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Monday Tip-Off: The Art of Minimalist Modding

Monday Tip-Off: The Art of Minimalist Modding

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 idea of minimalist modding.

With all the tools and techniques that our modding community has developed for NBA Live and NBA 2K over the years, we’ve been able to produce some fantastic projects. From detailed current rosters and multi-season packs to NCAA mods and other total conversions, we’ve been able to re-skin the game and create brand new experiences. These projects can take a long time to complete, but it’s very satisfying to see them come together, for both the creator and the community. I can attest to that, having been involved in quite a few large roster projects over the years.

Of course, these fantastic projects do have their drawbacks. They can be incredibly time-consuming, so even if you have the skills to create all the necessary assets, it’s much easier if you have a few other people helping out. To that point, not everyone can do it all when it comes to modding, so it’s usually necessary to assemble a team or rely on some community contributions to get everything done. As you can imagine, the amount of time and effort required can lead to multiple delays, or projects falling through. It’s why I’ve become intrigued with the idea of creating larger projects that don’t require as much external effort; something I’m calling minimalist modding.

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Monday Tip-Off: Are We Gaming Or Are We Modding?

Monday Tip-Off: Are We Gaming Or Are We Modding?

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 gaming and modding habits in our community.

One of the more disappointing trends in our community in recent years is the drop-off in discussion about the games we play. We certainly do talk about them, but there’s much less discussion about sliders, strategies, positive and negative impressions, and the general gaming experience on the virtual hardwood. This definitely wasn’t always the case in the NLSC Forum. If you dig through the archives, you’ll find plenty of topics discussing gameplay and game modes, sharing everything from suggestions and tips to criticism and praise. Within those topics, you’ll see lively discussion.

Not so much anymore, however. Conversely, activity in our modding community is still at a high level. From releases and previews to modding advice and requests for mods, there’s plenty of chatter. It’s a puzzling phenomenon, and an imbalance that I’d love to see corrected. Obviously we’re known as a modding community, but we’ve always been much more than that, in both our original content and the conversations we have about basketball gaming. In trying to determine how this trend began and what’s changed in our community, I can’t help wondering: are we actually playing basketball video games, or are we just modding them?

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 97 Team Editor

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 97 Team Editor

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at the NBA Live 97 Team Editor.

Once techniques have been discovered in our modding community, we’re usually able to reuse or adapt them as new games come out. The question has always been whether or not the existing tools can still be used, and if not, will anyone be able to update them or create new ones. After all, we have far more modders than programmers in the community, and indeed in recent years, many of our most useful tools have come from elsewhere. This wasn’t always the case, though. Although modders have always outnumbered tool creators, there still used to be a handful of the latter.

Our founders, Tim, Lutz, and Brien, created a bunch of useful tools for editing the PC versions of NBA Live. However, they weren’t the only programmers breaking down the games and providing a means of modding them. Case in point: the NBA Live 97 Team Editor, created by Mark Paris. Although Tim’s editor was more than sufficient for making roster updates for the game, the NBA Live 97 Team Editor was a very handy companion tool. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #307: The Joy of Roster Modding

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #307 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Dee4Three and I are discussing roster mods, from how they’re made to why they’re so satisfying to create and play with.

Our NBA 2K21 Wishlist thread is now open in the Forum, so before we dive into our main discussion topic, we encourage everyone to get involved! We also encourage everyone to feel free to talk about gameplay and gaming experiences in general. With that business out of the way, we turn our attention to an activity we’ve greatly enjoyed over the years: roster modding. The discussion begins with a look at the breadth and appeal of roster mods, and the creative process behind them. Along the way, we discuss the tools and techniques that are used in their creation, the importance of certain changes over the years, and some significant roster mods. From creating them to playing with them, we discuss why roster mods are so fun and important to basketball gaming, and offer up a few tips for people who want to get involved with roster modding.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on roster mods, as a creator, user, or both? 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 Crazy Roster Mod Ideas

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 crazy roster mod ideas.

Even though I haven’t been as active in the modding scene over the past few years, it’s difficult to resist the lure. Modding is a creative hobby, and it’s very satisfying to see a project come together, especially when it’s a big roster mod. I’m still working on a 2020 season roster update for NBA 2K11 PC, and should have a status update out soon via new episode of “Making a Mod“. Although it’s a big project that has taken more time than I’d like, it’s been great to get back into updating rosters, especially for a game that I haven’t done anything with before.

While I’m focused on getting that project done, I can’t help thinking of other fun, and often crazy ideas for roster mods. Comprehensive roster updates that enhance the sim experience are great and something I’ve always taken pride in, but there’s room for a lot of creativity with custom rosters. There’s a lot of appeal in creating and playing with classic teams, champions, legends, and other such rosters, but we can be more even more imaginative than that. Although my focus is on completing my current roster project for NBA 2K11, I may take a shot these crazy ideas at some point. I’d like to at least put the ideas out there, in case anyone else wants to run with them.

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Monday Tip-Off: 2019 Year in Review

Monday Tip-Off: 2019 Year in Review

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 the year that was 2019 in basketball gaming, and our community here at the NLSC.

We’re at the start of a new week, but a couple of days away from the end of the year, not to mention a decade. Given the timing, I’ve decided to use this week’s Monday Tip-Off to reflect on the past twelve months, just as I did last year. Although this isn’t The Friday Five, I will be using a similar format on this occasion, as I’d like to take the opportunity to spotlight some of my favourite content from the past year, and discuss various aspects of the hobby under their own subheadings. If you’ve missed out on any of these features, I’ll be linking to them so that you can check them out.

Overall, it’s been another successful year here at the NLSC. Our modding community is still productive, and we’ve been able to do some fun things with our content. We expect to be around for some time yet, and basketball gaming itself is still thriving. There have been some ups and downs as there always are, and that does leave us with a few issues that we need to deal with moving forward. However, I’m confident that we can come together as a community and work out appropriate solutions. Without any further ado, here are my reflections on the final year of the 2010s, and an editor’s pick of articles, podcasts, and other features that I’m particularly proud of.

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The Friday Five: 5 Retro Teams You Can Create 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 retro teams that you can create in NBA 2K20, using assets that are already available.

One of my ongoing series here in the Friday Five suggests retro teams that I’d like to see included in future NBA 2K games. The more historical content we have in the game, the less we have to create for retro modding projects, and the more we have to play with out of the box. Of course, the amount of content that’s already in the game provides us with a good starting point for several retro projects, including adding or replacing the existing classic teams. With that in mind, I’ve got five suggestions for teams that are quite feasible to create – or get a head start on creating – in NBA 2K20.

Whether you simply reuse their assets or borrow players from their existing All-Time and retro teams is up to you, and depends on what kind of project you’re making. If it’s a roster that you intend to share publically, you might not want to spoil any of the existing squads’ lineups. Note that I’ve picked teams that already have the appropriate courts, logos, and jerseys in NBA 2K20, with the assumption that you’ll either reuse those assets, or overwrite the existing retro teams. For this list, I’ve also avoided simply rolling a team backwards or forwards a season, though there are plenty of ideas to explore there as well. Without any further ado, let’s get to the suggestions!

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 06 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 06 Retrospective

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! Today, it’s a retrospective of NBA Live 06.

After the success of NBA Live 2005, NBA Live 06 proved to be a pivotal moment in the series; one that NBA Live is still feeling the effects of today. Because of those long-term ramifications, it’s all too easy to forget that NBA Live 06 is a tale of two games: a last gen and PC release that was at least on par with its predecessor, and a new gen launch title that was a disappointment. It’s unfortunate that the latter often overshadows the former, but it’s understandable, given the lasting impact that it had. Nevertheless, I’ll be covering both versions of the game in this retrospective. Let’s look back at the good, the bad, and the ugly in a significant year for NBA Live.

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 2005 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 2005 Retrospective

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! Today, it’s a retrospective of NBA Live 2005.

In my NBA Live 2004 retrospective, I summed up that game by calling it a tough act to follow. That’s what makes NBA Live 2005 so impressive, as it met the standard of its predecessor and raised the bar even higher. Many would call it the best game in the NBA Live series, or at the very least, rank it somewhere in the top five, if not the top three. It’s a reputation that’s well-earned, as it improved upon NBA Live 2004 in just about every way possible, and still holds up extremely well over a decade later. It had a few issues of course, but it was still a great release, and remains a personal favourite of mine. Let’s take a look back at another milestone game in the NBA Live series.

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Wayback Wednesday: The Fake NBA Live 2002 PC

Wayback Wednesday: The Fake NBA Live 2002 PC

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at the interesting case of the fake PC version of NBA Live 2002.

As I’ve mentioned in my 25th Anniversary of NBA Live retrospective and a few other articles, NBA Live 2002 is a game that I’m oddly nostalgic for. It has its quirks and I definitely wouldn’t call it the best game of its generation, but it’s one that I did have a good amount of fun with when it was new. It was also the upcoming game when I took over the NLSC back in 2001, so it’ll always stick out in my mind for that reason. Oh, and also the fact that it was the first game in the NBA Live series not to come out on PC. That definitely made it a controversial release in our community.

For a while there however, people were reporting that a PC version of NBA Live 2002 did exist, because they’d found a pirated version of it on peer-to-peer file sharing applications. Searching for NBA Live 2002 PC on those platforms did yield results, but what was the story behind those downloads? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: A Crossroads in the Modding Community

Monday Tip-Off: A Crossroads in the Modding Community

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 addressing some recent concerns and issues in our modding community.

I’ve often spoken of how proud I am of our modding community, how I truly believe we have a good thing going here. I stand by that statement, but it’s a remark that I’ve often made before offering up criticism of troubling practices within our community. I’ll admit that I’m doing the same thing today, as the last couple of weeks have been an unusually turbulent time. There are a number of issues that have reached a boiling point, and troubling attitudes have been on display. It’s culminated in at least one ban, and an unhealthy amount of tension for what is meant to be a fun hobby.

At the same time, it’s led to a productive discussion about the path that our modding community is on, and the kind of community we want to be. It’s allowed us to raise these issues and find out that many of us are on the same page. I’d like to continue that discussion here today. Yes, I have some criticisms that may seem blunt, but I would ultimately like something positive to come out of the messy situation that has arisen. As I’ve said in the Forum, it’s getting to the point where we may have to amend our rules and policies, to ensure that we’re maintaining the standard we’ve set and culture we’ve established. If nothing else, we want to make sure unwritten rules are written.

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Monday Tip-Off: Are Some Basketball Games Too Old To Mod?

1996 Mod for NBA Live 2004: Michael Jordan

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 whether or not some basketball video games are too old to mod.

As our regular File Additions bulletins no doubt indicate, we mod basketball games both new and old in our community. I’ve discussed the appeal of modding older games in a previous article, likening it to the pastime of retro gaming itself. It’s fun to dust off an old favourite, not only to enjoy its familiar modes and gameplay, but also to tinker with it. There’s a lot of creative satisfaction in breathing new life into old games, and a certain novelty in seeing current NBA players in a title from many years ago. I would never discourage retro modding, much as I would never discourage retro gaming.

At the same time, modding older titles can present certain challenges and drawbacks. As a basketball game gets older, it can become more difficult to mod, both in terms of performing the required actions and justifying the time spent doing so. Hardware and software moves on, and so do basketball gamers themselves. Even though it’s still fun to tinker and do some cool things with your favourites, it may feel like less and less of a worthwhile exercise as the years go by. I’m currently working on some updates for old games, but there are obviously limits as to what I’d be willing to sink time into. At some point, we do have to ask ourselves: are some basketball games simply too old to mod?

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The Friday Five: 5 Favourite Basketball Games to Mod

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 my favourite games to mod over the years.

A combination of burnout, different priorities, and less free time has seen my modding efforts dwindle over the years. I do like to release some kind of mod every now and again when I can find the time though, because it’s something I’ve really enjoyed doing for the basketball gaming community. Although modding can be time-consuming and sometimes a chore – that is one of the reasons I became burned out on the hobby, after all – there is a lot of creative satisfaction in it. Whether it’s been the current rosters for NBA Live, dabbling in making some art updates, or finding other things to mod, it’s been great messing around with several different games.

Of course, when it comes to modding, not all games are alike. While the process may remain largely unchanged from game to game, and sometimes we’ve been fortunate enough to have a large amount of file compatibility to work with, each release has its own idiosyncrasies. Sometimes the files are easier to modify, other times there are limitations on what can be done with texture sizes or the roster databases. Just how much you enjoy modding a game can also depend on how much you like playing it in the first place. Looking back on all the games I’ve created mods for over the years, these five are the ones I’ve enjoyed tinkering with the most, in chronological order.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 96 Complete Update

Kobe Bryant in the Complete Update Patch for NBA Live 96

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at the Complete Update mod I made for NBA Live 96 PC.

Maybe it’s because it’s been a while since I’ve worked on a major roster project, or perhaps it’s talking about old mods in recent editions of Wayback Wednesday, but recently I’ve been feeling somewhat nostalgic about the days when I was more active in the modding community. I’ve talked about my 1996 season mod for NBA Live 2004 (which will be receiving further updates, thanks to Murat) and the NBA Live PC project for NBA Live 06 (which I’d love to update if I had the time), but this time I’m going back even further, to the Complete Update that I made for NBA Live 96.

Even though it’s obviously been far surpassed by the numerous games that have followed it, the PC version of NBA Live 96 remains one of my all-time favourite basketball games. Indeed, it was for that very reason that I was still making updates for it as late as 2001, even though it was already becoming something of a relic. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Mods I’d Like To Make This Year

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 mods that I’d like to make before 2017 is through.

Although I don’t get involved with the modding scene as much as I used to, I still like to whip something up and release new mods whenever I can. I really enjoyed going back and updating my 1996 season mod for NBA Live 2004, and with some of the great court and jersey mods that Murat has been working on, I’m looking forward to releasing another new version in the not too distant future. These days I’m primarily focusing on content such as articles, videos, and the NLSC Podcast, but I do have a list of ideas for mods that I’d like to make, and there are some in particular that I’d really like to find time for, some of which I’ve discussed in two previous columns.

Please note that this is not intended to be an announcement, a To Do list, or anything like that. There’s no guarantee that I’ll be able to make these mods this year, or ever for that matter. However, at least one has already seen a couple of beta/demo releases, and others are ideas that probably wouldn’t take too long to create, in between the other content that I’m working on (as well as other site updates, and of course, my day job and personal life). However, when the itch to get back into some modding starts to flare up, these are the mods that I’d be most interested in creating in the near future…time permitting, of course.

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