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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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The Friday Five: 5 Ways NBA 2K Online Is A Mess

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 outlines five reasons that the online scene in NBA 2K is a mess.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve discussed problems with the online experience in NBA 2K, and while I’d prefer not to harp on issues or be repetitive in my content, it’s also important to point out problems. This is particularly important when certain issues remain unresolved for several years running, leading to increased frustration for everyone, and an aspect of basketball gaming that isn’t nearly as good as it could and should be. Having spent more time playing NBA 2K online recent years, I’ve grown dismayed and disenchanted with the experience due to several recurring problems.

Frankly, NBA 2K online is a mess. It’s kind of bewildering, actually. With the launch of the NBA 2K League, the online scene is obviously being pushed as a big part of the game, and yet it’s never been weaker or less inviting. That’s not to say that it can’t be any fun at all. I won’t pretend that I haven’t had enjoyable sessions here and there, or that NBA 2K online doesn’t have anything to offer; at least on paper. The good news is that there are solutions that would clean up the mess that is online play in NBA 2K. The bad news is that many of the problems are persistent legacy issues, so it remains to be seen if they’ll ever be properly addressed in future games.

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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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NLSC Podcast #333: Just Two Creatures of Habit

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Episode #333 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

Would you pay $16,000 for a promotional copy of NBA 2K15? Someone on eBay is hoping that you will! We’ve spent considerably less on recent additions to our collections, which we were excited to pick up. Speaking of collectables, a few copies of Slam City with Scottie Pippen have also popped up on eBay, leading us to reflect on that somewhat forgotten game. Meanwhile, an influx of new gamers in NBA 2K20’s online scene has further emphasised the need to implement proper ranking and matchmaking measures (and inspired another rant). We also discuss what it takes to change our gaming habits on the virtual hardwood, and how some of those habits were formed in the first place.

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 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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Monday Tip-Off: 3v3 Pro-Am in NBA 2K20 is…FUN?!?

Monday Tip-Off: 3v3 Pro-Am in NBA 2K20 is...FUN?!?

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on how 3v3 Pro-Am in NBA 2K20 has been…dare I say it…fun.

I’ve been critical of the lack of proper matchmaking and new restrictions on 5v5 Pro-Am since the latter was introduced in NBA 2K19. Last week, I noted that it took all three of our teammates quitting for Kenny and I to have one of the best games we’ve ever had in The Rec. I’m on record declaring that NBA 2K’s online experience is in really rough shape, regardless of its general popularity and engagement numbers. Despite some fun games here and there, I stand by that as being the case on the whole. There are many improvements that could be made to online play in NBA 2K.

However, I have found an online mode in NBA 2K20 that has been fun more often than not. So fun in fact, I’ve titled this article like a clickbait YouTube video. The NLSC squad hasn’t had a 5v5 Pro-Am game this year as we haven’t had the numbers, but on a few occasions we have been able to get three of us together. Normally in that situation we’d head to The Rec, where it’s a little easier to control things when you account for more than half of the team, or maybe The Playground, but not so much this year. Instead, we’ve given 3v3 Pro-Am a try, and I’d have to say that it may be the most consistently fun online mode in NBA 2K20.

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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.

Monday Tip-Off: Thank You, Rec Quitters!

Monday Tip-Off: Thank You, Rec Quitters!

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 thank you to the Rec quitters that left Kenny and I to play 2-on-5 in a game last Saturday.

Because The Rec can be very hit and miss when it comes to having fun and playing a good game of virtual basketball, I’ve played much less of it this year. It’s a bit more enjoyable when you head there with a friend or two, but with three fifths of our regular NLSC squad understandably skipping NBA 2K20 after being disappointed with NBA 2K19, most of the times I’ve ventured into The Rec, I’ve gone there solo. Kenny and I have hopped on for a few sessions together though, and while there’s been frustration, we’ve at least been able to work (and commiserate) together.

That’s what we did last Saturday. Both of us were having a quiet evening at home – kind of the way it goes with the current pandemic, after all – so I hit him up about jumping on for a game or two. The first game was a frustrating overtime loss that we really shouldn’t have been in a position to win, yet could’ve if not for poor decision-making and clock management by our teammates. Thanks to some mic trouble, we also weren’t able to chat during that contest. After resolving that issue, we decided to play one more game, in which our three teammates all quit in the first quarter after we fell behind 15-5. As I said, I’d like to send out a thank you to those Rec quitters.

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Monday Tip-Off: We DO Give a Damn ‘Bout a Bad MyREP System

Monday Tip-Off: We DO Give a Damn 'Bout a Bad MyREP System

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 importance of fixing MyREP, not just in terms of its rewards system, but also allowing it to carry over year-to-year.

Keeping an annually-released basketball game fresh in a way that satisfies its toughest critics – the hardcore hoops gamers – is easier said than done. Take a ranking and rewards system such as MyREP, for example. If it’s the same year after year, we’re prone to complain about it being too stale and familiar. If it changes, there’s bound to be a lot of people who preferred the old system, as well as those that were open to a change, but aren’t feeling the new approach. There’s also the issue of having to start over from scratch every year; a common complaint in general these days.

I want to talk about both of those issues related to MyREP: its use as both a reward and matchmaking system, and the concept of being able to carry over rep from the previous game. It’s something I’d like to see NBA 2K get right as we enter a new generation with online basketball gaming as popular as it’s ever been, yet also in rough shape. Because of its effects on features and the online experience, it’s more than a cosmetic badge. We have good reason to give a damn about a bad MyREP system. Yes, that is a reference to “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, and indeed, I’m keeping the musical motif going as I wax lyrical about this matter.

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Monday Tip-Off: A New Big Man on Campus

Monday Tip-Off: A New Big Man on Campus

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 my experiences playing as a big man in The Rec, after years of assuming the role of a playmaking point guard.

I documented my experiences trying out a big man build that was similar to the way I played in my local league as a teenager many years ago, in a previous article that I titled MyPLAYER in the Middle. As I noted in that feature, playing as a big man after years of MyCAREER games as a point guard felt very strange and quite frustrating at times. It was, as you would expect, a major adjustment with such a drastic change in role, to say nothing of going back to being a 60 Overall after maxing out my point guard build at 99.9 Overall. At the same time, it was an interesting experience.

Of course, playing online is a whole different brand of virtual basketball, and I was curious to see how it compared to my experiences as a point guard. I’ve often heard that it’s easier to get games in The Rec as a big man, as they tend to be in higher demand due to a majority of gamers opting for point guard and wing builds. Having played several Rec games with guard-heavy squads, and sometimes struggling to get games because of people quitting to avoid that scenario, I was hopeful that that would hold true for my alternate build. As far as the quality of the on-court experience was concerned…well, I figured The Rec would always be The Rec, but it was worth a try.

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NLSC Podcast #328: Rumours & Boomers

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Episode #328 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, NBA Live wasn’t featured at EA Play 2020. We reflect on how it’s made the community pessimistic about the series’ future. Elsewhere, the inevitable lull following NBA 2K21’s announcement trailer has tipped off this year’s rumour mill. As we’re not fans of misinformation, we analyse the rumours making the rounds, and offer up some tips to avoid falling for clickbait. The NBA 2K League also comes up when we broach the topic of online play, as does a program that’s worth checking out. In modding news, we note a couple of recent developments, and once again talk about minimalist mods. We wrap up with a discussion of a forgotten 1-on-1 tournament that the NBA held in 1972, including how such a tournament could work today. Old heads that we are, there’s also some grumbling and further push back on the whole “plumbers and dentists” rhetoric.

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 Differences in PC & Console 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 is a list of five differences between the PC and console versions of various basketball games.

Our choice of gaming platform remains one of the pettiest parts of the hobby. Gamers who prefer PlayStation or Xbox to the exclusion of all other consoles will snipe back and forth with each other, comparing specs, exclusives, and anything else that will allow them to feel like their personal preference is intellectually (and even morally) superior. The other big and perpetual gaming war, of course, is PC vs. Console. I’m sure that you’re familiar with all the arguments, stereotypes, and insults that are flung back and forth as everyone engages in frothing-at-the-mouth tribalism.

Personally, I believe that gamers game. Give me a platform, a game, and ask me to play it and tell you what I think, and I’ll give it a shot! If PC gaming or a specific console works for you and you’re happy with your choice, more power to you. I’ll admit to being Team Nintendo during the Nintendo vs. SEGA war of the 90s, but when it comes to PC and console, I’ve actually always played games on both. I do that because certain titles and series have been exclusive, but I’ve also played the same basketball games on multiple platforms, and noticed some interesting differences between releases. There have been quite a few, but here are five noteworthy ones.

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