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NLSC Podcast #311: Sliding Into Better Gameplay

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Episode #311 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Dee4Three and I react to some rather gross sentiments by ESPN personalities and other talking heads, talk about recency bias, and discuss the approach to sliders and difficulty settings in modern games.

As the basketball world still reels from the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant, various talking heads are using it as an excuse to prop up LeBron James. We talk about our disgust with the practice, particularly some very inappropriate sentiments from Rachel Nichols. This leads us to once again reflect on recency bias, both in real basketball and basketball video games. In particular, we note how the good isn’t remembered as often as the great, and how it’s too readily dismissed. After that, we get into our main discussion topic, concerning sliders and difficulty settings in games. We touch on how games and attitudes have changed, as well as the importance of “out of the box” quality. The issue of modes without sliders is also discussed, along with some ideas for the community.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on gameplay sliders, and everything else we talked about this week? 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 Types of Retro Content We Haven’t Seen Yet

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 examples of retro content that we haven’t seen in basketball video games yet.

For over twenty years, we’ve seen some form of retro content in contemporary hoops games. It began with the inclusion of Legends and Decade All-Stars teams in NBA Live and NBA 2K around the turn of the millennium, and exploded with the addition of historical squads thanks to The Jordan Challenge and NBA’s Greatest. Since then we’ve also seen the addition of All-Time teams for every NBA franchise, the return of All-Decade squads in NBA 2K20, pre-built historical Draft Classes, and the inclusion of retro content in MyTEAM. Everything’s been done, right?

Not quite! I can think of at least five examples of retro content that we haven’t seen in NBA Live or NBA 2K yet, but I’d love to see implemented at some point. Some of it is easier said than done, and with the current backlash against nostalgia and the NBA of the 80s and 90s – all that “plumbers and dentists” nonsense – it probably isn’t a high priority for Visual Concepts or EA Sports. Nevertheless, these ideas are always fun to discuss, and who knows; some day, a couple of these ideas may become a reality! It never hurts to have extra content in the game – particularly for modding purposes – and with that in mind, here are some untapped ideas for retro content.

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Wayback Wednesday: The Isometric Camera Angle in NBA Live

Isometric Camera Angle in NBA Live 95 (Rockets vs Magic)

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 iconic isometric camera angle in NBA Live.

Camera angles have a significant impact on the quality of the gameplay experience across a wide variety of genres. As many titles in the early days of 3D would end up demonstrating, poorly designed camera angles and movement resulted in artificial difficulty, either by obscuring the player’s view at inopportune moments, or simply by not providing a suitable view of the action at any time. In sports video games, a bad camera angle made it a lot easier to step out of bounds, and it was harder to determine where players were in relation to each other and the field of play.

Most early basketball video games used a similar sideline camera angle, which was fine for the time, but did have a few drawbacks. EA Sports would change things up with the release of NBA Live 95, when they switched to an isometric camera angle. Not only does it remain a distinctive look that gamers found appealing, it also made the gameplay experience far more enjoyable. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Absolute Controls Are Absolutely Best

James Harden dribbles the basketball in NBA 2K18

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 the Absolute controls setting in NBA 2K games, and why I feel they are the best approach.

It took me a while to get used to the controls in NBA 2K. Having spent years playing NBA Live, it was difficult getting used to dribbling moves being performed with left stick movement and the Isomotion trigger. Even after the series adopted right stick dribbling controls in NBA 2K13, I wasn’t quite as proficient in pulling off slick moves and breaking ankles as I had been in NBA Live. Eventually, I discovered the root of my clumsiness on the sticks: the default Camera Relative controller setting, which makes stick movement dependant on your player’s position relative to the camera.

The Absolute setting, which standardises stick movements no matter where you are on the court and which camera angle you’re using, made NBA 2K’s controls far more accessible to me. It helps that it’s the same approach that NBA Live has always used for its right stick controls, but aside from familiarity, I’ve always felt it simply made more sense. There’s a legacy issue in NBA 2K where the Camera Relative/Absolute setting randomly resets, which means I’m always checking to make sure that it’s still set to Absolute before I start a session. After all, when it comes to dribbling controls, I strongly feel that Absolute controls are absolutely best.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2003’s Settings Myth

Allen Iverson dribbles the basketball in NBA Live 2003

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 a popular myth regarding a gameplay setting in NBA Live 2003.

As I noted in my retrospective of NBA Live 2003, while the game was a landmark title in terms of introducing right stick dribbling controls, it came up short as far as the level of realism was concerned. Needless to say, despite our disappointment with that aspect of the gameplay, we did our best as a community to find ways of enhancing the experience. The most common was making mass tweaks to the ratings in order to alter the gameplay, but this had undesirable side effects in Franchise mode, especially when it came time for the game to generate a new class of fictional rookies.

Not long after NBA Live 2003’s release, a claim was made that a bug in the game’s settings was responsible for the lack of realism in the gameplay. This naturally led to a lot of excitement, with gamers enthusiastically trying out the suggested workaround, hoping that it would lead to a more desirable sim-oriented experience. Although the suggestion was quickly proven to be a myth, that didn’t stop gamers from insisting otherwise. It’s an interesting situation to reflect upon after all these years, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: The Great NBA 2K Camera Angle Debate

2K Camera Angle in NBA 2K17's 2K Pro-Am

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 opinions on the camera angle settings in NBA 2K.

If you’re a long-time basketball gamer, you’ll probably remember a time when changing the camera angle simply wasn’t an option. Whether it was a broadcast-style sideline view, an isometric angle, or a perspective from behind the player you were controlling, most games didn’t give you a lot of choice when it came to the camera. In the mid 90s, however, a choice of camera angles and various zoom options began to make their way into basketball games. In recent times, there’s been a focus on authentically replicating the broadcast angles for all 30 NBA teams.

This wider variety of camera angles has sparked some passionate debates over the years, specifically over which is the best camera angle to use. In NBA 2K, the discussion has pretty much boiled down to the broadcast camera – either the authentic angles, or ones inspired by them – and the 2K camera and its variants. Basketball gamers certainly seem to have some strong opinions about which camera is the best, or for that matter, which is the “correct” setting to use. As I’m a passionate basketball gamer myself, I obviously have a few thoughts on the subject.

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