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NLSC Podcast #370: MyTEAM Card Tricks

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Episode #370 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this weekly podcast that’s all about basketball gaming.

After last week’s show, we were inspired to spend some more time with NBA Live 2001, and have a few more thoughts to share. A couple of options from the game also bring to mind suggestions for additional roster management functions and MyNBA settings. Our main discussion this week focuses on MyTEAM, specifically issues with overpowered cards. We note how it encourages NBA 2K’s pushy recurrent revenue mechanics, waters down the gameplay with an homogenised experience, and misrepresents NBA history. Notably, the issues also extend beyond MyTEAM into MyCAREER. In this week’s mailbag, we’re talking about Blacktop, as well as the idea of trash talking mechanics.

Join in the conversation in the comments below, or here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as mailbag questions and topic suggestions for future shows. 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.

NLSC Podcast #368: You Say Ancient, We Say Classic

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Episode #368 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this weekly podcast that’s all about basketball gaming.

Picking up some extra copies of NBA 2K12 has revealed some interesting details, but we’re still searching for answers about a possible limited edition cover. Meanwhile, comments on a recent YouTube video underscore how NBA 2K21 Next Gen wasn’t the leap that many gamers were hoping for. Speaking of NBA 2K’s future, we discuss Visual Concepts’ recent acquisition of HookBang, and what it means for the series. We also have some thoughts on remarks from Sony’s Jim Ryan regarding backwards compatibility, and his dismissal of classic games as unplayable. In this week’s mailbag, we’re building our own arcade basketball game based on one of three classic titles, and recalling our experiences with Sony’s NBA series.

Join in the conversation in the comments below, or here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as mailbag questions and topic suggestions for future shows. 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.

NLSC Podcast #365: Time To Get Creative

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Episode #365 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this weekly podcast that’s all about basketball gaming.

Deep Create-a-Player features are a must, and it’s tough not to get wistful when we see them in other sports titles. Some of the features in MLB The Show give us ideas for what we’d like to see in NBA Live and NBA 2K’s creation tools. The pain of losing functionality when servers are shut down leads us to discuss the possibility of a subscription model for basketball games. In the news this week, Ultimate Rivals: The Court has been announced. We’re intrigued, and looking forward to an NBA Jam-like game with Tim Kitzrow on the call. Time with The W also has us nostalgic for an era when microtransactions weren’t everything. In the mailbag this week, we answer a question about the necessary focus in order for NBA Live to make a triumphant return, and Frankenstein our ideal game, picking and choosing elements from a number of existing basketball titles.

Join in the conversation in the comments below, or here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as mailbag questions and topic suggestions for future shows. 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.

NLSC Podcast #364: 10 Games To Last A Year

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Episode #364 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this weekly podcast that’s all about basketball gaming.

After replaying Slam City with Scottie Pippen recently, we vow to dedicate a whole show to it…after we can defeat Fingers, the first opponent. With March Modness 2021 right around the corner, we look ahead to another celebration of modding, and some of our own projects. Seeing as how it’s a slow news week, we’re playing a game: the ten games we’d choose for a year in isolation, specifically five basketball and five non-basketball games. Which titles make our lists, especially once we start changing up the game with some new rules? In the mailbag this week, we’re talking about the Arcade1Up NBA Jam machine, and the current state of NBA 2K’s graphics.

Join in the conversation in the comments below, or here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as mailbag questions and topic suggestions for future shows. 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: In The Shadow Of Their Predecessors

Monday Tip-Off: In The Shadow Of Their Predecessors

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 way that every new NBA 2K game finds itself in the shadow of its predecessors, and the cyclical nature of critique.

Not everyone has been entirely happy with NBA 2K21, but what else is new? While the NBA 2K series continues to be very successful, opinions of recent releases have been much less favourable than their predecessors. Legacy issues, practices that are lacking in goodwill, and product fatigue, have all led to an increasingly dissatisfied userbase. In turn, this dissatisfaction has inspired gamers to reminisce about titles from just a few years ago. To that end, the last few games have been unfavourably compared to the likes of NBA 2K15, NBA 2K16, and NBA 2K17.

A recent Twitter thread criticising NBA 2K21 drew an interesting reply about these comparisons. In response to the assertion that NBA 2K21 is the worst game in the series, the Tweet pointed out that it’s a title bestowed on just about every NBA 2K game when it’s new. It specifically noted similar remarks about NBA 2K17, a game that’s now being held up as a benchmark that newer games have failed to reach. While it’s a generalisation that deflects some valid criticism of NBA 2K21 and its immediate predecessors, it also raises a pertinent question: do we forget our own criticism, with revisionist history and nostalgia unfairly casting a shadow over every new game?

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NLSC Podcast #363: Worth A Second Look

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Episode #363 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this weekly podcast that’s all about basketball gaming.

After dusting off the Xbox 360 version of NBA Live 06 prompted a surprising change of heart for one of us, this week’s episode discusses revisiting old games and seeing them in a new light. We consider the factors that influence changes in our opinions of previous games, and offer up some personal examples of games that we now view differently. We also tackle the phenomenon of games that were once heavily criticised subsequently being held up as benchmarks. In the mailbag this week, we react to a suggestion that would result in more goodwill for NBA 2K’s recurrent revenue mechanics.

Join in the conversation in the comments below, or here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as mailbag questions and topic suggestions for future shows. 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.

Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K15 & The Forgotten Generation

Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K15 & The Forgotten Generation

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 2K15 on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, part of a forgotten generation of NBA 2K titles.

Way back in the mid 2000s, the launch of the Xbox 360 (and then the PlayStation 3) forced us to change our approach to our content and coverage. At the time we were still more or less exclusively about NBA Live PC, but we now had two generations to cover: the PlayStation 2/Xbox version, which we covered because it was the one that was ported to PC, and the Next Gen version on the new consoles, as it was the release receiving the most attention from EA Sports. When NBA Live was discontinued on PC, and then PS2 a year later, we only had the 360 and PS3 version to cover.

It’s been different with NBA 2K. When it landed on PC, it was the same version that the 360 and PS3 received (give or take an online feature). We covered both the last gen PC port and Next Gen version of NBA 2K14 following the launch of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and then when the PC received a PS4/X1 port from NBA 2K15 onwards, we simply left the prior gen behind. Simply put, there wasn’t much reason to cover it, and I personally stopped buying NBA 2K on that generation. I’ve wondered what it was like though, and to that end, I picked up a copy of NBA 2K15 for PS3 to check out. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: Top 5 Antagonists in MyCAREER Stories

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 countdown of the Top 5 Antagonists encountered in MyCAREER stories (obligatory spoiler warning).

It’s often said that a story is only as good as its villain. We love our heroes and all, but we need them to overcome obstacles, and ultimately, a worthy antagonist. After all, what would Batman be without The Joker? The most popular professional wrestlers have always had great heels to make them look heroic, even if they’re a bit of an anti-hero themselves. Name a popular franchise, and it’ll be sure to have a memorable antagonist that made the protagonist’s journey exciting and meaningful. Conversely, the absence of a strong villain tends to water down a tale.

Of course, that isn’t always the case. Indeed, it’s possible to tell a good, coherent story without an antagonist. The complication the protagonist faces instead comes from the challenge of accomplishing a task, or resolving conflict that wasn’t caused by any act of maliciousness or villainy. This is often the case with MyCAREER stories, in which the protagonist is a young basketball player with aspirations of making the NBA, and must face all of the hurdles that go hand-in-hand with achieving that dream. However, we’ve also encountered a few antagonists, and they’ve undoubtedly made the road to the NBA bumpier. Without further ado, here are the Top 5 MyCAREER antagonists!

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Monday Tip-Off: Playing The Long Game

Monday Tip-Off: Playing The Long Game

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a recap of my experiences vying for The Long Game Trophy by playing all four years of a college career in The Long Shadow, NBA 2K21 Next Gen’s MyCAREER story.

I have to say that as far as Trophies and Achievements are concerned, The Long Game is aptly named. Spending four years in college at the start of a MyCAREER game is definitely a lengthy slog! There’s no simulating – not that you’d really want to, when you’re grinding for VC and Badges – and with only nine other teams, it can be repetitive. At the same time, the idea appealed to me. Less than 1% of PlayStation 5 gamers have attained the Trophy for completing The Long Game, so it’s obviously a rare feat. I figured it would be interesting to take the road less travelled.

It’s also the first time we’ve had this opportunity in MyCAREER. Every other game that’s included a college career has seen our MyPLAYER declare for the Draft after their freshman year. Now we actually have a choice, and it’s a decision that we have to weigh up as a real player might. Is it worth taking the extra time to develop before entering the league – especially as it’s grinding against easier competition – or do you go after the big bucks (or in this case, VC) as soon as you can? To me, the choice was easy. I’ve been a one-and-done player before; now that I have the opportunity, I’m playing The Long Game! Please be advised that there are some story spoilers ahead.

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Monday Tip-Off: I’ve Got To Use My Imagination

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on how we no longer have to use our imagination when it comes to career and franchise modes.

Yes, the title of this week’s column is indeed a reference to a song by Gladys Knight & the Pips. That’s about as far as the reference goes, however. Truth be told, I only know the song because Forrest Gump is one of my all-time favourite movies, and it’s on its soundtrack. In any case, imagination is a core component of gaming, no matter the genre. Whether we’re playing single player or multiplayer, we immerse ourselves in a virtual world. We share the goal of the player character, whether it’s saving the world, winning a championship, or causing mayhem as a goose.

Imagination has always been – and to some extent still is – a big part of basketball gaming. Whether we’re assuming the role of a general manager or coach, taking control of a star player, or stepping onto the hardwood or blacktop with our own avatar, there’s an element of fantasy at play. Of course, many years ago, we had to be far more imaginative as far as scenarios and stories. In franchise and career play, we filled in the gaps, created our own back stories, and would even role-play in our story section. These days, we don’t have to use our imagination so much, especially in the story-driven MyCAREER. Needless to say, there are benefits and drawbacks to this.

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The Sunday Substitute: My Last 5 MyCAREER Campaigns From Worst to Best

My player in NBA 2K16 posing with DeMarcus Cousins.

What’s that? A surprise edition of The Sunday Substitute to start the new year? With the next generation of consoles here, I’ve decided to reflect on my PS4 MyCAREER experiences and rank them from worst to best.

MyCAREER has been a part of my basketball video game experience ever since I first picked up the mode in NBA 2K10, back when it was called My Player. However, it wasn’t until I purchased my PS4 that I played the game annually (except for NBA 2K18). During my run on PS4, I made a conscious decision to make each MyCAREER experience unique. For this reason, I played a different position for each game.

Every situation had its strengths and weaknesses, but some stood out more than others. So, I’m going to rank each of my last five MyCAREER campaigns on PS4 from worst to best. Let’s get this show on the road!

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 16 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 16 Retrospective

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! Next up is a retrospective of NBA Live 16.

I have mixed feelings when I look back at NBA Live 16. On one hand, it’s a very solid game that was an improvement on NBA Live 15. I also had the opportunity to play it early, and to date, that was the last community event that I attended. On the other hand, the game also introduced concepts that while fun, have since taken the series in the wrong direction upon becoming the main focus. That makes it a pivotal title in the series, and in hindsight, there were some red flags about what was to come. At the same time, the good things that it did were cause for optimism, and deserve credit. With that in mind, NBA Live 16 is a rather interesting release to reflect upon.

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NLSC Podcast #355: Hey, Mr Postman!

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Episode #355 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

As promised, we’re ending the year with a jumbo edition of the mailbag! First of all, we’re ranking NBA 2K on the last generation, and yes, our lists do differ. We also revisit the topic of NBA Live’s future, EA Sports’ silence on the game’s official social media channels, and how optimistic we feel. This segues into a discussion of franchises that EA has discontinued. Other topics include star athletes of yesteryear returning, our favourite mods, and what would take NBA 2K to the next level as far as features and content are concerned. A huge thanks to everyone who contributed topics and questions!

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 mailbag questions and topic suggestions for 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.

The Friday Five: Top 5 Coincidences in Basketball 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 countdown of the Top 5 coincidences that we’ve seen in basketball video games.

Coincidences are everywhere in basketball gaming. As Thunder Shaq and Dee4Three pointed out, NBA 2K used very similar phrasing to my Familiar Faces in Strange Places series of Wayback Wednesday articles to describe a themed set in MyTEAM. Of course, there are only so many ways to phrase things, and similar ideas will end up with similar titles and terminology. As this 2015 post about joke stealing explains, the phenomenon of parallel development accounts for many similarities, especially when something is topical or a common point of interest.

Beyond that, a lot of coincidences are fun, owing to the way they seemingly predict the future. We’ve seen coincidences like that occur more than a couple of times in basketball video games over the years. It’s easy to call them predictions in hindsight, while conveniently ignoring a lot of things that aren’t…well, anything! The ones that do look like predictions and foreshadowing are merely coincidences, but that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. Today, I’m counting down my picks for the Top 5 coincidences in basketball gaming. There’s some overlap with my previous article on predictions, but there are also some new coincidences that you might find amusing.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Rec Is Garbage, But Who’s To Blame?

Monday Tip-Off: The Rec Is Garbage, But Who's To Blame?

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 who’s to blame for The Rec being utter garbage in NBA 2K21, and how – or if – the problems can be fixed.

I have to blunt: The Rec is absolutely woeful this year. Walk-On play has always been a hit-and-miss alternative to team Pro-Am, owing to the all the issues that arise when you play with randoms. It’s been particularly toxic and unenjoyable in NBA 2K21, though. Admittedly, I can only speak to my experiences playing on the Australasian server, and I’ve yet to create a MyPLAYER on Next Gen and jump online. The scene may be a lot better on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, at least in North America. It’d be a low bar to clear, as the mode seems to have hit rock bottom.

While the issues are familiar, the continued decline of The Rec – and it’s felt like it’s grown even worse since NBA 2K21 Current Gen’s launch – raises a few questions. The two most pertinent are “who’s to blame”, and “how can it be fixed”. As you might imagine, the first issue has a significant impact on the second. The answer is quite complicated, and that naturally means the solution isn’t easy either. Still, I’ve been thinking about this a lot in recent weeks. While I am taking a moment to grumble here, I want to turn that into something constructive. If we as a community can identify these issues and suggest solutions, perhaps we can help improve the scene.

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