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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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NLSC Podcast #323: But Will There Be Shoelace Physics?

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Episode #323 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dee4Three and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

As The Last Dance draws to a close, 2K are cashing in with a new GOAT Michael Jordan card in NBA 2K20 MyTEAM, and classic Bulls gear in MyCAREER. There might be a way of getting all of those items, but are we willing to pay the price? Speaking of future purchases, the PlayStation 5 tech demo has given us a glimpse of what to expect from next gen. We consider what it might mean for basketball games, and whether the tech will be put to good use. That leads us to reflect on what it’s like to be in the older age bracket of the basketball gaming demographic, as well as whether it’s possible to enjoy a broken game. Our recent poll also sparks a discussion on different approaches to retro team roster mods.

What’s your take on this week’s topics? 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: Basketball Gaming Belongs to Suits

Monday Tip-Off: Basketball Gaming Belongs to Suits

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on the rather dismal realisation that basketball gaming belongs to the suits.

I know I said that many things aren’t worth an angry rant, but this isn’t going to be an angry rant. I’m feeling a certain amount of exasperation and pessimism, yes, but I’m trying to remain calm and not rage for the sake of it. As a new generation looms, many of us are wondering what it means for basketball gaming. The genre has already come a long way – a few backwards steps not withstanding – and it remains to be seen what can be accomplished with the added power of the forthcoming consoles. The problem is that that kind of innovation doesn’t appear to be the focus.

Perhaps that’s a harsh and unfair assertion, given that we’re nearing the end of the current generation. We couldn’t have imagined some of the things that we’ve seen over the past seven years, when the previous generation was seemingly tapped out after producing some outstanding basketball games. However, the difference this time around is that gaming has changed. Games are designed with recurrent spending in mind, and microtransactions are no longer just for free-to-play titles. Quality seems secondary to pushy recurrent revenue mechanics; a trend that’s highly unlikely to end anytime soon. It’s clear that the suits control the destiny of hoops games.

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NLSC Podcast #322: Maybe Next Year, Huh?

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Episode #322 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dee4Three and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

In case there was any doubt that last week’s rumour concerning NBA Live 21 was false, we have confirmation that there will be no release this year. We discuss what this means for NBA Live’s future, and whether the series still has a chance to be relevant. We’re also concerned about a focus on the mobile platform, and constant changes in direction and vision. In other news, 2K is reportedly seeking a new community manager, and we’re all for it. We’re not putting our hands up, but we do outline our expectations. We also talk about in-game editing functions we’d like to see, games that we’ve changed our minds about, retro season mods we’d be interested in, and some recent additions to our collections.

What’s your take on this week’s topics? 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: Arguing For & Against Green Releases

Monday Tip-Off: Arguing For & Against Green Releases

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on Green Releases, specifically the arguments for and against the mechanic.

Back in May 2017, I discussed the future of Green Releases in NBA 2K. Three years on, the mechanic still remains an issue. It’s funny to look back and see that Mike Wang was talking about weaning gamers off the concept of Green Releases, only for them to still be in the game, relatively unchanged. I say relatively because NBA 2K18 attempted to artificially nerf them with a “Good” release actually only having a 5% chance of going in – less than a Slightly Early or Slightly Late release – and other games have also seen Beluba and co tinker with the perfect release windows.

Apart from that, the basic idea remains the same. Green Releases result in a made shot every time, unless it’s blocked or you’re too far behind the backboard. If you can learn the precise timing of a jumpshot animation and pay attention to the rumble feedback cues, you’ll be greening attempts with ease and regularity. We’re still as reliant on the approach as ever, and it doesn’t look like it’s something that NBA 2K – or NBA Live, now that it’s adopted the same style of shot mechanics and feedback – will be able to move away from. The question is: should it? It feels like we’re at a stalemate on the issue, so let’s go over the pros and cons of Green Releases once again.

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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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NLSC Podcast #313: NBA 2K20, Sixth Months Later

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Episode #313 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Dee4Three and myself as we share our impressions of NBA 2K20 six months and several patches after its release. We also discuss some NBA Live rumours, using NBA Live 19 as a guinea pig, and a promotion in NBA 2K19.

Following on from last week’s episode, we have a new rumour about NBA Live to discuss. We weigh in on the potential impact of NBA Live skipping another year, and possibly missing the launch of a new console generation. The prospect of using NBA Live 19 for extended testing ahead of a new release also comes up; could it benefit the series moving forward? Elsewhere, a promotion in NBA 2K19 is clearly trying to boost NBA 2K20’s already record-setting sales and engagement numbers. This leads into our impressions of NBA 2K20, six months after its release and following several patches. We talk about our enjoyment of the game, the impact of legacy issues, and where it ranks for us on the current generation. A couple of topics for future shows are also teased.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on NBA 2K20 six months after its release? Do you think EA is making a mistake, and should they utilise NBA Live 19 for testing? 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.

The Friday Five: 5 Times Gamers Ruined 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 discusses five times that gamers themselves ruined basketball video games.

This week’s topic may seem unfair, even absurd. After all, we don’t create basketball video games; we just play them. If there’s a problem with a game, then that’s on the developers, not us as consumers, right? Well, for the most part, yes. We’re not the ones implementing microtransactions, grindy mechanics, or other undesirable ideas. We do arguably support them by continuing to buy the games and pumping money into recurrent revenue systems, but boycotts, as Jim Sterling has pointed out, aren’t all that effective. Ultimately, we’re not making design choices, or programming code.

However, we are making suggestions, and the loudest voices aren’t always expressing the best ideas. Tribalism these days goes as deep as which mode you play, as well as a preference for online or offline gaming. Not all feedback has been to the benefit of NBA Live or NBA 2K. The way we choose to play the game and use the features and functions at our disposal has also had a negative effect. Whether it’s through elitism and snobbery, or childishness and trolling, we’ve found more than a couple of ways to spoil the fun. I’m not saying that developers haven’t messed up, but these are five examples of how we as gamers and consumers have ruined games for ourselves.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Avatar’s New Clothes

Monday Tip-Off: The Avatar's New Clothes

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 about the increasing focus on getting new clothes for your avatar in the career modes of NBA Live and NBA 2K.

There’s a well-established video game trope that TV Tropes calls “And Your Reward Is Clothes“. It refers to unlocking new clothes for the player character (or characters), sometimes by completing tasks or purchasing them from an in-game store, or perhaps by finishing the game and continuing the adventure with post-ending gameplay. They may convey or accompany other bonuses, or they may just be for bragging rights. A good example of the latter is the “I completed Vice City and all I got was this lousy t-shirt“, unlocked when achieving 100% completion in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Clothing items, and the ability to acquire new clothes, have become an increasingly prominent part of basketball video games. Although they are ultimately just cosmetic, they’re nevertheless a significant part of the game’s culture, especially when it comes to the online scene. It’s one of those aspects of modern games that make me feel like a dinosaur, because to my mind, there’s far too much focus on them. Although they’re something that can be ignored, the pursuit of new clothes and the focus given to dressing up your avatar is presenting some problems, and detracting from the overall experience. That may sound melodramatic, but allow me to elaborate.

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NLSC Podcast #305: Maintaining a Rapport in 280 Characters

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Episode #305 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! After a short break for the holiday season, Dee4Three and I are back on the air to tip off Season 9. Join us as we talk about David Stern, the community’s relationship with developers, and frustrations with the NBA.

Our first episode of 2020 opens with a tribute to NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern, who passed away on New Year’s Day. We discuss the impact he had on the league, and his legacy as its longest-tenured and best commissioner. Diving into this week’s main discussion topic, we reflect on some recent Tweets that highlight the disconnect and sometimes contentious relationship the community has with developers. We also discuss 2K’s reaction to criticism, and the increased frustration that has strained relations with the dev team. The show wraps up with some spirited thoughts on recent events in the NBA, from travelling to bizarre calls for rule changes.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on this week’s topics? 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 #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.

The Friday Five: 5 Outdated Mechanics in MyTEAM

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 mechanics in MyTEAM that I believe are outdated.

There was a time when I thought that I’d never have anything to do with the team building/card collecting modes in NBA Live and NBA 2K. It seemed like a good idea for a mode, but something for other games to enjoy. However, Ultimate Team has been the mode I’ve played the most of in NBA Live on this generation, and I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve dabbled with MyTEAM as well, but I’ve mostly been occupied with MyCAREER and its connected modes. I got some great cards in NBA 2K19, but I was too focused on getting my player to the Hall of Fame to really play with them.

I’ve spent more time with MyTEAM in NBA 2K20, and it’s been fun so far. The developers working on the mode made some welcome changes, such as making it far easier to unlock the Auction House, adding the daily login bonuses, and generally allowing us to build decent collections at a steady pace without paying money. That last point in particular is important, especially in a mode that is a big money-maker for 2K. Still, as much as I like MyTEAM and have enjoyed getting into it more this year, I can’t help feeling that some of the mode’s mechanics are outdated. They don’t ruin the experience, but I’d consider them drawbacks in an otherwise fantastic mode.

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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.

The Friday Five: 5 Players Who Only Appeared on Certain Teams in 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 players who only appeared on certain teams in video games.

I’ve mentioned that one of the fun aspects of revisiting old games for my Wayback Wednesday features is that they’re a snapshot of the NBA at the time. It’s interesting how it can jog your memory when you fire up an old title, see a familiar name, and think “Oh, I forgot he played for them!” For me it happens with a lot of journeyman who I recall from the 90s and early 2000s, and even a couple of stars who had brief stints with unusual teams at the end of their careers. With the way that some players change teams, it can be difficult to immediately find them in older titles.

Of course, the snapshot that games can provide of the NBA of yesteryear isn’t always completely accurate. Older titles had roster cut-off dates and no official updates, so players would end up on teams they were cut or traded from by the time a title was released. Other players might indeed spend time on a team’s roster during the season, but never actually play a single game for them due to injury or other factors, thus only appearing for them on the virtual hardwood. As with the players who have appeared in more video games than NBA games, I find it to be an interesting trivia note. Let’s look at five players whose stints with teams only came on the virtual hardwood!

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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.