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The Friday Five: 5 Ways to Improve MyCAREER in NBA 2K20

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 ways to improve MyCAREER in NBA 2K20.

MyCAREER remains the most popular mode in NBA 2K, both for the ability to live the life of an NBA player, and participate in online multiplayer gaming through the connected experiences of 2K Pro-Am and The Playground. It has achieved popularity through being a deep and robust mode, and innovations such as detailed stories. While its implementation of VC has at times been controversial due to the way it encourages microtransactions, it’s contributed greatly to the recurrent revenue model despite some vocal grumbling from gamers. Overall, it’s been a huge success for NBA 2K.

Nevertheless, both the offline and online aspects of MyCAREER still have room for improvement. I’ve enjoyed the experiences they offer despite traditionally being a franchise gamer, and found myself getting drawn back into MyCAREER in NBA 2K19 despite feeling that this may be the year to take a break. Having played the mode extensively over the past few years, I have a few thoughts on how it could provide an even better experience for basketball gamers. From the handling of the story and goodwill, to game balance and better functionality, here are five ways that NBA 2K20 could make an already great mode even better.

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Wayback Wednesday: Livin’ Da Dream in NBA 2K16

Livin Da Dream Title Screen (NBA 2K16)

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 Livin’ Da Dream, the MyCAREER story in NBA 2K16.

Career modes have come a long way since they were essentially franchise modes with player lock. The concept has continued to evolve this generation, with MyCAREER pioneering the use of in-depth stories to accompany the gameplay experience. This hasn’t been to everyone’s liking – indeed, I’ve been critical of the approach on more than one occasion – but there’s no denying that a tremendous amount of work has gone into the production values of MyCAREER stories. 2K has also brought big names on board to bolster both the writing and performances of the tales told in MyCAREER.

After telling the story of competing with Jackson Ellis in NBA 2K14 and enlisting the help of several NBA players to voice themselves in cutscenes mentoring your player in NBA 2K15, 2K went all out in NBA 2K16. They brought in acclaimed (and now Academy Award-winning) director Spike Lee to develop a story for the mode that allows gamers to live out their dreams of playing in the NBA. That theme gave the story its title – Livin’ Da Dream – and it was a significant milestone in the continuing evolution of MyCAREER. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: My NBA Live 2004 Dynasty

Select Dynasty Team in NBA Live 2004

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 my memorable NBA Live 2004 Dynasty game.

In a Wayback Wednesday feature a month ago, I reminisced about my NBA Live 06 Dynasty with the Chicago Bulls. It was one of my all-time favourite experiences on the virtual hardwood, and at the time, I enjoyed documenting it in the Stories section of our Forum. It wasn’t my first story topic however, nor was it my only memorable Dynasty game. A couple of years earlier, I’d taken control of the Bulls in NBA Live 2004, playing through a season of ups and downs on route to what was an unlikely championship to say the least.

What was originally meant to just be a first look at the newly renamed and revamped Dynasty mode would turn into an experience that had me hooked for several months. Although I’d been a fan of the franchise concept since it was introduced back in NBA Live 2000, I would suggest my NBA Live 2004 Dynasty is what really solidified my appreciation for the mode. Join me as I take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Mentors in NBA 2K15’s MyCAREER

Channing Frye, one of the mentors in NBA 2K15's MyCAREER

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 mentors in NBA 2K15’s MyCAREER.

NBA 2K15 stands out as quite a noteworthy game in the NBA 2K series. It was the first time that the PlayStation 4/Xbox One version was ported to PC, and the first PC release to be available exclusively through Steam with no disc-based physical copies. The game also continued the story-driven MyCAREER concept, becoming the first game in which you didn’t start your rookie season on opening night. The story of how you make it to the league featured cameos from NBA players who acted as mentors, with the real players voicing their virtual counterparts in cutscenes.

On one hand, this was an improvement over similar cutscenes in NBA 2K14, in which the MyPLAYER character was voiced while the NBA players’ dialogue was just text. On the other hand, many of their performances were notoriously and hilariously bad, as discussed in an article over on Cracked a couple of years ago. Nevertheless, it was an idea that had merit, influencing presentation and features in subsequent games. At the very least, there’s some humour to be found with the mentors in NBA 2K15, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Crafting a MyCAREER Story

NBA 2K19 MyCAREER Story Scene

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 future NBA 2K games could craft a better MyCAREER story.

As much as I’ve criticised the approach, I am somewhat fascinated by the concept of the MyCAREER story. It’s been done rather badly in a couple of games, be it the way it’s affected the gameplay experience, the narrative, or both. As such, it would be nice to have the option of a straightforward career mode. At the same time, a lot of effort has gone into the approach over the years, and it’s paid off with a couple of rather good and enjoyable tales. Since the concept doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, it’s vital that Visual Concepts does the best job possible with it.

When it comes to the MyCAREER story approach – in particular, the times it hasn’t been done well – there have been a few common drawbacks since its debut in NBA 2K14. Ill-fitting back stories and unlikeable personalities for the player character, annoying NPCs and cringe-worthy cutscenes, a lack of story branching, meaningless decisions, and general intrusiveness, are among the most prominent issues. The good news is that these problems can be remedied, and if backed by a well-written narrative with characters that aren’t annoying in a bad way, a story can enhance MyCAREER. To that end, this is how I’d like to see the MyCAREER story crafted in future games.

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The Friday Five: Top 5 Positives and Negatives in NBA 2K19

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 another double countdown, this time featuring the Top 5 Positives and Top 5 Negatives in NBA 2K19.

My full reviews for NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 will be out shortly, but before then, I wanted to offer up some more of my initial impressions of this year’s games. This time I’m talking about the latest offering from Visual Concepts, NBA 2K19. After really enjoying NBA 2K17, I was quite disappointed with NBA 2K18. It wasn’t just the unapologetically greedy approach to microtransactions and the brutal grind, either. I just didn’t enjoy the gameplay experience, and thus shelved NBA 2K18 much earlier than previous games, firing it up only to get screenshots for articles.

In a nutshell, I felt that NBA 2K18 was a surprising regression for the NBA 2K series, uncharacteristically stumbling off course. Is NBA 2K19 heading back in the right direction? In some respects, yes, but there are some key areas of concern, and design choices that I’m disappointed in. The team at Visual Concepts clearly did learn a few lessons from last year’s game however, and took gamer feedback to heart. With that in mind, NBA 2K19 is – as quite a few people have put it – the game that we should’ve received last year. At the same time, it’s not entirely the game that I was hoping for this year. Let’s take a look at the Top 5 Positives and Negatives, at least as I see them.

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Monday Tip-Off: The MyCAREER Cinematic Universe

Marcus Young in The Prelude (NBA 2K19 MyCAREER)

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 the plots and characters that keep appearing in MyCAREER stories.

Writing about Jackson Ellis for Wayback Wednesday got me thinking about recurring characters and call backs in MyCAREER stories. While I’d like to see MyCAREER move away from the story-driven approach, or at least evolve into a fresher, more dynamic experience, I do find that I can still have fun with the concept. Whether it’s suggesting new scenarios or coming up with a handful of off-the-wall theories and alternative interpretations, the subject doesn’t have to be something I only grumble about over and over again.

Some of the MyCAREER stories have definitely turned out better than others, both in terms of their narrative and the way in which they affected the gameplay experience. From a gameplay perspective, each story is self-contained. Nothing that we do with our individual MyPLAYERs will carry over to the next game, at which point league history – all stats, awards, and championships – reverts back to reality. However, there are references to previous stories, recurring characters, and even a few subplots with NPCs. Just for fun, let’s try to piece together some kind of canon for MyCAREER’s stories. We’ll call it the MyCAREER Cinematic Universe.

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Spotlighting Our Stories Section; Join in the Fun!

Enter the Dragan is one of the most active Stories in the NLSC Forum

The Stories section in the NLSC Forum isn’t as popular as it once was, in part due to changing demographics and basketball gaming habits. However, there has been some renewed interest in sharing franchise and career mode stories in recent months. To that end, I’d like to spotlight some of the tales that are currently being told on the virtual hardwood.

  • NLSC 2K Pro-Am team member Valor has been running with an expansion franchise – the Chicago Sharks – in NBA 2K17. Currently in the second season, they’ve been able to make some noteworthy free agent signings.
  • Speaking of NBA 2K17 stories, Phil89 is running one titled “Enter the Dragan“. It features the Phoenix Suns, who are currently squaring off with the Chicago Bulls in the 2019 NBA Finals.
  • A rather unique NBA 2K14 story is being told by truefaith0826. Set in the 1996 season using a combination of Ultimate Base Roster and U R Basketball assets, it features some fantastic presentation including video recaps and artwork from NBA Live 96.
  • Speaking of throwback stories, Kevin is running an NBA 2K17 story currently set in the 1997 season. Notably, he’s using an expansion team: the Montreal Hyenas.
  • Jumping over to NBA Live 06, Breems is attempting to re-write history with the 2006 Washington Wizards. The story already features a noteworthy trade, and is approaching the All-Star Weekend.
  • We’ve seen some great NBA Live 10 stories over the years, and cavs4872 is looking to recapture that with a new tale featuring the Houston Rockets. A couple of offseason moves have been reversed, and Allen Iverson has ended up in an unexpected destination.
  • Contributor Dee4Three has taken a fantasy approach to an NBA 2K17 story, pitting historical teams against each other with injuries disabled. It’s resulting in some interesting match-ups to say the least.

With NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 on the horizon, I hope that we can see further activity in our Stories section. As our interviews with various members of the community hopefully demonstrate, a lot of people have had fun sharing their franchise and career experiences with their fellow basketball gamers over the years, and it’d be great to see that trend return.

Whether it’s through written recaps or video content, franchise or career modes, a new game or old, I invite everyone to join in the fun! In the meantime, be sure to check out the aforementioned stories, the other active topics, and of course, the Story Hall of Fame for both NBA Live and NBA 2K.

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Monday Tip-Off: Time to Close the Book on MyCAREER Stories

Proving Ground Characters in MyCAREER (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 my take on the future of MyCAREER stories, which is basically that it’s time for them to end.

I know, I know. I’ve talked about MyCAREER stories a lot. I’ve made my position on them very clear since they made their debut in NBA 2K14. However, we’re now five years into the story-driven approach in MyCAREER. Not only can we rank the stories in a Top 5, at this point we’ve also had ample time to evaluate the approach so far, and consider how it should be handled moving forward. It’s fair to ask whether or not a story is necessary or wanted in MyCAREER, and if it is, what can be done to continue to innovate in future iterations of NBA 2K.

As you might expect, my suggestion is that a new approach is needed, but I’d like to explain my reasons beyond a simple distaste for the narratives we’ve experienced so far. This is intended to be a constructive piece that offers ideas and solutions, rather than just bashing an aspect of NBA 2K that I don’t particularly like. My dislike of the stories themselves is a factor, but if the goal is to innovate and offer new experiences, then MyCAREER stories could actually be getting in the way of that. While it would be possible to steer them in a new and more innovative direction, I do believe that it’s time to close the book on MyCAREER stories.

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The Friday Five: 5 Filmmakers Who Should Write MyCAREER Stories

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 just-for-fun list of five filmmakers whose styles could make for some rather unique MyCAREER stories.

Ah, MyCAREER stories. While I’ve gone on record several times saying that I’m not a big fan of the concept, I also believe there’s a way that they could be done better in future games. Basically, it comes down to having more story branching options, and perhaps even a couple of different starting points. A wider variety of dialogue options and meaningful choices would really enhance the role playing aspect of MyCAREER, as well as provide an opportunity for everyone to have a more unique experience. If there’s going to be a story, let the gameplay drive it, and simply use the cutscenes and other elements as added flavour.

The underlying narrative and its characters should also be solid. In that respect, NBA 2K18’s MyCAREER mode has been, to be blunt, a big disappointment. From the somewhat absurd background of DJ to the multitude of annoying and unlikeable characters (again, looking at you, B Fresh), this year’s story has been grating. It’s felt like a step backwards from NBA 2K17, which was written and directed by Creed‘s Aaron Covington. Bringing in a Hollywood screenwriter again might help in NBA 2K19 and beyond, but who should Visual Concepts work with? Just for fun, here are five filmmakers whose take on MyCAREER might be interesting to say the least.

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The Friday Five: 5 More MyCAREER Story Theories

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. In this week’s Five, I’m offering up some more theories and alternative interpretations for the stories in MyCAREER.

It’s time once again to indulge in a bit of creative writing and fun speculation! Last November, I wrote a Friday Five that took the stories that NBA 2K has implemented in MyCAREER, and twisted them around with some theories and interpretations that somewhat altered their tone. It’s still one of my favourite articles that I’ve written, as reimagining the MyCAREER stories in a darker or more dramatic light turned out to be a fun exercise. NBA 2K18 has provided us with another story to pick apart, and I have a few more ideas, so it seems like an opportune time for a follow-up article.

Once again, I do have to stress that I don’t actually believe these interpretations and theories, even though I do feel that a couple of them actually fit quite well. In fact, if you told me that the first theory was indeed intentional and what’s actually going on, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised. This is all meant to be in fun though, so don’t take it too seriously. With that being said, you may find that a couple of these theories make a little too much sense. At the very least, I hope it’ll be an amusing read to take you into the weekend. Let’s once again go tumbling down the rabbit hole; tinfoil hats are of course welcome, but completely optional.

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