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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.

NLSC Podcast #339: NBA 2K21 Impressions, NBA Live Hopes

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Episode #339 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

NBA 2K21 Current Gen is here! After getting a taste of the game with the demo, we’ve got further impressions to share after getting our hands on the full version. We’re going in-depth on shooting, dribbling, player movement, and other mechanics with comparisons to both NBA 2K20 and the demo, while touching on changes to modes. In our early appraisal of NBA 2K21, we also describe some of the changes and fixes we’d like to see, and note some of the community’s reactions. In other news, Scott O’Gallagher and Rob Jones joining EA Sports has us feeling optimistic about NBA Live. We talk about what it could mean for the series, and the importance of listening to the right voices moving forward. Finally, we catch up on some other hoops games we’ve been playing, including Dunk Lords, PBA Basketball Slam, and the original NBA Playgrounds.

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.

NLSC Podcast #338: NBA 2K21 Demo Impressions

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Episode #338 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

The NBA 2K21 Demo is out, and suffice to say, it’s drawn some polarising reactions. We’ve got our own detailed impressions to share, from the scope of the demo to the new dribbling and shooting mechanics. We also discuss oversights when introducing new features, and the responsibility of both the community and developers when it comes to demo feedback. A new trailer has also given us a look at this year’s Neighborhood and MyCAREER story, and one of us has a bold declaration about the tale. There’s also a new arcade hoops game on Steam, Dunk Lords, that’s worth a look.

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.

Monday Tip-Off: That One Change Every Year

Monday Tip-Off: That One Change Every Year

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 every year, there seems to be at least one change in basketball video games that many of us dislike.

It’s fair to say that we want to see change in basketball video games year-to-year; for the better, ideally! As much as we criticise the parts of games we don’t like, we have seen quite a few positive changes that have improved the overall on-court experience. Basketball games have come a long way, and it’s clear that some of our feedback has been taken into consideration by the developers. It always comes as welcome news when a major frustration is addressed in a new game, and the new approach allows us to enjoy it a lot more than its predecessor.

And then, there are the changes we don’t want to see. Everything was fine and the way we liked it, and suddenly, it’s drastically different. Sometimes it’s a matter of getting used to the change, but other times, it’s a pointless switch from something that was working and didn’t need to be touched. Whether it’s a major gameplay mechanic, a menu option, or something content-related, it’s a rare game that doesn’t have at least one noticeable change that won’t sit well with many of us. It may not completely ruin a game, and it may not be important to absolutely everyone, but it’s significant enough for a number of us to be bothered by the difference to the previous year’s release.

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NLSC Podcast #336: I’m A Surgeon With This Pro Stick

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Episode #336 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

Before we get to this week’s gaming news, we take a moment to reflect on the San Antonio Spurs’ 22-year Playoff streak coming to an end. On the subject of change, however, we have our first developer blog for NBA 2K21 Current Gen, previewing this year’s gameplay. We break down the changes to the Pro Stick, including the new dribbling and shooting controls, and other details provided by the blog. With a demo coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on August 24th, we also speculate on what it will entail, and discuss the likelihood of a Next Gen demo later this year. We’ve also got some new retro basketball game purchases to talk about, and once again touch on the modding possibilities for NBA 2K21 PC.

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.

NBA 2K21 Gameplay Blog & Demo Release Date (Current Gen)

NBA 2K21 Gameplay Blog

The NBA 2K21 gameplay blog for the Current Gen version has been posted, outlining what we can expect from this year’s release. A breakdown of the key points is as follows:

  • Beluba reiterated the focus on striking a good balance between realism and fun, once again referring to turnovers on long passes as an example of what they want to avoid.
  • Cover player Damian Lillard had several suggestions, including raising the maximum height for point guards in MyCAREER. It’s now 6’8″.
  • The Pro Stick controls have changed: Hold down for a jumpshot, hold left or right for escape dribbles, hold up for signature size-ups, tap for quick 1-to-1 dribble moves, tap while holding Sprint for quick momentum dribbles.
  • New signature size-ups have been added (for a total of 14 Street and 36 NBA animations), and moves are now more responsive and “chain-able”. Street moves are performed with a tap of the left trigger.
  • When shooting with the Pro Stick, the Shot Meter is replaced by target aiming inspired by NBA 2K17’s mechanics. Instead of timing the release, you can use the whole animation to hit the target window. The same mechanics apply to layups, but this can be disabled. There are also new shot types, and over 40 new shot landings for Park.
  • Block targeting has been improved, and some of the overpowered paint moves have been toned down. There are also signature defensive styles, and player movement has been refined for more responsiveness.
  • The Badge system is basically the same as last year, though it’s been refined based on telemetry data from popular builds. Shot speed has been moved back to the Jump Shot Creator, with the Quick Draw Badge being removed entirely.

Check out the NBA 2K21 gameplay blog for the full scoop! A demo will be dropping on August 24th, though no further details are available as yet. What are your thoughts on these changes and additions? Sound off in the comments below, and join in the discussion here the Forum!

NLSC Podcast #335: For a Few Dollars More

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Episode #335 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

The NBA 2K21 Current Gen trailer has given us something to really sink our teeth into this week. We share our thoughts on what we saw, and touch on some of the community reactions. A glimpse of the new Shot Meter and recent comments by Beluba also inspire us to once again discuss shooting mechanics. Meanwhile, remarks by 2K’s CEO have continued to stir up controversy regarding the Next Gen price increase. We have a few things to say on the matter, along with our subsequent expectations for Next Gen. With the NBA Live 16 servers shutting down, we also encourage everyone to wrap up their business ASAP, and take some time to reflect on the game.

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.

Monday Tip-Off: Arguing For & Against Green Releases

Monday Tip-Off: Arguing For & Against Green Releases

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 Green Releases, specifically the arguments for and against the mechanic.

Back in May 2017, I discussed the future of Green Releases in NBA 2K. Three years on, the mechanic still remains an issue. It’s funny to look back and see that Mike Wang was talking about weaning gamers off the concept of Green Releases, only for them to still be in the game, relatively unchanged. I say relatively because NBA 2K18 attempted to artificially nerf them with a “Good” release actually only having a 5% chance of going in – less than a Slightly Early or Slightly Late release – and other games have also seen Beluba and co tinker with the perfect release windows.

Apart from that, the basic idea remains the same. Green Releases result in a made shot every time, unless it’s blocked or you’re too far behind the backboard. If you can learn the precise timing of a jumpshot animation and pay attention to the rumble feedback cues, you’ll be greening attempts with ease and regularity. We’re still as reliant on the approach as ever, and it doesn’t look like it’s something that NBA 2K – or NBA Live, now that it’s adopted the same style of shot mechanics and feedback – will be able to move away from. The question is: should it? It feels like we’re at a stalemate on the issue, so let’s go over the pros and cons of Green Releases once again.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ideas That Were Better In Theory

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 ideas in basketball games that I believe were better in theory.

Basketball video games – and sports games in general – are often accused of being little more than expensive annual roster updates. As my interview with former NBA Live programmer Rod Reddekopp revealed though, even in the early days, a lot of code had to be rewritten and updated every year. Unless there are significant and noticeable changes in the modes, graphics, or gameplay however, it’s quite likely that we won’t appreciate all that work. On top of that, each new game needs some kind of hook, a fancy selling point that can be promoted in previews and on the back cover.

From our point of view, we want basketball games to keep getting better and add new content, and that means exploring new ideas. Whether it’s a change to the controls or a new gameplay mechanic, improved presentation and details, a new or enhanced mode, or additional historical content, we always want to see freshness and innovation. Our Wishlists show that we have plenty of ideas of our own that we’d like to see added in future games, and developers also have their own roadmap. The problem is that not all ideas pan out, no matter how creative and promising they once seemed. Ideas like the ones I’m talking about today were good in theory, but not in execution.

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The Friday Five: 5 Gameplay Improvements NBA Live 20 Needs

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 improvements that NBA Live 20 needs to demonstrate in terms of its gameplay.

If NBA Live 20 is to be the big release many of us are hoping it will be, it will need to improve upon an area that’s been a perennial weakness since the series returned back in 2013: its modes. The different modes of play are what give basketball games their longevity, and this year’s release from EA Sports must add long overdue features and depth to Franchise, Ultimate Team, and online modes. Deeper customisation is also a must. Of course, while these are all vital areas of NBA Live that require attention, it’s crucial that above all, the gameplay experience continues to improve.

NBA Live’s gameplay has gone through some interesting ups and downs during this generation. NBA Live 14 felt very stiff on the sticks, with animations that looked very “last gen”. Since then, improvements have been made to the fluidity, the depth of the controls, and certain animations. Most NBA Live gamers would agree that there is still plenty of room for improvement, and I’m unquestionably in that camp. What are the most important changes and improvements that need to be made to gameplay in NBA Live 20? We compiled some great ideas in the Wishlist that we sent in to EA, but this week, I’d like to discuss five key areas where Live’s gameplay must improve.

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Wayback Wednesday: The History of Jumpshots in Video Games

Kevin Durant shoots over Nicolas Batum (NBA 2K14)

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 history of jumpshots in basketball video games.

Jumpshots are a basic staple of basketball, and one of the most common ways of scoring; especially in the modern era. With that in mind, it’s strange that they used to be one of the weaker aspects of the mechanics in basketball video games. In the early days of basketball gaming, jumpshots were nowhere near as reliable as they should have been. I even remember a strategy guide for NBA Live 96 basically advising against taking jumpshots and in particular long two-pointers, citing that they had all of the difficulty and risk of three-pointers, without the added reward of an extra point.

Thinking back on it now, that advice actually predicted the rise of analytics, as well as disdain for shooting from midrange. Of course, while opting for shots right at the rim or from beyond the arc and eschewing the midrange is all about efficiency in the modern NBA, in old school basketball video games, it was about effectiveness. Until the mechanics were properly developed, taking a jumpshot – even a wide open ten footer along the baseline – was unrealistically risky on the virtual hardwood. You can call this piece The History of Jumpshots in Video Games (Or, Why Shot Meters Are Important). Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Green Releases in NBA 2K

Green Releases in NBA 2K17

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 future of green releases in NBA 2K.

A few weeks back, NBA 2K Gameplay Director Mike Wang made a candid statement about the future of green releases. Beluba’s goal is to wean basketball gamers off the concept of green releases being guaranteed baskets, in order to strive for more realism and competitive balance. We’ve seen NBA 2K17 take a few steps in that direction, with several tuning updates focused on shooting mechanics being pushed through since the game’s release. Generally speaking, those updates have sought to reduce the number of green releases by making them more difficult to achieve, tweak the percentages of near-perfect releases, or re-balance the shooting in some other way.

Results have been mixed, and a lot of gamers have expressed frustration with the constant changes to shooting in NBA 2K17. On top of some tweaks seemingly being either too effective or largely ineffective, there’s been a concern that changes that are made in order to enhance the online experience are negatively affecting single player gameplay. Beyond that, opinion is divided as to whether green releases should be guaranteed baskets – assuming the attempts aren’t blocked, of course – or whether they should simply have the best odds of being made, according to a player’s ratings and attributes. I have to admit, at times I’m a little torn myself.

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