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NLSC Podcast #285: A Decade of Dominance for NBA 2K

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Episode #285 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Arcane and I are discussing how NBA 2K has now enjoyed a decade of dominance in the basketball gaming genre.

Since overtaking NBA Live in sales beginning with the 2009 season releases, NBA 2K has secured its place as the dominant brand in basketball gaming for over a decade. We reflect on how NBA 2K’s journey has differed from that of NBA Live, and the way that journey has accounted for its continued quality, popularity, and financial success. At the same time, while NBA 2K’s success has ultimately been great for basketball gaming, there have been downsides to its dominance. We discuss where the game is headed, and name our favourite NBA 2K titles from the past decade.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on NBA 2K’s Decade of Dominance? 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.

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NLSC Podcast #284: The Long and Winding Road to 99

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Episode #284 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Kenny and I are discussing the Road to 99 in MyCAREER, and the player progression systems in both NBA 2K and NBA Live.

We tip things off with a quick recap of some recent NBA Live 19 news, namely the return of LIVESTRIKE Events. Following the news round-up, we dive right into this week’s discussion topic: the Road to 99. Our conversation includes an update on our own journeys on the Road to 99, the way Cap Breakers differ between Archetypes, and the rewards at each tier. This also leads to comparisons with NBA Live 19’s progression system, as well as the progression systems from previous NBA Live and NBA 2K games. By the end of our discussion, we have a few thoughts on what we’d like to see in both career modes moving forward.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on the Road to 99 in career modes? 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.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live Picture Editor

No Portrait Available Texture (NBA Live Picture Editor)

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 NBA Live Picture Editor, a tool for modding portraits in NBA Live 95, 96, and 97.

For a veteran modder, there’s something really fun and satisfying in breaking out the tools to edit an old game. The nostalgia in doing so is comparable to dusting off an old favourite to play it, as memories of all those hours tinkering come flooding back. I indulged in that nostalgia a month ago when I revamped a couple of my mods for one of my all-time favourite basketball games, NBA Live 96. Although I was satisfied to finally complete some unfinished business, particularly with the Complete Update for the 2001 season, I didn’t have time to do any work on the portraits.

Editing portraits in NBA Live 95, NBA Live 96, and NBA Live 97 is done using a tool called the NBA Live Picture Editor. Co-developed by two of our founders, Tim and Brien, it’s a nifty tool that wasn’t put to use all that often for public releases. As such, it’s somewhat overlooked in the history of our modding community. It’s worth remembering though, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Masking the Inner Workings of Gameplay

Clipping issues create canned moments that require better masking (NBA 2K19)

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 a challenge that basketball titles are still facing: masking the inner workings of certain gameplay mechanics.

Game development isn’t easy. It’s something that is all too easy to forget when we’re grumbling and making snide remarks about a game we’re unhappy with. That’s not to say that we cannot and should not be critical, and then channel that into constructive feedback. After all, that’s how we can take an active role in the development of the games that we play. However, we do need to keep in mind that creating a realistic and enjoyable basketball game isn’t as simple as typing plain English into a file, and then saving it as a program. Unfortunately, coding just doesn’t work that way.

Indeed, there is a certain amount of trickery when it comes to designing video games. Like a magic act, various techniques are used to create illusions and cover up how it’s done. Of course, a magic trick is ruined if you spot wires, gimmicks, or the moves that make it happen. Similarly, the special effects in older movies can be very distracting, whether it’s the strings holding up puppets, or primitive CGI. The analogy here is that sometimes when we’re playing a basketball game such as NBA Live or NBA 2K, we can spot the strings, see through the sleight of hand, or notice the shortcomings in the special effects. Masking those tricks is an important challenge in future games.

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NLSC Podcast #283: A Chat With Izzy Snow

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Episode #283 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, my guest co-host is Izzy Snow, long-time community member, content creator, and the NBA Live 14 Gamer of the Year!

Izzy Snow joins the show to discuss his recent experiences with the full version of NBA Elite 11. This leads to a discussion of whether it was better for EA Sports to cancel the game outright, or if it would’ve been less damaging to release it and weather the bad reviews. We also talk about the current state of NBA Live and offer up some further thoughts on the issues with game modes, particularly Ultimate Team. In addition to revisiting NBA Live 06 on Xbox 360 and the question of where NBA Live needs to go from here, we also talk changes in the community, the need for competition, gaming habits as we get older, PC gaming and modding, NBA Playgrounds, and how Izzy became the NBA Live 14 Gamer of the Year back in 2014.

Tune in below!

Thanks once again to Izzy for joining the show this week, and be sure to let us know your thoughts on the topics that we discussed. 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.

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Wayback Wednesday: The PDA in NBA Live’s Dynasty Mode

PDA in NBA Live 2005's Dynasty Mode

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 PDA feature in NBA Live’s old Dynasty modes.

I’m keen to see NBA Live flesh out its franchise mode experience again. Not only is it a necessity as far as delivering a well-rounded game, but I’ve spent many, many fond hours with Franchise and Dynasty modes in older NBA Live titles. NBA Live was the first basketball game with an in-depth multi-season mode, and it continued to expand through its revamp into Dynasty. NBA 2K has obviously taken the experience much further with Association, MyLEAGUE, and MyGM, but during NBA Live’s strong run back in the mid 2000s, many of us were really enjoying Dynasty’s advancements.

Of course, not every new idea was a good one. The revamp into Dynasty mode took away the ability to control more than one team, and some of the staff development mechanics over the years have felt more video game than sim. However, perhaps the most problematic and annoying feature was the PDA, which made its debut in NBA Live 2005’s Dynasty mode. As with most other concepts that didn’t pan out, it did have some merit, but the drawbacks outnumbered or outweighed the benefits. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #281: Trusting the Process with NBA Live

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Episode #281 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Arcane and I are discussing the matter of trusting the process as far as NBA Live is concerned.

The discussion tips off with reflections on how the once-dominant brand in sim basketball games fell on hard times, from the shaky transition to the sixth generation consoles with NBA Live 06, to the disaster that was NBA Elite 11. We consider missed opportunities as far as rebooting the series by going back and building upon NBA Live 10, and note the difficulties that occurred with the cancellation of NBA Elite 11 and NBA Live 13, before the eventual comeback with NBA Live 14. From there, we discuss how the series has fared during its continued comeback, touching on all of the positives and negatives along the way. After going into detail about what we want to see out of the series moving forward, we wrap up with our hopes and expectations for NBA Live 20.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on NBA Live’s comeback, and what must happen with NBA Live 20? 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.

 

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Monday Tip-Off: The Annual Return to Square One

Starting a new MyCAREER in NBA 2K19

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 one of the biggest problems in basketball gaming: the annual return to square one.

Being that I’m a content creator within the basketball gaming community, I have an obligation to pick up the new games every year. Of course, the whole reason that I create content for basketball games is that I have a keen interest in the genre, so even if I wasn’t running the NLSC, I’m sure that I’d be buying them every year anyway; it’s not just content creators that are getting the games on an annual basis, after all. NBA 2K in particular continues to sell an impressive number of copies year in and year out, due to loyal gamers making an annual investment in the brand.

As a community, we do this because we generally get enjoyment out of the games. We want to be able to play in the current NBA season with up to date rosters, enjoy new content in the team building and career modes, and reap all the other benefits that the annual releases have to offer. However, there are drawbacks to the games coming out annually, with one issue in particular being guaranteed. Even if we put aside the possibility of a new game being inferior to its predecessor, even if we like the latest game just as much or better than the one that came before it, there’s no getting around the fact that we lose all of our progress when we go back to square one every year.

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Second Annual March Modness Is Underway

NLSC March Modness

March Modness is back for 2019! I liked the idea of last year’s event and was glad to see people in the community getting involved, so this is the next step in making it an annual event.

Basically, March Modness is both a celebration of modding, and a giveaway. In addition to our usual File Additions bulletins and spotlighting any big releases that come out during the month of March, contributors to our Downloads section will have a chance to win a copy of either NBA Live 20 or NBA 2K20 later this year, just by releasing their work.

To enter, all you need to do is release a mod and upload it to our Downloads section during the month of March 2019, 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 getting into the spirit myself with a few releases. There are some projects that I’m working on that have been taking longer than anticipated, but I’ll be doing my best to get at least a couple of them out this month. Stay tuned for more details, and hopefully some great releases throughout our second annual March Modness!

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NLSC Podcast – Episode #271

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Episode #271 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Arcane and myself as we discuss the new deal between Take Two and the NBA, the importance of Franchise and Ultimate Team in NBA Live, an unfortunate turn of events following the NBA 2K17 server shutdown, and 2019 All-Star voting.

On this week’s show…

  • Take Two has renewed their licensing agreement with the NBA for $1.1 billion over seven years. What impact might the new figure have on the future of basketball gaming?
  • A recent survey regarding favourite modes over on the official NBA Live Reddit omitted Franchise and Ultimate Team. It isn’t encouraging, but it strengthens our resolve to have an impact with our Wishlists.
  • The NBA 2K17 server shutdown has had an unexpected result: MyLEAGUE games that used community-made assets for expansion teams have now been locked. We discuss the problems with online content in offline modes, especially when it comes to dusting off old favourites.
  • Turning our attention to some NBA news, there are some interesting results in the latest All-Star voting returns. Are sentimental votes a bad thing, and are we looking forward to this year’s midseason classic?

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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Wayback Wednesday: The NLSC Wishlists

NBA Live 98 GM Season

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 history of our NLSC Wishlists.

Wishlist season is upon us again! We’re compiling our Wishlists for NBA Live 20 and NBA 2K20, so even though Wayback Wednesday is about looking back at the past, I would like to take the opportunity to encourage everyone to look to the future and help us compile comprehensive feedback for EA and 2K to put to use in developing this year’s games. As we discussed in Episode #270 of the NLSC Podcast, it doesn’t do us any good if we keep our feedback and suggestions to ourselves. Our Wishlists can’t guarantee the additions and changes we want, but they at least have a chance.

Of course, I understand the scepticism that my fellow basketball gamers often express when it comes time to compile our Wishlists. If you’re not seeing the improvements that you desire, it can feel like a pointless exercise; especially if you find yourself repeating the same points year after year. I do believe that our Wishlists have had a positive impact on the games though, and we only need to look back at some of them to see that they’ve been worthwhile. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Stages of Playing Through a Season

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 lists the five stages of playing through a season in any basketball video game mode.

As I write this, I’m approaching the end of the regular season in my MyCAREER game in NBA 2K19. Once again, not a bad effort for someone who was supposedly burned out on career modes! Having sufficiently levelled up my player for the online experiences, I am in a position where I can take a break from MyCAREER, but I also feel compelled to at least play through to the end of the first season. After all, I’m potentially less than thirty games away from cleaning up in the regular season awards, and leading the Chicago Bulls to another (virtual) championship.

I’ve played through at least one full season in multiple basketball games, including NBA Live 2004, NBA Live 06, NBA 2K13, and NBA 2K17. There’s definitely a sense of accomplishment in doing so, and if you’re really into the game, then the season does go by much quicker. It still takes some time though – especially if you’re playing twelve minute quarters – and there are undoubtedly moments where you must push yourself to complete the journey, particularly if you aren’t simulating any games. You’ll probably end up experiencing the five stages of playing through a season: a list that I’m making up, but one that I believe will resonate with many basketball gamers.

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Wayback Wednesday: DBF Files in NBA Live

NBA Live 08 Players DBF in DB Commander

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 DBF files in the PC versions of NBA Live.

Our community has produced several amazing mods over the years. We’ve been able to go from fairly basic roster updates to comprehensive total conversions, and a wide variety of tweaks and enhancements. Of course, some games have been easier to mod than others. The feasibility of modding a game generally comes down to the format and structure of the files; the easier they are to decode and manipulate, the easier it’s been to develop tools to edit them. At times, developers have gone out of their way to make this task easier. CustomArt is one such example, while DBF files are another.

In short, the adoption of DBF files greatly expanded what we were able to accomplish with roster editing in NBA Live. It’s easily one of the most important developments in the history of our modding community, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Bonus Teams in NBA Live

RBK Bonus Teams in NBA Live 06

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 that have been featured in various NBA Live games.

In the years following Lakers vs Celtics, it was a big deal when NBA games finally included the entire league. Once that became standard, we eventually reached a point where some sort of additional content was expected. NBA 2K has set the bar here with its historical teams, but there was a time when EA’s series was also going above and beyond simply featuring the current NBA rosters. These efforts include the Decade All-Star teams, which I talked about last week, as well as the FIBA squads that would be added in later NBA Live games.

Those weren’t the only playable squads outside of the NBA teams, though. I discussed the unlockable developer teams in a previous Wayback Wednesday, but in the years that followed that era, NBA Live featured a number of other bonus teams. While they weren’t necessarily as unique as the developer teams, or as exciting as the Decade All-Stars and FIBA squads, they were still noteworthy additions to NBA Live’s rosters. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Decade All-Stars in NBA Live

Michael Jordan Dunk (Decade All-Stars, NBA Live 2004)

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 Decade All-Stars in older NBA Live games.

I’ve mentioned the Decade All-Stars in several previous articles, including my first look back at Legends in Wayback Wednesday, my NBA Live 2000 retrospective, and as an example of content that I’d like to see return. However, apart from a profile of the 50s All-Stars on the anniversary of the BAA-NBL merger to form the NBA in 1949, I haven’t yet dedicated an entire feature to talking about those squads. Given how popular they were, and how much I personally enjoyed having them, it’s time to rectify that with a long overdue retrospective.

A lot of older basketball gamers who played NBA Live back in the day no doubt remember the Decade All-Stars quite fondly. It’s interesting that many of us do feel nostalgic for them now, considering how they were the original attempt to capitalise on nostalgia in basketball video games. For those who remember them, and for those who don’t know what all the fuss is about, let’s take a look back…way back…

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