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Monday Tip-Off: Do We Need Those Stinking Badges?

Monday Tip-Off: Do We Need Those Stinking Badges?

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 whether NBA 2K’s MyCAREER and its connected modes are too reliant on Badges, and their general implementation.

Sim games have long sought to properly differentiate between players, beginning with detailed ratings. Those base attributes alone haven’t always been sufficient though, and so developers have experimented with mechanics such as Freestyle Superstars in NBA Live, and Signature Skills in NBA 2K. Signature Skills have given way to Badges, which like their predecessors, grant boosts and represent special abilities that the standard ratings can’t account for. As with Signature Skills, or the similar Traits system in NBA Live, they’re available to real players and career mode avatars alike.

These days, Badges are probably more important than ratings/attributes. You can max out a player’s ratings in a certain area, but it takes the effects of a Badge to ensure that they’re sufficiently levelled up. On one hand, this does make the exceptionally skilled stand out from the very good, much as Freestyle Superstars in NBA Live once aimed to achieve. On the other hand, it also means that high ratings – which are theoretically only given to the best real players, and take a long time to grind for our MyPLAYERs – are far less powerful than they should be, if they aren’t paired with the various boosts afforded by Badges. Given these issues, do we need those stinking Badges?

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Monday Tip-Off: Imperfections Don’t Need Imperfect Solutions

Monday Tip-Off: Imperfections Don't Need Imperfect Solutions

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 simple but important message: imperfections in basketball games don’t need imperfect solutions.

There’s a running gag when it comes to Bethesda’s Fallout games: “it just works”. This sarcastic jab at bugs and other imperfections in the series is a reference to Executive Producer Todd Howard’s declaration that Fallout 4’s “dynamic game engine” would ensure that everything about it “just works”. And, to be fair, while I didn’t enjoy Fallout 4 as much as I did Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas, the game does indeed work. Does everything work as well as it should? Not exactly, and that’s why Todd Howard’s utterance of those words has become a meme.

In all fairness to Todd Howard and Bethesda though, they’re not alone in that regard. To be completely fair to the Triple-A gaming industry at large, achieving perfection is easier said than done, and the scope of their products is going to result in issues such as bugs and oversights. As gamers, consumers, whatever we want to call ourselves, we do understand that. However, some things are just poorly planned, designed, and implemented. Although we do criticise these issues and suggest solutions, I’ve also seen many gamers defend these imperfections. Not because of the difficulty of game design, mind you, but the notion that imperfect solutions cancel out valid complaints.

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NLSC Podcast #337: Playing Your Cards Right

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Episode #337 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

As the NBA 2K21 demo looms, we’ve received an insight into MyTEAM with the latest developer blog. Much of this week’s show is spent providing a comprehensive breakdown of the blog, which delivered some promising news. We also offer up some final speculation ahead of the demo’s release, though we’re keeping our expectations low as far as its scope is concerned. With the launch of NBA 2K21 Next Gen happening a couple of months into the Current Gen version’s life cycle, we also talk about our plans for the latter. Other topics include Ante-Up, MyTEAM pack odds, the positives and negatives of regulation in the Auction House, and the oldest releases that we could feasibly play regularly again.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? 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 show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

Monday Tip-Off: That One Change Every Year

Monday Tip-Off: That One Change Every Year

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 how every year, there seems to be at least one change in basketball video games that many of us dislike.

It’s fair to say that we want to see change in basketball video games year-to-year; for the better, ideally! As much as we criticise the parts of games we don’t like, we have seen quite a few positive changes that have improved the overall on-court experience. Basketball games have come a long way, and it’s clear that some of our feedback has been taken into consideration by the developers. It always comes as welcome news when a major frustration is addressed in a new game, and the new approach allows us to enjoy it a lot more than its predecessor.

And then, there are the changes we don’t want to see. Everything was fine and the way we liked it, and suddenly, it’s drastically different. Sometimes it’s a matter of getting used to the change, but other times, it’s a pointless switch from something that was working and didn’t need to be touched. Whether it’s a major gameplay mechanic, a menu option, or something content-related, it’s a rare game that doesn’t have at least one noticeable change that won’t sit well with many of us. It may not completely ruin a game, and it may not be important to absolutely everyone, but it’s significant enough for a number of us to be bothered by the difference to the previous year’s release.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways NBA 2K Online Is A Mess

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 outlines five reasons that the online scene in NBA 2K is a mess.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve discussed problems with the online experience in NBA 2K, and while I’d prefer not to harp on issues or be repetitive in my content, it’s also important to point out problems. This is particularly important when certain issues remain unresolved for several years running, leading to increased frustration for everyone, and an aspect of basketball gaming that isn’t nearly as good as it could and should be. Having spent more time playing NBA 2K online recent years, I’ve grown dismayed and disenchanted with the experience due to several recurring problems.

Frankly, NBA 2K online is a mess. It’s kind of bewildering, actually. With the launch of the NBA 2K League, the online scene is obviously being pushed as a big part of the game, and yet it’s never been weaker or less inviting. That’s not to say that it can’t be any fun at all. I won’t pretend that I haven’t had enjoyable sessions here and there, or that NBA 2K online doesn’t have anything to offer; at least on paper. The good news is that there are solutions that would clean up the mess that is online play in NBA 2K. The bad news is that many of the problems are persistent legacy issues, so it remains to be seen if they’ll ever be properly addressed in future games.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Decline of MyCAREER Offline

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 the decline of MyCAREER offline, and its effect on the career experience in NBA 2K.

MyCAREER has been my main mode of choice since I was drawn to it back in NBA 2K13. As I’ve mentioned on many occasions, I’ve felt a desire to return to my roots as a franchise gamer – especially given the depth currently on offer in MyLEAGUE – and have also spent time with MyTEAM, as well as Ultimate Team in NBA Live over the past generation. However, MyCAREER has been difficult to quit, particularly as I’ve grown to appreciate the online scene through 2K Pro-Am. The connected experience offers several benefits, but it’s also contributed to the decline of MyCAREER offline.

I was originally going to cover this in a Friday Five article which would’ve been titled “5 Ways Offline MyCAREER Is Worse”, but I decided that the list format wouldn’t do the issue justice. One of the major reasons for my change of heart and mind is that I stumbled across this Reddit post from about five months back, outlining the way that MyCAREER offline has been downgraded over the years. It was well-researched, and I must credit it here as a source of information for the specific changes I’ve noted. Its title was apt, too. It’s a matter that doesn’t receive nearly enough attention, and I’d like to rectify that by covering it today, while also considering some possible solutions.

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NLSC Podcast #334: NBA 2K21 News & NBA Live Woes

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Episode #334 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

With the Current Gen version of NBA 2K21 a little over a month away, we’re anticipating the floodgates opening on the preview season. For now, we have news on this year’s soundtrack, as well as a few tidbits about gameplay and MyTEAM. We break down what we know so far, including Mike Wang’s interesting comments about making the game as enjoyable as possible. Given the recent sentiments in the community – as well as a few remarks from NBA players – it seems like the right idea! Elsewhere, now that we know there won’t be an NBA Live 21, we once again discuss the future of the NBA Live series. Are we keeping our fingers crossed for next year? Also, we talk about when basketball games get cartoonish, and how that can be a welcome change of pace.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? 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 show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

NLSC Podcast #333: Just Two Creatures of Habit

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Episode #333 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

Would you pay $16,000 for a promotional copy of NBA 2K15? Someone on eBay is hoping that you will! We’ve spent considerably less on recent additions to our collections, which we were excited to pick up. Speaking of collectables, a few copies of Slam City with Scottie Pippen have also popped up on eBay, leading us to reflect on that somewhat forgotten game. Meanwhile, an influx of new gamers in NBA 2K20’s online scene has further emphasised the need to implement proper ranking and matchmaking measures (and inspired another rant). We also discuss what it takes to change our gaming habits on the virtual hardwood, and how some of those habits were formed in the first place.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? 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 Odd Aspects of 2K’s Early Career Modes

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 aspects of NBA 2K’s early career modes that look odd in retrospect.

TV Tropes enthusiasts will no doubt be familiar with the term “Early Installment Weirdness“. To quote the laconic definition, it refers the phenomenon of “first releases of franchises that include very surprising differences in specific tropes or even the absence of a trope that later became predominant in that work”. To put it another way, the first season of a TV show or the early titles in a video game series may have elements that were changed or phased out, retroactively making them look very strange and out of place compared to what came afterwards.

Being a genre that has evolved over a number of years and generations of hardware, basketball games are no exception. Certain controls and gameplay mechanics, and even features of the staple game modes, have drastically changed as concepts have evolved and technology has improved. Of course, less pleasing developments such as the introduction of microtransactions have also fuelled changes that leave us wishing we could go back to the old days, and the old ways. The single player career mode in NBA 2K – originally called My Player, now branded MyCAREER – features some prime examples of aspects that now seem quite odd. Let’s take a look at five of them!

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Monday Tip-Off: 3v3 Pro-Am in NBA 2K20 is…FUN?!?

Monday Tip-Off: 3v3 Pro-Am in NBA 2K20 is...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 some thoughts on how 3v3 Pro-Am in NBA 2K20 has been…dare I say it…fun.

I’ve been critical of the lack of proper matchmaking and new restrictions on 5v5 Pro-Am since the latter was introduced in NBA 2K19. Last week, I noted that it took all three of our teammates quitting for Kenny and I to have one of the best games we’ve ever had in The Rec. I’m on record declaring that NBA 2K’s online experience is in really rough shape, regardless of its general popularity and engagement numbers. Despite some fun games here and there, I stand by that as being the case on the whole. There are many improvements that could be made to online play in NBA 2K.

However, I have found an online mode in NBA 2K20 that has been fun more often than not. So fun in fact, I’ve titled this article like a clickbait YouTube video. The NLSC squad hasn’t had a 5v5 Pro-Am game this year as we haven’t had the numbers, but on a few occasions we have been able to get three of us together. Normally in that situation we’d head to The Rec, where it’s a little easier to control things when you account for more than half of the team, or maybe The Playground, but not so much this year. Instead, we’ve given 3v3 Pro-Am a try, and I’d have to say that it may be the most consistently fun online mode in NBA 2K20.

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NLSC Podcast #332: The Measure of a Sim Gamer

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Episode #332 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

Many of us consider ourselves to be sim gamers, but what does that mean exactly? We discuss what makes a sim gamer “sim”, and the different approaches we can take with that style of play. We’ve also got plenty of suggestions for additional retro teams for NBA 2K, and share some of our favourites that we’d most like to see. The word of the week here is “esoteric”! Speaking of suggestions, we also have some ideas for new and revamped game modes. From an offline retro challenge mode to a concept like Quick Pick Play, and even tournament and road trip modes, there are still ways that NBA Live and NBA 2K can offer gamers even more content to sink their teeth into.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? 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: Thank You, Rec Quitters!

Monday Tip-Off: Thank You, Rec Quitters!

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 thank you to the Rec quitters that left Kenny and I to play 2-on-5 in a game last Saturday.

Because The Rec can be very hit and miss when it comes to having fun and playing a good game of virtual basketball, I’ve played much less of it this year. It’s a bit more enjoyable when you head there with a friend or two, but with three fifths of our regular NLSC squad understandably skipping NBA 2K20 after being disappointed with NBA 2K19, most of the times I’ve ventured into The Rec, I’ve gone there solo. Kenny and I have hopped on for a few sessions together though, and while there’s been frustration, we’ve at least been able to work (and commiserate) together.

That’s what we did last Saturday. Both of us were having a quiet evening at home – kind of the way it goes with the current pandemic, after all – so I hit him up about jumping on for a game or two. The first game was a frustrating overtime loss that we really shouldn’t have been in a position to win, yet could’ve if not for poor decision-making and clock management by our teammates. Thanks to some mic trouble, we also weren’t able to chat during that contest. After resolving that issue, we decided to play one more game, in which our three teammates all quit in the first quarter after we fell behind 15-5. As I said, I’d like to send out a thank you to those Rec quitters.

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The Friday Five: 5 Best NBA CAPs in NBA 2K20’s Neighborhood

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 takes a look at five of the best NBA CAPs I’ve seen in NBA 2K20’s Neighborhood.

Since the introduction of Park, 2K Pro-Am, and ultimately The Neighborhood, it’s been interesting to see what kind of players people create. I don’t mean their build or Archetype, though that’s obviously an interesting discussion as well. I’m talking about the appearance gamers choose for their MyPLAYERs. Whether it’s through the face scanning capabilities or expanded face creation tools, we’re invited to insert ourselves into the game. While a number of gamers do indeed choose to do this, it seems that many prefer to create an original avatar, or in some cases, run with an NBA lookalike.

I would suggest that most gamers choose custom faces and NBA CAPs for the same reason that I gave up on face scans: the functionality is cumbersome, buggy, and takes too long to inform you that a scan has failed. Even when a scan has been successful according to the app, the game will often inform you that there’s a problem, with the condescending error message “try again and play close attention to the instructions”; instructions, mind you, that along with any troubleshooting info, do not exist. It’s no wonder people prefer to role play as a goofy avatar, or as an NBA player. Some of the NBA CAPs are quite good, with these five ranking among the best I’ve seen so far.

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Monday Tip-Off: We DO Give a Damn ‘Bout a Bad MyREP System

Monday Tip-Off: We DO Give a Damn 'Bout a Bad MyREP System

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 the importance of fixing MyREP, not just in terms of its rewards system, but also allowing it to carry over year-to-year.

Keeping an annually-released basketball game fresh in a way that satisfies its toughest critics – the hardcore hoops gamers – is easier said than done. Take a ranking and rewards system such as MyREP, for example. If it’s the same year after year, we’re prone to complain about it being too stale and familiar. If it changes, there’s bound to be a lot of people who preferred the old system, as well as those that were open to a change, but aren’t feeling the new approach. There’s also the issue of having to start over from scratch every year; a common complaint in general these days.

I want to talk about both of those issues related to MyREP: its use as both a reward and matchmaking system, and the concept of being able to carry over rep from the previous game. It’s something I’d like to see NBA 2K get right as we enter a new generation with online basketball gaming as popular as it’s ever been, yet also in rough shape. Because of its effects on features and the online experience, it’s more than a cosmetic badge. We have good reason to give a damn about a bad MyREP system. Yes, that is a reference to “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, and indeed, I’m keeping the musical motif going as I wax lyrical about this matter.

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Monday Tip-Off: A New Big Man on Campus

Monday Tip-Off: A New Big Man on Campus

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 recap of my experiences playing as a big man in The Rec, after years of assuming the role of a playmaking point guard.

I documented my experiences trying out a big man build that was similar to the way I played in my local league as a teenager many years ago, in a previous article that I titled MyPLAYER in the Middle. As I noted in that feature, playing as a big man after years of MyCAREER games as a point guard felt very strange and quite frustrating at times. It was, as you would expect, a major adjustment with such a drastic change in role, to say nothing of going back to being a 60 Overall after maxing out my point guard build at 99.9 Overall. At the same time, it was an interesting experience.

Of course, playing online is a whole different brand of virtual basketball, and I was curious to see how it compared to my experiences as a point guard. I’ve often heard that it’s easier to get games in The Rec as a big man, as they tend to be in higher demand due to a majority of gamers opting for point guard and wing builds. Having played several Rec games with guard-heavy squads, and sometimes struggling to get games because of people quitting to avoid that scenario, I was hopeful that that would hold true for my alternate build. As far as the quality of the on-court experience was concerned…well, I figured The Rec would always be The Rec, but it was worth a try.

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