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NLSC Podcast #304: Talkin’ ‘Bout Next Generation

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Episode #304 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! With 2019 and the decade drawing to a close, not to mention a new generation of gaming looming on the horizon, Dee4Three and I discuss the past ten years in basketball gaming, the current generation, and our thoughts as we look ahead to next gen.

After a quick rundown of Patch 1.09 for NBA 2K20, we get right into this week’s featured discussion. The end of the decade and announcement of the Xbox Series X has prompted us to reflect on the past ten years of basketball gaming, in particular the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One generation. We compare it to previous generations, noting the positives and negatives. As we look ahead to next gen, we discuss what we’re hoping to see, and what not to see. From troubling trends to imaginative innovations, it’s a discussion of where the hobby is at, and where it should be. Along the way, we’re even able to draw some parallels to the real NBA.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on basketball gaming over the past ten years, and two gaming generations? What are your expectations of next gen? 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 #303: Putting On Our Virtual GM Suits

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Episode #303 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Dee4Three and I discuss a mysterious new patch for NBA 2K19, our appreciation for franchise gaming, and how the preferences of basketball gamers have evolved over the years.

A new patch has come through for the console versions of NBA 2K19. There aren’t any patch notes or any word on what it might entail, leaving us to speculate on what it’s all about. We also talk about gamers returning to NBA 2K19 and other older games, as well as the possibility of servers being turned back on. After touching on some issues with toxic attitudes in basketball gaming, we dive into the topic of franchise modes. They were once the premiere attraction in NBA titles, but have since been surpassed by career modes and the connected experiences. We reflect on how preferences came to shift, while also noting that franchise gaming still has plenty to offer. We’ve also got some advice for enjoying franchise modes, and share fond memories of putting on our virtual GM suits.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on franchise gaming in NBA Live and NBA 2K? 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 Types of Retro Content We Haven’t Seen Yet

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 examples of retro content that we haven’t seen in basketball video games yet.

For over twenty years, we’ve seen some form of retro content in contemporary hoops games. It began with the inclusion of Legends and Decade All-Stars teams in NBA Live and NBA 2K around the turn of the millennium, and exploded with the addition of historical squads thanks to The Jordan Challenge and NBA’s Greatest. Since then we’ve also seen the addition of All-Time teams for every NBA franchise, the return of All-Decade squads in NBA 2K20, pre-built historical Draft Classes, and the inclusion of retro content in MyTEAM. Everything’s been done, right?

Not quite! I can think of at least five examples of retro content that we haven’t seen in NBA Live or NBA 2K yet, but I’d love to see implemented at some point. Some of it is easier said than done, and with the current backlash against nostalgia and the NBA of the 80s and 90s – all that “plumbers and dentists” nonsense – it probably isn’t a high priority for Visual Concepts or EA Sports. Nevertheless, these ideas are always fun to discuss, and who knows; some day, a couple of these ideas may become a reality! It never hurts to have extra content in the game – particularly for modding purposes – and with that in mind, here are some untapped ideas for retro content.

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Wayback Wednesday: The Weird Virtual Career of Junior Harrington

Wayback Wednesday: The Weird Virtual Career of Junior Harrington

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 rather unusual string of appearances former NBA player Junior Harrington made in video games.

I love finding little quirks and oddities in old basketball video games that make for interesting trivia notes. Sometimes it’s serendipity, as I find them when I’m revisiting a game for another topic altogether, and that’s immensely satisfying. Other times, an idea will come to me and I’ll have to dust off various games to do some research, and that’s always fun as well. This is how I’ve come up with lists of players who have appeared in more video games than actual NBA games, players who only appear for certain teams in games, and other unusual occurrences on the virtual hardwood.

In that vein, how about a player who tended to appear more often in video games when he wasn’t actually in the league, but was still active? That player is Lorinza “Junior” Harrington, who had a brief NBA career from 2002 to 2007. His career in the virtual NBA was quite unusual, and to date, I don’t think there have been many other players – if any – who have found themselves in quite the same situation. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Players In More Video Games Than NBA Games Played (Part 3)

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 three in a series on players who have appeared in more video games than real NBA games.

While I enjoy using The Friday Five to analyse topics in five points, rank items in a Top 5 countdown, or offer up some other opinions or commentary, I really enjoy using this feature to share obscure basketball gaming trivia. A topic that I’ve found particularly fascinating to research is the number of players who ended up appearing in more video games than they did actual NBA games. Thanks to early roster cut-off dates and last minute roster cuts before the season tips off, several players have made their virtual hardwood debut without ever playing an official minute in the league.

My research has turned up ten such players, who I talked about in parts one and two of this series. Not only had they managed to be included in video games without ever making it to an official NBA game, but some had appeared in multiple titles despite never making their league debut! I’ve got five more examples for you today, but this list is a little different. All five of these players have played in the NBA, appearing in just one game apiece. However, they’ve ended up in the rosters of more than one video game, meaning that their appearances on the virtual hardwood outnumber their real life career total. Let’s take a look at these one-and-not-quite-done players!

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NLSC Podcast #300: Hunters & Collectors

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Episode #300 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Dee4Three and myself as we mark the 300th episode of the NLSC Podcast with a conversation about some recent controversies in the community, the thought-terminating cliches that bother us, Basketball Classics, and the joy of collecting basketball video games, new and old.

As we celebrate 300 episodes, we reflect on one of our favourite shows: our interview with Tim Kitzrow back in Episode #280. Recalling his passion for NBA Jam, we’re reminded of how it’s too easy to be dismissive of what came before as pure nostalgia – on the real and virtual hardwood alike – and resort to cliched buzzwords to shut down criticism of newer things. That leads us to note the fantastic fusion of the old and new with Basketball Classics, as we share some more impressions of the game. After touching on the recent hack of NBA 2K accounts and issues with ad links in our modding community, we finally get to our featured discussion topic: collecting basketball video games. We talk about our collections, the process of tracking down older titles, the problems that digital content and releases present for collectors, and the fun of playing our old favourites and checking out games we missed out on the first time around.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on the recent controversies? Do you consider yourself a collector of basketball video 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.

NLSC Podcast #299: What Basketball Gamers Want

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Episode #299 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dee4Three joins me again as we react to the recent announcement that the NBA Live 15 servers will soon be shutting down, and have an in-depth discussion about what basketball gamers want out of the hobby.

EA Sports has announced that the NBA Live 15 servers will be shutting down as of December 1st, 2019. We react to the timing of the announcement compared to the NBA Live 14 shutdown, and reflect a little on NBA Live 15 itself. This leads to some thoughts on why we dust off older titles, and sometimes seeing them in a new light (and sometimes not). Our feature discussion this week is a deep dive into what basketball gamers want; not just expectations of the virtual hardwood and blacktop, but also our relationship with developers, and approach to game design. We also talk about toxic attitudes, and how we clash with one another over what we want out of the basketball gaming experience.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on this week’s topic? What do you want out of basketball video 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: 2K’s Overlooked Gambling Mechanic

Monday Tip-Off: Overlooked Gambling Mechanic

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

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

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

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The Friday Five: 5 Suspended Players in NBA Video 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 players who have appeared in basketball video games after being suspended from the league, either permanently or temporarily.

The Phoenix Suns have won three of their first five games to open the 2020 season. If they’re to keep racking up wins for the foreseeable future, they’ll be doing so without last year’s number one overall pick Deandre Ayton, who was suspended for 25 games after testing positive for a diuretic. Although no other banned substances were found in his system, the use of a potential masking agent nevertheless triggered an automatic ban under the league’s anti-drug policy. The NBPA is currently appealing the ruling, but even if they’re successful, Ayton will likely still miss several games.

That means that he’ll be on the inactive list in forthcoming roster updates for NBA 2K20, but still available in the game. Of course, getting suspended or banned from the NBA doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be missing from the virtual hardwood. A handful of players have remained active in video games after they were suspended in real life, often in the free agents pool where they can be signed in a franchise game at affordable rates. A noteworthy exception is Chris Andersen, who didn’t appear in any games during his suspension in the mid 2000s. The following five players, however, were not removed after the league prohibited them from playing.

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Monday Tip-Off: Why NBA 2K Needs Matchmaking

Monday Tip-Off: Why NBA 2K Needs Matchmaking

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with an outline of why it’s important that future NBA 2K games implement proper matchmaking.

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

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

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Wayback Wednesday: Affiliations in MyPARK

Wayback Wednesday: Affiliations in MyPARK

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 affiliations in MyPARK.

The Playground has never been my main mode of choice – Pro-Am is more my speed when it comes to NBA 2K online – but I’ve had some fun with it over the years. More to the point, it has become one of the most popular modes in the game, and through the introduction of The Neighborhood, a major part of the main MyCAREER hub. From its introduction as The Park in NBA 2K14 to its rebranding as MyPARK and subsequently The Playground, the mode has gone from an online offshoot of NBA 2K’s career mode to its own fully fleshed out and immersive experience.

As much focus as it receives and as popular as it is, however, not all Playground gamers are completely satisfied with its evolution. One aspect that was left behind in the MyPARK era is affiliations. It’s not uncommon to see Playground gamers asking for the return of MyPARK affiliations in response to 2K’s Tweets, though as of NBA 2K20, it’s yet to make a return. What was it, and why was it so popular? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: When The Idea Is More Fun

Monday Tip-Off: When The Idea Is More Fun

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a look at how an idea for a franchise mode game can turn out to be less fun than it originally seemed.

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

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

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The Friday Five: 5 Excuses We Must Stop Making For 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 excuses that we must stop making in order to downplay valid criticisms of basketball video games.

There are times when it’s only fair to make excuses for basketball video games. There are limitations to what can be achieved with the technology that’s currently available. Issues with likeness rights meant that certain historical players can’t be included. NBA games have a brutal development cycle compared to titles that don’t come out every year. In fact, you might be inclined to call these “reasons”, as the term “excuses” often has negative connotations. It’s splitting hairs on the definition in some respects, but it’s understandable that some people balk at the idea of “making excuses”.

The problem with excuses is that they can easily work against our best interests. If we don’t hold developers accountable for certain decisions and design choices, then we’ll have no choice but to endure whatever undesirable situation we find ourselves in with basketball video games. Look, I’d like to think that I’m as passionate about the hobby as anyone else in the community, and I also believe in being fair and constructive in our criticism. It’s just astonishing how far some people will go to make excuses for the games though, even when an issue is clearly detrimental to them. These are the excuses that we need to cut out, or else we’ll continue to suffer the consequences.

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Wayback Wednesday: A Tribute to MessenjahMatt

Wayback Wednesday: A Tribute to MessenjahMatt

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 paying tribute to one of the best video makers we’ve ever seen in the basketball gaming community: MessenjahMatt.

I enjoy dusting off old games for retrospective reviews and profiles of interesting features and quirks, but every so often, I think it’s only appropriate to look back at the history of the basketball gaming community. I’ve done that a few times already in my Wayback Wednesday features, mostly focusing on memorable mods as that’s what our corner of the community is best known for. However, that’s not the only kind of content that hoops gamers have seen fit to create over the years. With the steady rise of YouTube, countless virtual hoopsters have been producing video content.

Some great producers have emerged over the years, and it’s been inspiring to see. It’s the reason I’ve tried my hand at some video content myself, and if I could make the time, I’d love to do it more often. I’m sure we all have our favourite video producers, some of whom have been at it for several years now. One of the all-time best video makers has to be MessenjahMatt, who wowed gamers and no doubt inspired many who have gone on to create their own content. His work is legendary and deserves to be spotlighted, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Stealing Is Such an Ugly Word

Monday Tip-Off: Stealing Is Such an Ugly Word

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 recent suggestions that NBA 2K is stealing ideas and features from NBA Live.

Before the NBA 2K20 preview season tipped off, there was understandably a certain amount of scepticism about this year’s release. As a new generation of consoles looms on the horizon, many of us had expected it to be a throwaway year for NBA 2K; just a roster update and a few token bells and whistles ahead of a big jump next year. Based on what we’ve seen so far, however, that doesn’t appear to be the case. While most of us are reserving final judgement until we get our hands on the game, there has been a lot of good news so far in the preview season.

Of course, it hasn’t escaped notice that some of the features outlined in the previews so far bear a similarity to elements of NBA Live, past and present. Responses have varied somewhat, but there is a very vocal contingent of NBA Live fans that seem to be perturbed by the situation. Perhaps it’s because EA’s series is finally picking up some steam and support after years of being a punchline under 2K’s dominance, but there’s an eagerness to point out features and mechanics that were in NBA Live first, and accuse NBA 2K of stealing them. Don’t get me wrong; it’s nice to see passionate support for NBA Live, but I just can’t join in the outrage.

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