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The Friday Five: 5 Divisive Artistic Choices

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 artistic choices in basketball video games that proved to be divisive.

It’s likely that at some point, you’ve heard the fable of “The miller, his son, and the donkey.” It’s the go-to fable whenever you want to illustrate that you can’t please everyone; or, to use the wording of the moral that’s appended to certain versions of the fable, “if you try to please all, you please none.” The fable is talking about actions, but the message holds true for art and entertainment as well. Whether it’s a video game, tabletop game, film, TV series (or an individual episode thereof), album, song, poem, drawing, painting, or whatever…nothing receives universal acclaim.

After all, it’s impossible for a single work to cater to everyone’s individual taste with its artistic choices. Of course, some artistic choices tend to evoke more extreme responses and opinions than others. They’re the proverbial “love it or hate it” artistic choices, with very little in between. It’s also interesting that some of the most divisive aspects of basketball games are generally inconsequential artistic choices that don’t inhibit the core gameplay experience. Atmosphere is still important though, and a gaudy art style can be off-putting. With that in mind, here are five of the most divisive artistic choices that we’ve seen in various aspects of basketball video games.

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The Friday Five: 5 Side Characters That Should’ve Been MyPLAYERs

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 suggests five side characters in MyCAREER stories that arguably should’ve been the player character instead.

So, I’ve looked at the best antagonists and protagonists in MyCAREER stories, but those tales have also featured a number of interesting side characters (and B-Fresh). It may be an overused idea at times, but whenever you have a cast of good supporting characters that have interesting stories of their own, you can’t help but wonder about spinoff ideas. Alternatively, you may feel that they should’ve been the main character all along. There are certainly some examples in the various MyCAREER stories, and so I’ll be exploring those possibilities today.

Of course, it should be noted that oftentimes side characters are in those roles for a reason, and promoting them to the lead or one of the main characters exposes why they weren’t in the spotlight in the first place. The same traits that made them such enjoyable side characters can make them unsuitable protagonists. It may be that they work better in small doses, or aspects that made them funny as a side character are grating when they’re the lead. Conversely, a lack of flaws may make them too boring in the role of protagonist. With that being said, I do believe there’s merit in these side characters being cast in the role of MyPLAYER avatar, albeit with a few changes.

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The Friday Five: Top 5 Protagonists in MyCAREER Stories

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 countdown of the Top 5 Protagonists we’ve played as in MyCAREER stories (obligatory spoiler warning).

Although it’s often said that stories are only as good as their villains, it’s still vital that their protagonists are likewise well-written. There’s arguably more wiggle room here as some stories have successfully utilised protagonists that are audience surrogates; blank slates that we can project ourselves onto. MyPLAYERs certainly can qualify in that regard. Since the adoption of the story-driven approach in MyCAREER, the player character does have established personality traits, yet there are also moments where we can role-play and choose how they react to a situation.

A problem that many of us have had with the protagonists of various MyCAREER stories is that the aspects of the character and story we can’t change have a negative impact on the experience. For example, the NBA 2K15 MyPLAYER isn’t a very sympathetic character. In NBA 2K16’s “Livin’ Da Dream“, Frequency Vibrations (aka Freq) has a very specific background that doesn’t gel with the RPG mechanics of the mode, and makes decisions many of us wouldn’t. A good MyCAREER protagonist is one whose shoes we do want to jump into, whichever brand they may be. To that end, these are my picks for the Top 5 Protagonists that have become our avatars.

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The Friday Five: Top 5 Antagonists in MyCAREER Stories

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 countdown of the Top 5 Antagonists encountered in MyCAREER stories (obligatory spoiler warning).

It’s often said that a story is only as good as its villain. We love our heroes and all, but we need them to overcome obstacles, and ultimately, a worthy antagonist. After all, what would Batman be without The Joker? The most popular professional wrestlers have always had great heels to make them look heroic, even if they’re a bit of an anti-hero themselves. Name a popular franchise, and it’ll be sure to have a memorable antagonist that made the protagonist’s journey exciting and meaningful. Conversely, the absence of a strong villain tends to water down a tale.

Of course, that isn’t always the case. Indeed, it’s possible to tell a good, coherent story without an antagonist. The complication the protagonist faces instead comes from the challenge of accomplishing a task, or resolving conflict that wasn’t caused by any act of maliciousness or villainy. This is often the case with MyCAREER stories, in which the protagonist is a young basketball player with aspirations of making the NBA, and must face all of the hurdles that go hand-in-hand with achieving that dream. However, we’ve also encountered a few antagonists, and they’ve undoubtedly made the road to the NBA bumpier. Without further ado, here are the Top 5 MyCAREER antagonists!

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Monday Tip-Off: Playing The Long Game

Monday Tip-Off: Playing The Long Game

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 vying for The Long Game Trophy by playing all four years of a college career in The Long Shadow, NBA 2K21 Next Gen’s MyCAREER story.

I have to say that as far as Trophies and Achievements are concerned, The Long Game is aptly named. Spending four years in college at the start of a MyCAREER game is definitely a lengthy slog! There’s no simulating – not that you’d really want to, when you’re grinding for VC and Badges – and with only nine other teams, it can be repetitive. At the same time, the idea appealed to me. Less than 1% of PlayStation 5 gamers have attained the Trophy for completing The Long Game, so it’s obviously a rare feat. I figured it would be interesting to take the road less travelled.

It’s also the first time we’ve had this opportunity in MyCAREER. Every other game that’s included a college career has seen our MyPLAYER declare for the Draft after their freshman year. Now we actually have a choice, and it’s a decision that we have to weigh up as a real player might. Is it worth taking the extra time to develop before entering the league – especially as it’s grinding against easier competition – or do you go after the big bucks (or in this case, VC) as soon as you can? To me, the choice was easy. I’ve been a one-and-done player before; now that I have the opportunity, I’m playing The Long Game! Please be advised that there are some story spoilers ahead.

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Monday Tip-Off: I’ve Got To Use My Imagination

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 how we no longer have to use our imagination when it comes to career and franchise modes.

Yes, the title of this week’s column is indeed a reference to a song by Gladys Knight & the Pips. That’s about as far as the reference goes, however. Truth be told, I only know the song because Forrest Gump is one of my all-time favourite movies, and it’s on its soundtrack. In any case, imagination is a core component of gaming, no matter the genre. Whether we’re playing single player or multiplayer, we immerse ourselves in a virtual world. We share the goal of the player character, whether it’s saving the world, winning a championship, or causing mayhem as a goose.

Imagination has always been – and to some extent still is – a big part of basketball gaming. Whether we’re assuming the role of a general manager or coach, taking control of a star player, or stepping onto the hardwood or blacktop with our own avatar, there’s an element of fantasy at play. Of course, many years ago, we had to be far more imaginative as far as scenarios and stories. In franchise and career play, we filled in the gaps, created our own back stories, and would even role-play in our story section. These days, we don’t have to use our imagination so much, especially in the story-driven MyCAREER. Needless to say, there are benefits and drawbacks to this.

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The Sunday Substitute: My Last 5 MyCAREER Campaigns From Worst to Best

My player in NBA 2K16 posing with DeMarcus Cousins.

What’s that? A surprise edition of The Sunday Substitute to start the new year? With the next generation of consoles here, I’ve decided to reflect on my PS4 MyCAREER experiences and rank them from worst to best.

MyCAREER has been a part of my basketball video game experience ever since I first picked up the mode in NBA 2K10, back when it was called My Player. However, it wasn’t until I purchased my PS4 that I played the game annually (except for NBA 2K18). During my run on PS4, I made a conscious decision to make each MyCAREER experience unique. For this reason, I played a different position for each game.

Every situation had its strengths and weaknesses, but some stood out more than others. So, I’m going to rank each of my last five MyCAREER campaigns on PS4 from worst to best. Let’s get this show on the road!

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NLSC Podcast #346: And Now, A Word From Our Sponsors

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #346 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

Controversy strikes as an unskippable ad has made its way into NBA 2K21 Current Gen. It isn’t the first time this generation, but the backlash has prompted a statement from 2K, one that we find questionable. This prompts us to recall other controversies, and the tendency for some gamers to make excuses for them time after time. We also talk about the logistics of an indie developer making a fully 3D 5v5 basketball title. With the release of the third gameplay blog for NBA 2K21 Next Gen, we have our first look at MyPLAYER builds and AI improvements. Once again, the included clips seem to tell a different story to what’s been written in the blog. The changes to builds, Badges, and the Takeover system leads to a discussion of stories and RPG mechanics in MyCAREER. After summing up our thoughts on the gameplay blogs, we dive into a fun topic: the amazing fictional NBA team names in Super Dunk Shot!

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? 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 show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

NLSC Podcast #338: NBA 2K21 Demo Impressions

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #338 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

The NBA 2K21 Demo is out, and suffice to say, it’s drawn some polarising reactions. We’ve got our own detailed impressions to share, from the scope of the demo to the new dribbling and shooting mechanics. We also discuss oversights when introducing new features, and the responsibility of both the community and developers when it comes to demo feedback. A new trailer has also given us a look at this year’s Neighborhood and MyCAREER story, and one of us has a bold declaration about the tale. There’s also a new arcade hoops game on Steam, Dunk Lords, that’s worth a look.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? 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 show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

NBA 2K21 MyCAREER & Neighborhood Trailer

NBA 2K21 MyCAREER & Neighborhood Trailer

Following on from the teaser in the Demo, 2K has posted the trailer for MyCAREER and The Neighborhood in NBA 2K21 Current Gen. This year’s tale is titled “The Long Shadow”, and involves our MyPLAYER (nicknamed “Junior”) following in the footsteps of his father, a local basketball legend.

As Brian Mazique writes on Forbes, the story takes us through high school and college, with ten schools to choose from: Michigan State, Connecticut, Florida, Gonzaga, Syracuse, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, UCLA, Villanova University, and West Virginia. Not surprisingly, cover players Damian Lillard and Zion Williamson will make cameos at certain points in the story, while actors Jesse Williams, Michael K. Williams, Djimon Hounsou, and Mireille Enos, are also featured. As reported by Owen Good on Polygon, the decisions we make during the story will have long-term effects. For example, one of the agents we can choose to sign with will allow us to earn fans in Park games. The article also confirms female MyPLAYERs will be available in Next Gen, but not Current Gen.

The trailer also spotlights 2K Beach, the new version of The Neighborhood. As the name would imply, the redesigned Neighborhood is now located by the seaside. At a glance, it seems like a lot of the familiar shops and other Neighborhood staples will be returning, albeit with a new look.

Check out the NBA 2K21 MyCAREER & Neighborhood trailer below. Got any thoughts on “The Long Shadow” and 2K Beach? Feel free to share them in the comments, as well as join in the discussion here in the Forum!

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NBA 2K21 MyCAREER Story Hints in Demo

NBA 2K21 Demo MyCAREER Story Hints

Although the demo doesn’t allow us to get a head start on the MyCAREER story in NBA 2K21, it does drop a couple of hints about this year’s tale. Under the MyCAREER save files in the demo’s MyPLAYER Builder, the following blurb can be found.

Growing up the son of a local hoops legend isn’t easy, as you’ll discover early on in NBA 2K21’s MyCAREER mode. Everywhere you look are reminders of the greatness that you’re expected to live up to. But can you? Work your way through high school and college on your way to the NBA, and see if you can achieve the potential you’re destined for.

The first Current Gen gameplay trailer confirmed the inclusion of college teams in the NBA 2K21 MyCAREER story, and we now have confirmation of a high school portion as well. Being the son of a legendary player is one of the more original tales so far, so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

NBA 2K21 Current Gen launches on September 4th for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. Feel free to speculate on the story in the comments section below, and join in all of the discussion taking place in the NBA 2K21 section of the NLSC Forum!

Monday Tip-Off: Who Is Anderson Murray?

Monday Tip-Off: Who Is Anderson Murray?

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 Anderson Murray.

Who is Anderson Murray? That is the title of today’s article, and it’s also a question that you’ll see popping up on Reddit and Operation Sports if you Google the name. The Anderson Murray in question is a player that appears in NBA 2K20, albeit only in MyCAREER. I feel confident in saying that thanks to basketball gamers, he’s ended up playing for every team in the league. Don’t look for him in the record books next to Chucky Brown, Joe Smith, and Jim Jackson, however. Don’t search for him over on Basketball Reference, either. You won’t find him listed there.

No doubt there are actually people in the world called Anderson Murray, but none of them are currently playing in the NBA. And yet, there he is on the roster of every team. It seems that everyone has a different story when it comes to Murray. For some NBA 2K20 gamers, he’s an annoyance; a player that’s guaranteed to turn in subpar performances and someone they can’t wait to be rid of. For other gamers, however, he’s a reliable teammate who’s frequently helpful in padding assist numbers. His number and jersey may vary, but there’s one constant. Gamers wonder who Anderson Murray is, and just what he’s doing appearing as our teammate in MyCAREER.

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The Friday Five: 5 Odd Aspects of 2K’s Early Career Modes

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 aspects of NBA 2K’s early career modes that look odd in retrospect.

TV Tropes enthusiasts will no doubt be familiar with the term “Early Installment Weirdness“. To quote the laconic definition, it refers the phenomenon of “first releases of franchises that include very surprising differences in specific tropes or even the absence of a trope that later became predominant in that work”. To put it another way, the first season of a TV show or the early titles in a video game series may have elements that were changed or phased out, retroactively making them look very strange and out of place compared to what came afterwards.

Being a genre that has evolved over a number of years and generations of hardware, basketball games are no exception. Certain controls and gameplay mechanics, and even features of the staple game modes, have drastically changed as concepts have evolved and technology has improved. Of course, less pleasing developments such as the introduction of microtransactions have also fuelled changes that leave us wishing we could go back to the old days, and the old ways. The single player career mode in NBA 2K – originally called My Player, now branded MyCAREER – features some prime examples of aspects that now seem quite odd. Let’s take a look at five of them!

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The Friday Five: 5 Ideas That Were Better In Theory

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 ideas in basketball games that I believe were better in theory.

Basketball video games – and sports games in general – are often accused of being little more than expensive annual roster updates. As my interview with former NBA Live programmer Rod Reddekopp revealed though, even in the early days, a lot of code had to be rewritten and updated every year. Unless there are significant and noticeable changes in the modes, graphics, or gameplay however, it’s quite likely that we won’t appreciate all that work. On top of that, each new game needs some kind of hook, a fancy selling point that can be promoted in previews and on the back cover.

From our point of view, we want basketball games to keep getting better and add new content, and that means exploring new ideas. Whether it’s a change to the controls or a new gameplay mechanic, improved presentation and details, a new or enhanced mode, or additional historical content, we always want to see freshness and innovation. Our Wishlists show that we have plenty of ideas of our own that we’d like to see added in future games, and developers also have their own roadmap. The problem is that not all ideas pan out, no matter how creative and promising they once seemed. Ideas like the ones I’m talking about today were good in theory, but not in execution.

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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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