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The Friday Five: 5 Worst Things in 5 of My Favourite Games

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of the five worst things in five of my favourite basketball video games.

I’ve been playing basketball video games for many years now, and there are several titles that stand out as my favourites. I’m probably overdue to write an article where I rank them, either in Monday Tip-Off or as a multi-part Friday Five series. With over two decades’ worth of games, the arcade and sim subgenres, and more than one series among my favourites, a Top 5 wouldn’t be sufficient. I feel I’d end up making some very contrived selections in order to make the list of five as varied and interesting as possible, which wouldn’t necessarily allow it to be completely accurate and honest.

Obviously, games become our favourites because of their strong points. The titles we love the most are the ones that offer the best combinations of quality gameplay, deep modes, and memorable features. They’re the ones that we’ve spent hours upon hours with, creating many fond memories on the virtual hardwood. However, even the best games and the ones that rank as our personal favourites have their problems. It’s rare that there isn’t one thing that bugs us, one thing we can point to as being the worst aspect of a game that we otherwise hold dear. With that in mind, here are five of the worst things in five games that I’d rank among my personal all-time favourites.

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Monday Tip-Off: Rattling The Cages in The Neighborhood

Monday Tip-Off: Rattling The Cages in The Neighborhood

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 Cages – formerly branded as the Under Armour Cages – within The Neighborhood of NBA 2K’s MyCAREER.

I get the impression that The Cages in The Neighborhood are a love-them-or-hate-them aspect of MyCAREER in NBA 2K. Introduced in NBA 2K19, they provide an alternative to the streetball experience of The Playground. It’s not quite Slamball, but it’s a similar concept, being a rougher style of basketball involving trampolines. I have mixed feelings about The Cages, but as with any mode you’re not that interested in, it’s easy enough to simply ignore them and play something else. Not everything is going to appeal to everyone, after all.

Nevertheless, the concept of The Cages is an interesting one that’s worth a closer look. It stands as an example of creativity on 2K’s part, but also underscores one of the recurring problems with MyCAREER and its connected modes: too much focus on bells and whistles, or “flavour content”, over the core experience. The Cages are far from a vital part of the game, yet they’re not entirely unwelcome either. It’s a mode that could be better, but at the same time, it definitely shouldn’t be a priority. I’m not sure how popular it is, but it’s an aspect of MyCAREER that I haven’t really talked about much, so let’s delve into NBA 2K’s Slamball stand-in.

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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

NLSC Podcast Logo

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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Wayback Wednesday: The Legacy of NBA 2K18

Wayback Wednesday: The Legacy of NBA 2K18

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 2K18, and the legacy that it has created.

The NBA 2K18 servers are no more. Well, I imagine they’re still physically around. It’s highly unlikely that 2K instructed someone to take a sledgehammer and go all Triple H on them, rather than just switching them off. The point is that online support has ended, which means MyTEAM, the first version of The Neighborhood, and all other connected content is gone. With this infamous release being officially put out to pasture, I believe it’s an apt time to offer up a final take on the game, and reflect on its legacy.

I know that it’s fairly recent by Wayback Wednesday standards, but it was released going on three years ago, which is about how old the All-Time College Teams DLC for NBA 2K17 was when I covered it. Besides, NBA 2K18 came out last decade, and that makes it sound old, right? Hey, it’s my feature, and I’ll bend the rules if need be! In any event, a retrospective of this controversial game feels quite timely, so let’s take a look back…not too far but still wayback…

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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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NBA 2K18 Servers Shutting Down January 18th

NBA 2K18 Servers Shutting Down January 18th

The NBA 2K18 servers are set to be shut down on January 18th, 2020. Once this occurs, online play and MyTEAM will no longer be available. MyCAREER and MyGM will still be playable, but only in their offline versions.

Unfortunately, 2K Support has indicated that there is no way to convert online saves to offline saves. This means that once the NBA 2K18 servers are shut down, any online MyCAREER and MyGM saves will become inaccessible, and you’ll need to start over. Previous games have allowed online saves to be converted into offline saves, making it a disappointing situation for anyone who likes to dust off old games from time to time.

Interestingly, the shutdown is occurring eighteen days later than usual. Following the controversy caused by the NBA 2K14 server shut down, 2K extended online support for all their titles to 27 months. This resulted in NBA 2K games receiving two seasons’ worth of support plus an additional three months, after which they were shut down on December 31st.

While NBA 2K18 wasn’t the most popular game in the series, it is one that some people still play and mod. I’d advise anyone still playing the game to wrap up any business in connected modes ASAP, including spending any leftover VC and aiming for Trophies/Achievements. Any custom rosters that you want should also be downloaded before the shutdown. Finally, content creators may also want to take the opportunity to get screenshots and footage of online modes and content while they’re still accessible.

Monday Tip-Off: How I Cut Back Playing Online

Monday Tip-Off: How I Cut Back Playing Online

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 discussion of how I cut back playing online (or, how I began to enjoy basketball games again).

Dated references to Dr. Strangelove aside, I’ve found that I’ve enjoyed NBA 2K20 a lot more when I’ve eschewed online play for the single player experience. I could say the same for NBA 2K19 as well, as I mostly ended up playing MyCAREER in an effort to make it to the Hall of Fame (and succeeded in doing so).  However, I was still more inclined to play online last year, having gotten into the habit of grinding up a player that was viable for Pro-Am and Playground games. The rest of the NLSC squad was also giving online play one last try, whereas this year we’ve given up on it.

I definitely miss the camaraderie and fun of a virtual hangout with my fellow gamers and basketball-loving friends, but I’m not missing the frustration that we experienced so often over the past couple of years. I’ve expressed my criticisms of online play in NBA 2K before, but because we enjoyed getting together to play some games, it had become part of my gaming routine. Changing that has been easier in NBA 2K20, where I’ve spent more time getting into MyTEAM, playing with the historical teams, and getting ready to start a MyLEAGUE game. However, it’s unfortunate that online play has become so unappealing, and that I can no longer get into it with my friends.

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Monday Tip-Off: Too Much at Stake to Experiment

Monday Tip-Off: Too Much at Stake to Experiment

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 we’re less inclined to mess around in basketball video games these days, because there’s too much at stake to experiment.

During our discussion of franchise gaming in Episode #303 of the NLSC Podcast, I mentioned how franchise modes are a throwback to the days when we were freer to experiment with basketball video games. It’s something that I’ve thought about a lot since getting into MyCAREER and the online scene in recent years. As much fun as I’ve had with those modes, I’m aware of how careful I’ve had to be in order to enjoy myself. A wrong choice can easily torpedo a saved game, wasting hours of grinding with undesirably dire consequences.

Of course, you could argue that that’s part of the challenge now; a key component of an evolved experience. You have to think about your decisions and choose wisely, and if you don’t and suffer because of it, then it’s on you for not playing the game properly. I understand that, and there’s merit in having to commit to a choice, as well as fun in an experience that’s curated to some extent. However, if the consequences are actively discouraging us from experimenting and seeing everything that a game has to offer, that’s rather unfortunate. We still have that freedom to experiment in a mode like MyLEAGUE, but in MyCAREER, there’s simply too much at stake.

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Monday Tip-Off: A Week Playing in The Rec

Monday Tip-Off: A Week Playing in The Rec

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 recap of a week playing in The Rec in NBA 2K20.

Because I’ve been casually playing a bit of MyCAREER while waiting for the season to start and the rosters to be updated for a MyLEAGUE game, my player has levelled up enough to be viable to play with online. As such, I’ve gone to The Rec a couple of times to see what it’s like this year. Not much has changed in terms of the quality of play or stability of the servers, but it’s had its moments. To that end, I figured if I was able to keep my expectations low, it’d be fun to jump on every once in a while for a change of pace. It’s a way of earning extra VC for MyTEAM packs if nothing else.

That led me to wonder if there were better nights than others to jump into The Rec for a game or two. I recalled that when the NLSC squad was playing multiple sessions of 2K Pro-Am per week in NBA 2K17, some days yielded more enjoyable experiences with good competition, while other days brought frustrating times with opponents who exploited cheesy tactics. I decided that I’d play The Rec every night for a week in order to see which night – if any – was the best to jump on. I was also interested to see how quickly I’d get sick of it, and whether I’d end up too frustrated with the mode to play it any more. What follows is a recap of my week playing in The Rec!

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NBA Live 15 Servers Shutting Down December 1st

NBA Live 15 Servers Shutting Down December 1st

EA Sports has announced that the NBA Live 15 servers will be shut down as of December 1st, 2019. In a post over on Reddit, the Dev Team wrote:

As of December 1, 2019, NBA LIVE 15 will be retired. Until December 1, 2019, you will still be able to enjoy NBA LIVE 15 and use any existing Ultimate Team™ Points. We hope you have gotten many hours of enjoyment out of NBA LIVE 15 and we appreciate your ongoing patronage.

Online support for NBA Live 14 just ended on the first of this month, following an announcement back in June. If you have any unfinished business with online modes such as Ultimate Team, or if you’re a content creator who needs screenshots and footage, I’d suggest getting on that ASAP.

It’s interesting that the NBA Live 15 servers are being shut down so soon after NBA Live 14, and with less notice. EA’s online support for those older releases has already extended far longer than usual however, and it’s highly unlikely that there are enough gamers still playing NBA Live 15 regularly enough to justify the use of those resources.

With the cancellation of NBA Live 20, it remains to be seen when EA will pull the plug on the NBA Live 16 servers. I would assume that the servers for NBA Live 18 and NBA Live 19 will remain active for some time yet, especially with the series currently on another hiatus. I’ll be sure to post any further information as it’s made available, but in the meantime, feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below, as well as take the discussion to the NLSC Forum.

The Friday Five: 5 Ways We Can Be Less Toxic

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 describes five ways that the basketball gaming community can be less toxic towards each other.

Toxic behaviour and video game communities: name a more iconic duo, right? I’ve talked about toxicity in our community before, and the situation hasn’t improved in the past twelve months. That’s not unexpected of course, because unfortunately it’s something that’s rather ingrained in online culture. However, with some of the issues that basketball gaming is facing at the moment, it’s a shame that we can’t all get on the same page more often. We’ve never been in complete agreement and we never will be, but it does feel like we’re more divided these days.

With that being said, there’s no reason that we can’t try to bridge the gap and strive to change the culture. If nothing else, we can set ourselves up to have more positive experiences, and simply avoid some of the more toxic aspects of the hobby. To that end, in addition to pointing out ways that we can be toxic, I’m proposing solutions to make the basketball gaming community a nicer scene. Considering how certain toxic behaviours not only cultivate an unfriendly atmosphere, but actively work against our best interests as consumers, it’s a matter of cutting off our nose to spite our face if we don’t at least try to change the way we think and interact.

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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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NBA 2K20 Patch 1.06 Addresses Issues in Neighborhood

NBA 2K20 Patch 1.06

Patch 1.06 has come through for NBA 2K20. The patch is currently available for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game, and should hopefully be out on PC soon. As always, the update should download automatically as long as you have an active Internet connection. If you do encounter any difficulties, try restarting your console (or Steam client once the PC patch has been released).

The patch primarily addresses technical issues with The Neighborhood in MyCAREER, along with some other online glitches. The official patch notes are as follows:

  • Fixes incorrect MyPLAYERs loading when joining friends in The Neighborhood
  • Fixes users getting disconnected during timeouts in some online game modes
  • Fixes hanging when dismissing the phone in The Neighborhood
  • Many more fixes

Among the “many more fixes” are resolutions to blue screen errors on PS4, loading into MyCAREER with the wrong build, and other random crashes. Information on NBA 2K20 Patch 1.06 has been added to the game’s update history here in our Wiki. Feel free to share your impressions of the latest update in the comments section below, as well as join in the discussion here in the NLSC Forum. I’ll update this bulletin when PC patch is out.

UPDATE: As of October 16th, the PC patch is now available.