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Wayback Wednesday: International Cover Players

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 history of international cover players for various basketball video games.

Cover players are an aspect of basketball gaming that has become more important over time. The player on the box and the title screen may not always have much of an impact on the game beyond pre-order cosmetic items in career modes and a card in the team building modes, but they’re nevertheless a talking point. After all, the reveal of the cover player generally signifies the beginning of a new game’s preview season, tipping off weeks and months of discussion about what we’re hoping to see from an upcoming release.

As basketball games have increased in popularity, cover players have become selling points and an indication of a game’s brand strength, if not necessarily its quality. Both EA Sports and 2K Sports have sought to appeal to local markets with regional covers that feature a player from the country in question (or in a pinch, have some connection with said nation). They’ve resulted in the international editions of games becoming collector’s items due to their novelty, and are of course interesting trivia notes. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #322: Maybe Next Year, Huh?

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Episode #322 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dee4Three and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

In case there was any doubt that last week’s rumour concerning NBA Live 21 was false, we have confirmation that there will be no release this year. We discuss what this means for NBA Live’s future, and whether the series still has a chance to be relevant. We’re also concerned about a focus on the mobile platform, and constant changes in direction and vision. In other news, 2K is reportedly seeking a new community manager, and we’re all for it. We’re not putting our hands up, but we do outline our expectations. We also talk about in-game editing functions we’d like to see, games that we’ve changed our minds about, retro season mods we’d be interested in, and some recent additions to our collections.

What’s your take on this week’s topics? 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.

Monday Tip-Off: Arguing For & Against Green Releases

Monday Tip-Off: Arguing For & Against Green Releases

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 Green Releases, specifically the arguments for and against the mechanic.

Back in May 2017, I discussed the future of Green Releases in NBA 2K. Three years on, the mechanic still remains an issue. It’s funny to look back and see that Mike Wang was talking about weaning gamers off the concept of Green Releases, only for them to still be in the game, relatively unchanged. I say relatively because NBA 2K18 attempted to artificially nerf them with a “Good” release actually only having a 5% chance of going in – less than a Slightly Early or Slightly Late release – and other games have also seen Beluba and co tinker with the perfect release windows.

Apart from that, the basic idea remains the same. Green Releases result in a made shot every time, unless it’s blocked or you’re too far behind the backboard. If you can learn the precise timing of a jumpshot animation and pay attention to the rumble feedback cues, you’ll be greening attempts with ease and regularity. We’re still as reliant on the approach as ever, and it doesn’t look like it’s something that NBA 2K – or NBA Live, now that it’s adopted the same style of shot mechanics and feedback – will be able to move away from. The question is: should it? It feels like we’re at a stalemate on the issue, so let’s go over the pros and cons of Green Releases once again.

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Wayback Wednesday: Cover Players Who Changed Teams

Wayback Wednesday: Cover Players Who Changed Teams

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 cover players who changed teams not long after they made those appearances.

The choice of cover players is an aspect of basketball gaming that has become a bigger talking point since the early days of the hobby. The earliest NBA licensed basketball games tended to use photographs featuring a handful of players. Even in the late 90s, not all titles featured a single cover player, and more than a couple of cover players weren’t among the league’s elite. Since then, landing a big star has become an essential part of a game’s branding, and cover players have also influenced bonus content, including special game modes.

Sports game covers in general have their own lore and trivia. The infamous “Madden Curse” has been used to describe a string of misfortune suffered by NFL players who have appeared on the game’s cover. Basketball games have generally avoided such superstition, though a handful of players haven’t been so lucky. Arguably, it’s been their teams who’ve had the bad run of luck, as several cover players have ended up moving on not too long after becoming the face of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other titles. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Basketball Gaming Suggestions for Social Distancing

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 suggests five basketball gaming ideas that you might want to try while social distancing.

These are definitely unusual and concerning times, as the world at large deals with COVID-19. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy, taking the proper precautions as far as hygiene and social distancing are concerned, and that everything works out with your employment, schooling, housing, and so on. I also want to commend and thank the healthcare workers around the world who are doing an amazing job caring for patients during these difficult times. If I may borrow and paraphrase a quote from M*A*S*H, if you ask me, you’re all supermen (and women).

Obviously, there are more pressing matters in the world than basketball video games right now. At the same time, many of us are naturally spending a lot of time at home, and looking to occupy our days with leisure activities, gaming being one of them. To that end, I thought that I’d offer up some suggestions if you’re looking to hit the virtual hardwood while you’re social distancing. With the depth of modern basketball games, we’re able to sink a lot of time into them. As for older releases, at this point there are several great titles to dust off for some retro gaming. If basketball gaming is on your agenda while you’re social distancing, here are some ways to stay entertained.

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Monday Tip-Off: What I Learned From Uninstalling Games

Monday Tip-Off: What I Learned From Uninstalling Games

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 hard lessons I learned after uninstalling NBA 2K games on PlayStation 4.

I’m a collector of basketball games, both for my own enjoyment and to create content for the NLSC. To that end, there are some games that I own on multiple platforms, which allows for interesting comparisons; especially when it comes to older titles. With the current generation of NBA 2K games, I’ve made a point of buying them on both PC and PlayStation 4. The PC version has been there for single player gaming, as well as dabbling with mods if and when I so choose. The PS4 version has been for online gaming, as that’s where my friends (and a larger portion of the userbase) are.

Aside from differences such as the online scene and modding capabilities, the PC and PS4 versions – and the Xbox One release for that matter – are identical. Of course, my PC offers another advantage over my PS4: more storage space. It wasn’t until I picked up an external drive for my PS4 that I was able to maintain a much bigger library of installed games. Before that, I’d been uninstalling games as they went on the shelf, in order to play titles that were currently in my rotation. Once I added that extra storage, I was able to reinstall every NBA 2K title that I own for PS4. Unfortunately, I found out that uninstalling those games had a few drawbacks.

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NLSC Podcast #317: The Perks of PC & The Merriness of Modding

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Episode #317 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Dee4Three and I are discussing modding projects we’re working on (and the joy that it brings us), the benefits of PC basketball gaming, and the recently revealed specs for the next generation of consoles.

March Modness may be over, but we’re still in the mood to mod! In addition to discussing projects that we’re currently working on, we talk about how important the modding scene has been to the PC version. Specifically, we note that it’s drawn gamers from consoles to PC, and made them aware of the perks of PC basketball gaming. We also reflect on satisfying modding discoveries, and how mods stand out in other original content. As the preliminary specs for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox Series X have been revealed, we also take the opportunity to look ahead to the next generation. The specs sound impressive – and very much like a gaming PC – but will it matter if design philosophies don’t change?

Tune in below!

What are some of your favourite mods? Do you game on both PC and console, or do you prefer one over the other? 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.

NLSC Podcast #314: Our Unfinished Business & Nostalgic Phases

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Episode #314 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Dee4Three and I discuss a recent controversy with MyTEAM in NBA 2K20, as well as having unfinished business and nostalgic phases when it comes to basketball video games.

In the wake of the NBA shutdown, the official NBA 2K Twitter has been doing a great job of engaging with fans. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of 2K’s handling of MyTEAM bans due to Auction House sniping. We discuss the lack of communication and clear guidelines, as well as the staggering amount of money some gamers pump into the mode. Turning our attention to older games, we reflect on unfinished business in titles from yesteryear. In particular, we discuss the difficulty of going back and spending a lot of time with old favourites, the idea of basketball games (and sports games in general) having a different concept of completion, and games we wish that we’d played more. This leads into a discussion of nostalgic phases: the times where we’ve briefly become obsessed with revisiting certain hoops games that we love.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on the NBA 2K20 MyTEAM controversy? Do you go through retro gaming phases with classic basketball 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: NBA 2K10 Draft Combine

Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K10 Draft Combine

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 NBA 2K10 Draft Combine.

Our journey to the league in NBA 2K’s career modes has taken many forms. We’ve played in Rookie Showcase games, guided Freq from high school through to the pros, experienced a college career with Pres, and took a long road through China and the G League as AI. We’ve even made it to the NBA after leaving basketball behind to be a DJ, and then drawing attention in a streetball tournament. The Draft Combine has been featured in a couple of stories (including NBA 2K20’s tale), serving as another way to prove ourselves on the virtual hardwood and raise our Draft stock.

In the very first iteration of career mode – then called My Player – the combine was the starting point for the whole experience, tipping things off before the full game was even released. The NBA 2K10 Draft Combine offered gamers a sneak peek at the mode as well as an opportunity to get a head start, though only on console. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #313: NBA 2K20, Sixth Months Later

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Episode #313 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Dee4Three and myself as we share our impressions of NBA 2K20 six months and several patches after its release. We also discuss some NBA Live rumours, using NBA Live 19 as a guinea pig, and a promotion in NBA 2K19.

Following on from last week’s episode, we have a new rumour about NBA Live to discuss. We weigh in on the potential impact of NBA Live skipping another year, and possibly missing the launch of a new console generation. The prospect of using NBA Live 19 for extended testing ahead of a new release also comes up; could it benefit the series moving forward? Elsewhere, a promotion in NBA 2K19 is clearly trying to boost NBA 2K20’s already record-setting sales and engagement numbers. This leads into our impressions of NBA 2K20, six months after its release and following several patches. We talk about our enjoyment of the game, the impact of legacy issues, and where it ranks for us on the current generation. A couple of topics for future shows are also teased.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on NBA 2K20 six months after its release? Do you think EA is making a mistake, and should they utilise NBA Live 19 for testing? 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.

NLSC Podcast #312: The Silence is Deafening

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Episode #312 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! After an unscheduled hiatus last week, we’re back on the air to catch up on some recent NBA 2K20 news, talk about the lack of communication and hype when it comes to NBA Live, and reminisce about our biggest basketball gaming influences.

As March Modness 2020 tips off, we talk about some of the great work our modding community is doing right now, and some of our own plans for the event. Speaking of celebrations, NBA 2K20 gave away a MyTEAM pack to celebrate some record breaking numbers for installations and games played. We note that despite some missteps and bad PR here and there, 2K is fantastic when it comes to celebrating itself and promoting the brand. This leads us to draw comparisons to what EA Sports is doing with NBA Live, and how they could be doing so much more as far as community engagement. It hasn’t escaped our notice that there have been a lot of missed opportunities, not just with NBA Live but also NBA Jam. We also reflect on the games that had the biggest influence and impact on us growing up, and how it’s shaped our preferences, opinions, and expectations. Finally, we touch on the importance of standing together as a community.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on NBA Live’s approach to community engagement, or anything else we discussed this week? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

The Friday Five: 5 Worst Things in 5 of My Favourite Games

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of the five worst things in five of my favourite basketball video games.

I’ve been playing basketball video games for many years now, and there are several titles that stand out as my favourites. I’m probably overdue to write an article where I rank them, either in Monday Tip-Off or as a multi-part Friday Five series. With over two decades’ worth of games, the arcade and sim subgenres, and more than one series among my favourites, a Top 5 wouldn’t be sufficient. I feel I’d end up making some very contrived selections in order to make the list of five as varied and interesting as possible, which wouldn’t necessarily allow it to be completely accurate and honest.

Obviously, games become our favourites because of their strong points. The titles we love the most are the ones that offer the best combinations of quality gameplay, deep modes, and memorable features. They’re the ones that we’ve spent hours upon hours with, creating many fond memories on the virtual hardwood. However, even the best games and the ones that rank as our personal favourites have their problems. It’s rare that there isn’t one thing that bugs us, one thing we can point to as being the worst aspect of a game that we otherwise hold dear. With that in mind, here are five of the worst things in five games that I’d rank among my personal all-time favourites.

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NLSC Podcast #311: Sliding Into Better Gameplay

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Episode #311 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Dee4Three and I react to some rather gross sentiments by ESPN personalities and other talking heads, talk about recency bias, and discuss the approach to sliders and difficulty settings in modern games.

As the basketball world still reels from the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant, various talking heads are using it as an excuse to prop up LeBron James. We talk about our disgust with the practice, particularly some very inappropriate sentiments from Rachel Nichols. This leads us to once again reflect on recency bias, both in real basketball and basketball video games. In particular, we note how the good isn’t remembered as often as the great, and how it’s too readily dismissed. After that, we get into our main discussion topic, concerning sliders and difficulty settings in games. We touch on how games and attitudes have changed, as well as the importance of “out of the box” quality. The issue of modes without sliders is also discussed, along with some ideas for the community.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on gameplay sliders, and everything else we talked about this week? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

The Friday Five: 5 Times Gamers Ruined 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 discusses five times that gamers themselves ruined basketball video games.

This week’s topic may seem unfair, even absurd. After all, we don’t create basketball video games; we just play them. If there’s a problem with a game, then that’s on the developers, not us as consumers, right? Well, for the most part, yes. We’re not the ones implementing microtransactions, grindy mechanics, or other undesirable ideas. We do arguably support them by continuing to buy the games and pumping money into recurrent revenue systems, but boycotts, as Jim Sterling has pointed out, aren’t all that effective. Ultimately, we’re not making design choices, or programming code.

However, we are making suggestions, and the loudest voices aren’t always expressing the best ideas. Tribalism these days goes as deep as which mode you play, as well as a preference for online or offline gaming. Not all feedback has been to the benefit of NBA Live or NBA 2K. The way we choose to play the game and use the features and functions at our disposal has also had a negative effect. Whether it’s through elitism and snobbery, or childishness and trolling, we’ve found more than a couple of ways to spoil the fun. I’m not saying that developers haven’t messed up, but these are five examples of how we as gamers and consumers have ruined games for ourselves.

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NLSC Podcast #309: A Tribute to Kobe Bryant

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Episode #309 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Dee4Three and I pay tribute to the late and legendary Kobe Bryant with reflections on his career, and impact on basketball video games.

It’s been almost a week, but it’s still hard to get our heads around the news that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter accident. We extend our condolences to the Bryants and the other families who suffered this terrible loss, and talk about how we came to hear the news. This leads into some reflections on Kobe’s career, and how we came to regard him over the 20 years he played in the NBA. We also talk about his connection to video games as a cover player, and discuss the idea of a challenge mode in NBA 2K21, along with a roster project.

Tune in below!

What are your memories of Kobe Bryant, in real life and on the virtual hardwood? 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.