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NLSC Podcast #461: NBA 2K24 Gameplay Wishlist

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #461 of the NLSC Podcast!

Wishlist season is upon us once again, so we’re talking about the gameplay improvements that both we and the community want to see in NBA 2K24. It would appear that many of us are on the same page as far as what we want to see this year! Meanwhile, a Parsec session saw us resume our Road Trip in NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, and have some fun with Hoops for NES. A recent YouTube comment regarding NBA Live 99 also inspires us to discuss the importance of context when evaluating graphics in classic basketball video games. In this week’s mailbag, we’re quizzing the community on the top three-point shooters in NBA Live 06.

To get involved with the mailbag or to provide any feedback on the show, hit us up in the comments, reach out on social media, or post here in the NLSC Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. You can also find the show on our YouTube channel, along with the rest of our video content. As always, thanks for tuning in, and go get buckets!

NLSC Podcast #438: NBA 2K23 Gameplay Blog, Bill Russell, & Classic Cam

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #438 of the NLSC Podcast!

This week’s show opens with a tribute to the late, great Bill Russell, truly one of the most legendary figures in basketball history. As we catch up on what we’ve been playing recently – including another NBA 2K14 MyCAREER update – we discuss our fondness for Classic Cam, and our appreciation of its appearances in later games. We also reflect on NBA Showtime: NBA on NBC, and compare NBA Live 06 and NBA 2K6 on Xbox 360. On the heels of the First Look Trailer, the first developer blog of the preview season provided us with insights into gameplay in NBA 2K23, and we have plenty of thoughts to share! We also open up the mailbag to hear what the community thought of the blog.

To get involved with the mailbag or to provide any feedback on the show, hit us up in the comments, reach out on social media, or post here in the NLSC Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. You can also find the show on our YouTube channel, along with the rest of our video content. As always, thanks for tuning in, and go get buckets!

NBA 2K23 Gameplay Enhancements Blog

Devin Booker in NBA 2K23

In the wake of the First Look Trailer, the first developer blog for NBA 2K23 is a deep dive into gameplay enhancements. According to the blog, the primary aim with gameplay this year was authenticity. Another key goal was achieving as much parity as possible between the Current Gen and Next Gen versions.

As you might expect, it’s a rather lengthy read! To that end, I’ve summarised the key information from the blog in point form below. As always however, I encourage you to read the blog in its entirety to get the full scoop on gameplay enhancements in NBA 2K23, including some of the specific changes to Badges. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, as well as join in the discussion here in the Forum!

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways Your Turnovers Are Inflated

The Friday Five: 5 Ways Your Turnovers Are Inflated

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is a list of five ways that your turnovers will be inflated in basketball video games.

In an era where stat-padding is encouraged – in real life and on the virtual hardwood – the turnovers column is one that you don’t want to fill. They indicate ballhandling blunders, and only serve to help the other team; especially live ball turnovers! Of course, a perfect game is easier said than done, as mistakes will happen. If you look at some of the best playmakers throughout NBA history, you’ll see that their turnovers are often high. The downside of handling the ball so often is that you will be targeted by master thieves, and you’ll have more passes to be intercepted or mishandled.

Turnovers in sim basketball games generally reflect the ways that players cough up the ball in real life, but the numbers can be inflated. The goal of representing real life mistakes can lead to contrived situations where the ability to keep control of the ball and make smart decisions is taken out of the user’s hands. In the worst case scenario, this leads to losses when the game decides that despite doing everything correctly, the user will commit a costly turnover at an inopportune moment. If nothing else, it will lead to inflated numbers that don’t quite tell the truth about a gamer’s ability to take care of the rock. Here are five ways that your turnovers are bound to be inflated.

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Wayback Wednesday: The Way Back in NBA 2K19

Wayback Wednesday: The Way Back 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 MyCAREER story in NBA 2K19, which was titled “The Way Back”.

Since NBA 2K19 is now going on four years old and its servers have been shut down, I believe that it now fits the bill for wayback content. Hey, that’s the rule I set when I looked back at the story of DJ in NBA 2K18 in 2020, and as I said at the time, it’s my feature, so I’ll make and break the rules as I see fit! Besides, we’ve had a couple of fairly well-written and acted MyCAREER stories since then. In particular, The Long Shadow in NBA 2K21 was a strong candidate for the best tale the mode has ever had. With that in mind, it’s worth looking back at NBA 2K19’s story to see how it holds up.

After all, when NBA 2K19 came out, The Way Back was likewise one of the best stories we’d played through in MyCAREER. The journey of AI didn’t just take us from college to the NBA, but around the world. I’ll throw out an obligatory spoiler warning as we take a look back…way back…at The Way Back…

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NBA 2K22 Gameplay Insights in Latest Courtside Report

NBA 2K22 Gameplay Blog

Following on from yesterday’s trailer, the latest Courtside Report (aka developer blog) provides insights into gameplay in NBA 2K22. As previously announced, we can also expect a blog detailing improvements and changes to MyTEAM to be posted sometime this week.

The gameplay blog is the most comprehensive insight thus far. To highlight some of the major points, 17 new Badges have been added, for a total of 80 in both Current Gen and Next Gen. There are new dribbling packages, and dribbling movement is faster paced. Dunk packages can also be customised. Defensive AI has been rewritten, the shot contest and blocking systems have been rebuilt, and “ghost contests” have been removed. There’s also a new Shot Meter with a dynamic make window, and Shot IQ is a major factor in shot success.

You can find a detailed summary of the blog below. What are your thoughts on the reported improvements to gameplay in NBA 2K22? Have your say in the comments, and join in the discussion here in the NLSC Forum! Once again, stay tuned for more information about MyTEAM in this year’s game.

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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

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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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