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Tag Archives: Monday Tip-Off

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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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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Monday Tip-Off: Rest in Peace, Kobe Bryant

Monday Tip-Off: Rest in Peace, Kobe Bryant

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 tribute to the late and legendary Kobe Bryant.

Depending on where you are in the world, the week was ending or just getting started when you heard the tragic news that Kobe Bryant had been killed in a helicopter crash in California. Following unfounded rumours and speculation, we eventually learned that his daughter Gianna, and seven other people, also lost their lives in the accident. It’s been difficult to process the news. Words like “surreal” feel so cliché at a time like this, but they’re nevertheless apt. Social media timelines and NBA broadcasts have been filled with grief and tributes since the terrible news broke.

I too feel compelled to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant, now that I’m past the initial shock. However, I will admit that I was hesitant to forego my planned column in favour of this one. I didn’t want it to be in poor taste, to come across as an opportunistic content creator who’s just trying to get clicks and attention by talking about a topical tragedy. Ultimately, I decided that I wouldn’t let cynicism deter me. Whether you cheered for him or against him, Kobe Bryant was one of the greatest players in league history, carving out a remarkable legacy in the real NBA and on the virtual hardwood alike. It’s only appropriate to pay tribute to him as we all mourn this awful turn of events.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Avatar’s New Clothes

Monday Tip-Off: The Avatar's New Clothes

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts about the increasing focus on getting new clothes for your avatar in the career modes of NBA Live and NBA 2K.

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

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

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Monday Tip-Off: How Career Modes Overtook Franchise Modes

Monday Tip-Off: How Career Modes Overtook Franchise Modes

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 career modes ended up surpassing franchise modes in popularity.

As a long-time basketball gamer, it’s been interesting to not only see how the games have evolved, but also how trends and attitudes have changed. A noteworthy example of changing trends is the popularity of franchise modes. There was a time when they were considered the pinnacle of modes in basketball games, a dream come true for those of us who remember playing the basic single season modes of early titles. These days, they’re seen as passé; something for “old heads”, despite the fact younger hoops gamers enjoy them too. If nothing else, they’re no longer the flagship mode.

That distinction now belongs to career modes, and their connected online experiences. In some respects, it’s not surprising. It took longer for fully-formed career modes to make their way into NBA 2K and NBA Live, and there had been an interest in seeing them for quite some time. Indeed, the franchise modes were often used to simulate a single player career mode, so gamers clearly wanted that type of experience. The shift towards career modes is still interesting however, especially as they’ve drawn in gamers who have traditionally been all about franchise play. How did this happen? Well, I have a few theories as to how career modes gained and maintained popularity.

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Monday Tip-Off: How I Cut Back Playing Online

Monday Tip-Off: How I Cut Back Playing Online

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 discussion of how I cut back playing online (or, how I began to enjoy basketball games again).

Dated references to Dr. Strangelove aside, I’ve found that I’ve enjoyed NBA 2K20 a lot more when I’ve eschewed online play for the single player experience. I could say the same for NBA 2K19 as well, as I mostly ended up playing MyCAREER in an effort to make it to the Hall of Fame (and succeeded in doing so).  However, I was still more inclined to play online last year, having gotten into the habit of grinding up a player that was viable for Pro-Am and Playground games. The rest of the NLSC squad was also giving online play one last try, whereas this year we’ve given up on it.

I definitely miss the camaraderie and fun of a virtual hangout with my fellow gamers and basketball-loving friends, but I’m not missing the frustration that we experienced so often over the past couple of years. I’ve expressed my criticisms of online play in NBA 2K before, but because we enjoyed getting together to play some games, it had become part of my gaming routine. Changing that has been easier in NBA 2K20, where I’ve spent more time getting into MyTEAM, playing with the historical teams, and getting ready to start a MyLEAGUE game. However, it’s unfortunate that online play has become so unappealing, and that I can no longer get into it with my friends.

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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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Monday Tip-Off: Too Much at Stake to Experiment

Monday Tip-Off: Too Much at Stake to Experiment

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 we’re less inclined to mess around in basketball video games these days, because there’s too much at stake to experiment.

During our discussion of franchise gaming in Episode #303 of the NLSC Podcast, I mentioned how franchise modes are a throwback to the days when we were freer to experiment with basketball video games. It’s something that I’ve thought about a lot since getting into MyCAREER and the online scene in recent years. As much fun as I’ve had with those modes, I’m aware of how careful I’ve had to be in order to enjoy myself. A wrong choice can easily torpedo a saved game, wasting hours of grinding with undesirably dire consequences.

Of course, you could argue that that’s part of the challenge now; a key component of an evolved experience. You have to think about your decisions and choose wisely, and if you don’t and suffer because of it, then it’s on you for not playing the game properly. I understand that, and there’s merit in having to commit to a choice, as well as fun in an experience that’s curated to some extent. However, if the consequences are actively discouraging us from experimenting and seeing everything that a game has to offer, that’s rather unfortunate. We still have that freedom to experiment in a mode like MyLEAGUE, but in MyCAREER, there’s simply too much at stake.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Difficulty of Going Back

Monday Tip-Off: The Difficulty of Going Back

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 increasing difficulty of going back to an older basketball title.

Recently, I looked into producing a couple of ideas that I’d been kicking around for Wayback Wednesday for some time: going back and finishing 100 Challenges in NBA Live 15’s Ultimate Team, and finishing 50 Challenges in NBA Live 16 LUT. Once the NBA Live 15 server shutdown was announced, I knew that I’d have to get onto the first idea as soon as possible, as it would no longer be doable once online support ended. I drafted the introduction to the piece, fired up NBA Live 15, and started a game. I was intent on making a feature out of some unfinished business.

Only, that’s as far as I was able to get. I couldn’t finish the game, and after taking a glance at NBA Live 16, I likewise decided against going ahead with those features. Granted, it was partly due to calculating how much time it was going to take and deciding that it’d be too many hours of repetitive play that I could be spending on other projects. It was doable of course, as long as I put in the time every day before the shutdown, but the prospect wasn’t appealing. I came to the realisation that it was no longer as easy to go back and play old games, compared to previous generations. For me at least, there’s just too much difficulty in going back for an extended time.

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Monday Tip-Off: Fixing MyREP in NBA 2K

Monday Tip-Off: Fixing MyREP in NBA 2K

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 ideas on how to fix MyREP in future NBA 2K games, if not in a patch for NBA 2K20.

I’ve outlined some of the problems with the new MyREP system in a previous article, so this week I thought that I’d offer up some more specific solutions. Thanks to my week spent playing The Rec, I’ve been able to level up and unlock some of the rewards, though admittedly MyCAREER is a mode that’s gone on the backburner for me this year. All the same, I’d like MyCAREER and its connected modes to be as good as they possibly can be for my fellow gamers who still want to sink most of their time into those experiences.

As a replacement for the Road to 99, MyREP has its benefits and drawbacks. Among the positives, all of the rewards need to be earned by playing the game and gaining rep; there are no shortcuts through microtransactions. It’s also drawn some attention away from Overall Ratings, a mechanic that often carries an overinflated sense of importance. On the downside, it locks offline gamers out of NBA-related rewards, doesn’t adequately reward online gamers grinding for MyREP, contributes to elitism, and could stand to distribute its rewards far more logically. With that in mind, here’s how I’d fix the MyREP system in NBA 2K.

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Monday Tip-Off: Revised In-Universe Value of VC in NBA 2K20

Monday Tip-Off: Revised In-Universe Value of VC in NBA 2K20

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 another look at the in-universe value of VC in NBA 2K20’s MyCAREER.

Didn’t I already examine the in-universe value of VC this year? I did, but since then, one of the patches quietly nerfed salaries and some of the incentive payouts. To that end, I’m interested to see how the in-universe value of VC has been affected by the new base salaries. Since the prices of items haven’t changed at all, their in-universe value will of course still look ridiculous regardless. For accuracy’s sake though, I thought that I’d go back and redo the calculations in order to determine the current figures. Presumably, no further nerfs or buffs are in the pipeline.

Once again, you may wonder what the point of all this is. After all, the dollar amounts don’t have any practical use or bearing on the experience, and the comparison of item prices to per-game salaries already speaks for itself. I maintain that it underscores that discrepancy however, and is useful information to know when someone excuses the need to purchase basic items as being a measure of realism. Yes, clothes in the real world aren’t free, but by the same token, a basic t-shirt doesn’t cost more than an NBA player’s single game earnings; even a player on a minimum contract. With that being said, let’s see how the in-universe value has changed following the VC nerfs.

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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: A Week Playing in The Rec

Monday Tip-Off: A Week Playing in The Rec

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 a week playing in The Rec in NBA 2K20.

Because I’ve been casually playing a bit of MyCAREER while waiting for the season to start and the rosters to be updated for a MyLEAGUE game, my player has levelled up enough to be viable to play with online. As such, I’ve gone to The Rec a couple of times to see what it’s like this year. Not much has changed in terms of the quality of play or stability of the servers, but it’s had its moments. To that end, I figured if I was able to keep my expectations low, it’d be fun to jump on every once in a while for a change of pace. It’s a way of earning extra VC for MyTEAM packs if nothing else.

That led me to wonder if there were better nights than others to jump into The Rec for a game or two. I recalled that when the NLSC squad was playing multiple sessions of 2K Pro-Am per week in NBA 2K17, some days yielded more enjoyable experiences with good competition, while other days brought frustrating times with opponents who exploited cheesy tactics. I decided that I’d play The Rec every night for a week in order to see which night – if any – was the best to jump on. I was also interested to see how quickly I’d get sick of it, and whether I’d end up too frustrated with the mode to play it any more. What follows is a recap of my week playing in The Rec!

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