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Monday Tip-Off: Retro Basketball Gaming Is Filling A Gap

Monday Tip-Off: Retro Basketball Gaming Is Filling A Gap

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with my thoughts on how retro basketball gaming is filling a gap in the market.

Unfortunately, we are not in a golden age for basketball gaming. Sure, NBA 2K is more successful than ever as it sells millions of copies, makes bank with recurrent revenue, and enjoys mainstream popularity. However, when you glance at Steam reviews and user scores on Metacritic, it’s obvious that gamers are far less satisfied than they used to be. With NBA Live faltering, collapsing, and failing to rebuild properly, 2K has no competition. No other publishers are jumping into the space, and the one major release we did have – NBA Playgrounds – was swallowed up by 2K.

If you want a new basketball video game every year, there’s only one choice. It’s not the worst choice we could possibly have – better to have NBA 2K in its current state than NBA Live in its most recent form – but even if this is the best monopoly possible, it’s still a monopoly. For younger basketball gamers, NBA 2K being the only viable choice – or indeed, the only choice, period – may be all they know. Those of us who remember a time when several developers were producing basketball titles are much more likely to feel wistful at the lack of choice. On the plus side, retro basketball gaming is now more frequently filling that gap, and giving us something else to play.

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Monday Tip-Off: Zero-Sum Thinking & Basketball Gaming

Monday Tip-Off: Zero-Sum Thinking & Basketball Gaming

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with my thoughts on how there’s too much zero-sum thinking in the basketball gaming community.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept, zero-sum thinking involves perceiving situations as a zero-sum game; in other words, a scenario where a gain for one side means a loss for the other. Needless to say, this leads to a belief that mutual gain and benefits are impossible. Our success must come at the expense of someone else’s failure, and every situation involves a winner and a loser. Obviously there are zero-sum games and scenarios where this is true, but a bias towards zero-sum thinking does result in fallacious assertions.

Needless to say, zero-sum thinking occurs in a number of matters, many of which are more serious than basketball gaming. However, since that’s what we cover here at the NLSC, that’s the context I’m discussing here today. If you’ve observed or partaken in the discourse in the wider basketball gaming community, you’ll have encountered zero-sum thinking, even if you didn’t recognise or label it as such. Again, it’s hardly unique to basketball gaming, and is inevitable when passionate people have different ideas about their hobby. That doesn’t mean we can’t call it out though, because it does foster toxicity, and doesn’t help in the development of better basketball video games.

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Monday Tip-Off: Disposable Games & Always Online Pains

Monday Tip-Off: Disposable Games & Always Online Pains

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with my thoughts on the approach of the annual games becoming disposable, and the increased reliance in “always online”.

I’ve been working in IT since 2005, providing technical support and PC repairs. In that time, I’ve noticed a change that has likewise been a trend with other devices, from phones and televisions to major appliances. While hardware repairs are still sought out and provided, we’ve trended towards being a throw-away society. Expense or difficulty in performing repairs makes buying a replacement – presumably a newer model – a more common and desirable solution. Buying a new system also seems more likely than upgrading existing hardware, again due to convenience or feasibility.

So it goes with products such as video games, too. There is inevitability to this, of course. Nothing lasts forever, and manufacturers and software developers naturally want to sell new products. More than ever before though, basketball games are being designed to be disposable. The reliance on server-side content, necessitating an “always online” approach, is the reason for this. While this content has enhanced titles and eventual server shutdowns are understandable, the way that it’s made games more disposable is nevertheless unfortunate. If nothing else, it’s a tremendous blow to a community that does have a contingent of retro gamers who like to dust off old titles.

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NBA Jam: On Fire Edition Servers Online; Roster Update Available

NBA Jam: On Fire Edition Servers Online; Roster Update Available

As discussed in Episode #430 of the NLSC Podcast, the long-dormant NBA Jam: On Fire Edition servers have been unexpectedly reactivated. If you fire up the game on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, or Xbox One, you’ll be able to establish a connection, and accept the online terms and conditions. After that, you’ll be able to see the leaderboards, as well as the number of users who are currently online.

You’ll also be able to download the last roster update for the game, if you don’t already have it. This requires going to the Online Arena, which will prompt the game to check the rosters, and then update them if need be. The roster updates added a handful of players from the Class of 2011 to the game, including Kyrie Irving. It also accounted for player movement accurate as of the 2013 season, and updated a handful of ratings.

Note that to access the Online Arena on Xbox 360/Xbox One, you’ll need an Xbox Live Gold subscription. If you don’t have an active subscription but just want to grab the update, you can always purchase a one month subscription and then cancel the renewal. While you’ll lose access to the Online Arena, you’ll keep the updated rosters as long as you don’t delete your data.

Obviously this also means that online multiplayer is available once again, though judging by the reported number of users online, you may have difficulty finding a game. Of course, if word spreads and the NBA Jam: On Fire Edition servers remain active, the scene could soon be jumping again. If so, there may be opportunities to unlock some of the online Trophies/Achievements, if you haven’t already done so.

We’ll keep an eye on the situation with the NBA Jam: On Fire Edition servers, and report on any further changes. In the meantime however, this unexpected but very welcome development has provided an opportunity to download a long-lost update, and potentially breathe new life into a fantastic release. If you own NBA Jam: OFE and are missing the updated rosters, I’d recommend looking into this ASAP!

Monday Tip-Off: Guess It Is A Barbie Dress-Up Game

Monday Tip-Off: Guess It Is A Barbie Dress-Up Game

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with my observations of how, contrary to what Ronnie 2K once said, NBA 2K has become a Barbie dress-up game.

There’s an online maxim to the effect of “the internet doesn’t forget”. In short, it refers to how the comments and content that we post online is there in perpetuity, and may reflect poorly upon us when it’s rediscovered years later. Celebrities have lost face (and gigs) when old Tweets have resurfaced. Everyday people have had difficulty in their offline lives after they’ve gone viral for the wrong reasons. I’ve been contacted by a few former community members asking if we can scrub their posts from the Forum, as they don’t want youthful silliness to affect their future job prospects.

Controversy has a way of following people long after they’ve apologised and atoned, or indeed, allegations have been proven false. As they say, mud sticks. However, one might suggest that that’s fair if the person in question has remained unapologetic, and the problematic situation persists. It’s certainly fair to keep bringing up an issue that people try to sweep under the rug. That happens far too often within the basketball gaming community, where outrage over persistent problems is fleeting. It’s why every so often, I’ll bring up the time that Ronnie 2K made a snarky comment about NBA 2K not being a Barbie dress-up game; especially now that it’s kind of turned into one.

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Monday Tip-Off: Aiming For Stats & Records

Monday Tip-Off: Aiming For Stats & Records

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on what it’s like when we aim for stats and records on the virtual hardwood.

Not to sound like a grumpy old man or anything, but there’s a big emphasis on stats and records in the NBA these days. That’s not to say they weren’t ever relevant, or something that fans and players alike never cared about. Wilt Chamberlain was very much aware of his stats and records, so this mentality predates the three-point era, let alone the past couple of generations. However, it does seem like everyone is obsessed with numbers these days – including rather obscure statistical achievements – to the point where actually winning games and even championships seems secondary.

It’s interesting how this mentality also applies to basketball gaming. Of course, we’ve long used hoops games to put up crazy numbers, leading to a big night for players in real life to be referred to as a “video game performance”. A handful of video games over the past couple of generations have even challenged us to put up stats and beat NBA records for Trophies and Achievements. The funny thing is that it’s not always easy to post ridiculous numbers on the virtual hardwood, or to replicate the feats of NBA greats and record holders. Also, while it’s fun to try alone, chasing records and stats can be a disastrous approach in online play, coming at the expense of winning.

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Monday Tip-Off: Shot Aiming Is A Hit & Miss Idea

Monday Tip-Off: Shot Aiming Is A Hit & Miss Idea

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on shot aiming mechanics, and how they are a hit and miss idea; pun fully intended.

There’s been a lot of talk about the skill gap in NBA 2K in recent years, as you would expect with a greater emphasis on the online competitive scene. Much has been said about the need to separate the good from the great, the scrubs from the elite, and truly celebrate and reward stick skills on the virtual hardwood. Mind you, several gamers push back on the idea of proper matchmaking, so I do question how “competitive” the scene really is. Many of the mechanics that those gamers champion are likewise of questionable value when it comes to the skill gap, and overall quality of gameplay.

Shot aiming is a prominent and somewhat controversial example. On paper, it’s a good idea. It’s more skilful then simply pressing and holding a button, and one could argue that it’s trying to emulate actual basketball skills and technique. In practice, it’s seldom worked out as well as intended, and developers have ended up shelving the concept quite quickly each time it’s been attempted. I have some mixed feelings about shot aiming. I can see the logic behind the idea, but its repeated shortcomings leave me sceptical that it can truly work. Furthermore, I’m bothered by the elitism that it fosters, and the notion that any objections or criticism of it indicates a lack of skill.

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NLSC Podcast #418: House Rules, Epic Duels, & Offline Views

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #418 of the NLSC Podcast!

Mad as it may seem, we were compelled to revisit NBA Live 07 for Xbox 360 this week. It’s as rough as we remembered, and doesn’t hold a candle to NBA Live 06 on the same platform, which was a far more fun game to dust off! The College Hoops 2K8 Tournament has also been a blast to play and to watch, with the Sweet 16 almost in the books. After catching up on some recent stories from NBA 2K14 MyCAREER, we discuss house rules when playing against the CPU. What’s the best way to ensure fairness, and challenge? In this week’s mailbag, we’re talking about ideas for offline modes and content. As you might expect, the community isn’t just about the online experience these days!

To get involved with the mailbag or to provide any feedback on the show, hit us up in the comments, reach out on social media, or post here in the NLSC Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. You can also find the show on our YouTube channel, along with the rest of our video content. As always, thanks for tuning in, and go get buckets!

Monday Tip-Off: NBA 2K Has All The Leverage Over Cheesers

Monday Tip-Off: NBA 2K Has All The Leverage Over Cheesers

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with my thoughts on how NBA 2K has all of the leverage over cheesers, and should take advantage of that.

The December patch for NBA 2K22 Next Gen included an attempt to reduce cheese in the online scene. More specifically, it addressed exploits with quick left and right bursts – the infamous “zigzag cheese” – that has been contributing to a homogenised, unrealistic style of play. Needless to say, the cheesers weren’t pleased. There were more than a couple of angry comments, usually along the lines of how NBA 2K had been ruined, and that video games shouldn’t have to be realistic. It’s clear that a vocal contingent of online NBA 2K gamers are in favour of utilising cheesy tactics.

As someone who has been turned off the online scene due to its toxicity and style, and believes that a sim game should maintain a base level of realism and strategy, my response is: tough cheese! A truly competitive scene should facilitate different styles of play, and discourage easily repeatable exploits. Mastering a single move and then proceeding to spam it over and over again is hardly skilful. It certainly isn’t basketball either, and while there’s value in taking liberties with realism, a sim game should still be realistic at its core. That the developers have taken a stand against cheesers does suggest that they believe this as well, but to that end, it’s vital that they stand firm.

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Monday Tip-Off: Hacking MyCAREER in Older Games

Monday Tip-Off: Hacking MyCAREER in Older Games

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off by recounting the fun I’ve recently had with hacking MyCAREER in older games.

Here at the NLSC, our stance on hacking modes such as MyCAREER and MyTEAM has been the same as our policy on piracy: we don’t support it. Since we already walk a fine line with modding, we try to stay on the right side of both the law and our host’s terms of service, in order to avoid any unwanted repercussions. On top of that, there’s also the matter of fairness. While we can understand wanting to stick it to a Triple-A publisher by hacking MyCAREER or MyTEAM for content and in-game currencies, it’s also upsetting the competitive balance, and ruining things for your fellow gamers.

To that end, recounting my experiences hacking a MyCAREER save probably seems quite hypocritical. Here I am preaching fairness, while going against our own rules and community philosophy; talk about double standards! If you’re grumbling, I can appreciate where you’re coming from. However, there is a distinct difference between hacking to gain advantages in the connected modes of MyCAREER while the servers are still online, and messing around with an offline save years later. In fact, that’s a distinction that we can perhaps draw in our rules moving forward, because at a certain point, hacking MyCAREER for your own enjoyment does become fair game.

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The Friday Five: 5 Concepts That Changed NBA 2K Forever

The Friday Five: 5 Concepts That Changed NBA 2K Forever

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is a list of five concepts that ended up changing NBA 2K forever.

I’m no psychologist, but I’d hazard a guess and say that most of us have experienced an aversion to change at some point in our lives. Whether it’s apprehension of new surroundings, nostalgia goggles, or just plain comfort with the current arrangements, we’d prefer things not to change. Not to get too deep here – again, I’m no psychologist – but it’s important to accept change as part of life, and be able to adjust and grow. Of course, not all change is desirable, and change for change’s sake can prove to be a bad idea. Given the choice, it would’ve been preferable to leave things as they were.

We’ve seen a lot of these changes in basketball video games over the years. Many have been for the best, representing revolution and evolution within the genre. Others haven’t panned out so well. In the case of the latter, some of those concepts have only lasted a game or two before the developers scrapped them in favour of a new and better solution; or perhaps, returned to an old approach that still works best. Other concepts unfortunately stick around despite their negative impact, or at the very least, mixed results. For better or worse, these concepts have forever changed the NBA 2K series as we know it, either from a mechanical or philosophical standpoint.

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NLSC Podcast #410: Community Wishes For NBA 2K23

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #410 of the NLSC Podcast!

We had an exciting modding breakthrough this week, which means our All-Time Teams roster mod for NBA Live 96 PC is going to feature a detail that we could only dream of having back in the day! Our NBA Jam: On Fire Edition Tournament has also produced some great action so far, and once again, everyone seems to be having a fantastic time with it. Seeing as how it’s Wishlist season, this week’s extended mailbag segment is dedicated to what the community wants to see in NBA 2K23. We read out the suggestions that our listeners sent in, and give our thoughts on some great ideas for the next NBA 2K game.

To get involved with the mailbag or to provide any feedback on the show, hit us up in the comments, reach out on social media, or post here in the NLSC Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. You can also find the show on our YouTube channel, along with the rest of our video content. As always, thanks for tuning in, and go get buckets!

Monday Tip-Off: Vale, NBA 2K20 Servers & Content

Monday Tip-Off: Vale, NBA 2K20 Servers & Content

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 NBA 2K20 servers being shut down, and the bigger picture of losing content and modes along with online support.

On December 31st, the NBA 2K20 servers were shut down as scheduled. Of course, this isn’t anything new for the series. 2K originally guaranteed 18 months of online support for all of its titles, before extending that period to 27 months following the deactivation and reactivation of NBA 2K14’s servers. These Terms of Service aren’t hidden – beyond the fact that many of us never read the EULA in full, of course – and if you’ve been playing the NBA 2K series for some time, you’re familiar with the drill. As unfortunate as it is, it’s understandable given the way that the userbase moves on.

The problem is that over the years, bigger chunks of the game are disappearing when online support ends. It used to be that we’d lose the ability to set up online games, use the in-game file sharing functionality, and receive any official roster updates. It was still a blow, but the games were largely intact. Now that there’s a larger focus on the connected experience and live service content, server shutdowns are making major modes inaccessible. Even primarily offline moves can be affected, if your save file utilised any online content when it was created. MyCAREER is the big one though, and the shutdown of the NBA 2K20 servers has exposed a troubling approach.

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Monday Tip-Off: What I Learned From Basketball Gaming in 2021

Monday Tip-Off: What I Learned From Basketball Gaming in 2021

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 back at what I learned from my basketball gaming in 2021, and what it means for my forays onto the virtual hardwood in 2022.

It’s the start of a New Year, which means plenty of resolutions all around. They’re not for everyone, but I understand the appeal of a clean slate and definitive start date. I admire and support any self-improvement efforts, and with the difficulties of the past couple of years in particular, a desire for a fresh start is more than understandable. Whether you’re committing to some new endeavour, or continuing something that you started last year, I wish you success and satisfaction. I also thank you for joining us here at the NLSC for another year of basketball gaming!

Speaking of which, 2021 turned out to be something of an illuminating year for me as far as my basketball gaming habits. I made some changes to my routine, both going back to my roots and trying out some new experiences. It involved breaking out of what had become a comfortable rut, in order to seek more fulfilment and enjoyment out of the games that I was playing. It wasn’t easy to break habits that carried a certain level of comfort and familiarity, but admitting that it was nevertheless a rut that I was very weary of finally prompted an overdue change. As such, I’m anticipating further good times on the virtual hardwood in 2022, while avoiding modes I’m done with.

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The Friday Five: 5 Things We Need to Stop Saying In 2022

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 we need to stop saying in 2022.

And so, we’ve come to the end of 2021! It’s been a challenging couple of years with a global pandemic and whatnot, so hopefully better times await us all in 2022. Around these parts, we’ve obviously had basketball video games to keep us occupied. We get a lot of joy out of our hobby, but there are obviously moments of frustration as well. As I’ve said before, it’s necessary to cover all aspects of basketball gaming. We should celebrate and enjoy our passion for the virtual hardwood, and at the same time, voice our criticisms and concerns. Positive or negative, it’s vital that we have our say.

However, there are some things that we should stop saying, and with 2022 upon us, it’s a prime opportunity to cut them from the discourse. I don’t say this as a way of impeding freedom of speech, and it certainly won’t be a rule enacted in our Forum. I just believe it’s in our best interests, because thought-terminating cliches ultimately pollute the conversation. They stifle discussion of important issues, and are needlessly divisive. As always, I’m under no delusion that one article will eradicate these tired and trite phrases from the basketball gaming community. Nevertheless, if we see less of them in 2022, the quality of conversations about virtual hoops should improve.

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