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Monday Tip-Off: The State of Official Rosters

Monday Tip-Off: The State of Official Rosters

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 state of official rosters in basketball games, particularly NBA 2K.

No matter whether you’re a developer working on the official rosters or a gamer who’s making unofficial updates for the community, it can often be a thankless job. There’s no chance of pleasing everyone when it comes to player ratings, especially given the overinflated importance that Overall Ratings are often ascribed. With over 400 active players along with historical content, it’s very easy to overlook a detail here and there, no matter how meticulous you are. I’m not sure that I’ve ever released a roster for NBA Live PC that didn’t have at least one small oversight.

The feedback that you’ll receive as a roster maker in the community, or indeed as the developer in charge of handling the official rosters, isn’t always constructive or very pleasant. We’re quick to sneer at a perceived bias or lack of knowledge, forgetting that we’re all prone to the same biases and knowledge gaps, to say nothing of human error. At the same time, we’re slow to give credit where it’s due. With that being said, there are some troubling trends when it comes to the official rosters in modern games, in particular NBA 2K. Without meaning to be insulting or self-righteous, it doesn’t feel like the rosters in recent titles have the same level of authenticity as they once did.

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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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The Friday Five: 5 Keys to a “No Money Spent” Experience

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 tips that are the key to having a “No Money Spent” experience in NBA 2K.

Microtransactions remain a controversial issue in NBA 2K, and Triple-A gaming as a whole. Although they are technically optional, there’s no denying that 2K’s recurrent revenue mechanics are implemented in a way that does all they can to push gamers towards spending real money on Virtual Currency. Gamers who spend level up quicker and end up with better cards sooner, and in turn, they set the competitive balance in online play. Even if you stick to the offline modes, opting for the No Money Spent approach ensures a lengthy grind, year after year.

Of course, for those of us who don’t want to support the recurrent revenue business model and spend additional money on a game that’ll be outmoded in a year, finding a way to beat the system is a point of pride. There’s great satisfaction to be had in enjoying a game without having to shell out cash in order to level up efficiently, or access some of its best content. Once again though, NBA 2K is subtly (and not-so-subtly) trying to push us towards spending at every turn, so the No Money Spent approach takes a few tricks, discipline, and a willingness to work the system. To that end, here are five keys to getting the most out of a No Money Spent experience.

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Wayback Wednesday: A Key Mistake in NBA 2K9 PC

Wayback Wednesday: A Key Mistake in NBA 2K9 PC

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 issue with missing keys in NBA 2K9 PC.

Hopefully, I’m not the only person around these parts with an appreciation for old school adventure games from Sierra and LucasArts. Those two companies took a very different approach to the genre. While LucasArts adopted the stance of avoiding game over situations (and thereby encouraging gamers to freely experiment), Sierra’s games could be brutal in the way they punished you for trying the wrong thing or missing a detail. If you forgot to pick up a key very early on in the game, you might find that it’s unobtainable much later on, resulting in an unwinnable state. Save early, and often!

Yes, I’m going on a very long journey for an analogy; you might say, almost as far as Guybrush Threepwood travelled by rowboat around the titular location in The Secret of Monkey Island! The point is that you never want to get stuck without a required key, and unfortunately, that’s what happened to a lot of gamers who picked up the PC version of NBA 2K9. With that nostalgic and self-indulgent metaphor out of the way, let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Imperfections Don’t Need Imperfect Solutions

Monday Tip-Off: Imperfections Don't Need Imperfect Solutions

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 simple but important message: imperfections in basketball games don’t need imperfect solutions.

There’s a running gag when it comes to Bethesda’s Fallout games: “it just works”. This sarcastic jab at bugs and other imperfections in the series is a reference to Executive Producer Todd Howard’s declaration that Fallout 4’s “dynamic game engine” would ensure that everything about it “just works”. And, to be fair, while I didn’t enjoy Fallout 4 as much as I did Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas, the game does indeed work. Does everything work as well as it should? Not exactly, and that’s why Todd Howard’s utterance of those words has become a meme.

In all fairness to Todd Howard and Bethesda though, they’re not alone in that regard. To be completely fair to the Triple-A gaming industry at large, achieving perfection is easier said than done, and the scope of their products is going to result in issues such as bugs and oversights. As gamers, consumers, whatever we want to call ourselves, we do understand that. However, some things are just poorly planned, designed, and implemented. Although we do criticise these issues and suggest solutions, I’ve also seen many gamers defend these imperfections. Not because of the difficulty of game design, mind you, but the notion that imperfect solutions cancel out valid complaints.

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NBA 2K Developers Taking Roles At EA Sports

NBA 2K Developers Taking Roles At EA Sports

I’ve always been a bit leery about reporting on personnel moves at EA Sports and Visual Concepts, but today has brought some significant news regarding two now-former NBA 2K developers. Gameplay producer Scott O’Gallagher and senior producer Rob Jones have taken their talents to EA Sports, in as yet unannounced roles.

OG Tweeted out a short clip revealing his move, and his Twitter bio has been updated to include the title Creative Director at EA Sports. Presumably he’ll be working on NBA Live, but that hasn’t been officially confirmed. As reported by Operation Sports, Jones took on a senior producer role at EA three months ago, and has recently updated his Twitter handle to remove references to 2K.

Once again, presumably the former NBA 2K developers will now be working on NBA Live, which is set to miss its second straight season. Rob Jones was a long-time member of the NBA 2K team, while Scott O’Gallagher joined the team for NBA 2K15, after previously working for EA Sports on NBA Live 14. It would seem unusual to bring them in to work on other franchises, though again, there’s been no official word on their roles at EA.

If we’re to assume they’ve been brought in to work on NBA Live, then that’s certainly promising news. It suggests that NBA Live is far from permanently canned, and that EA are looking to invest in its future by rebuilding the development team with people who had prominent roles with the highly successful NBA 2K series. There’s not much else to go on right now, but if any further developments present themselves, we’ll be sure to cover them in due course. In any case, congratulations to Scott and Rob on their new gigs! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, and join in the discussion here in the Forum.

Monday Tip-Off: How Recent Should Retro Teams Be?

Monday Tip-Off: How Recent Should Retro Teams Be?

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 recent the retro teams in NBA 2K should be.

As we speed towards the release of NBA 2K21 Current Gen, we’re receiving the final tidbits about this year’s game. On that note, the official NBA 2K Twitter announced the inclusion of two new classic teams – the 2017 Toronto Raptors and 2019 Golden State Warriors – in NBA 2K21. As I noted in my bulletin, this follows on from the addition of six retro teams in NBA 2K20, along with the return of the All-Decade squads. While we haven’t had a dedicated retro challenge mode outside of MyTEAM since NBA’s Greatest in NBA 2K12, the games continue to add throwback content.

And yet, there’s something a tad unsatisfying about the announcement of those two teams. As former champions with some big names in their lineups, they’re obvious choices to join the ranks of classic squads. At the same time, they are very recent teams. Given the odd situation that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed the NBA in, the 2019 Raptors are being added as a classic team before they’ve even been officially dethroned as the reigning champs. It isn’t the first time that a new retro team in NBA 2K has felt a bit too recent to truly be considered “retro” or “classic”, which therefore raises the question: how recent is too recent when it comes to retro teams?

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The Friday Five: 5 Unexpected Jerseys Included in Games

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 jerseys that we didn’t expect to see included among the selection in basketball video games.

We’ve grown accustomed to a wide selection of alternate and retro jerseys to choose from in basketball video games. This wasn’t always the case, however. It wasn’t until NBA Live 2003 that EA Sports’ long-running series added both the ability to select jerseys in-game, and a single retro uniform for every team. Over the years, more and more jerseys were added, though they were briefly removed when the series made the jump to seventh generation. NBA 2K has also come to feature a wide selection of jerseys, with NBA 2K20 including just about every major jersey each team has worn.

However, not only have there been some noteworthy omissions over the years, we’ve also seen some unexpected uniforms make the cut. The context that makes a uniform an unexpected inclusion varies from example to example, but suffice to say, we’ve sometimes been left surprised upon scrolling through all of the options on the jersey selection screen. In some cases, rare and even fictional jerseys have found their way into the game, increasing our choices and letting us hold our own theme nights in the various franchise modes. Looking back, I would suggest that these five rank amongst the most unexpected jerseys to have been featured on the virtual hardwood.

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Monday Tip-Off: That One Change Every Year

Monday Tip-Off: That One Change Every Year

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 every year, there seems to be at least one change in basketball video games that many of us dislike.

It’s fair to say that we want to see change in basketball video games year-to-year; for the better, ideally! As much as we criticise the parts of games we don’t like, we have seen quite a few positive changes that have improved the overall on-court experience. Basketball games have come a long way, and it’s clear that some of our feedback has been taken into consideration by the developers. It always comes as welcome news when a major frustration is addressed in a new game, and the new approach allows us to enjoy it a lot more than its predecessor.

And then, there are the changes we don’t want to see. Everything was fine and the way we liked it, and suddenly, it’s drastically different. Sometimes it’s a matter of getting used to the change, but other times, it’s a pointless switch from something that was working and didn’t need to be touched. Whether it’s a major gameplay mechanic, a menu option, or something content-related, it’s a rare game that doesn’t have at least one noticeable change that won’t sit well with many of us. It may not completely ruin a game, and it may not be important to absolutely everyone, but it’s significant enough for a number of us to be bothered by the difference to the previous year’s release.

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Monday Tip-Off: Influencers on the Virtual Hardwood

Monday Tip-Off: Influencers on the Virtual Hardwood

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 influencers in the basketball gaming community, and the influence they wield on the virtual hardwood.

If you take part in basketball gaming Twitter, you’ll recall that not too long ago, Flight publicly rebuffed overtures from Ronnie 2K to be brought into the fold as one of the “official” influencers for NBA 2K. I won’t go into the whole history of everything that happened between Flight and Ronnie, in part because it’s not really my brand, but also because there are others that can tell the story in more detail. The tl;dr version is that Ronnie publicly blackballed Flight from getting a logo, calling him a “bully” over some of his remarks. He’s since changed his tune, but for Flight it’s little, too late.

Look, while I can appreciate brands and digital marketers picking and choosing who they want to work with, and find it understandable if they’re hesitant to collaborate with someone when there’s been some friction, I really have to commend Flight in this situation. The exposure and other perks influencers gain from having agreements with 2K would be tough for most people to turn down; even if it does mean giving up some autonomy in your content. To rebuff Ronnie’s offer that came now that his audience makes him too appealing to blackball shows guts and integrity on Flight’s part. It’s an example that all influencers in the basketball gaming community should follow.

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NLSC Podcast #332: The Measure of a Sim Gamer

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #332 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

Many of us consider ourselves to be sim gamers, but what does that mean exactly? We discuss what makes a sim gamer “sim”, and the different approaches we can take with that style of play. We’ve also got plenty of suggestions for additional retro teams for NBA 2K, and share some of our favourites that we’d most like to see. The word of the week here is “esoteric”! Speaking of suggestions, we also have some ideas for new and revamped game modes. From an offline retro challenge mode to a concept like Quick Pick Play, and even tournament and road trip modes, there are still ways that NBA Live and NBA 2K can offer gamers even more content to sink their teeth into.

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 Friday Five: 5 Mods That Might Make a Comeback

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 mods that might just be making a comeback.

It’s funny how modding trends have changed over the years. I remember the days when we were very limited in what we could do with the early NBA Live games, but still made the most of the tools at our disposal. By the end of NBA Live’s run on PC, we’d created a wide variety of impressive projects as a community. When we took up NBA 2K modding after the series arrived on PC, we found ourselves back at square one for a time. Fortunately, new tools were made, new techniques were discovered, and great works have followed, spanning two generations of PC ports.

There are some mods that we don’t see as much of anymore, for various reasons. Times change, tastes change, and certain things are either no longer possible, or not as easy as they used to be. With that said, as times change, some things end up coming back into style. What’s old is new again, as the saying goes, and I believe there are some mods that might end up making a comeback in the near future. Perhaps I’m wide of the mark on these predictions; I may be putting too much stock into some recent releases, or I may be projecting because I find these ideas intriguing. All the same, I’d like to put the ideas out there. If these mods do make a comeback, so much the better!

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Monday Tip-Off: The Changing Face of NBA 2K

Monday Tip-Off: The Changing Face of NBA 2K

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on the changing face and identity of the NBA 2K series in recent years.

Back in early May, I noticed a Tweet from Brian Mazique, in which he responded to the suggestion that NBA Live should be free to play as a way to win people back as they try to return to prominence. He described NBA Live as being irrelevant, noting that when it comes to NBA 2K, Visual Concepts and Take-Two are looking at games like Fortnite and Call of Duty as the competition and sources of ideas for engagement. It may sound harsh, and there are a lot of people who want to see NBA Live succeed and would be willing to make the switch if it did, but it’s an apt statement.

In fact, it’s apt on two counts. Gaining relevance and market share is obviously one of the challenges facing NBA Live, and that’s something I’ve previously discussed here in Monday Tip-Off. However, Brian is also quite right that with NBA 2K becoming a fixture in pop culture, and in some ways transcending its genre, its peers are popular games like Fortnite and the Call of Duty series. That’s a great position for NBA 2K to be in, but it’s also a troubling one for enthusiastic hoop heads. To state the obvious, those games are not basketball titles, whereas NBA 2K is. Competing with and borrowing from those games has resulted in a changing face and identity for NBA 2K.

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Monday Tip-Off: Can NBA Live Be Relevant Again?

Monday Tip-Off: Can NBA Live Be Relevant Again?

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off by pondering the question: can NBA Live be relevant again?

As a long-time basketball gamer that grew up with NBA Live, it gives me no joy to dump on the franchise. I believe that there are content creators out there who delight at the series’ struggles and subsequently ripping into it, but I’m certainly not one of them. For all the great things that NBA 2K has done, the slips in quality here and there, and of course the increased focus on microtransactions, demonstrate why it’s important to have choice and competition in the basketball gaming space. Some say NBA Live should just pack it in, but frankly, we need it, and we need it to succeed.

Unfortunately, that’s much easier said than done. NBA Live has struggled to get to where it needs to be over the past decade. Again, it brings me no joy to say that, nor do I relish pointing out that not only has its quality suffered, but so has its relevance. Indeed, a friend of mine who isn’t really into basketball, but picked up NBA 2K20 on special after watching The Last Dance, mentioned he was surprised that EA Sports doesn’t have a new basketball game out. It’s not surprising that someone who isn’t into the scene doesn’t know the full story behind the fall of NBA Live, but nevertheless, it speaks volumes about its relevance today. The question is: can EA change that?

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March Modness 2020 Giveaway Winner: DaCrispy

NLSC March Modness

Please join me in congratulating the winner of the March Modness 2020 giveaway draw: DaCrispy! He joins last year’s winner Pep, and winner of our inaugural March Modness giveaway back in 2018, TGsoGood.

As it appears that there will not be an NBA Live 21 after all, DaCrispy has won a copy of NBA 2K21 by default. He’ll also receive an NLSC t-shirt, courtesy of Arcane Team Apparel.

A big thanks as always to everyone who entered this year’s contest, and continues to share their mods with our community. Don’t forget that we offer free and permanent file hosting for the modding community, in order to preserve these great releases for years to come. For more information about adding files to our Downloads database, check out this tutorial!