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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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NLSC Podcast #316: Interview with Darren Schueller

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Episode #316 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week’s episode is part of our 25th Anniversary of NBA Live content. Join me as I chat with Darren Schueller, former NBA Live programmer and the man behind implementing DBF files in the PC version.

Our 25th Anniversary of NBA Live celebrations continue with another developer interview! Former NBA Live programmer Darren Schueller joins the show to chat about his time working on the game from NBA Live 97-2001. As the man behind implementing DBF files in the PC version of NBA Live, Darren explains how that development came about, and the details may surprise you! We also talk about his work on the user interface throughout the years, as well as the hidden developer teams and other Easter eggs. Darren also shares anecdotes about how he got into the industry, pranks and other amusing moments during his tenure at EA Canada (including his Need for Speed cameos), and some of his favourite games.

Tune in below!

I hope you enjoy the interview! Do you have any fond memories of NBA Live 97 through 2001? 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 #315: Old Games & Old Habits

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Episode #315 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Dee4Three and myself as we talk about our basketball gaming habits and preferences, and how the games we grew up playing in the 90s and early 2000s ended up shaping those tastes.

With the NBA shut down for the foreseeable future, it’s a great time to not only catch up on gaming, but also classic NBA games. We discuss some of the ways the NBA could improve League Pass and the official YouTube channel, including some comparisons to the WWE Network. Speaking of history, the 25th Anniversary of Michael Jordan’s first comeback is making us feel old, but it’s a good excuse to play the Double Nickel game in NBA 2K11’s Jordan Challenge. On that note, our main discussion topic this week is our basketball gaming preferences past and present, with reflections on the titles from the 90s and early 2000s that influenced our tastes and habits. From our preferred quarter and season length to how often we sim and how much realism we like, those old games established how we approach the virtual hardwood. We also touch on some of the quirks of those old games.

Tune in below!

What are your basketball gaming preferences? Which games shaped them, and have they changed over the years? 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: 25 Years Since Michael Jordan Said “I’m Back”

Wayback Wednesday: 25 Years Since Michael Jordan Said "I'm Back"

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 marking the 25th Anniversary of the day Michael Jordan said “I’m Back”, and returned to the Chicago Bulls.

It’s funny how you don’t always feel the passage of time until you think about how long ago a certain event was. I felt it in 2008, when it had been ten years since the Chicago Bulls’ last championship. I felt it in 2011, when the Bulls celebrated the 20th Anniversary of their first title. It recently occurred to me that I’m now the same age that Michael Jordan was when he won that sixth ring in 1998. And yes, it strikes me that a whole decade has passed and hundreds of players have come and gone, as I continue to work on a current roster for NBA 2K11.

Today marks another milestone. It’s been twenty five years – or a quarter of a century, if you want to make it sound even more impressive – since Michael Jordan ended his first retirement from the NBA. MJ famously announced his return in two words: “I’m Back”. His return would ultimately expand his resume and bolster his claim to being the Greatest of All-Time, producing many more memorable moments along the way. It also had a noteworthy impact on the virtual hardwood. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: Q&A with Dave Warfield

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: Q&A with Dave Warfield

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! Today, it’s an interview with Dave Warfield, who worked on the series from NBA Live 95 through NBA Live 98.

In addition to joining me on the NLSC Podcast to talk about NBA Live as we celebrate the series’ 25th Anniversary, former Lead Programmer Rod Reddekopp was kind enough to put me in touch with some other people who worked on the game in the early days. I’m looking forward to chatting to them about the history of the series, and we’re beginning those conversations today with a Q&A with Dave Warfield. As I noted, Dave worked on the series from NBA Live 95 through NBA Live 98, focusing on the menus and the games’ rosters. Read on for an insight into the development of classic NBA Live!

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NLSC Podcast #310: Interview with Rod Reddekopp

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Episode #310 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week’s episode tips off the next phase of our 25th Anniversary of NBA Live celebrations as I chat to Rod Reddekopp, programmer on NBA Live 95-2001.

Rod Reddekopp joins the show to talk about his time working on NBA Live, beginning with the acquisition of Distinctive Software and his early work with EA. From there, Rod takes us through the years, from the revamp of NBA Showdown into NBA Live, to the way the game grew and became a flagship property for the company. Along the way, Rod describes his various roles as a programmer on the series, as well as many of the technical aspects of the early NBA Live titles. He also shares some fun stories from behind the scenes, and reveals a few Easter Eggs for us to go hunting for.

Tune in below!

I hope you enjoyed Rod’s insights into the early days of NBA Live! 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.

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 2000 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 2000 Retrospective

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! Today, it’s a retrospective of NBA Live 2000.

NBA Live 2000 has long been considered one of the best games in the NBA Live series. It’s the crowning achievement of the original development team, a great all-around release that long-time basketball gamers are rightfully nostalgic for. Looking back on it today of course, its flaws are more apparent, and certain aspects naturally don’t hold up as well given how far basketball games have come since the late 90s. Nevertheless, I would say that it’s still worthy of the acclaim it receives, and it stands as a great example of how the NBA Live series used to innovate. Let’s take a look back and see why many gamers still consider NBA Live 2000 to be a classic.

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 99 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 99 Retrospective

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! Today, it’s a retrospective of NBA Live 99.

When I think of overlooked and forgotten basketball video games, NBA Live 99 is one that often comes to mind. It doesn’t help that it came between NBA Live 98, a game that saw a really big leap from the year before, and NBA Live 2000, one of the best games in the NBA Live series. The lockout that threatened the 1999 season is also a major factor, as it meant that NBA Live 99 shipped without updated rosters (and in somewhat of a transitional year for the NBA). On top of that, its cover player, Antoine Walker, has consistently topped the “worst cover player” polls that we’ve run over the years. It’s unfortunate, as NBA Live 99 is actually a strong entry in the series.

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NLSC Podcast #301: 25th Anniversary of NBA Live (Part 1)

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Episode #301 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This is Part 1 of a two-part episode, as Dee4Three and I celebrate the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live. We’re covering the series’ origins through to NBA Live 06 in Part 1, with retrospectives, trivia, and personal memories. Be sure to catch Part 2 next week, when we cover NBA Live 07 through to the present!

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at the history of the series with retrospectives and other fun content. We’re extending those deep dive retrospectives to the NLSC Podcast, as we start at the beginning with the precursor to the NBA Live series: Lakers vs. Celtics. From there, we move on to the game that started it all – NBA Live 95 – and go through the series year by year, discussing improvements to gameplay, debuting features, modding, and the overall evolution of the series. Along the way, we share some personal anecdotes of our time with the earlier titles, and compare them to the other releases they were competing with. We also discuss how and why the quality of the early NBA Live games is too often forgotten. Part 1 ends with NBA Live 06, a significant turning point for the series that it’s still feeling the effects of today.

Tune in below!

What are your memories of NBA Live 95 through NBA Live 06? 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.

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 98 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 98 Retrospective

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! Today, it’s a retrospective of NBA Live 98.

In a Friday Five some five years ago, I discussed the five biggest leaps in basketball video games, within the span of one production cycle. While I stand by the choices I made when compiling that countdown, I have to admit that it was a mistake not to at least include NBA Live 98 as an honourable mention. Whenever I dust off the game for a trip down memory lane, I not only recall a lot of the improvements that were made over NBA Live 97, but also that it’s a game I personally underrated for a long time. I never disliked it or thought it was a bad game, but because I didn’t buy the PC version as soon as it came out, I didn’t appreciate how good it was back then.

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The Friday Five: 5 Odd Mistakes in Old 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 odd mistakes that could be found in old basketball games.

Authenticity is the name of the game, especially for sim titles. Over the years, eagle-eyed hoops gamers have proven adept at spotting mistakes, big or small. Whether it’s an inaccuracy in a court or jersey, a rating that is way off, or some other error, you can be sure that someone with an eye for detail will point it out. Some mistakes are easy to fix ourselves, while others require some modding skill (and for that matter, a game that is easily moddable). Official updates have also become far more detailed over the years, correcting many minor (and sometimes major) mistakes post-release.

As for why these mistakes occur, the simple answer is that the developers are human, and it’s easy to overlook a detail here and there. There are also times when mistakes and inaccuracies are the result of technical limitations, licensing issues, or some other factor. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that older hoops games have featured some odd mistakes through the years. We still see inaccuracies in modern games, many of which are addressed by official updates, but they’re generally not as weird and quirky as the mistakes in old titles. Here are five of my picks for the oddest mistakes that we’ve seen in various classic basketball video games.

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Wayback Wednesday: Old School Introduction Videos

NBA Live 96 Introduction Video Capture

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 introduction videos that were featured in old school basketball video games.

I’ve been producing Wayback Wednesday as a weekly feature since November 2015, and yet somehow, I’ve never discussed the introduction videos that were featured in old basketball games. I’ve talked about music, and I even posted a breakdown of NBA 2K12’s introduction video with comparisons to the real highlight clips, but I’ve yet to profile the intros that greeted us upon firing up some of our old favourites, despite the fact it’s a very obvious choice of topic for a Wayback Wednesday feature. Well, better late than never, right?

Lengthy introduction videos are seemingly being phased out, but you certainly don’t have to be a grizzled basketball gamer in your 30s to remember them. However, there was something special about the intros in old school basketball games. If you watch them today, you might just feel pumped up to play those old titles again, just as you were all those years ago. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: DBF Files in NBA Live

NBA Live 08 Players DBF in DB Commander

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 DBF files in the PC versions of NBA Live.

Our community has produced several amazing mods over the years. We’ve been able to go from fairly basic roster updates to comprehensive total conversions, and a wide variety of tweaks and enhancements. Of course, some games have been easier to mod than others. The feasibility of modding a game generally comes down to the format and structure of the files; the easier they are to decode and manipulate, the easier it’s been to develop tools to edit them. At times, developers have gone out of their way to make this task easier. CustomArt is one such example, while DBF files are another.

In short, the adoption of DBF files greatly expanded what we were able to accomplish with roster editing in NBA Live. It’s easily one of the most important developments in the history of our modding community, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Slow Motion Dunks in NBA Live

Slow Motion Dunks Option in NBA Live 95

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 slow motion dunks in older versions of NBA Live.

It’s interesting to look back at the features and mechanics that were featured in old basketball video games. There’s a reason that many of them ended up being dropped over the years – especially as the sim titles aimed to be more and more realistic – but there’s still a lot of nostalgia in them. When I think back to games like NBA Live 95 and NBA Live 96, one of my fondest memories is of throwing down big dunks and having my player point at his opponent, or pumping his arm in triumph, as he runs back on defense.

In fact, I’d say that a lot of older basketball gamers remember that aspect of dunking in the early NBA Live games. A feature that made those dunks even more exciting – much as they could be with the animations of the time – was the option for slow motion dunks. It’s an outdated concept now, particularly in the era of online play, but in its day it was pretty cool. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: The Isometric Camera Angle in NBA Live

Isometric Camera Angle in NBA Live 95 (Rockets vs Magic)

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 iconic isometric camera angle in NBA Live.

Camera angles have a significant impact on the quality of the gameplay experience across a wide variety of genres. As many titles in the early days of 3D would end up demonstrating, poorly designed camera angles and movement resulted in artificial difficulty, either by obscuring the player’s view at inopportune moments, or simply by not providing a suitable view of the action at any time. In sports video games, a bad camera angle made it a lot easier to step out of bounds, and it was harder to determine where players were in relation to each other and the field of play.

Most early basketball video games used a similar sideline camera angle, which was fine for the time, but did have a few drawbacks. EA Sports would change things up with the release of NBA Live 95, when they switched to an isometric camera angle. Not only does it remain a distinctive look that gamers found appealing, it also made the gameplay experience far more enjoyable. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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