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The Friday Five: 5 Things NBA Live Doesn’t Get Enough Credit For

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 things that NBA Live doesn’t get enough credit for.

We’re getting to the point in our 25th Anniversary of NBA Live celebrations where I’m talking about the fall of the series, and the struggles that it has endured for more than a decade now. It’s unfortunate that the retrospectives aren’t as positive as the earlier releases in the series, but it’s the truth, and a part of its history that needs to be discussed. It’s even more unfortunate that it’s the prevailing image for NBA Live: a struggling series that hasn’t been able to get things right for a couple of generations, and as such, remains lagging way behind NBA 2K; a game it once outsold annually.

After all, it wasn’t always that way. Because it’s been so long, it’s all too easy to forget that there are many things that NBA Live innovated and did well. To that end, the series doesn’t always get the credit it deserves, both from gamers who switched to 2K many years ago, and those who are too young to remember when the NBA Live series was king. On top of that, it’s quite easy to focus on the negatives and take things for granted. With that in mind, I’ll also be writing similar articles on things that NBA 2K and NBA Jam deserve more credit for. For now though, let’s take a look at five aspects of NBA Live throughout the years that do deserve more credit.

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Wayback Wednesday: The Instant Replay “Cheat” in Old Games

Wayback Wednesday: The Instant Replay "Cheat" in Old 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 taking a look back at the “cheat” that was possible using instant replay in old basketball video games.

I’ve said it so often in these Wayback Wednesday features that I’m sure it’s starting to sound trite, but basketball video games have come a long way since I first got into them. There are older titles that still hold up quite well and are fun to revisit, but even then, technology has allowed their successors to implement graphics and features that definitely weren’t possible all those years ago. To that end, old hoops titles have a few quirks that tend not to be found in modern games. Some of those quirks can be quite amusing to look back on.

That’s not to say that we didn’t recognise them as being quirky at the time, of course. They were the things that we noted in both amusement and frustration, and talked about when we compiled our Wishlists. Over the years they’ve become somewhat nostalgic, although we’re not exactly clamouring to see them return. One of those quirks was an instant replay glitch that was often listed in the Cheats sections of gaming magazines and websites alike. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Cynicism as a New Generation Looms

Monday Tip-Off: Cynicism as a New Generation Looms

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on how previews of NBA 2K21 Next Gen have inspired cynicism for me, rather than excitement.

When the NBA 2K21 Next Gen trailer dropped, I was compelled to post a few Tweets outlining my initial impressions. As you can probably gather from that thread, as well as comments I’ve made in our Forum and on the NLSC Podcast, I wasn’t blown away by the trailer, or pumped up about the game. If you follow me on Twitter, take part in our Forum, read my articles, or listen to our Podcast, you’ll probably also know that I’m not the biggest fan of NBA 2K21 Current Gen, either. My disappointment with NBA 2K21 and other recent releases has set the table for some Next Gen cynicism.

Thinking back to the release of NBA 2K14 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, I don’t remember feeling quite as cynical. It’s unfortunate, as I’d prefer not to feel that way. I don’t want my content to come across as jaded and overwhelmingly negative, but beyond that, as an avid basketball gamer, I want to enjoy my hobby and look forward to new games when they’re on the horizon. As NBA 2K21 Next Gen looms and we get our first glimpses and insights into the forthcoming game, my cynicism definitely outpaces my optimism in a way that it didn’t seven years ago. Today, I’m reflecting upon that, and how things have changed over the course of a generation.

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The Friday Five: 5 Basketball Gaming Shower Thoughts

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 shower thoughts I’ve had about basketball gaming.

Contrary to what you might believe, I don’t think about basketball gaming 24/7. It’s obviously a passion of mine – I wouldn’t have been running the NLSC for 19 years and counting if it wasn’t – but I do have other interests and hobbies. It is something that is on my mind fairly regularly though, either when I’m playing a game, or creating content for the NLSC. A thought will stroll into my head – sometimes related to what I’m doing, sometimes out of the blue – and I’ll wonder how it didn’t occur to me before then.

For those unfamiliar with the term, “shower thoughts” are ideas or epiphanies that occur to us while doing mundane activities such as taking a shower (which is where the term originates), or carrying out some chore. They’re not all profound pearls of wisdom; indeed, if you go looking for shower thoughts on Reddit or elsewhere that they’re collected, you’ll find a lot of puns and folksy observations. To that end, I can’t promise that these basketball gaming shower thoughts – a couple of which did in fact come about in the shower – will be profound and mind-blowing. Hopefully they’ll at least be amusing or interesting talking points, though.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K11 Retrospective

Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K11 Retrospective

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 NBA 2K11 with a tenth anniversary retrospective.

Monday marked the tenth anniversary of NBA 2K11, so I feel a retrospective is only appropriate. Before we get to that though, the fact that ten years have passed since the release of NBA 2K11 is, for me at least, mind-blowing. It doesn’t feel like a whole decade has gone by since basketball gamers were sinking their teeth into a title that many still consider to be one of the best (if not the best) hoops games ever made. Like NBA Live 2000 before it, it’s managed to hold a special place in our hearts long past its release, because it was such a great game for its time.

Of course, being a great game for its time doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s still the benchmark, which raises a few questions: just how good is NBA 2K11, and how well does it hold up? What makes it so special that a vocal contingent of basketball gamers opine that no game since has been able to top it? They’re pertinent questions for an NBA 2K11 retrospective to explore, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #343: The Making of a Classic (Part 2)

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #343 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

Part 2 of our latest chat with Josh and Dave from Namo Gamo continues our conversation about the traits of good and bad basketball games, and how they factored into the development of Basketball Classics. We also talk about the one game that we’d want to be stuck on a desert island with, which Donkey Kong Country title is objectively the best, and how to handle custom ratings in basketball video games. There’s also one last tidbit about future features in Basketball Classics, and possibly a few more nods to a certain Simpsons-themed platformer.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. The show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

NLSC Podcast #342: The Making of a Classic (Part 1)

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #342 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

In Part 1 of a two-part episode, we welcome Josh and Dave from Namo Gamo back to the show! The guys share some news on the exciting features that are in the works for Basketball Classics, including something that should pique the interest of our modding community. After that, we get into our main discussion topic: the hallmarks of good and bad games, and what makes a hoops title a classic or a dud. We talk about the traits that are common to good and bad basketball games alike, and Josh and Dave describe how those examples inspired and guided them in the development of Basketball Classics. The conversation also turns to collecting, and other classic video games that shaped our tastes.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. The show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

Monday Tip-Off: The State of Official Rosters

Monday Tip-Off: The State of Official Rosters

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 state of official rosters in basketball games, particularly NBA 2K.

No matter whether you’re a developer working on the official rosters or a gamer who’s making unofficial updates for the community, it can often be a thankless job. There’s no chance of pleasing everyone when it comes to player ratings, especially given the overinflated importance that Overall Ratings are often ascribed. With over 400 active players along with historical content, it’s very easy to overlook a detail here and there, no matter how meticulous you are. I’m not sure that I’ve ever released a roster for NBA Live PC that didn’t have at least one small oversight.

The feedback that you’ll receive as a roster maker in the community, or indeed as the developer in charge of handling the official rosters, isn’t always constructive or very pleasant. We’re quick to sneer at a perceived bias or lack of knowledge, forgetting that we’re all prone to the same biases and knowledge gaps, to say nothing of human error. At the same time, we’re slow to give credit where it’s due. With that being said, there are some troubling trends when it comes to the official rosters in modern games, in particular NBA 2K. Without meaning to be insulting or self-righteous, it doesn’t feel like the rosters in recent titles have the same level of authenticity as they once did.

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NLSC Podcast #340: Gamers Just Wanna Have Fun

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Episode #340 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

Gamers just wanna have fun, but NBA 2K21 has presented a few obstacles in that regard. Issues with the Mamba Forever edition pre-order bonuses have caused PlayStation 4 and Xbox One gamers much grief. The frosty reception to NBA 2K21 has also resulted in record-low Metacritic scores from critic and user reviews alike, and some trolling tags have appeared on the game’s Steam store page. We discuss some of the snarkier comments and whether it undermines efforts to provide constructive feedback, as well as the toxicity of elitist thinking. In the wake of the shooting hotfix, we also share further impressions following a full week with NBA 2K21, including our latest thoughts on shooting, player movement, gameplay balance, and other core aspects. We also circle back to last week’s news about Scott O’Gallagher and Rob Jones, and consider the impact on the NBA 2K series moving forward.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. The show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

Wayback Wednesday: A Key Mistake in NBA 2K9 PC

Wayback Wednesday: A Key Mistake in NBA 2K9 PC

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 issue with missing keys in NBA 2K9 PC.

Hopefully, I’m not the only person around these parts with an appreciation for old school adventure games from Sierra and LucasArts. Those two companies took a very different approach to the genre. While LucasArts adopted the stance of avoiding game over situations (and thereby encouraging gamers to freely experiment), Sierra’s games could be brutal in the way they punished you for trying the wrong thing or missing a detail. If you forgot to pick up a key very early on in the game, you might find that it’s unobtainable much later on, resulting in an unwinnable state. Save early, and often!

Yes, I’m going on a very long journey for an analogy; you might say, almost as far as Guybrush Threepwood travelled by rowboat around the titular location in The Secret of Monkey Island! The point is that you never want to get stuck without a required key, and unfortunately, that’s what happened to a lot of gamers who picked up the PC version of NBA 2K9. With that nostalgic and self-indulgent metaphor out of the way, let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Imperfections Don’t Need Imperfect Solutions

Monday Tip-Off: Imperfections Don't Need Imperfect Solutions

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 simple but important message: imperfections in basketball games don’t need imperfect solutions.

There’s a running gag when it comes to Bethesda’s Fallout games: “it just works”. This sarcastic jab at bugs and other imperfections in the series is a reference to Executive Producer Todd Howard’s declaration that Fallout 4’s “dynamic game engine” would ensure that everything about it “just works”. And, to be fair, while I didn’t enjoy Fallout 4 as much as I did Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas, the game does indeed work. Does everything work as well as it should? Not exactly, and that’s why Todd Howard’s utterance of those words has become a meme.

In all fairness to Todd Howard and Bethesda though, they’re not alone in that regard. To be completely fair to the Triple-A gaming industry at large, achieving perfection is easier said than done, and the scope of their products is going to result in issues such as bugs and oversights. As gamers, consumers, whatever we want to call ourselves, we do understand that. However, some things are just poorly planned, designed, and implemented. Although we do criticise these issues and suggest solutions, I’ve also seen many gamers defend these imperfections. Not because of the difficulty of game design, mind you, but the notion that imperfect solutions cancel out valid complaints.

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NLSC Podcast #339: NBA 2K21 Impressions, NBA Live Hopes

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #339 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

NBA 2K21 Current Gen is here! After getting a taste of the game with the demo, we’ve got further impressions to share after getting our hands on the full version. We’re going in-depth on shooting, dribbling, player movement, and other mechanics with comparisons to both NBA 2K20 and the demo, while touching on changes to modes. In our early appraisal of NBA 2K21, we also describe some of the changes and fixes we’d like to see, and note some of the community’s reactions. In other news, Scott O’Gallagher and Rob Jones joining EA Sports has us feeling optimistic about NBA Live. We talk about what it could mean for the series, and the importance of listening to the right voices moving forward. Finally, we catch up on some other hoops games we’ve been playing, including Dunk Lords, PBA Basketball Slam, and the original NBA Playgrounds.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. The show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

NBA 2K Developers Taking Roles At EA Sports

NBA 2K Developers Taking Roles At EA Sports

I’ve always been a bit leery about reporting on personnel moves at EA Sports and Visual Concepts, but today has brought some significant news regarding two now-former NBA 2K developers. Gameplay producer Scott O’Gallagher and senior producer Rob Jones have taken their talents to EA Sports, in as yet unannounced roles.

OG Tweeted out a short clip revealing his move, and his Twitter bio has been updated to include the title Creative Director at EA Sports. Presumably he’ll be working on NBA Live, but that hasn’t been officially confirmed. As reported by Operation Sports, Jones took on a senior producer role at EA three months ago, and has recently updated his Twitter handle to remove references to 2K.

Once again, presumably the former NBA 2K developers will now be working on NBA Live, which is set to miss its second straight season. Rob Jones was a long-time member of the NBA 2K team, while Scott O’Gallagher joined the team for NBA 2K15, after previously working for EA Sports on NBA Live 14. It would seem unusual to bring them in to work on other franchises, though again, there’s been no official word on their roles at EA.

If we’re to assume they’ve been brought in to work on NBA Live, then that’s certainly promising news. It suggests that NBA Live is far from permanently canned, and that EA are looking to invest in its future by rebuilding the development team with people who had prominent roles with the highly successful NBA 2K series. There’s not much else to go on right now, but if any further developments present themselves, we’ll be sure to cover them in due course. In any case, congratulations to Scott and Rob on their new gigs! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, and join in the discussion here in the Forum.

Monday Tip-Off: That One Change Every Year

Monday Tip-Off: That One Change Every Year

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 how every year, there seems to be at least one change in basketball video games that many of us dislike.

It’s fair to say that we want to see change in basketball video games year-to-year; for the better, ideally! As much as we criticise the parts of games we don’t like, we have seen quite a few positive changes that have improved the overall on-court experience. Basketball games have come a long way, and it’s clear that some of our feedback has been taken into consideration by the developers. It always comes as welcome news when a major frustration is addressed in a new game, and the new approach allows us to enjoy it a lot more than its predecessor.

And then, there are the changes we don’t want to see. Everything was fine and the way we liked it, and suddenly, it’s drastically different. Sometimes it’s a matter of getting used to the change, but other times, it’s a pointless switch from something that was working and didn’t need to be touched. Whether it’s a major gameplay mechanic, a menu option, or something content-related, it’s a rare game that doesn’t have at least one noticeable change that won’t sit well with many of us. It may not completely ruin a game, and it may not be important to absolutely everyone, but it’s significant enough for a number of us to be bothered by the difference to the previous year’s release.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Decline of MyCAREER Offline

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 look at the decline of MyCAREER offline, and its effect on the career experience in NBA 2K.

MyCAREER has been my main mode of choice since I was drawn to it back in NBA 2K13. As I’ve mentioned on many occasions, I’ve felt a desire to return to my roots as a franchise gamer – especially given the depth currently on offer in MyLEAGUE – and have also spent time with MyTEAM, as well as Ultimate Team in NBA Live over the past generation. However, MyCAREER has been difficult to quit, particularly as I’ve grown to appreciate the online scene through 2K Pro-Am. The connected experience offers several benefits, but it’s also contributed to the decline of MyCAREER offline.

I was originally going to cover this in a Friday Five article which would’ve been titled “5 Ways Offline MyCAREER Is Worse”, but I decided that the list format wouldn’t do the issue justice. One of the major reasons for my change of heart and mind is that I stumbled across this Reddit post from about five months back, outlining the way that MyCAREER offline has been downgraded over the years. It was well-researched, and I must credit it here as a source of information for the specific changes I’ve noted. Its title was apt, too. It’s a matter that doesn’t receive nearly enough attention, and I’d like to rectify that by covering it today, while also considering some possible solutions.

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