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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 Patch 1.04 Released; Halloween in The Neighborhood

NBA 2K21 Patch 1.04

Patch 1.04 has been released for NBA 2K21 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. As always, the update will come through automatically as long as you’re online. If it doesn’t, try restarting your console or Steam client, or checking for updates manually.

The new update brings Halloween to The Neighborhood in MyCAREER. It also includes new faces for over 60 NBA and WNBA players, updates the default Quick Play matchup to Lakers vs. Heat, and prepares the game for upcoming 2K Beach events, Season 2 in MyTEAM, and the $250K MyTEAM Unlimited tournament.

Other fixes include adjustments to set screen movement, and changes to shot aiming to combat modded controller exploits. Park dribble moves now also require the Hall of Fame Tight Handles Badge, and some technical issues have been resolved. Please see below for the full notes for NBA 2K21 Patch 1.04; you can also find a complete update history for the game here in our Wiki.

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Monday Tip-Off: The State of Official Rosters

Monday Tip-Off: The State of Official Rosters

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 state of official rosters in basketball games, particularly NBA 2K.

No matter whether you’re a developer working on the official rosters or a gamer who’s making unofficial updates for the community, it can often be a thankless job. There’s no chance of pleasing everyone when it comes to player ratings, especially given the overinflated importance that Overall Ratings are often ascribed. With over 400 active players along with historical content, it’s very easy to overlook a detail here and there, no matter how meticulous you are. I’m not sure that I’ve ever released a roster for NBA Live PC that didn’t have at least one small oversight.

The feedback that you’ll receive as a roster maker in the community, or indeed as the developer in charge of handling the official rosters, isn’t always constructive or very pleasant. We’re quick to sneer at a perceived bias or lack of knowledge, forgetting that we’re all prone to the same biases and knowledge gaps, to say nothing of human error. At the same time, we’re slow to give credit where it’s due. With that being said, there are some troubling trends when it comes to the official rosters in modern games, in particular NBA 2K. Without meaning to be insulting or self-righteous, it doesn’t feel like the rosters in recent titles have the same level of authenticity as they once did.

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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: 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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NBA 2K21 Gameplay Blog & Demo Release Date (Current Gen)

NBA 2K21 Gameplay Blog

The NBA 2K21 gameplay blog for the Current Gen version has been posted, outlining what we can expect from this year’s release. A breakdown of the key points is as follows:

  • Beluba reiterated the focus on striking a good balance between realism and fun, once again referring to turnovers on long passes as an example of what they want to avoid.
  • Cover player Damian Lillard had several suggestions, including raising the maximum height for point guards in MyCAREER. It’s now 6’8″.
  • The Pro Stick controls have changed: Hold down for a jumpshot, hold left or right for escape dribbles, hold up for signature size-ups, tap for quick 1-to-1 dribble moves, tap while holding Sprint for quick momentum dribbles.
  • New signature size-ups have been added (for a total of 14 Street and 36 NBA animations), and moves are now more responsive and “chain-able”. Street moves are performed with a tap of the left trigger.
  • When shooting with the Pro Stick, the Shot Meter is replaced by target aiming inspired by NBA 2K17’s mechanics. Instead of timing the release, you can use the whole animation to hit the target window. The same mechanics apply to layups, but this can be disabled. There are also new shot types, and over 40 new shot landings for Park.
  • Block targeting has been improved, and some of the overpowered paint moves have been toned down. There are also signature defensive styles, and player movement has been refined for more responsiveness.
  • The Badge system is basically the same as last year, though it’s been refined based on telemetry data from popular builds. Shot speed has been moved back to the Jump Shot Creator, with the Quick Draw Badge being removed entirely.

Check out the NBA 2K21 gameplay blog for the full scoop! A demo will be dropping on August 24th, though no further details are available as yet. What are your thoughts on these changes and additions? Sound off in the comments below, and join in the discussion here the Forum!

NLSC Podcast #331: Hit Me With Your Green Release

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Episode #331 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

In a shocking development, one of us has a new perspective on a game we’ve openly criticised in the past. Find out what led to the change in heart, and stay tuned to hear if the new opinion sticks! We also tackle the issue of shot meters, Green Releases, and shooting mechanics in general. What do we think is the best approach, and could we ever go back to the old ways? Meanwhile, talking about the mods we’re working on leads us to workshop some ideas for other projects we’d love to create. With only one basketball game announced for Next Gen, we also discuss some other titles that we’d like to see return. Since the NBA’s resumption is also looming, we finish up with a discussion of asterisks, and how this year’s championship will likely be viewed.

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: Arguing For & Against Green Releases

Monday Tip-Off: Arguing For & Against Green Releases

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 Green Releases, specifically the arguments for and against the mechanic.

Back in May 2017, I discussed the future of Green Releases in NBA 2K. Three years on, the mechanic still remains an issue. It’s funny to look back and see that Mike Wang was talking about weaning gamers off the concept of Green Releases, only for them to still be in the game, relatively unchanged. I say relatively because NBA 2K18 attempted to artificially nerf them with a “Good” release actually only having a 5% chance of going in – less than a Slightly Early or Slightly Late release – and other games have also seen Beluba and co tinker with the perfect release windows.

Apart from that, the basic idea remains the same. Green Releases result in a made shot every time, unless it’s blocked or you’re too far behind the backboard. If you can learn the precise timing of a jumpshot animation and pay attention to the rumble feedback cues, you’ll be greening attempts with ease and regularity. We’re still as reliant on the approach as ever, and it doesn’t look like it’s something that NBA 2K – or NBA Live, now that it’s adopted the same style of shot mechanics and feedback – will be able to move away from. The question is: should it? It feels like we’re at a stalemate on the issue, so let’s go over the pros and cons of Green Releases once again.

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Monday Tip-Off: Trying to Quit MyCAREER

Monday Tip-Off: Trying to Quit MyCAREER

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 reflections on how I’ve tried (and failed) to quit MyCAREER this year.

I’m having a problem in NBA 2K20: I can’t quit MyCAREER. I mean, I can exit the mode. I can find the menu option just fine and there’s no bug that’s preventing it from working as intended. No, I’m having trouble leaving the mode alone. I was all ready to quit this year. I reached the Hall of Fame in NBA 2K19, and felt closure. I felt the lure of MyLEAGUE and MyTEAM. Yes, I’ve set up a MyLEAGUE that I’d like to get stuck into at some point. Yes, I’ve played quite a bit of MyTEAM this year, and built a decent lineup without spending any money.

And yet, I haven’t let MyCAREER go as I intended to do. I tried out the new Player Builder in the demo, played through the story so that I could see what it’s like this year, and gave online a try. I thought that would be enough, but I kept getting drawn back in. I’ve played past the All-Star Weekend, and am just about at the point where the real 2020 season shut down. I’ve maxed out all my ratings and Badges, and am at the point where I can level up to 99 Overall with consistently great performances. My player is viable for online play, even if online play isn’t always viable. I’ve put quality time into MyCAREER…and I want to quit.

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Wayback Wednesday: The Legacy of NBA 2K18

Wayback Wednesday: The Legacy of NBA 2K18

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 NBA 2K18, and the legacy that it has created.

The NBA 2K18 servers are no more. Well, I imagine they’re still physically around. It’s highly unlikely that 2K instructed someone to take a sledgehammer and go all Triple H on them, rather than just switching them off. The point is that online support has ended, which means MyTEAM, the first version of The Neighborhood, and all other connected content is gone. With this infamous release being officially put out to pasture, I believe it’s an apt time to offer up a final take on the game, and reflect on its legacy.

I know that it’s fairly recent by Wayback Wednesday standards, but it was released going on three years ago, which is about how old the All-Time College Teams DLC for NBA 2K17 was when I covered it. Besides, NBA 2K18 came out last decade, and that makes it sound old, right? Hey, it’s my feature, and I’ll bend the rules if need be! In any event, a retrospective of this controversial game feels quite timely, so let’s take a look back…not too far but still wayback…

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Monday Tip-Off: How Career Modes Overtook Franchise Modes

Monday Tip-Off: How Career Modes Overtook Franchise Modes

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 career modes ended up surpassing franchise modes in popularity.

As a long-time basketball gamer, it’s been interesting to not only see how the games have evolved, but also how trends and attitudes have changed. A noteworthy example of changing trends is the popularity of franchise modes. There was a time when they were considered the pinnacle of modes in basketball games, a dream come true for those of us who remember playing the basic single season modes of early titles. These days, they’re seen as pass√©; something for “old heads”, despite the fact younger hoops gamers enjoy them too. If nothing else, they’re no longer the flagship mode.

That distinction now belongs to career modes, and their connected online experiences. In some respects, it’s not surprising. It took longer for fully-formed career modes to make their way into NBA 2K and NBA Live, and there had been an interest in seeing them for quite some time. Indeed, the franchise modes were often used to simulate a single player career mode, so gamers clearly wanted that type of experience. The shift towards career modes is still interesting however, especially as they’ve drawn in gamers who have traditionally been all about franchise play. How did this happen? Well, I have a few theories as to how career modes gained and maintained popularity.

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NLSC Podcast #295: Throwbacks & Evolution

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Episode #295 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! I’m on my own this week, but I’m not lost for words following some good news as the NBA 2K20 preview season rolls on.

In a throwback to basketball games from last decade, All-Decade teams are making a triumphant return in NBA 2K20! They’ve even got some spiffy uniforms based on retro All-Star designs, but admittedly not everyone is thrilled. Six new retro teams have also been added, including four that have been mentioned in an ongoing series of Friday Five articles. Coincidence? Quite possibly. Some MyCAREER news has also been trickling out of the recent Community Day. From a new approach to Archetypes to reworked Badges, it’s quite promising. There are also reports of a huge change to the way attribute upgrades are purchased. It sounds too good to be true, so we’ll see.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on the new retro teams and changes to MyCAREER in NBA 2K20? 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.

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: A MyCAREER Season to Remember

Championship in Second MyCAREER Season (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 look back at a memorable MyCAREER season, and a few thoughts on moving on from the mode.

Last week, I completed my second MyCAREER season in NBA 2K19. It’s the first time that I’ve played through two whole seasons in MyCAREER, as I usually find myself losing interest or running out of time before the next game is released. This year however, I felt motivated to play a second campaign. Even though I’d vowed to move on from career modes this year, I did get stuck into MyCAREER when our NLSC 2K Pro-Am squad decided to give online play another try in NBA 2K19. Even when we called it quits, I found that I was hooked on the NBA side of things.

After making it to 90 Overall and winning the championship in my rookie campaign, I decided that I wanted to make my sophomore season one to remember. Although I’d normally consider myself a sim gamer, the current approach to MyCAREER doesn’t favour a realistic style of play. As such, I resolved to put up ridiculous numbers, aim for as many records as possible, and in short, utterly destroy the league. With Year 2 now in the books, I can confidently say that it’s a case of mission accomplished! My numbers were crazy from start to finish, and having completed another MyCAREER season, I’m feeling like I can move on from the mode, in NBA 2K19 and beyond.

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Monday Tip-Off: Hitting 90 Overall in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER

Trophy for reaching 90 Overall in MyCAREER (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 my reflections on hitting 90 Overall in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER, without spending any money on VC.

The Road to 99 in MyCAREER is a journey that can be incredibly tedious. It’s hardly a stunning revelation that this is by design, a method of encouraging gamers to pay for VC in order to skip the long grind. As much as I dislike the practice, my desire to play online with my friends in the NLSC’s 2K Pro-Am squad has seen me resort to buying VC in previous games in order to sufficiently boost my attributes on Day 1. I decided that after last year’s unashamed money grab, I would avoid buying any VC in NBA 2K19. Instead, I’d try to grind up my player the long way.

Between Christmas and New Year’s, I finally hit 90 Overall. Although it felt like a long road with a lot of grinding, it did actually happen a little quicker than I had first anticipated. Nevertheless, it was tremendously satisfying, and proof that it can be done within the first few months of owning the game (albeit with some good luck). As I consider how much further I’ll travel down the Road to 99, I thought that I’d reflect on the journey so far, as well as some of the strategies that I found useful along the way. If you’re still striving to hit 90 Overall or better and are determined not to spend any money on VC, hopefully I can offer up some encouragement and helpful pointers.

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