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Wayback Wednesday: Running With the Bulls in the Early 2000s

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 difficulty of running with the Chicago Bulls in video games of the early 2000s.

Dusting off old favourites and other interesting hoops titles from yesteryear makes me feel old myself, but that doesn’t compare to the knowledge that my favourite team, the Chicago Bulls, are twenty-one years removed from their most recent championship. It was an incredible time to be a Bulls fan in the 90s, though it has made the subsequent ups and downs quite frustrating to endure at times. It’s been difficult watching them miss out on top free agents, lose their own promising players through free agency or questionable trades, and endure misfortune such as Derrick Rose’s multiple injuries.

Of course, the virtual hardwood is a place where frustrated NBA fans can turn around the fortunes of their favourite team, and I’ve created some fun memories running with the virtual Bulls over the years. In the aftermath of The Last Dance, I’ve overachieved with the Baby Bulls in my memorable NBA Live 2004 and NBA Live 06 Dynasties. More recently, I’ve taken them to back-to-back championships in MyCAREER. In the early 2000s however, it was rough playing with them in video games, as I’m sure my fellow long-time gamers and Bulls fans can attest. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Should NBA Live Be More Like NBA 2K?

James Harden shoots in NBA Live 19

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 interesting and important question that continues to be hotly debated: should NBA Live be more like NBA 2K?

As NBA Live continues to rebuild and re-establish itself in the face of NBA 2K’s dominance, there is a debate among basketball gamers as to the best direction for the game. There are gamers who would prefer that NBA Live remains distinctly different to NBA 2K in focus, style, and approach, and generally reject any suggestions that Live should borrow ideas from 2K. Conversely, as noted here on Reddit, there are others who would prefer that NBA Live essentially copy NBA 2K, but for a few details here and there (such as avoiding 2K’s approach to microtransactions).

Naturally, between those two extremes are more nuanced suggestions about NBA Live doing its own thing, while also borrowing some of NBA 2K’s best ideas (and in some cases, putting its own spin on them). To that end, of course, there’s still debate as to which ideas should be borrowed, how closely NBA Live should mimic what NBA 2K is doing, and to what extent any 2K concepts should be reworked. It leaves us with the question of whether or not NBA Live should be more like NBA 2K, or as the thread over on Reddit put it, “NBA 2K re-skinned” rather than NBA Live. For me, the answer is yes…and no.

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The Friday Five: 5 Interesting Ways to Play Basketball Games

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five ways to make your basketball gaming experiences more interesting.

As we discussed in last week’s episode of the NLSC Podcast, the offseason is upon us, which means we’ve put in nine solid months of gaming with last season’s basketball titles. It’s around this time of the year that our habits on the virtual hardwood tend to change. Maybe we start spending time in a different mode, or try to finish up all of our business before this year’s games are released. If we’re enjoying what we’re doing, we may keep playing the current game throughout the preview season. Or, after so many months, we may feel it’s time to shelve the games and play something else.

If you are still keen on virtual hoops at this point of the year, you might feel inclined to try something different. For that matter, you may be considering new ways to play in the upcoming games, as it’s easy to get into a rut and fall back into old habits year after year. I know that I’ve often vowed to change things up by trying a different build or doing something out of the ordinary, only to opt for the familiar. There are some ideas that I’d like to try out at some point though, as well as a few that I have tried, if only briefly. If you’d like a different basketball gaming experience, consider these suggestions this offseason, or come NBA Live 20 and NBA 2K20.

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Wayback Wednesday: Shaquille O’Neal & NBA Live

Shaquille O'Neal in NBA Live 09

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 Shaquille O’Neal’s history with NBA Live.

Before the 2019 NBA Finals tipped off, it was noted that the series marked the 35th year in a row that the league’s championship round featured a player who was at one time a teammate of Shaquille O’Neal. It’s not the first time that Shaq’s connections to a Finals participant has come up, but with LeBron James’ offseason move to the Los Angeles Lakers after eight consecutive Finals appearances with the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers, there was speculation that the streak may finally come to an end. Thanks to Danny Green and the champion Toronto Raptors, it remains intact.

With a nineteen year career that began in 1992 and ended in 2011, and saw six stops along the way, the streak is arguably less surprising than it seems. Given the number of journeyman he played with, and his own nomadic nature later on in his career, it’s no surprise that there are connections stretching out in both directions. On the virtual hardwood, Shaquille O’Neal has a similar streak of longevity, particularly when it comes to the NBA Live series. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: How Online Modes Are Killing Retro Gaming

How Online Modes Are Killing Retro Gaming

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 a focus on online modes and content is killing – or at the very least, putting a serious damper on – retro gaming on the virtual hardwood.

Unless you’re talking about beloved classics, sports games – and in particular, the ones that see a new release every year – tend not to be very popular in retro gaming circles. Because they’re attempting to capture reality in both their gameplay and aesthetics, they tend to age worse than other genres. Sports gamers want the latest release, set in the most recent season. As a result, sports games don’t make second-hand retailers a lot of money, resulting in their trade-in value being very low. If you’ve ever tried to trade in your old basketball titles, you’ll know that all too well.

This phenomenon predates the more recent approach to designing basketball games, though it used to be easier to stick with an older title, or go back to one. One could have a lot of fun dusting off an old favourite, and indeed, that’s a major factor for my Wayback Wednesday features. However, the games of the current generation don’t have the same retro gaming appeal. The heavy focus on online modes and content mean that titles are far more limited than they used to be once the servers have been shut down and support has ceased. It’s not just online multiplayer that’s been cut off, but access to major parts of the single player retro gaming experience, too.

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The Friday Five: 5 Pointless Options in Basketball Games

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five options found in basketball games that are rather (or indeed, completely) pointless.

Generally speaking, it doesn’t hurt to have as many options as possible in basketball video games. When it comes to the selection of modes, we want options. When it comes to the controls, we want options. When it comes to gameplay sliders and game settings, we want options. When it comes to customising the game in any way…well, you get the idea. While it may seem intimidating to have too many options, I’d much rather that and simply ignore anything I don’t want to tinker with, rather than wish I had the ability to change something.

With that being said, there have been options and tasks in basketball video games that have felt pointless. In the best case scenario they can just be ignored, but they can still be annoying, if only because you can’t help but feel that they could (and should) be more useful. They leave you wondering why the developers bothered to have those options in the first place, or why something wasn’t done more efficiently. Others may simply be left over from previous games where they had more of a purpose, and some benefit the publishers more than gamers. Whatever the case may be, some options are quite pointless, and these are five that come to mind.

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NLSC Podcast #287: Renovating the Virtual Hardwood

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Episode #287 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Arcane and I are discussing modding, including the history of our community and our own involvement with the hobby over the years.

After catching up on the results of Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals, we dive into this week’s topic: modding, also known as patching (or indeed if we want to get really fancy, renovating the virtual hardwood). We discuss the beginnings of our modding community and how it’s evolved over the years, as well as how we came to be a part of it. Our discussion also includes modding etiquette, and ways that we can improve as a community. We also talk about our favourite mods, both the ones that we’ve made and those that others have created. We wrap up with some tips for getting started, and touch upon what it might be like if NBA Live and NBA 2K could one day go head to head with modding on PC.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on our modding community here at the NLSC? 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 #286: Online, Casuals, & Simulation

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Episode #286 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Arcane and I are discussing the focus of online play in NBA Live and NBA 2K, and what that means for different types of basketball gamers.

We tip things off with a quick look ahead to the 2019 NBA Finals, as well as a few thoughts on the forthcoming gameplay patch for NBA Live 19. After catching up on the news, we dive into this week’s discussion topic: online, casuals, and simulation. We reflect on some recent Jordan Rec Center games in NBA 2K19, and how they’ve been indicative of changing attitudes towards the importance of sim-style virtual basketball. This leads us to question whether the core demographic is as sim as it used to be, or whether we’re now on the outer fringe. We also attempt to categorise the different types of hoops gamers, and throw out a few suggestions for improving the online experience by addressing various issues including matchmaking and gatekeeping.

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What are your thoughts on the current direction of online play, and gameplay in general? 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 #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.

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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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