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Monday Tip-Off: Ready (To Not Be) Player One

Monday Tip-Off: Ready (To Not Be) Player One

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 more thoughts on the online scene in NBA 2K. Specifically, in order to improve the quality of play, gamers must be ready to not be Player One.

I’m fortunate in that I’m not completely reliant on the online scene to enjoy basketball video games. I grew up gaming in a time before online play was common – or for that matter, possible – on the virtual hardwood. Dynasty was my mode of choice in NBA Live, and I’ve also racked up many hours playing single player MyCAREER in NBA 2K. I’m therefore able to enjoy the offline experience, which is vital given that the online scene in NBA 2K has a myriad of problems, ranging from technical issues and design flaws to toxic attitudes and a sloppy style of play.

At the same time, while I find it easy to eschew the online scene, I would prefer it to be better than it is. Obviously I’d like to jump in on occasion, having developed an appreciation for it over the past generation. Even if I’m not partaking in it myself, I’d still like to see the scene thrive and be the best possible experience for those who are playing it; especially gamers who play exclusively online. I’ve previously discussed vital changes that the developers need to implement, such as proper matchmaking. Today however, I want to focus on the problem of how so many gamers aren’t ready to drop their Player One mentality online, and how that could possibly be remedied.

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Wayback Wednesday: adidas Live Run in NBA Live 10

Wayback Wednesday: adidas Live Run in NBA Live 10

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 adidas Live Run in NBA Live 10.

These days, we take the concept of online team play for granted. Although there’s still interest in single player experiences and local multiplayer, the various modes that allow us to play with up to nine other gamers online are extremely popular. Of course, MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft, to say nothing of the multiplayer scene in first person shooters and good old fashioned LAN parties, had already popularised the concept. As soon as the online infrastructure was developed for basketball and other sports titles, it was clear that the concept would find an enthusiastic audience.

It’s interesting to look back at those early iterations of online team play. With adidas Live Run in particular, you can see that the concept was already starting to evolve into the experiences we now enjoy (well, sometimes enjoy). Unfortunately, with the NBA Live series being rebooted following the cancellation of NBA Elite 11, the developers weren’t able to expand upon the idea of adidas Live Run until NBA Live 16. It was nevertheless an innovative mode in its time, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 16 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 16 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! Next up is a retrospective of NBA Live 16.

I have mixed feelings when I look back at NBA Live 16. On one hand, it’s a very solid game that was an improvement on NBA Live 15. I also had the opportunity to play it early, and to date, that was the last community event that I attended. On the other hand, the game also introduced concepts that while fun, have since taken the series in the wrong direction upon becoming the main focus. That makes it a pivotal title in the series, and in hindsight, there were some red flags about what was to come. At the same time, the good things that it did were cause for optimism, and deserve credit. With that in mind, NBA Live 16 is a rather interesting release to reflect upon.

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 10 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 10 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! Next up is a retrospective of NBA Live 10.

After NBA Live 09, EA Sports pulled the plug on further PlayStation 2 releases for the series. Given the state of NBA Live 09 on PS2, it was the right call. It allowed EA Sports to focus on the current generation, though there was a PlayStation Portable and iOS version. Did the decision pay off? Well, NBA Live 10 is often considered to be the last great (or at least, really good) NBA Live release, so their efforts weren’t for nothing. At the same time, it didn’t recapture the lead in sales from NBA 2K, leading to a disastrous decision the following year with NBA Elite 11. Before we get to that though, let’s take a look back at NBA Live 10, and how well it holds up.

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 09 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 09 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! Next up is a retrospective of NBA Live 09.

NBA Live 09 is remembered for several things. It was the first game in the series since NBA Live 2002 to be console-exclusive, which wasn’t a popular decision in our community. It’s also the final NBA Live game to be released on PlayStation 2, with a game that’s undoubtedly clunky, but also interesting. Conversely, it’s also a game that turned out quite well on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and one that many long-time basketball gamers hold in high regard. Despite that, it’s the first NBA Live game to be outsold by its NBA 2K counterpart, which isn’t necessarily indicative of its quality. Finally, it had an unexpected cover player. There’s a lot to look at, so let’s dive in.

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 08 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 08 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 08.

After NBA Live 07 fell flat on all platforms, the development team had their work cut out for them with NBA Live 08. As it turned out, the series bounced back with a very respectable release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Naturally it had its issues and room for improvement, but after playing it again for this retrospective, I’d have to say that it was underappreciated, at least in our community. There is a reason for that, of course. The prior gen version – from which the PC version was ported – was far more underwhelming, and ended up carving out a dubious legacy with long-time NBA Live fans. Let’s take a look back at the good, the bad, and the ugly of a milestone game.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Rec Is Garbage, But Who’s To Blame?

Monday Tip-Off: The Rec Is Garbage, But Who's To Blame?

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 who’s to blame for The Rec being utter garbage in NBA 2K21, and how – or if – the problems can be fixed.

I have to blunt: The Rec is absolutely woeful this year. Walk-On play has always been a hit-and-miss alternative to team Pro-Am, owing to the all the issues that arise when you play with randoms. It’s been particularly toxic and unenjoyable in NBA 2K21, though. Admittedly, I can only speak to my experiences playing on the Australasian server, and I’ve yet to create a MyPLAYER on Next Gen and jump online. The scene may be a lot better on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, at least in North America. It’d be a low bar to clear, as the mode seems to have hit rock bottom.

While the issues are familiar, the continued decline of The Rec – and it’s felt like it’s grown even worse since NBA 2K21 Current Gen’s launch – raises a few questions. The two most pertinent are “who’s to blame”, and “how can it be fixed”. As you might imagine, the first issue has a significant impact on the second. The answer is quite complicated, and that naturally means the solution isn’t easy either. Still, I’ve been thinking about this a lot in recent weeks. While I am taking a moment to grumble here, I want to turn that into something constructive. If we as a community can identify these issues and suggest solutions, perhaps we can help improve the scene.

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Monday Tip-Off: Thoughts on Skill-Based Matchmaking

Monday Tip-Off: Thoughts on Skill-Based Matchmaking

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 skill-based matchmaking.

Did you know that the concept of skill-based matchmaking, commonly abbreviated to SBMM, is controversial? I’ll admit that I was surprised at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense; especially given my experiences playing NBA 2K online. As the name implies, skill-based matchmaking is a system for matching both teammates and opponents in online play according to their abilities. The criteria and algorithms for this vary from game to game, but are generally based on winning percentage, ranking or reputation systems, and other statistics relevant to the genre.

Sounds like a good idea, right; the kind of proper matchmaking that we’d expect to see in a basketball game like NBA 2K, with all of its connected experiences? Well, you would think so, but not everyone is a fan of skill-based matchmaking. This disdain stretches beyond NBA 2K and the basketball gaming community, but the basic reasoning behind gamers’ objections to the concept remains the same. Frankly, this is unfortunate. SBMM is indeed a good idea, and would undoubtedly clean up the online scene in NBA 2K by reducing the toxicity and sense of gatekeeping. I’d like to explore why it’s necessary, and also examine the controversy surrounding SBMM.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2000 & NBA Live 10 Trivia

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2000 & NBA Live 10 Trivia

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 some trivia for NBA Live 2000 and NBA Live 10.

Happy New Year, everyone! It’s strange to tip off a year with a retro feature, but it is Wednesday, and on Wednesdays we go way back. Speaking of which, as part of the lead up to the release of NBA Live 18 and NBA Live 19, I posted a couple of articles containing trivia facts about NBA Live 98 and NBA Live 08, and NBA Live 99 and NBA Live 09. I’d intended to do the same thing this year with NBA Live 2000 and NBA Live 10, ahead of the release of NBA Live 20. Of course, NBA Live 20 was ultimately cancelled, so I didn’t get an opportunity to do so back in September.

Looking back, I’m certainly glad I didn’t run it pre-emptively while we waited for that announcement! However, it seems like a waste of a good Wayback Wednesday idea to let it go, and of course, it all ties in to the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live content that we’re doing despite the series going on hiatus once again. With that in mind, here are the trivia facts I would’ve originally shared to celebrate the release of the third NBA Live game with a year ending in zero. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Why NBA 2K Needs Matchmaking

Monday Tip-Off: Why NBA 2K Needs Matchmaking

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 an outline of why it’s important that future NBA 2K games implement proper matchmaking.

When NBA Live 08 implemented Online Team Play post-release, we were seeing the future of online basketball gaming. Although subsequent NBA Live titles would build upon that first iteration of the concept, it’s ultimately been NBA 2K that has taken the experience to new heights. The idea of creating your own player and joining up with other gamers to play multiplayer games where every player is user-controlled has become the most popular experience in NBA 2K. It’s even led to the founding of a professional eSports league, run in conjunction with the NBA itself.

Given the popularity that online play now enjoys, it’s both puzzling and disappointing that NBA 2K is lacking such a critical component of the experience: matchmaking. It’s kind of implemented in that there’s a rep system (albeit one that’s problematic), position logic behind teaming up players in the Rec Center, and a rough ranking system in team Pro-Am. However, it’s nowhere near as deep or effective as it needs to be, and in the case of The Playground, it’s completely non-existent. Simply put, if NBA 2K is going to cater to its large paying audience and establish a respectable competitive scene, it needs to have proper matchmaking.

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The Friday Five: 5 Things I’ve Learned Playing Jordan Rec Center

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 I’ve learned playing in the Jordan Rec Center in NBA 2K19.

Having wrapped up my second season in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER, I haven’t felt the desire to play a third year. Since the Bulls went out and signed Ben Simmons, I have thought about playing a few games here and there while simulating the rest, but I’ve not done so as yet. I have been playing online however, just to see what the scene is like this late in the year. After several sessions in The Playground and Jordan Rec Center, I’d have to conclude that not much has changed since the game was launched. The gameplay, the user base, the overall vibe and atmosphere…it’s all the same.

The lack of change has come as a disappointment as far as the Jordan Rec Center is concerned. With team Pro-Am hamstrung by the enforcement of five users per side, the Jordan Rec Center became the online mode of choice for the NLSC squad. It soon became apparent that it wasn’t going to deliver the same fun experience that team Pro-Am did for us in NBA 2K16 and NBA 2K17, and to a far lesser extent, NBA 2K18. At this point, I’m the only member of the squad who’s jumping online on a regular basis, so I’ve been playing with randoms. Here’s my take on the Jordan Rec Center after playing it extensively this year, with friends and randoms alike.

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The Friday Five: 5 Gimmicky Features That Turned Out Great

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 gimmicky features that turned out to be great additions to basketball video games.

If you’ve been playing basketball video games for some time and experienced more than a couple of preview seasons, it’s tough not to get cynical. Chances are you’ve bought into the hype and been disappointed at least once over the years, and have likely learned to take previews with a grain of salt. Many of us have a knee-jerk reaction to features that sound gimmicky, particularly if they’re given a name that makes for a good blurb on the back of the box, but doesn’t sound like it will address our concerns regarding the experience on the virtual hardwood.

Of course, names can be deceiving. Some of the best features don’t have fancy names, while other times it’s the features with gimmicky labels that have a positive impact. A feature needs a marketable name if it’s going to be a selling point, and as long as it’s something that enhances the game, it’s all for the best. Thankfully, there have been several such features throughout the years, some being very pleasant surprises after a gimmicky name initially led us to be dismissive of them. Most of us will undoubtedly remain somewhat sceptical whenever we encounter fancy names during the preview season, but here are five features that turned out great despite sounding gimmicky.

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The Friday Five: 5 Tips for Being a Good Online Teammate in NBA Live 19

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 features five tips for being a good online teammate in NBA Live 19’s LIVE Events and LIVE Run.

It’s a good time to play The One and its connected modes in NBA Live 19. The latest content update has doubled XP in celebration of the 2019 All-Star Weekend, offering an opportunity to make quicker progress on levelling up your One Player. Beyond that, the developers are keeping things fresh with new LIVE Events throughout All-Star Weekend, and the online team play experience of LIVE Run remains a fun way of hooping it up with your fellow virtual basketball enthusiasts. I’ve been taking part in a few LIVE Events myself this week, both solo and co-op.

I’ve generally had a good time playing the co-op LIVE Events in NBA Live 19, but the games have been frustrating at times. Some of my frustration can be attributed to inevitable lag or areas where NBA Live still has room for improvement, but on more than one occasion, I was left muttering and wondering what my online teammates were doing. That’s not to say that I never made a mistake, but I encountered quite a few of the common pitfalls of playing online with random teammates. Playing with randoms is never going to be quite the same as running with an organised squad, but here are five tips for functioning as a cohesive unit in NBA Live 19’s online modes.

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The Friday Five: 5 More Basketball Game Features Ahead of Their Time

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 takes a look at five basketball game features that were ahead of their time.

I guess I’m in the mood for sequels at the moment. After following up an older Friday Five with another list of random basketball game facts a couple of weeks ago, I’ve got another Part 2 column for you today. Back in October of last year, I talked about five basketball game features that were ahead of their time. Since the list is obviously much longer than just those five, and we’re in the midst of learning about the new additions and innovations in this year’s games, I thought I’d take the opportunity to discuss five more basketball game features that were ahead of their time when they made their debut.

Like I said in my previous column, it can be surprising to see how long ago it was that certain features made their basketball game debut. Conversely, it’s also somewhat disheartening when you remember that some of them can’t be found in more recent titles. On a more positive note, some features and gameplay mechanics have definitely been enhanced since they were first implemented, or paved the way for similar and ultimately superior concepts. With that in mind, here are five basketball game features that demonstrated great foresight and technological achievement.

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Wayback Wednesday: Be a Pro in NBA Live 09

Be a Pro Indicator Legend in NBA Live 09

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 Be a Pro in NBA Live 09.

When you think of early incarnations of single player career modes in basketball games, which titles come to mind? The Life in Sony’s NBA series, or the debut of My Player in NBA 2K10, are probably the first two that you think of. However, right around the same time, NBA Live was starting to make some inroads on adding a single player mode of its own. Before Rising Star in NBA Live 14, before Become Legendary in the ill-fated NBA Elite 11, EA Sports were experimenting with career mode concepts in the form of Be a Pro, which only appeared in NBA Live 09.

Aside from being noteworthy as NBA Live’s first attempt at implementing a single player career mode, Be a Pro is interesting to reflect upon as it differed greatly between the new gen and old gen versions of NBA Live 09, and not in the way you might expect. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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