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The Friday Five: 5 Excuses We Must Stop Making For 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 is a list of five excuses that we must stop making in order to downplay valid criticisms of basketball video games.

There are times when it’s only fair to make excuses for basketball video games. There are limitations to what can be achieved with the technology that’s currently available. Issues with likeness rights meant that certain historical players can’t be included. NBA games have a brutal development cycle compared to titles that don’t come out every year. In fact, you might be inclined to call these “reasons”, as the term “excuses” often has negative connotations. It’s splitting hairs on the definition in some respects, but it’s understandable that some people balk at the idea of “making excuses”.

The problem with excuses is that they can easily work against our best interests. If we don’t hold developers accountable for certain decisions and design choices, then we’ll have no choice but to endure whatever undesirable situation we find ourselves in with basketball video games. Look, I’d like to think that I’m as passionate about the hobby as anyone else in the community, and I also believe in being fair and constructive in our criticism. It’s just astonishing how far some people will go to make excuses for the games though, even when an issue is clearly detrimental to them. These are the excuses that we need to cut out, or else we’ll continue to suffer the consequences.

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Monday Tip-Off: An Open Letter from An Old Head

Monday Tip-Off: An Open Letter from An Old Head

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 an open letter to younger basketball gamers and fans from an admitted old head of 34.

Hey there, younger fans of basketball and basketball gaming! Do people still say hey for hello? I’m trying to avoid a “How do you do, fellow kids?” type of scenario here. Because let’s face it, there is a generational gap between some of us, and I’d rather not condescend to you, or look foolish with some ill-fitting slang. I’ll just stick with hey. Anyway, I’m Andrew, and to a lot of people who are into basketball and basketball video games, I would definitely qualify as an old head. At least, that’s the term I’m seeing used in a lot of online conversations to describe someone like me.

I’ll admit that at the age of 34, I still feel too young to be classified as an old head. It’s probably a fitting term, though. My all-time favourite band and television show are both only slightly younger than I am. My nostalgia is rooted in entertainment and events from well over a decade ago, and my opinions on sports, movies, television, and gaming no doubt reflect that. I’m at that odd stage where I still feel a bit rebellious towards the generations older than me, while at the same time starting to feel like a grumpy old man. Before I completely devolve into yelling at clouds however, I’d like to try bridging the gap between an old head like me and the younger generation.

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Monday Tip-Off: Why We Won’t Get Another Retro Mode

Michael Jordan in NBA 2K11

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 why it’s unlikely that we’ll get another retro mode in future NBA 2K titles.

While I don’t want to downplay the quality of NBA 2K11, I believe one of the reasons it’s still held in such high regard is that it was a landmark release for the series. Not only was it the first NBA 2K game to top five million copies sold – a feat helped in part by the cancellation of NBA Elite 11 – but it brought us actual retro teams out of the box for the first time. The NBA Live series experienced a similar phenomenon with NBA Live 2000. It introduced Legends, and was similarly noted as still being the best game in the series when later releases had clearly improved on it in many ways.

No matter where you rank NBA Live 2000 and NBA 2K11 in their respective series or among basketball games overall, both were tremendous releases that delivered big surprises in terms of their retro content. The Jordan Challenge was a great mode that would’ve been a tremendous hook even if NBA 2K11 hadn’t been unopposed. NBA’s Greatest in NBA 2K12 was a great follow-up, and the roster of retro teams has only expanded since then. Outside of Historical Domination in MyTEAM however, we haven’t had a challenge mode that makes use of the retro teams since then. Sadly, it seems highly unlikely that we’ll get another retro mode anytime soon, if ever again.

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Monday Tip-Off: Should NBA Live Be More Like NBA 2K?

James Harden shoots in NBA Live 19

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 an interesting and important question that continues to be hotly debated: should NBA Live be more like NBA 2K?

As NBA Live continues to rebuild and re-establish itself in the face of NBA 2K’s dominance, there is a debate among basketball gamers as to the best direction for the game. There are gamers who would prefer that NBA Live remains distinctly different to NBA 2K in focus, style, and approach, and generally reject any suggestions that Live should borrow ideas from 2K. Conversely, as noted here on Reddit, there are others who would prefer that NBA Live essentially copy NBA 2K, but for a few details here and there (such as avoiding 2K’s approach to microtransactions).

Naturally, between those two extremes are more nuanced suggestions about NBA Live doing its own thing, while also borrowing some of NBA 2K’s best ideas (and in some cases, putting its own spin on them). To that end, of course, there’s still debate as to which ideas should be borrowed, how closely NBA Live should mimic what NBA 2K is doing, and to what extent any 2K concepts should be reworked. It leaves us with the question of whether or not NBA Live should be more like NBA 2K, or as the thread over on Reddit put it, “NBA 2K re-skinned” rather than NBA Live. For me, the answer is yes…and no.

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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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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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Monday Tip-Off: NBA Live’s Identity & Longevity

Cherashore Tournament in The Streets World Tour (NBA Live 19)

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 how NBA Live needs to establish its identity, and deliver an experience with greater longevity.

There seems to be somewhat of a divide and a notable amount of unrest among NBA Live gamers at the moment. At a time when we should be consolidating out feedback – obligatory cheap plug for our NBA Live 20 Wishlist – there’s a lot of argument about the future of the series. Many gamers are expressing concerns and frustration, while others are arguing that we must all be supportive and, to borrow a slogan, trust the process. Both sides have a point and are coming from a good place, though I do find myself agreeing more with the former group.

That’s probably because the group that’s most frustrated tend to be gamers my age. We remember a time when NBA Live was the dominant brand in 5v5 sim-oriented NBA games, and all the things that made it successful. Needless to say, that’s led to a bit of sneering at us allegedly out of touch “old heads”; a term that’s quickly come to highlight the toxicity in today’s basketball gaming community. At the same time, it is certainly easy to get caught up in the past, and we do need to have some patience, but it’s getting tougher for a lot of NBA Live loyalists to remain patient. Ultimately, NBA Live needs to forge an appealing identity that results in longevity and a deeper game.

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Monday Tip-Off: What Actually Ruins Basketball Video Games?

Victor Oladipo in 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 few thoughts on the matter of what actually ruins basketball video games, and what are really more minor gripes.

Having been a part of the online basketball gaming community for over twenty years and admin of the NLSC for going on eighteen, I’ve both seen and taken part in some spirited discussions about the hobby. Our conversations about basketball video games have run the gamut from excitedly positive to furiously negative, depending on the issue and the quality of any given title. Given that we all have different tastes and expectations of basketball video games, our opinions will differ when it comes what will ruin our experience on the virtual hardwood. That’s fine, and to be encouraged!

Of course, it’s easy to exaggerate, especially when a pet peeve is involved. I recall one Forum member fuming over the use of the word “City” on the team statistics menu in NBA Live 2001. As they correctly pointed out, teams such as the Warriors, Jazz, and Pacers all take their names from their state rather than their city, making that label inaccurate. It’s a valid point, but a minor detail that was correct for most of the teams, and a criticism that paled in comparison with other issues in NBA Live 2001. Such issues are worth pointing out, but as we compile our Wishlists, it’s important that we prioritise problems that can ruin basketball video games, ahead of minor annoyances.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways Basketball Games Are More Fun Now

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 ways that basketball video games are more fun these days.

We tend to enjoy basketball video games around these parts. It may not always seem like that, but a hardcore fanbase is always going to be passionate, and criticism always comes across louder than praise. We have our complaints, and there are things that we want to see improve, but generally speaking, we do have fun with basketball games. Whether we prefer franchise gaming, team building modes, the single player career experience, or online play, there’s usually at least been a handful of games that have given us memorable and enjoyable moments on the virtual hardwood.

Of course, basketball games have been fun for a long time, and if you’ve been playing them for many years, then it’s likely that you have many fond memories of older titles. It’s often fun to revisit an old favourite, but other times, it’s best to leave the memories alone. After all, technology and design concepts have come a long way over the past couple of decades, and there have been many improvements that make more modern basketball games more fun to play than their predecessors. It’s not always apparent until you go back and play an old game, and there are always exceptions, but if you’re feeling sceptical, here are five ways that basketball games are more fun now.

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Further Details on NBA Live’s Future (Polygon)

LeBron James wearing The Land Jersey (NBA Live 18)

In the wake of the Game Informer article discussing the future of NBA Live, Polygon has posted a more detailed account of Executive Producer Seann Graddy’s comments, as well as Carlos Guerrero’s remarks about the future of the Madden series. Although there isn’t too much in the way of additional details, the article does provide some further context and direct quotes.

Notably, Seann gives credit to what the development team was able to accomplish under Sean O’Brien’s watch, indicating that he feels NBA Live 18 has given the series momentum. In terms of NBA Live 19’s game modes, his direct quote is that they’re all “getting a little bit of love at some level”. As noted in my previous bulletin, hopefully this will mean some overdue enhancements to Franchise and Ultimate Team will accompany further improvements to The One and its connected experiences.

As far as gameplay is concerned, the team will be looking to keep building on the success of NBA Live 18, particularly elements such as the on-ball defense system. Interestingly, Seann described a goal of creating a game for a “younger, new demographic”. While this may be of some concern to older NBA Live gamers, he also indicated the team’s willingness to listen to gamer feedback, and create a game with great pick-up-and-play appeal for people of all ages.

With EA Play 2018 right around the corner, we should start getting more information soon. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on the direction of NBA Live in the comments section below, and join in the discussion here in the NLSC Forum.

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Monday Tip-Off: Completing the Comeback with NBA Live 19

James Harden stirring in NBA Live 18

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 NBA Live 19 could complete a triumphant comeback for the NBA Live series, after years of struggles.

When Michael Jordan made his first comeback in 1995, it was obvious that he was a little rusty. Although His Airness had his moments as the Chicago Bulls made a run during the second half of the season and ultimately lost to the Orlando Magic in the second round, he wasn’t quite at the same level he had been when he walked away from the game in 1993. There were number changes – to 45 and back to 23 again – and an offseason of hard work that saw MJ return to form in the 1996 campaign. The Bulls won a then-record 72 games, and by the time he retired for the second time, MJ had led them to three more titles. Undoubtedly, his first comeback was a success.

To draw a parallel to basketball video games, the NBA Live series currently finds itself in a similar situation. Once the yardstick and the top-selling five-on-five sim-oriented NBA title, NBA Live went on hiatus in 2010, following the failure of NBA Elite 11. After switching back to the NBA Live moniker and returning to the virtual hardwood, the series has been trying to shake off the rust and recapture former glory. It’s had its bright moments though, with NBA Live 18 being a significant step in the right direction. With that in mind, EA Sports has a great opportunity to make like Michael Jordan in 1996, and successfully complete its own comeback.

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The Friday Five: 5 Reasons Playoffs Mode is Essential

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 offers up five reasons why a standalone Playoffs mode is essential in NBA Live and NBA 2K.

The 2018 Playoffs are well underway, with one second round match-up already set and all other first round series currently on the brink of being decided. The race for the Larry O’Brien trophy is kicking into high gear, with most of us having fun either cheering on teams and players that we like, or cheering against the ones that we don’t. I’m sure that quite a few gamers are replicating the excitement of the postseason on the virtual hardwood, having reached that point in modes like MyLEAGUE, MyGM, Franchise, or MyCAREER, or alternatively playing through a standalone tournament in Playoffs mode.

Of course, while it’s long been a staple of NBA video games, the standalone Playoffs mode has been left out of several titles. Despite the Playoffs being the only mode of play in NBA Live’s forerunner, the aptly titled NBA Playoffs series, it’s been missing from several of EA Sports’ subsequent hoops titles, including NBA Live 18. It was also dropped from a few games in the NBA 2K series, but fortunately it’s currently available as an option in the MyGM/MyLEAGUE menu. While other modes may be more popular – and let’s face it, bigger money earners – it’s essential that a standalone Playoffs mode remains in NBA 2K, and returns in future NBA Live games.

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Wayback Wednesday: Michael Jordan in 1-on-1

Michael Jordan in 1-on-1 (NBA Live 2000)

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 Live 2000’s Michael Jordan in 1-on-1 mode.

Today is Tim Duncan’s 42nd birthday. Not only is the future Hall of Famer one of the greatest players in NBA history, he also graced the cover of one of the best games in the NBA Live series: NBA Live 2000. Of course, he shared the cover with an insert of Michael Jordan, who made his first official appearance in the series as a member of the newly added roster of Legends. April 25th also marked a milestone in Michael Jordan’s career, as on this date twenty-five years ago he captured his seventh straight scoring title, tying a record set by Wilt Chamberlain.

With those themes in mind, it seems logical to take another look back at NBA Live 2000. I’ve already posted an in-depth retrospective of the game, but I thought that I’d take a closer look at one of its featured attractions: Michael Jordan in 1-on-1. Making its debut in NBA Live 2000, it made sense to brand the mode with Michael Jordan’s name in order to help it stand out to gamers. It certainly did just that, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Best Modes 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 is a list of what I would consider to be the best modes we’ve seen in basketball games so far.

With the holiday season upon us and Christmas just a few days away, I’m in good spirits, and I hope that you all are, too. Generally speaking, I like to mix up the topics and tone of The Friday Five, alternating between celebration, critique, interesting trivia, and thoughtful discussion of basketball video games. With this being the season of goodwill, I’m definitely in the mood to talk about something more positive in regards to basketball gaming. After all, I’m sure that many of us will be hitting the virtual hardwood whenever we can over the next few weeks, sinking hours into our favourite game modes.

As such, this week I’m offering up my picks for the best modes in basketball gaming to date. Not to harp too much on something I’ve said many times before, but while the gameplay experience is paramount, deep modes are what keep us hooked on a game until the next one comes out (and sometimes, even beyond that). It’s hard to pick just five, as there have been some exceptional modes in basketball games over the years, each catering to different tastes. I’ve personally had fun with a variety of modes throughout several releases, and I know that many of you can say the same. I would nominate these five modes as being the best of the bunch, in no particular order.

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Monday Tip-Off: Gameplay vs. Game Modes

MyCAREER in NBA 2K17 with the Denver Nuggets

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 debate regarding the importance of gameplay vs. the importance of game modes, in basketball video games.

For the most part, we basketball gamers can generally agree that we want to see the games that we play get better and better with each release. Of course, we’re not always on the same page as far as the specific improvements are concerned. At the very least, we may prioritise them quite differently. We need to realise that these differing points of view are equally valid; it’s perfectly fine to like different aspects of the games, and as such, have a keener interest in seeing them improve compared to others. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to see your fellow basketball gamers talking about something that doesn’t interest you, and not feel that they’re missing the point.

Perhaps the best example of this is the whole gameplay vs. game modes debate. It’s fair to say that most basketball gamers would agree that both gameplay and game modes are the most important aspects of any given release, but disagree on the importance of those aspects in relation to one another. I’ve recently seen a few comments that have derided the importance of game modes, and over the years, there have been more than a couple of remarks that have downplayed the necessity of getting the gameplay experience right. To that end, I thought that I’d offer up my thoughts on the debate regarding gameplay vs. game modes.

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