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NLSC Podcast #329: Cover Songs & Trivia Notes

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Episode #329 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

With the impending NBA 2K21 cover reveal over the course of three days, we speculate on possible players and editions, as well what other details may be announced. We also reflect on how it feels to move on to a new game after being hooked on its predecessor. Talking about vibe and atmosphere leads us to reminisce about some of our favourite soundtracks, and unusual song choices. Meanwhile, future rookies have been added to MyTEAM packs. It’s a first and a cool idea, but their ratings inspire another discussion of the state and general direction of both NBA Live and NBA 2K. Finally, Vince Carter’s retirement has marked the end of the last vestige of the NBA in the 90s. We celebrate his lengthy career, and share some trivia regarding longevity records in basketball gaming.

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 suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

Monday Tip-Off: The Changing Face of NBA 2K

Monday Tip-Off: The Changing Face of NBA 2K

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 changing face and identity of the NBA 2K series in recent years.

Back in early May, I noticed a Tweet from Brian Mazique, in which he responded to the suggestion that NBA Live should be free to play as a way to win people back as they try to return to prominence. He described NBA Live as being irrelevant, noting that when it comes to NBA 2K, Visual Concepts and Take-Two are looking at games like Fortnite and Call of Duty as the competition and sources of ideas for engagement. It may sound harsh, and there are a lot of people who want to see NBA Live succeed and would be willing to make the switch if it did, but it’s an apt statement.

In fact, it’s apt on two counts. Gaining relevance and market share is obviously one of the challenges facing NBA Live, and that’s something I’ve previously discussed here in Monday Tip-Off. However, Brian is also quite right that with NBA 2K becoming a fixture in pop culture, and in some ways transcending its genre, its peers are popular games like Fortnite and the Call of Duty series. That’s a great position for NBA 2K to be in, but it’s also a troubling one for enthusiastic hoop heads. To state the obvious, those games are not basketball titles, whereas NBA 2K is. Competing with and borrowing from those games has resulted in a changing face and identity for NBA 2K.

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NLSC Podcast #326: Letting It All Out This Week

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Episode #326 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dee4Three and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

This week, we’re letting it all out as we discuss a variety of topics! We begin with the impending return of the NBA, and our thoughts on the format to finish out the season. On that note, is this really the end of Vince Carter’s career? Elsewhere, a long-lost spin-off of SimCity has us wondering whether any more forgotten and unreleased basketball games will make it out into the wild. The rare version of NBA Jam with Michael Jordan springs to mind. Recent events also lead us to share some strong opinions on the use of Patreon in the modding community, and the focus on making money through the hobby. With EA Play on the horizon, we wonder once more about the future of NBA Live, and express some frustration. We also touch on representing the ABA on the virtual hardwood, and what would make for acceptable downloadable content in basketball games. Oh, and there’s a potentially divisive opinion about the Oklahoma City Thunder’s branding.

What’s your take on this week’s topics? 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 suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

Monday Tip-Off: The Online Experience We’ll Never Have

Monday Tip-Off: The Online Experience We'll Never Have

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 online experience I’d love to see in NBA 2K, but we’re highly unlikely to ever have.

Aside from some admittedly fun sessions of 3v3 Pro-Am and jumping into The Rec after spinning double MyREP on the Prize Wheel, I’ve not been playing online in NBA 2K20. I’d been dabbling with a session or two in The Rec every so often, but in order to finally let MyCAREER go, I’ve focused on finishing my rookie season and generally avoided taking part in any of the connected experiences. Thanks to so many hit-or-miss sessions, I no longer have the same enthusiasm for the online experience that I once did. It’s made it much easier to abstain from those modes.

Even the satisfying runs in 3v3 Pro-Am had their annoyances. Despite playing well and even winning eight games in a single session, I somehow dropped from 99.9 to 99.4 Overall, spotlighting some of the major flaws with the MyREP and Overall Rating systems in NBA 2K20. Of course, the tendency to punish rather than reward is just one of the problems with the online experience in NBA 2K. It’s unfortunate, as online play in NBA 2K should be so much better than it is. From issues with lag and matchmaking to meta-gaming and what it takes to get there, I can’t help thinking about the online experience that NBA 2K should offer, but we’re unlikely to see.

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NLSC Podcast #324: Digging for Buried Treasure

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Episode #324 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dee4Three and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

NBA 2K20 is available at a discount on various digital platforms, as part of another push to pump up sales numbers for the game. It’s also received a new patch, though it appears to just be a hotfix for an issue with MyTEAM Unlimited. Meanwhile, the renewal of EA Sports’ exclusive deal with the NFL leads us to consider the ramifications if the NBA ever sought a similar arrangement with either EA or Visual Concepts. In our featured discussion this week, we talk about recent additions to our collections, games we’re coveting, pet peeves in older releases, and the appeal of simplicity. We also pay tribute to the late Jerry Sloan, legendary Utah Jazz coach and original star for the Chicago Bulls.

What’s your take on this week’s topics? 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 suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

NLSC Podcast #323: But Will There Be Shoelace Physics?

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Episode #323 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dee4Three and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

As The Last Dance draws to a close, 2K are cashing in with a new GOAT Michael Jordan card in NBA 2K20 MyTEAM, and classic Bulls gear in MyCAREER. There might be a way of getting all of those items, but are we willing to pay the price? Speaking of future purchases, the PlayStation 5 tech demo has given us a glimpse of what to expect from next gen. We consider what it might mean for basketball games, and whether the tech will be put to good use. That leads us to reflect on what it’s like to be in the older age bracket of the basketball gaming demographic, as well as whether it’s possible to enjoy a broken game. Our recent poll also sparks a discussion on different approaches to retro team roster mods.

What’s your take on this week’s topics? 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 suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

Monday Tip-Off: Basketball Gaming Belongs to Suits

Monday Tip-Off: Basketball Gaming Belongs to Suits

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 rather dismal realisation that basketball gaming belongs to the suits.

I know I said that many things aren’t worth an angry rant, but this isn’t going to be an angry rant. I’m feeling a certain amount of exasperation and pessimism, yes, but I’m trying to remain calm and not rage for the sake of it. As a new generation looms, many of us are wondering what it means for basketball gaming. The genre has already come a long way – a few backwards steps not withstanding – and it remains to be seen what can be accomplished with the added power of the forthcoming consoles. The problem is that that kind of innovation doesn’t appear to be the focus.

Perhaps that’s a harsh and unfair assertion, given that we’re nearing the end of the current generation. We couldn’t have imagined some of the things that we’ve seen over the past seven years, when the previous generation was seemingly tapped out after producing some outstanding basketball games. However, the difference this time around is that gaming has changed. Games are designed with recurrent spending in mind, and microtransactions are no longer just for free-to-play titles. Quality seems secondary to pushy recurrent revenue mechanics; a trend that’s highly unlikely to end anytime soon. It’s clear that the suits control the destiny of hoops games.

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NLSC Podcast #322: Maybe Next Year, Huh?

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Episode #322 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dee4Three and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

In case there was any doubt that last week’s rumour concerning NBA Live 21 was false, we have confirmation that there will be no release this year. We discuss what this means for NBA Live’s future, and whether the series still has a chance to be relevant. We’re also concerned about a focus on the mobile platform, and constant changes in direction and vision. In other news, 2K is reportedly seeking a new community manager, and we’re all for it. We’re not putting our hands up, but we do outline our expectations. We also talk about in-game editing functions we’d like to see, games that we’ve changed our minds about, retro season mods we’d be interested in, and some recent additions to our collections.

What’s your take on this week’s topics? 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 suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

Monday Tip-Off: Arguing For & Against Green Releases

Monday Tip-Off: Arguing For & Against Green Releases

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 Green Releases, specifically the arguments for and against the mechanic.

Back in May 2017, I discussed the future of Green Releases in NBA 2K. Three years on, the mechanic still remains an issue. It’s funny to look back and see that Mike Wang was talking about weaning gamers off the concept of Green Releases, only for them to still be in the game, relatively unchanged. I say relatively because NBA 2K18 attempted to artificially nerf them with a “Good” release actually only having a 5% chance of going in – less than a Slightly Early or Slightly Late release – and other games have also seen Beluba and co tinker with the perfect release windows.

Apart from that, the basic idea remains the same. Green Releases result in a made shot every time, unless it’s blocked or you’re too far behind the backboard. If you can learn the precise timing of a jumpshot animation and pay attention to the rumble feedback cues, you’ll be greening attempts with ease and regularity. We’re still as reliant on the approach as ever, and it doesn’t look like it’s something that NBA 2K – or NBA Live, now that it’s adopted the same style of shot mechanics and feedback – will be able to move away from. The question is: should it? It feels like we’re at a stalemate on the issue, so let’s go over the pros and cons of Green Releases once again.

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NLSC Podcast #321: A New Look for Old Games

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Episode #321 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Dee4Three and I as we talk about the importance of historical content, and a rumour that’s making the rounds. We also reimagine covers for classic games, and discuss the issue of starting over every year.

The Last Dance has inspired an increase in gamers playing with classic Bulls teams in NBA 2K20. This leads us to reflect on how important it is to have historical content in games, and how our gaming habits are affected by what’s going on in the world of basketball. We also touch on a rumour about NBA Live that’s making the rounds, mostly due to wishful thinking and a desire to have another viable sim game. In our main discussion this week, we go back and reimagine covers for games beginning with Lakers vs. Celtics, including hypothetical Legend Edition covers. We also talk about the pain of starting over every year in MyCAREER and MyTEAM, and the likelihood of seeing certain Legends in NBA 2K.

Tune in below!

Who would you choose if you had to reimagine covers for old games? Are you weary of the annual grind in modern titles? 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 suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

The Friday Five: 5 Mistakes Modders Make

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 mistakes that modders often make, and how best to avoid them.

I remember when I discovered the NLSC – then called the NBA Live Series Center – back in 1997. My family had just got connected to the Internet, and I was searching on Altavista for NBA Live 96 content. That’s when I found the site, and all the great work that our founders Tim, Lutz, and Brien had done, along with some other people in what was then a much smaller community. I was thrilled to find out about modding – then called patching – and marvelled at all the wonderful things that were possible. As I’ve said before, at long last my created Michael Jordan could have a full bio!

Modding was a hobby that I got into before I ended up taking over the NLSC, and while I haven’t been as active in that regard in recent years, I’ve continued to dabble here and there. Right now I’m working on an NBA 2K11 roster update, with an eye to getting it out soon. Of course, plenty of people have come to discover the NLSC over the years, and I always get a kick out of seeing them experience the same thrill I had when I first learned about modding. New people are always trying their hand at it, and while mod-specific tutorials and guidance will always provide the most help, I’d like to offer up some advice about common modding mistakes, and what to do instead.

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NLSC Podcast #319: It’s All About The Details

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Episode #319 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Dee4Three and I are catching up on recent news regarding MyTEAM and ESRB ratings for loot boxes, discussing our latest retro game pick-ups and what we’ve been playing, and a few other things that have been on our minds.

A Locker Code celebrating Mamba Day has provided everyone with a free, guaranteed Kobe Bryant card in MyTEAM. Unfortunately, issues with the card’s ratings underscore an ongoing problem with the mode. We discuss the importance of accuracy in details such as player ratings, Badges, and animations, and the need for variety and balance in cards. With Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett going into the Hall of Fame this year, we also reflect on some other players who are worthy of induction. We also touch on the new ESRB ratings for loot boxes, and whether we think the change will make much of a difference. Discussing our recent retro game pick-ups and what we’ve been playing also leads us to talk about the appeal of college games, the quality of NBA 2K15, and a very controversial opinion about NBA Live 07.

Tune in below!

What’s your take on this week’s topics? 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 suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places

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 players who became familiar faces in strange places, and the games that captured those stints.

With the NBA season on hiatus, a lot of the conversation on Twitter has turned to historical debates and reminiscing. I’ve seen a couple of recent threads talking about big names who had brief stints with teams that are often overlooked and forgotten. Those Tweets have taken the form of facetious captions describing these familiar faces in strange places as a legend of the team in question, sometimes with a photo for emphasis. It’s an apt way of describing the oddity of those stints, many of which we’d rather pretend didn’t happen (or at least, claim to).

They did happen of course, and we’ve got the photos, footage, and records to prove it. We’ve also got basketball video games, which as I’ve grown fond of saying, act as time capsules and interactive almanacs. In a previous Wayback Wednesday article, I noted how video games have marked various milestones in NBA history. This time, I’m reminiscing about the weird stints of well-known players, and the games we saw them in. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Going Digital (Before I Had To)

Monday Tip-Off: Going Digital (Before I Had To)

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 going digital with basketball games, and making that move before I needed to.

These days, the PC version of NBA 2K is exclusively available as a digital release. Even if you happen to find a physical copy – and they do exist in some regions – it just amounts to a card with a Steam key. There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach. On the plus side, digital games save shelf space, and because developers don’t need to press discs, distribution is quicker and cheaper. In a niche demographic such as PC basketball gaming, that’s an important factor in companies seeing the platform as viable and less of a hassle to release on.

The downside is that we need to download everything when we want to install the game. Depending on the quality of our connection and the size of any data limits on our Internet plan, that may not be an ideal scenario. Digital releases are also at risk of being removed from platforms like Steam, whereas physical copies obviously remain in circulation. Beyond convenience and availability, there’s just something satisfying about having a physical copy that you can hold in your hands or display on a shelf. We don’t always have a lot of choice, especially on PC these days, but I actually found myself going digital with basketball games before it was necessary.

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Monday Tip-Off: What I Learned From Uninstalling Games

Monday Tip-Off: What I Learned From Uninstalling 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 thoughts on the hard lessons I learned after uninstalling NBA 2K games on PlayStation 4.

I’m a collector of basketball games, both for my own enjoyment and to create content for the NLSC. To that end, there are some games that I own on multiple platforms, which allows for interesting comparisons; especially when it comes to older titles. With the current generation of NBA 2K games, I’ve made a point of buying them on both PC and PlayStation 4. The PC version has been there for single player gaming, as well as dabbling with mods if and when I so choose. The PS4 version has been for online gaming, as that’s where my friends (and a larger portion of the userbase) are.

Aside from differences such as the online scene and modding capabilities, the PC and PS4 versions – and the Xbox One release for that matter – are identical. Of course, my PC offers another advantage over my PS4: more storage space. It wasn’t until I picked up an external drive for my PS4 that I was able to maintain a much bigger library of installed games. Before that, I’d been uninstalling games as they went on the shelf, in order to play titles that were currently in my rotation. Once I added that extra storage, I was able to reinstall every NBA 2K title that I own for PS4. Unfortunately, I found out that uninstalling those games had a few drawbacks.

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