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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Returns Over Before They Began

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Returns Over Before They Began

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at NBA returns that were over before they began, with a representation of how they’d look in games.

Although our content is obviously focused on the virtual hardwood, I like to mix in topics related to the real NBA as well. After all, it directly influences our experiences in video games, and the games in turn capture a snapshot of what the league was like when they were released. To that end, I’ve enjoyed branching out with topics like Familiar Faces in Strange Places, and its counterpart Familiar Faces Back in Familiar Places, in previous Wayback Wednesday features. It’s easy to bring it all back to video games, because of the way they act as interactive almanacs.

This is a spinoff of those two series that came to mind as I was researching them. I recalled players that were reacquired by their former teams, but didn’t end up playing for them again. As I noted in my Familiar Places articles, there’s something fun about seeing players rejoin their old teams; especially when they end up wearing an updated uniform we never thought we’d see them don. Likewise, there are some interesting “What If” scenarios involving NBA returns that were over before they even had a chance to begin, or otherwise didn’t result in an official appearance. We can see and make NBA returns happen in games however, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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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?

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NLSC Podcast #363: Worth A Second Look

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Episode #363 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this weekly podcast that’s all about basketball gaming.

After dusting off the Xbox 360 version of NBA Live 06 prompted a surprising change of heart for one of us, this week’s episode discusses revisiting old games and seeing them in a new light. We consider the factors that influence changes in our opinions of previous games, and offer up some personal examples of games that we now view differently. We also tackle the phenomenon of games that were once heavily criticised subsequently being held up as benchmarks. In the mailbag this week, we react to a suggestion that would result in more goodwill for NBA 2K’s recurrent revenue mechanics.

Join in the conversation in the comments below, or here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as mailbag questions and topic suggestions for future shows. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. The show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

NLSC Podcast #362: Putting the Ball in the Basket

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Episode #362 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this weekly podcast that’s all about basketball gaming.

A bevy of retro season roster mods are being produced at the moment, which we’re excited to see. The fact that there are a couple of 2005 season mods out or in the works reminds us that time is marching on, and our nostalgia is getting old! We also have some advice for getting big projects done and released. Meanwhile, NBA 2K21 Current Gen and Next Gen have both received new patches, so we briefly discuss some of the changes. This week’s main discussion is a deep dive into shooting mechanics: the history and evolution, the best and worst concepts, and everything in between. In the latest mailbag, we discuss the forthcoming Space Jam sequel, and consider another What If scenario.

Join in the conversation in the comments below, or here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as mailbag questions and topic suggestions for future shows. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. The show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

NLSC Podcast #361: Taking Them To School

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Episode #361 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this weekly podcast that’s all about basketball gaming.

Recent experiences in MyLEAGUE lead us to reflect on the meaning of “sim” and how it can be fun to bend reality, especially in fantasy scenarios. Some new additions have also been made to the collection. However, the big news this week is the return of EA Sports’ college football series, and what that might mean for both NBA Live and the March Madness/NCAA Basketball series. We discuss our history with college basketball titles and interest in future releases, as well as the pushback on interest in (and the need for) NBA Live’s return. In this week’s mailbag, we talk about the possibility of a standalone G League mode, and what it would take to instigate real change with NBA 2K.

Join in the conversation in the comments below, or here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as mailbag questions and topic suggestions for future shows. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. The show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

The Friday Five: 5 Side Characters That Should’ve Been MyPLAYERs

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 suggests five side characters in MyCAREER stories that arguably should’ve been the player character instead.

So, I’ve looked at the best antagonists and protagonists in MyCAREER stories, but those tales have also featured a number of interesting side characters (and B-Fresh). It may be an overused idea at times, but whenever you have a cast of good supporting characters that have interesting stories of their own, you can’t help but wonder about spinoff ideas. Alternatively, you may feel that they should’ve been the main character all along. There are certainly some examples in the various MyCAREER stories, and so I’ll be exploring those possibilities today.

Of course, it should be noted that oftentimes side characters are in those roles for a reason, and promoting them to the lead or one of the main characters exposes why they weren’t in the spotlight in the first place. The same traits that made them such enjoyable side characters can make them unsuitable protagonists. It may be that they work better in small doses, or aspects that made them funny as a side character are grating when they’re the lead. Conversely, a lack of flaws may make them too boring in the role of protagonist. With that being said, I do believe there’s merit in these side characters being cast in the role of MyPLAYER avatar, albeit with a few changes.

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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.

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The Friday Five: Top 5 Protagonists in MyCAREER Stories

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a countdown of the Top 5 Protagonists we’ve played as in MyCAREER stories (obligatory spoiler warning).

Although it’s often said that stories are only as good as their villains, it’s still vital that their protagonists are likewise well-written. There’s arguably more wiggle room here as some stories have successfully utilised protagonists that are audience surrogates; blank slates that we can project ourselves onto. MyPLAYERs certainly can qualify in that regard. Since the adoption of the story-driven approach in MyCAREER, the player character does have established personality traits, yet there are also moments where we can role-play and choose how they react to a situation.

A problem that many of us have had with the protagonists of various MyCAREER stories is that the aspects of the character and story we can’t change have a negative impact on the experience. For example, the NBA 2K15 MyPLAYER isn’t a very sympathetic character. In NBA 2K16’s “Livin’ Da Dream“, Frequency Vibrations (aka Freq) has a very specific background that doesn’t gel with the RPG mechanics of the mode, and makes decisions many of us wouldn’t. A good MyCAREER protagonist is one whose shoes we do want to jump into, whichever brand they may be. To that end, these are my picks for the Top 5 Protagonists that have become our avatars.

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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.

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The Friday Five: Top 5 Antagonists in MyCAREER Stories

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a countdown of the Top 5 Antagonists encountered in MyCAREER stories (obligatory spoiler warning).

It’s often said that a story is only as good as its villain. We love our heroes and all, but we need them to overcome obstacles, and ultimately, a worthy antagonist. After all, what would Batman be without The Joker? The most popular professional wrestlers have always had great heels to make them look heroic, even if they’re a bit of an anti-hero themselves. Name a popular franchise, and it’ll be sure to have a memorable antagonist that made the protagonist’s journey exciting and meaningful. Conversely, the absence of a strong villain tends to water down a tale.

Of course, that isn’t always the case. Indeed, it’s possible to tell a good, coherent story without an antagonist. The complication the protagonist faces instead comes from the challenge of accomplishing a task, or resolving conflict that wasn’t caused by any act of maliciousness or villainy. This is often the case with MyCAREER stories, in which the protagonist is a young basketball player with aspirations of making the NBA, and must face all of the hurdles that go hand-in-hand with achieving that dream. However, we’ve also encountered a few antagonists, and they’ve undoubtedly made the road to the NBA bumpier. Without further ado, here are the Top 5 MyCAREER antagonists!

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Monday Tip-Off: I’ve Got To Use My Imagination

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 how we no longer have to use our imagination when it comes to career and franchise modes.

Yes, the title of this week’s column is indeed a reference to a song by Gladys Knight & the Pips. That’s about as far as the reference goes, however. Truth be told, I only know the song because Forrest Gump is one of my all-time favourite movies, and it’s on its soundtrack. In any case, imagination is a core component of gaming, no matter the genre. Whether we’re playing single player or multiplayer, we immerse ourselves in a virtual world. We share the goal of the player character, whether it’s saving the world, winning a championship, or causing mayhem as a goose.

Imagination has always been – and to some extent still is – a big part of basketball gaming. Whether we’re assuming the role of a general manager or coach, taking control of a star player, or stepping onto the hardwood or blacktop with our own avatar, there’s an element of fantasy at play. Of course, many years ago, we had to be far more imaginative as far as scenarios and stories. In franchise and career play, we filled in the gaps, created our own back stories, and would even role-play in our story section. These days, we don’t have to use our imagination so much, especially in the story-driven MyCAREER. Needless to say, there are benefits and drawbacks to this.

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NLSC Podcast #356: State of NBA 2K Addressed

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Episode #356 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

Before we get rolling, we touch on the subject of virtual hardwood photography, and offer up some tips to get the best angles. After that, we get right into our main topic: the current state of NBA 2K, and our latest thoughts on NBA 2K21. How is the latest game – and the series as a whole – looking as we enter the new year, with a new generation? What are our concerns for the future, and what responsibility does have the community have in providing 2K with constructive feedback? In this week’s mailbag, we’re talking about NBA 2K13 on Wii U, and what – if anything – EA Sports should take from NBA Live 19.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as mailbag questions and topic suggestions for future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. The show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

The Sunday Substitute: My Last 5 MyCAREER Campaigns From Worst to Best

My player in NBA 2K16 posing with DeMarcus Cousins.

What’s that? A surprise edition of The Sunday Substitute to start the new year? With the next generation of consoles here, I’ve decided to reflect on my PS4 MyCAREER experiences and rank them from worst to best.

MyCAREER has been a part of my basketball video game experience ever since I first picked up the mode in NBA 2K10, back when it was called My Player. However, it wasn’t until I purchased my PS4 that I played the game annually (except for NBA 2K18). During my run on PS4, I made a conscious decision to make each MyCAREER experience unique. For this reason, I played a different position for each game.

Every situation had its strengths and weaknesses, but some stood out more than others. So, I’m going to rank each of my last five MyCAREER campaigns on PS4 from worst to best. Let’s get this show on the road!

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NLSC Podcast #355: Hey, Mr Postman!

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Episode #355 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

As promised, we’re ending the year with a jumbo edition of the mailbag! First of all, we’re ranking NBA 2K on the last generation, and yes, our lists do differ. We also revisit the topic of NBA Live’s future, EA Sports’ silence on the game’s official social media channels, and how optimistic we feel. This segues into a discussion of franchises that EA has discontinued. Other topics include star athletes of yesteryear returning, our favourite mods, and what would take NBA 2K to the next level as far as features and content are concerned. A huge thanks to everyone who contributed topics and questions!

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as mailbag questions and topic suggestions for future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. The show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

The Friday Five: 5 Worst Daily Spin Prizes

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of the five worst prizes that you can get on the Daily Spin in MyCAREER.

We’ve taken a look at the best, so now it’s time to check out the worst! Last week, I listed my picks for the best Daily Spin prizes; the most desirable freebies that the wheel had to offer. This week, it’s all about the prizes that feel like a slap in the face. You’d almost rather win nothing than see the wheel land on these prizes, and when your player pumps their fist at seeing the result, it’s like it’s rubbing it in. Sure, free is free and we shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, but in our disappointment, it’s difficult to even call these “prizes”.

Once again, these are my personal picks, and at least a couple of them are subjective. The usefulness of certain prizes does depend on your choice of modes, and what’s useful to one gamer may be utterly useless to another. There’s certainly room for discussion and disagreement, just as there was when it came to the best prizes to get on the Daily Spin. However, based on my experiences and habits in MyCAREER, as well as taking into account how appropriate certain prizes are for different gamers, these are my picks. By all means feel free to disagree and suggest your own picks in the comments. With that being said, here are the worst Daily Spin prizes, in my view.

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