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NLSC Podcast #453: Was NBA 2K17 The Last Great NBA 2K?

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #453 of the NLSC Podcast!

Is NBA 2K17 still the last great release in the series? The question has come up again, so we take another look back at one of our all-time favourite games. We also revisited NCAA Basketball 10 with an extremely fun co-op game over Parsec. Once again, we wonder might have been if EA Sports hadn’t dropped the ball with their sim basketball titles after 2009, and consider the possibility that they return to the space with a college title instead. We also reminisce about going to the arcade, and open up the mailbag to quiz the community on Overall Ratings in NBA Live 2005. In the process, we discover some interesting facts and figures!

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!

Monday Tip-Off: Three Years Later, No Developments

Monday Tip-Off: Three Years Later, No Developments

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on the lack of developments regarding NBA Live three years after EA Sports last addressed its future.

That’s right. It’s been three years since the official NBA Live Twitter posted an update on the series. The Tweet confirmed that there would be no NBA Live 20, while also stating that they were “excited by (their) progress”, having been “putting in reps on (their) console basketball games”. At the time, it sounded like they might be changing direction, or at least opting for a longer development cycle, after NBA Live 19 failed to move the needle as hoped. The series’ struggles were cause for scepticism, but the fact that they were addressing the future also invited some degree of optimism.

Three years later, with absolutely no further developments or announcements, it’s much harder to be optimistic. EA Sports’ message to NBA Live gamers three years ago acknowledged the need to get everything right and “earn (their) future”. It was an honest statement, though nothing we hadn’t heard before after previous games failed to live up to expectations. More to the point, there was also an explicit promise to provide regular updates, which obviously didn’t happen. Indeed, the only activity on the NBA Live Twitter since then has been to re-Tweet a tribute to Kobe Bryant from the main EA Sports account. So, three years later, what do we make of this?

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The Friday Five: 5 Franchise & Career Mode Disappointments (That Are Realistic)

The Friday Five: 5 Franchise & Career Mode Disappointments (That Are Realistic)

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 disappointments that you’ll encounter in franchise and career modes, which are nevertheless realistic.

Franchise modes allow us to greatly influence a virtual NBA. Even if we only have control over one team, our ability to have them overachieve significantly changes the league’s landscape. We have much less control in career modes, but once our player has levelled up and is capable of record-breaking domination game in and game out, the NBA is at our mercy. However, while we can have seasons for the ages and amass large collections of virtual trophies, there are some aspects that are still beyond our control. Needless to say, that can be frustrating, and disheartening.

On the other hand, it maintains a semblance of realism, even if our results and stats are pushing the boundaries of believability. The challenge of franchise and career modes, and indeed the overall fun and enjoyment we get from their journeys, often hinges on us not getting everything we want. There should be surprising and unlikely outcomes, at least from time to time. We should miss out on opportunities, even if we’re well prepared for them. The disappointments – the trials and tribulations – make our successes and getting what we want all the more gratifying. To that end, here are five realistic disappointments that actually serve to enhance franchise and career play.

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Wayback Wednesday: 10 Years of Embracing NBA 2K

Wayback Wednesday: 10 Years of Embracing NBA 2K

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m reflecting on ten years of embracing NBA 2K, after growing up playing NBA Live.

Just in case there’s any confusion, no, this isn’t a tenth anniversary for NBA 2K. As the special edition of NBA 2K19 reminds us, the series is already twice as old as that! However, 2022 marks ten years that I’ve personally been embracing NBA 2K as a key part of my basketball gaming experience. If you’ve grown up with NBA 2K and never played NBA Live when it was the brand leader, this undoubtedly sounds strange. Why would I need to warm up to NBA 2K, and come around on embracing it? As a keen basketball gamer, shouldn’t I want to play the game that’s been on top for years?

Of course, but for an older gamer like me who grew up with NBA Live, embracing NBA 2K and its approach to sim basketball took some time. There was bias and a comfort zone to push past, not to mention availability and preferred platform. While I have my criticisms – and it’s important that we do constructively criticise any game we play, basketball or otherwise – I have grown to truly appreciate and enjoy the NBA 2K series. It’s been ten years since I’ve fully committed to embracing NBA 2K, so it feels as though some reflections are in order. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: NBA 2K14 MyCAREER Year 4 Recap

Monday Tip-Off: NBA 2K14 MyCAREER Year 4 Recap

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with a recap of Year 4 in my MyCAREER in the PlayStation 4 version of NBA 2K14.

Can you believe that I’ve played through four full seasons of MyCAREER within the past twelve months or so? It’s true! This is what happens when you’re not forcing yourself to grind to level up a player as quickly as possible in the latest game, all the while knowing that your progress will be reset to zero in a year’s time. Given my lack of enthusiasm for either version of NBA 2K21 and NBA 2K22, I’ve greatly enjoyed NBA 2K14 PS4 providing me with a basketball gaming experience that’s been so engaging. It’s unquestionably picked up the slack.

With NBA 2K23 looming and its previews inspiring some cautious optimism, I did want to wrap up Year 4 in NBA 2K14 MyCAREER before the release of this year’s game. I have no doubt that I’ll pick it up again to play through Year 5 – I still have one more Hall of Fame Milestone to achieve for 100% completion in that regard – but I do want to spend time with NBA 2K23 and give it a fair chance to impress. Even with the deadline of NBA 2K23’s release however, I still took the time to enjoy the journey in Year 4 of my NBA 2K14 MyCAREER. As I prepare to take a break from NBA 2K14 in the near future, here’s a look back at how the 2017 campaign went down.

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NLSC Podcast #440: MyNBA Eras in NBA 2K23 & Other Wonderful Throwbacks

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #440 of the NLSC Podcast!

MyNBA Eras have added a feature to the franchise experience in NBA 2K23 Next Gen that we once thought wouldn’t ever be possible. Although we do have some concerns about the quality of certain elements, and its absence in Current Gen is a bummer, we’re definitely impressed and excited! That joy carried over to our retro gaming this week, as we were able to resolve some technical issues for a better experience. Another instalment of Dee’s Deals provides a roundup of some very fairly-priced classics for aspiring collectors. We also reflect on the lineup of basketball games circa 2002-2003, once again lamenting the lack of choice we have some twenty years later. In this week’s mailbag, our listeners tell us which MyNBA Era they’re most excited to play in NBA 2K23.

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!

The Friday Five: 5 Reasons to Love Generated Rookies

The Friday Five: 5 Reasons to Love Generated Rookies

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 reasons to love generated rookies in franchise and career modes.

When multi-season franchise modes were introduced, the annual Draft was naturally an aspect of the league that needed to be replicated. Since college players couldn’t be licensed, the solution was to have generated rookies; fictional Draftees that the game would automatically create using randomised names and appearances (or in a few NBA Lives, pre-made faces). It was a good solution, but from the very beginning, we sought to replace generated rookies with real prospects. We found ways of doing so through modding, and eventually NBA 2K introduced in-game Draft Class editing.

The ability to edit Draft Classes was an important and most welcome addition to the array of customisation options in NBA 2K. To that end, it should absolutely remain a staple of NBA 2K’s in-game roster editing tools. However, there’s something special about generated rookies. In my opinion, they can be just as fun, and sometimes even more fun, than injecting real future Draftees into your game. Judging by some of the responses I’ve had on Twitter when discussing Terry Hanson, I’m not alone there! If you’re wondering what’s so special about generated rookies, and why anyone might prefer them to real prospects, here are five reasons to love those fictional players.

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The Friday Five: 5 Things That I Carelessly Lost

The Friday Five: 5 Things That I Carelessly Lost

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 things – namely saves or other data and content – that I carelessly lost in various games.

You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. It’s an old adage that’s been lamented in the music of Joni Mitchell and the band Cinderella alike. The sentiment usually refers to more important things in life than video games, but since that’s what we cover around these parts, I’ll appropriate it for this occasion. After all, while I think we can and should acknowledge that other losses are far more significant in the grand scheme of things, it’s still a bummer when we lose save files, data, and other content in video games. Life goes on, but it sucks to have all that progress go up in smoke.

It’s bad enough when it occurs due to a glitch in a game, but at least you can turn your anger and frustration outwards towards the developers and publisher. When you’ve carelessly done something that’s resulted in your progress being lost, it’s tougher to shift the blame onto somebody else! Even if there’s something clunky in the game that’s partly to blame, you’re stuck with the knowledge that it could’ve been avoided if you were just the teeniest bit more careful. The times when I’ve been careless with my save files are undoubtedly among my biggest regrets as far as basketball gaming is concerned. Here are five things that I’ve lost due to a lack of care and foresight.

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NLSC Podcast #434: NBA 2K23 Jordan Challenge & PC News

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #434 of the NLSC Podcast!

How much would you pay for a sealed copy of Lakers vs. Celtics? Here’s a hint: it’ll set you back more than the Championship Edition of NBA 2K23! Speaking of which, in the wake of the NBA 2K23 preview season tipping off, we discuss the cover reveals, pre-order bonuses, and the return of the Jordan Challenge. With the news that the PC version will be Current Gen once again, we consider the possible reasons for the decision, and the future of the series on the platform. We also talk about some interesting NBA Live rumours, and the underrated NBA Inside Drive series. In this week’s mailbag, the community reacts to the news about NBA 2K23 PC, and suggests new games for the Jordan Challenge.

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!

Monday Tip-Off: Disposable Games & Always Online Pains

Monday Tip-Off: Disposable Games & Always Online Pains

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with my thoughts on the approach of the annual games becoming disposable, and the increased reliance in “always online”.

I’ve been working in IT since 2005, providing technical support and PC repairs. In that time, I’ve noticed a change that has likewise been a trend with other devices, from phones and televisions to major appliances. While hardware repairs are still sought out and provided, we’ve trended towards being a throw-away society. Expense or difficulty in performing repairs makes buying a replacement – presumably a newer model – a more common and desirable solution. Buying a new system also seems more likely than upgrading existing hardware, again due to convenience or feasibility.

So it goes with products such as video games, too. There is inevitability to this, of course. Nothing lasts forever, and manufacturers and software developers naturally want to sell new products. More than ever before though, basketball games are being designed to be disposable. The reliance on server-side content, necessitating an “always online” approach, is the reason for this. While this content has enhanced titles and eventual server shutdowns are understandable, the way that it’s made games more disposable is nevertheless unfortunate. If nothing else, it’s a tremendous blow to a community that does have a contingent of retro gamers who like to dust off old titles.

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NLSC Podcast #433: A 10, But They Spoiled the NBA 2K23 Cover

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #433 of the NLSC Podcast!

The official Electronic Arts and WWE Games Twitter accounts made bewildering gaffes this past week, and like many of our fellow gamers, we’re unimpressed. Obsidian, meanwhile, displayed an attitude that we’d like to see more often. Elsewhere, NBA insider Shams Charania apparently leaked the NBA 2K23 cover player, and we have some thoughts on 2K’s choice. Since the NBA 2K23 preview season is almost upon us, we also reflect on NBA 2K22, summing up our final thoughts on the game, and giving it a rating out of ten. After reminiscing about a satisfying session of NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, we open up the mailbag to discuss who should be the five best-rated players in NBA 2K23.

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!

The Friday Five: 5 Frustrating Restrictions in Basketball Games

The Friday Five: 5 Frustrating Restrictions in Basketball Games

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 frustrating restrictions that we’ve encountered in various basketball video games.

There are obviously going to be restrictions in basketball video games, some of which we’ll find frustrating. In some cases, those restrictions are due to technical limitations. Others are design choices, and those are the ones that we find more bothersome, as we know it didn’t necessarily have to be that way. In all fairness though, these restrictions can sometimes be for the best. If not for some of them, games would be unbalanced and far less enjoyable. When cleverly implemented, restrictions can prevent exploits and ensure that games are challenging, without ruining the fun.

Striving for realism in sim games also results in restrictions that can be frustrating, but ultimately in an enjoyable way, since they reflect obstacles that teams and players do actually face in real life. To that point though, we’re bound to grumble when we’re restricted in a way that doesn’t accurately represent an NBA rule. As for frustrating restrictions that are simply design choices, there have been some over the years that just haven’t been good ideas. Alternatively, they’re good and sensible ideas in theory, but were poorly executed. Some of those restrictions are recent or rare, but others are recurring issues that we’ve been encountering in basketball games for generations.

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The Friday Five: 5 Franchise & Season Games I Wish I’d Finished

The Friday Five: 5 Franchise & Season Games I Wish I'd Finished

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 franchise and season games over the years that I wish I’d been able to finish.

As I’ve said in a previous article, completion is what you make it in basketball video games. In other words, you don’t necessarily have to finish a season in franchise and career modes, collect every card in team building modes, or unlock all of the Trophies or Achievements, just to feel a sense of completion and closure. If you’ve enjoyed a basketball video game and felt like you got your money’s worth, that’s what matters at the end of the day. Of course, there is something special about playing through an entire season from start to finish, hence my kick with NBA 2K14 MyCAREER.

I’ve finished seasons in a number of basketball video games over the years, and they’ve become some of my most treasured virtual hardwood memories. It’s always felt incredibly rewarding, as I prefer to play every game on twelve minute quarters. Due to that preference though, there are some franchise and season games that I didn’t play through to their conclusion, having run out of time before the release of a new title. With that in mind, they’d make excellent retro gaming opportunities, which I’m obviously quite open to. Unfortunately their save files are long gone, meaning that these old franchise and season mode games can never be revisited and finished.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2003 vs NBA Live 2004

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2003 vs NBA Live 2004

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m comparing NBA Live 2003 and NBA Live 2004, in a new edition of “Versus”!

Once again, I’ve gone a while between posting a new “Versus” feature for Wayback Wednesday. There is a reason for that, though. With so many retro basketball games and retro basketball gaming topics to cover, it can take a while to circle back to titles I’ve already talked about. I’d also prefer not to profile games for the first time with a direct comparison to another game, as that would get in the way of a comprehensive retrospective. However, it is fun and interesting to rank and rate old favourites, having had plenty of time to enjoy and reflect on them.

That brings us to NBA Live 2003 and NBA Live 2004, back-to-back releases in the Golden Age of NBA Live; or possibly the series’ second Golden Age, depending on how you rate NBA Live 2001 and NBA Live 2002. Among older basketball gamers, there’s a ton of nostalgia for both games. If you’re my age, you’ll remember them as fun games from early adulthood. If you’re slightly younger, they may have been your entry into basketball gaming! The question is: which game is better? I’ve broken up my arguments into five categories, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Free-to-Play & Triple-A Basketball Games

Monday Tip-Off: Free-to-Play & Triple-A Basketball Games

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on the prospect of Triple-A basketball games being free-to-play (aka F2P).

It’s no secret that NBA Live, once the brand leader in sim NBA video games, has been struggling for well over a decade. It hit a low point with the failed attempt to rebrand and revamp the series with NBA Elite 11, one that it hasn’t been able to recover from to date. With its inability to topple NBA 2K, or even just make some inroads into gaining a bigger share of the market, I’ve seen people suggest that the console version of NBA Live become a free-to-play title. The argument is that it would be a lower risk, and encourage more gamers to give it a try.

Interestingly, I’ve also seen suggestions that NBA 2K become a free-to-play game. In this case, the suggestion has nothing to do with quality, but rather finance. As you’re undoubtedly well aware, the nature of NBA 2K being an annual release means that in modes such as MyCAREER and MyTEAM, there’s a reset on our progress with each new game. That means more grinding, and more money spent. With annual sports titles often being derided as glorified roster updates, it’s no surprise that a free-to-play model, or perhaps a new game every few years with subscriptions for updates in between, are ideas that have been floated. I certainly have some thoughts on that.

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