices of items haven’t changed at all, their in-universe value will of course still look ridiculous regardless. For accuracy’s sake though, I thought that I’d go back and redo the calculations in order to determine the current figures. Presumably, no further nerfs or buffs are in the pipeline.

Once again, you may wonder what the point of all this is. After all, the dollar amounts don’t have any practical use or bearing on the experience, and the comparison of item prices to per-game salaries already speaks for itself. I maintain that it underscores that discrepancy however, and is useful information to know when someone excuses the need to purchase basic items as being a measure of realism. Yes, clothes in the real world aren’t free, but by the same token, a basic t-shirt doesn’t cost more than an NBA player’s single game earnings; even a player on a minimum contract. With that being said, let’s see how the in-universe value has changed following the VC nerfs.

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Monday Tip-Off: A Crossroads in the Modding Community

Monday Tip-Off: A Crossroads in the Modding Community

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 by addressing some recent concerns and issues in our modding community.

I’ve often spoken of how proud I am of our modding community, how I truly believe we have a good thing going here. I stand by that statement, but it’s a remark that I’ve often made before offering up criticism of troubling practices within our community. I’ll admit that I’m doing the same thing today, as the last couple of weeks have been an unusually turbulent time. There are a number of issues that have reached a boiling point, and troubling attitudes have been on display. It’s culminated in at least one ban, and an unhealthy amount of tension for what is meant to be a fun hobby.

At the same time, it’s led to a productive discussion about the path that our modding community is on, and the kind of community we want to be. It’s allowed us to raise these issues and find out that many of us are on the same page. I’d like to continue that discussion here today. Yes, I have some criticisms that may seem blunt, but I would ultimately like something positive to come out of the messy situation that has arisen. As I’ve said in the Forum, it’s getting to the point where we may have to amend our rules and policies, to ensure that we’re maintaining the standard we’ve set and culture we’ve established. If nothing else, we want to make sure unwritten rules are written.

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Monday Tip-Off: A Week Playing in The Rec

Monday Tip-Off: A Week Playing in The 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 recap of a week playing in The Rec in NBA 2K20.

Because I’ve been casually playing a bit of MyCAREER while waiting for the season to start and the rosters to be updated for a MyLEAGUE game, my player has levelled up enough to be viable to play with online. As such, I’ve gone to The Rec a couple of times to see what it’s like this year. Not much has changed in terms of the quality of play or stability of the servers, but it’s had its moments. To that end, I figured if I was able to keep my expectations low, it’d be fun to jump on every once in a while for a change of pace. It’s a way of earning extra VC for MyTEAM packs if nothing else.

That led me to wonder if there were better nights than others to jump into The Rec for a game or two. I recalled that when the NLSC squad was playing multiple sessions of 2K Pro-Am per week in NBA 2K17, some days yielded more enjoyable experiences with good competition, while other days brought frustrating times with opponents who exploited cheesy tactics. I decided that I’d play The Rec every night for a week in order to see which night – if any – was the best to jump on. I was also interested to see how quickly I’d get sick of it, and whether I’d end up too frustrated with the mode to play it any more. What follows is a recap of my week playing in The Rec!

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Monday Tip-Off: Revisiting My NBA 2K18 Dunking Issue

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 by revisiting my issue with dunking back in NBA 2K18’s MyCAREER.

From the first iteration of MyPLAYER Archetypes to NBA 2K20’s pie charts, player builds have been a contentious aspect of MyCAREER and its connected modes. The approach is intended to balance the game and allow us to create the type of player that best suits us, but in reality, it’s proven to be very restrictive. Only a handful of builds are viable – especially when it comes to online play – and those tend to be noticeably overpowered. Conversely, a lot of the builds that aren’t as viable are often outright broken, and not enjoyable to play with.

I encountered a very strange issue with dunking back in NBA 2K18, playing as a Sharpshooting Playmaker. Despite increasing my ratings, equipping the appropriate animations, and being very familiar with the advanced shooting controls, I was rarely able to get my player to dunk. Hearing that there might be an issue with tendencies for point guards created in The Prelude, I contacted 2K Support. Predictably, they were no help whatsoever. I’ve since made a few observations when creating similar builds in NBA 2K19 and NBA 2K20, and so this week, I’m briefly revisiting NBA 2K18’s MyCAREER to see if I can actually resolve my dunking issue.

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Monday Tip-Off: 2K’s Overlooked Gambling Mechanic

Monday Tip-Off: Overlooked Gambling Mechanic

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 an often overlooked gambling mechanic in NBA 2K.

When rating and reviewing the last few NBA 2K games, a common sentiment is that the core gameplay delivers, the modes are deep and engaging, and there’s a lot of fun to be had, but the recurrent revenue and gambling mechanics are off-putting. In other words, there are a lot great things about NBA 2K on this generation, but there’s also a distinct lack of goodwill and an undeniably predatory business model. Notably, these complaints haven’t yet hurt 2K’s bottom line as sales and recurrent revenue are at an all-time high, though user scores and trust in the brand are considerably down.

There have been several articles, videos, and social media posts discussing the most problematic aspects of current gen NBA 2K. Progression in MyCAREER and a lack of matchmaking online has created a more forceful push towards spending money on VC in order to level up quicker. MyTEAM is arguably more controversial as its packs can be compared to loot boxes, which are widely considered gambling mechanics and thus inappropriate in games rated for minors. Both issues are concerning, but there’s an even more brazen gambling mechanic present in NBA 2K, and for some reason, it never seems to get any attention despite its overt nature.

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Monday Tip-Off: Why NBA 2K Needs Matchmaking

Monday Tip-Off: Why NBA 2K Needs Matchmaking

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 an outline of why it’s important that future NBA 2K games implement proper matchmaking.

When NBA Live 08 implemented Online Team Play post-release, we were seeing the future of online basketball gaming. Although subsequent NBA Live titles would build upon that first iteration of the concept, it’s ultimately been NBA 2K that has taken the experience to new heights. The idea of creating your own player and joining up with other gamers to play multiplayer games where every player is user-controlled has become the most popular experience in NBA 2K. It’s even led to the founding of a professional eSports league, run in conjunction with the NBA itself.

Given the popularity that online play now enjoys, it’s both puzzling and disappointing that NBA 2K is lacking such a critical component of the experience: matchmaking. It’s kind of implemented in that there’s a rep system (albeit one that’s problematic), position logic behind teaming up players in the Rec Center, and a rough ranking system in team Pro-Am. However, it’s nowhere near as deep or effective as it needs to be, and in the case of The Playground, it’s completely non-existent. Simply put, if NBA 2K is going to cater to its large paying audience and establish a respectable competitive scene, it needs to have proper matchmaking.

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Monday Tip-Off: Revenge of the Nerfs

Monday Tip-Off: Revenge of the Nerfs

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 recent nerfs to VC rewards in NBA 2K20, and the underlying issues with transparency that they represent.

By now, you’ve probably heard that a recent update for NBA 2K20 has nerfed the amount of VC for starting salaries and endorsements in MyCAREER. While the nerfs to salaries only apply to new games, several NBA 2K20 gamers have reported that the amount of VC they’ve already negotiated for endorsement deals has been retroactively reduced. On top of that, it’s now far more difficult to negotiate with teams and brands, as there’s very little wiggle room in the counteroffers that they will accept. In short, VC can no longer be earned as quickly as it could be at launch.

Nerfs to VC, Badge progression, and other aspects of NBA 2K games are nothing new. Changes like this are always going to be controversial and anger a portion of the userbase, but the main point of contention for most gamers is that we didn’t receive any notice. The nerfs weren’t listed among the laughably short list of patch notes for the most recent update, nor were they announced or explained via the game’s official social media accounts. While this particular issue only affects MyCAREER, it’s emblematic of a much bigger and recurring problem with NBA 2K, that being an overall lack of transparency, communication, and goodwill.

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Monday Tip-Off: Hopping On The Banned Wagon

Monday Tip-Off: Hopping On The Banned Wagon

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 insights into our approach to banning people in our community, as well as the potential fallout when users do get banned.

Many years ago, we used to have a public “Banned List” in the NLSC Forum. It was started and maintained for a few reasons. First of all, it let people know that someone had been banned, pre-emptively answering questions as to where they had gone. The second reason was to emphasise the rules that had been broken, as we also listed the reason that the person had been banned. And, because we were all a bit younger and less mature then, the third reason was the humiliation factor involved. In other words, act up, and you go on the naughty list for everyone else to see.

Because of the third reason in particular, I was generally uneasy with the idea, and so we eventually put the kibosh on the Banned List. I also feel that if someone is acting up so badly that we feel compelled to show them the door, they shouldn’t be glorified or given any further attention, and the list did offer some measure of notoriety. I still feel that way, which is why I don’t like to talk about people who have been banned, even when they post inflammatory remarks about the site, me, or other NLSC staff. It’s sometimes awfully tempting to respond though, even if it’s only in general terms. To that end, I’d like to talk a little about those who hop aboard the banned wagon.

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Monday Tip-Off: The In-Universe Value of VC (NBA 2K20 Edition)

Monday Tip-Off: The In-Universe Value of VC (NBA 2K20 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 look at the in-universe value of VC in NBA 2K20’s MyCAREER, and some of the issues that it underscores.

Even though I’ve decided to move away from MyCAREER this year – a decision that I feel even more comfortable with having played a few games – my long tenure with the mode means that I still have some residual interest in what goes on with it. At the very least, I want MyCAREER, its connected modes, and The Neighborhood, all to be as good as they can be for the people who are interested in them. To that end, VC is still one of the most troubling issues: how much you earn, the prices of upgrades and cosmetic items, and the discrepancy between in-universe and real world value of VC.

The last couple of years, I’ve calculated the in-universe value of Virtual Currency in NBA 2K18 and NBA 2K19‘s Neighborhoods. Last year’s “exchange rate” was simply ridiculous, as 1 VC was equivalent to at least $105 in-universe, based on a salary of 500 VC representing a dollar amount of $4.29 million per year (and thus $52,317 per game). The exchange rate wasn’t consistent, as 1000 VC equated to an annual salary of $25.23 million ($307,682 per game), placing the value of 1 VC at around $308 in-universe. Needless to say, this made the in-universe price tags on clothing items truly insane. What’s the situation like this year? Let’s take a look and find out.

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Monday Tip-Off: Entering the Hall of Fame in MyCAREER

Monday Tip-Off: Entering the Hall of Fame in 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 some reflections upon finally entering the Hall of Fame in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER.

Back in May, I talked about my aim of making it into the Hall of Fame before I put MyCAREER aside; not just in NBA 2K19, but for the foreseeable future. I knew it would be a satisfying way to cap off years of being a MyCAREER gamer, and also provide some closure as I made the switch to MyLEAGUE and MyTEAM. I met the requirements for induction into the Hall of Fame as I concluded my second regular season, and it was a great feeling. However, with a new-look lineup and a chance at a threepeat, I didn’t immediately retire in order to get the Hall of Fame cutscene.

I played a few games in the third year and did have some fun with them, but it was clear that I was done with the mode. I waited for a few weeks after NBA 2K20 came out, at which point I was certain that I didn’t have any desire to continue playing my NBA 2K19 MyCAREER. Knowing that there wasn’t any turning back, I hooked up my capture card, retired my player, and recorded the cutscene for posterity. I realise that many of you may have already watched that cutscene – either in your own games or on YouTube – but I wanted to share it with everyone today, as well as reflect on my journey to enshrinement in the virtual Springfield (and again, not that one).

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Monday Tip-Off: The Problem with MyREP

Monday Tip-Off: The Problem with MyREP

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 MyREP in NBA 2K20, and how it’s a symptom of a bigger problem.

I have to say that it’s been refreshing to shift my focus away from MyCAREER in NBA 2K20. I’ve been enjoying MyTEAM, and once we get closer to the start of the season and receive updated rosters, I’m ready to get stuck into MyLEAGUE as well. With that being said, I have spent a little time in MyCAREER so far. In the interest of providing a comprehensive review, as well as satisfying my own interest, I wanted to check it out. If nothing else, it’s a means of farming some extra VC which I can then spend on MyTEAM packs, rather than shell out real money on loot box mechanics.

A noteworthy change in MyCAREER this year is the revamping of the rewards. The Road to 99 has more or less been done away with, replaced by the concept of MyREP. Instead of increasing your Overall Rating to unlock new content and bonuses, it’s all about increasing your rep through Playground and Pro-Am games. While the idea has merit, and I had my own complaints about the Road to 99, I’m not sure that this is the right direction for MyCAREER. Indeed, it’s thrust a few problematic design choices into focus, and unless some adjustments can be made in a patch, it’ll be a misstep for MyCAREER and the new MyREP system.

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Monday Tip-Off: When The Idea Is More Fun

Monday Tip-Off: When The Idea Is More Fun

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 an idea for a franchise mode game can turn out to be less fun than it originally seemed.

As I’ve mentioned before, this year I’m intending to move away from MyCAREER and return to my roots as a franchise gamer. A generation ago, I was unsatisfied with NBA Live’s Dynasty mode as it lagged behind NBA 2K’s offering, an issue that I still have with EA’s game. I ended up missing out on the quality franchise experience that Association provided as by the time I got into the NBA 2K series, career modes felt fresher, and vital for online team play. I’m ready to return to franchise gaming though, and with the depth of MyLEAGUE, my previous complaints shouldn’t be an issue.

However, there’s a hurdle beyond the depth and quality of a franchise mode: your idea for your game, the scenario you want to create for yourself. If you’re invested in the team you’ve chosen and the situation you find yourself in, you’ll be hooked on your franchise game. Conversely, if the appeal of the scenario quickly wears off, you’ll be far more likely to abandon your franchise within the first five to ten games. On the surface, the solution is to carefully consider all aspects of your franchise game as you set it up, and avoid an unappealing scenario. Unfortunately, all that foresight goes out the window when a seemingly fun idea turns out to be less appealing than expected.

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Monday Tip-Off: Initial NBA 2K20 Impressions

Monday Tip-Off: Initial NBA 2K20 Impressions

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 initial impressions of NBA 2K20.

If you’re an avid basketball gamer, then you know that NBA 2K20 was released last week, and have probably been playing it over the weekend. That’s what I spent quite a few hours doing, on both PC and PlayStation 4. I must admit that while I did remain optimistic throughout the preview season, I wasn’t all that hyped for NBA 2K20. It may be that I’m getting old and have gone through too many preview seasons and launches, but for all the hoopla on social media about 2K Day, I wasn’t that pumped. Looking forward to checking out the new game, sure, but as I said, not overly hyped.

With this seemingly being the last release before a new generation launches, I’d say that my expectations were quite low. I expected some news bells and whistles, and I liked a few of the things I read during the preview season, but I’ve grown a tad cynical when it comes to developer blogs. As such, I wasn’t expecting a huge jump from NBA 2K19. After a weekend with NBA 2K20, my impressions are that it was wise to set the bar at that level. I’d like to spend more time with the game and see what happens as far as any early updates before I deliver a full review, but to tip this week off, I will share my impressions of NBA 2K20 so far.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Final Days of Last Year’s Games

Monday Tip-Off: The Final Days of Last Year's Games

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 final thoughts on NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 as we enter the final days leading up to NBA 2K20’s release.

Cue “The Final Countdown” by Europe, as we’re just days away from the release of NBA 2K20! As for NBA Live 20…well, we’re still waiting to find out what’s going to happen with EA Sports’ long-running series. In any event, the impending release of NBA 2K20 means that we’re days away from NBA 2K19 and NBA Live 19 officially becoming last year’s games. That is to say, they’ll no longer be the most up to date sim-oriented NBA titles, and the community’s interest will shift to the game set in the forthcoming 2020 season.

It’s a strange period of limbo in the annual basketball gaming cycle. If you’re done with last year’s games, you’ll be itching to get your hands on the new release. If you still have unfinished business, you’ll likely be furiously playing them to achieve some semblance of closure before moving on to this year’s title. After all, it’s not easy to go back and pick up where you left off when you’re hooked on a new game that will itself be outmoded a year from now. With that in mind, as we find ourselves in the final days before NBA 2K20 officially succeeds NBA 2K19 and NBA Live 19, I’m taking a moment to reflect on the past year of basketball gaming, and to look ahead.

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Monday Tip-Off: 18 Years Running the NLSC

NLSC Court in NBA 2K17

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 as I celebrate 18 years of running the NLSC.

Today, I’m not just tipping off a new week here at the NLSC, but the start of another year of my tenure as the site’s webmaster, administrator, and primary content creator. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was an excited young basketball gamer of almost 17, accepting the offer to take over the biggest and best NBA Live fansite. That was August 26th 2001 however, which means it was quite some time ago: 18 years, to be precise. To say that basketball video games have come a long way, and that the NBA itself has changed a lot during that time, would be an understatement.

I always get reflective around the time of my NLSC anniversary. Maybe that’s part of being a so-called old head, or maybe I’m just the sentimental type. This year feels like a particularly big milestone as at this point, I’ve been running the NLSC longer than I haven’t; literally more than half my life! I’ve mentioned it in previous reflections, but I do sometimes wonder how long I’ll end up running the site for. Presumably until it’s no longer an enjoyable creative outlet for me, and honestly, that time hasn’t come yet. I still plan on being around and keeping the NLSC going for a while yet, especially when some of its most rewarding experiences have come this past decade.

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