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NLSC Podcast #461: NBA 2K24 Gameplay Wishlist

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #461 of the NLSC Podcast!

Wishlist season is upon us once again, so we’re talking about the gameplay improvements that both we and the community want to see in NBA 2K24. It would appear that many of us are on the same page as far as what we want to see this year! Meanwhile, a Parsec session saw us resume our Road Trip in NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, and have some fun with Hoops for NES. A recent YouTube comment regarding NBA Live 99 also inspires us to discuss the importance of context when evaluating graphics in classic basketball video games. In this week’s mailbag, we’re quizzing the community on the top three-point shooters in NBA Live 06.

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: How Many Patches Is Too Many?

Monday Tip-Off: How Many Patches Is Too Many?

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 a few thoughts on the amount of patches that modern basketball video games – primarily NBA 2K – tend to receive.

One of the interesting changes within the basketball gaming community is the general reaction to official patches. In the early days of the genre, when patches were only available for the PC releases, we were usually excited and grateful to get them. This of course can be ascribed to their rarity. It often took petitions and prompting from the community to get those title updates, usually accompanied by a laundry list of bugs and other issues. Even so, not every NBA Live, or other PC release for that matter, would receive an official patch.

While we’re still glad to see official patches and desire the fixes they potentially bring, it’s fair to say that there’s more cynicism and wariness surrounding those updates. It’s not unheard of for patches to break the game, either by introducing a new bug, or by making an undesirable change to the gameplay. It’s raised the question as to how many patches per year are ideal. Between their size on console and the possibility of unwanted changes, too many patches can potentially lead to inconsistent quality and cumbersome downloads. On the other hand, too few title updates can leave several issues unresolved. With that in mind, what is the ideal number of patches to receive?

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NLSC Podcast #444: Further NBA 2K23 Impressions & Gatekeeping Nonsense

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #444 of the NLSC Podcast!

After a full week with NBA 2K23, what are our thoughts on both versions of the game? We’ve got further impressions to share – both positive and negative – about gameplay, MyNBA Eras, and MyTEAM. One of us headed to The Rec to check out the state of the online scene, and in what may come as a surprising development, we could be seeing the return of NLSC THRILLHO! The addition of Semi-Pro difficulty leads to a discussion of preferred settings, and their impact on first impressions. We also reflect on the interesting use of Legends in NBA ShootOut 2004, and respond to a particularly nasty and condescending Tweet about playing video games as an adult. In this week’s mailbag, our listeners share their thoughts on NBA 2K23 so far.

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!

The Friday Five: 5 Gameplay Mechanics You May Have Forgotten

The Friday Five: 5 Gameplay Mechanics You May Have Forgotten

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 gameplay mechanics that you may have forgotten, or not ever been aware of.

It would be wrong to say that basketball video games have tried absolutely every idea imaginable. There are still concepts that have yet to be implemented, or explored to their full potential. Developers have experimented with a multitude of ideas on the virtual hardwood though, from presentation and mode design to gameplay mechanics. While some ideas are better than others, we’ve seen that there are multiple ways to represent basketball in video game form, while striving for a fun and authentic experience. This was particularly apparent when we had several games on the market.

Of course, some ideas were better than others. Contrary to what some basketball gamers, NBA Twitter, and Barney Stinson may claim, new isn’t always better. By the same token, nostalgic doesn’t necessarily mean good. Some ideas were good solutions at the time, but would be unsuitable now. We could argue that others are preferable to their modern equivalents, or could be updated for use in new games. It’s interesting to look back at the gameplay mechanics that were attempted, abandoned, or evolved into something else. We remember concepts such as Freestyle Superstars, the original Isomotion, and separate shoot buttons, but here are some that you may have forgotten.

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NLSC Podcast #438: NBA 2K23 Gameplay Blog, Bill Russell, & Classic Cam

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #438 of the NLSC Podcast!

This week’s show opens with a tribute to the late, great Bill Russell, truly one of the most legendary figures in basketball history. As we catch up on what we’ve been playing recently – including another NBA 2K14 MyCAREER update – we discuss our fondness for Classic Cam, and our appreciation of its appearances in later games. We also reflect on NBA Showtime: NBA on NBC, and compare NBA Live 06 and NBA 2K6 on Xbox 360. On the heels of the First Look Trailer, the first developer blog of the preview season provided us with insights into gameplay in NBA 2K23, and we have plenty of thoughts to share! We also open up the mailbag to hear what the community thought of the blog.

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!

NBA 2K23 Gameplay Enhancements Blog

Devin Booker in NBA 2K23

In the wake of the First Look Trailer, the first developer blog for NBA 2K23 is a deep dive into gameplay enhancements. According to the blog, the primary aim with gameplay this year was authenticity. Another key goal was achieving as much parity as possible between the Current Gen and Next Gen versions.

As you might expect, it’s a rather lengthy read! To that end, I’ve summarised the key information from the blog in point form below. As always however, I encourage you to read the blog in its entirety to get the full scoop on gameplay enhancements in NBA 2K23, including some of the specific changes to Badges. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, as well as join in the discussion here in the Forum!

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Monday Tip-Off: How NBA 2K23 Would Win Me Over

Monday Tip-Off: How NBA 2K23 Would Win Me Over

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 an outline of how NBA 2K23 would win me over.

Let’s be clear about this. In the grand scheme of things, NBA 2K23 doesn’t need to win me over. I’m just one person, and I’m not one of their big name influencers. The game won’t need my stamp of approval in order to sell at least ten million copies. Furthermore, given that I am a collector and still a content creator, I’ll be contributing to those sales figures anyway. In that respect, you could argue that it makes me part of the problem, but hey, like I said, I’m just one person. In short, I acknowledge that whether or not NBA 2K23 wins me over, it will be a success by almost every metric.

That goes without saying, but that’s not the issue here. This isn’t about what NBA 2K23 must do to be successful, but what it would take to get someone who has greatly preferred to play NBA 2K14 over NBA 2K21 and NBA 2K22 to get hooked on a new game once again. It’s an uphill battle, because some of the changes I’d love to see will never happen, due to business reasons. I’m obviously also very enthusiastic about this retro kick with NBA 2K14. However, I do aim to approach every new game with an open mind, and a willingness to keep playing if I’m enjoying myself. To that end, with the right changes and improvements, I could definitely be won over by NBA 2K23.

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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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Wayback Wednesday: Hot Spots in NBA Live 08

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m taking a look back at Hot Spots in NBA Live 08.

The goal of implementing an increasing amount of realism in basketball video games has resulted in developers experimenting with a variety of mechanics and attributes. Some of these ideas have worked out better than others, or laid the foundation and evolved into better concepts. This is important to remember, as it can sometimes seem as if certain ideas were only implemented for the sake of adding something new to an annual release. It may be a sign that we’ve forgotten the reasons behind those ideas, and that poor execution doesn’t necessarily mean there was never any merit to them.

Case in point: Hot Spots in NBA Live 08. It was a solid idea that paved the way for more nuanced shooting attributes, but that first iteration in NBA Live 08 also had negative effects on gameplay mechanics. It’s all too easy to focus on the undesirable results of that first implementation of Hot Spots, and conclude that there was no value in the idea. However, future games proved that when implemented correctly, it was a step toward achieving the realism that we desired. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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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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Wayback Wednesday: Direct Shoot, The Overlooked Mechanic

Wayback Wednesday: Direct Shoot, The Overlooked Mechanic

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 Direct Shoot, which I believe is an overlooked gameplay mechanic in older NBA Live titles.

If you’ve played any of the early NBA Live games, you’ll likely remember a feature called Direct Pass. Even if you’re unfamiliar with those old releases, you can probably glean from the name alone that Direct Pass is what has come to be known as Icon Passing. NBA 2K popularised the latter name, though I still tend to use the terms “Direct Pass” or “direct passing”, because it’s the nomenclature from the games that I grew up playing. It’s the same reason that I use the name “Decade All-Stars” more often than “All-Decade Teams”. It’s just the branding that I’m used to.

While the name Direct Pass has fallen out of vogue, the concept is obviously still used in modern titles, without any major changes. Conversely, Direct Shoot – introduced in the NBA Live series around the same time as Direct Pass – has been replaced by other methods of advanced shooting controls. To that end, I’d suggest that it’s an overlooked stepping stone to mechanics that we now take for granted. I know that I’ve certainly underutilised it when playing those older games, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #405: Slow Motion, Signature Style

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Episode #405 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this weekly podcast that’s all about basketball gaming.

An eye-catching statistic regarding the Lakers this year, and some other recent NBA observations, explain a lot about The Rec (and why we’re happy to avoid the online scene). Unfortunately, even the franchise experience in NBA 2K22 hasn’t been appealing, due to the gameplay feeling dry. On the plus side, NBA 2K17 has been fun to dust off, and it leads us to reflect on one of our all-time favourite basketball video games. We once again note that gameplay mechanics aren’t automatically good just because we’re able to get used to and master them. Elsewhere, preliminary plans for the next NLSC Tournament have begun, with the community voting on the game. A new roster with fixed retro teams is also worth checking out on PlayStation 5. In this week’s mailbag, we’re talking about slow motion dunks, signature moves, and other old school features that we miss and would love to see return.

Join in the conversation in the comments below, or here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as mailbag questions and topic suggestions for future shows. 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 Predictable Moments in 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 moments in basketball games that are very predictable.

In real basketball, there’s a phenomenon of knowing a shot is going in as soon as it leaves your hands. It just feels right, the arc looks perfect, and it’s almost like there’s a sixth sense about it. Of course, that confidence isn’t always well-founded, in which case you may end up looking like Nick Young! We can get a similar feeling when we see someone else shoot the basketball, either on TV or when we’re on the court. It’s why we’re so surprised to see the great shooters and clutch performers miss attempts that we were absolutely sure would splash through the net.

As an artificial representation of the sport, basketball video games naturally contain some telltale signs that make them far more predictable than real life. Predictability isn’t always a bad thing of course, particularly when it’s a favourable outcome. Even when it isn’t, you’re at least able to brace yourself for the outcome, perhaps avoiding getting your hopes up. However, like a spoiler for a film, TV show, or indeed a video game with an in-depth narrative, it can detract from the experience by removing a sense of anticipation, with certain actions feeling inconsequential. For better or worse, here are five of the most predictable moments found in basketball video games.

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NBA 2K22 Gameplay Insights in Latest Courtside Report

NBA 2K22 Gameplay Blog

Following on from yesterday’s trailer, the latest Courtside Report (aka developer blog) provides insights into gameplay in NBA 2K22. As previously announced, we can also expect a blog detailing improvements and changes to MyTEAM to be posted sometime this week.

The gameplay blog is the most comprehensive insight thus far. To highlight some of the major points, 17 new Badges have been added, for a total of 80 in both Current Gen and Next Gen. There are new dribbling packages, and dribbling movement is faster paced. Dunk packages can also be customised. Defensive AI has been rewritten, the shot contest and blocking systems have been rebuilt, and “ghost contests” have been removed. There’s also a new Shot Meter with a dynamic make window, and Shot IQ is a major factor in shot success.

You can find a detailed summary of the blog below. What are your thoughts on the reported improvements to gameplay in NBA 2K22? Have your say in the comments, and join in the discussion here in the NLSC Forum! Once again, stay tuned for more information about MyTEAM in this year’s game.

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The Friday Five: 5 Things Removed in NBA 2K21 Next Gen

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 that have been removed from the Next Gen version of NBA 2K21.

When it comes to the things that annoy us most in the annual basketball games, legacy issues and the removal of popular features rank high on the list. For that matter, seeing legacy issues remain while cool features disappear is a common gripe born of those two complaints. Generally speaking though, we understand that there’s only so much that can be done within one development cycle, and that certain changes won’t come about until a new engine is introduced. Likewise, we know that some features are dropped due to technological reasons, or a lack of popularity.

It’s the things that are removed due to design choices and philosophy that really make us grumble, however. NBA 2K21 Next Gen was advertised as being “built from the ground up”, but it does bring back many familiar features, modes, and mechanics. A few things have fallen by the wayside with the series’ jump to the next generation, though. There may be technical reasons for their absence, but it’s inconvenient at best, and lacking in goodwill at worst. There’s a chance that we’ll see some of these things reintroduced if the demand/backlash is strong enough, but until then, here are five things from the Current Gen version that you won’t find in NBA 2K21 Next Gen.

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