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The Friday Five: 5 Excuses We Must Stop Making For 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 excuses that we must stop making in order to downplay valid criticisms of basketball video games.

There are times when it’s only fair to make excuses for basketball video games. There are limitations to what can be achieved with the technology that’s currently available. Issues with likeness rights meant that certain historical players can’t be included. NBA games have a brutal development cycle compared to titles that don’t come out every year. In fact, you might be inclined to call these “reasons”, as the term “excuses” often has negative connotations. It’s splitting hairs on the definition in some respects, but it’s understandable that some people balk at the idea of “making excuses”.

The problem with excuses is that they can easily work against our best interests. If we don’t hold developers accountable for certain decisions and design choices, then we’ll have no choice but to endure whatever undesirable situation we find ourselves in with basketball video games. Look, I’d like to think that I’m as passionate about the hobby as anyone else in the community, and I also believe in being fair and constructive in our criticism. It’s just astonishing how far some people will go to make excuses for the games though, even when an issue is clearly detrimental to them. These are the excuses that we need to cut out, or else we’ll continue to suffer the consequences.

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The Friday Five: 5 Gameplay Improvements NBA Live 20 Needs

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 improvements that NBA Live 20 needs to demonstrate in terms of its gameplay.

If NBA Live 20 is to be the big release many of us are hoping it will be, it will need to improve upon an area that’s been a perennial weakness since the series returned back in 2013: its modes. The different modes of play are what give basketball games their longevity, and this year’s release from EA Sports must add long overdue features and depth to Franchise, Ultimate Team, and online modes. Deeper customisation is also a must. Of course, while these are all vital areas of NBA Live that require attention, it’s crucial that above all, the gameplay experience continues to improve.

NBA Live’s gameplay has gone through some interesting ups and downs during this generation. NBA Live 14 felt very stiff on the sticks, with animations that looked very “last gen”. Since then, improvements have been made to the fluidity, the depth of the controls, and certain animations. Most NBA Live gamers would agree that there is still plenty of room for improvement, and I’m unquestionably in that camp. What are the most important changes and improvements that need to be made to gameplay in NBA Live 20? We compiled some great ideas in the Wishlist that we sent in to EA, but this week, I’d like to discuss five key areas where Live’s gameplay must improve.

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The Friday Five: 5 Things MyCOURT Needs

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 things that would enhance MyCOURT in NBA 2K’s MyCAREER.

As I noted in a Wayback Wednesday feature, when MyCOURT was first announced as a new addition in NBA 2K15’s MyCAREER, I didn’t think much of it. My initial thought was that it sounded like a gimmicky premise, another case of adding flash over substance. In hindsight, I was underestimating its usefulness. MyCOURT has not only proven to be an appealing player hub and base of operations for MyCAREER, but is very handy for testing out animations, getting a feel for your player, and earning some extra VC. In NBA 2K17, it could even be used to grind for Cap Breakers.

However, while MyCOURT remains practical and stylish as of NBA 2K19, there are a few things that could stand to be improved upon. Although new functions have been added in the form of mini-games and unlockable items, there are some noteworthy omissions in terms of useful options and equipment. From additional on-court options to menu functions and interactive elements of the environment, these things would allow us to get the most out of MyCOURT. They may not be the most crucial parts of MyCAREER, but having spent considerable time in the mode in NBA 2K19, I feel that these suggestions would spruce up our own private virtual hardwood.

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Monday Tip-Off: What NBA 2K Can Learn From Mortal Kombat 11

Start-Up Frames Explanation in Mortal Kombat 11

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 how NBA 2K could stand to take a few cues from Mortal Kombat 11.

The fact that I’ve been running a site dedicated to basketball gaming for eighteen years may lead you to believe that hoops games are all that I play, but in fact, I do enjoy quite a few other genres. As a gamer growing up in the 90s, there weren’t many games as cool (or should I say, kool) as Mortal Kombat. The MK series has obviously been very popular and successful through the years, and like many other gamers, I was anxiously awaiting the release of Mortal Kombat 11 last week. My copy arrived, I finished story mode in a single sitting, and am now looking forward to new kontent.

Fighting games and basketball games don’t have a whole lot in common – the cameos by Mortal Kombat characters in NBA Jam aside – but as I was going through all of the advanced tutorials in MK11, I was struck by their depth compared to NBA 2K’s 2KU. In addition to explaining the basic controls, Mortal Kombat 11’s tutorials provide a deep dive into the game’s mechanics, teaching gamers the fundamentals for playing competitively online and offline. With NBA 2K leaning so heavily on meta-gaming and mastering the minutia of its mechanics, there’s much that it could – and should – take from NetherRealm Studios’ latest release.

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Monday Tip-Off: What Actually Ruins Basketball Video Games?

Victor Oladipo in 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 the matter of what actually ruins basketball video games, and what are really more minor gripes.

Having been a part of the online basketball gaming community for over twenty years and admin of the NLSC for going on eighteen, I’ve both seen and taken part in some spirited discussions about the hobby. Our conversations about basketball video games have run the gamut from excitedly positive to furiously negative, depending on the issue and the quality of any given title. Given that we all have different tastes and expectations of basketball video games, our opinions will differ when it comes what will ruin our experience on the virtual hardwood. That’s fine, and to be encouraged!

Of course, it’s easy to exaggerate, especially when a pet peeve is involved. I recall one Forum member fuming over the use of the word “City” on the team statistics menu in NBA Live 2001. As they correctly pointed out, teams such as the Warriors, Jazz, and Pacers all take their names from their state rather than their city, making that label inaccurate. It’s a valid point, but a minor detail that was correct for most of the teams, and a criticism that paled in comparison with other issues in NBA Live 2001. Such issues are worth pointing out, but as we compile our Wishlists, it’s important that we prioritise problems that can ruin basketball video games, ahead of minor annoyances.

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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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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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The Friday Five: 5 Little Details Basketball Games Have Nailed

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 concepts and little details that basketball games have captured extremely well.

It bears repeating that it’s alright to criticise basketball games. As I’ve previously discussed, and will no doubt touch upon again in the future, it’s something that gaming communities can easily forget. Any gaming community that censors and discourages criticism is doing a disservice to the games that they’re interested in, and ultimately, themselves as consumers. Constructive criticism should always be encouraged over nastiness and abuse, but we must remember that it’s OK to point out the things that we dislike, while also discussing the elements that we enjoy.

By the same token, of course, it’s also fine to take a break from criticising the aspects of basketball games that we don’t like, to marvel at the things we do enjoy about them. In that regard, it’s quite often the little things that really make the experience. Basketball games have come a long way, and while improvements to graphics, AI, controls, and so forth are often more readily apparent, there are a lot of concepts and smaller details that are very impressive in their own right. They may be subtle, but often contribute that extra bit of authenticity to the overall experience. Here are five examples of little details that basketball games have really nailed in recent years.

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File Additions for NBA Live 06

NBA Live 06 Cover Art

Today we have a new file addition for the game that I’ll be talking about next in our ongoing 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content: NBA Live 06! CarolusXCI has released a custom animation file that adds the defensive Freestyle Superstars blocking and stealing animations for all players. Check it out at the link below!

CarolusXCI
Defensive FSS Animations for Every Player

CarolusXCI has also made some other interesting discoveries, which you can read about here in the Forum. Stay tuned for my NBA Live 06 retrospective!

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The Friday Five: 5 Things Old School Basketball Gamers Did

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.

I’ve been playing basketball video games for a long time now, and I know that I’m far from the only person in our community with a long history on the virtual hardwood. If you go back a long way with basketball video games, chances are you have a healthy appreciation for how far they’ve come, while also harbouring a certain amount of nostalgia for the more primitive games from yesteryear. You probably remember many of their quirks, some of which you may miss, whereas others will definitely leave you feeling very grateful that they’re no longer an issue.

Of course, we gamers have plenty of quirks of our own, whether it’s some kind of superstitious ritual with the controls (“Yeah, tapping the button at that time totally works!”), or just something we do because it’s kind of fun, such as timing movements with the soundtrack. When it comes to basketball games, there are also certain things that we old school gamers did that probably seem a bit strange and amusing to younger gamers, because technology is so much better now. Just for fun, I thought I’d make a list of some of those quirky rituals and old fashioned activities that it seems many of us old school basketball gamers indulged in at one time or another.

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NBA 2K17 Features Previewed On NBA 2KTV Season 2 Finale

NBA 2K17 Logo

In addition to handing out this year’s “Hey Guys” awards, the Season 2 finale of NBA 2KTV has given us a sneak peak at some of the features we can expect to see in NBA 2K17. In addition to running down the three different pre-order bundles, the episode also details a couple of noteworthy tidbits.

It appears as though Locker Codes in NBA 2K17 will be timed, rather than limited to a set number of users. This is certainly good news, and addresses a problem that I’ve previously commented on in-depth. In short, it should allow more users – especially those outside of North America – to have a decent chance at claiming Locker Codes. Of course, the quality of the rewards remains to be seen.

Similarly, MyTEAM will feature timed free agent cards, giving gamers more of an opportunity to play with some of their favourite players for at least a couple of games. It’s essentially the same concept as the short term player cards in NBA Live 16’s Ultimate Team, which can come in handy when your team needs a boost in a tough challenge. The developers have also been working on signature animations, and have added full control over get back animations, using the right stick.

Perhaps most exciting is the less-than-subtle hint that NBA 2K17 will be supported by a companion app that allows users to scan their faces into the game, again similar to what NBA Live 16 has done. As someone who’s struggled to get the face scan to work using the PlayStation 4 camera, but found the NBA Live 16 app to be very effective and user-friendly, this certainly comes as very good news.

Your thoughts? Have your say in the comments below, and feel free to join in the discussion here in the NLSC Forum. If you’d like to watch the Season 2 Finale of NBA 2KTV, you can find it embedded below, or here on NBA 2K’s YouTube channel. Be sure to watch it in-game if you’d like to snag some VC and other rewards.

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