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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 Conversely, Direct Shoot – introduced in the NBA Live series around the same time as Direct Pass – has been replaced by other methods of advanced shooting controls.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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NLSC Podcast #362: Putting the Ball in the Basket

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Episode #362 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.

A bevy of retro season roster mods are being produced at the moment, which we’re excited to see. The fact that there are a couple of 2005 season mods out or in the works reminds us that time is marching on, and our nostalgia is getting old! We also have some advice for getting big projects done and released. Meanwhile, NBA 2K21 Current Gen and Next Gen have both received new patches, so we briefly discuss some of the changes. This week’s main discussion is a deep dive into shooting mechanics: the history and evolution, the best and worst concepts, and everything in between. In the latest mailbag, we discuss the forthcoming Space Jam sequel, and consider another What If scenario.

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.

NBA 2K21 Next Gen Gameplay Blog #1 Talks Fundamentals

NBA 2K21 Next Gen Gameplay Blog #1

The first gameplay blog for NBA 2K21 Next Gen has been posted, and it’s all about the fundamentals. It discusses the basics of shooting, dribbling, and passing in NBA 2K21. As noted when the Next Gen trailer dropped, further blogs will go into detail about AI, physics, and other aspects of gameplay.

I’ve provided a concise summary of the NBA 2K21 Next Gen gameplay blog below, but some of the key points it touches upon include the ability to control short arcs and bank shots with the Pro Stick, a more readable shot meter, touch around the rim, and jumpers off the dribble. It also mentions foot positioning around the three-point line, new signature dribbles, different dribbling speeds, and reworked passing.

It’s definitely worth checking out the NBA 2K21 Next Gen gameplay blog in full, but once again if you’d like a concise breakdown, check out my summary below. Got any thoughts? Feel free to share them in the comments, and join in the discussion here in the Forum!

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The Friday Five: 5 Community Issues NBA 2K21 Has Spotlighted

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 look at five issues within the basketball gaming community that NBA 2K21 has spotlighted.

NBA 2K21 Current Gen has been out for about a month, and following its release, gamers have had a lot to say about it. The game has had a mixed reception to say the least, and some of the new concepts haven’t resonated as positively as the developers no doubt hoped they would. A big patch came through on September 14th, which does seem to have allayed some concerns with the game. No release is ever perfect though, and not all issues can be caught before the game is in our hands, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic is presenting developers with several obstacles.

Gamers have been noting the issues with NBA 2K21 and sharing feedback with the developers accordingly, but I’ve noticed something else in the wake of the game being released. It seems as though NBA 2K21 has also spotlighted some issues within the community itself, both in the way we approach the games and how we interact with each other. These community issues aren’t necessarily new, and in some cases they’re the result of toxicity that’s compounded over the years. At the same time, I do feel as though certain aspects of NBA 2K21 have shone a light on some of these community issues, and I honestly feel that we could (and should) be doing better in these areas.

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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.