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NLSC Podcast #281: Trusting the Process with NBA Live

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Episode #281 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Arcane and I are discussing the matter of trusting the process as far as NBA Live is concerned.

The discussion tips off with reflections on how the once-dominant brand in sim basketball games fell on hard times, from the shaky transition to the sixth generation consoles with NBA Live 06, to the disaster that was NBA Elite 11. We consider missed opportunities as far as rebooting the series by going back and building upon NBA Live 10, and note the difficulties that occurred with the cancellation of NBA Elite 11 and NBA Live 13, before the eventual comeback with NBA Live 14. From there, we discuss how the series has fared during its continued comeback, touching on all of the positives and negatives along the way. After going into detail about what we want to see out of the series moving forward, we wrap up with our hopes and expectations for NBA Live 20.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on NBA Live’s comeback, and what must happen with 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.

 

Wayback Wednesday: The History of Jumpshots in Video Games

Kevin Durant shoots over Nicolas Batum (NBA 2K14)

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at the history of jumpshots in basketball video games.

Jumpshots are a basic staple of basketball, and one of the most common ways of scoring; especially in the modern era. With that in mind, it’s strange that they used to be one of the weaker aspects of the mechanics in basketball video games. In the early days of basketball gaming, jumpshots were nowhere near as reliable as they should have been. I even remember a strategy guide for NBA Live 96 basically advising against taking jumpshots and in particular long two-pointers, citing that they had all of the difficulty and risk of three-pointers, without the added reward of an extra point.

Thinking back on it now, that advice actually predicted the rise of analytics, as well as disdain for shooting from midrange. Of course, while opting for shots right at the rim or from beyond the arc and eschewing the midrange is all about efficiency in the modern NBA, in old school basketball video games, it was about effectiveness. Until the mechanics were properly developed, taking a jumpshot – even a wide open ten footer along the baseline – was unrealistically risky on the virtual hardwood. You can call this piece The History of Jumpshots in Video Games (Or, Why Shot Meters Are Important). Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Ultimate Team in NBA Live 14

NBA Live Ultimate Team Logo (NBA Live 14)

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 Ultimate Team in NBA Live 14.

The concept of Ultimate Team actually originated in EA Sports’ UEFA Champions League 2006-2007, released for the Xbox 360. It didn’t debut in the FIFA series until FIFA 09, launching in March 2009 as paid downloadable content. Other games in the EA Sports lineup began adopting their own versions of Ultimate Team, with Madden adding the mode as free DLC for Madden 10 in January 2010, and NHL 11 including it at launch. It has since become a staple game mode in EA Sports games, alongside the various franchise and career experiences.

However, with the NBA Live series being derailed by the attempted revamping and rebranding with NBA Elite 11, it wouldn’t be until the release of NBA Live 14 that we finally saw Live Ultimate Team. It was reasonably solid upon its debut, and while it hasn’t been greatly expanded upon in subsequent games, it remains a mode with a lot of potential. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: BIG Moments in NBA Live 14

BIG Moments: A Win is a Win (NBA Live 14)

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 BIG Moments, which debuted in NBA Live 14.

Since I covered NBA 2K17’s College DLC last week, I’d say it isn’t too soon to go back to the beginning of the current generation of NBA Live this time. It’s been a long time since EA Sports’ game was the premiere NBA sim, and this generation has once again seen the game rebuilding over the course of a few years, as it’s fought to regain its share of the market. The process has had its up and downs and it seems to be paying off with NBA Live 19, but even when the series was in rough shape, there were flashes of brilliance and good concepts. One of those ideas was BIG Moments.

A fresh mode that brought dynamic content to the game, BIG Moments is an idea that EA Sports could stand to revisit in future releases, even as NBA Live explores new modes of play such as LIVE Events and Court Battles. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Most Useless Features 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 some of the most useless features and functions that we’ve seen in basketball games.

We’ve come to expect a significant amount of depth in basketball video games, not only in terms of the modes and gameplay, but also features and functionality. Be they big or small, glamorous or mundane, frequently used or just handy to have when we need them, there are numerous features and functions that go a long way in providing a well-rounded basketball gaming experience. And then, there are the features that aren’t so useful. Of course, usefulness can be subjective. If you enjoy outfitting your player in different clothing, for example, you’ll find that feature a lot more useful than someone who has no interest in that aspect of the career modes.

Taking a look at features of questionable usefulness, some are good ideas that just haven’t been executed well, while others are pointless at best. Certain features have seen their usefulness decline over time, either due to neglect or redundancy. Whatever the case may be, sometimes you’ll see a feature or function in a basketball video game, and wonder why the developers spent any time implementing it. Other times, you may wish that they spent a little more time on a feature, in order to make it more worthwhile. Without any further ado, here are five features that we’ve seen in basketball games – past and present – that I would rank among the most useless.

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Monday Tip-Off: Roster Editing & NBA Live

Kyrie Irving dribbles the basketball in NBA Live 18

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 current lack of roster editing functionality in NBA Live.

With NBA Live 18, EA Sports’ long-running basketball series has taken some pleasing steps forward. While there’s still room for improvement, it’s had the best reception of any NBA Live game on the current generation, among gamers and reviewers alike. There’s more fluidity on the sticks, the controls have been expanded, and with The One, the game has a much deeper career mode along with some solid connected experiences. NBA Live appears to be on the right track, and even cracked the top twenty downloaded games on the PlayStation Network in September.

The team at EA Tiburon has to feel pleased with the more positive reaction to NBA Live 18, not to mention motivated as they begin work on next year’s game. However, there is one feature that’s conspicuous by its absence in NBA Live 18, and that’s roster editing. We haven’t seen roster editing in the series since NBA Live 10, and gamers are understandably getting impatient to see it return. While other areas of the game have rightfully been prioritised, roster editing is a staple that must return in NBA Live 19. That’s assuming, of course, that there isn’t a way for it to be implemented in this year’s game.

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The Friday Five: 5 Hopes for the 2018 Basketball Gaming Season

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five discusses five hopes that I have for the 2018 basketball gaming season.

As I noted earlier today, with the release of NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18, a brand new season of basketball gaming is now underway! My pre-order of NBA Live 18 downloaded a couple of days ago and then unlocked at midnight Australian Eastern Time, so I stayed up quite late playing the game and sharing some initial impressions on Twitter. As of this writing, the day one patch for the PlayStation 4 version of NBA 2K18 has just finished installing, and I’ve almost finished downloading the PC version on Steam as well. I anticipate that I have a big weekend of basketball gaming ahead of me.

With any luck, we’re all in for twelve months filled with fun basketball gaming experiences. I’ve felt optimistic about this year’s releases through most of the preview season, and I came away from both the NBA Live 18 demo and The Prelude to NBA 2K18 with some positive impressions. I’d like to spend more time with the full versions of both games before I offer up some in-depth impressions (and eventually, comprehensive reviews), but as I look ahead to the 2018 season of basketball gaming, I do have a few hopes for the experiences that will be on offer in this year’s releases.

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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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The Sunday Substitute: Player Upgrade Features in NBA Live 16

The week is in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter, which means it’s time for the Sunday Substitute! It’s the article where I get some valuable minutes while the star is resting on the bench. I might not have the time to do this every week, but I like to think I’m still making a contribution to the team. Since it looks like NBA Live 18 will be released this year, I figured it would be a fantastic opportunity to look back at NBA Live 16 and determine what features are worth salvaging. For this article, I’m going to focus on the player upgrade system.

I really love the player creation and upgrade system in NBA Live 16. It began for me with the most seamless face scan I have ever done in any video game. I’m not sure how everyone else went with it, but I know that my player in NBA Live 16 looks much more like me than any player I’ve created in the NBA 2K series. But my appreciation for player customisation in NBA Live 16 has gone far beyond that since I bought a full copy of the game.

Not only is the player upgrade system an excellent feature in NBA Live 16, but I believe it is superior to that of NBA 2K16, and even NBA 2K17. I know it’s a big call – since the NBA 2K games have the advantage in most areas – but I think NBA Live 16 had some intuitive features when it comes to upgrading created players. So, here are the player upgrade features that I not only love in NBA Live 16, but I think should be considered for NBA Live 18.

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Wayback Wednesday: ESPN Integration in NBA Live 07

ESPN Menu in NBA Live 07

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 ESPN Integration in NBA Live 07.

If I’m being completely honest, then I’ll have to admit that for a variety of reasons, I’m not the biggest fan of ESPN’s coverage of the NBA these days. They are obviously one of the league’s biggest partners though, and through ABC, their presenters have the call for the NBA Finals. Their branding is instantly recognisable to basketball fans, and it makes sense that EA Sports would also want to partner with them to bring authentic television presentation to NBA Live. It’s a relationship that began over a decade ago, with the implementation of ESPN Integration in NBA Live 07.

Although ESPN branding is now very prominent in NBA Live, it was a few games before it truly took over. It was a gradual transition in some respects, but as the original fifteen year agreement between the companies demonstrated, they were both in it for the long haul. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast – Episode #196

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Episode #196 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! We’re back on the air after skipping last week, as we wanted to wait until the NBA trade deadline had passed so that we could discuss any deals that went down. There’s quite a few other things to talk about as we catch up this week, including suggestions to improve 2K Pro-Am, a busy week in basketball gaming, and the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend.

On this week’s show…

  • A solid, well-thought out list of suggestions for improving 2K Pro-Am was posted over at Operation Sports. It’s certainly a topic that interests us, so we take a look at the ideas, and throw out a few suggestions of our own.
  • Visual Concepts recently did something very cool with Make-A-Wish, though some unfortunate wording was used to promote it on Twitter.
  • In Our Week in Basketball Gaming: We played a little bit of everything this week! Thoughts on Park After Dark #3, Kenny’s impressions of NBA Live 16, comparisons between LIVE Pro-Am and 2K Pro-Am, and updates on what we’ve been doing in MyCAREER and MyTEAM.
  • The 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend came, disappointed, and went. You might think we’re turning into grumpy (grumpier?) old men, but a lot of people seem to share our sentiments.
  • As it turned out, the biggest trade happened during the All-Star Game, and not at the trade deadline.
  • We wrap up Episode #196 of the NLSC Podcast with a quick discussion of recent NBA news and results, including injuries and the Playoff push.

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.

NLSC Podcast – Episode #175

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Episode #175 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! We’re in the final countdown to NBA 2K17, so it’s been another busy week with several previews. Join us as we react to the latest news, share our recent basketball gaming experiences, and talk about a couple of other topics that caught our attention.

On this week’s show…

  • We now know a lot more about what to expect from MyCAREER in NBA 2K17, by way of a developer blog and a trailer. What do we think of this year’s approach?
  • The MyNBA2K17 app is out now, but as of recording, it isn’t much use yet.
  • A couple of new tidbits about MyLEAGUE and MyCAREER have given us some ideas for league expansion. We’re also really glad that there’ll be no four point line.
  • The Arena Authenticity trailer spotlighted some cool presentation elements, but are we particularly hyped about them?
  • We discuss what certainly appears to be a hoax about a PC version of NBA Live 17, and recap what we know so far about the next game from EA Sports.
  • In another social media gaffe, Ronnie 2K continues to alienate basketball gamers who dare to express legitimate complaints about NBA 2K.
  • Our Week in Basketball Gaming includes some of our final sessions of 2K Pro-Am – though there might be a couple more – and a return to NBA 2K11 for the Jordan Challenge. Also, a bit of talk about NBA Live 16 (yes, it’s been a while).
  • We wrap up Episode #175 of the NLSC Podcast with another game of Trivia Time!

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.

The Friday Five: 5 Gripes with Current Gen 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.

In many ways, basketball video games are better than they’ve ever been. While there are still quirks with the AI, it’s much smarter than it used to be, with players thinking for themselves and getting into position instead of just standing around. Scanning in faces, jerseys, shoes, and other details ensures that the games look a lot better than their predecessors from a couple of generations ago. We have some really fun and deep modes to play, both offline and online. In short, basketball video games have done some really cool things in recent years.

On the other hand, there is definitely still room for improvement. More to the point, while recent basketball games have delivered some really impressive modes and very enjoyable moments on the virtual hardwood, they do have some aspects that I’m not so thrilled about. I know I’ve discussed some of these issues before, but with new titles on the horizon, they’re once again on my mind. With that being said, here are five gripes that I have with the current generation of basketball video games.

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Monday Tip-Off: Reflections on NBA Live Community Events

At EA Tiburon for the NBA Live 16 Community Event

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.

When I logged into Facebook this morning, “On This Day” presented me with a look back at previous posts that I’d made on July 25th. As it happens, on this day last year, I made a post letting my friends and family know that I’d be heading to the United States in the near future. The trip was for an NBA Live 16 community event that was being held at EA Tiburon in Orlando, but as I didn’t have clearance to talk about it openly just yet, I held back on the details and simply posted a teaser photo. I also had to be very coy on the NLSC Podcast, when discussing upcoming playtesting sessions and expressing a desire to be a part of them.

The NBA Live 16 event was one of the best that I’ve ever attended. While the game still had a ways to go – then and now – it was fun to get some early hands-on time with it, and experience the improvements. I also really enjoyed having the opportunity to meet with the developers and provide feedback to them directly. On top of all that, the whole event was extremely well-organised, with every detail taken care of, and maximum time allotted for gaming. Past events were fun and productive, but several years of organising them have definitely given EA Sports’ community managers the opportunity to make them better and better.

Since it’s been almost a year since the last one I attended, I thought that I’d reflect a little upon the NBA Live community events that I’ve been a part of. Hopefully, last year’s won’t be the last.

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