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Monday Tip-Off: Annual Rituals & Goals in NBA 2K

Monday Tip-Off: Annual Rituals & Goals in 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 reflections on my annual rituals and goals in NBA 2K games.

I buy NBA 2K every year. In fact, throughout this past generation, I’ve double-dipped with copies for PC (for mods) and PlayStation 4 (for online play). I suppose that makes me a part of the problem as far as supporting the game despite having gripes with it, but in my defense, I’m both a collector and a content creator. Without at least one copy of the game, it’s difficult to provide coverage post-release. I know this all too well, having covered NCAA Basketball 10 throughout its preview season, and then not at all afterwards because I couldn’t import the game (I since have for PS3).

It’s also my aim to enjoy the game every year, and with the NBA Live series being rather underwhelming or completely absent from the basketball gaming space for much of the past decade, I’ve been getting my virtual hoops fix from NBA 2K. As such, there are a few rituals I engage in, and goals that I strive for, in each new NBA 2K title. In some respects, it’s probably made it difficult to break some of the habits I’ve formed, especially in MyCAREER. On the other hand, it always provides me with some baseline goals from which I can derive a sense of accomplishment, as well as completion. If I manage to attain these goals, I feel like I’ve got my money’s worth.

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The NLSC Team Officially Welcomes Dee4Three

The NLSC Team Officially Welcomes Dee4Three

Please join me in officially welcoming Derek, aka Dee4Three, to the NLSC Team! Derek has been co-hosting the NLSC Podcast with me for a little over a year now, on top of being a valued contributor in our modding community, and long-time passionate basketball gamer.

In addition to chatting about basketball gaming with me on the podcast, you can look forward to more great content from Derek in the not-too-distant future. He’s currently working on V3 of the Ultimate Classic Teams Roster for NBA 2K17 PC, and some converted faces for other retro roster projects. He will also generally be a part of our coverage of, and commentary on, the virtual hardwood. Derek will also be helping out with some moderating in the NLSC Forum, and of course, he has already provided some very useful modding tutorials.

I hope that you’ll all give Derek a warm welcome, and the opportunity to grow in his new role as a member of the NLSC Team. It’s been a pleasure to have Derek as part of the NLSC Podcast for the past year, and I’m really looking forward to collaborating with him on future content and projects. You can follow him on Twitter @Dee4Three84, and also find him on YouTube.

The Friday Five: 5 Ways to Spot a Shill

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 provides a guide to spotting a shill in the basketball gaming community.

Contrary to what some people might think, I don’t relish writing critical articles. It’s something that I like to balance, because I believe that we should enjoy and celebrate basketball gaming. After all, my motto for the NLSC is fans, not fanboys; critics, not haters. However, it’s also important to point out issues with the games, as well as our community, and the wider basketball gaming community in general. It’s vital that we stand up for ourselves as consumers, which means not remaining silent when there are problems, or defending bad practices. In short, it means not being a shill.

Now, what’s the difference – if any – between a fanboy and a shill? There’s obviously a large amount of overlap between the two, but I would say that a shill tends to take things much further. They also tend to be louder voices in the community, wielding some level of influence, and enjoying certain perks as a result. Fanboys contribute to very frustrating discussions and muddy our attempts to provide constructive feedback, but a shill shuts down the conversation, and throws their fellow gamers under the bus. The shills aren’t going anywhere, but if you know how to spot them, you can at least take their words with the scepticism that they deserve. These are the tell-tale signs.

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The Friday Five: 5 Amusing Graphical Glitches

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 amusing graphical glitches found in various basketball games.

Generally speaking, nothing spoils a game quite like glitches. In the worst case scenario, glitches impede progress and render games unwinnable, or perhaps corrupt save data. They can be advantageous to exploit, yet frustrating if you’re not the one benefiting from them. Graphical glitches tend to be ranked much lower on the scale of annoying bugs and gameplay quirks, though they can still detract from the atmosphere in a title that’s aiming for stunning, realistic graphics. If nothing else, they don’t represent a game at its visual best.

Of course, graphical glitches in particular can be very amusing, and few games are immune to them. Basketball games are no exception, and over the years, various hoops titles have included some funny graphical glitches. To the developers’ credit, some of them are only noticeable in instant replay, where it’s possible to advance frame by frame and really scrutinise the animations. Graphical glitches from the early days of basketball gaming are obviously the result of primitive technology, but are nevertheless good for a laugh. With that in mind, here are five graphical glitches from an assortment of games that I hope you’ll also find amusing.

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Monday Tip-Off: How We Really Feel About VC

Monday Tip-Off: How We Really Feel About VC

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 how the community really feels about VC in NBA 2K.

Back in October, I posted a poll on Twitter and in the NLSC Forum, asking a two-part question about Virtual Currency. The question I posed to my fellow basketball gamers was whether they had ever bought VC, and if so, did they buy it regularly and readily. I was interested to see the results, because the community’s thoughts on VC aren’t always as obvious as you might think. While it would likely be a very small minority that would argue that NBA 2K needs to have microtransactions, not all basketball gamers are completely against them.

As such, the matter of how we feel about VC isn’t open and shut. When you look at the poll numbers and opinions that people have offered up on the subject, it’s fair to say that the consensus is that we’re not fans of microtransactions and NBA 2K’s general approach with its freemium-like in-game economy. At the same time, being against the practice doesn’t mean that people don’t partake in it. Likewise, partaking in buying VC – at least somewhat willingly – doesn’t mean that someone necessarily disagrees with the criticism. Throw in staunch opposition and general apathy, and the question of how we feel about VC doesn’t always have an obvious answer.

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The Friday Five: 5 Things NBA Jam Doesn’t Get Enough Credit For

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 things that NBA Jam doesn’t get enough credit for.

Following on from my articles about the things that NBA Live and NBA 2K don’t get enough credit for, this week I’m giving NBA Jam the same treatment. As with NBA 2K, that may seem strange as NBA Jam is still held in high regard and remembered quite fondly. When it comes to games from the 90s, NBA Live’s image has easily suffered more, due to its struggles dating back to the mid 2000s. Although there have been some forgettable NBA Jam games (mainly the ones made by Acclaim), the best titles – including the sequels under different names, like NBA Hangtime – are revered.

And yet, there are times when it feels like NBA Jam doesn’t receive the credit that it deserves. I’ve seen gamers say they don’t get what’s so special about it, either because they prefer sim games, or in some cases, that they’re fonder of NBA Street. It’s been nearly ten years since the last NBA Jam game was released, and I imagine there’s a large contingent of the current basketball gaming demographic that didn’t grow up with it as I and other 90s kids did. Whatever the case may be, NBA Jam should be appreciated for its impact on basketball gaming. In particular, I would suggest that NBA Jam unquestionably deserves credit for these five things.

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The Friday Five: 5 Things NBA 2K Doesn’t Get Enough Credit For

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 things that NBA 2K doesn’t get enough credit for.

Last week, I discussed five things that NBA Live doesn’t get enough credit for. As I mentioned, I’d planned similar articles for NBA 2K and NBA Jam, and this week it’s 2K’s turn. It may seem odd to suggest that NBA 2K doesn’t get enough credit for things given its current position as the brand leader when it comes to sim basketball games, not to mention its record sales and recurrent revenue figures. True, various issues with quality and a lack of goodwill have contributed to some low user scores on Metacritic in recent years, but it still receives a lot of acclaim.

Nevertheless, there are things NBA 2K doesn’t get enough credit for, despite its popularity and positive professional reviews. For those of us who have been playing the games for years, it is easy to get jaded by legacy issues, though as I alluded to, there have also been practices in recent titles that understandably draw focus away from the good parts. We’re well within our rights to criticise those aspects, just as we critique NBA Live and any other games, but it’s only fair that we recognise the great things as well. After all, some of them don’t get the credit they deserve, and to that end, here are five things in NBA 2K that are due some recognition and appreciation.

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Monday Tip-Off: Do We Take Basketball Gaming Too Seriously?

Monday Tip-Off: Do We Take Basketball Gaming Too Seriously?

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 reflecting on a rather pertinent question: do we take basketball gaming too seriously?

The Dark Knight may be twelve years old at this point, but Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker still resonates with many avid fans of Batman movies and comics. A number of lines from that film have penetrated pop culture, from Alfred’s speech about some men just wanting to watch the world burn – a favourite of so many edgelord trolls who fancy themselves Machiavellian puppet masters – to the Joker’s wry and sinister quips. One that comes up a lot, especially out of context when someone happens to utter the words, is “Why so serious?

As such, even all these years later, it’s difficult to pose a question about taking something too seriously without that scene coming to mind, or someone quoting it in response. It’s also admittedly an odd question to pose on a fansite that’s dedicated to a hobby. After all, we’re all about basketball gaming, so we obviously approach the matter with a certain amount of dedication and emphasis on its significance. “It’s only basketball gaming” feels like an out of place rationale and reprimand in a community of virtual hoops enthusiasts. Of course, it always pays to keep matters in perspective. To that point though, have we lost that perspective over the years?

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Monday Tip-Off: Cynicism as a New Generation Looms

Monday Tip-Off: Cynicism as a New Generation Looms

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 previews of NBA 2K21 Next Gen have inspired cynicism for me, rather than excitement.

When the NBA 2K21 Next Gen trailer dropped, I was compelled to post a few Tweets outlining my initial impressions. As you can probably gather from that thread, as well as comments I’ve made in our Forum and on the NLSC Podcast, I wasn’t blown away by the trailer, or pumped up about the game. If you follow me on Twitter, take part in our Forum, read my articles, or listen to our Podcast, you’ll probably also know that I’m not the biggest fan of NBA 2K21 Current Gen, either. My disappointment with NBA 2K21 and other recent releases has set the table for some Next Gen cynicism.

Thinking back to the release of NBA 2K14 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, I don’t remember feeling quite as cynical. It’s unfortunate, as I’d prefer not to feel that way. I don’t want my content to come across as jaded and overwhelmingly negative, but beyond that, as an avid basketball gamer, I want to enjoy my hobby and look forward to new games when they’re on the horizon. As NBA 2K21 Next Gen looms and we get our first glimpses and insights into the forthcoming game, my cynicism definitely outpaces my optimism in a way that it didn’t seven years ago. Today, I’m reflecting upon that, and how things have changed over the course of a generation.

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The Friday Five: 5 Basketball Gaming Shower Thoughts

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 shower thoughts I’ve had about basketball gaming.

Contrary to what you might believe, I don’t think about basketball gaming 24/7. It’s obviously a passion of mine – I wouldn’t have been running the NLSC for 19 years and counting if it wasn’t – but I do have other interests and hobbies. It is something that is on my mind fairly regularly though, either when I’m playing a game, or creating content for the NLSC. A thought will stroll into my head – sometimes related to what I’m doing, sometimes out of the blue – and I’ll wonder how it didn’t occur to me before then.

For those unfamiliar with the term, “shower thoughts” are ideas or epiphanies that occur to us while doing mundane activities such as taking a shower (which is where the term originates), or carrying out some chore. They’re not all profound pearls of wisdom; indeed, if you go looking for shower thoughts on Reddit or elsewhere that they’re collected, you’ll find a lot of puns and folksy observations. To that end, I can’t promise that these basketball gaming shower thoughts – a couple of which did in fact come about in the shower – will be profound and mind-blowing. Hopefully they’ll at least be amusing or interesting talking points, though.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K11 Retrospective

Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K11 Retrospective

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 NBA 2K11 with a tenth anniversary retrospective.

Monday marked the tenth anniversary of NBA 2K11, so I feel a retrospective is only appropriate. Before we get to that though, the fact that ten years have passed since the release of NBA 2K11 is, for me at least, mind-blowing. It doesn’t feel like a whole decade has gone by since basketball gamers were sinking their teeth into a title that many still consider to be one of the best (if not the best) hoops games ever made. Like NBA Live 2000 before it, it’s managed to hold a special place in our hearts long past its release, because it was such a great game for its time.

Of course, being a great game for its time doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s still the benchmark, which raises a few questions: just how good is NBA 2K11, and how well does it hold up? What makes it so special that a vocal contingent of basketball gamers opine that no game since has been able to top it? They’re pertinent questions for an NBA 2K11 retrospective to explore, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #343: The Making of a Classic (Part 2)

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #343 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

Part 2 of our latest chat with Josh and Dave from Namo Gamo continues our conversation about the traits of good and bad basketball games, and how they factored into the development of Basketball Classics. We also talk about the one game that we’d want to be stuck on a desert island with, which Donkey Kong Country title is objectively the best, and how to handle custom ratings in basketball video games. There’s also one last tidbit about future features in Basketball Classics, and possibly a few more nods to a certain Simpsons-themed platformer.

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.

Monday Tip-Off: Is NBA 2K Pay-To-Win or Not?

Monday Tip-Off: Is NBA 2K Pay-To-Win or Not?

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 of whether or not NBA 2K can fairly be called pay-to-win.

Yes, discussing VC, microtransactions, and recurrent revenue mechanics in NBA 2K might seem like I’m beating a dead horse. However, it remains a persistent issue as of NBA 2K21, one that threatens the overall quality of the game. That might seem like I’m stating the obvious and preaching to the choir, but there are gamers who will still defend grindy mechanics and microtransactions. In all fairness, they admittedly aren’t mandatory, and the savvy NBA 2K gamer can find ways of enjoying the game’s most popular modes without buying VC, or even opting for the special edition.

Based on some remarks I’ve seen on basketball gaming Twitter though, I fear that we’ve grown somewhat complacent and dismissive of the problems that recurrent revenue mechanics cause. People, including prominent content creators, have declared that modes like MyTEAM and MyCAREER are no longer pay-to-win, owing to the amount of content that can be earned even if you staunchly refuse to buy VC. I do see their point of course, but I also believe that it’s missing the forest for the trees. There’s nuance and other problems that are being overlooked. First things first, though. Let’s address the question: is it fair to call NBA 2K, in its current state, pay-to-win?

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NLSC Podcast #342: The Making of a Classic (Part 1)

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #342 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

In Part 1 of a two-part episode, we welcome Josh and Dave from Namo Gamo back to the show! The guys share some news on the exciting features that are in the works for Basketball Classics, including something that should pique the interest of our modding community. After that, we get into our main discussion topic: the hallmarks of good and bad games, and what makes a hoops title a classic or a dud. We talk about the traits that are common to good and bad basketball games alike, and Josh and Dave describe how those examples inspired and guided them in the development of Basketball Classics. The conversation also turns to collecting, and other classic video games that shaped our tastes.

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.

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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