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The Friday Five: 5 Most Significant Years in Basketball Gaming

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 lists what I feel are the five most significant years in the history of basketball gaming.

2019 is upon us, and as always, I’m hoping that it’ll end up being a fantastic year for basketball gaming! Hopefully, we’ll be able to get a lot of enjoyment out of the 2018 releases for the next eight or nine months, and then get our hands on even better titles to close out the year. While the success of basketball games ultimately rests with their respective developers, we shouldn’t underestimate the impact that we can have as a community. As such, it’s important that we speak up with constructive feedback, so that we can do our part in making 2019 a big year on the virtual hardwood.

There have been quite a few milestone years for basketball video games over the past three decades. They’ve marked significant improvements within the genre, through the release of many memorable games that have gone down as classics. Of course, there are also years that have been significant in terms of basketball gaming for far less positive reasons. As we tip off a new year and hope for the best when it comes to the future of basketball gaming, I feel there’s value in looking back at the road that hoops games have travelled. After all, it’s essential that forthcoming games not only build upon the success of their predecessors, but also avoid some of their pitfalls.

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The Friday Five: 5 Games That Felt Like Backwards Steps

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 basketball games that felt like backwards steps following their predecessors.

Ideally, each release in an annual basketball game series should improve upon the title that came before it (and indeed, all previous games in its lineage). That’s not always feasible, and missteps will happen from time to time when new ideas and technology don’t pan out as intended, so it’s always welcome when a new release is able to build upon the success of its predecessor or bounce back after a disappointing game. I feel that this is a good year for basketball games, with NBA Live 19 continuing a steady improvement for NBA Live, and NBA 2K19 addressing many of NBA 2K18’s issues.

We’re not always so lucky. As much as sports games are often criticised for seemingly releasing the same game every year with new art and rosters, there are times when a new title leaves us wishing that that was indeed the case. It’s impossible to live up to everyone’s expectations, and whether or not certain changes are for better or worse is often subjective, but there have been basketball games that were definite backwards steps for one reason or another. Let’s take a look at five prominent examples and the ways in which they can be considered backwards steps when compared to the games that came before them.

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Monday Tip-Off: Toxicity in the Basketball Gaming Community

LeBron James dribbles the basketball in NBA Live 19

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 toxicity that we unfortunately so often encounter in the basketball gaming community.

Yes, cranky old Andrew has something else to complain about today! I mean, the last four Monday Tip-Off articles were all about having fun with basketball video games, so it’s about time I grumble again, right? In all seriousness, this is a topic that I feel needs to be addressed, because I believe it’s an area where collectively, we can do a lot better: toxicity among basketball gamers. Now, there is a certain amount of irony in discussing the matter in that it’s being negative about negativity, but it’s important that we do take a look at what’s happening, and aim for a constructive solution.

Before we begin, let’s address the obvious point: the situation is hardly unique to the basketball gaming community, or the World Wide Web at large. Many blogs, videos, comics, and social media posts have been made about the toxicity that all too often permeates online culture. That in itself doesn’t make it right or a desirable state of affairs however, and it certainly doesn’t mean that we can’t take steps to change our attitudes and behaviour. I’ve been a content creator and part of the online basketball gaming community for over twenty years now, and I’ve noticed an increased amount of toxicity in that time. Worst of all, in some ways, developers are pandering to it.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Self-Destruction of NBA Playgrounds 2

Kevin Durant shoots in NBA Playgrounds 2

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 further thoughts on NBA Playgrounds 2, and how the game appears to be self-destructing before it’s even released.

Back in May, I wrote an article discussing the opportunity that NBA Playgrounds 2 had to become the definitive arcade basketball game of the current generation. In the immediate wake of the game’s indefinite postponement, such a suggestion still felt somewhat plausible. As the weeks and months have passed, however, it’s starting to feel laughable. We haven’t heard a single thing since the game was postponed, and despite vague promises in the game’s official Facebook group, there’s little to back up the idea that “good things come to those who wait”.

Right now, Saber Interactive is insisting that the game isn’t cancelled, and that the release was pushed back for positive reasons. While that may ultimately turn out to be true, their silence is not inspiring confidence. Gamers are starting to feel sceptical and cynical, rather than anticipating an announcement that’s still “coming soon”. While the game may indeed come out, it’s going to have a tough time living up to the hype and expectations set by its mysterious delay. Even if it turns out to be an improvement on the first NBA Playgrounds and a solid game, the opportunity to become the arcade basketball game of this generation may have slipped through Saber’s fingers.

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Wayback Wednesday: Dynamic Season in NBA Live 10

Dynamic Season in the Main Menu (NBA Live 10)

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 Dynamic Season in NBA Live 10.

While I still consider the PC version of NBA Live 06 to be the last truly well-rounded instalment in the NBA Live series, NBA Live 10 has to be given its due. It holds up quite well, and EA Sports definitely should’ve continued to build on it rather than changing directions with NBA Elite 11. Had EA not elected to take that risk, the series might be in much better shape, and the landscape of basketball gaming would likely have been very different these past seven years. In addition to its mechanics and overall gameplay being very solid, NBA Live 10 also featured some innovative modes and concepts, including the one we’re looking at today: Dynamic Season.

Dynamic Season was an effective way of implementing an idea that basketball gamers had wanted to see for some time, and it’s something that EA Sports should definitely consider bringing back in future NBA Live games. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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5 Copies of NBA Elite 11 Selling for $30,000 US

Kevin Durant dribbles the basketball in NBA Elite 11

Here’s an interesting story that came to light recently. A lot of five copies of NBA Elite 11 – three for Xbox 360, two for PlayStation 3 – has been listed on eBay for $30,000 US. Three of the games are also factory sealed, which in addition to the rarity of available copies in the first place, contributes to the hefty price tag.

While the price is obviously steep for a game that was ultimately cancelled due to concerns about its quality, it’s certainly not unprecedented. Rare games, particularly those that were never publicly released, often fetch a lot of money as collectors’ items. Prominent examples would include Nintendo World Championships and Stadium Events for the Nintendo Entertainment System, which are desirable due to their rarity and value as collectables, rather than the actual gameplay experience that they offer.

Another example, rather relevant to basketball gaming, is the discovery of the rare, unreleased PAL version of EA’s Lakers vs. Celtics for the SEGA Mega Drive. The game, which was released on PC and in NTSC regions for the SEGA Genesis, was ultimately cancelled in PAL regions, most likely due to issues with international licensing rights. Thirteen copies have been discovered over the years, with the latest attracting bids of over £8000 on eBay.

As you may recall, I recently mentioned NBA Elite 11 as one of the basketball games that I wish I owned, simply for the sake of having such a rare and interesting collectable. However, the lot is well out of my price range, and I’d need a PAL copy besides, so suffice to say I won’t be buying it.

It is interesting that copies of NBA Elite 11 continue to surface, however. We’ll be talking more about it in Episode #214 of the NLSC Podcast, so stay tuned. Would you add NBA Elite 11 to your collection, given the opportunity? How much would you be prepared to pay for such a rare collectable? Have your say in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the NLSC Forum. Thanks to PopcornJones77 on Twitter for the heads up on the eBay listing.

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The Friday Five: 5 Lost Official Downloads for 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 official downloads for basketball games that have been lost over time.

In our community, we know the pain of lost files. Mods, especially big projects, have been hosted all over the place throughout the years. As a result of sites being closed down and files being deleted from free hosting services after a period of inactivity, we’ve lost a lot of releases, especially from the early days. We’ve salvaged and re-uploaded files whenever possible, but there are a lot of mods that are seemingly gone for good. Of course, in theory, it is possible to create new versions of those mods which may be just as good as, or even better than the originals. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with official downloads, such as patches and downloadable content.

Just as we’ve tried to preserve our database of unofficial patches and mods over the years, we’ve also done our best to keep a repository of official downloads. If you browse our Downloads database, you’ll find a bunch of the old official patches for NBA Live on PC, as well as demos, manuals, and so on. There are some official downloads that we haven’t been able to salvage though, which means if you don’t already have a copy of them installed or backed up somewhere, you’re out of luck. This week’s Five is a list of five official downloads that have been lost to time…at least as far as I’m aware.

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The Friday Five: 5 Basketball Games I Wish I Owned

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 basketball games that I wish I owned.

Over the years, I’ve built up a fairly big collection of basketball games. Some I’ve purchased new upon their release and I still have my original copies, some I’ve traded in and picked up again second-hand years later, and some I’ve added to my collection many years after they first came out. I like having full series wherever possible, and it’s been fun to check out basketball games that I never got around to playing when they were new. It’s also helped in creating content for the NLSC, particularly the Wayback Wednesday features, so I’ve enjoyed adding to my collection in recent years whenever I’ve been able to find a bargain on eBay.

My collection of basketball games isn’t complete, of course. Some titles are difficult to track down or cost more than I’m currently willing and able to spend, while others are only available on platforms that I don’t own, or were never released in the PAL region. As such, there are a handful of basketball games that I don’t currently own and very likely never will, but for one reason or another, wish that I did. The basketball games that I’m talking about today are, in no particular order, the top five titles that I’d love to add to my collection, if it were at all feasible.

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The Friday Five: 5 Failed Ideas Newer Basketball Games Salvaged

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 ideas that were busts in older basketball video games, but have since been implemented more effectively.

Sometimes, disappointing basketball video games still bring surprisingly good ideas to the table. Likewise, even the best basketball video games can have features that seem kind of weak compared to the rest of the product. And of course, ideas that were good in theory can be executed poorly, regardless of the game’s overall quality. In the best case scenario, great ideas that didn’t pan out the first time around or were overshadowed by their game’s shortcomings can be dusted off, polished up, and put to use in much better releases. If an idea has merit, it’s worth revisiting.

While it may be harsh to call some of the ideas I’m discussing here “failures”, their first incarnation was at the very least problematic, and their basic concepts ended up being shelved for at least a few years. Upon making their way back into more recent basketball video games, they’ve benefitted from advancements in technology and fine-tuning of the original concept, ultimately working out a lot better as a result. Some credit therefore has to be given to those original ideas, which obviously weren’t all bad. Not every one of these ideas is universally liked by basketball gamers, but at the very least, they’ve been salvaged and done better since their debut.

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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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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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The Friday Five: Top 5 PR Disasters in Basketball Gaming

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 PR Disasters in Basketball Gaming.

Video games are serious business…well, just about as serious as a hobby can get, anyway. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry with passionate consumers who naturally want value for money, and to be valued by the companies making the products they’re buying. The relationship between gamers and developers can be contentious at times, and while our behaviour admittedly hasn’t always been exemplary, there are certainly times when EA Sports and Visual Concepts have made disappointing decisions, or acted in a way that left a lot of basketball gamers feeling unappreciated or ripped off.

There have been several unfortunate incidents over the years, so as with any Top 5, I can’t account for all of them, and even if you do agree with my picks, you may not agree with the ranking. I’ve tried to base my selections on a combination of the severity of the incident, the long-term impact it’s had, and the general level of outrage that I’ve observed within the community. Finally, as always, these lists are intended to offer up my take on a subject while beginning the conversation, not ending it. With that being said, let’s tip off the countdown with number five.

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Wayback Wednesday: Dynamic DNA in NBA Live 09

Dynamic DNA Tendencies for Ben Gordon in NBA Live 09

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 Dynamic DNA in NBA Live 09.

Generally speaking, most of us want five-on-five basketball games to be realistic; “sim”, as we usually put it. One of the key elements of delivering realism in NBA Live and NBA 2K is to ensure that the players resemble their real life counterparts, not just in appearance, but in the way that they play and perform. As the years have gone by, both games have introduced new ratings, tendencies, and other attributes that are intended to make the action on the virtual hardwood more closely resemble what we see during an NBA broadcast. While there’s still room for improvement, basketball video games have also come a long way in that regard.

EA Sports took a big step towards making NBA Live more realistic with the implementation of Dynamic DNA in NBA Live 09. Not only was it an improvement in player AI and differentiation, it was also a step forward in terms of the official roster updates. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: LeBron James’ Free Agency in NBA Live 10

LeBron James in NBA Live 10

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.

Since I’m still working on a few retrospectives for Wayback Wednesday (as well as our ongoing 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content), I’ve been looking through the archives for something fun and interesting to share with you this week. Combing through an old folder of images, I came across a collection of screenshots of LeBron James in NBA Live 10. I took them in May 2010 for an article that was looking ahead to his upcoming free agency, and speculating upon which jersey he might be wearing come the 2011 season. Since LeBron announced his number change prior to his free agency, he’s wearing number six in all of them.

As it happened, both LeBron James’ career and the fortunes of the NBA Live series took an infamous turn just a few months later. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast – Episode #176

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #176 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Arcane and I are your hosts this week, and with the imminent release of NBA 2K17, we have some final previews and developer blogs to talk about. We also discuss an issue from the past week that has us a bit riled up, with a couple of profanities slipping through as a result. Just a heads up for anyone who strongly objects to a bit of bad language!

On this week’s show…

  • NBA 2K17 is almost here! A new Momentous Trailer marks the occasion; did it hype us up?
  • We give our thoughts on The Prelude, from the glimpse at the story to our hands-on impressions of how the game feels on the sticks.
  • Face scanning has had mixed results so far, but at least one of us is happy not to be dealing with the PlayStation Camera anymore. There’s also been some good news, as the MyNBA2K17 app will support face scanning for the PC version.
  • NBA 2K17 will feature an expanded roster of broadcasters, and dynamic commentary. We certainly like the sound of that.
  • Although it’s put an end to an idea we had for a game of MyLEAGUE Online, the developer blog for MyLEAGUE, MyGM, and the aforementioned MLO has delivered some otherwise fantastic news.
  • MyTEAM has received some solid improvements in NBA 2K17, but we’re still a bit sceptical about how good the pack odds will be. How honest is that trailer?
  • NBA 2K17 has taken a shot at NBA Live (or more specifically, NBA Elite 11) which frankly, we find to be a little petty. We discuss the potshot, and things get a little profane in the process.
  • We wrap up Episode #176 of the NLSC Podcast with Our Week in Basketball Gaming. This week, it’s the swansong for the NLSC 2K Pro-Am team in NBA 2K16, some unfinished business in NBA 2K11, and more tales from MyCAREER.

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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