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Monday Tip-Off: Our Players Before MyPLAYERs

Monday Tip-Off: Our Players Before MyPLAYERs

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some reflections on the bygone practice of creating ourselves in basketball video games, long before we had MyPLAYERs.

When we think about creating players in basketball video games these days, it’s usually to either add a missing player to the current or historical rosters, or to create our avatar for career mode play. It makes sense, of course. Even though we have official roster updates, community rosters are not outmoded. Indeed, they’re essential as far as adding retro players that can’t be licensed. Career modes have been popular since their introduction, and have only become a bigger part of basketball gaming with the advent of the connected online team play experiences.

Obviously, we’ve been creating rosters and career mode avatars for years now. Although not everyone chooses to give their MyPLAYERs their real name and face – either via a scan or a close-enough approximation with the in-game creation tools – many of us do or previously have created ourselves for use in MyCAREER. Most of my MyPLAYERs have been “me”, aside from the fictional scenario where I’m good enough to play in the NBA! However, long before MyCAREER and its connected modes, many of us created ourselves on the virtual hardwood. It may seem like a quaint notion nowadays, but it was fun thing to do before we had these deep modes.

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The Friday Five: 5 Additions That Would’ve Greatly Improved Games

The Friday Five: 5 Additions That Would've Greatly Improved Games

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is a list of five additions that would’ve greatly improved specific basketball video games.

We’ve yet to see a truly perfect basketball video game. That’s not surprising since true perfection is an unrealistic goal, and we all have our own ideas as to what that would entail besides. We have had some fantastic sim and arcade basketball games though, with the NBA Live, NBA 2K, NBA Jam, and NBA Street series all offering up some candidates for the best hoops titles of all-time. However, much as many of the all-time great players have had a weakness or two, the best basketball video games are often missing a feature or mode that would’ve made them even better.

Interestingly, it’s not just the all-time best basketball video games that feasibly could have been improved by just one addition. There are some very good and even a few mediocre games whose overall quality and reputations would be greatly impacted by the addition of a key feature or mode. It might not quite push them into the upper echelon of virtual hardwood classics, but hypothetically, they suddenly become far more appealing and playable with one big addition. I’ve selected five hoops games of varying quality, and nominated a major addition – one per game – that I believe either pushes them closer to “perfection”, or results in the most significant improvement.

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NLSC Podcast #515: NBA Live 2002, Jam vs. Street, & Broadcast Views

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #515 of the NLSC Podcast!

Following up on last week’s discussion, we react to Take-Two’s shady defense of Virtual Currency as “fictions” that it can legally remove at any time. On a slightly contentious note (for the most part), in response to a post on our Discord, we weigh in on the NBA Jam vs. NBA Street debate. Which arcade hoops game do we believe is king? We also recap a co-op session of NBA Live 2002, and make some potentially controversial comparisons to NBA Live 2001. Joining the community for a discussion of our favourite camera angles leads us to declare our appreciation for broadcast views once again. In this week’s mailbag, we share how we’d handle microtransactions in a Triple-A release if it was our call.

To get involved with the mailbag or to provide any feedback on the show, hit us up in the comments, reach out on social media, or post here in the NLSC Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. You can also find the show on our YouTube channel, along with the rest of our video content. As always, thanks for tuning in, and go get buckets!

Wayback Wednesday: Trade Confirmation in NBA Live 2000 Franchise

Wayback Wednesday: Trade Confirmation in NBA Live 2000 Franchise

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m taking a look back at the trade confirmation pop-up in NBA Live 2000’s Franchise mode.

The evolution of basketball video games has resulted in the revamping or complete disappearance of features, both big and small. To that end, if you’re a veteran of the virtual hardwood, there’s bound to be at least one feature from an old favourite that you miss in newer titles. Of course, sometimes it doesn’t take long for a useful feature or gameplay mechanic to disappear. We’ve seen numerous short-lived features, some of which are unique to the games they appear in. They may not be popular or even absolutely necessary, but our desire to see them return makes them Wishlist staples.

I have a shortlist of such features, but one of the first that always comes to mind is the trade confirmation pop-up in the very first Franchise mode in NBA Live 2000. It was such a fantastic detail, yet it was gone the very next year, and has never returned in any games since. Not only that, but the concept doesn’t seem to have ever been picked up by NBA 2K, or the Season and Franchise modes in any other series for that matter. This may seem like a very esoteric feature to cover, but if you’ve played Franchise in NBA Live 2000, you’ll know why it matters. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #514: NBA 2K24’s New ToS is Complete BS

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #514 of the NLSC Podcast!

NBA 2K24 is prompting gamers to accept a new Terms of Service that includes updated clauses regarding class action lawsuits and digital purchases. We discuss how the move has further eroded goodwill, especially as the language comes across as threatening in the wake of recent legal action against Take-Two, and opting out is a deliberately challenging process. While noting NBA 2K’s fall from grace as the darling of basketball gaming, we also criticise the silence from influencers and much of the gaming media, as well as the apologist rhetoric that some gamers are spouting. In short, it’s not an issue that basketball gamers should allow to be swept under the rug!

To get involved with the mailbag or to provide any feedback on the show, hit us up in the comments, reach out on social media, or post here in the NLSC Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. You can also find the show on our YouTube channel, along with the rest of our video content. As always, thanks for tuning in, and go get buckets!

Monday Tip-Off: Would Two 2K Games Be Better Than One?

Monday Tip-Off: Would Two 2K Games Be Better Than One?

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on the idea that having two separate NBA 2K games would be better than one.

In case you’re unfamiliar with this idea, there have been times when gamers have suggested that there should be two editions of NBA 2K on the market; essentially, an online-oriented release, and a more traditional offline version. The logic behind this unusual suggestion is that online and offline play can adversely affect one another during the design process, leaving fans of one or the other (and sometimes, both) to be left disappointed. It’s also been suggested that one version could be fully-priced, while the other is free-to-play and based around microtransactions.

When you put it like that, the idea of having two NBA 2K games isn’t as strange as it first seems. It’s highly unlikely though, and it would undoubtedly have drawbacks. Of course, even the best ideas have their downsides, and no concept will be universally popular. With that being said, could it work, and would it be a better approach than what we have now? I’ve previously broached the idea of having a spinoff “Legends” version of NBA 2K that focuses on historical content, and EA Sports has arguably set a precedent with World Cup editions of FIFA. Let’s take a look at what having two NBA 2K games would mean for the series, both for 2K and us as basketball gamers.

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The Friday Five: 5 Reasons I Won’t Stop Retro Gaming

The Friday Five: 5 Reasons I Won't Stop Retro Gaming

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is a list of five reasons why I have no intention of putting a stop to my retro basketball gaming habits.

One of the best things that I’ve done to enhance my enjoyment of basketball gaming in recent years is to avoid the annual grind in MyCAREER, freeing up time to play some old favourites. Dee has obviously been a great influence in that regard, as we’ve connected to play a variety of classics over Parsec. It’s reminded me of how I used to enjoy going back to older games or sticking with one for more than a year, especially when I was disappointed with the latest release. Of course, my enthusiasm for retro basketball gaming has now made it tougher to spend time with newer games.

I have no regrets, though. I still gave NBA 2K23 and NBA 2K24 ample opportunity to impress, knowing that they might not, and that I had other options if they didn’t. To dust off a very old but nevertheless wise saying, I’ve learned to not put all of my eggs in one basket. I don’t feel defeated or robbed of a good time if the latest NBA 2K isn’t entirely to my liking. Beyond my interest in other genres, I have a huge collection of basketball games to fall back on if I’m itching to hit the virtual hardwood. While I do obviously have an interest in the future of basketball gaming, I’m finding plenty of reasons to return to old favourites, as well as seek out some new ones. Here are five!

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Monday Tip-Off: Fear & Losing in NBA 2K

Monday Tip-Off: Fear & Losing in NBA 2K

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on how a fear of losing and having a bad time in NBA 2K’s connected modes has poisoned the online scene.

It’s been a familiar sight since the introduction of The Neighborhood in NBA 2K18. Plenty of MyPLAYERs running around or just standing there idly, while others wait at the Got Next spots, hoping in vain to get the numbers to play a game. Meanwhile, in The Rec, MyPLAYERs enter the locker room, only to quickly exit before a game can begin. Naturally, you stand a much better chance of getting a game if you’re with friends, but the hub world concept is intended to encourage gamers to socialise and form impromptu squads for pick-up games. It hasn’t quite worked out that way!

To put it bluntly, there’s a fear of losing in MyCAREER’s connected modes. No one enjoys losing of course, but when the fear of taking an L is so great that you’d rather not even play, that’s a big problem! At the same time, there are legitimate concerns about the quality of the online experience. It isn’t just about not wanting to lose, but also having no desire to team up with selfish players and trolls who are going to make it incredibly difficult to win. Between some people taking things so seriously that they don’t want to risk a loss, and others not wanting to jump into a game knowing that it’s going to be a bad time, the online scene in NBA 2K remains shockingly substandard.

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The Friday Five: 5 Evergreen Issues with NBA 2K

The Friday Five: 5 Evergreen Issues with NBA 2K

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is a list of five issues with NBA 2K that are seemingly evergreen.

Since I’ve taken a look at some evergreen issues with the NBA Live series, it’s time to examine similar problems with NBA 2K. Obviously, NBA 2K is a powerhouse in the basketball gaming space, with a virtual monopoly on sim titles. Even in the years that NBA Live was released during the past generation, the NBA 2K series outsold it by a significant margin to say the least. The competition hasn’t been close in terms of sales and critical reception since 2008, in large part because NBA 2K has maintained a high level of quality, while NBA Live has suffered from its own evergreen issues.

However, there are definitely problems that continue to plague NBA 2K to this day. They’re in too comfortable of a position to fail, which once again is the result of them maintaining a generally pleasing level of quality through the years. At the same time, these evergreen issues do affect the quality of NBA 2K games, as well as the overall image of the series. As NBA Live stumbled, NBA 2K became the darling for hoops gamers and the yardstick for its genre. Without competition though, its flaws have been exposed, and its reputation has been tarnished. The evergreen issues that NBA 2K has failed to address are responsible for that, so let’s take a look at five of them.

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Wayback Wednesday: Team Rankings & Overall Ratings

Wayback Wednesday: Team Rankings & Overall Ratings

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m taking a look back at Team Rankings and Overall Ratings in basketball video games.

It’s interesting how we get attached to the little details in our favourite basketball video games, particularly the ones that served as our introduction to the genre! I can trace many of my preferences related to presentation and UI to NBA Live 96 PC as it was one of the first 5-on-5 sim games that I played, and it was also the very first one that I owned rather than just frequently renting. To that point, growing up with NBA Live conditioned me to expect teams to be sorted alphabetically by location. 2K’s method of sorting by team name thus felt strange at first, though I’m used to it now.

Another detail that I really enjoyed in the early NBA Live games was the rankings that appeared on team selection screens. Mind you, while I associate them with NBA Live given that it was the series that I primarily played as a young basketball gamer, many sim titles ranked and rated the teams in both individual categories and overall. These rankings gave way to Overall Ratings similar to the ones that players have, which didn’t feel as special, but are also nostalgic in their own way. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Inspiration, Impatience, & Fresh Starts

Monday Tip-Off: Inspiration, Impatience, & Fresh Starts

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on how a combination of new inspiration, impatience, and the appeal of fresh starts, can derail modding projects.

Last year, I was quite relieved when I finally released my fixed official roster for NBA 2K10; a roster that added missing Legends, corrected ratings and tendencies for the original Legends, and made a few other enhancements. Not only was I pleased with the results – as egotistical as that may sound – but it was gratifying to finish a modding project that I’d started, particularly one that can inject more fun into retro basketball gaming, and possibly even serve as a base for future projects. It came out later than I’d hoped, but it did mean that I was able to take more care with it.

Of course, it’s not the only modding project that I’ve envisioned or attempted in recent years. I’ve shared some of the roster mod ideas that have come to mind in Friday Five articles, and of course previewed an NBA 2K11 current roster project that ultimately fell through. It’s not something I’m particularly proud of, as I was once very dedicated to maintaining current roster updates for NBA Live, on top of other mods over the years. Unfortunately, as I’ve looked to get back into the hobby, I’ve found that being struck by inspiration for another project has a tendency to cause impatience with the current one, and a strong yearning for the excitement that comes with fresh starts.

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Wayback Wednesday: Minimalist Modding & Retro Gaming

Wayback Wednesday: Minimalist Modding & Retro Gaming

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m taking a look at how minimalist modding can improve the retro basketball gaming experience.

It’s no secret that just as mods can enhance the most recent basketball video games, they can also breathe new life into old favourites. This obviously goes beyond the virtual hardwood. I remember discovering custom WADS for Doom II way back in 1998 that changed Doomguy and the enemies into characters from The Simpsons and South Park. I wasn’t really playing Doom II anymore, but learning about those mods and seeing what they were capable of encouraged me to dust it off so that I could try them out. It’s a great example of mods making an old game fresh and new again.

Of course, even without custom maps, those were still larger projects, akin to a current or retro season roster for an older basketball game. Those are fantastic and I absolutely support them; especially given my renewed interest in retro basketball gaming after a few years of feeling underwhelmed by the latest NBA 2K! However, minimalist modding can also freshen up older games and make them even more fun to revisit. Indeed, whenever I get hooked on an old game, I can’t help thinking about ways to change things up with some minimalist modding in order to expand upon the retro basketball gaming experience. Let’s look at a fun way to go back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #509: Reflecting on Basketball Gaming in 2023

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #509 of the NLSC Podcast!

Happy New Year basketball gamers, and welcome to the first episode of the NLSC Podcast for 2024! We’re in the mood to make some basketball gaming resolutions for the new year, as well as reflect on some of our favourite content from 2023. We also join the community in discussing the basketball games that we spent the most time with last year, as well as the modes we were playing and other activities we enjoyed, including modding. Additionally, we share our thoughts on the new NBA Playgrounds game that’s been released on Roblox, and how it feels like a fall from grace for a once-promising series of arcade basketball video games.

To get involved with the mailbag or to provide any feedback on the show, hit us up in the comments, reach out on social media, or post here in the NLSC Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. You can also find the show on our YouTube channel, along with the rest of our video content. As always, thanks for tuning in, and go get buckets!

NLSC 2023 Year-in-Review

NLSC 2023 Year-in-Review

And so, we’ve come to the end of another year here at the NLSC! I’d like to thank everyone for supporting the NLSC throughout 2023, from the modders and frequent Forum users to everyone who checks out our original content, and of course our Patrons on Patreon for helping us to keep the lights on. We’ve been around since 1996 when our founders tipped everything off with their tools and mods for NBA Live 95 and NBA Live 96 PC, and as we’re still passionate about basketball video games, we intend to be around for some time yet! Obviously the internet has changed a lot since we were founded, but we’re grateful that so many people still see us as a destination for basketball gaming.

To that end, it was our pleasure to provide extensive coverage of the virtual hardwood here on the NLSC throughout 2023. In addition to covering any news and previews regarding the latest and upcoming iterations of NBA 2K, Dee and I produced a plethora of original content about basketball gaming. If I do say so myself, we make a great duo in that regard! We obviously co-hosted the NLSC Podcast, I continued to write multiple articles a week and try my hand at some more videos, and Dee produced a huge amount of videos for the NLSC YouTube channel, from highlight reels to the weekly Top 10 Plays. I can speak for both of us when I say that we had a blast creating that content!

Thus, as we get ready to enter 2024, we’re presenting our Year-in-Review here at the NLSC. Dee and I have made our editors’ picks of my weekly features, our podcast, our videos, and the Top 10 Plays, choosing our favourite ten of each to spotlight. Needless to say, we encourage you to browse the entire NLSC archives, but this is the content from 2023 that we’re most proud of. I’d like to thank Dee for being my co-pilot for another year, and I look forward to what we’ll be doing with basketball games in 2024. I’ll touch on that again at the end of the wrap-up, but before we get to that, here are both of our picks for our favourite articles, videos, Top 10 Plays, and podcasts throughout 2023!

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NLSC Podcast #508: Basketball Gifts, NBA Live 16, & Who We’re Watching

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #508 of the NLSC Podcast!

We’re back on the air after a hard drive mishap, and it’s also our 2023 Christmas Special! After celebrating the arrival of a brand new desktop, we catch up on an exciting Top 10 Plays, and also compare NCAA March Madness 08 to NBA Live 08. Since we got into the festive spirit by playing a couple of games of NBA Live 16 using the Christmas Day jerseys, we recap those sessions, and once again discuss the game’s strengths and weaknesses. With the 2024 season well underway, we also join the community in listing the players and teams that we’re enjoying watching, and reflect on some of our favourite Christmas gifts involving basketball and basketball video games.

To get involved with the mailbag or to provide any feedback on the show, hit us up in the comments, reach out on social media, or post here in the NLSC Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. You can also find the show on our YouTube channel, along with the rest of our video content. As always, thanks for tuning in, and go get buckets!