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Monday Tip-Off: Thank You, Rec Quitters!

Monday Tip-Off: Thank You, Rec Quitters!

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 thank you to the Rec quitters that left Kenny and I to play 2-on-5 in a game last Saturday.

Because The Rec can be very hit and miss when it comes to having fun and playing a good game of virtual basketball, I’ve played much less of it this year. It’s a bit more enjoyable when you head there with a friend or two, but with three fifths of our regular NLSC squad understandably skipping NBA 2K20 after being disappointed with NBA 2K19, most of the times I’ve ventured into The Rec, I’ve gone there solo. Kenny and I have hopped on for a few sessions together though, and while there’s been frustration, we’ve at least been able to work (and commiserate) together.

That’s what we did last Saturday. Both of us were having a quiet evening at home – kind of the way it goes with the current pandemic, after all – so I hit him up about jumping on for a game or two. The first game was a frustrating overtime loss that we really shouldn’t have been in a position to win, yet could’ve if not for poor decision-making and clock management by our teammates. Thanks to some mic trouble, we also weren’t able to chat during that contest. After resolving that issue, we decided to play one more game, in which our three teammates all quit in the first quarter after we fell behind 15-5. As I said, I’d like to send out a thank you to those Rec quitters.

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Monday Tip-Off: Can NBA Live Be Relevant Again?

Monday Tip-Off: Can NBA Live Be Relevant Again?

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 by pondering the question: can NBA Live be relevant again?

As a long-time basketball gamer that grew up with NBA Live, it gives me no joy to dump on the franchise. I believe that there are content creators out there who delight at the series’ struggles and subsequently ripping into it, but I’m certainly not one of them. For all the great things that NBA 2K has done, the slips in quality here and there, and of course the increased focus on microtransactions, demonstrate why it’s important to have choice and competition in the basketball gaming space. Some say NBA Live should just pack it in, but frankly, we need it, and we need it to succeed.

Unfortunately, that’s much easier said than done. NBA Live has struggled to get to where it needs to be over the past decade. Again, it brings me no joy to say that, nor do I relish pointing out that not only has its quality suffered, but so has its relevance. Indeed, a friend of mine who isn’t really into basketball, but picked up NBA 2K20 on special after watching The Last Dance, mentioned he was surprised that EA Sports doesn’t have a new basketball game out. It’s not surprising that someone who isn’t into the scene doesn’t know the full story behind the fall of NBA Live, but nevertheless, it speaks volumes about its relevance today. The question is: can EA change that?

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Monday Tip-Off: The Right Direction for NBA Live

Monday Tip-Off: The Right Direction for NBA Live

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 thoughts on the right direction for NBA Live.

Needless to say, the past decade has been tough for NBA Live. Through cancelled titles and skipped years, the series has seen only five releases during that span. There have been promising aspects and good ideas present in those five games, and it could be argued that at least a couple of titles have been solid, but EA Sports has failed to move the needle. NBA Live is still languishing far behind where it needs to be as a viable alternative to NBA 2K and the enormous gulf in sales speaks volumes. NBA 2K has its issues, but NBA Live hasn’t been able to capitalise on gamer frustration.

The good news is that the door hasn’t been slammed shut on NBA Live. Thanks to a combination of readily apparent potential and 2K squandering goodwill, there is still interest in seeing NBA Live return to its former glory. Unfortunately, the series’ steps towards reaching that goal haven’t been as large as many of us would’ve liked, and one of the main reasons for that is the direction of the series. More specifically, this includes both the particular choices that have been made, and the tendency to change direction too often. NBA Live needs to have the right focus moving forward, but that raises the question: what is the right direction for NBA Live to take?

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Wayback Wednesday: The ABA in Basketball Video Games

Wayback Wednesday: The ABA in Basketball Video Games

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 how the ABA has been represented in basketball video games.

Despite its influence on the NBA and the sport in general, the American Basketball Association doesn’t have a lot of representation on the virtual hardwood. It makes sense as the National Basketball Association became the dominant “brand” when it exploded in global popularity in the 80s and 90s, by which point the ABA had long been absorbed in the 1976 merger. Although it’s not exactly forgotten, its history is somewhat glossed over in favour of celebrating the NBA’s heritage. Of course, that’s not altogether surprising; as the old saying goes, history is written by the winners.

Still, given that the NBA does pay homage to the ABA and adopted some of its ideas including the three-point line (though Abe Saperstein’s American Basketball League did it first), it’s strange that it doesn’t have much of a presence in video games. The ABA had been gone for around two decades when I was getting into basketball and basketball video games, but I recognise its importance and would love to see it celebrated in gaming as well. What have we seen so far? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: The Avatar’s New Clothes

Monday Tip-Off: The Avatar's New Clothes

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 about the increasing focus on getting new clothes for your avatar in the career modes of NBA Live and NBA 2K.

There’s a well-established video game trope that TV Tropes calls “And Your Reward Is Clothes“. It refers to unlocking new clothes for the player character (or characters), sometimes by completing tasks or purchasing them from an in-game store, or perhaps by finishing the game and continuing the adventure with post-ending gameplay. They may convey or accompany other bonuses, or they may just be for bragging rights. A good example of the latter is the “I completed Vice City and all I got was this lousy t-shirt“, unlocked when achieving 100% completion in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Clothing items, and the ability to acquire new clothes, have become an increasingly prominent part of basketball video games. Although they are ultimately just cosmetic, they’re nevertheless a significant part of the game’s culture, especially when it comes to the online scene. It’s one of those aspects of modern games that make me feel like a dinosaur, because to my mind, there’s far too much focus on them. Although they’re something that can be ignored, the pursuit of new clothes and the focus given to dressing up your avatar is presenting some problems, and detracting from the overall experience. That may sound melodramatic, but allow me to elaborate.

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NLSC Podcast #302: 25th Anniversary of NBA Live (Part 2)

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #302 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, it’s Part 2 of our celebration of the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live. Join Dee4Three and I as we cover NBA Live 07 through to NBA Live 19, look ahead to the future, and reflect on the series as a whole. If you haven’t caught Part 1 yet, be sure to tune in here!

We continue our conversation with a look back at NBA Live 07, a strong candidate for the worst game in the series. As we proceed to break down each game year by year, we reflect on the downfall of NBA Live, and the mistakes that have led to its continued struggles. We discuss what could have been, from the cut retro teams in NBA Live 08 and the full season version of Be a Pro in NBA Live 09 on PS2, to the disastrous change of direction with NBA Elite 11 and cancellation of NBA Live 13. The importance and selection criteria for cover players also comes up, and we reveal the NBA Live 13 cover player that was never officially announced. That brings us to the current generation as we recap the series’ ups and downs since returning with NBA Live 14, and how it’s looking as of NBA Live 19. Once again, we touch on what we want to see in NBA Live 21 and beyond. We wrap up with our fondest memories of NBA Live, our favourite games in the series, and thoughts on what it’s meant to us these past 25 years.

Tune in below!

What are your memories of NBA Live 07 through NBA Live 19? What are your thoughts on the future of the series? 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 Hot Takes on Basketball Gaming in 2019

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 features five of my hot takes on basketball gaming in 2019.

Another Friday the 13th is upon us, and I’ll be honest: I’m drawing a blank on fresh ideas related to good luck, bad luck, and the number thirteen. I suppose I could talk about having terrible luck with disconnections in NBA 2K, or how I lost my progress in my NBA 2K17 MyCAREER when I accidentally overwrote it with an old backup from the cloud, and then access to the save file entirely because the server was shut down during a time when I’d uninstalled the game. I could look back at NBA 2K13, or even the ill-fated NBA Live 13, but that’s more suited to Wayback Wednesday.

Instead, I’m going to take us into the weekend by sharing five hot takes about hoops gaming in 2019. After all, does anyone want a fair and measured take anymore? I’d like to think so as that’s my preferred approach, but there’s no denying the popularity of hot takes. If you agree with them, they make you feel clever and self-righteous. If you disagree with them, you can enjoy getting fired up and firing back at the person tossing them out. I can’t quite bring myself to abandon all reason and give you some hot takes on the level of an obnoxious talking head on a panel show, but I’ll share a few thoughts regarding our beloved hobby that you may or may not agree with.

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The Friday Five: 5 Modes I Haven’t Played Much

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 game modes that I haven’t played much of over the years.

There’s almost too much to do in basketball video games these days. The amount of modes in NBA 2K in particular caters to a wide variety of tastes; whether you prefer competitive online play, card collecting and team building, living the life of an NBA player, or sitting in the GM’s seat, you can find something to play. Needless to say, this is a good problem to have. It makes older titles look even more primitive, and as we move forward, stresses the importance of NBA Live being able to improve upon the depth and variety of its modes.

While it’s a good problem to have, a bevy of deep modes can leave us struggling to get the most out of a title before the next game is released. As I’ve discussed, it’s a problem that’s further exacerbated when there are multiple hoops titles that you want to play. I’ve spent many hours playing basketball games over the years, and I’ve built up a substantial collection of titles. However, I can’t say that I’ve been able to get the most out of all them, or spent as much time with some of the modes as I would have liked. Glancing at the modes in recent games, or looking back at older titles, I can think of at least five modes that I feel I’ve neglected.

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NBA Live 19 Patch 1.25: Gameplay Tuning, Other Updates

Mike Conley in NBA Live 19

Patch 1.25 is now available for NBA Live 19! As with all previous official patches, it will come through automatically as long as your PlayStation 4 or Xbox One is online. If you encounter any issues, try checking for the update manually or restarting your console.

As previously promised, the patch includes various tuning tweaks for gameplay, and a deterrent for gamers who hog the ball in LIVE Run. Shot contests have also been adjusted, and higher-rated ballhandlers won’t be forced into picking up their dribble as often. A technical fix for users with five players is also included.

The patch also includes new likenesses for over 60 NBA and WNBA players, venue and uniform updates for Quai 54, WNBA roster and uniform updates, and some NBA rating adjustments. Data for future LIVE Events has also been pushed through in the patch.

Check out the full patch notes below, as well as in the NBA Live 19 update history over in our Wiki. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section, as well as here in the Forum!

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Monday Tip-Off: The Next Big Innovation in Basketball Games

Online modes have demonstrated significant innovation

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 what the next big innovation in basketball games might be.

June is upon us, which means we’re drawing closer and closer to the beginning of a new preview season for NBA Live and NBA 2K. A few rumours are already starting to swirl, and it hopefully won’t be too long before we get a few teasers and tidbits to sink our teeth into. In the meantime, we’re left to speculate, and talk about what we want to see in this year’s games. I’m hoping that NBA Live 20 will prove to be a big step forward for EA Sports’ series; conversely, I expect NBA 2K20 to be another fine release, though I am hoping it won’t mark a return to NBA 2K18’s greedy approach.

A new console generation also looms, so beyond this year’s releases, I’ve begun to wonder about what the future holds for basketball games. Apart from concerns about the direction (and whether I’ve started to slip out of the core audience), I’ve also been wondering about the next step in terms of innovation. After all, we’ve already seen the games become more and more realistic, incorporate a variety of deep modes, and provide new experiences through online play. New hardware will naturally facilitate a jump in graphics and animations, but as far as features are concerned, what else can be done to innovate on the virtual hardwood?

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NLSC Podcast #286: Online, Casuals, & Simulation

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #286 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Arcane and I are discussing the focus of online play in NBA Live and NBA 2K, and what that means for different types of basketball gamers.

We tip things off with a quick look ahead to the 2019 NBA Finals, as well as a few thoughts on the forthcoming gameplay patch for NBA Live 19. After catching up on the news, we dive into this week’s discussion topic: online, casuals, and simulation. We reflect on some recent Jordan Rec Center games in NBA 2K19, and how they’ve been indicative of changing attitudes towards the importance of sim-style virtual basketball. This leads us to question whether the core demographic is as sim as it used to be, or whether we’re now on the outer fringe. We also attempt to categorise the different types of hoops gamers, and throw out a few suggestions for improving the online experience by addressing various issues including matchmaking and gatekeeping.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on the current direction of online play, and gameplay in general? 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 Toxic Behaviours of Online Basketball Gamers

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 discusses five toxic behaviours that are all too frequently encountered in online basketball gaming.

If I’m being completely honest, I haven’t had a whole lot of fun playing NBA Live or NBA 2K online this year. I have taken part in some very enjoyable games, and that’s kept me from giving up on the online modes altogether, but it’s felt like the experience has taken another step backwards. The lack of deep matchmaking and proper balance, gatekeeping measures such as requiring five users per side in Pro-Am, and increased focus on meta-gaming, have made online play a lot less fun in NBA 2K. Meanwhile, input lag and other gameplay issues have afflicted NBA Live’s online experience.

It’s not just issues with modes and mechanics, however. We gamers also bear much of the responsibility here, as there is a lot of toxicity among those who like to play NBA 2K and NBA Live online. I’ve discussed toxic behaviour in the community before, and since writing that Monday Tip-Off article, the situation hasn’t improved. Various aspects of the games do cultivate a toxic atmosphere and attitudes, as evident by other online gaming communities that are friendlier or more sporting, but ultimately we’re responsible for our own actions. To that end, curbing these five toxic behaviours will require a combination of changes to the games, and improvements in our attitudes.

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The Friday Five: 5 Improvements for LIVE Run & LIVE Events

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five improvements that I’d like to see made to LIVE Run and LIVE Events in NBA Live 20 and beyond.

As EA Play 2019 and another preview season loom, we await detailed information on NBA Live 20. We know that the game is coming out and that unfortunately for PC users it will be console-only, but at this early stage, there are still many other things that we are waiting and hoping to hear. While we’ve already submitted our Wishlist and development is well underway, it’s definitely still worth discussing the features and changes that we’d like to see. Not only does it reiterate what we’ve outlined in our Wishlists, you never know what can be pencilled in for post-release updates.

When I discussed ways to improve the online experience in NBA 2K20, I noted that I have become more interested in online modes in recent games, after years of being an offline gamer. I still believe in the importance of robust offline modes, which is why I compiled a list of ways to improve NBA Live’s Franchise mode back in March. The One and its connected experiences have received the most focus in recent years, and I have had some fun with them, jumping on for a game of LIVE Run or taking part in some of the LIVE Events. However, they haven’t felt quite as enjoyable or rewarding as the online modes in NBA 2K. Here are five improvements that could change that.

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The Friday Five: 5 Gimmicky Features That Turned Out Great

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 gimmicky features that turned out to be great additions to basketball video games.

If you’ve been playing basketball video games for some time and experienced more than a couple of preview seasons, it’s tough not to get cynical. Chances are you’ve bought into the hype and been disappointed at least once over the years, and have likely learned to take previews with a grain of salt. Many of us have a knee-jerk reaction to features that sound gimmicky, particularly if they’re given a name that makes for a good blurb on the back of the box, but doesn’t sound like it will address our concerns regarding the experience on the virtual hardwood.

Of course, names can be deceiving. Some of the best features don’t have fancy names, while other times it’s the features with gimmicky labels that have a positive impact. A feature needs a marketable name if it’s going to be a selling point, and as long as it’s something that enhances the game, it’s all for the best. Thankfully, there have been several such features throughout the years, some being very pleasant surprises after a gimmicky name initially led us to be dismissive of them. Most of us will undoubtedly remain somewhat sceptical whenever we encounter fancy names during the preview season, but here are five features that turned out great despite sounding gimmicky.

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NLSC Podcast #282: A Tale of Six MyCAREER Stories

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #282 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Arcane and I are discussing the story-driven approach to MyCAREER that was introduced back in NBA 2K14.

After a quick round-up of the news, including an upcoming NBA Street event in NBA Live 19 and the latest patch for NBA 2K Playgrounds 2, we dive into this week’s main topic: MyCAREER stories. We begin with our overall impressions of the story-driven approach to MyCAREER over the past six games, and then move on to discuss each game’s story in detail. Along the way, we identify what we’ve liked and disliked the most about each tale and MyCAREER stories in general, and suggest ways that the approach could improve as a new generation looms.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on MyCAREER stories? 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.