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NLSC Podcast #327: Gonna Make You Sweat

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Episode #327 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dee4Three and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

The PlayStation 5 reveal event brought us an Announcement Trailer for NBA 2K21, which gives us plenty to talk about this week! We recap and react to the trailer featuring Zion Williamson, and a whole lot of sweat. In addition to highlighting the parts that appealed to us, we also discuss our concerns, along with the expectations it’s given us for next gen. We also speculate whether the PC version of NBA 2K21 will be a next gen port, or last gen as was the case with NBA 2K14. The trustworthiness of developer blogs and preview media is another issue we’re going to be mindful of this preview season, as we reflect on past controversies. We also consider the impact of next gen NBA 2K21 on the future of NBA Live, and what we can expect from last gen NBA 2K moving forward.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as 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: Can NBA Live Be Relevant Again?

Monday Tip-Off: Can NBA Live Be Relevant Again?

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 by pondering the question: can NBA Live be relevant again?

As a long-time basketball gamer that grew up with NBA Live, it gives me no joy to dump on the franchise. I believe that there are content creators out there who delight at the series’ struggles and subsequently ripping into it, but I’m certainly not one of them. For all the great things that NBA 2K has done, the slips in quality here and there, and of course the increased focus on microtransactions, demonstrate why it’s important to have choice and competition in the basketball gaming space. Some say NBA Live should just pack it in, but frankly, we need it, and we need it to succeed.

Unfortunately, that’s much easier said than done. NBA Live has struggled to get to where it needs to be over the past decade. Again, it brings me no joy to say that, nor do I relish pointing out that not only has its quality suffered, but so has its relevance. Indeed, a friend of mine who isn’t really into basketball, but picked up NBA 2K20 on special after watching The Last Dance, mentioned he was surprised that EA Sports doesn’t have a new basketball game out. It’s not surprising that someone who isn’t into the scene doesn’t know the full story behind the fall of NBA Live, but nevertheless, it speaks volumes about its relevance today. The question is: can EA change that?

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Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places (Part 2)

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places (Part 2)

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 some more NBA players who became familiar faces in strange places, and those stints in video games.

As I said in my first Wayback Wednesday article covering this topic, there’s definitely something oddly fascinating in seeing familiar faces in strange places. We often claim that we wish that those stints didn’t happen or that we could forget all about them, yet they’re burned into our memories. It’s hard to forget something that looks strange and out of place, and that certainly describes the image of players wearing the uniform of a team other than the one we associate them with the most. The time capsule-like nature of video games helps us to remember – and also replay – these unusual stints.

I mentioned that there were more examples than the ten I covered in my first article, and to that end, I have another ten to share today. This time, not all of the players were perennial All-Stars, but they are familiar names who ended up in strange places. In fact, a couple of these stints were so brief that the only way to experience them again on the virtual hardwood is to load very specific roster saves – assuming that you still have them, of course – or by recreating them. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: The Right Direction for NBA Live

Monday Tip-Off: The Right Direction for 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 my thoughts on the right direction for NBA Live.

Needless to say, the past decade has been tough for NBA Live. Through cancelled titles and skipped years, the series has seen only five releases during that span. There have been promising aspects and good ideas present in those five games, and it could be argued that at least a couple of titles have been solid, but EA Sports has failed to move the needle. NBA Live is still languishing far behind where it needs to be as a viable alternative to NBA 2K and the enormous gulf in sales speaks volumes. NBA 2K has its issues, but NBA Live hasn’t been able to capitalise on gamer frustration.

The good news is that the door hasn’t been slammed shut on NBA Live. Thanks to a combination of readily apparent potential and 2K squandering goodwill, there is still interest in seeing NBA Live return to its former glory. Unfortunately, the series’ steps towards reaching that goal haven’t been as large as many of us would’ve liked, and one of the main reasons for that is the direction of the series. More specifically, this includes both the particular choices that have been made, and the tendency to change direction too often. NBA Live needs to have the right focus moving forward, but that raises the question: what is the right direction for NBA Live to take?

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Monday Tip-Off: Going Digital (Before I Had To)

Monday Tip-Off: Going Digital (Before I Had To)

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 going digital with basketball games, and making that move before I needed to.

These days, the PC version of NBA 2K is exclusively available as a digital release. Even if you happen to find a physical copy – and they do exist in some regions – it just amounts to a card with a Steam key. There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach. On the plus side, digital games save shelf space, and because developers don’t need to press discs, distribution is quicker and cheaper. In a niche demographic such as PC basketball gaming, that’s an important factor in companies seeing the platform as viable and less of a hassle to release on.

The downside is that we need to download everything when we want to install the game. Depending on the quality of our connection and the size of any data limits on our Internet plan, that may not be an ideal scenario. Digital releases are also at risk of being removed from platforms like Steam, whereas physical copies obviously remain in circulation. Beyond convenience and availability, there’s just something satisfying about having a physical copy that you can hold in your hands or display on a shelf. We don’t always have a lot of choice, especially on PC these days, but I actually found myself going digital with basketball games before it was necessary.

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Wayback Wednesday: Marking NBA Milestones in Video Games

Wayback Wednesday: Marking NBA Milestones in Video Games

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 reflecting on how video games mark different NBA milestones, and how it dates them.

On several occasions, I’ve mentioned that video games serve as wonderful time capsules for the NBA. They’re a snapshot of the league at the time they’re released, preserving the rosters, team branding, and the rules and formats of the era. When you revisit an old NBA video game, you’re often reminded of players’ brief and forgotten tenures with certain teams, “What If” scenarios and lineups that never lived up to the hype, and the jerseys and logos that you both loved and hated. In a way, old games can act as interactive almanacs, and are a fun way to revisit NBA history.

With that in mind, basketball video games preserve different eras and milestones in the real NBA as much as they’re a timeline of gaming and technology. In many of my Wayback Wednesday features, as well as my 25th Anniversary of NBA Live articles, I’ve reflected on how various titles have represented an evolution in the genre, and the improvements that are noticeable from year to year. On this occasion, I’m looking at how they represent NBA milestones and significant changes in the league, as well as the way those events make them dated. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Best Things in 5 of My Least 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 best things in five of my least favourite basketball video games.

Some Friday Five topics end up being an ongoing, open-ended series, while others are covered as a two-part series, back-to-back. This is an example of the latter. Last week, I talked about five of the worst things found in five of my all-time favourite basketball games. The obvious sequel to that feature is a list of the five best aspects in five of my all-time least favourite hoops titles. I’ve also realised that I wrote a couple of similar Friday Five features going on five years ago, but these lists are more personal, and of course, new games have come out and I’ve remembered other things since then.

Just as the best basketball games that become our favourites have their flaws, games that we end up disliking usually have at least one or two good features or ideas. If nothing else, they’re concepts with potential that we’d like to see executed better, or indeed, implemented in a much better game. With any luck, these modes and features will stick around long enough to be enjoyed in a superior title, or be adapted and adopted by the competition, as the case may be. Unfortunately, some of them do fall by the wayside, and we never get to really enjoy them. Without any further ado, here are five of the best things in games that rank among my least favourite.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2000 & NBA Live 10 Trivia

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2000 & NBA Live 10 Trivia

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 some trivia for NBA Live 2000 and NBA Live 10.

Happy New Year, everyone! It’s strange to tip off a year with a retro feature, but it is Wednesday, and on Wednesdays we go way back. Speaking of which, as part of the lead up to the release of NBA Live 18 and NBA Live 19, I posted a couple of articles containing trivia facts about NBA Live 98 and NBA Live 08, and NBA Live 99 and NBA Live 09. I’d intended to do the same thing this year with NBA Live 2000 and NBA Live 10, ahead of the release of NBA Live 20. Of course, NBA Live 20 was ultimately cancelled, so I didn’t get an opportunity to do so back in September.

Looking back, I’m certainly glad I didn’t run it pre-emptively while we waited for that announcement! However, it seems like a waste of a good Wayback Wednesday idea to let it go, and of course, it all ties in to the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live content that we’re doing despite the series going on hiatus once again. With that in mind, here are the trivia facts I would’ve originally shared to celebrate the release of the third NBA Live game with a year ending in zero. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #304: Talkin’ ‘Bout Next Generation

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Episode #304 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! With 2019 and the decade drawing to a close, not to mention a new generation of gaming looming on the horizon, Dee4Three and I discuss the past ten years in basketball gaming, the current generation, and our thoughts as we look ahead to next gen.

After a quick rundown of Patch 1.09 for NBA 2K20, we get right into this week’s featured discussion. The end of the decade and announcement of the Xbox Series X has prompted us to reflect on the past ten years of basketball gaming, in particular the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One generation. We compare it to previous generations, noting the positives and negatives. As we look ahead to next gen, we discuss what we’re hoping to see, and what not to see. From troubling trends to imaginative innovations, it’s a discussion of where the hobby is at, and where it should be. Along the way, we’re even able to draw some parallels to the real NBA.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on basketball gaming over the past ten years, and two gaming generations? What are your expectations of next gen? 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 #302: 25th Anniversary of NBA Live (Part 2)

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Episode #302 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, it’s Part 2 of our celebration of the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live. Join Dee4Three and I as we cover NBA Live 07 through to NBA Live 19, look ahead to the future, and reflect on the series as a whole. If you haven’t caught Part 1 yet, be sure to tune in here!

We continue our conversation with a look back at NBA Live 07, a strong candidate for the worst game in the series. As we proceed to break down each game year by year, we reflect on the downfall of NBA Live, and the mistakes that have led to its continued struggles. We discuss what could have been, from the cut retro teams in NBA Live 08 and the full season version of Be a Pro in NBA Live 09 on PS2, to the disastrous change of direction with NBA Elite 11 and cancellation of NBA Live 13. The importance and selection criteria for cover players also comes up, and we reveal the NBA Live 13 cover player that was never officially announced. That brings us to the current generation as we recap the series’ ups and downs since returning with NBA Live 14, and how it’s looking as of NBA Live 19. Once again, we touch on what we want to see in NBA Live 21 and beyond. We wrap up with our fondest memories of NBA Live, our favourite games in the series, and thoughts on what it’s meant to us these past 25 years.

Tune in below!

What are your memories of NBA Live 07 through NBA Live 19? What are your thoughts on the future of the series? 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 #299: What Basketball Gamers Want

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Episode #299 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dee4Three joins me again as we react to the recent announcement that the NBA Live 15 servers will soon be shutting down, and have an in-depth discussion about what basketball gamers want out of the hobby.

EA Sports has announced that the NBA Live 15 servers will be shutting down as of December 1st, 2019. We react to the timing of the announcement compared to the NBA Live 14 shutdown, and reflect a little on NBA Live 15 itself. This leads to some thoughts on why we dust off older titles, and sometimes seeing them in a new light (and sometimes not). Our feature discussion this week is a deep dive into what basketball gamers want; not just expectations of the virtual hardwood and blacktop, but also our relationship with developers, and approach to game design. We also talk about toxic attitudes, and how we clash with one another over what we want out of the basketball gaming experience.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on this week’s topic? What do you want out of basketball video 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.

NBA Live 19 Rosters Updated With Offseason Moves

NBA Live 19 Rosters Updated With Offseason Moves

A new content update has added offseason moves to the NBA Live 19 rosters. The update doesn’t include any of the new rookies such as top pick Zion Williamson, but it moves Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan to the Nets, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to the Clippers, Anthony Davis to the Lakers, and so on.

Although it’s unusual for a game to receive further roster updates beyond the Finals, it isn’t unprecedented. This generation, both NBA Live 14 and NBA Live 16 received post-Draft updates that lacked rookies, but accounted for free agency and trades. NBA Live 10 also continued to receive roster updates following the cancellation of NBA Elite 11, and though it might not have been intended, NBA Live 09 was also updated alongside NBA Live 10 during the 2010 season.

While these updates to the NBA Live 19 rosters are a welcome surprise, they’ve also stirred up some worried speculation about NBA Live 20. Although NBA Live 20 has been listed as a future release on a financial report for EA Sports, there has yet to be any official announcement or previews of the game. Combined with the lack of an announcement regarding a new deal with the NBA when NBA 2K renewed its license earlier this year, this offseason roster update has raised questions about the series’ future.

It all remains speculation for now, and as noted, it’s not the first time NBA Live has received a bonus update. At the same time, on two of those occasions there was a subsequent gap in releases, though the 2011 season updates for NBA Live 10 were announced in conjunction with the official cancellation of NBA Elite 11. For my part, I certainly don’t want to irresponsibly and erroneously report on the situation or give legs to a baseless rumour, especially when a financial report has indicated that NBA Live 20 is coming. However, until further announcements and previews allay any concerns, the speculation is understandable.

Until then, we’ll stay on top of the situation as best we can. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on the offseason update for the NBA Live 19 rosters in the comments section below, and join in the discussion here in the NLSC Forum!

The Friday Five: 5 Gameplay Improvements NBA Live 20 Needs

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 improvements that NBA Live 20 needs to demonstrate in terms of its gameplay.

If NBA Live 20 is to be the big release many of us are hoping it will be, it will need to improve upon an area that’s been a perennial weakness since the series returned back in 2013: its modes. The different modes of play are what give basketball games their longevity, and this year’s release from EA Sports must add long overdue features and depth to Franchise, Ultimate Team, and online modes. Deeper customisation is also a must. Of course, while these are all vital areas of NBA Live that require attention, it’s crucial that above all, the gameplay experience continues to improve.

NBA Live’s gameplay has gone through some interesting ups and downs during this generation. NBA Live 14 felt very stiff on the sticks, with animations that looked very “last gen”. Since then, improvements have been made to the fluidity, the depth of the controls, and certain animations. Most NBA Live gamers would agree that there is still plenty of room for improvement, and I’m unquestionably in that camp. What are the most important changes and improvements that need to be made to gameplay in NBA Live 20? We compiled some great ideas in the Wishlist that we sent in to EA, but this week, I’d like to discuss five key areas where Live’s gameplay must improve.

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Monday Tip-Off: How Online Modes Are Killing Retro Gaming

How Online Modes Are Killing Retro Gaming

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 how a focus on online modes and content is killing – or at the very least, putting a serious damper on – retro gaming on the virtual hardwood.

Unless you’re talking about beloved classics, sports games – and in particular, the ones that see a new release every year – tend not to be very popular in retro gaming circles. Because they’re attempting to capture reality in both their gameplay and aesthetics, they tend to age worse than other genres. Sports gamers want the latest release, set in the most recent season. As a result, sports games don’t make second-hand retailers a lot of money, resulting in their trade-in value being very low. If you’ve ever tried to trade in your old basketball titles, you’ll know that all too well.

This phenomenon predates the more recent approach to designing basketball games, though it used to be easier to stick with an older title, or go back to one. One could have a lot of fun dusting off an old favourite, and indeed, that’s a major factor for my Wayback Wednesday features. However, the games of the current generation don’t have the same retro gaming appeal. The heavy focus on online modes and content mean that titles are far more limited than they used to be once the servers have been shut down and support has ceased. It’s not just online multiplayer that’s been cut off, but access to major parts of the single player retro gaming experience, too.

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NLSC Podcast #288: NBA Live 19 Patch 1.25 Impressions

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Episode #288 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Arcane and I are sharing our thoughts on the big gameplay update in Patch 1.25 for NBA Live 19, and reacting to some other recent NBA Live news.

The show tips off with a few thoughts on the NBA Finals that we knew would be outdated by the time it went live; we apologise for the jinxes! We then turn our attention to the announcement that online support will be ending for NBA Live 14 later this year, noting our surprise at how long the servers have been kept up and running. After that, we dive into Patch 1.25 for NBA Live 19. Despite the best efforts and good intentions of the developers, the tweaks unfortunately haven’t all been for the best. This leads us to once again glance ahead to NBA Live 20, and talk about what must be done for this year’s release to deliver a great game of virtual basketball.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on Patch 1.25 for NBA Live 19 and expectations for NBA Live 20? 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.