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Wayback Wednesday: Marking NBA Milestones in Video Games

Wayback Wednesday: Marking NBA Milestones in Video Games

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 reflecting on how video games mark different NBA milestones, and how it dates them.

On several occasions, I’ve mentioned that video games serve as wonderful time capsules for the NBA. They’re a snapshot of the league at the time they’re released, preserving the rosters, team branding, and the rules and formats of the era. When you revisit an old NBA video game, you’re often reminded of players’ brief and forgotten tenures with certain teams, “What If” scenarios and lineups that never lived up to the hype, and the jerseys and logos that you both loved and hated. In a way, old games can act as interactive almanacs, and are a fun way to revisit NBA history.

With that in mind, basketball video games preserve different eras and milestones in the real NBA as much as they’re a timeline of gaming and technology. In many of my Wayback Wednesday features, as well as my 25th Anniversary of NBA Live articles, I’ve reflected on how various titles have represented an evolution in the genre, and the improvements that are noticeable from year to year. On this occasion, I’m looking at how they represent NBA milestones and significant changes in the league, as well as the way those events make them dated. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: The Art of Minimalist Modding

Monday Tip-Off: The Art of Minimalist Modding

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 idea of minimalist modding.

With all the tools and techniques that our modding community has developed for NBA Live and NBA 2K over the years, we’ve been able to produce some fantastic projects. From detailed current rosters and multi-season packs to NCAA mods and other total conversions, we’ve been able to re-skin the game and create brand new experiences. These projects can take a long time to complete, but it’s very satisfying to see them come together, for both the creator and the community. I can attest to that, having been involved in quite a few large roster projects over the years.

Of course, these fantastic projects do have their drawbacks. They can be incredibly time-consuming, so even if you have the skills to create all the necessary assets, it’s much easier if you have a few other people helping out. To that point, not everyone can do it all when it comes to modding, so it’s usually necessary to assemble a team or rely on some community contributions to get everything done. As you can imagine, the amount of time and effort required can lead to multiple delays, or projects falling through. It’s why I’ve become intrigued with the idea of creating larger projects that don’t require as much external effort; something I’m calling minimalist modding.

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Wayback Wednesday: Christmas on the Virtual Hardwood

Wayback Wednesday: Christmas on the Virtual Hardwood

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 Christmas content in basketball video games.

Merry Christmas and Season’s Greetings, basketball gamers! I hope you’re enjoying the festive season, and are looking forward to some of the marquee games that are set to tip off this Christmas Day. Since this week’s Wayback Wednesday has fallen on Christmas Day itself, I thought it would be fun to look back at how the occasion has been celebrated on the virtual hardwood. After all, a lot of video games have included Christmas content as Easter eggs – if that’s not too ironic a turn of phrase – and there are even seasonal games, such as the classic Holiday Lemmings.

Basketball games tend to have a more straightforward approach to the matter, but there’s still some interesting history with the virtual hardwood and the holiday season. With that in mind, and in the spirit of the season, let’s deck the halls, rock around the Christmas tree, and take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #304: Talkin’ ‘Bout Next Generation

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #304 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! With 2019 and the decade drawing to a close, not to mention a new generation of gaming looming on the horizon, Dee4Three and I discuss the past ten years in basketball gaming, the current generation, and our thoughts as we look ahead to next gen.

After a quick rundown of Patch 1.09 for NBA 2K20, we get right into this week’s featured discussion. The end of the decade and announcement of the Xbox Series X has prompted us to reflect on the past ten years of basketball gaming, in particular the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One generation. We compare it to previous generations, noting the positives and negatives. As we look ahead to next gen, we discuss what we’re hoping to see, and what not to see. From troubling trends to imaginative innovations, it’s a discussion of where the hobby is at, and where it should be. Along the way, we’re even able to draw some parallels to the real NBA.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on basketball gaming over the past ten years, and two gaming generations? What are your expectations of next gen? 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.

Wayback Wednesday: Jordan Challenge vs NBA’s Greatest

Wayback Wednesday: Jordan Challenge vs NBA's Greatest

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 comparing The Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11 to NBA’s Greatest in NBA 2K12.

I like to mix things up here in Wayback Wednesday. From retrospective reviews and profiles of modes and features, to interesting trivia and media from yesteryear, it’s my goal to cover a broad range of throwback content. Something that I haven’t done yet is to directly compare a couple of retro games, modes, or features, and conclude which one is superior. That changes today with what will hopefully be the first of many “Versus” articles for Wayback Wednesday, as I’m comparing The Jordan Challenge to NBA’s Greatest.

I’ve covered both The Jordan Challenge and NBA’s Greatest in several articles for Wayback Wednesday, but the question remains: which is the superior mode? Both modes took NBA 2K’s retro content to a new level, providing some fun challenges and establishing a precedent for all future releases as far as including a variety of historical teams. Let’s compare these two great modes across some key criteria as we take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Players In More Video Games Than NBA Games Played (Part 3)

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 part three in a series on players who have appeared in more video games than real NBA games.

While I enjoy using The Friday Five to analyse topics in five points, rank items in a Top 5 countdown, or offer up some other opinions or commentary, I really enjoy using this feature to share obscure basketball gaming trivia. A topic that I’ve found particularly fascinating to research is the number of players who ended up appearing in more video games than they did actual NBA games. Thanks to early roster cut-off dates and last minute roster cuts before the season tips off, several players have made their virtual hardwood debut without ever playing an official minute in the league.

My research has turned up ten such players, who I talked about in parts one and two of this series. Not only had they managed to be included in video games without ever making it to an official NBA game, but some had appeared in multiple titles despite never making their league debut! I’ve got five more examples for you today, but this list is a little different. All five of these players have played in the NBA, appearing in just one game apiece. However, they’ve ended up in the rosters of more than one video game, meaning that their appearances on the virtual hardwood outnumber their real life career total. Let’s take a look at these one-and-not-quite-done players!

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NLSC Podcast #299: What Basketball Gamers Want

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #299 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dee4Three joins me again as we react to the recent announcement that the NBA Live 15 servers will soon be shutting down, and have an in-depth discussion about what basketball gamers want out of the hobby.

EA Sports has announced that the NBA Live 15 servers will be shutting down as of December 1st, 2019. We react to the timing of the announcement compared to the NBA Live 14 shutdown, and reflect a little on NBA Live 15 itself. This leads to some thoughts on why we dust off older titles, and sometimes seeing them in a new light (and sometimes not). Our feature discussion this week is a deep dive into what basketball gamers want; not just expectations of the virtual hardwood and blacktop, but also our relationship with developers, and approach to game design. We also talk about toxic attitudes, and how we clash with one another over what we want out of the basketball gaming experience.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on this week’s topic? What do you want out of basketball video games? 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.

Wayback Wednesday: Retro Team Additions in NBA 2K16

Wayback Wednesday: Retro Team Additions in NBA 2K16

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 additions to the roster of retro teams that were made in NBA 2K16.

After The Jordan Challenge and NBA’s Greatest established retro teams as a staple of NBA 2K’s content, a few years went by before we saw any new additions. A handful of players disappeared from and later reappeared in the rosters as 2K lost and regained the rights to their likenesses, but the selection of historical squads remained the same, outside of the 1992 Dream Team appearing in NBA 2K13. Without a dedicated mode, it seemed as though we weren’t going to see any new additions to the roster of retro NBA teams anytime soon.

Fortunately, we were proven wrong. As the preview season for NBA 2K16 loomed, an episode of NBA 2KTV revealed three of the twelve new retro teams that would be featured in the game. Not only was it a promising sign that retro content wouldn’t be abandoned moving forward, but the choice of teams set a precedent that allowed it to expand beyond the scope of the squads added for The Jordan Challenge and NBA’s Greatest. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Entering the Hall of Fame in MyCAREER

Monday Tip-Off: Entering the Hall of Fame in 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 upon finally entering the Hall of Fame in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER.

Back in May, I talked about my aim of making it into the Hall of Fame before I put MyCAREER aside; not just in NBA 2K19, but for the foreseeable future. I knew it would be a satisfying way to cap off years of being a MyCAREER gamer, and also provide some closure as I made the switch to MyLEAGUE and MyTEAM. I met the requirements for induction into the Hall of Fame as I concluded my second regular season, and it was a great feeling. However, with a new-look lineup and a chance at a threepeat, I didn’t immediately retire in order to get the Hall of Fame cutscene.

I played a few games in the third year and did have some fun with them, but it was clear that I was done with the mode. I waited for a few weeks after NBA 2K20 came out, at which point I was certain that I didn’t have any desire to continue playing my NBA 2K19 MyCAREER. Knowing that there wasn’t any turning back, I hooked up my capture card, retired my player, and recorded the cutscene for posterity. I realise that many of you may have already watched that cutscene – either in your own games or on YouTube – but I wanted to share it with everyone today, as well as reflect on my journey to enshrinement in the virtual Springfield (and again, not that one).

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The Friday Five: 5 Unsolved Modding Mysteries

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 unsolved modding mysteries…at least as far as I’m aware.

In many ways, modding is about unravelling the mysteries of video games. It involves digging through the game files to find out how they work, and how we can alter them to improve a title, or create brand new experiences. Modding has allowed us to find and utilise hidden and leftover content, put assets to use in new ways, and with a bit of trial and error, swap files between games to add missing content and even rig up some unofficial fixes. In short, modding helps us to become familiar with the inner workings of the basketball games that we play.

Of course, for all the creative minds we’ve had in our modding community over the years, there are times when we’ve been stumped. For all our digging, tinkering, and experimenting with all the techniques that we know, there are a few things that we just haven’t been able to figure out. Although these unsolved modding mysteries haven’t prevented us from creating several amazing projects year in and year out, they have meant that some ambitious and creative ideas have been left on the drawing board, or necessitated workarounds. Join me as I take a look at five mysteries in NBA Live and NBA 2K modding that, as far as I know, remain unsolved.

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Wayback Wednesday: Scottie Pippen in Basketball Games

Wayback Wednesday: Scottie Pippen in Basketball Games

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 Scottie Pippen and his legacy in basketball video games.

Chicago Bulls legend and Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen turns 54 today. Incidentally, September 25th is a birthday that he shares with Mark Hamill, Will Smith, and my friend Courtney (Happy 30th Birthday, Courtney!). As you may know, my all-time favourite player is Michael Jordan, but Scottie Pippen is a close second, being MJ’s teammate on six Bulls championship squads in the 90s. I have many fond memories of that dynamic duo – dubbed “The Dobermans” by Johnny Bach due to their tenacity at both ends of the court – which could fill several Wayback Wednesday articles.

However, we obviously focus on basketball video games here at the NLSC. To that end, as it’s Pip’s birthday and he’s one of my all-time favourite players – as well as one of the greatest players in the history of basketball – it seems only appropriate that I take a look back at his legacy on the virtual hardwood. In my opinion, he has a rather interesting history in that regard, given how basketball video games were developed during his prime, and considering his standing among the NBA greats. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Reimagining NBA’s Greatest

Wayback Wednesday: Reimagining NBA's Greatest

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 reimagining NBA’s Greatest in NBA 2K12.

I had a lot of fun reimagining The Jordan Challenge back in June, so I thought I’d give the same treatment to NBA’s Greatest. As I remarked in my retrospective on NBA’s Greatest, it was a fantastic follow-up to The Jordan Challenge, and added new content to NBA 2K12 with the lockout of 2011 delaying the inclusion of the new rookies and updated rosters. The level of detail with the retro presentation was very impressive, and it’s a feature that would be really fun to have when playing with historical teams in future NBA 2K games.

However, as with The Jordan Challenge, NBA’s Greatest wasn’t perfect. Looking back, there are a few ways it could’ve been better, and teams that would’ve been preferable. As with my previous reimagining, this isn’t intended to disparage the work that Visual Concepts put into NBA’s Greatest, but rather consider what might have been if not for a few legal barriers, and how an already fantastic mode could be made even better. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Why We Won’t Get Another Retro Mode

Michael Jordan in NBA 2K11

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 why it’s unlikely that we’ll get another retro mode in future NBA 2K titles.

While I don’t want to downplay the quality of NBA 2K11, I believe one of the reasons it’s still held in such high regard is that it was a landmark release for the series. Not only was it the first NBA 2K game to top five million copies sold – a feat helped in part by the cancellation of NBA Elite 11 – but it brought us actual retro teams out of the box for the first time. The NBA Live series experienced a similar phenomenon with NBA Live 2000. It introduced Legends, and was similarly noted as still being the best game in the series when later releases had clearly improved on it in many ways.

No matter where you rank NBA Live 2000 and NBA 2K11 in their respective series or among basketball games overall, both were tremendous releases that delivered big surprises in terms of their retro content. The Jordan Challenge was a great mode that would’ve been a tremendous hook even if NBA 2K11 hadn’t been unopposed. NBA’s Greatest in NBA 2K12 was a great follow-up, and the roster of retro teams has only expanded since then. Outside of Historical Domination in MyTEAM however, we haven’t had a challenge mode that makes use of the retro teams since then. Sadly, it seems highly unlikely that we’ll get another retro mode anytime soon, if ever again.

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Wayback Wednesday: Training Camp in NBA 2K12

Welcome to Training Camp in NBA 2K12

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 Training Camp in NBA 2K12.

In recent years, it’s been noted that the NBA 2K series has been increasingly geared towards appealing to the hardcore online crowd. In a Reddit post that I’ve mentioned before (and no doubt will again), a former EVE Online developer has noted the series’ increasing focus on catering to elite players, and apparent hostility to newer gamers who are trying to hone their skills on the virtual hardwood. It’s fostered the “get gud” mindset, while failing to provide the onboarding, opportunities, and fair matchmaking that would allow less experienced players to strive for that.

As noted in that Reddit post, it wasn’t always that way. Earlier this decade, the NBA 2K games were going out of their way to teach gamers all of the basic and advanced controls, in an environment that was both helpful and creative. Those efforts began with the introduction of Training Camp in NBA 2K12, a feature that would carry over into NBA 2K13 and prior gen NBA 2K14. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Reimagining The Jordan Challenge

Reimagining The Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11

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 reimagining The Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11.

The Jordan Challenge was a significant milestone in basketball gaming. In celebrating the career of Michael Jordan, it achieved what once seemed impossible: adding actual retro teams, rather than just a collection of Legends on Decade All-Star squads. Retro teams would be established as the norm, and the mode also paved the way for NBA’s Greatest the following year in NBA 2K12. The Jordan Challenge is a mode that I’ve profiled in a Wayback Wednesday feature, as well as gone back and finished. It’s a lot of fun, and a great achievement in one of the best NBA 2K titles.

With that being said, The Jordan Challenge isn’t perfect. As I’ve previously noted, the ten challenges do lack variety. Three of them are set in the 1990 season, recycling the 1990 Chicago Bulls and taking up spots that could’ve gone to other memorable games from MJ’s career. It doesn’t ruin the mode, but looking back, the inability to license certain players did limit it somewhat. With that in mind, I’m doing something a little different for this week’s Wayback Wednesday, and reimagining The Jordan Challenge with some additional and alternative games. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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