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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!

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Wayback Wednesday: Training Camp in NBA 2K12

Welcome to Training Camp in NBA 2K12

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 Training Camp in NBA 2K12.

In recent years, it’s been noted that the NBA 2K series has been increasingly geared towards appealing to the hardcore online crowd. In a Reddit post that I’ve mentioned before (and no doubt will again), a former EVE Online developer has noted the series’ increasing focus on catering to elite players, and apparent hostility to newer gamers who are trying to hone their skills on the virtual hardwood. It’s fostered the “get gud” mindset, while failing to provide the onboarding, opportunities, and fair matchmaking that would allow less experienced players to strive for that.

As noted in that Reddit post, it wasn’t always that way. Earlier this decade, the NBA 2K games were going out of their way to teach gamers all of the basic and advanced controls, in an environment that was both helpful and creative. Those efforts began with the introduction of Training Camp in NBA 2K12, a feature that would carry over into NBA 2K13 and prior gen NBA 2K14. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #285: A Decade of Dominance for NBA 2K

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #285 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Arcane and I are discussing how NBA 2K has now enjoyed a decade of dominance in the basketball gaming genre.

Since overtaking NBA Live in sales beginning with the 2009 season releases, NBA 2K has secured its place as the dominant brand in basketball gaming for over a decade. We reflect on how NBA 2K’s journey has differed from that of NBA Live, and the way that journey has accounted for its continued quality, popularity, and financial success. At the same time, while NBA 2K’s success has ultimately been great for basketball gaming, there have been downsides to its dominance. We discuss where the game is headed, and name our favourite NBA 2K titles from the past decade.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on NBA 2K’s Decade of Dominance? 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.

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Wayback Wednesday: The History of Jumpshots in Video Games

Kevin Durant shoots over Nicolas Batum (NBA 2K14)

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 history of jumpshots in basketball video games.

Jumpshots are a basic staple of basketball, and one of the most common ways of scoring; especially in the modern era. With that in mind, it’s strange that they used to be one of the weaker aspects of the mechanics in basketball video games. In the early days of basketball gaming, jumpshots were nowhere near as reliable as they should have been. I even remember a strategy guide for NBA Live 96 basically advising against taking jumpshots and in particular long two-pointers, citing that they had all of the difficulty and risk of three-pointers, without the added reward of an extra point.

Thinking back on it now, that advice actually predicted the rise of analytics, as well as disdain for shooting from midrange. Of course, while opting for shots right at the rim or from beyond the arc and eschewing the midrange is all about efficiency in the modern NBA, in old school basketball video games, it was about effectiveness. Until the mechanics were properly developed, taking a jumpshot – even a wide open ten footer along the baseline – was unrealistically risky on the virtual hardwood. You can call this piece The History of Jumpshots in Video Games (Or, Why Shot Meters Are Important). Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Outmoded Features 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 takes a look at five features in basketball video games that have become outmoded.

Something I’ve really enjoyed doing with my Wayback Wednesday articles this year is to look at specific features in old basketball games. I do want to get back to doing some full retrospectives on older titles, but I feel that it’s interesting to look back on older features, options, and gameplay mechanics that hoops games used to have. As I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion, there are certain aspects of those older games that I’d love to see implemented once again in future titles. In some cases of course, the basic concept would have to be updated and reworked a little.

On the other hand, there are certain features and functions that can definitely stay in the past. They aren’t necessarily bad or beyond being reworked into a newer concept, but they’ve become outmoded. There simply isn’t the need for them that there used to be; either another feature or function does the job better, or advances in technology and game design have rendered them largely useless. They are nevertheless important parts of basketball gaming history though, and it’s interesting to see how some of them have evolved or been replaced over time. To that end, let’s take a look at five outmoded features that no longer need to be staples of basketball games.

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NBA Live 19 Developer Blog: One-on-One Play

NBA Live 19 Demo

The demo and EA Access trial of NBA Live 19 may be out and providing us with hands-on previews of this year’s game, but EA Sports aren’t done with their developer insights. Check out the latest developer blog for more information on the improvements to one-on-one play:

Last year, a big focus for the NBA Live gameplay team was to make playing on-ball defense fun, impactful, and skill-based. We introduced the one-on-one system for the on-ball defender and ball handler matchup. This allowed the ball carrier to try and break down defenders while giving the defense the ability to cut off and stop counter moves. With NBA LIVE 19, we’ve not only made some improvements to the on-ball system but created a brand-new one-on-one system for off-ball play.

The blog details the addition of off-ball controls in player-locked gameplay, updates to the jostle system on both sides of the ball, and some of the basic strategies you’ll want to use. Once again, check it out for the full scoop, feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below, and join in the discussion in the NBA Live 19 section of the NLSC Forum!

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Three New NBA 2K19 First Look Screenshots; Control Information

NBA 2K19: Anthony Davis First Look

Three more NBA 2K19 First Look screenshots have been released. This time, the featured players are Team 2K members Anthony Davis, Paul George, and Kemba Walker. Davis and George are of course former NBA 2K cover players, appearing on the covers of NBA 2K16 and NBA 2K17 respectively.

As is the case with the other First Look screenshots so far, their initial Overall Ratings in NBA 2K19 have been revealed. Anthony Davis will be rated 94 Overall, as he was in the final official roster for NBA 2K18, while Paul George’s Overall has increased from 88 to 89. Kemba Walker has also increased from an 85 to 86 Overall.

While we’re still waiting for the usual preview season fare such as a full gameplay trailer, developer insights, and so forth, an interesting discovery was made over at Operation Sports. It seems the controls for NBA 2K19 have already been published on Xbox Live’s online help site, providing us with an overview of what to expect on the sticks. They are mostly similar to NBA 2K18, however there are some new stealing and shot contest controls.

Check out the screenshots below, as well as in our gallery. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below, as well as join in the discussion in the NBA 2K19 section of the NLSC Forum.

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Monday Tip-Off: Absolute Controls Are Absolutely Best

James Harden dribbles the basketball in NBA 2K18

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 Absolute controls setting in NBA 2K games, and why I feel they are the best approach.

It took me a while to get used to the controls in NBA 2K. Having spent years playing NBA Live, it was difficult getting used to dribbling moves being performed with left stick movement and the Isomotion trigger. Even after the series adopted right stick dribbling controls in NBA 2K13, I wasn’t quite as proficient in pulling off slick moves and breaking ankles as I had been in NBA Live. Eventually, I discovered the root of my clumsiness on the sticks: the default Camera Relative controller setting, which makes stick movement dependant on your player’s position relative to the camera.

The Absolute setting, which standardises stick movements no matter where you are on the court and which camera angle you’re using, made NBA 2K’s controls far more accessible to me. It helps that it’s the same approach that NBA Live has always used for its right stick controls, but aside from familiarity, I’ve always felt it simply made more sense. There’s a legacy issue in NBA 2K where the Camera Relative/Absolute setting randomly resets, which means I’m always checking to make sure that it’s still set to Absolute before I start a session. After all, when it comes to dribbling controls, I strongly feel that Absolute controls are absolutely best.

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Monday Tip-Off: PC Basketball Gamer? Get a Gamepad!

NBA Playgrounds PC Gamepad Configuration

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 advice to PC basketball gamers, regarding the necessity of a dual analog gamepad.

With last week’s gameplay blog, we’ve learned that there will be a few tweaks to the controls in NBA 2K18. Beyond those changes however, the general approach will remain the same. The game will still feature the Pro Stick, which is used to perform both dribbling moves and specific types of shot attempts on cue. Dual analog controls aren’t an issue on Sony and Microsoft’s consoles, which have made use of controllers with two sticks for a few generations now. The approach can cause problems for PC users however, especially if they prefer to use the keyboard to play games.

It’s admittedly less of an issue than it used to be. Both NBA Live and NBA 2K have featured dual analog controls for over a decade now, so a majority of gamers have made the adjustment and picked up a gamepad for their PC. There are a few holdouts, though. Every so often, someone will ask for help using the keyboard with a PC version of NBA 2K or NBA Live, or complain that the keyboard controls are lacking. This is fair enough, as everyone has their own preference, and the keyboard is a viable option for many other games. However, if you’re a PC basketball gamer who wants to have complete control, there’s really only one solution: get a gamepad.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Importance of Consistent Controls

NBA Live 16's Practice Gym

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 importance of consistent controls in NBA Live and NBA 2K.

The preview seasons for NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 are tantalisingly close…presumably. We should get another glimpse at NBA Live 18 this weekend at EA Play, and with Live scheduled to come out this year, hopefully 2K won’t drag their feet putting out information, especially since they’re once again pushing early pre-orders. In any event, it hopefully shouldn’t be too long before we start hearing about improvements and changes to gameplay mechanics, AI, modes, and all other aspects of the games. Controls will be a key point of interest, specifically whether or not there have been any major changes or enhancements.

When it comes to the responsiveness and fluidity of the controls, as well as their depth and influence over the action, it’s probably safe to say that most of us still want to see some further improvement. It’s vital that we have control over advanced moves, don’t get stuck in animations or experience too many canned moments, and not suffer stiffness or a lack of responsiveness on the sticks. Beyond those mechanics however, there’s an important design concept that EA and 2K both need to keep in mind: the controls should be relatively consistent from year to year.

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Monday Tip-Off: Pro Stick vs. Shoot Button in NBA 2K

Dirk Nowitzki shoots the basketball in NBA 2K16

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.

By now, you’ve probably heard that NBA 2K17 will feature revamped shooting controls on the Pro Stick, with the angle of the stick now determining whether or not your attempt is on target. While many of the early impressions suggest that it’s not as complex as it may sound, it’s something that basketball gamers will ultimately decide for themselves upon getting their hands on the game. Fortunately, for gamers who prefer to use the Shoot button, Mike Wang made it clear in his developer blog that it’s still going to be a viable option in NBA 2K17.

One of the things that made it difficult for me to get into the NBA 2K series all those years ago was its controls. I was accustomed to dribbling controls on the right stick, I didn’t care for the original approach to Isomotion, and I felt like the Shot Stick was overkill. With the Shot Stick becoming the Pro Stick in recent editions of NBA 2K, combining dribbling and shooting controls, I’ve definitely warmed up to the concept. However, when it comes down to it, I still prefer using the Shoot Button. With the changes in NBA 2K17, I now find myself wondering if I’ll change my approach.

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Details on NBA 2K17 Gameplay Improvements (Polygon)

NBA 2K17: Andre Drummond

Polygon has posted some hands-on impressions of NBA 2K17, detailing some of the gameplay improvements in this year’s release. One of the first points covered is the “Curry conundrum”: representing Stephen Curry’s ability to knock down long, long threes, without giving other three-pointer bombers the same level of knock-it-down-from-anywhere ability. Apparently, this has been achieved.

Shooting controls have also been tweaked in NBA 2K17, as jumpshots will now only fly true if we pull straight back on the right stick, in addition to releasing at the optimal moment according to the Shot Meter. We’ll also need to time our release on layups as well, so scoring in the paint isn’t going to be as automated as in years past.

Every team will reportedly have freelance offenses this year, not just the New York Knicks and San Antonio Spurs. On the defensive side of the ball, the AI has been enhanced so that players move with intent, and coaches make smarter decisions about the personnel out on the floor. Blocks are reportedly more realistic, while steal attempts will apparently reward good timing and punish careless dribbling.

Speaking of dribbling controls, one-to-one responsiveness has also been added. Physicality in the paint has been re-worked so that it can feel like the offensive player initiates contact, depending on left stick movement. As touched upon in the IGN preview, stamina and fatigue has been revamped, and is designed to penalise players who rely too heavily on the sprint button. Finally, the tweaked controls and gameplay mechanics can be learned through 2K U, which is narrated by Mike Krzyzewski.

Be sure to check out the Polygon article for more details and comments from Senior Producer Rob Jones. What are your thoughts? Share them in the comments section below, and join in the discussion here in the NBA 2K17 section of the Forum.

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The Friday Five: 5 Strange Basketball Gaming Habits

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.

As I’ve said many times before, we take our basketball gaming seriously around these parts. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but as with any gaming community, it can lead to some attitudes that aren’t very constructive or open-minded. There are many strong opinions in the basketball gaming community, but the most important thing at the end of the day is that we’re enjoying playing these games that we’re so passionate about. We shouldn’t get caught up telling each other how to have fun, or lecture each other about the supposed “correct” way to play. There are many different ways to enjoy NBA Live and NBA 2K, after all.

At the same time, there are some strange habits and attitudes in the basketball gaming community. Again, everyone is entitled to their opinion and preferences, but some habits are puzzling, and certain attitudes myopic. In this week’s Friday Five, I’m taking a look at a range of basketball gaming habits that are peculiar for one reason or another. I’m not saying they’re all wrong, but some are definitely a little odd. Without any further ado, let’s tip things off!

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