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Monday Tip-Off: Crafting a MyCAREER Story

NBA 2K19 MyCAREER Story Scene

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on how future NBA 2K games could craft a better MyCAREER story.

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

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

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Wayback Wednesday: Bonus Teams in NBA 2K

Michael Jordan on Team Jordan in NBA 2K11

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

A couple of weeks ago, I took a look back at the bonus teams that were featured in older NBA Live games. While NBA 2K has become better known for providing basketball gamers with a wide selection of historical squads, it has also featured a variety of bonus teams from Decade All-Stars and developer teams to sports brand and Draft Class squads. While some of them certainly were not essential, they did inject a little extra fun into the game. As with the bonus teams in NBA Live, they provided a means of shaking things up with an enjoyable change of pace.

These bonus teams may now be overshadowed by a bevy of historical content in the form of retro and All-Time squads, but they’re still an important part of NBA 2K’s history of going above and beyond the bare minimum of including all the current NBA teams. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Alternatives to Overall Ratings

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 explores five possible alternatives to having Overall Ratings in basketball video games.

If you play basketball video games – and in particular, if you maintain the rosters for them – then Overall Ratings often cause a lot of hassle. I’ve written not one but two articles on the matter, and since then, the situation sadly hasn’t gotten any better. During this past preview season, there was plenty of grumbling when an Overall Rating was revealed and it didn’t seem quite right. For their part, players themselves have strong opinions as to what their ratings should be. Of course, many of them feel they should be 90+ Overall; even rookies who still have everything to prove!

Overall Ratings remain a point of contention in basketball games (and sports games in general), but unfortunately, they are a necessary evil. They provide us with a succinct overview of a player’s value and standing in the league compared to his peers, which is important when trying to put together trades in the franchise modes. The concept of 99 Overall Ratings also gives us a lofty goal to shoot for in the career modes. As such, Overall Ratings aren’t going anywhere. I do think we need them, but what if we were to replace them with a less controversial system? Does such a solution exist? Well, here are five possibilities that I can think of, that might be viable alternatives.

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Monday Tip-Off: The MyCAREER Cinematic Universe

Marcus Young in The Prelude (NBA 2K19 MyCAREER)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a look at the plots and characters that keep appearing in MyCAREER stories.

Writing about Jackson Ellis for Wayback Wednesday got me thinking about recurring characters and call backs in MyCAREER stories. While I’d like to see MyCAREER move away from the story-driven approach, or at least evolve into a fresher, more dynamic experience, I do find that I can still have fun with the concept. Whether it’s suggesting new scenarios or coming up with a handful of off-the-wall theories and alternative interpretations, the subject doesn’t have to be something I only grumble about over and over again.

Some of the MyCAREER stories have definitely turned out better than others, both in terms of their narrative and the way in which they affected the gameplay experience. From a gameplay perspective, each story is self-contained. Nothing that we do with our individual MyPLAYERs will carry over to the next game, at which point league history – all stats, awards, and championships – reverts back to reality. However, there are references to previous stories, recurring characters, and even a few subplots with NPCs. Just for fun, let’s try to piece together some kind of canon for MyCAREER’s stories. We’ll call it the MyCAREER Cinematic Universe.

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Wayback Wednesday: The Legend of Jackson Ellis

Jackson Ellis in NBA 2K19

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

Minor spoiler alert: in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER mode, Jackson Ellis makes a return to the virtual hardwood. One of the most memorable characters in basketball video games, this year he enjoyed his most prominent role since NBA 2K14, when he was introduced as the rival of your MyPLAYER. Not only has Ellis resonated with NBA 2K gamers, he’s clearly a favourite of the development team as well. Even though he’s only stepped onto the court in a couple of titles, he’s appeared or been referenced in every MyCAREER mode on the current generation.

So what’s the story behind the infamously brash and outspoken Jackson Ellis? Well, the exact story differs for each of us, but in broad strokes, Visual Concepts has been weaving a subplot with Ellis over the past six years. To appreciate the Legend of Jackson Ellis, we need to return to where it all began in the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One version of NBA 2K14. To that end, let’s go back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Reasons to Keep Saved Game Files

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 five reasons why it’s a good idea to keep your saved game files for basketball video games.

Another preview season is over, which means that NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 are upon us! If you’re picking up this year’s games, be sure to share your impressions with the rest of the community in the Forum, and stay tuned for the original content that we’ll be producing for them. Hopefully this year’s releases will meet most of your expectations (if not all of them), and it won’t be long before you’re starting new games and getting stuck into your favourite modes. Once that happens, you might be tempted to delete your saved game files from last year, as well as saves from other older titles.

Not so fast! While you may be about to move on to a new basketball video game, you shouldn’t be too hasty to delete your old saved game files. We’re well beyond the days of 8 megabyte memory cards and other storage devices with very limited capacity, so it shouldn’t be an issue to hang onto your saves. You should have the room to keep files for several games in your collection, not just last year’s release. It’s a good idea to do just that, as losing your old saves is something that you can easily come to regret. To that end, here are five reasons to consider keeping your saved game files, even as you move on to the latest releases from EA Sports and Visual Concepts.

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The Friday Five: 5 Underrated Improvements 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 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 five often underrated improvements in basketball games.

The preview season is almost over, with NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 coming out next week (or the week after, in the case of NBA 2K19’s Standard Edition). For those of us who are picking up this year’s basketball games, we’re naturally hoping that they will provide us with a lot of fun and fulfilling experiences on the virtual hardwood over the course of the next twelve months. From returning features to new modes and content, hopefully we’ll see a satisfactory number of improvements that make all of the anticipation worthwhile.

Of course, when we’ve been buying the newest basketball games every year, many of the improvements can feel rather incremental. It’s not until we go back and play the previous game, or maybe a game from a few years back, that we really recognise and appreciate some of the improvements that have been made. Although there are older games that do still hold up, the further back we go, the more we can see just how far basketball games have come. Some of those improvements are certainly easy to take for granted, so for this week’s Friday Five, I’m taking a look at five improvements in basketball games that tend to be somewhat underrated.

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Spotlighting Our Stories Section; Join in the Fun!

Enter the Dragan is one of the most active Stories in the NLSC Forum

The Stories section in the NLSC Forum isn’t as popular as it once was, in part due to changing demographics and basketball gaming habits. However, there has been some renewed interest in sharing franchise and career mode stories in recent months. To that end, I’d like to spotlight some of the tales that are currently being told on the virtual hardwood.

  • NLSC 2K Pro-Am team member Valor has been running with an expansion franchise – the Chicago Sharks – in NBA 2K17. Currently in the second season, they’ve been able to make some noteworthy free agent signings.
  • Speaking of NBA 2K17 stories, Phil89 is running one titled “Enter the Dragan“. It features the Phoenix Suns, who are currently squaring off with the Chicago Bulls in the 2019 NBA Finals.
  • A rather unique NBA 2K14 story is being told by truefaith0826. Set in the 1996 season using a combination of Ultimate Base Roster and U R Basketball assets, it features some fantastic presentation including video recaps and artwork from NBA Live 96.
  • Speaking of throwback stories, Kevin is running an NBA 2K17 story currently set in the 1997 season. Notably, he’s using an expansion team: the Montreal Hyenas.
  • Jumping over to NBA Live 06, Breems is attempting to re-write history with the 2006 Washington Wizards. The story already features a noteworthy trade, and is approaching the All-Star Weekend.
  • We’ve seen some great NBA Live 10 stories over the years, and cavs4872 is looking to recapture that with a new tale featuring the Houston Rockets. A couple of offseason moves have been reversed, and Allen Iverson has ended up in an unexpected destination.
  • Contributor Dee4Three has taken a fantasy approach to an NBA 2K17 story, pitting historical teams against each other with injuries disabled. It’s resulting in some interesting match-ups to say the least.

With NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 on the horizon, I hope that we can see further activity in our Stories section. As our interviews with various members of the community hopefully demonstrate, a lot of people have had fun sharing their franchise and career experiences with their fellow basketball gamers over the years, and it’d be great to see that trend return.

Whether it’s through written recaps or video content, franchise or career modes, a new game or old, I invite everyone to join in the fun! In the meantime, be sure to check out the aforementioned stories, the other active topics, and of course, the Story Hall of Fame for both NBA Live and NBA 2K.

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The Friday Five: 5 Retro Teams I’d Like To See in NBA 2K (Part 7)

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 part seven in a series of lists of retro teams that I’d like to see added to NBA 2K.

It seems that I can’t stop thinking about historical content that I’d like to see in future editions of NBA Live and NBA 2K. Following on from last week’s countdown of the Top 5 Legends I’d like to see return to NBA Live, I’ve got another list of five retro teams that I believe would make great additions to NBA 2K. You’d think I might be out of ideas after parts one, two, three, four, five, and six, but there are still several teams outside of champions, their opponents, and other perennial contenders that would enhance the selection of retro teams.

As with the previous articles, I’ll start out by explaining that my previous picks still stand. These new picks aren’t meant to replace my previous suggestions, or take any priority over them. I’ll also mention once again that these suggestions are being made under the assumption that all (or at least most) of the key players could be licensed, if they don’t already appear in NBA 2K. After all, it would defeat the purpose of adding any historical squad if none of their star players and other key members of the team were featured. With that being said, let’s get to another five retro teams that I’d like to see added to NBA 2K’s roster of historical content.

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Monday Tip-Off: Cynicism & Developer Blogs

Developer blogs always deliver promising information (NBA 2K19, MyLEAGUE)

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 cynicism we often feel when we read developer blogs.

NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 are just a month away from release, which means we’re in the thick of the preview season. We’re not necessarily getting huge information dumps or new media every day of the week, but the stream of previews is growing steadier as their launch draws nearer. Of course, there are still quite a few things that we’d like to learn about the upcoming games, even though they’re already available to pre-order and will be released in just four weeks. As previously discussed, this has become the norm for basketball gaming’s preview season.

So far, we’ve had one deep-dive developer blog for NBA 2K19, detailing all of the improvements and additions to MyLEAGUE, MyGM, and MyLEAGUE Online in this year’s game. More developer blogs should be on their way, and Mike Wang has also been dropping some important information about gameplay enhancements via his Twitter account, but sometimes it’s difficult to take even the best news at face value. When we take a look back at the developer blogs throughout the years, it’s easy to notice a few patterns and recurring themes. Some people may call it “hating”, but if you’ve experienced a few preview seasons, it can be tough not to get a little cynical.

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The Friday Five: 5 Retro Teams I’d Like To See in NBA 2K (Part 6)

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 part six in a series of lists of retro teams that I’d like to see added to NBA 2K.

Did you think that twenty-five suggestions for new retro teams would be all that I’d be able to come up with? Let’s make it an even thirty! Yes, there are plenty more retro teams that could be added outside of the champions, NBA Finalists, and perennial contenders that originally made up most of the squads from yesteryear available in NBA 2K. As long as Visual Concepts are willing to add some other interesting teams, there are several that we can come up with that were noteworthy for one reason or another, even if they weren’t among the most successful squads in history.

As usual, a reminder that these suggestions don’t cancel out my previous picks, as I’d still like to see those retro teams added to the game at some point. These are just five more that would also be fun additions. Likewise, not all of the players are currently licensed and there’s no guarantee that 2K would be able to secure their likeness rights, but these suggestions are operating under the assumption that they can sign most of (if not all of) the significant players. After all, there’d be no point including the teams if all of the big names won’t sign on. Without any further ado, here are the next five retro teams that I believe would be great to have in future NBA 2K games.

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Monday Tip-Off: Should 99 Overall Ratings Be Possible To Attain?

Road to 99 Loading Screen in NBA 2K18

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 discussion of whether 99 Overall ratings should be possible to attain in NBA Live and NBA 2K.

Few aspects of the core gameplay experience in basketball video games cause quite as much controversy as overall ratings. They cause heated debates and much frustration when a player’s overall appears to be too high or too low, or otherwise incorrect when compared to other players. It’s all too easy to place too much emphasis on them, even though the individual ratings are more important, and the formula for calculating the overalls often makes it difficult to get every player’s rating to be “perfect”. However, although they can be problematic and even unclear, they are an important mechanic.

A debate that I’ve seen come up more than a few times over the years is whether or not any player deserves the maximum rating of 99 Overall. Not counting some of the boosted cards in Ultimate Team and MyTEAM, only a few players have reached that level in NBA Live and NBA 2K over the years, including Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Magic Johnson. It’s also become a prominent goal to reach in NBA 2K’s MyCAREER, emphasised by NBA 2K18’s Road to 99. Few things make a player stand out in a video game quite like boasting a maxed out overall rating, but the question remains: should 99 Overall be possible in the first place?

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The Friday Five: 5 Players Who Appeared In Video Games, But Not The NBA (Part 2)

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 another list of five players who have appeared in more basketball video games than actual NBA games.

Last year, I compiled a list of five players that had appeared in at least one NBA video game, but never logged a minute in the NBA itself. I found it to be a rather interesting and quirky phenomenon, and I figured that there would be further examples. In fact, I did have a sixth example which I held back from including as an honourable mention, just in case I had the opportunity to write a Part 2. Serendipity struck as I stumbled across two such examples recently, which inspired me to do a little research to see if I could find a couple more to make it five.

I did indeed find those last two examples, and so this week, I’m presenting a second list of five players who appeared in video games, but not the NBA. Keep in mind that some of these players may have appeared in Summer League or even Pre-Season games for NBA teams, but until they step out onto the court during a regular season game, they haven’t officially made their NBA debut. I’ve also decided not to count the unlockable rookies in NBA Live 2004 who never made it to the NBA, as the situation is a little different with them being hidden out of the box. Also, I have to save a few examples for a potential Part 3 and beyond. With that being said, let’s get to the list!

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Monday Tip-Off: Previewing Offseason Modding Projects

NBA 2K11 Modding Preview: LeBron James Chalk Toss

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 preview of some modding projects that I’m looking to work on during the offseason.

I’ve been creating content for basketball video games since 1997, and needless to say, a few things have changed since then. The games have come a long way, and I have different responsibilities and interests within the hobby. Over the years, I’ve become less involved with modding. As I’ve discussed in previous articles, that’s mainly due to a combination of burnout, and having to ration my free time accordingly. Not as many people are playing the old games that I have more experience editing, and there’s a lot to learn in terms of modding NBA 2K, so I’ve felt less motivated.

However, having enjoyed the hobby for many years, it’s hard to resist the lure of making updates for games; especially old favourites. While I don’t want to set any dates or make any concrete promises, I am looking at getting involved with some bigger projects during this offseason. I’ve been tinkering here and there and mulling the possibility of getting more involved in modding again for a couple of years now, and the recent release of the new version of the Ultimate Base Roster has provided me with some added inspiration to dust off those modding tools. I’m also inclined to try out some new things. Here’s what I’m looking at working on in the coming weeks.

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NLSC Podcast – Episode #256

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #256 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Arcane and I as we chat about the past week in basketball gaming and NBA news. Topics include the latest NBA Live 19 previews, the NBA 2K19 cover reveals, allegations and speculation about 2K’s business practice, and big offseason moves.

On this week’s show…

  • A brief trailer and a few screenshots spotlighting Quai 54 in NBA Live 19 have been released. In our opinion, the venue and the game are both looking very nice.
  • Rookies are getting their faces scanned for NBA Live 19 during the NBA Summer League. This leads to a discussion of the development cycle, and the increasingly early release dates for NBA Live and NBA 2K.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo has been officially revealed as the cover player for the Standard Edition of NBA 2K19. Ben Simmons, meanwhile, will grace the first ever Australian cover.
  • A recent video discusses an allegedly since-deleted Reddit post, purported to contain damning leaks from an ex-2K employee regarding the company’s business practices. While the claims are unconfirmed and the video quite possibly unsubstantiated clickbait, the alleged explanations for certain design choices are eerily plausible.
  • Our Week in Basketball Gaming featured a few more challenges in Ultimate Team and new additions to the squad, as well as a couple of modding developments including a potential roster update for NBA 2K11 PC.
  • We wrap up Episode #256 of the NLSC Podcast with a discussion of the latest NBA offseason news. LeBron James, DeMarcus Cousins, and Tony Parker surprised us with their decisions, while Carmelo Anthony remains one of the biggest names left on the market.

Click Play to listen to the show!

Have some thoughts on the latest episode? Got a mailbag question or topic suggestion for the next show? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

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