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NLSC Podcast #369: Do You Want To Make A Mod, Man?

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Episode #369 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.

An annoying issue in MLB The Show 20 leads us to reflect on some of the flaws in our all-time favourite basketball games. We conclude that there isn’t a title that we wouldn’t change something in; content, a mechanic, or a noteworthy bug that needed fixing. Also, March Modness may be over, but we’ve still got modding on our minds. For anyone looking to get into the hobby, we offer up some advice, and discuss the various possibilities. In this week’s mailbag, we’re throwing it back to NBA Live 2001, and discussing the benefits of the User vs. User experience.

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 #367: Courting Controversy

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Episode #367 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.

The surprising quality of Garfield Kart (of all things) leads us to consider how to make a good rip-off, and where so many NBA Jam clones have come up short. However, our main topic this week is controversial and unpopular basketball gaming opinions. We share a few of our own potentially divisive takes, and react to the fantastic responses we received on Twitter when we invited our followers to share theirs. As it turns out, some opinions may be more popular than some people think! Additionally, we touch on how people are discouraged from sharing unpopular opinions – or just opinions in general – particularly valid criticism. In this week’s mailbag, we return to the question of when releases should and likely will end for Current Gen.

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.

The Friday Five: 5 Divisive Artistic Choices

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 artistic choices in basketball video games that proved to be divisive.

It’s likely that at some point, you’ve heard the fable of “The miller, his son, and the donkey.” It’s the go-to fable whenever you want to illustrate that you can’t please everyone; or, to use the wording of the moral that’s appended to certain versions of the fable, “if you try to please all, you please none.” The fable is talking about actions, but the message holds true for art and entertainment as well. Whether it’s a video game, tabletop game, film, TV series (or an individual episode thereof), album, song, poem, drawing, painting, or whatever…nothing receives universal acclaim.

After all, it’s impossible for a single work to cater to everyone’s individual taste with its artistic choices. Of course, some artistic choices tend to evoke more extreme responses and opinions than others. They’re the proverbial “love it or hate it” artistic choices, with very little in between. It’s also interesting that some of the most divisive aspects of basketball games are generally inconsequential artistic choices that don’t inhibit the core gameplay experience. Atmosphere is still important though, and a gaudy art style can be off-putting. With that in mind, here are five of the most divisive artistic choices that we’ve seen in various aspects of basketball video games.

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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.

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Returns Over Before They Began

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Returns Over Before They Began

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 returns that were over before they began, with a representation of how they’d look in games.

Although our content is obviously focused on the virtual hardwood, I like to mix in topics related to the real NBA as well. After all, it directly influences our experiences in video games, and the games in turn capture a snapshot of what the league was like when they were released. To that end, I’ve enjoyed branching out with topics like Familiar Faces in Strange Places, and its counterpart Familiar Faces Back in Familiar Places, in previous Wayback Wednesday features. It’s easy to bring it all back to video games, because of the way they act as interactive almanacs.

This is a spinoff of those two series that came to mind as I was researching them. I recalled players that were reacquired by their former teams, but didn’t end up playing for them again. As I noted in my Familiar Places articles, there’s something fun about seeing players rejoin their old teams; especially when they end up wearing an updated uniform we never thought we’d see them don. Likewise, there are some interesting “What If” scenarios involving NBA returns that were over before they even had a chance to begin, or otherwise didn’t result in an official appearance. We can see and make NBA returns happen in games however, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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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.

NLSC Podcast #362: Putting the Ball in the Basket

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Episode #362 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.

A bevy of retro season roster mods are being produced at the moment, which we’re excited to see. The fact that there are a couple of 2005 season mods out or in the works reminds us that time is marching on, and our nostalgia is getting old! We also have some advice for getting big projects done and released. Meanwhile, NBA 2K21 Current Gen and Next Gen have both received new patches, so we briefly discuss some of the changes. This week’s main discussion is a deep dive into shooting mechanics: the history and evolution, the best and worst concepts, and everything in between. In the latest mailbag, we discuss the forthcoming Space Jam sequel, and consider another What If scenario.

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.

The Friday Five: 5 Side Characters That Should’ve Been MyPLAYERs

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 side characters in MyCAREER stories that arguably should’ve been the player character instead.

So, I’ve looked at the best antagonists and protagonists in MyCAREER stories, but those tales have also featured a number of interesting side characters (and B-Fresh). It may be an overused idea at times, but whenever you have a cast of good supporting characters that have interesting stories of their own, you can’t help but wonder about spinoff ideas. Alternatively, you may feel that they should’ve been the main character all along. There are certainly some examples in the various MyCAREER stories, and so I’ll be exploring those possibilities today.

Of course, it should be noted that oftentimes side characters are in those roles for a reason, and promoting them to the lead or one of the main characters exposes why they weren’t in the spotlight in the first place. The same traits that made them such enjoyable side characters can make them unsuitable protagonists. It may be that they work better in small doses, or aspects that made them funny as a side character are grating when they’re the lead. Conversely, a lack of flaws may make them too boring in the role of protagonist. With that being said, I do believe there’s merit in these side characters being cast in the role of MyPLAYER avatar, albeit with a few changes.

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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 Protagonists 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 Protagonists we’ve played as in MyCAREER stories (obligatory spoiler warning).

Although it’s often said that stories are only as good as their villains, it’s still vital that their protagonists are likewise well-written. There’s arguably more wiggle room here as some stories have successfully utilised protagonists that are audience surrogates; blank slates that we can project ourselves onto. MyPLAYERs certainly can qualify in that regard. Since the adoption of the story-driven approach in MyCAREER, the player character does have established personality traits, yet there are also moments where we can role-play and choose how they react to a situation.

A problem that many of us have had with the protagonists of various MyCAREER stories is that the aspects of the character and story we can’t change have a negative impact on the experience. For example, the NBA 2K15 MyPLAYER isn’t a very sympathetic character. In NBA 2K16’s “Livin’ Da Dream“, Frequency Vibrations (aka Freq) has a very specific background that doesn’t gel with the RPG mechanics of the mode, and makes decisions many of us wouldn’t. A good MyCAREER protagonist is one whose shoes we do want to jump into, whichever brand they may be. To that end, these are my picks for the Top 5 Protagonists that have become our avatars.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Reddit Post That Tried to Warn Us

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with some reflections on a Reddit post that tried to warn us about some looming issues with the direction of the NBA 2K series.

There’s a Reddit post that I’ve mentioned and linked to in quite a few articles since it was made in the official NBA 2K subreddit back in 2018. That post was titled “The ‘MMO-ification’ of NBA2K and the perils of ignoring player retention: Thoughts from a former MMO developer“, and it was very well-received. After all, this wasn’t just a random gamer speaking out in frustration, or even a prominent content creator or pundit. This was someone who worked in video game development, and saw first-hand how certain approaches affected both gamer enjoyment, and a game’s success.

The criticisms this former EVE Online developer made were astute, and they were on the money about it only being the beginning. Their post touched on matters that many reviewers, and even content creators and community leaders, tend to ignore. It spoke about design philosophies – matters beyond tech and specific game features – that were responsible for problems in the games, and painted a worrying picture for the future. Today, I’m revisiting that Reddit post, and picking out some relevant quotes that identify problems that were troubling in NBA 2K18, and have remained so in its successors. As you’ll see, the insights of that Reddit post were almost prophetic.

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Monday Tip-Off: Ain’t No Love in the Heart of The City

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 my thoughts on how The City is perpetuating a troubling issue with MyCAREER and its connected modes.

Adding an open world environment to MyCAREER has, unsurprisingly, been a rather divisive decision since The Neighborhood debuted in NBA 2K18. Some gamers loved the idea, and were wowed from the very first reveal trailers. Others aren’t so keen on the concept, seeing it as a waste of time. Now that The City has taken its place in NBA 2K21 Next Gen, gamers who loved The Neighborhood have been delighted by an even larger hub world. Those who disliked The Neighborhood have no love for The City for many of the same reasons as before, only now on a much grander scale.

Of course, even if you love The City, the feeling isn’t mutual. There’s an aspect of The City that is, to quote a salient Reddit post, “downright contemptuous of players and hostile towards newer players”. Unlike The Neighborhood, The City isn’t welcoming to everyone; well, not immediately, anyway. This year, we have to prove that we’re worthy of taking part in the main hub world of MyCAREER, making use of all the familiar facilities that we’ve had at our disposal these past few years. To me, the title of Bobby Bland’s song – or for that matter, the Jay-Z song from the NBA 2K17 soundtrack, which sampled it – aptly describes The City’s cold, elitist heartlessness.

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The Friday Five: 5 Odd Technical Issues 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 list of five odd technical issues that have been present in various basketball games over the years.

Games (and software in general) having bugs are a fact of life. Among older gamers such as myself, there’s sometimes an erroneous belief that the games we grew up with didn’t have such technical issues. Before patches were viable, developers did have to ensure that games were as bug-free as possible before they shipped, but many of the all-time classics have glitches of some description. Of course, on top of the need to stamp out bugs before games were finalised on cartridge and disc, the simplicity of those older games avoided some of the pitfalls of their more complex descendants.

To put it another way, the bigger video games have grown, the more bugs and other technical issues they’re prone to having. When it comes to PC games, the need to support a variety of hardware also provides further challenges. To that end, while there are several valid criticisms we can and should make of basketball video games, the mere presence of technical issues doesn’t indicate laziness, incompetence, or a lack of care. If making games and software that were entirely bug-free were easy – or indeed, possible – we’d see it happen. With that being said, various hoops titles have had notably odd bugs and technical issues, and today, I’m looking at five of them.

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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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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 18 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 18 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 18.

We’re almost at the end of our retrospectives, with just two games left to cover. Before we begin, which do you prefer: the NBA, or streetball? NBA Live 18 aimed to give us the best of both worlds, in the form of The League and The Streets. Even the cover emphasised the duality of the game, with two pictures of James Harden: one in his Houston Rockets uniform, the other in a plain singlet and shorts. The game wasn’t a disaster, nor was it a complete departure from previous titles in the series. It was clear that NBA Live was headed in a new direction though, and not everyone was happy about that; especially long-time fans of the series.

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