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Monday Tip-Off: The Future of Historical Teams in NBA 2K

Michael Jordan dribbles the basketball in NBA 2K17

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 the future of historical teams in NBA 2K.

Beginning with the content added for the Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11, Visual Concepts’ roster of historical teams in NBA 2K has delivered an experience that we once never thought possible. While the game hasn’t featured a dedicated mode for historical teams since NBA’s Greatest in NBA 2K12, many retro squads are still available as of NBA 2K17. It’s clear that there’s a demand for them, as new teams and players have been added over the years. Community projects such as the Ultimate Base Roster, U R Basketball, and the Ultimate Classic Teams Roster, further demonstrate how we like to use basketball video games to look back on the past.

Looking ahead to future NBA 2K games, however, I have to wonder what’s in store for historical teams. A few prominent players have been removed since NBA 2K11, and others weren’t included in the first place when their teams were added. Some teams have been cut in their entirety, either due to redundancy, or a lack of real players as licensing deals have expired. It’s been a couple of years since any new historical teams were added – the pre-order bonus Dream Team in NBA 2K17 not withstanding – and even longer since they’ve been utilised in a dedicated mode. I have to wonder, what does the future look like for historical teams in NBA 2K?

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NLSC Podcast – Episode #210

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Episode #210 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! We’re coming at you a little later this week as we wanted to talk about the results of the 2017 NBA Draft, as well as the most recent NBA Live 18 gameplay videos, and a couple of other recent news stories.

On this week’s show…

  • EA Play attendees have released new gameplay videos of NBA Live 18, while offering up further hands-on impressions. We share our thoughts on what we’ve been shown, from the animations to the new Shot Meter.
  • Oddly, NBA 2K18 Legend Edition cover player Shaquille O’Neal was photographed wearing an NBA Live 18 barber’s smock. Probably not the promotion that Visual Concepts wanted.
  • Our Week in Basketball Gaming included a somewhat backwards session of 2K Pro-Am, a very brief trip to MyPARK, and some great card pulls in NBA Playgrounds.
  • We wrap up Episode #210 of the NLSC Podcast with some thoughts on the 2017 NBA Draft, and a couple of big trades. #FireGarPax

Click Play to listen to the show!

Have some thoughts on the latest episode? Sound off in the comments below, or here in the Forum. Also, if there’s a topic you’d like us to discuss on the next episode of the NLSC Podcast, feel free to hit us up in this thread.

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Monday Tip-Off: Missing Former Modes & Features

Roster Editing is greatly missed in NBA Live

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 modes and features that are missing in recent games, and as such, tend to be sorely missed.

With their annual releases, sports video games are often criticised for being little more than a patch, roster update, or expansion pack sold at retail price. While it’s an understandable criticism, and those of us who buy the games every year certainly do want to get value for money, it is selling developers like EA Sports and Visual Concepts short. A lot of time and energy goes into the development of the games, and while the results aren’t always want we want, we generally see some pleasing improvements, and new content beyond updated rosters for the new season. Of course, it’s always frustrating when it seems like one step forward, two steps back.

As much as we hate to see new games make missteps in terms of the gameplay experience, it’s arguably even more frustrating when modes and other features that we really enjoyed in previous games are cut from future releases. Even though there may be perfectly valid reasons for their removal – technical or otherwise – it generally doesn’t lessen the sting of losing the experiences and functionality they provided. As I look ahead to NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18, and think about the news I’d like to hear in the upcoming preview season, I can’t help but reflect on some of the modes and features that I miss in both games.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Importance of Consistent Controls

NBA Live 16's Practice Gym

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 the importance of consistent controls in NBA Live and NBA 2K.

The preview seasons for NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 are tantalisingly close…presumably. We should get another glimpse at NBA Live 18 this weekend at EA Play, and with Live scheduled to come out this year, hopefully 2K won’t drag their feet putting out information, especially since they’re once again pushing early pre-orders. In any event, it hopefully shouldn’t be too long before we start hearing about improvements and changes to gameplay mechanics, AI, modes, and all other aspects of the games. Controls will be a key point of interest, specifically whether or not there have been any major changes or enhancements.

When it comes to the responsiveness and fluidity of the controls, as well as their depth and influence over the action, it’s probably safe to say that most of us still want to see some further improvement. It’s vital that we have control over advanced moves, don’t get stuck in animations or experience too many canned moments, and not suffer stiffness or a lack of responsiveness on the sticks. Beyond those mechanics however, there’s an important design concept that EA and 2K both need to keep in mind: the controls should be relatively consistent from year to year.

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NLSC Podcast – Episode #207

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Episode #207 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Arcane and I as we discuss the NBA 2K18 cover reveal, our hopes and expectations for NBA Live 18 following the first trailer, Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals, and a couple of other topics.

On this week’s show…

  • Kyrie Irving has been revealed as the cover player for NBA 2K18. We give our thoughts on the choice, and reflect on some past cover players.
  • Now that we’ve seen the first trailer for NBA Live 18, what are our hopes and expectations for this year’s game from EA Sports?
  • Having played a few games of NBA Playgrounds with the new patch, we’ve got some further impressions to share.
  • Our Week in Basketball Gaming included one of the most frustrating 2K Pro-Am sessions to date, and a couple of MyCAREER games.
  • The 2017 NBA Finals is underway, and the Golden State Warriors certainly made a statement in Game 1.
  • We wrap up Episode #207 of the NLSC Podcast with news on some merch!

Click Play to listen to the show!

Have some thoughts on the latest episode? Sound off in the comments below, or here in the Forum. Also, if there’s a topic you’d like us to discuss on the next episode of the NLSC Podcast, feel free to hit us up in this thread.

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The Friday Five: 5 Things NLSC THRILLHO Learned in 2K Pro-Am

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 things that NLSC THRILLHO has collectively learned playing 2K Pro-Am in NBA 2K17.

Even though we’ve cut back on our 2K Pro-Am sessions in NBA 2K17, the members of NLSC THRILLHO still get together once a week, or at least once a fortnight, to play a few games. As Arcane and I have mentioned in recent episodes of the NLSC Podcast, we’ve had a couple of really fun sessions recently including one where we finished the night on a five game winning streak, but also a couple of very frustrating ones. Last week’s session was an example of the latter, leading us to call it a night after only two games.

At this point, we’ve played over 470 games, which is the equivalent of about five and three quarter seasons (or a little under two and a half seasons, adjusting the twenty minute games for regulation length). NLSC THRILLHO certainly isn’t one of the top-ranked squads, but with all those games, we do at least have a lot of experience under our belts. To that end, we’ve undoubtedly learned a thing or two about the mode, which has given us a new perspective as we look ahead to NBA 2K18. If I may speak on behalf of NLSC THRILLHO for a moment, these are probably the five most important lessons we’ve learned in NBA 2K17’s 2K Pro-Am.

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Kyrie Irving Announced As Cover Player for NBA 2K18

NBA 2K18 Cover Art

With the third straight NBA Finals clash between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers set to tip off today, 2K Sports has revealed that All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving of the defending champion Cavs will grace the cover of NBA 2K18. As previously announced, Shaquille O’Neal will appear on the covers of the Legend Edition and Legend Edition Gold.

Kyrie Irving previously appeared on the cover of NBA Live 14, making him the third player to appear on both the cover of NBA Live and NBA 2K, following Shaquille O’Neal (NBA Live 96, NBA 2K6, NBA 2K7, NBA 2K18) and Kevin Garnett (NBA Live 2001, NBA 2K9). Kevin Durant, whom Kyrie Irving and the Cavs will face in this year’s NBA Finals, was the cover player for the ultimately cancelled NBA Elite 11. He would later go on to appear on the cover of NBA 2K13 along with Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose, and was also the lone cover player for NBA 2K15.

Although no specific details have been revealed at this time, it’s likely that pre-order customers will receive some sort of Kyrie Irving-themed gear for their MyPLAYER, as was the case with Paul George’s Team USA apparel in NBA 2K17. As previously noted, the Legend Edition and Legend Edition Gold will provide a selection of Shaquille O’Neal-themed bonus content, including physical collectables in the Gold edition. As soon as any further details are made available, we’ll be sure to post them.

You can check out a larger image of the cover below. Any thoughts on Kyrie Irving’s selection as the cover player for NBA 2K18? Have your say in the comments, and join in the discussion here in the NLSC Forum! For a history of NBA 2K cover players, check out this article in our Wiki.

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Monday Tip-Off: Green Releases in NBA 2K

Green Releases in NBA 2K17

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 the future of green releases in NBA 2K.

A few weeks back, NBA 2K Gameplay Director Mike Wang made a candid statement about the future of green releases. Beluba’s goal is to wean basketball gamers off the concept of green releases being guaranteed baskets, in order to strive for more realism and competitive balance. We’ve seen NBA 2K17 take a few steps in that direction, with several tuning updates focused on shooting mechanics being pushed through since the game’s release. Generally speaking, those updates have sought to reduce the number of green releases by making them more difficult to achieve, tweak the percentages of near-perfect releases, or re-balance the shooting in some other way.

Results have been mixed, and a lot of gamers have expressed frustration with the constant changes to shooting in NBA 2K17. On top of some tweaks seemingly being either too effective or largely ineffective, there’s been a concern that changes that are made in order to enhance the online experience are negatively affecting single player gameplay. Beyond that, opinion is divided as to whether green releases should be guaranteed baskets – assuming the attempts aren’t blocked, of course – or whether they should simply have the best odds of being made, according to a player’s ratings and attributes. I have to admit, at times I’m a little torn myself.

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NLSC Podcast – Episode #204

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Episode #204 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Arcane and I as we discuss the NBA 2K18 Legend Edition cover reveal, give our initial impressions of NBA Playgrounds, and talk about the burnout and cynicism we sometimes feel when it comes to giving constructive feedback.

On this week’s show…

  • Shaquille O’Neal has been revealed as the cover player for the Legend Edition of NBA 2K18. We also know the release date and the pre-order bonuses. Does all that VC suggest another tough grind this year?
  • Charles Barkley has revealed what it will take for him to appear in NBA 2K18.
  • NBA Playgrounds has been released, and we have some initial impressions to share. One of us is a little more positive than the other.
  • Referring back to a Monday Tip-Off article from a few weeks ago, we discuss the burnout and cynicism that can arise after years of talking about improvements to basketball video games, and compiling feedback for developers.
  • It pains us to say it as long-time NBA fans, but we’re just not feeling this year’s Playoffs.
  • We wrap up Episode #204 of the NLSC Podcast with Our Week in Basketball Gaming, which included another brief but enjoyable session of 2K Pro-Am in NBA 2K17.

Click Play to listen to the show!

Have some thoughts on the latest episode? Sound off in the comments below, or here in the Forum. Also, if there’s a topic you’d like us to discuss on the next episode of the NLSC Podcast, feel free to hit us up in this thread.

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Shaquille O’Neal Announced for Legend Edition of NBA 2K18

Shaquille O'Neal on the NBA 2K17 Legend Edition Gold Cover

2K Sports has announced that Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal will grace the cover of the Legend Edition of NBA 2K18. Shaq previously appeared on the covers of NBA 2K6 and NBA 2K7, and has remained in the game as a playable Legend following his retirement in 2011. He’s also had a presence in recent games as part of the pre-game, halftime, and post-game shows, alongside his NBA on TNT colleagues Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith.

Just as they did with Kobe Bryant’s special editions of NBA 2K17, there will be a Legend Edition and Legend Edition Gold for NBA 2K18. Interestingly, the cover of the standard Legend Edition will feature Shaquille O’Neal on the Miami Heat, while the cover of the Legend Edition Gold (appropriately enough) features him on the Los Angeles Lakers. The cover player for the standard edition of NBA 2K18 is yet to be announced. You can check out shots of both Legend Edition covers below.

The release date and pre-order bonuses for all three editions have also been revealed. The Early Tip-Off Weekend is in effect again, giving gamers the opportunity to play the game on September 15th (four days ahead of the September 19th street date). Pre-order bonuses for the standard edition include 5,000 VC, 10 weekly MyTEAM packs, and MyPLAYER apparel. The Legend Edition includes 100,000 VC, Shaq Attaq shoes and other Shaq-themed apparel, 20 weekly MyTEAM packs, and some collectables. The Legend Edition Gold includes an additional 150,000 VC, more in-game apparel, another 20 weekly MyTEAM packs, and additional collectables. See below for the full breakdown.

Gamers can expect to pay $99.99 for the Legend Edition, and $149.99 for the Legend Edition Gold. A brief announcement trailer has been released, featuring Shaquille O’Neal at a press conference that gets hijacked by Kobe Bryant. Watch it below, or check it out here if you can’t see the embedded video.

We’ll continue to cover NBA 2K18 throughout the preview season, so stay tuned. In the meantime, feel free to leave your reactions and speculation in the comments section below, as well as join in the discussion here in the NLSC Forum.

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NLSC Podcast – Episode #203

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Episode #203 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Kenny and I are your hosts this week, and our conversation covers the latest NBA Playgrounds news, Beluba’s plans for NBA 2K’s shooting mechanics, NBA Live 18’s direction, and the latest from the 2017 NBA Playoffs.

On this week’s show…

  • NBA Playgrounds has a confirmed release date of May 9th. Polygon’s preview provided us with some new info on the game, and we’re still very much looking forward to it.
  • Mike Wang (aka Beluba) posted an insight into his plans for shooting mechanics in future NBA 2K games, specifically his desire to wean gamers off automatic makes on Green releases. We give our thoughts on the matter.
  • Following on from this week’s Monday Tip-Off article, we discuss whether it would be a good idea for NBA Live 18 to take a more traditional approach, in order to capitalise on the dissatisfaction some gamers have with certain aspects of NBA 2K’s direction.
  • Our Week in Basketball Gaming includes a head-to-head showdown in MyTEAM, expanding collections, and a refreshingly enjoyable run in both 2K Pro-Am and MyPARK.
  • The 2017 NBA Playoffs roll on into the second round. LeBron reaches a milestone, prompting thoughts from the (alleged) resident bitter insecure hater. Also, Paul Pierce’s retirement, Tony Parker’s injury, Isaiah Thomas’ big night, and some predictions.
  • We wrap up Episode #203 of the NLSC Podcast with some quick thoughts on the new BIG3 league, which recently completed its draft.

Click Play to listen to the show!

Have some thoughts on the latest episode? Sound off in the comments below, or here in the Forum. Also, if there’s a topic you’d like us to discuss on the next episode of the NLSC Podcast, feel free to hit us up in this thread.

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The Friday Five: 5 NBA 2K Features I Want To See Return

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 features that I’d like to see return in future NBA 2K games.

While many of us do have our gripes with recent NBA 2K games, for the most part the series has been very solid for a long time now. Unlike NBA Live, it hasn’t been set back by frequent changes in direction. Instead, it’s continued to build upon its established foundation, and the quality of the experience has been fairly consistent as a result. The depth of the modes and the assortment of features and options have gone a long way in making NBA 2K successful. From robust single player experiences to different modes for online play, to roster editing and customisation, there’s a lot for basketball gamers to sink their teeth into.

Unfortunately, some features have fallen by the wayside over the years. There are various reasons for their absence in recent titles, from technical issues to design choices. Thankfully, we have seen some really great features make their way back into the game, such as the “Start Today” option in MyLEAGUE and MyGM. However, there are still some other features from past NBA 2K titles that would make a deep and well-rounded product even better, if they were to return. These are the five features that spring immediately to mind for me.

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Monday Tip-Off: Got Next Gotta Go in MyPARK

Got Next in NBA 2K17's MyPARK

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 the “Got Next” approach in MyPARK.

Along with the other members of NLSC THRILLHO, I’ve been finding 2K Pro-Am a little more frustrating than usual lately. The most recent patch opened up matchmaking across different tiers, which results in more games, but also frequently matches us up against Elite level teams who are more serious about online gaming, or have achieved that status through cheesy builds. We’ve still had some enjoyable games, but a few tough nights, combined with rising frustration with some of NBA 2K17’s issues, have encouraged us to head to MyPARK instead. After an enjoyable experience with Park After Dark #3, it’s something we’ll probably do more often.

Even though I generally prefer five-on-five gameplay with NBA rules, the streetball approach of MyPARK is a fun change of pace. I like the more casual atmosphere, and when there’s only three of us online, a three-on-three game without AI players of questionable skill level feels like a more streamlined experience. I find that I’m less frustrated, perhaps because even though I do want to win and we do compete, losses don’t seem to sting as much in shorter games. However, there is one frustrating element of MyPARK, and it’s something that’s always bothered me about the mode: Got Next. For me, Got Next gotta go.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Mixed Bag of CPU Teammates in 2K Pro-Am

Tip-Off in NBA 2K17's 2K Pro-Am

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 the quality of CPU-controlled teammates in NBA 2K17’s 2K Pro-Am.

As the artificial intelligence in basketball video games has become more sophisticated, CPU-controlled teammates have thankfully become much more reliable. That’s not to say that there aren’t any frustrating moments where they seemingly forget how to play basketball, but compared to early hoops titles, there’s less of a need to frantically switch control of players and take charge of everything yourself. Needless to say, if you’re locked to controlling a single player – as is the basis of modes such as MyCAREER and 2K Pro-Am – it’s even more important that CPU-controlled teammates are competent.

Barring a connection problem, you’ll never start a game of 2K Pro-Am with more than two AI players. If you consistently run with a full squad of five players, they’ll seldom be an issue at all unless someone fouls out, or is booted due to a low teammate grade. However, if you frequently jump online to play 2K Pro-Am, chances are you’ll deal with a CPU-controlled teammate at some point. It’s at that point you’ll discover that although AI in basketball games has come a long way, the quality of your CPU teammates is still very much a mixed bag.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ideas for 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 list of five story ideas for MyCAREER.

The story-driven approach to MyCAREER appears to be here to stay. Fortunately, as of NBA 2K17, it’s not quite as intrusive as it once was. In the absence of an option to skip the story altogether, keeping the narrative to the background is definitely for the best. It would also be preferable if the gameplay experience drives the story, rather than the other way around. In any event, there are some basketball gamers who do enjoy the story aspect of MyCAREER, and as such, I expect it’s something that Visual Concepts will double down on in future NBA 2K titles.

With that in mind, what kind of stories should MyCAREER try to tell? We’ve seen a rivalry with Jackson Ellis, an undrafted player battling for a place in the league, a Spike Lee joint, and the tale of a dynamic duo. I believe that the next step would be to introduce more than one story, preferably with branching plot points and impactful decisions that underscore the RPG aspect of MyCAREER. To that end, I have five ideas for stories that would provide gamers with a varied career mode experience, and more replay value than what is currently offered.

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