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Tag Archives: Monday Tip-Off

Monday Tip-Off: How Online Modes Are Killing Retro Gaming

How Online Modes Are Killing Retro Gaming

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 a focus on online modes and content is killing – or at the very least, putting a serious damper on – retro gaming on the virtual hardwood.

Unless you’re talking about beloved classics, sports games – and in particular, the ones that see a new release every year – tend not to be very popular in retro gaming circles. Because they’re attempting to capture reality in both their gameplay and aesthetics, they tend to age worse than other genres. Sports gamers want the latest release, set in the most recent season. As a result, sports games don’t make second-hand retailers a lot of money, resulting in their trade-in value being very low. If you’ve ever tried to trade in your old basketball titles, you’ll know that all too well.

This phenomenon predates the more recent approach to designing basketball games, though it used to be easier to stick with an older title, or go back to one. One could have a lot of fun dusting off an old favourite, and indeed, that’s a major factor for my Wayback Wednesday features. However, the games of the current generation don’t have the same retro gaming appeal. The heavy focus on online modes and content mean that titles are far more limited than they used to be once the servers have been shut down and support has ceased. It’s not just online multiplayer that’s been cut off, but access to major parts of the single player retro gaming experience, too.

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Monday Tip-Off: Always Online Means Servers, Too

MyTEAM Servers Down for Maintenance (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 perpetual problems with NBA 2K’s servers.

There’s an Australian idiom that goes “mad as a cut snake“. It can either mean very angry, or crazy and eccentric; in other words, playing off the two main definitions of “mad”. On this occasion, when I talk about being mad as a cut snake, I’m using it in the “angry” context and in reference to NBA 2K. Last week, I expressed my disgust on Twitter after issues with the MyTEAM servers caused me to waste a Locker Code following a disconnection. I usually prefer to keep my commentary constructive but sometimes, you just have to let off steam.

Look, I can keep things in perspective here. At the end of the day, basketball video games are just that: games. If the worst thing that happens to you in any given week is missing out on some free content in a basketball game, it’s been a pretty good week. Of course, this is a site dedicated to basketball gaming, so those are the matters that we concern ourselves with around these parts. As far as the issues that rank among the most concerning, online stability is undoubtedly up there. For all of the great things that NBA 2K has done with innovative modes and connected experiences, problems with the games’ servers continue to be a major letdown.

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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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Monday Tip-Off: Aiming for the Hall of Fame in MyCAREER

Hall of Fame Requirements 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 an update on my NBA 2K19 MyCAREER, and my new goal of making it to the Hall of Fame.

As the 2019 NBA Finals loom in real life, I’m already twenty games away from the 2020 Playoffs in my NBA 2K19 MyCAREER game. My enthusiasm has continued into a sophomore campaign, and with the regular season winding down, I’ve got a few milestones in my sights. Within the next few games, I’ll break Wilt Chamberlain’s record for most points, and my own record for most assists. I’ve already set a new steals record, and ensured that I’ll average a triple-double for the entire season. I’m feeling quite confident that I’ll guide the Bulls to a second straight championship.

My intention here isn’t to brag; everyone puts up awesome numbers in MyCAREER, after all. I’m just enjoying the challenge of trying to get triple-doubles, break a few records, and complete two full seasons while playing on twelve minute quarters. I do have another goal, however. I’ve been keeping an eye on the requirements for making the Hall of Fame, and it’s my intention to achieve that before I put NBA 2K19 aside. Despite spending a lot of time with MyCAREER in both NBA 2K13 and NBA 2K17, it’s something that I haven’t been able to accomplish. With all of the time that I’ve put into NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER, I feel like this is the year.

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Monday Tip-Off: Brown Shirt & Grey Sweatpants

Brown Shirt & Grey Sweatpants (NBA 2K14 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 a look at the perennial default outfit for all of our MyPLAYERs: a brown shirt and grey sweatpants.

Am I really supposed to talk about basketball video games in the wake of the Game of Thrones finale? Well, that is what we’re all about here at the NLSC, so yes; I’ll keep my focus on the virtual hardwood! After the heaviness of that finale however, I feel like tackling a lighter subject to tip things off this week. I’m usually not one to talk about fashion – these are not Barbie dress-up games, as we’ve been reliably informed – but I am going to talk about clothes this week. More specifically, I’m talking about the outfit that our MyPLAYER wears at the beginning of every MyCAREER game.

The brown shirt and grey sweatpants that we continue to sport at the beginning of our journey on the Road to 99 has become a staple of the MyCAREER experience. As a default outfit, it’s visually unremarkable, yet still full of meaning as far as the whole experience is concerned. Interestingly, it’s a look that more than a handful of gamers are actively choosing for themselves, at a point where a majority of MyCAREER and Playground devotees are opting for more outlandish outfits. Humble attire as it may be, those brown shirts and grey sweatpants are something of a running gag, a clever gimmick, and a deceptive tactic all rolled into one.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Unexpected on the Virtual Hardwood

Kawhi Leonard dunks 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 how it’s difficult to implement the realism of unexpected moments in basketball games, without them coming across as contrived.

It’s been quite an eventful twenty-four hours. With its final episode airing next week, Game of Thrones fans (of which I’m one) have experienced a major development that isn’t entirely unexpected, but unquestionably impactful (to say nothing of divisive). At the same time, two Game 7s concluded the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs. The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Denver Nuggets in a close contest, while the series between the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers was even more dramatic, ending on Kawhi Leonard’s incredible gamewinning shot.

While I’d normally advocate for letting the dust settle before we proclaim anyone or anything to be among the greatest ever, Leonard’s jumper that seemingly touched every part of the rim before dropping in has to be considered an instant classic. No matter what happens with the Raptors this year, that amazing shot that had everyone holding their breath has secured its place among the great gamewinning buckets in NBA Playoffs history. It’s the kind of excitement that we want to see in the real NBA and on the virtual hardwood alike, but it’s difficult to achieve the latter in a way that feels satisfactory. In video games, the reality of the unexpected often feels unrealistic.

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Monday Tip-Off: Masking the Inner Workings of Gameplay

Clipping issues create canned moments that require better masking (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 a challenge that basketball titles are still facing: masking the inner workings of certain gameplay mechanics.

Game development isn’t easy. It’s something that is all too easy to forget when we’re grumbling and making snide remarks about a game we’re unhappy with. That’s not to say that we cannot and should not be critical, and then channel that into constructive feedback. After all, that’s how we can take an active role in the development of the games that we play. However, we do need to keep in mind that creating a realistic and enjoyable basketball game isn’t as simple as typing plain English into a file, and then saving it as a program. Unfortunately, coding just doesn’t work that way.

Indeed, there is a certain amount of trickery when it comes to designing video games. Like a magic act, various techniques are used to create illusions and cover up how it’s done. Of course, a magic trick is ruined if you spot wires, gimmicks, or the moves that make it happen. Similarly, the special effects in older movies can be very distracting, whether it’s the strings holding up puppets, or primitive CGI. The analogy here is that sometimes when we’re playing a basketball game such as NBA Live or NBA 2K, we can spot the strings, see through the sleight of hand, or notice the shortcomings in the special effects. Masking those tricks is an important challenge in future games.

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Monday Tip-Off: What NBA 2K Can Learn From Mortal Kombat 11

Start-Up Frames Explanation in Mortal Kombat 11

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 how NBA 2K could stand to take a few cues from Mortal Kombat 11.

The fact that I’ve been running a site dedicated to basketball gaming for eighteen years may lead you to believe that hoops games are all that I play, but in fact, I do enjoy quite a few other genres. As a gamer growing up in the 90s, there weren’t many games as cool (or should I say, kool) as Mortal Kombat. The MK series has obviously been very popular and successful through the years, and like many other gamers, I was anxiously awaiting the release of Mortal Kombat 11 last week. My copy arrived, I finished story mode in a single sitting, and am now looking forward to new kontent.

Fighting games and basketball games don’t have a whole lot in common – the cameos by Mortal Kombat characters in NBA Jam aside – but as I was going through all of the advanced tutorials in MK11, I was struck by their depth compared to NBA 2K’s 2KU. In addition to explaining the basic controls, Mortal Kombat 11’s tutorials provide a deep dive into the game’s mechanics, teaching gamers the fundamentals for playing competitively online and offline. With NBA 2K leaning so heavily on meta-gaming and mastering the minutia of its mechanics, there’s much that it could – and should – take from NetherRealm Studios’ latest release.

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Monday Tip-Off: Are Basketball Gamers Still Sim?

NBA 2K has been drifting from the sim style

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 basketball gamers are still in favour of sim gameplay and game modes.

For many years, we basketball gamers would talk about how we wanted to see the five-on-five games become more realistic. As technology improved, we saw a steady and pleasing increase in the level of simulation basketball, with NBA 2K in particular achieving some fantastic results in developing sim gameplay. Sim gameplay is what we always emphasised in our Wishlists, and the cause was likewise championed by Da_Czar, the President of Sim Nation who now puts his knowledge and enthusiasm for realistic virtual basketball to use as a developer on the NBA 2K team.

However, despite the influence of Da_Czar, as well as other sim-oriented developers such as Scott O’Gallagher and Gameplay Director Mike Wang, NBA 2K has been drifting towards a more casual style. The change is definitely not due to a lack of knowledge, dedication, talent, or resources, as we’ve seen what NBA 2K is capable of in terms of being an outstanding basketball sim. NBA Live, despite having its roots in a sim style, has also been focusing more on the streetball side of things in The One. These changes in style are obviously being done to appease the core demographic. As such, it’s not just about whether or not the games are sim, but if we gamers are, too.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Empty Neighborhoods of NBA 2K PC

Deserted Cages in NBA 2K PC

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 lack of online activity in NBA 2K PC, as evident by the empty Neighborhoods outside of the US servers.

Since the launch of the current console generation, I’ve been picking up NBA 2K on both PC and PlayStation 4. This has led to a balancing act that usually results in one of the platforms being largely neglected. Because I’ve played a lot of 2K Pro-Am with the rest of the NLSC squad on PS4, the copy that’s usually gone to waste for me is the PC version. This year, I’ve made a better effort to play both of my copies, and had a lot of fun doing so. I’m almost at the point where I have a second MyPLAYER on PC at 90 Overall, and I’ve built up decent MyTEAM squads on both platforms.

However, while both platforms have been viable in terms of providing an enjoyable single player experience, it’s a different matter when it comes to online play. In short, if it’s a multiplayer experience I’m after, I’m choosing the PS4 over the PC every time. The simple reason for that is with the way The Neighborhood in particular functions, I’ve found it impossible to get a game. Firing up MyCAREER and loading into The Neighborhood drops you into an eerily empty and quiet game world, with no one in sight to play with or against. It’s not quite the same on the US servers, but for those of us in other regions, NBA 2K PC is a ghost town online.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Annual Return to Square One

Starting a new MyCAREER 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 look at one of the biggest problems in basketball gaming: the annual return to square one.

Being that I’m a content creator within the basketball gaming community, I have an obligation to pick up the new games every year. Of course, the whole reason that I create content for basketball games is that I have a keen interest in the genre, so even if I wasn’t running the NLSC, I’m sure that I’d be buying them every year anyway; it’s not just content creators that are getting the games on an annual basis, after all. NBA 2K in particular continues to sell an impressive number of copies year in and year out, due to loyal gamers making an annual investment in the brand.

As a community, we do this because we generally get enjoyment out of the games. We want to be able to play in the current NBA season with up to date rosters, enjoy new content in the team building and career modes, and reap all the other benefits that the annual releases have to offer. However, there are drawbacks to the games coming out annually, with one issue in particular being guaranteed. Even if we put aside the possibility of a new game being inferior to its predecessor, even if we like the latest game just as much or better than the one that came before it, there’s no getting around the fact that we lose all of our progress when we go back to square one every year.

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Monday Tip-Off: 2019 Free Agency According to MyCAREER

2019 Free Agency delivered Marcus Cousins to Indiana (NBA 2K19 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 the results of the 2019 free agency period, according to the predictions of my NBA 2K19 MyCAREER game.

Right now, the talk of the NBA is the rapidly approaching 2019 Playoffs (and the fact that LeBron James won’t be partaking in them), but it won’t be long before attention turns to the offseason. Glancing at RealGM’s list of players who will be unrestricted free agents come July, the 2019 free agency period has the potential to be a wild one. Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins, Marc Gasol, Hassan Whiteside, Julius Randle, and Tobias Harris, are just some of the many significant names who will be available.

History suggests that for every big name that changes uniforms, another will stay put. In many cases, those players will make their decision contrary to all the speculation that they were definitely out the door, or a lock to re-sign. Sheepish admissions of being completely wrong aside, the speculation is still fun while it lasts. With the rise of basketball video games, it’s become quite fashionable to use their simulated results to generate predictions for the real NBA, whether it’s award winners, champions, or free agency signings. Having reached my second year in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER, I’ve seen some rather interesting moves take place. Let’s take a look!

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Monday Tip-Off: Putting the 2K in NBA 2K Playgrounds 2

Victory in NBA 2K Playgrounds 2

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 how partnering with 2K has impacted the NBA Playgrounds series, both positively and negatively.

Since its release last October, our coverage of NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 has been fairly light. I must admit to missing a few bulletins regarding official patches, something I’ve tried to remedy recently. One of the main reasons that our coverage has been so lax is that our community hasn’t really taken to the game. There was some support of the first NBA Playgrounds a couple of years ago, especially when we heard that it would be available for PC as well as consoles, but since then, there hasn’t been much enthusiasm around these parts. The lack of modding probably doesn’t help.

It’s unfortunate, as NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 has made some pleasing improvements on its predecessor. It has its shortcomings, but overall, it’s a very solid arcade basketball game. The partnership between Saber Interactive and 2K has helped the game attain a higher profile, and also facilitated new content and features that are most welcome. At the same time, however, there have been some changes that definitely feel as though they’ve been influenced by the larger company. These changes incorporate some of the worst parts of recent NBA 2K titles, and are thus disappointing to see. Let’s go over some of the best and worst aspects of NBA Playgrounds joining the 2K family.

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Monday Tip-Off: Experiments in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER

Retiring in MyCAREER (NBA 2K19)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with some experiments in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER, and the discoveries about the mode that they’ve yielded.

Once again, despite my belief that I was over the career experience on the virtual hardwood, I’ve ended up playing MyCAREER extensively in NBA 2K19. It’s been a fun and rewarding experience this year, and I’ve enjoyed grinding my way up to 90 Overall without buying any VC, completing the first season and bringing another virtual championship to Chicago, and more recently, hitting 92 Overall and maxing out all my Badges. The online experience hasn’t been stellar this year, but I can say that I’ve enjoyed much of what the single player portion of MyCAREER has to offer.

Spending so much time with MyCAREER has piqued my interest in finding out more about the mode. In addition to the observations I’ve made over the course of playing my main game, I’ve also run a few experiments with additional saves. I’ve wondered whether certain events are scripted and consistent, if there’s a game over should you play or sim long enough, the mechanics of the Daily Prize Wheel, and even the speed of the bikes. Through those experiments, and a thorough playthrough of the mode, I’ve compiled some information about MyCAREER that I hope will be both helpful and interesting to gamers who may have similar questions about all of its ins and outs.

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Monday Tip-Off: Music in Basketball Video Games

NBA Live 19 Mixtape

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 role that music plays in the basketball gaming experience.

One of the most recent patches for NBA Live 19 added a new song featuring Jadakiss, further demonstrating that all kinds of new content can be added post-release these days. Reactions to the new song can basically be broken up into three main responses. If you dig the track, it’s cool to see and hear it in the game. If it’s not your sound, you might grumble about the lack of “real music” among the tracks. If you don’t have any strong feelings about the song, you’ll likely be largely indifferent, except perhaps for some frustration that it didn’t constitute a more significant addition or update.

For most basketball gamers, the soundtrack ultimately doesn’t make or break a title. The action on the virtual hardwood is of much greater importance; you can always mute the soundtrack and put on your own music, but you can’t always find a way to enjoy the experience when there are significant gameplay flaws, or the modes are lacking. Nevertheless, in its own way, music has been an important part of basketball gaming over the years. It’s easy to think of it as nothing but background noise, but it does subtly influence our opinions of games, and shapes our nostalgia for them. In some cases, it can even affect us beyond our view of the games themselves.

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