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Monday Tip-Off: When Is It Time To Shelve Basketball Games?

DeMarcus Cousins dunks the basketball in NBA 2K16

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.

Last Friday night, the regular NLSC 2K Pro-Am crew got online to play a few games, as we usually do. As we’ve mentioned on the NLSC Podcast, and in the Forum, our record isn’t exactly stellar across our three Pro-Am teams, but we still enjoy getting in some games each week, picking up the occasional win here and there, and joking around on the party chat. We started our most recent session in high spirits, but after only a few games, we were feeling disenchanted and ready to call it a night.

I’m sure that Arcane, Kenny, and I will discuss it in more detail on this week’s Podcast, but in short, it was one of our worst sessions of 2K Pro-Am. Aside from our own mistakes – and the usual MyPARK cheese that spills over into 2K Pro-Am – we really seemed to be battling some gameplay quirks in all three contests. I can’t speak for the rest of the guys, but when we decided to call it a night early, I found myself wondering if I wanted to keep playing 2K Pro-Am in NBA 2K16. Mulling that over led me to ponder another question: when is it time to shelve basketball games?

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The Friday Five: 5 Things That Would Help Modding

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 last week’s Friday Five, I discussed how our modding community could improve in terms of its attitude and practices. Having put that very important message out there, I wanted to cover more of a modder Wishlist in this week’s Five. These are the features and resources that I believe would really help facilitate modding, allowing us to create even better mods for the current generation of basketball video games.

As many of you are probably aware, many of the file formats have changed since the PC version of NBA 2K became a port of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One version. On top of that, NBA 2K’s roster files have never been particularly modder-friendly compared to the DBF files that the PC versions of NBA Live utilised. Of course, NBA Live itself doesn’t support modding right now, being a console-only release. This isn’t intended to be a comprehensive list of ideas that would help out the modding community – I only have the five points to work with, after all – but they are the first that come to mind for me, and are intended to tip off the conversation.

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Wayback Wednesday: Team USA Basketball (SEGA Genesis)

Team USA Basketball for the SEGA Genesis

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 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.

Whenever I’m deciding on what I want to talk about for Wayback Wednesday, it’s generally either a game I’ve been meaning to review or discuss for some time, or a topic that’s somehow related to the date or a current event. With the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro underway, and Team USA seeking another gold medal in basketball, it seems like as good a time as any to talk about Team USA Basketball for the SEGA Genesis.

For those who have never heard of it, Team USA Basketball is actually a spinoff of the NBA Playoffs series – EA’s forerunner to NBA Live – and was the first game to feature the legendary Dream Team, long before NBA 2K13. Released exclusively for the SEGA Genesis in 1992, it’s obviously very primitive compared to its successors, but what was it like, and how does it hold up today? I offer up my thoughts on this arguably lesser known EA basketball game, in a new video retrospective.

Let’s take a look back…way back…

Check it out here on our YouTube channel if you can’t see the embedded video. As I’ve said before, while I can’t always find the time to work on them, I do enjoy making video retrospectives, so hopefully you enjoyed watching it as well! Be sure to check in each and every Wednesday for more videos, articles, and other retro basketball video gaming content!

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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The Friday Five: 5 Most Missed Modes 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.

Earlier this week, we received some exciting news about upgrades to the franchise modes in NBA 2K17. MyGM and MyLEAGUE will include league expansion, both modes will feature all kinds of customisation options, and a standalone Playoffs mode is also being added to the game. After expressing my frustration at the prospect of a quiet preview season in this week’s Monday Tip-Off, it was definitely satisfying to see the previews for NBA 2K17 get underway with some very welcome news about the franchise modes, which I’ve traditionally been quite interested in.

While we’re still yet to learn anything about MyCAREER, 2K Pro-Am, or much else about NBA 2K17, I’m expecting another very solid release as far as game modes are concerned. Meanwhile, NBA Live has struggled to provide deep modes since its comeback with NBA Live 14. While LIVE Pro-Am was well-made with a lot of potential for further growth, generally speaking, modes remain a weakness for NBA Live. As I look ahead and hope for improvements in both titles, I can’t help but think about some of the modes that are greatly missed. I would suggest that many basketball gamers would welcome the return of these five modes.

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NBA Live Mobile Launches Worldwide

Tip-Off in NBA Live Mobile

Following the initial soft launch in Canada, NBA Live Mobile is now available worldwide. The game, which is available free for Android and iOS devices, features five-on-five gameplay and card-based team building, similar to Ultimate Team in the console versions of NBA Live. Not unlike Ultimate Team, NBA Live Mobile does feature microtransactions, for anyone who wishes to spend real money on immediate boosts.

Gameplay consists of Live Events, which are skills challenges that are inspired by what’s happening in the real NBA, as well as a two minute quarter in-game scenarios. Modes include Head-to-Head games, Season Mode, Friends Matches, and League play. Star players from yesterday and today are included in NBA Live Mobile, with Special Abilities providing enhanced versions of players that will give your team an extra boost.

Once again, NBA Live Mobile is available through the Play Store for Android, and the App Store for iOS. A console version of NBA Live 17 is currently slated for release in early 2017; we’ll try to get some more information on that as soon as we can. In the meantime, we’ll be discussing NBA Live Mobile in this week’s NLSC Podcast, but if you pick up the game yourself, be sure to join in the discussion here in the NLSC Forum. For a breakdown of the key features of NBA Live Mobile, please see below.

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Monday Tip-Off: Superstition & Basketball Gaming

Kyle Lowry dribbles the basketball in NBA 2K16

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.

Our server move is now complete! While we’re still ironing out a few issues and making sure that everything is working as intended, most of the basics seem to be in order. That means I can get back to spending some more time creating content, and actually talking about basketball video games. I’ve been compiling some ideas for future columns, as well as some videos that I’d like to try to make in the coming weeks. This week, however, a fun idea for a topic came to mind: superstition and basketball gaming.

I don’t think of myself as a very superstitious person in general – my uncanny ability to jinx NBA teams aside – but over the years, I’ve developed a few habits when it comes to basketball video games. It may not be entirely accurate to call all of them superstitions, but it does make for a catchy title, so I’m going to run with it anyway. Basically, they’re the little things that I do in the hopes that they’ll improve my chances for success on the virtual hardwood.

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The Friday Five: 5 Strange Basketball Gaming Habits

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.

As I’ve said many times before, we take our basketball gaming seriously around these parts. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but as with any gaming community, it can lead to some attitudes that aren’t very constructive or open-minded. There are many strong opinions in the basketball gaming community, but the most important thing at the end of the day is that we’re enjoying playing these games that we’re so passionate about. We shouldn’t get caught up telling each other how to have fun, or lecture each other about the supposed “correct” way to play. There are many different ways to enjoy NBA Live and NBA 2K, after all.

At the same time, there are some strange habits and attitudes in the basketball gaming community. Again, everyone is entitled to their opinion and preferences, but some habits are puzzling, and certain attitudes myopic. In this week’s Friday Five, I’m taking a look at a range of basketball gaming habits that are peculiar for one reason or another. I’m not saying they’re all wrong, but some are definitely a little odd. Without any further ado, let’s tip things off!

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live Halftime Shows

Midwest Division Halftime Video in NBA Live 99

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 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.

As basketball video games have continued to harness the power of improving gaming technology, we’ve expected more and more of them. While most of our desires have been centred on gameplay and game modes, presentation is an area that a lot of basketball gamers have wanted to see enhancements in over the years. While slick presentation will only briefly mask gameplay and game mode deficiencies, it’s nevertheless important in terms of creating atmosphere, and adding those extra touches of reality that we tend to enjoy so much.

In the past few years, basketball video games have come to include very detailed and realistic TV-style presentation. Whether it’s NBA Live 16’s NBA on ESPN segments hosted by Jalen Rose, or NBA 2K16’s pre-game, halftime, and post-game shows featuring digital versions of Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kenny Smith, we’ve come to expect great production values that mimic a real NBA broadcast. Back in the day, of course, breaks in the action were spiced up in a far more modest manner.

Today, we’re talking about the halftime shows that appeared in the early versions of NBA Live. Without any further ado, let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 95 Patching

1997/1998 Rosters from Lutz's NBA Live 95 Roster Patches

Welcome to Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! This is a feature where we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in 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.

For as long as the NLSC has been around, so has the NBA Live patching community. In 2008, patching – or modding, as it’s more frequently called these days – finally came to NBA 2K, when NBA 2K9 became the first game in the series to be released on PC. As a community, we’ve been able to do some amazing things for both NBA Live and NBA 2K: comprehensive multi-season roster mods, enhanced textures for team and player art, and even changes to the animation files, to name but a few. We’ve hit some roadblocks along the way – as NBA 2K15 and NBA 2K16 modders can attest – but it was pretty difficult back in the days of NBA Live 95, too.

Thanks to the efforts of our founders, Tim, Lutz, and Brien, it was possible to create custom rosters for NBA Live 95, and eventually, custom art files as well. Compared to what they were able to achieve with the editing tools for NBA Live 96 onwards, creating rosters for NBA Live 95 was much trickier, and a lot more finicky. Through going back and creating the Definitive roster patch for NBA Live 95 as part of our 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content, as well as putting Stephen Curry into the game for last week’s feature, I was reminded of both the fun and the frustration of patching NBA Live 95.

With patching/modding being such a big part of what we do here at the NLSC, I thought it’d be interesting to look back at what the community had to work with in the early days. So let’s indeed take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Are You Modding For The Right Reasons?

Andreas Dahl's Next Gen Practice Court Patch for NBA Live 06

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.

In previous Monday Tip-Off columns, I’ve discussed a few issues related to our modding community: problems with ego, why modders stop modding, and why people make mods for older basketball video games. In a couple of those features, I’ve touched upon the right reasons and the wrong reasons to get involved in the modding scene for basketball video games. While I don’t want to harp on the same topics over and over again, sometimes they do bear repeating, especially when certain issues arise time and time again.

We recently had another incident in the Forum which reminded me that although we are a talented modding community, unfortunately there are some individuals who do have a bad attitude. I suppose it’s inevitable and it’s always disappointing, but it’s perhaps even more disappointing when I see other people defend and enable that behaviour. While everyone is entitled to their own point of view, I’d suggest that you’re betting on the wrong horse if you’re on the side of the person who’s throwing a tantrum like a toddler.

I feel like we need a refresher here, so having said that, what are the right and wrong reasons to mod, the good and the bad attitudes to have towards the hobby?

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The Friday Five: 5 Frustrating Design Choices 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.

It’s stating the obvious, but we’re pretty fond of our basketball video games around these parts. We may get frustrated and grumble when we encounter a bug or some other quirk in a game, but I’d like to think that for the most part, a majority of us are enjoying our time on the virtual hardwood. No game is ever going to be perfect or completely bug-free, and new gaming tech is always being developed and refined. All the same, we generally find a way to enjoy basketball games, especially if they receive official patches that are able to stamp out some of the most troubling issues.

Of course, bugs aren’t the only issues that cause us to become frustrated with basketball video games. Sometimes, our complaints are with the design choices that are made when developing hoops titles; the approach to certain features. While there may be a rhyme and reason to some of those choices, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t annoying, or problematic. In this week’s Friday Five, I’m taking a look at five design choices that cause their fair share of frustration for basketball gamers.

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A Starting Guide for Being a Better Teammate in NBA Live Pro-Am

When it comes to NBA Live Pro-Am, I’m not the greatest. I shoot just over 30% from beyond the arc and I’m pretty bad at defending the perimeter. However, I take pride in the fact that I’m a low maintenance teammate. On offence, I always look for good shots and generally pass the ball when they’re not there for me, and I always run back on defence and contest shots to the best of my ability. I might not be the most skilled, but I like to think my general awareness of my surroundings makes up for that. The same cannot be said about some of the people I’ve had to share a team with.

Teammates in Pro-Am can make or break a game. Sometimes you can get a good mix of people who are both skilled and are willing to play the game in the right spirit. Then you get those who may be one, but not necessarily the other. In light of this, I’ve decided to come up with a few suggestions on how to be a better teammate in NBA Live Pro-Am.

Please note that while I’m having a rant against people who are generally bad teammates, I’m by no means perfect. I’ve been guilty of all these annoyances at least once, and it’s okay to slip up every now and then. These suggestions are directed to those who are repeat offenders.

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Generated Players: The Ultimate Blank Canvas

When I was playing NBA Live 10, I saw a lot of generated players. In fact, by the time it was season 18, Dwight Howard was the only real life player left in the league. Even though it’s not as aesthetically pleasing to see a league full of computer-generated characters with porn moustaches, it can provide an excellent opportunity to exercise your creative flair and go far beyond what you think is possible as a sim gamer.

If you’re anything like me, you love chasing achievements like triple-doubles, five-by-fives, and 50-point games. Sometimes these achievements can be the only thing keeping your Dynasty or Association mode interesting if you’re constantly winning championships. But there’s always one problem with real life players – they’re often limited by our own expectations. After all, you have to be pretty liberal with your sim gaming if you can justify someone like J.R. Smith winning the MVP trophy, or someone like Kwame Brown becoming a productive player.

With generated players, there’s no overachieving or underachieving, because they don’t exist outside of the video game. They’re a blank canvas for your imagination and the ultimate vehicle for your achievement hunting. No other player in my basketball video game experiences has embodied this more than a generated player named Borislav Perko in my NBA Live 10 Nuggets Dynasty.

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