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

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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.

NBA 2K21 Next Gen Gameplay Blog #3 Talks MyPLAYER & AI

NBA 2K21 Next Gen Gameplay Blog #3

The third NBA 2K21 Next Gen gameplay blog has been posted. With the first blog covering fundamentals and the second blog covering movement and contact, the third and final gameplay blog discusses MyPLAYER builds and AI.

Some of the key points spotlighted in the blog include the new MyPLAYER Builder, which has done away with pie charts. There are also new Badges including a Mamba Mentality Badge, and 24 Takeover abilities. Several updates have also been made to the AI in the Next Gen version of NBA 2K21. The version of the blog posted on the official PlayStation website also mentions another PlayStation 5 exclusive, this time concerning MyTEAM.

As with the previous insights, I recommend reading the third NBA 2K21 Next Gen gameplay blog for the full scoop. However, you can check out my summary of the key points below. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, and join in the discussion taking place here in the Forum!

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways I’ve Changed MyCAREER Habits

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 ways that I’ve changed my habits when it comes to MyCAREER.

Today’s my birthday, and for those who are interested, I’ve turned 36. Yes, I was just a couple of months shy of turning 17 when I took over the NLSC in August 2001; time sure has flown! In that time, I’d like to think I’ve grown, matured, and gained a new perspective. Of course, there are some people who might say that running a site dedicated to video games at the age of 36 isn’t a sign of maturity, but hey, let’s leave the cynicism to Next Gen! I say that as long as you keep things in perspective and take care of your responsibilities, video games are a perfectly acceptable adult hobby.

Of course, as I’ve grown older and basketball games have evolved, so too have my tastes. As I’ve mentioned before, I always considered myself a franchise gamer, as I became a huge fan of those modes once they were introduced in the late 90s/early 2000s. Over the past decade however, I’ve spent more time with career modes and their connected online experiences. Mind you, the way I play MyCAREER has also changed from when I first got hooked on the mode back in NBA 2K13. Some habits have been influenced by the changes in recent titles, while others could probably be attributed to me getting older, grumpier, and less patient. Here are five examples!

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Monday Tip-Off: Thoughts on Skill-Based Matchmaking

Monday Tip-Off: Thoughts on Skill-Based Matchmaking

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 skill-based matchmaking.

Did you know that the concept of skill-based matchmaking, commonly abbreviated to SBMM, is controversial? I’ll admit that I was surprised at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense; especially given my experiences playing NBA 2K online. As the name implies, skill-based matchmaking is a system for matching both teammates and opponents in online play according to their abilities. The criteria and algorithms for this vary from game to game, but are generally based on winning percentage, ranking or reputation systems, and other statistics relevant to the genre.

Sounds like a good idea, right; the kind of proper matchmaking that we’d expect to see in a basketball game like NBA 2K, with all of its connected experiences? Well, you would think so, but not everyone is a fan of skill-based matchmaking. This disdain stretches beyond NBA 2K and the basketball gaming community, but the basic reasoning behind gamers’ objections to the concept remains the same. Frankly, this is unfortunate. SBMM is indeed a good idea, and would undoubtedly clean up the online scene in NBA 2K by reducing the toxicity and sense of gatekeeping. I’d like to explore why it’s necessary, and also examine the controversy surrounding SBMM.

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NBA 2K21 Demo Available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, & Switch

NBA 2K21 Demo Released

The Current Gen NBA 2K21 Demo is now available to download for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. As previously noted, there will be no demo released on PC. It will however be receiving the same full version of the game on September 4th.

This year’s demo once again features the MyPLAYER Builder, giving us the ability to test out different builds for MyCAREER and its connected modes. It also allows us to shoot around in 2KU, and adjust to the new shooting and dribbling mechanics. The current Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers, and All-Time Lakers and Celtics, also provide a preview of 5v5 gameplay.

As was the case last year, your created build will carry over into the full version of NBA 2K21. Note however that there is a limit of five quick games in the demo, so you won’t be able to play it indefinitely before the full game is released. We can also only play one game with each MyPLAYER that we create in the builder. Like last year, it’s a very limited taste.

Got any thoughts on the NBA 2K21 Demo? Share them in the comments below, and join in the discussion here in the NLSC Forum!

Update: I originally reported that the Nintendo Switch did not receive the demo, which isn’t the case. Thanks to the official NBA 2K Reddit Twitter account for the correction!

The Friday Five: 5 Ways NBA 2K Online Is A Mess

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 outlines five reasons that the online scene in NBA 2K is a mess.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve discussed problems with the online experience in NBA 2K, and while I’d prefer not to harp on issues or be repetitive in my content, it’s also important to point out problems. This is particularly important when certain issues remain unresolved for several years running, leading to increased frustration for everyone, and an aspect of basketball gaming that isn’t nearly as good as it could and should be. Having spent more time playing NBA 2K online recent years, I’ve grown dismayed and disenchanted with the experience due to several recurring problems.

Frankly, NBA 2K online is a mess. It’s kind of bewildering, actually. With the launch of the NBA 2K League, the online scene is obviously being pushed as a big part of the game, and yet it’s never been weaker or less inviting. That’s not to say that it can’t be any fun at all. I won’t pretend that I haven’t had enjoyable sessions here and there, or that NBA 2K online doesn’t have anything to offer; at least on paper. The good news is that there are solutions that would clean up the mess that is online play in NBA 2K. The bad news is that many of the problems are persistent legacy issues, so it remains to be seen if they’ll ever be properly addressed in future games.

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The Friday Five: 5 Best NBA CAPs in NBA 2K20’s Neighborhood

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 of the best NBA CAPs I’ve seen in NBA 2K20’s Neighborhood.

Since the introduction of Park, 2K Pro-Am, and ultimately The Neighborhood, it’s been interesting to see what kind of players people create. I don’t mean their build or Archetype, though that’s obviously an interesting discussion as well. I’m talking about the appearance gamers choose for their MyPLAYERs. Whether it’s through the face scanning capabilities or expanded face creation tools, we’re invited to insert ourselves into the game. While a number of gamers do indeed choose to do this, it seems that many prefer to create an original avatar, or in some cases, run with an NBA lookalike.

I would suggest that most gamers choose custom faces and NBA CAPs for the same reason that I gave up on face scans: the functionality is cumbersome, buggy, and takes too long to inform you that a scan has failed. Even when a scan has been successful according to the app, the game will often inform you that there’s a problem, with the condescending error message “try again and play close attention to the instructions”; instructions, mind you, that along with any troubleshooting info, do not exist. It’s no wonder people prefer to role play as a goofy avatar, or as an NBA player. Some of the NBA CAPs are quite good, with these five ranking among the best I’ve seen so far.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Online Experience We’ll Never Have

Monday Tip-Off: The Online Experience We'll Never Have

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 online experience I’d love to see in NBA 2K, but we’re highly unlikely to ever have.

Aside from some admittedly fun sessions of 3v3 Pro-Am and jumping into The Rec after spinning double MyREP on the Prize Wheel, I’ve not been playing online in NBA 2K20. I’d been dabbling with a session or two in The Rec every so often, but in order to finally let MyCAREER go, I’ve focused on finishing my rookie season and generally avoided taking part in any of the connected experiences. Thanks to so many hit-or-miss sessions, I no longer have the same enthusiasm for the online experience that I once did. It’s made it much easier to abstain from those modes.

Even the satisfying runs in 3v3 Pro-Am had their annoyances. Despite playing well and even winning eight games in a single session, I somehow dropped from 99.9 to 99.4 Overall, spotlighting some of the major flaws with the MyREP and Overall Rating systems in NBA 2K20. Of course, the tendency to punish rather than reward is just one of the problems with the online experience in NBA 2K. It’s unfortunate, as online play in NBA 2K should be so much better than it is. From issues with lag and matchmaking to meta-gaming and what it takes to get there, I can’t help thinking about the online experience that NBA 2K should offer, but we’re unlikely to see.

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Monday Tip-Off: MyPLAYER in the Middle

Monday Tip-Off: MyPLAYER in the Middle

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a recap of my experiences playing MyCAREER in NBA 2K20 with a MyPLAYER that’s a centre rather than a point guard. As a side note, please be forewarned that I use the Australian spelling of “centre” throughout this article.

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

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

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Monday Tip-Off: 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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NBA 2K20 Demo, MyNBA2K20 App Now Available

NBA 2K20 Demo

The NBA 2K20 Demo has been released! As previously announced, it’s available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. The demo will not be available on Steam, but the PC version will have all the same features that are being previewed. Please note that 2K has advised that it may take up to an hour for it to download and install. If you don’t see the demo in your console’s store, try restarting.

This year’s demo allows gamers to get a head start with the new MyPLAYER Builder. It provides an opportunity to check out the preset builds, as well as all the tools for creating a custom Archetype. We’re also able to test out our MyPLAYER’s potential, and see how they will perform at different levels of Overall Ratings.

The MyNBA2K20 companion app, featuring the Golden State Warriors’ D’Angelo Russell as its cover player, is also available for Android and iOS devices. Now that the demo has been released, it can be used to scan your face for use with your MyPLAYER. It also includes the usual Card Battle mode, and methods of earning VC in the full version of NBA 2K20 once it’s released.

What are your thoughts on the NBA 2K20 Demo? Have your say in the comments section below, as well as join in the discussion here in the NLSC Forum!