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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 City Revealed for MyCAREER in NBA 2K21 Next Gen

The City Announced for NBA 2K21 Next Gen

Following on from previous hints that The Neighborhood would be done away with in NBA 2K21 Next Gen, the latest developer blog has revealed that The City will be the new hub in MyCAREER. Suffice to say, it expands upon the previous concept in a big way, with a significantly larger map.

Park Affiliations are back, with the North Side Knights, South City Vipers, Beasts of the East, and Western Wildcats representing the four boroughs of The City. Each borough has a Mayor, which will be an influencer from the community. New stores have been added, along with a Black Mamba Court, expanded Gatorade Gym, and the brand new Event Center. All gamers will get a free skateboard, and there will be plenty to interact with, including NPCs that give out “quests”.

I’ve summarised the blog below, but for the full scoop, be sure to give it a read. A trailer has been released, which you can also watch below. Got any thoughts? Add them in the comments, or join in the discussion here in the Forum!

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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.

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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NBA 2K21 Patch 1.03 Released; Combined Patch on PC

NBA 2K21 Patch 1.03

Patch 1.03 is now available for NBA 2K21 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. As always, it should come through automatically as long as your PC or console is connected to the Internet. If you run into any issues, try restarting your Steam client or console, or checking for updates manually.

The PC patch is a combined update, as the previous patch hadn’t yet come through. Checking the patch notes for both title updates, the PC version definitely includes all of them. This obviously comes as great news, as it means the PC version isn’t a patch behind. Hopefully there won’t be too many similar delays moving forward.

In addition to the usual technical fixes across various game modes, NBA 2K21 Patch 1.03 lowers the ballhandling requirement for Pro level dribble moves, assigns Park dribbles to a click of the left stick (L3), increases the size of the shot meter, boosts ankle breakers, improves defensive movement, and addresses a Pro Stick exploit (but not the modded controller issue). It also adds a new page to player cards in MyTEAM indicating upgradeable Badges, improves Ball Drop physics, and updates the brackets in Playoffs mode.

Please see below for the full notes for NBA 2K21 Patch 1.03. Feel free to share your impressions in the comments, as well as join in the discussion here in the Forum. You can also find a complete update history for NBA 2K21 here in our Wiki.

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Monday Tip-Off: Do We Need Those Stinking Badges?

Monday Tip-Off: Do We Need Those Stinking Badges?

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 whether NBA 2K’s MyCAREER and its connected modes are too reliant on Badges, and their general implementation.

Sim games have long sought to properly differentiate between players, beginning with detailed ratings. Those base attributes alone haven’t always been sufficient though, and so developers have experimented with mechanics such as Freestyle Superstars in NBA Live, and Signature Skills in NBA 2K. Signature Skills have given way to Badges, which like their predecessors, grant boosts and represent special abilities that the standard ratings can’t account for. As with Signature Skills, or the similar Traits system in NBA Live, they’re available to real players and career mode avatars alike.

These days, Badges are probably more important than ratings/attributes. You can max out a player’s ratings in a certain area, but it takes the effects of a Badge to ensure that they’re sufficiently levelled up. On one hand, this does make the exceptionally skilled stand out from the very good, much as Freestyle Superstars in NBA Live once aimed to achieve. On the other hand, it also means that high ratings – which are theoretically only given to the best real players, and take a long time to grind for our MyPLAYERs – are far less powerful than they should be, if they aren’t paired with the various boosts afforded by Badges. Given these issues, do we need those stinking Badges?

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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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Monday Tip-Off: The Decline of MyCAREER Offline

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 decline of MyCAREER offline, and its effect on the career experience in NBA 2K.

MyCAREER has been my main mode of choice since I was drawn to it back in NBA 2K13. As I’ve mentioned on many occasions, I’ve felt a desire to return to my roots as a franchise gamer – especially given the depth currently on offer in MyLEAGUE – and have also spent time with MyTEAM, as well as Ultimate Team in NBA Live over the past generation. However, MyCAREER has been difficult to quit, particularly as I’ve grown to appreciate the online scene through 2K Pro-Am. The connected experience offers several benefits, but it’s also contributed to the decline of MyCAREER offline.

I was originally going to cover this in a Friday Five article which would’ve been titled “5 Ways Offline MyCAREER Is Worse”, but I decided that the list format wouldn’t do the issue justice. One of the major reasons for my change of heart and mind is that I stumbled across this Reddit post from about five months back, outlining the way that MyCAREER offline has been downgraded over the years. It was well-researched, and I must credit it here as a source of information for the specific changes I’ve noted. Its title was apt, too. It’s a matter that doesn’t receive nearly enough attention, and I’d like to rectify that by covering it today, while also considering some possible solutions.

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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 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: A New Big Man on Campus

Monday Tip-Off: A New Big Man on Campus

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 as a big man in The Rec, after years of assuming the role of a playmaking point guard.

I documented my experiences trying out a big man build that was similar to the way I played in my local league as a teenager many years ago, in a previous article that I titled MyPLAYER in the Middle. As I noted in that feature, playing as a big man after years of MyCAREER games as a point guard felt very strange and quite frustrating at times. It was, as you would expect, a major adjustment with such a drastic change in role, to say nothing of going back to being a 60 Overall after maxing out my point guard build at 99.9 Overall. At the same time, it was an interesting experience.

Of course, playing online is a whole different brand of virtual basketball, and I was curious to see how it compared to my experiences as a point guard. I’ve often heard that it’s easier to get games in The Rec as a big man, as they tend to be in higher demand due to a majority of gamers opting for point guard and wing builds. Having played several Rec games with guard-heavy squads, and sometimes struggling to get games because of people quitting to avoid that scenario, I was hopeful that that would hold true for my alternate build. As far as the quality of the on-court experience was concerned…well, I figured The Rec would always be The Rec, but it was worth a try.

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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: Trying to Quit MyCAREER

Monday Tip-Off: Trying to Quit MyCAREER

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with some reflections on how I’ve tried (and failed) to quit MyCAREER this year.

I’m having a problem in NBA 2K20: I can’t quit MyCAREER. I mean, I can exit the mode. I can find the menu option just fine and there’s no bug that’s preventing it from working as intended. No, I’m having trouble leaving the mode alone. I was all ready to quit this year. I reached the Hall of Fame in NBA 2K19, and felt closure. I felt the lure of MyLEAGUE and MyTEAM. Yes, I’ve set up a MyLEAGUE that I’d like to get stuck into at some point. Yes, I’ve played quite a bit of MyTEAM this year, and built a decent lineup without spending any money.

And yet, I haven’t let MyCAREER go as I intended to do. I tried out the new Player Builder in the demo, played through the story so that I could see what it’s like this year, and gave online a try. I thought that would be enough, but I kept getting drawn back in. I’ve played past the All-Star Weekend, and am just about at the point where the real 2020 season shut down. I’ve maxed out all my ratings and Badges, and am at the point where I can level up to 99 Overall with consistently great performances. My player is viable for online play, even if online play isn’t always viable. I’ve put quality time into MyCAREER…and I want to quit.

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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: 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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