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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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The Friday Five: 5 Keys to a “No Money Spent” Experience

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 tips that are the key to having a “No Money Spent” experience in NBA 2K.

Microtransactions remain a controversial issue in NBA 2K, and Triple-A gaming as a whole. Although they are technically optional, there’s no denying that 2K’s recurrent revenue mechanics are implemented in a way that does all they can to push gamers towards spending real money on Virtual Currency. Gamers who spend level up quicker and end up with better cards sooner, and in turn, they set the competitive balance in online play. Even if you stick to the offline modes, opting for the No Money Spent approach ensures a lengthy grind, year after year.

Of course, for those of us who don’t want to support the recurrent revenue business model and spend additional money on a game that’ll be outmoded in a year, finding a way to beat the system is a point of pride. There’s great satisfaction to be had in enjoying a game without having to shell out cash in order to level up efficiently, or access some of its best content. Once again though, NBA 2K is subtly (and not-so-subtly) trying to push us towards spending at every turn, so the No Money Spent approach takes a few tricks, discipline, and a willingness to work the system. To that end, here are five keys to getting the most out of a No Money Spent experience.

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Monday Tip-Off: Basketball Gaming Belongs to Suits

Monday Tip-Off: Basketball Gaming Belongs to Suits

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 rather dismal realisation that basketball gaming belongs to the suits.

I know I said that many things aren’t worth an angry rant, but this isn’t going to be an angry rant. I’m feeling a certain amount of exasperation and pessimism, yes, but I’m trying to remain calm and not rage for the sake of it. As a new generation looms, many of us are wondering what it means for basketball gaming. The genre has already come a long way – a few backwards steps not withstanding – and it remains to be seen what can be accomplished with the added power of the forthcoming consoles. The problem is that that kind of innovation doesn’t appear to be the focus.

Perhaps that’s a harsh and unfair assertion, given that we’re nearing the end of the current generation. We couldn’t have imagined some of the things that we’ve seen over the past seven years, when the previous generation was seemingly tapped out after producing some outstanding basketball games. However, the difference this time around is that gaming has changed. Games are designed with recurrent spending in mind, and microtransactions are no longer just for free-to-play titles. Quality seems secondary to pushy recurrent revenue mechanics; a trend that’s highly unlikely to end anytime soon. It’s clear that the suits control the destiny of hoops games.

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NLSC Podcast #321: A New Look for Old Games

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Episode #321 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Dee4Three and I as we talk about the importance of historical content, and a rumour that’s making the rounds. We also reimagine covers for classic games, and discuss the issue of starting over every year.

The Last Dance has inspired an increase in gamers playing with classic Bulls teams in NBA 2K20. This leads us to reflect on how important it is to have historical content in games, and how our gaming habits are affected by what’s going on in the world of basketball. We also touch on a rumour about NBA Live that’s making the rounds, mostly due to wishful thinking and a desire to have another viable sim game. In our main discussion this week, we go back and reimagine covers for games beginning with Lakers vs. Celtics, including hypothetical Legend Edition covers. We also talk about the pain of starting over every year in MyCAREER and MyTEAM, and the likelihood of seeing certain Legends in NBA 2K.

Tune in below!

Who would you choose if you had to reimagine covers for old games? Are you weary of the annual grind in modern titles? 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: 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: Too Much at Stake to Experiment

Monday Tip-Off: Too Much at Stake to Experiment

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 how we’re less inclined to mess around in basketball video games these days, because there’s too much at stake to experiment.

During our discussion of franchise gaming in Episode #303 of the NLSC Podcast, I mentioned how franchise modes are a throwback to the days when we were freer to experiment with basketball video games. It’s something that I’ve thought about a lot since getting into MyCAREER and the online scene in recent years. As much fun as I’ve had with those modes, I’m aware of how careful I’ve had to be in order to enjoy myself. A wrong choice can easily torpedo a saved game, wasting hours of grinding with undesirably dire consequences.

Of course, you could argue that that’s part of the challenge now; a key component of an evolved experience. You have to think about your decisions and choose wisely, and if you don’t and suffer because of it, then it’s on you for not playing the game properly. I understand that, and there’s merit in having to commit to a choice, as well as fun in an experience that’s curated to some extent. However, if the consequences are actively discouraging us from experimenting and seeing everything that a game has to offer, that’s rather unfortunate. We still have that freedom to experiment in a mode like MyLEAGUE, but in MyCAREER, there’s simply too much at stake.

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Monday Tip-Off: Fixing MyREP in NBA 2K

Monday Tip-Off: Fixing MyREP in NBA 2K

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 ideas on how to fix MyREP in future NBA 2K games, if not in a patch for NBA 2K20.

I’ve outlined some of the problems with the new MyREP system in a previous article, so this week I thought that I’d offer up some more specific solutions. Thanks to my week spent playing The Rec, I’ve been able to level up and unlock some of the rewards, though admittedly MyCAREER is a mode that’s gone on the backburner for me this year. All the same, I’d like MyCAREER and its connected modes to be as good as they possibly can be for my fellow gamers who still want to sink most of their time into those experiences.

As a replacement for the Road to 99, MyREP has its benefits and drawbacks. Among the positives, all of the rewards need to be earned by playing the game and gaining rep; there are no shortcuts through microtransactions. It’s also drawn some attention away from Overall Ratings, a mechanic that often carries an overinflated sense of importance. On the downside, it locks offline gamers out of NBA-related rewards, doesn’t adequately reward online gamers grinding for MyREP, contributes to elitism, and could stand to distribute its rewards far more logically. With that in mind, here’s how I’d fix the MyREP system in NBA 2K.

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Monday Tip-Off: The In-Universe Value of VC (NBA 2K20 Edition)

Monday Tip-Off: The In-Universe Value of VC (NBA 2K20 Edition)

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 the in-universe value of VC in NBA 2K20’s MyCAREER, and some of the issues that it underscores.

Even though I’ve decided to move away from MyCAREER this year – a decision that I feel even more comfortable with having played a few games – my long tenure with the mode means that I still have some residual interest in what goes on with it. At the very least, I want MyCAREER, its connected modes, and The Neighborhood, all to be as good as they can be for the people who are interested in them. To that end, VC is still one of the most troubling issues: how much you earn, the prices of upgrades and cosmetic items, and the discrepancy between in-universe and real world value of VC.

The last couple of years, I’ve calculated the in-universe value of Virtual Currency in NBA 2K18 and NBA 2K19‘s Neighborhoods. Last year’s “exchange rate” was simply ridiculous, as 1 VC was equivalent to at least $105 in-universe, based on a salary of 500 VC representing a dollar amount of $4.29 million per year (and thus $52,317 per game). The exchange rate wasn’t consistent, as 1000 VC equated to an annual salary of $25.23 million ($307,682 per game), placing the value of 1 VC at around $308 in-universe. Needless to say, this made the in-universe price tags on clothing items truly insane. What’s the situation like this year? Let’s take a look and find out.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Problem with MyREP

Monday Tip-Off: The Problem with MyREP

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 MyREP in NBA 2K20, and how it’s a symptom of a bigger problem.

I have to say that it’s been refreshing to shift my focus away from MyCAREER in NBA 2K20. I’ve been enjoying MyTEAM, and once we get closer to the start of the season and receive updated rosters, I’m ready to get stuck into MyLEAGUE as well. With that being said, I have spent a little time in MyCAREER so far. In the interest of providing a comprehensive review, as well as satisfying my own interest, I wanted to check it out. If nothing else, it’s a means of farming some extra VC which I can then spend on MyTEAM packs, rather than shell out real money on loot box mechanics.

A noteworthy change in MyCAREER this year is the revamping of the rewards. The Road to 99 has more or less been done away with, replaced by the concept of MyREP. Instead of increasing your Overall Rating to unlock new content and bonuses, it’s all about increasing your rep through Playground and Pro-Am games. While the idea has merit, and I had my own complaints about the Road to 99, I’m not sure that this is the right direction for MyCAREER. Indeed, it’s thrust a few problematic design choices into focus, and unless some adjustments can be made in a patch, it’ll be a misstep for MyCAREER and the new MyREP system.

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NLSC Podcast #297: Our NBA 2K20 Impressions

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We’re back on the air, as Episode #297 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Kenny and I as we talk about our initial impressions of NBA 2K20. Please keep in mind that we recorded this week’s show before the release of Patch 1.03, so we’ll definitely be following up with further thoughts.

NBA 2K20 is out now, and it’s proven to be one of the more controversial releases in the series. We discuss the backlash, including some brutal user reviews on Metacritic, and the pre-release misinformation that has only fuelled the fire. That leads into our own impressions of NBA 2K20 which tend to be positive, though we do have a few gripes. From gameplay to game modes, from the MyCAREER grind to the changes in MyTEAM, we share our thoughts on NBA 2K20 after our first week with the game.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on NBA 2K20 so far? 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 Friday Five: 5 Reasons I’m Putting MyCAREER Aside

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 breaks down the five reasons that I’m putting MyCAREER aside in NBA 2K20.

Since finishing my second season of MyCAREER in NBA 2K19, I’ve played a grand total of one game in my third. I had still been dabbling with online play, but after a particularly demoralising session, I decided to play the season opener. The new roster was interesting to play with, and the thought of new goals such as reaching 10,000 career points and completing a threepeat has me considering a third campaign. I’d be simulating a bulk of the games – especially with the release of NBA 2K20 a month away – but I’m thinking about it. After that, however, I’m done with MyCAREER.

I know, I know. I said that almost a year ago, and ended up going further than I ever have before in MyCAREER. At the time I thought I was done, just as I do now. The difference is that after another year of playing MyCAREER, I truly feel ready to put it aside. My experience was significantly more positive in NBA 2K19, so I’m not ending my time with the mode on such a sour note. Furthermore, looking ahead to the release of NBA 2K20, I have other incentives to move away from the single player career experience. If you’ve spent a lot of time in MyCAREER these past few years and are similarly looking to move on, perhaps you can relate to my reasons for doing so.

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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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The Friday Five: 5 Ways to Improve MyCAREER in NBA 2K20

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 ways to improve MyCAREER in NBA 2K20.

MyCAREER remains the most popular mode in NBA 2K, both for the ability to live the life of an NBA player, and participate in online multiplayer gaming through the connected experiences of 2K Pro-Am and The Playground. It has achieved popularity through being a deep and robust mode, and innovations such as detailed stories. While its implementation of VC has at times been controversial due to the way it encourages microtransactions, it’s contributed greatly to the recurrent revenue model despite some vocal grumbling from gamers. Overall, it’s been a huge success for NBA 2K.

Nevertheless, both the offline and online aspects of MyCAREER still have room for improvement. I’ve enjoyed the experiences they offer despite traditionally being a franchise gamer, and found myself getting drawn back into MyCAREER in NBA 2K19 despite feeling that this may be the year to take a break. Having played the mode extensively over the past few years, I have a few thoughts on how it could provide an even better experience for basketball gamers. From the handling of the story and goodwill, to game balance and better functionality, here are five ways that NBA 2K20 could make an already great mode even better.

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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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