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Monday Tip-Off: Do We Need Those Stinking Badges?

Monday Tip-Off: Do We Need Those Stinking Badges?

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 whether NBA 2K’s MyCAREER and its connected modes are too reliant on Badges, and their general implementation.

Sim games have long sought to properly differentiate between players, beginning with detailed ratings. Those base attributes alone haven’t always been sufficient though, and so developers have experimented with mechanics such as Freestyle Superstars in NBA Live, and Signature Skills in NBA 2K. Signature Skills have given way to Badges, which like their predecessors, grant boosts and represent special abilities that the standard ratings can’t account for. As with Signature Skills, or the similar Traits system in NBA Live, they’re available to real players and career mode avatars alike.

These days, Badges are probably more important than ratings/attributes. You can max out a player’s ratings in a certain area, but it takes the effects of a Badge to ensure that they’re sufficiently levelled up. On one hand, this does make the exceptionally skilled stand out from the very good, much as Freestyle Superstars in NBA Live once aimed to achieve. On the other hand, it also means that high ratings – which are theoretically only given to the best real players, and take a long time to grind for our MyPLAYERs – are far less powerful than they should be, if they aren’t paired with the various boosts afforded by Badges. Given these issues, do we need those stinking Badges?

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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.

The Friday Five: 5 Keys to a “No Money Spent” Experience

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 tips that are the key to having a “No Money Spent” experience in NBA 2K.

Microtransactions remain a controversial issue in NBA 2K, and Triple-A gaming as a whole. Although they are technically optional, there’s no denying that 2K’s recurrent revenue mechanics are implemented in a way that does all they can to push gamers towards spending real money on Virtual Currency. Gamers who spend level up quicker and end up with better cards sooner, and in turn, they set the competitive balance in online play. Even if you stick to the offline modes, opting for the No Money Spent approach ensures a lengthy grind, year after year.

Of course, for those of us who don’t want to support the recurrent revenue business model and spend additional money on a game that’ll be outmoded in a year, finding a way to beat the system is a point of pride. There’s great satisfaction to be had in enjoying a game without having to shell out cash in order to level up efficiently, or access some of its best content. Once again though, NBA 2K is subtly (and not-so-subtly) trying to push us towards spending at every turn, so the No Money Spent approach takes a few tricks, discipline, and a willingness to work the system. To that end, here are five keys to getting the most out of a No Money Spent experience.

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Monday Tip-Off: Unfinished NBA 2K20 Business

Monday Tip-Off: Unfinished NBA 2K20 Business

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 sticking with or returning to NBA 2K20 after NBA 2K21 is released, in order to take care of unfinished business.

As I’m writing this, I haven’t pre-ordered NBA 2K21. That may change by the time you’re reading it, because I do intend to buy the Current Gen version of the game. In fact, I’m leaning towards getting the Mamba Forever Edition, in order to save money on the PlayStation 5 release later this year. The only reason I haven’t pre-ordered as yet is because there’s still time to do so, and it doesn’t matter whether you pre-order several weeks or just a few days in advance. They’re not going to run out of copies, and I’ll receive the bonuses either way.

Of course, with the release of NBA 2K21 looming, the clock is ticking on NBA 2K20. In fact, as this article is going live, we’re on the cusp of NBA 2K21’s demo being released. That means pretty soon, we’ll all be turning our attention away from NBA 2K20…or will we? The game has already received content beyond the usual cut-off, thanks to the NBA’s hiatus and restart; a situation that also means that NBA 2K21 will be released with this season’s rosters, and before the 2020 Playoffs are even over no less. With that in mind, I could definitely see myself sticking with NBA 2K20 a little while longer, or at least going back to it after trying out its successor.

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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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The Friday Five: 5 Odd Aspects of 2K’s Early Career Modes

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 aspects of NBA 2K’s early career modes that look odd in retrospect.

TV Tropes enthusiasts will no doubt be familiar with the term “Early Installment Weirdness“. To quote the laconic definition, it refers the phenomenon of “first releases of franchises that include very surprising differences in specific tropes or even the absence of a trope that later became predominant in that work”. To put it another way, the first season of a TV show or the early titles in a video game series may have elements that were changed or phased out, retroactively making them look very strange and out of place compared to what came afterwards.

Being a genre that has evolved over a number of years and generations of hardware, basketball games are no exception. Certain controls and gameplay mechanics, and even features of the staple game modes, have drastically changed as concepts have evolved and technology has improved. Of course, less pleasing developments such as the introduction of microtransactions have also fuelled changes that leave us wishing we could go back to the old days, and the old ways. The single player career mode in NBA 2K – originally called My Player, now branded MyCAREER – features some prime examples of aspects that now seem quite odd. Let’s take a look at five of them!

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NLSC Podcast #332: The Measure of a Sim Gamer

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Episode #332 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

Many of us consider ourselves to be sim gamers, but what does that mean exactly? We discuss what makes a sim gamer “sim”, and the different approaches we can take with that style of play. We’ve also got plenty of suggestions for additional retro teams for NBA 2K, and share some of our favourites that we’d most like to see. The word of the week here is “esoteric”! Speaking of suggestions, we also have some ideas for new and revamped game modes. From an offline retro challenge mode to a concept like Quick Pick Play, and even tournament and road trip modes, there are still ways that NBA Live and NBA 2K can offer gamers even more content to sink their teeth into.

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 Friday Five: 5 Basketball Gaming Suggestions for Social Distancing

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 suggests five basketball gaming ideas that you might want to try while social distancing.

These are definitely unusual and concerning times, as the world at large deals with COVID-19. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy, taking the proper precautions as far as hygiene and social distancing are concerned, and that everything works out with your employment, schooling, housing, and so on. I also want to commend and thank the healthcare workers around the world who are doing an amazing job caring for patients during these difficult times. If I may borrow and paraphrase a quote from M*A*S*H, if you ask me, you’re all supermen (and women).

Obviously, there are more pressing matters in the world than basketball video games right now. At the same time, many of us are naturally spending a lot of time at home, and looking to occupy our days with leisure activities, gaming being one of them. To that end, I thought that I’d offer up some suggestions if you’re looking to hit the virtual hardwood while you’re social distancing. With the depth of modern basketball games, we’re able to sink a lot of time into them. As for older releases, at this point there are several great titles to dust off for some retro gaming. If basketball gaming is on your agenda while you’re social distancing, here are some ways to stay entertained.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Future of Basketball Gaming Nostalgia

Monday Tip-Off: The Future of Basketball Gaming Nostalgia

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 what basketball gaming nostalgia is going to look like in the not too distant future.

In recent episodes of the NLSC Podcast, we’ve been discussing old basketball games and reflecting on our nostalgia. We’ve talked about the different nostalgic phases that we go through, as well as some of the games that influenced the way we approach the virtual hardwood. We also recorded a big two part episode for the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, which was a lot of fun. As much as I enjoy playing the latest game and other recent releases, I also like to revisit old favourites and reflect on the history of the genre. It’s one of the reasons I do Wayback Wednesday every week.

However, I’ve recently been wondering what basketball gaming nostalgia is going to be like for recent titles as they get older. Will they inspire the same kind of fondness that we older gamers have for an NBA Jam or NBA Live 95, or will they be discarded and dismissed? Will we, and especially the younger gamers who are growing up with these titles, see fit to revisit them the same way we like to dust off the old titles that we love? Perhaps most importantly, will it even be viable to revisit those games and their experiences that captivated us for hours on end? My feeling is that nostalgia for basketball games is going to look and play out somewhat differently moving forward.

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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.

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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NLSC Podcast #308: When You Wish Upon A Dev

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Episode #308 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Dee4Three and I as we discuss the latest patch for NBA 2K20, and run down our wishlists for NBA 2K21.

A new patch has come through for NBA 2K20 this week, and it’s brought some welcome updates and changes. The nerfing of a cheesy move has naturally proven to be controversial, leading us to reflect on attitudes towards exploits and how 2K should respond to any backlash. We also touch on some recent controversies with VC exploits, and how 2K chose to handle the situation. From there, we dive into this week’s main topic: our NBA 2K21 wishlists. It’s Wishlist Season, and we’ve got plenty to say about what we want to see in this year’s game. From motion systems and balance to roster accuracy and matchmaking, we break down our desired improvements and additions.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on the latest NBA 2K20 patch? What’s on your NBA 2K21 Wishlist? 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 Reasons to Reactivate Old Servers

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 reasons for 2K to reactivate the old servers for previous NBA 2K titles.

As online modes and content have become more popular in basketball video games, it’s become a much bigger deal when servers finally get shut down. Not only is online play rendered unavailable, but any single player experiences that relied on connected content also become inaccessible. Early on in this generation, online MyCAREER games were intended to become offline saves once the servers were shut down. This infamously didn’t work properly for a lot of gamers in NBA 2K14, with many still being unable to access their saves once the servers were reactivated.

Since then, 2K has simply decided to follow the original plan of declaring that any online saves are “retired” once support for a game ends. It’s understandable that 2K doesn’t want to support games indefinitely, given the cost and resources involved. That doesn’t stop gamers from expressing their desire to see the old servers switched back on though, and interestingly, Chris Manning has even publicly mentioned that he’s advocated for such a thing to happen. Obviously there are a lot of reasons why it’s unlikely, contrary to clickbait videos claiming LD2K “confirmed” it. Nevertheless, there are also reasons why it should at least be considered, and here are five of them.

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Monday Tip-Off: How Career Modes Overtook Franchise Modes

Monday Tip-Off: How Career Modes Overtook Franchise Modes

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 how career modes ended up surpassing franchise modes in popularity.

As a long-time basketball gamer, it’s been interesting to not only see how the games have evolved, but also how trends and attitudes have changed. A noteworthy example of changing trends is the popularity of franchise modes. There was a time when they were considered the pinnacle of modes in basketball games, a dream come true for those of us who remember playing the basic single season modes of early titles. These days, they’re seen as passé; something for “old heads”, despite the fact younger hoops gamers enjoy them too. If nothing else, they’re no longer the flagship mode.

That distinction now belongs to career modes, and their connected online experiences. In some respects, it’s not surprising. It took longer for fully-formed career modes to make their way into NBA 2K and NBA Live, and there had been an interest in seeing them for quite some time. Indeed, the franchise modes were often used to simulate a single player career mode, so gamers clearly wanted that type of experience. The shift towards career modes is still interesting however, especially as they’ve drawn in gamers who have traditionally been all about franchise play. How did this happen? Well, I have a few theories as to how career modes gained and maintained popularity.

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