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The Friday Five: 5 Side Characters That Should’ve Been MyPLAYERs

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 suggests five side characters in MyCAREER stories that arguably should’ve been the player character instead.

So, I’ve looked at the best antagonists and protagonists in MyCAREER stories, but those tales have also featured a number of interesting side characters (and B-Fresh). It may be an overused idea at times, but whenever you have a cast of good supporting characters that have interesting stories of their own, you can’t help but wonder about spinoff ideas. Alternatively, you may feel that they should’ve been the main character all along. There are certainly some examples in the various MyCAREER stories, and so I’ll be exploring those possibilities today.

Of course, it should be noted that oftentimes side characters are in those roles for a reason, and promoting them to the lead or one of the main characters exposes why they weren’t in the spotlight in the first place. The same traits that made them such enjoyable side characters can make them unsuitable protagonists. It may be that they work better in small doses, or aspects that made them funny as a side character are grating when they’re the lead. Conversely, a lack of flaws may make them too boring in the role of protagonist. With that being said, I do believe there’s merit in these side characters being cast in the role of MyPLAYER avatar, albeit with a few changes.

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The Friday Five: Top 5 Protagonists in MyCAREER Stories

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 countdown of the Top 5 Protagonists we’ve played as in MyCAREER stories (obligatory spoiler warning).

Although it’s often said that stories are only as good as their villains, it’s still vital that their protagonists are likewise well-written. There’s arguably more wiggle room here as some stories have successfully utilised protagonists that are audience surrogates; blank slates that we can project ourselves onto. MyPLAYERs certainly can qualify in that regard. Since the adoption of the story-driven approach in MyCAREER, the player character does have established personality traits, yet there are also moments where we can role-play and choose how they react to a situation.

A problem that many of us have had with the protagonists of various MyCAREER stories is that the aspects of the character and story we can’t change have a negative impact on the experience. For example, the NBA 2K15 MyPLAYER isn’t a very sympathetic character. In NBA 2K16’s “Livin’ Da Dream“, Frequency Vibrations (aka Freq) has a very specific background that doesn’t gel with the RPG mechanics of the mode, and makes decisions many of us wouldn’t. A good MyCAREER protagonist is one whose shoes we do want to jump into, whichever brand they may be. To that end, these are my picks for the Top 5 Protagonists that have become our avatars.

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NLSC Podcast #346: And Now, A Word From Our Sponsors

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #346 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

Controversy strikes as an unskippable ad has made its way into NBA 2K21 Current Gen. It isn’t the first time this generation, but the backlash has prompted a statement from 2K, one that we find questionable. This prompts us to recall other controversies, and the tendency for some gamers to make excuses for them time after time. We also talk about the logistics of an indie developer making a fully 3D 5v5 basketball title. With the release of the third gameplay blog for NBA 2K21 Next Gen, we have our first look at MyPLAYER builds and AI improvements. Once again, the included clips seem to tell a different story to what’s been written in the blog. The changes to builds, Badges, and the Takeover system leads to a discussion of stories and RPG mechanics in MyCAREER. After summing up our thoughts on the gameplay blogs, we dive into a fun topic: the amazing fictional NBA team names in Super Dunk Shot!

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.

NBA 2K21 Next Gen Gameplay Blog #3 Talks MyPLAYER & AI

NBA 2K21 Next Gen Gameplay Blog #3

The third NBA 2K21 Next Gen gameplay blog has been posted. With the first blog covering fundamentals and the second blog covering movement and contact, the third and final gameplay blog discusses MyPLAYER builds and AI.

Some of the key points spotlighted in the blog include the new MyPLAYER Builder, which has done away with pie charts. There are also new Badges including a Mamba Mentality Badge, and 24 Takeover abilities. Several updates have also been made to the AI in the Next Gen version of NBA 2K21. The version of the blog posted on the official PlayStation website also mentions another PlayStation 5 exclusive, this time concerning MyTEAM.

As with the previous insights, I recommend reading the third NBA 2K21 Next Gen gameplay blog for the full scoop. However, you can check out my summary of the key points below. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, and join in the discussion taking place here in the Forum!

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NBA 2K21 Next Gen Trailer Showcases Gameplay

NBA 2K21 Next Gen Trailer

The gameplay reveal trailer for NBA 2K21 Next Gen has provided us with a glimpse of what to expect from the upcoming game. As you might expect, the trailer is mostly comprised of cinematic angles, but also features a few clips that show off more of the action. The NBA 2K21 Next Gen trailer has also been accompanied by a brief list of key features:

  • An eye-popping leap in graphical advancements: next-gen lighting, textures, physics, animations, and more that push NBA 2K21’s visual presentation to the bleeding edge;
  • Rebuilt player movement and player impact, driven by new on-court animation and collision engines that make for a smoother, tougher game;
  • The entire arena comes to life, with more than 150 unique AI-driven characters interacting seamlessly to create a groundbreaking Lower Bowl experience;
  • An expanded soundtrack with 202 songs at launch and more to come.

More details on NBA 2K21 Next Gen will be coming tomorrow in the form of three gameplay blogs. The blogs will outline the improvements to core gameplay, AI, player movement and the new “Impact Engine”, and changes to the MyPLAYER Builder. Over the coming weeks, we’ll also learn more about changes to MyCAREER, MyLEAGUE, MyGM, and the WNBA. It also appears that The Neighborhood has been revamped and renamed for the new generation.

Check out the NBA 2K21 Next Gen trailer below, share your thoughts in the comments, and feel free to jump into the discussion taking place here in our NBA 2K21 Forum! Tune in to the NLSC Podcast this weekend for our thoughts on the trailer, and all the info that will be revealed this week. NBA 2K21 is scheduled for release globally on Xbox Series X/S on November 10th, November 12th on PlayStation 5 in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, and South Korea, and November 19th on PS5 in all other regions.

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NBA 2K20 Gameplay Blog: Motion System, Controls, AI, & More

NBA 2K20: Serge Ibaka

Following last week’s insight into MyGM and MyLEAGUE, the NBA 2K20 gameplay blog has been posted! NBA 2K Gameplay Director Mike Wang (aka Beluba) has provided an in-depth look at the improvements, additions, and changes to the on-court experience in this year’s release. As always, I encourage you to read the entire NBA 2K20 gameplay blog for the full scoop, but here’s an overview:

  • The Motion Engine has received an upgrade, improving foot planting, animation selection, momentum modelling, and realistic differentiation in player weight and speed. Sprinting has also been reworked to make it harder to abuse, with more visual feedback when a player is getting low on energy.
  • Ballhandlers now have contextual awareness that they didn’t before. More dribble moves and animations have been added, with a focus on signature styles. A new size-up mechanic will allow moves to be chained together more cleanly, and without pre-scripted sequences.
  • An arrow will assist in movement on defense, showing which direction a player is leaning or attempting to go. The arrow shows up at different times, according to the defender’s abilities. The player indicator will also change from a solid circle to a broken line, indicating how vulnerable they are to losing the ball on steal attempts. Steal spam has also been addressed.
  • Gathers have more flexibility this year, allowing offensive players to react to defense collapsing on them in the lane and branch into different finishes. Hundreds of new animations have been added including in-air collisions, hard fouls, grab blocks, and swats. The post game has also been enhanced with new moves on both sides of the ball.
  • Off-ball control has been expanded with juke moves, as seen in older games. Moves are performed with the right stick when playing off the ball. Off-ball collisions have also been improved, and a new quick screen control has been added.
  • Further enhancements have been made to AI at both ends. This includes improvements to the Adaptive Coaching Engine, and a new Dynamic Freelance engine. There are also new play action buttons, which you can customise with your favourite plays. Transition defense has also been re-written with new options.
  • CPU players now utilise shot timing mechanics, rather than Real Player %. Takeover has been tuned to be less OP and there are new Badges. According to a Tweet by Beluba, some Badges have also been removed.

Once again, be sure to check out the full NBA 2K20 gameplay blog for more details. Got any thoughts? Feel free to share them in the comments below, as well as join in the discussion here in the NLSC Forum!

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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The Friday Five: 5 Ways the CPU Messes With You

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 five ways that the CPU will mess with us in basketball video games.

As we all know, multiplayer gaming has its ups and downs. Whether it’s the pain of getting less than ideal teammates online, the frustration of encountering cheesers who spam exploits, or dealing with that one friend who takes things too far messing with you while you’re sitting on the same couch, there are times when you’d prefer to be enjoying single player gameplay. Of course, the single player/offline experience isn’t immune to such chicanery, as games will pull some dirty tricks in order to prevent you from beating them. CPU opponents in basketball games are no different.

To some extent, this is a necessary evil. As far as basketball games have come, they still have limitations. Gameplay is now more realistic with CPU opponents that are bolstered by AI that is smarter, but it still can’t match the creativity and cleverness of a human brain. Tilting a few aspects of the game in the CPU’s favour and including comeback mechanics allows it to be competitive and challenging, though can feel like artificial difficulty. There are also moments that are more benign and don’t necessarily stand in the way of winning, but nevertheless feel like the CPU is messing with us. Here are five examples of the CPU thumbing its nose at us on the virtual hardwood.

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The Friday Five: Top 5 Positives and Negatives in NBA 2K19

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 another double countdown, this time featuring the Top 5 Positives and Top 5 Negatives in NBA 2K19.

My full reviews for NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 will be out shortly, but before then, I wanted to offer up some more of my initial impressions of this year’s games. This time I’m talking about the latest offering from Visual Concepts, NBA 2K19. After really enjoying NBA 2K17, I was quite disappointed with NBA 2K18. It wasn’t just the unapologetically greedy approach to microtransactions and the brutal grind, either. I just didn’t enjoy the gameplay experience, and thus shelved NBA 2K18 much earlier than previous games, firing it up only to get screenshots for articles.

In a nutshell, I felt that NBA 2K18 was a surprising regression for the NBA 2K series, uncharacteristically stumbling off course. Is NBA 2K19 heading back in the right direction? In some respects, yes, but there are some key areas of concern, and design choices that I’m disappointed in. The team at Visual Concepts clearly did learn a few lessons from last year’s game however, and took gamer feedback to heart. With that in mind, NBA 2K19 is – as quite a few people have put it – the game that we should’ve received last year. At the same time, it’s not entirely the game that I was hoping for this year. Let’s take a look at the Top 5 Positives and Negatives, at least as I see them.

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Wayback Wednesday: The Legend of Jackson Ellis

Jackson Ellis in NBA 2K19

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 virtual career of Jackson Ellis in NBA 2K, and the legend that it has spawned over six games.

Minor spoiler alert: in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER mode, Jackson Ellis makes a return to the virtual hardwood. One of the most memorable characters in basketball video games, this year he enjoyed his most prominent role since NBA 2K14, when he was introduced as the rival of your MyPLAYER. Not only has Ellis resonated with NBA 2K gamers, he’s clearly a favourite of the development team as well. Even though he’s only stepped onto the court in a couple of titles, he’s appeared or been referenced in every MyCAREER mode on the current generation.

So what’s the story behind the infamously brash and outspoken Jackson Ellis? Well, the exact story differs for each of us, but in broad strokes, Visual Concepts has been weaving a subplot with Ellis over the past six years. To appreciate the Legend of Jackson Ellis, we need to return to where it all began in the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One version of NBA 2K14. To that end, let’s go back…way back…

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NBA 2K19 Gameplay Blog & MyCAREER Video

NBA 2K19 On The Fly Coaching

NBA 2K19 will be in our hands very soon, but there are still some things to learn before this year’s game drops. After what was seemingly an unintentional post yesterday, a gameplay blog by the one and only Da_Czar is now officially live.

The blog goes into great detail about enhancements to playcalling and AI in NBA 2K19. Key points on the user side of things include the new playcalling visuals, the revamped On The Fly Coaching menu, and dynamic plays for specific players. You may have already noticed some of these elements if you played through a 2KU game in The Prelude.

On the AI side of things, Da_Czar talks about improvements to play distribution/variation, recognition of mismatches, pick and roll switching, transition offense, double team logic, and freelance offense. He also includes several videos demonstrating the improvements to playcalling and AI on both sides of the ball. Be sure to give it a read for the full scoop!

Meanwhile, Chris Smoove has posted a video providing a comprehensive breakdown of MyCAREER in NBA 2K19. It offers up a wealth of information on MyPOINTS, player progression, contract negotiations, endorsements and VC earnings, career objectives, and more. Watch it below, or catch it here on YouTube.

As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below, as well as join in the discussion here in the NBA 2K19 section of the NLSC Forum!

The Friday Five: 5 Underrated Improvements 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 often underrated improvements in basketball games.

The preview season is almost over, with NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 coming out next week (or the week after, in the case of NBA 2K19’s Standard Edition). For those of us who are picking up this year’s basketball games, we’re naturally hoping that they will provide us with a lot of fun and fulfilling experiences on the virtual hardwood over the course of the next twelve months. From returning features to new modes and content, hopefully we’ll see a satisfactory number of improvements that make all of the anticipation worthwhile.

Of course, when we’ve been buying the newest basketball games every year, many of the improvements can feel rather incremental. It’s not until we go back and play the previous game, or maybe a game from a few years back, that we really recognise and appreciate some of the improvements that have been made. Although there are older games that do still hold up, the further back we go, the more we can see just how far basketball games have come. Some of those improvements are certainly easy to take for granted, so for this week’s Friday Five, I’m taking a look at five improvements in basketball games that tend to be somewhat underrated.

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Latest NBA Live 19 Details & Cover Reveal Trailer

NBA Live 19: Joel Embiid in The Streets

GameStop’s pre-order listing for NBA Live 19 has revealed some new details about the game. There will be a new commentary team of Ed Cohen and Jay Williams, with new dialogue being added throughout the season. The story in The One will apparently begin in high school, and Big Moments return as part of The League.

There will also be a handful of in-game pre-order bonuses, based around cover player Joel Embiid. These include signature shoes, a jersey, a custom court, and more. See below for all the info that’s been revealed by GameStop’s store listing.

Speaking of Joel Embiid, a cover reveal trailer has also been released. ThaLiveKing posted several high resolution screenshots from the trailer in our Forum. You can watch the trailer below, as well as check out all of the screenshots.

Finally, Gaming Trend recently spoke with NBA Live 19 Creative Director Connor Dougan. Connor discussed some of the key improvements and new features in this year’s game, from Real Player Motion technology and dynamic AI to clothing and the player progression system in The One.

As always, feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below, as well as join in the discussion in the NBA Live 19 section of the NLSC Forum!

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NBA Live 19 Info, Screenshots, & Preliminary Features List

NBA Live 19: Squad

With the trailer giving us our first glimpse of NBA Live 19 in action, we also have some initial details about the game. The official website has posted several informative articles, and media outlets such as SBNation and The Undefeated are also providing an insight into what’s new.

There’s a lot to digest from the articles, and I encourage you to read them in full, but I’ll summarise them as best I can. This year, we’ll be able to build a squad of current and former NBA players, while competing for rank and rewards. The One has been revamped with a new progression system, with Icon abilities based on real players past and present. This works independently of the Playstyles, Traits, and so forth, which are still in effect. A new story has also been implemented this year.

On top of that, The One has gone global in NBA Live 19, with The Streets World Tour. This involves playing on courts from around the world, and recruiting players for your squad. A new narrative system has been added to The League, for those who prefer the NBA side of things. There are also more hairstyles, tattoos, and other player creation elements.

Gameplay has also been a focus this year. Real Player Motion technology has been implemented to improve player movement and animations. This includes a lot of signature player animations compared to recent years. Right stick dribbling remains, but has been enhanced. There are new triple-threat moves, and one-on-one play has been improved at both ends, including playing off-ball. New AI also focuses on bringing more realism and dynamic play to NBA Live 19.

Finally, there will be a demo again this year. We’ll be able to download it on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on August 24th, ahead of the September 7th release.

The official NBA Live website has also provided us with a handful of screenshots, and a preliminary features list. Be sure to check them out below. What are your thoughts on what we’ve learned about NBA Live 19 so far? Have your say in the comments section below, and join in the discussion taking place in the newly opened NBA Live 19 section of the NLSC Forum!

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New NBA 2K18 Gameplay Blog by Da_Czar

NBA 2K18: Dynamic Play Menu

Our friends over at Operation Sports have posted another exclusive NBA 2K18 developer blog, this time from the one and only Da_Czar. Following on from Scott O’Gallagher’s blog, Da_Czar discusses offensive tendencies, AI execution, and player motion in this year’s game. Once again, it’s difficult to summarise such an in-depth blog and do it justice, but here are some of the key points:

  • Playcalling and substitutions have been moved from the right stick back to the buttons. Left on the D-Pad will bring up the Dynamic Play Menu, where you can toggle through different sets and make your selection by pressing the appropriate button. Right on the D-Pad will bring up gameplan items, which you can also cycle through and then select using the face buttons. Up on the D-Pad calls a Smart Play, while Down on the D-Pad brings up the on-the-fly substitution menu.
  • NBA 2K18 will feature situational tendencies, so that players make realistic decisions based on where they get the ball and the current situation, including the quality of defender that they’re facing. Elite scorers will break plays if they believe they have an opportunity to score against their current match-up.
  • Several improvements have been made to the way AI players execute offensively, such as spotting up or cutting to the basket in transition, as well as their awareness of mismatches, numbers advantages, and defender positioning.
  • The new motion engine improves player movement, allowing seamless changes in direction and avoiding a feeling of getting stuck in animations.
  • There will be a noticeable difference in tempo between teams, according to real life data.

Be sure to check out the blog over on OS for the full scoop, as well as several screenshots and video clips that demonstrate what Da_Czar is talking about. As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below, as well as join in the discussion in our NBA 2K18 Forum.