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Monday Tip-Off: MyPLAYER in the Middle

Monday Tip-Off: MyPLAYER in the Middle

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 recap of my experiences playing MyCAREER in NBA 2K20 with a MyPLAYER that’s a centre rather than a point guard. As a side note, please be forewarned that I use the Australian spelling of “centre” throughout this article.

My time playing MyCAREER regularly in NBA 2K20 has come to an end. After I ended up being drawn back into the mode, I finished a full season with my traditional point guard build, winning the championship and setting an assortment of records. The MyPLAYER build I chose has also proven to be suitable for online play, and while the online experience is as hit-and-miss as ever in NBA 2K20, when it has been good, I’ve really enjoyed playing my usual role. After starting the second season by averaging a quadruple-double, I’m going to try simming my way to the Hall of Fame.

That’s not the only experiment I’m running in MyCAREER, though. Although I do want to put the mode aside, I have created a second player. I’ve enjoyed being a point guard since being thrust into the role back in NBA 2K13, and have learned the meta-gaming idiosyncrasies for my preferred build at that position. It’s helped me rack up assists, which I’ve come to really enjoy doing. However, when I was playing in my local junior league many years ago, I was a centre that loved to rebound and block shots. I decided to create a MyPLAYER that reflected my actual playing style and position, in order to see what MyCAREER is like as the man in the middle.

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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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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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Monday Tip-Off: Arguing For & Against Green Releases

Monday Tip-Off: Arguing For & Against Green Releases

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 Green Releases, specifically the arguments for and against the mechanic.

Back in May 2017, I discussed the future of Green Releases in NBA 2K. Three years on, the mechanic still remains an issue. It’s funny to look back and see that Mike Wang was talking about weaning gamers off the concept of Green Releases, only for them to still be in the game, relatively unchanged. I say relatively because NBA 2K18 attempted to artificially nerf them with a “Good” release actually only having a 5% chance of going in – less than a Slightly Early or Slightly Late release – and other games have also seen Beluba and co tinker with the perfect release windows.

Apart from that, the basic idea remains the same. Green Releases result in a made shot every time, unless it’s blocked or you’re too far behind the backboard. If you can learn the precise timing of a jumpshot animation and pay attention to the rumble feedback cues, you’ll be greening attempts with ease and regularity. We’re still as reliant on the approach as ever, and it doesn’t look like it’s something that NBA 2K – or NBA Live, now that it’s adopted the same style of shot mechanics and feedback – will be able to move away from. The question is: should it? It feels like we’re at a stalemate on the issue, so let’s go over the pros and cons of Green Releases once again.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Dumbing Down of MyTEAM

Monday Tip-Off: The Dumbing Down of MyTEAM

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 dumbing down of MyTEAM in recent NBA 2K games, and how it’s affecting the mode.

I’ll occasionally see a comment on Twitter or Reddit to the effect of “Who even plays MyTEAM?” It’s your standard “I don’t like it, therefore it sucks and no one else likes it either” rationale that’s all too common among toxic gamers, but it comes off as especially ridiculous when you’re talking about a mode like MyTEAM. After all, its popularity rivals MyCAREER and its connected modes, and thanks to the content that comes through all season long, it makes Take-Two a lot of money. It is possible to play without spending any money, of course, but many who do spend, spend big.

I like the idea of modes like MyTEAM and Ultimate Team. I never thought they’d be for me, but I’ve had fun with them in NBA 2K and NBA Live over the course of this generation. I’ve generally avoided spending money and in NBA 2K19 and NBA 2K20 in particular, I’ve still managed to pick up some really good cards. However, there are problems with MyTEAM, and it’s safe to say that it’s affecting the quality and appeal of the mode. On the whole, it feels like 2K has been dumbing the mode down with the special cards they introduce every year, along with a lack of attention to detail. The mode hasn’t been completely ruined, but it could be in much better shape than it is.

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Monday Tip-Off: Free Content in Basketball Games

Monday Tip-Off: Free Content in Basketball Games

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 free content in basketball games, and whether or not it’s fair to criticise it.

There are many maxims about appreciating generosity and accepting gifts with grace and gratitude that may seem well-worn and trite, but are nevertheless apt. Sayings such as “the price is right” in reference to something that’s free, or “never look a gift horse in the mouth” and “beggars can’t be choosers” in regards to something that is given generously, are a few that come to mind. They’re all relevant, of course. When something is free, we’re not only expected to be grateful, but also make allowances as far as quality, promptness of delivery, and so on.

However, does that still apply to free content in basketball games, such as the Locker Codes and login bonuses in NBA 2K’s MyTEAM? Criticism of disappointing rewards is often met with derision. It’s understandable, because we are rightfully conditioned to be gracious and appreciative of gifts, but it’s also myopic. I would suggest that there is still room to be critical of free content in NBA 2K and NBA Live, and to hold certain expectations as far as its overall quality. After all, it can be the difference between an empty gesture and a genuine act of goodwill. Unfortunately, some of the free content that we receive definitely trends towards being the former.

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Monday Tip-Off: Going Digital (Before I Had To)

Monday Tip-Off: Going Digital (Before I Had To)

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 going digital with basketball games, and making that move before I needed to.

These days, the PC version of NBA 2K is exclusively available as a digital release. Even if you happen to find a physical copy – and they do exist in some regions – it just amounts to a card with a Steam key. There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach. On the plus side, digital games save shelf space, and because developers don’t need to press discs, distribution is quicker and cheaper. In a niche demographic such as PC basketball gaming, that’s an important factor in companies seeing the platform as viable and less of a hassle to release on.

The downside is that we need to download everything when we want to install the game. Depending on the quality of our connection and the size of any data limits on our Internet plan, that may not be an ideal scenario. Digital releases are also at risk of being removed from platforms like Steam, whereas physical copies obviously remain in circulation. Beyond convenience and availability, there’s just something satisfying about having a physical copy that you can hold in your hands or display on a shelf. We don’t always have a lot of choice, especially on PC these days, but I actually found myself going digital with basketball games before it was necessary.

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Monday Tip-Off: What I Learned From Uninstalling Games

Monday Tip-Off: What I Learned From Uninstalling Games

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 hard lessons I learned after uninstalling NBA 2K games on PlayStation 4.

I’m a collector of basketball games, both for my own enjoyment and to create content for the NLSC. To that end, there are some games that I own on multiple platforms, which allows for interesting comparisons; especially when it comes to older titles. With the current generation of NBA 2K games, I’ve made a point of buying them on both PC and PlayStation 4. The PC version has been there for single player gaming, as well as dabbling with mods if and when I so choose. The PS4 version has been for online gaming, as that’s where my friends (and a larger portion of the userbase) are.

Aside from differences such as the online scene and modding capabilities, the PC and PS4 versions – and the Xbox One release for that matter – are identical. Of course, my PC offers another advantage over my PS4: more storage space. It wasn’t until I picked up an external drive for my PS4 that I was able to maintain a much bigger library of installed games. Before that, I’d been uninstalling games as they went on the shelf, in order to play titles that were currently in my rotation. Once I added that extra storage, I was able to reinstall every NBA 2K title that I own for PS4. Unfortunately, I found out that uninstalling those games had a few drawbacks.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Future of Basketball Gaming Nostalgia

Monday Tip-Off: The Future of Basketball Gaming Nostalgia

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 basketball gaming nostalgia is going to look like in the not too distant future.

In recent episodes of the NLSC Podcast, we’ve been discussing old basketball games and reflecting on our nostalgia. We’ve talked about the different nostalgic phases that we go through, as well as some of the games that influenced the way we approach the virtual hardwood. We also recorded a big two part episode for the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, which was a lot of fun. As much as I enjoy playing the latest game and other recent releases, I also like to revisit old favourites and reflect on the history of the genre. It’s one of the reasons I do Wayback Wednesday every week.

However, I’ve recently been wondering what basketball gaming nostalgia is going to be like for recent titles as they get older. Will they inspire the same kind of fondness that we older gamers have for an NBA Jam or NBA Live 95, or will they be discarded and dismissed? Will we, and especially the younger gamers who are growing up with these titles, see fit to revisit them the same way we like to dust off the old titles that we love? Perhaps most importantly, will it even be viable to revisit those games and their experiences that captivated us for hours on end? My feeling is that nostalgia for basketball games is going to look and play out somewhat differently moving forward.

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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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Monday Tip-Off: Not Worth an Angry Rant

Monday Tip-Off: Not Worth an Angry Rant

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 how a frustrating gaming session isn’t worth an angry rant.

I had a rough session in The Rec last Friday. In fact, that’s been a trend whenever I’ve felt like jumping online as of late, but this was a particularly bad outing. It was the kind of unpleasant experience we talked about a lot on the NLSC Podcast, until it occurred to us how often we were repeating ourselves, and that it was getting as dull to talk about as I’m sure it was to listen to. Nevertheless, after I was done, I was all ready to have an angry rant about it. I figured a vicious spray on Twitter might be a fitting prelude to an article in which I’d elaborate upon my displeasure.

Except, I didn’t go on that angry rant on Twitter, and I didn’t write a similarly furious article. I cleansed my palate with a game in The Cages – one I didn’t care about and only played to farm the Daily Bonus VC – and then I put the game aside. Funnily enough, I found myself recalling a line from Dinotopia, a book I haven’t read in many years: “Breathe Deep, Seek Peace”. And so, that’s what I did. My thoughts on my recent experiences in The Rec and the criticisms I have of NBA 2K’s online scene haven’t changed. It’s just that expressing them via the angry rant that I was composing in my head simply wasn’t worth the time and effort to post.

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Monday Tip-Off: What Toxic Rec Players Don’t Understand

Monday Tip-Off: What Toxic Rec Players Don't Understand

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 toxic players in The Rec, explaining a few things that they clearly don’t understand.

You might think that my week in The Rec would’ve discouraged me from playing the mode. Well, it’s certainly dissuaded me from jumping on every single night, but I will venture in there from time to time. I’ve actually had a few satisfying sessions, usually only playing one game before jumping off again. A game takes about half an hour, which is a good distraction if I haven’t been able to do any other cardio and want to get on my stationary bike. Of course, there have also been some frustrating sessions, particularly the one from last Tuesday which inspired this article.

Consider this an open letter, not only to the toxic Rec players I was squadded up with the other night, but anyone else who doesn’t understand how online team play works. Consider this a list of things not to do, and things that you should do instead. Consider this a critique of the online scene, and yet another argument as to why team Pro-Am should be as open to everyone as it used to be. And yes, consider this me using my platform here at the NLSC to blow off some steam after a ghastly game that made me far less likely to want to play in The Rec. These are the things that toxic Rec players don’t understand, and I’m going to break them down. Fair warning, it’s quite a lot.

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Monday Tip-Off: Axing MyCAREER Stories & The Neighborhood

Monday Tip-Off: Axing MyCAREER Stories & The Neighborhood

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 Visual Concepts is unlikely to return to the old style of MyCAREER, axing both The Neighborhood and stories in future NBA 2K releases.

There’s a rather poignant analogy in Fallout 3, courtesy of Moira Brown. Discussing the post-apocalyptic world and her pet project (and the Lone Wanderer’s quest) of compiling the Wasteland Survival Guide, she compares the situation to putting broken glass back together. She notes that it’ll never be whole in the same way it used to be, but you can use the pieces to make something else, like a mosaic. As an analogy, it’s a good way of describing the inability to go back to the way things used to be, but still making the best of the situation and building something new.

We can apply this metaphor to two concepts in NBA 2K’s MyCAREER: the story-driven approach, and the game world of The Neighborhood. At this point they’re established staples of MyCAREER, but they aren’t universally liked. That’s not unusual, of course; you can’t please everyone in everything that you do. However, those two concepts do present some recurring problems, and frustration with them has been building since they were introduced. It seems that a lot of gamers would prefer MyCAREER to return to the way it used to be, but again, axing those features seems highly unlikely. Calling back to Moira Brown’s analogy, has the glass been broken?

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Monday Tip-Off: Basketball Gaming Twitter

Monday Tip-Off: Basketball Gaming Twitter

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 basketball gaming Twitter.

A common online refrain is that social media is one of the best and worst things to happen to the Internet. Of course, that same statement is made of the Internet itself, in regards to society at large. There’s truth in both cases, as the Internet and social media in particular have allowed people with similar interests to connect with one another, but the interactions aren’t always pleasant. Twitter gives everyone a voice, but not everyone uses that voice wisely, or responsibly. As Owen Good once noted, there’s a difference between having an opinion, and having a point.

The basketball gaming community obviously has a presence on Twitter, serving as a connection between hoops gamers who frequent a variety of platforms, including our site and Forum, Operation Sports, Reddit, and various publications that cover video games. It’s therefore an effective way of keeping up to date with the latest news, as well as sharing content of your own. When it comes to discussion and feedback, in my observation, it’s a mixed bag. There are knowledgeable people who post good ideas and advocate for games to get better, and there are others who add very little of value to the conversation. Mind you, that’s usually how it goes with Twitter.

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Monday Tip-Off: Rattling The Cages in The Neighborhood

Monday Tip-Off: Rattling The Cages in The Neighborhood

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 Cages – formerly branded as the Under Armour Cages – within The Neighborhood of NBA 2K’s MyCAREER.

I get the impression that The Cages in The Neighborhood are a love-them-or-hate-them aspect of MyCAREER in NBA 2K. Introduced in NBA 2K19, they provide an alternative to the streetball experience of The Playground. It’s not quite Slamball, but it’s a similar concept, being a rougher style of basketball involving trampolines. I have mixed feelings about The Cages, but as with any mode you’re not that interested in, it’s easy enough to simply ignore them and play something else. Not everything is going to appeal to everyone, after all.

Nevertheless, the concept of The Cages is an interesting one that’s worth a closer look. It stands as an example of creativity on 2K’s part, but also underscores one of the recurring problems with MyCAREER and its connected modes: too much focus on bells and whistles, or “flavour content”, over the core experience. The Cages are far from a vital part of the game, yet they’re not entirely unwelcome either. It’s a mode that could be better, but at the same time, it definitely shouldn’t be a priority. I’m not sure how popular it is, but it’s an aspect of MyCAREER that I haven’t really talked about much, so let’s delve into NBA 2K’s Slamball stand-in.

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