Home | NLSC Forum Story Thread Interviews: Andrew

NLSC Forum Story Thread Interviews: Andrew

We certainly love our basketball games here at the NLSC, so when it comes to modes like Dynasty, Association, and MyCAREER, some of us like to share the experience with our fellow gamers. In the Basketball Video Game Stories section of the NLSC Forum, several gamers maintain story threads chronicling their adventures and achievements in the virtual NBA. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be running a series of interviews with some of our most prominent storytellers, to get an insight into their experiences and discover why they enjoy maintaining story threads.

This time, I’m talking to myself…well, not really, but as someone who’s maintained a few story threads over the years, I thought that I’d offer my own answers to the questions that I’ve been posing to other story thread enthusiasts. I hope that you enjoy the insight into my experiences creating story threads for some of my favourite basketball video games!

For those who haven’t checked them out yet – and for those who have followed them, for that matter – please tell us a little about your story thread(s).

I tend to choose the Chicago Bulls in modes like Dynasty, simply because they’re my favourite team. My most successful threads have been my NBA Live 2004 and NBA Live 06 Dynasty games – Part 1 and Part 2 in the case of the latter – and they definitely rank among my favourite basketball gaming experiences. I also played a lot of MyCAREER in NBA 2K13, and ended up maintaining a story thread for that.

Ben Gordon dunks in NBA Live 06

What motivated you to begin and maintain a story thread?

Telling the story of what’s going on in my current season is something that I was doing way back in the days of the NBA Live Domain, the website that I was running before I took over the NLSC. When we revived the concept in the Forum, I got back into it because it’s fun to talk about the different things we’re doing with other people who are playing the games. It’s also something that’s kind of tangible, something to show for all that time playing a video game!

What drew you to the mode you chose to play?

I’m primarily an offline/solitary gamer, so season play has always appealed to me. When Franchise Mode made its debut in NBA Live 2000, it immediately became my favourite game mode, as it was something that we’d all been wanting for a few years at that point. Those modes have gotten deeper and deeper since, which has only made them even more appealing to me.

My interest in MyCAREER kind of happened by accident. Traditionally, I found the idea of being able to play multiple roles on a team much more appealing than guiding a single player through their career. However, in trying out the mode in preparation for writing my NBA 2K13 review, I found myself getting hooked. I started the story thread as a result, and it ended up being the mode that I played the most that year.

Has maintaining a story thread enhanced your enjoyment of the games? If so, how?

I’d say that it has. I’m sure that I would’ve still enjoyed playing the games, but maintaining the story threads added that little something extra. It’s the shared experience with your fellow gamers, the feedback and suggestions that you get. It’s extending the experience beyond what’s in the game, giving some extra life to this virtual reality that you’re creating. It gives you something to reflect upon as you’re playing the game, and something to look back upon when you’re done.

Tyson Chandler blocks Shaquille O'Neal in NBA Live 06

How did you decide on the style that you use for your story thread?

My usual approach has been to adopt a sports pages/basketball website style of coverage, which has allowed me to go fairly in-depth as I play through the season. I like that style, but it does have the drawback of ending up being too focused on your own team. Apart from league leaders, standings, and some other key news items, you tend not to want to spend a lot of time writing about the rest of the league, when you’re recapping every one of your games in detail.

I went in a different direction with my MyCAREER in NBA 2K13, partly to change things up, but also because I never intended to maintain a story thread for it in the first place. I just found that I was enjoying the mode a lot, and figured I might as well start a thread and see how it went. The game log/player blog approach felt like a good balance between gaming and maintaining the thread.

What’s your favourite part of running a story thread?

The way it adds a little extra enjoyment to the experience, and being able to relate to other basketball gamers who are also enjoying the modes that I’m playing. There’s a sense of community, and it feels good to be doing something constructive and creative. We all have our quibbles with these modes, and there’s always room for improvement of course, but if we’re so into them that we’re talking about them at length, and engaging in some creative writing…well, they must be doing something right.

What’s your least favourite part of running a story thread?

It’s what pretty much everyone else has said so far: writing the recaps, getting screenshots, and creating the flavour content can be a hassle. Sometimes, you just want to play! When you’re looking to recap every single game, as I’ve usually done, it can get a bit tiresome…especially when you’re trying not to sound too repetitive.

That’s one of the reasons I changed things up for my NBA 2K13 MyCAREER thread, with game-by-game logs/stats, and fewer lengthy recaps and articles. That way, I was having fun playing bunches of games at a time, and just checking in with some updates every so often. I think the style also worked for a MyCAREER story thread, since it was being told from the perspective of the player, and the blog-style entries every few games or so represented life on the road during the course of an NBA season. At least, I’d like to think so.

NBA Finals MVP in NBA 2K13's MyCAREER

Tell us about some of your favourite moments from your story thread(s).

It’s tough to single them all out, so this is where I shamelessly plug my Friday Five article where I talk about why I loved my NBA Live 06 Dynasty so much. Seriously though, the ups and downs of that Dynasty made for so many memorable moments. The challenge of overcoming Ben Gordon’s injury, all the adjustments that I tried with my line-ups. Giving Shawn Kemp a comeback opportunity. And in the second season, chasing awards and all those records…and succeeding!

It probably goes without saying, but winning the championship is always special, especially as I try to play every single game with 12 minute quarters…at least in the first season. It’s a satisfying way to cap off spending a lot of hours with the game. Getting a few quadruple doubles with Ben Gordon stands out as a highlight, along with a gamewinner he knocked down against the rival Detroit Pistons. Kyle Korver once had a clutch fourth quarter performance that earned him the starting nod in the next game. It’s fun to do stuff like that.

In my NBA 2K13 MyCAREER, making the NBA Finals in my rookie season after helping the team go 73-9 was pretty special, especially as the Finals series turned out to be a breakout opportunity for me, MVP award and all. Getting on track to be a star player, breaking the team assists record, and racking up triple doubles…finding a style of play that worked for me and was fun. Speaking of which, as someone who likes to think of themselves as a sim gamer, I’m a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to MyCAREER. It’s part of the fun for me though, because it’s something different.

Which other story threads do you enjoy reading?

Kenny and Phil89 are two of my favourites, but the work of The X, Lamrock, Sit, mp3, and of course, -BHZMAFIA-, is also outstanding. We have some really good storytellers in the community.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own story thread?

First and foremost, do it because you want to, because you’re enjoying your time with the game. Do it because you want to share a fun experience with your fellow basketball gamers. It’s like patching; you shouldn’t do it to feel like a big shot, or achieve some sort of “fame” within the community. Let your enthusiasm for and enjoyment of playing the game drive your efforts to maintain a story thread, and not the other way around.

Pick a team that appeals to you, or that you think you can have fun with. Play a few games with them first, be they exhibition games or the first few games of the season. Make sure that you want to keep playing with them before starting the story thread. If you’re playing a mode like Dynasty or Association/MyLEAGUE/MyGM, avoid making too many trades too early on. If your team has no identity, you’ll find that you lose interest more quickly.

Don’t hesitate to check out what other people are doing, and borrow elements of their styles that appeal to you. It’s good to develop your own style, and do what you enjoy and feel comfortable with, but there’s nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from others and reworking concepts to suit your needs. Finally, keep tabs on one another’s story threads, and get involved. We’re a much friendlier community when we’re talkative and support one another!

Thanks again to everyone who has taken part in this series of storyteller profiles so far! We’ll be looking to post more Story Thread Interviews in the future, so stay tuned!

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