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NLSC Podcast #315: Old Games & Old Habits

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Episode #315 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Dee4Three and myself as we talk about our basketball gaming habits and preferences, and how the games we grew up playing in the 90s and early 2000s ended up shaping those tastes.

With the NBA shut down for the foreseeable future, it’s a great time to not only catch up on gaming, but also classic NBA games. We discuss some of the ways the NBA could improve League Pass and the official YouTube channel, including some comparisons to the WWE Network. Speaking of history, the 25th Anniversary of Michael Jordan’s first comeback is making us feel old, but it’s a good excuse to play the Double Nickel game in NBA 2K11’s Jordan Challenge. On that note, our main discussion topic this week is our basketball gaming preferences past and present, with reflections on the titles from the 90s and early 2000s that influenced our tastes and habits. From our preferred quarter and season length to how often we sim and how much realism we like, those old games established how we approach the virtual hardwood. We also touch on some of the quirks of those old games.

Tune in below!

What are your basketball gaming preferences? Which games shaped them, and have they changed over the years? 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 Most Satisfying Mods to 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 types of mods that I find the most satisfying to make.

Although the NBA season is on hold and March Madness has been cancelled, March Modness is still underway! We’re celebrating modding throughout the month of March with new releases, a spotlight on modding, and of course a giveaway as a means of saying thank you to our modding community. There’s still time to enter that giveaway, so if you’re interested, be sure to check out this post for details. The prize is a copy of either this year’s NBA 2K or NBA Live, though from the looks of things, it’ll probably be a Steam key for NBA 2K21 for the winner!

Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate NBA Live modding, and release some new mods for old favourites. In fact, I’ve done just that, releasing fixed versions of my Hangar and NBA Elite 11 practice courts. There are a few other mods I’d like to finish and release this month, and I’m working towards getting that done. After all, modding can be a lot of fun, and it’s hard to resist the lure of the hobby. Most of us have a type of mod that we specialise in; updates that we find the most satisfying to make. I’ve been able to branch out with a few different types of mods over the years, and looking back, these five are the kind of updates I’ve found the most satisfaction in creating.

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NLSC Podcast #314: Our Unfinished Business & Nostalgic Phases

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Episode #314 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Dee4Three and I discuss a recent controversy with MyTEAM in NBA 2K20, as well as having unfinished business and nostalgic phases when it comes to basketball video games.

In the wake of the NBA shutdown, the official NBA 2K Twitter has been doing a great job of engaging with fans. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of 2K’s handling of MyTEAM bans due to Auction House sniping. We discuss the lack of communication and clear guidelines, as well as the staggering amount of money some gamers pump into the mode. Turning our attention to older games, we reflect on unfinished business in titles from yesteryear. In particular, we discuss the difficulty of going back and spending a lot of time with old favourites, the idea of basketball games (and sports games in general) having a different concept of completion, and games we wish that we’d played more. This leads into a discussion of nostalgic phases: the times where we’ve briefly become obsessed with revisiting certain hoops games that we love.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on the NBA 2K20 MyTEAM controversy? Do you go through retro gaming phases with classic basketball games? 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: Axing MyCAREER Stories & The Neighborhood

Monday Tip-Off: Axing MyCAREER Stories & The Neighborhood

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 Visual Concepts is unlikely to return to the old style of MyCAREER, axing both The Neighborhood and stories in future NBA 2K releases.

There’s a rather poignant analogy in Fallout 3, courtesy of Moira Brown. Discussing the post-apocalyptic world and her pet project (and the Lone Wanderer’s quest) of compiling the Wasteland Survival Guide, she compares the situation to putting broken glass back together. She notes that it’ll never be whole in the same way it used to be, but you can use the pieces to make something else, like a mosaic. As an analogy, it’s a good way of describing the inability to go back to the way things used to be, but still making the best of the situation and building something new.

We can apply this metaphor to two concepts in NBA 2K’s MyCAREER: the story-driven approach, and the game world of The Neighborhood. At this point they’re established staples of MyCAREER, but they aren’t universally liked. That’s not unusual, of course; you can’t please everyone in everything that you do. However, those two concepts do present some recurring problems, and frustration with them has been building since they were introduced. It seems that a lot of gamers would prefer MyCAREER to return to the way it used to be, but again, axing those features seems highly unlikely. Calling back to Moira Brown’s analogy, has the glass been broken?

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Third Annual March Modness Tips Off Today

NLSC March Modness

It’s March 1st, so that means we’re tipping off the third annual March Modness here at the NLSC! For those who are unaware, the event is intended to be a celebration of modding. We of course welcome mod releases all year round, but we invite modders to get extra creative and productive during this month!

In addition to our usual File Additions bulletins and spotlighting other big releases, we’ll be holding another giveaway. As a thank you to our talented modding community, anyone who releases work and adds it to our Downloads section will go in the draw to win a copy of either NBA 2K or NBA Live (as long as there is an NBA Live game to choose from this year). Congratulations once again to Pep, who won the giveaway last year.

To enter the giveaway, all you need to do is release a mod and upload it to our Downloads section during the month of March 2020, with “March Modness” in the description. The mod may be for any PC version of NBA Live or NBA 2K, but it must be your own work and remain hosted in our Downloads section. Please see below for the full terms and conditions of entry, and good luck!

Once again, I’ll be looking to get into the spirit of the event myself with at least a few releases. I’m hoping to finally get my 2020 season roster for NBA 2K11 out this month, as it feels it would be timely with all of the celebrations. I also have a few other ideas I’d like to explore, time permitting. Stay tuned for that, and the many fantastic releases I’m sure that we’ll see throughout our third annual March Modness!

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Wayback Wednesday: Unlockable Jerseys in Basketball Games

Wayback Wednesday: Unlockable Jerseys in Basketball Games

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 practice of including unlockable jerseys in basketball video games.

I’ve previously covered throwback jerseys in basketball games, noting that their inclusion also marked the arrival of uniform selection options. Before the addition of jersey selection screens, teams with secondary road uniforms would wear them at random in exhibition play, or on Sundays in Season or Franchise modes. In the PC versions of NBA Live, we were also able to manipulate the files to switch them in and out, but it was far less cumbersome once we could easily choose which uniform we wanted a team to wear via an in-game option.

The ability to switch between a selection of alternate and retro jerseys for every team was (and is) a great feature. After NBA Live 2003 introduced the functionality, we were keen to see more content in NBA Live 2004 and beyond. New retro uniforms would indeed be added in future games, but the expanded selection also saw the introduction of unlockable jerseys. The concept has since fallen out of vogue, but for a while there, it was a standard feature in both NBA Live and NBA 2K. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #311: Sliding Into Better Gameplay

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Episode #311 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Dee4Three and I react to some rather gross sentiments by ESPN personalities and other talking heads, talk about recency bias, and discuss the approach to sliders and difficulty settings in modern games.

As the basketball world still reels from the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant, various talking heads are using it as an excuse to prop up LeBron James. We talk about our disgust with the practice, particularly some very inappropriate sentiments from Rachel Nichols. This leads us to once again reflect on recency bias, both in real basketball and basketball video games. In particular, we note how the good isn’t remembered as often as the great, and how it’s too readily dismissed. After that, we get into our main discussion topic, concerning sliders and difficulty settings in games. We touch on how games and attitudes have changed, as well as the importance of “out of the box” quality. The issue of modes without sliders is also discussed, along with some ideas for the community.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on gameplay sliders, and everything else we talked about this week? 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 Times Gamers Ruined 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 discusses five times that gamers themselves ruined basketball video games.

This week’s topic may seem unfair, even absurd. After all, we don’t create basketball video games; we just play them. If there’s a problem with a game, then that’s on the developers, not us as consumers, right? Well, for the most part, yes. We’re not the ones implementing microtransactions, grindy mechanics, or other undesirable ideas. We do arguably support them by continuing to buy the games and pumping money into recurrent revenue systems, but boycotts, as Jim Sterling has pointed out, aren’t all that effective. Ultimately, we’re not making design choices, or programming code.

However, we are making suggestions, and the loudest voices aren’t always expressing the best ideas. Tribalism these days goes as deep as which mode you play, as well as a preference for online or offline gaming. Not all feedback has been to the benefit of NBA Live or NBA 2K. The way we choose to play the game and use the features and functions at our disposal has also had a negative effect. Whether it’s through elitism and snobbery, or childishness and trolling, we’ve found more than a couple of ways to spoil the fun. I’m not saying that developers haven’t messed up, but these are five examples of how we as gamers and consumers have ruined games for ourselves.

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Monday Tip-Off: Are We Gaming Or Are We Modding?

Monday Tip-Off: Are We Gaming Or Are We Modding?

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 gaming and modding habits in our community.

One of the more disappointing trends in our community in recent years is the drop-off in discussion about the games we play. We certainly do talk about them, but there’s much less discussion about sliders, strategies, positive and negative impressions, and the general gaming experience on the virtual hardwood. This definitely wasn’t always the case in the NLSC Forum. If you dig through the archives, you’ll find plenty of topics discussing gameplay and game modes, sharing everything from suggestions and tips to criticism and praise. Within those topics, you’ll see lively discussion.

Not so much anymore, however. Conversely, activity in our modding community is still at a high level. From releases and previews to modding advice and requests for mods, there’s plenty of chatter. It’s a puzzling phenomenon, and an imbalance that I’d love to see corrected. Obviously we’re known as a modding community, but we’ve always been much more than that, in both our original content and the conversations we have about basketball gaming. In trying to determine how this trend began and what’s changed in our community, I can’t help wondering: are we actually playing basketball video games, or are we just modding them?

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NLSC Podcast #309: A Tribute to Kobe Bryant

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Episode #309 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Dee4Three and I pay tribute to the late and legendary Kobe Bryant with reflections on his career, and impact on basketball video games.

It’s been almost a week, but it’s still hard to get our heads around the news that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter accident. We extend our condolences to the Bryants and the other families who suffered this terrible loss, and talk about how we came to hear the news. This leads into some reflections on Kobe’s career, and how we came to regard him over the 20 years he played in the NBA. We also talk about his connection to video games as a cover player, and discuss the idea of a challenge mode in NBA 2K21, along with a roster project.

Tune in below!

What are your memories of Kobe Bryant, in real life and on the virtual hardwood? 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 Reasons to Reactivate Old Servers

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 for 2K to reactivate the old servers for previous NBA 2K titles.

As online modes and content have become more popular in basketball video games, it’s become a much bigger deal when servers finally get shut down. Not only is online play rendered unavailable, but any single player experiences that relied on connected content also become inaccessible. Early on in this generation, online MyCAREER games were intended to become offline saves once the servers were shut down. This infamously didn’t work properly for a lot of gamers in NBA 2K14, with many still being unable to access their saves once the servers were reactivated.

Since then, 2K has simply decided to follow the original plan of declaring that any online saves are “retired” once support for a game ends. It’s understandable that 2K doesn’t want to support games indefinitely, given the cost and resources involved. That doesn’t stop gamers from expressing their desire to see the old servers switched back on though, and interestingly, Chris Manning has even publicly mentioned that he’s advocated for such a thing to happen. Obviously there are a lot of reasons why it’s unlikely, contrary to clickbait videos claiming LD2K “confirmed” it. Nevertheless, there are also reasons why it should at least be considered, and here are five of them.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Avatar’s New Clothes

Monday Tip-Off: The Avatar's New Clothes

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 about the increasing focus on getting new clothes for your avatar in the career modes of NBA Live and NBA 2K.

There’s a well-established video game trope that TV Tropes calls “And Your Reward Is Clothes“. It refers to unlocking new clothes for the player character (or characters), sometimes by completing tasks or purchasing them from an in-game store, or perhaps by finishing the game and continuing the adventure with post-ending gameplay. They may convey or accompany other bonuses, or they may just be for bragging rights. A good example of the latter is the “I completed Vice City and all I got was this lousy t-shirt“, unlocked when achieving 100% completion in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Clothing items, and the ability to acquire new clothes, have become an increasingly prominent part of basketball video games. Although they are ultimately just cosmetic, they’re nevertheless a significant part of the game’s culture, especially when it comes to the online scene. It’s one of those aspects of modern games that make me feel like a dinosaur, because to my mind, there’s far too much focus on them. Although they’re something that can be ignored, the pursuit of new clothes and the focus given to dressing up your avatar is presenting some problems, and detracting from the overall experience. That may sound melodramatic, but allow me to elaborate.

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NLSC Podcast #307: The Joy of Roster Modding

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Episode #307 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Dee4Three and I are discussing roster mods, from how they’re made to why they’re so satisfying to create and play with.

Our NBA 2K21 Wishlist thread is now open in the Forum, so before we dive into our main discussion topic, we encourage everyone to get involved! We also encourage everyone to feel free to talk about gameplay and gaming experiences in general. With that business out of the way, we turn our attention to an activity we’ve greatly enjoyed over the years: roster modding. The discussion begins with a look at the breadth and appeal of roster mods, and the creative process behind them. Along the way, we discuss the tools and techniques that are used in their creation, the importance of certain changes over the years, and some significant roster mods. From creating them to playing with them, we discuss why roster mods are so fun and important to basketball gaming, and offer up a few tips for people who want to get involved with roster modding.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on roster mods, as a creator, user, or both? 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: How Career Modes Overtook Franchise Modes

Monday Tip-Off: How Career Modes Overtook Franchise Modes

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 career modes ended up surpassing franchise modes in popularity.

As a long-time basketball gamer, it’s been interesting to not only see how the games have evolved, but also how trends and attitudes have changed. A noteworthy example of changing trends is the popularity of franchise modes. There was a time when they were considered the pinnacle of modes in basketball games, a dream come true for those of us who remember playing the basic single season modes of early titles. These days, they’re seen as passé; something for “old heads”, despite the fact younger hoops gamers enjoy them too. If nothing else, they’re no longer the flagship mode.

That distinction now belongs to career modes, and their connected online experiences. In some respects, it’s not surprising. It took longer for fully-formed career modes to make their way into NBA 2K and NBA Live, and there had been an interest in seeing them for quite some time. Indeed, the franchise modes were often used to simulate a single player career mode, so gamers clearly wanted that type of experience. The shift towards career modes is still interesting however, especially as they’ve drawn in gamers who have traditionally been all about franchise play. How did this happen? Well, I have a few theories as to how career modes gained and maintained popularity.

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Monday Tip-Off: Too Much at Stake to Experiment

Monday Tip-Off: Too Much at Stake to Experiment

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 we’re less inclined to mess around in basketball video games these days, because there’s too much at stake to experiment.

During our discussion of franchise gaming in Episode #303 of the NLSC Podcast, I mentioned how franchise modes are a throwback to the days when we were freer to experiment with basketball video games. It’s something that I’ve thought about a lot since getting into MyCAREER and the online scene in recent years. As much fun as I’ve had with those modes, I’m aware of how careful I’ve had to be in order to enjoy myself. A wrong choice can easily torpedo a saved game, wasting hours of grinding with undesirably dire consequences.

Of course, you could argue that that’s part of the challenge now; a key component of an evolved experience. You have to think about your decisions and choose wisely, and if you don’t and suffer because of it, then it’s on you for not playing the game properly. I understand that, and there’s merit in having to commit to a choice, as well as fun in an experience that’s curated to some extent. However, if the consequences are actively discouraging us from experimenting and seeing everything that a game has to offer, that’s rather unfortunate. We still have that freedom to experiment in a mode like MyLEAGUE, but in MyCAREER, there’s simply too much at stake.

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