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Monday Tip-Off: An Open Letter from An Old Head

Monday Tip-Off: An Open Letter from An Old Head

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 younger basketball gamers and fans from an admitted old head of 34.

Hey there, younger fans of basketball and basketball gaming! Do people still say hey for hello? I’m trying to avoid a “How do you do, fellow kids?” type of scenario here. Because let’s face it, there is a generational gap between some of us, and I’d rather not condescend to you, or look foolish with some ill-fitting slang. I’ll just stick with hey. Anyway, I’m Andrew, and to a lot of people who are into basketball and basketball video games, I would definitely qualify as an old head. At least, that’s the term I’m seeing used in a lot of online conversations to describe someone like me.

I’ll admit that at the age of 34, I still feel too young to be classified as an old head. It’s probably a fitting term, though. My all-time favourite band and television show are both only slightly younger than I am. My nostalgia is rooted in entertainment and events from well over a decade ago, and my opinions on sports, movies, television, and gaming no doubt reflect that. I’m at that odd stage where I still feel a bit rebellious towards the generations older than me, while at the same time starting to feel like a grumpy old man. Before I completely devolve into yelling at clouds however, I’d like to try bridging the gap between an old head like me and the younger generation.

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NLSC Podcast #293: We’re Seeing What’s Next

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Episode #293 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! As the preview season rolls on, Arcane and I are discussing the MyGM blog and “Next is Now” trailer for NBA 2K20, and the latest news on what’s happening with NBA Live 20.

Not everyone is thrilled about it, but the first NBA 2K20 developer blog revealed details on MyGM and MyLEAGUE. As we’re burned out on MyCAREER and thinking of returning to the franchise mode experience, it comes as good news. We’ve also received a longer look at gameplay thanks to the “Next is Now” trailer. It’s another slick production, but does it have us hyped for the game? Speaking of hype, the latest NBA Live 20 news has dampened our optimism somewhat. The game is slated to come out later than NBA 2K20 which may work in its favour, but with talk of a “different approach”, we do have some concerns.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on the latest NBA 2K20 and NBA Live 20 news? 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.

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NBA 2K20 MyGM Blog: New Tasks, Conversations, Leaderboards

NBA 2K20 MyGM: User Interface

We have our first insight of the preview season, courtesy of the newly posted NBA 2K20 MyGM blog! As in previous years, it’s a deep dive developer blog describing the new features and enhancements that we can expect to see, beginning with this year’s franchise modes.

I encourage you to read the blog in its entirety, but an overview of the key points is as follows:

  • NBA 2K20 is introducing MyGM 2.0. The mode, which has been revamped to be more accessible, includes additions such as Action Points, score and leaderboards, new Skills Tree and levelling structure, new tasks, and sponsorships and branding.
  • Action Points will determine which tasks you can perform each day, encouraging efficient use of your time and team-building strategies. How you perform in the GM’s seat will rank on the new score and leaderboards. These features are affected by the difficulty level you choose.
  • Each save begins at Level 1, and will end up at around Level 20. The new Skill Tree begins with the general style of management that you choose, and branches in five directions: Leadership, Diplomacy, Insight, Finance, and Facilities. Each provides a different path to the ultimate goal of winning a championship, and you can respec once a month.
  • Relationships, goals, and tasks have all been revamped. Requests will now come from players and other executives, and it’s not always in your best interests to fulfil all of them.
  • Morale and Team Chemistry has also been enhanced in both MyGM and MyLEAGUE. Other additions and improvements include Staff Cards, new Personality Badges for max players, more functionality in Player DNA, extra details in History and Records screens, quick scroll options, improved Draft Class authenticity, and even the ability to force winners when simulating.

Be sure to check out the NBA 2K20 MyGM blog for the full scoop! Got any thoughts? Feel free to share them in the comments section below, and join in the discussion here in the NLSC Forum!

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Wayback Wednesday: Old School Season Modes

Old School Season Modes (NBA Live 96)

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

Modern basketball games have their issues which are important to discuss, but one thing we can’t say is that they don’t offer a variety of experiences. Even though NBA Live’s modes are still in need of fleshing out, by including Franchise, Ultimate Team, and The One with its connected experiences, we’re presented with a few choices. One of NBA 2K’s strengths for many years has been its deep modes, with MyLEAGUE, MyGM, MyTEAM, and MyCAREER’s online and offline modes keeping us hooked year after year. We’re provided several different ways of playing virtual basketball.

As much as the controls, graphics, physics, and any other aspect of modern titles, it’s the modes that make old basketball video games look primitive. The most in-depth experience on offer was generally the single Season mode, with minimal GM options and no independent action by the CPU teams. Nevertheless, we made the most of those old school Season modes, until they evolved into the multi-faceted, multi-season experiences that they would eventually become. They’re an important step in the evolution of basketball gaming, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Modes I Haven’t Played Much

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 takes a look at five game modes that I haven’t played much of over the years.

There’s almost too much to do in basketball video games these days. The amount of modes in NBA 2K in particular caters to a wide variety of tastes; whether you prefer competitive online play, card collecting and team building, living the life of an NBA player, or sitting in the GM’s seat, you can find something to play. Needless to say, this is a good problem to have. It makes older titles look even more primitive, and as we move forward, stresses the importance of NBA Live being able to improve upon the depth and variety of its modes.

While it’s a good problem to have, a bevy of deep modes can leave us struggling to get the most out of a title before the next game is released. As I’ve discussed, it’s a problem that’s further exacerbated when there are multiple hoops titles that you want to play. I’ve spent many hours playing basketball games over the years, and I’ve built up a substantial collection of titles. However, I can’t say that I’ve been able to get the most out of all them, or spent as much time with some of the modes as I would have liked. Glancing at the modes in recent games, or looking back at older titles, I can think of at least five modes that I feel I’ve neglected.

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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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NLSC Podcast #285: A Decade of Dominance for NBA 2K

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Episode #285 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Arcane and I are discussing how NBA 2K has now enjoyed a decade of dominance in the basketball gaming genre.

Since overtaking NBA Live in sales beginning with the 2009 season releases, NBA 2K has secured its place as the dominant brand in basketball gaming for over a decade. We reflect on how NBA 2K’s journey has differed from that of NBA Live, and the way that journey has accounted for its continued quality, popularity, and financial success. At the same time, while NBA 2K’s success has ultimately been great for basketball gaming, there have been downsides to its dominance. We discuss where the game is headed, and name our favourite NBA 2K titles from the past decade.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on NBA 2K’s Decade of Dominance? 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.

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Wayback Wednesday: The PDA in NBA Live’s Dynasty Mode

PDA in NBA Live 2005's Dynasty Mode

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

I’m keen to see NBA Live flesh out its franchise mode experience again. Not only is it a necessity as far as delivering a well-rounded game, but I’ve spent many, many fond hours with Franchise and Dynasty modes in older NBA Live titles. NBA Live was the first basketball game with an in-depth multi-season mode, and it continued to expand through its revamp into Dynasty. NBA 2K has obviously taken the experience much further with Association, MyLEAGUE, and MyGM, but during NBA Live’s strong run back in the mid 2000s, many of us were really enjoying Dynasty’s advancements.

Of course, not every new idea was a good one. The revamp into Dynasty mode took away the ability to control more than one team, and some of the staff development mechanics over the years have felt more video game than sim. However, perhaps the most problematic and annoying feature was the PDA, which made its debut in NBA Live 2005’s Dynasty mode. As with most other concepts that didn’t pan out, it did have some merit, but the drawbacks outnumbered or outweighed the benefits. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways to Improve MyCAREER in NBA 2K20

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five ways to improve MyCAREER in NBA 2K20.

MyCAREER remains the most popular mode in NBA 2K, both for the ability to live the life of an NBA player, and participate in online multiplayer gaming through the connected experiences of 2K Pro-Am and The Playground. It has achieved popularity through being a deep and robust mode, and innovations such as detailed stories. While its implementation of VC has at times been controversial due to the way it encourages microtransactions, it’s contributed greatly to the recurrent revenue model despite some vocal grumbling from gamers. Overall, it’s been a huge success for NBA 2K.

Nevertheless, both the offline and online aspects of MyCAREER still have room for improvement. I’ve enjoyed the experiences they offer despite traditionally being a franchise gamer, and found myself getting drawn back into MyCAREER in NBA 2K19 despite feeling that this may be the year to take a break. Having played the mode extensively over the past few years, I have a few thoughts on how it could provide an even better experience for basketball gamers. From the handling of the story and goodwill, to game balance and better functionality, here are five ways that NBA 2K20 could make an already great mode even better.

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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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The Friday Five: 5 Ways to Improve Franchise in NBA Live 20

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 ways to improve Franchise mode in NBA Live 20.

Our Wishlists for NBA Live 20 and NBA 2K20 have been submitted, but as we await another preview season, I feel like talking about my hopes for the upcoming titles. I’m beginning with NBA Live 20, as it needs to be a big year for the long-running hoops series from EA Sports. NBA Live 18 and NBA Live 19 have been EA’s best efforts in quite some time, but there’s plenty of room for improvement. A recurring complaint that I’ve seen is that there isn’t enough focus on the NBA in NBA Live, and that’s a sentiment that I share. One way to address that is to give more attention to Franchise.

The counterargument I’ve seen to that suggestion is that Franchise is old hat for old heads, and that no one cares about it. Considering the fact that us old heads do care about it, and that younger basketball gamers have also expressed their frustration with the lack of depth to Franchise, it’s ridiculous to suggest that no one cares, and that it’s unimportant. NBA Live must provide deep, engaging experiences across the board, and with The One and its connected modes already quite robust, it’s time that a few enhancements were made to Franchise. As a long-time franchise mode enthusiast, I believe that focusing on these five key aspects will help achieve that goal.

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Monday Tip-Off: Online vs. Offline in Basketball Gaming

Playing online in LIVE Run (NBA Live 19)

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 divide between online and offline enthusiasts within the basketball gaming community, and how it’s affecting the development of hoops titles.

By definition, fanatics are not always logical, with measured, reasonable opinions. It’s a rare fanbase that doesn’t have some sort of schism, if not a multitude of factions that hold differing opinions. I touched on one such example in last week’s feature, noting that there’s often dissonance when it comes to younger gamers, and those who have been playing basketball games for a long time (in some cases, more than a couple of decades). There are a lot of things that most basketball gamers want and can agree on, but also some very different ideas about features, identity, and overall direction.

The most noticeable schism within the basketball gaming community would have to be between online and offline gamers. The rise of online gaming in general, and the expansion of multiplayer modes in basketball games specifically, has led to a faction of hoops gamers who play exclusively online, with little interest in the offline modes. At the same time, there are a lot of gamers who prefer the single player experience. In the middle of the Venn diagram are gamers who play both online and offline to some extent, sitting in the crossfire of two passionate factions who are not only taking shots at developers, but also each other. Unfortunately, it makes us a hard group to please.

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Monday Tip-Off: What Actually Ruins Basketball Video Games?

Victor Oladipo 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 the matter of what actually ruins basketball video games, and what are really more minor gripes.

Having been a part of the online basketball gaming community for over twenty years and admin of the NLSC for going on eighteen, I’ve both seen and taken part in some spirited discussions about the hobby. Our conversations about basketball video games have run the gamut from excitedly positive to furiously negative, depending on the issue and the quality of any given title. Given that we all have different tastes and expectations of basketball video games, our opinions will differ when it comes what will ruin our experience on the virtual hardwood. That’s fine, and to be encouraged!

Of course, it’s easy to exaggerate, especially when a pet peeve is involved. I recall one Forum member fuming over the use of the word “City” on the team statistics menu in NBA Live 2001. As they correctly pointed out, teams such as the Warriors, Jazz, and Pacers all take their names from their state rather than their city, making that label inaccurate. It’s a valid point, but a minor detail that was correct for most of the teams, and a criticism that paled in comparison with other issues in NBA Live 2001. Such issues are worth pointing out, but as we compile our Wishlists, it’s important that we prioritise problems that can ruin basketball video games, ahead of minor annoyances.

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The Friday Five: 5 Stages of Playing Through a Season

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 lists the five stages of playing through a season in any basketball video game mode.

As I write this, I’m approaching the end of the regular season in my MyCAREER game in NBA 2K19. Once again, not a bad effort for someone who was supposedly burned out on career modes! Having sufficiently levelled up my player for the online experiences, I am in a position where I can take a break from MyCAREER, but I also feel compelled to at least play through to the end of the first season. After all, I’m potentially less than thirty games away from cleaning up in the regular season awards, and leading the Chicago Bulls to another (virtual) championship.

I’ve played through at least one full season in multiple basketball games, including NBA Live 2004, NBA Live 06, NBA 2K13, and NBA 2K17. There’s definitely a sense of accomplishment in doing so, and if you’re really into the game, then the season does go by much quicker. It still takes some time though – especially if you’re playing twelve minute quarters – and there are undoubtedly moments where you must push yourself to complete the journey, particularly if you aren’t simulating any games. You’ll probably end up experiencing the five stages of playing through a season: a list that I’m making up, but one that I believe will resonate with many basketball gamers.

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The Friday Five: 5 Teams to Play With in NBA Live 19 & NBA 2K19

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 teams that rank among the most appealing to play with in NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19.

A new season is upon us! If you’ve been holding off on starting your main Franchise, MyLEAGUE, or MyGM game until opening night rosters are finalised, the time has come. Many of you probably have the perfect team in mind already, but if you’re like me, you may be mulling over a few possibilities. One of the most frustrating moments you can have in basketball gaming is to get about ten games into a franchise game, and realise that you don’t enjoy playing with the team you selected. That’s not too far in to start over, but it’s better to pick a suitable team the first time around if possible.

So, who to pick? I’m sure that the Golden State Warriors will be a popular choice once again, especially online. Their new starting lineup of five All-Stars – at least once DeMarcus Cousins is healthy again – will be quite a quintet to run with. They are a little cheap on the virtual hardwood though, and a stacked team isn’t to everyone’s liking when it comes to franchise modes. A few teams have shaken up their rosters and made big acquisitions this offseason, and while it remains to be seen how well they’ll fare in real life, they should be a lot of fun to guide to victory in NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19. Here are five teams to consider this year.

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