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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.

Wayback Wednesday: Affiliations in MyPARK

Wayback Wednesday: Affiliations in MyPARK

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 the affiliations in MyPARK.

The Playground has never been my main mode of choice – Pro-Am is more my speed when it comes to NBA 2K online – but I’ve had some fun with it over the years. More to the point, it has become one of the most popular modes in the game, and through the introduction of The Neighborhood, a major part of the main MyCAREER hub. From its introduction as The Park in NBA 2K14 to its rebranding as MyPARK and subsequently The Playground, the mode has gone from an online offshoot of NBA 2K’s career mode to its own fully fleshed out and immersive experience.

As much focus as it receives and as popular as it is, however, not all Playground gamers are completely satisfied with its evolution. One aspect that was left behind in the MyPARK era is affiliations. It’s not uncommon to see Playground gamers asking for the return of MyPARK affiliations in response to 2K’s Tweets, though as of NBA 2K20, it’s yet to make a return. What was it, and why was it so popular? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Hot Takes on Basketball Gaming in 2019

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 of my hot takes on basketball gaming in 2019.

Another Friday the 13th is upon us, and I’ll be honest: I’m drawing a blank on fresh ideas related to good luck, bad luck, and the number thirteen. I suppose I could talk about having terrible luck with disconnections in NBA 2K, or how I lost my progress in my NBA 2K17 MyCAREER when I accidentally overwrote it with an old backup from the cloud, and then access to the save file entirely because the server was shut down during a time when I’d uninstalled the game. I could look back at NBA 2K13, or even the ill-fated NBA Live 13, but that’s more suited to Wayback Wednesday.

Instead, I’m going to take us into the weekend by sharing five hot takes about hoops gaming in 2019. After all, does anyone want a fair and measured take anymore? I’d like to think so as that’s my preferred approach, but there’s no denying the popularity of hot takes. If you agree with them, they make you feel clever and self-righteous. If you disagree with them, you can enjoy getting fired up and firing back at the person tossing them out. I can’t quite bring myself to abandon all reason and give you some hot takes on the level of an obnoxious talking head on a panel show, but I’ll share a few thoughts regarding our beloved hobby that you may or may not agree with.

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MyPLAYER Nation Coming in NBA 2K20; Launches October 22nd

NBA 2K20 MyPLAYER Nation Teaser

2K has posted a teaser of a new game mode in NBA 2K20, called MyPLAYER Nation. No further information is available at this time, but the mode will be tipping off alongside the 2020 NBA season on October 22nd.

As we await further details and the launch of NBA 2K20, the teaser certainly invites speculation. Based on the name and the teaser image, it seems a safe guess to say that it’s part of a connected MyCAREER experience. Common suggestions that I’ve seen so far include leaderboards and challenges, similar to what’s been implemented in MyGM. Whatever it entails, it likely involves some kind of content relevant to the real NBA, given that the mode launches with the start of the 2020 season.

It’s also worth noting that attendees of the NBA 2K20 Community Event have already seen the mode. A moderator over on the official NBA 2K Subreddit who attended the event has confirmed that it isn’t something completely new, such as an online co-op career. To that end, they’ve advised getting our hopes up too much with guesses that are completely wild.

More details will be coming soon, so I’ll follow up when they become available. In the meantime, feel free to speculate on what MyPLAYER Nation might entail in the comments section below, and join in the discussion here in the NBA 2K20 section of the NLSC Forum.

The Friday Five: 5 Excuses We Must Stop Making For 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 excuses that we must stop making in order to downplay valid criticisms of basketball video games.

There are times when it’s only fair to make excuses for basketball video games. There are limitations to what can be achieved with the technology that’s currently available. Issues with likeness rights meant that certain historical players can’t be included. NBA games have a brutal development cycle compared to titles that don’t come out every year. In fact, you might be inclined to call these “reasons”, as the term “excuses” often has negative connotations. It’s splitting hairs on the definition in some respects, but it’s understandable that some people balk at the idea of “making excuses”.

The problem with excuses is that they can easily work against our best interests. If we don’t hold developers accountable for certain decisions and design choices, then we’ll have no choice but to endure whatever undesirable situation we find ourselves in with basketball video games. Look, I’d like to think that I’m as passionate about the hobby as anyone else in the community, and I also believe in being fair and constructive in our criticism. It’s just astonishing how far some people will go to make excuses for the games though, even when an issue is clearly detrimental to them. These are the excuses that we need to cut out, or else we’ll continue to suffer the consequences.

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Monday Tip-Off: An Open Letter from An Old Head

Monday Tip-Off: An Open Letter from An Old Head

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 open letter to younger basketball gamers and fans from an admitted old head of 34.

Hey there, younger fans of basketball and basketball gaming! Do people still say hey for hello? I’m trying to avoid a “How do you do, fellow kids?” type of scenario here. Because let’s face it, there is a generational gap between some of us, and I’d rather not condescend to you, or look foolish with some ill-fitting slang. I’ll just stick with hey. Anyway, I’m Andrew, and to a lot of people who are into basketball and basketball video games, I would definitely qualify as an old head. At least, that’s the term I’m seeing used in a lot of online conversations to describe someone like me.

I’ll admit that at the age of 34, I still feel too young to be classified as an old head. It’s probably a fitting term, though. My all-time favourite band and television show are both only slightly younger than I am. My nostalgia is rooted in entertainment and events from well over a decade ago, and my opinions on sports, movies, television, and gaming no doubt reflect that. I’m at that odd stage where I still feel a bit rebellious towards the generations older than me, while at the same time starting to feel like a grumpy old man. Before I completely devolve into yelling at clouds however, I’d like to try bridging the gap between an old head like me and the younger generation.

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Monday Tip-Off: NBA 2K Online Is In Terrible Shape

NBA 2K 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 some thoughts on the quality of online play in NBA 2K; or, more accurately, the lack thereof.

Hey, remember when I wrote about the desire to balance positivity and negativity in my articles? I mentioned that I wanted to avoid writing an article about online play in NBA 2K that ended up being more of a rant than constructive criticism, cathartic as it may be. Well, I’m going to go ahead and vent a little. I was originally going to leave it at my Friday Five detailing my experiences with the Jordan Rec Center, but I need to expand upon that. As someone who was traditionally an offline gamer who has since been drawn into online in recent years, I’m now remembering why I avoided it.

When the NBA 2K League was announced, I noted the slight possibility that it would have some tangible benefit for the rest of us. Specifically, I suggested that in the best case scenario, it would encourage 2K to improve their servers and address some of the long-standing issues with online gameplay, in order to make the “home version” of the NBA 2K League more like the real thing. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. NBA 2K online has strayed further and further away from sim basketball, and the servers continue to be extremely unreliable. Combine this steady decline with a toxic part of the community, and honestly, I don’t see the situation getting any better.

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