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The Friday Five: 5 Reasons to Love Generated Rookies

The Friday Five: 5 Reasons to Love Generated Rookies

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 reasons to love generated rookies in franchise and career modes.

When multi-season franchise modes were introduced, the annual Draft was naturally an aspect of the league that needed to be replicated. Since college players couldn’t be licensed, the solution was to have generated rookies; fictional Draftees that the game would automatically create using randomised names and appearances (or in a few NBA Lives, pre-made faces). It was a good solution, but from the very beginning, we sought to replace generated rookies with real prospects. We found ways of doing so through modding, and eventually NBA 2K introduced in-game Draft Class editing.

The ability to edit Draft Classes was an important and most welcome addition to the array of customisation options in NBA 2K. To that end, it should absolutely remain a staple of NBA 2K’s in-game roster editing tools. However, there’s something special about generated rookies. In my opinion, they can be just as fun, and sometimes even more fun, than injecting real future Draftees into your game. Judging by some of the responses I’ve had on Twitter when discussing Terry Hanson, I’m not alone there! If you’re wondering what’s so special about generated rookies, and why anyone might prefer them to real prospects, here are five reasons to love those fictional players.

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The Friday Five: 5 Retro Modding Ideas

The Friday Five: 5 Retro Modding Ideas

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 suggestions for retro modding projects.

As the stigma fades and retro basketball gaming increases in popularity, inevitably we start thinking about modding as well. After all, classic games are a blast to revisit as-is, but mods can breathe new life into them, too. Many of the modding tools are still available for retro basketball games, along with resources and archived mods to learn techniques from (or indeed, build upon). Even with the limitations of older titles, we’re capable of creating some outstanding mods that will facilitate new experiences on the virtual hardwood.

Needless to say, there are some challenges to overcome here. The audience is smaller, so anyone engaging in retro modding will be toiling on projects that are seen and used by fewer people. To that end, there are also fewer active modders for retro games, so some of the more ambitious projects may not have the level of detail we’d like, or be truly viable. Major roster mods in particular may need to use placeholder artwork, or whatever assets are available. That shouldn’t stop us from looking into retro modding, however. There’s always lingering interest in seeing new updates for old favourites, and there are plenty of retro modding ideas that we can and should at least consider.

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The Friday Five: 5 Players In More Video Games Than NBA Games Played (Part 6)

The Friday Five: 5 Players In More Video Games Than NBA Games Played (Part 6)

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 Part 6 in an ongoing series listing players that appeared in more video games than actual NBA games.

When it comes to trivia like this, I’m always concerned about running the topic into the ground. I always want my features to be fresh and interesting, and going back to a particular subject does invite repetition, while potentially appearing to be lacking in imagination. At the same time, I want to be thorough, covering all of the relevant and interesting examples. It’s why I’ve repurposed some topics that I originally planned as Friday Five series into longer lists for Wayback Wednesday. Since this one goes back a few years and has five instalments already, I figured I’d keep the ball rolling.

Meta musings about my “process” aside, I do have another five examples of players who appeared in more video games than NBA games. It’s not an unprecedented phenomenon – obviously, since we’re up to Part 6 – but it’s still somewhat unusual. You’d expect there to be more examples of players who made the NBA yet were left out of games, but that’s become rarer thanks to official roster updates. Alternatively, you might expect players who fall just short of officially debuting in the NBA to be absent from video games entirely. When the timing is right though, those players get to play on the virtual hardwood, while having some interesting stories in real life.

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The Friday Five: 5 Players Who Only Appeared on Certain Teams in Games (Part 4)

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 Part 4 in an ongoing series where I look at players who only appeared on certain teams in video games.

It’s time for some more video game roster trivia! As I’m so fond of saying, old NBA video games are like interactive almanacs, capturing snapshots of the league at the time of their release (or indeed, their most recent roster update). Revisiting those titles reminds us of players who became familiar faces in strange places, as well as those who later returned to familiar places. We can see comebacks that were over before they began, as well as odd situations such as Michael Redd’s appearance on the Dallas Mavericks in NBA Live 2003 PC.

Those are the stints I’m taking about again today: the players that only appeared on certain teams in video games. There are several reasons why this happens, from an offseason acquisition that was cut in between the rosters being finalised and the real season tipping off, to injuries resulting in a stint that only occurs on paper and the virtual hardwood. Unless you have an encyclopaedic knowledge of trades and free agent signings over the years, it may not be until you dust off an old game that you remember a player only technically appearing on a roster. Of course, you may not be a crazy collector of old games like I am, so allow me to provide some more examples!

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The Friday Five: 5 Things That I Carelessly Lost

The Friday Five: 5 Things That I Carelessly Lost

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 things – namely saves or other data and content – that I carelessly lost in various games.

You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. It’s an old adage that’s been lamented in the music of Joni Mitchell and the band Cinderella alike. The sentiment usually refers to more important things in life than video games, but since that’s what we cover around these parts, I’ll appropriate it for this occasion. After all, while I think we can and should acknowledge that other losses are far more significant in the grand scheme of things, it’s still a bummer when we lose save files, data, and other content in video games. Life goes on, but it sucks to have all that progress go up in smoke.

It’s bad enough when it occurs due to a glitch in a game, but at least you can turn your anger and frustration outwards towards the developers and publisher. When you’ve carelessly done something that’s resulted in your progress being lost, it’s tougher to shift the blame onto somebody else! Even if there’s something clunky in the game that’s partly to blame, you’re stuck with the knowledge that it could’ve been avoided if you were just the teeniest bit more careful. The times when I’ve been careless with my save files are undoubtedly among my biggest regrets as far as basketball gaming is concerned. Here are five things that I’ve lost due to a lack of care and foresight.

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The Friday Five: 5 Events That Shake Your Confidence in a Game

The Friday Five: 5 Events That Shake Your Confidence in a Game

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 events that will shake your confidence in a forthcoming basketball game.

Although we can sometimes seem like a cynical bunch, I believe that a majority of basketball gamers do want to see a great new game every year. Sure, there’s a certain catharsis in a smug “I told you so”, but when it comes down to it, I expect most of us want to at least be satisfied with, if not blown away by, the latest release. It’s wise to keep our expectations realistic, and not get our hearts set on something that hasn’t been promised. At the same time, we can still be optimistic without getting carried away, or ignoring troubling signs.

To that point though, there are warning signs that we must pay attention to. These are the events that shake our confidence in a game, and for good reason. While it’s easy to jump to conclusions, there are recognisable patterns and red flags when it comes to the development of basketball video games. The longer you play them, and the more preview seasons that you experience, the better you get at recognising those signs. Also, while social media giving us access to the devs has been great for feedback, it can also leave us concerned about the people responsible for our favourite games. One way or another, these events will shake our confidence, and dampen our enthusiasm.

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The Friday Five: 5 Frustrating Restrictions in Basketball Games

The Friday Five: 5 Frustrating Restrictions in Basketball Games

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 frustrating restrictions that we’ve encountered in various basketball video games.

There are obviously going to be restrictions in basketball video games, some of which we’ll find frustrating. In some cases, those restrictions are due to technical limitations. Others are design choices, and those are the ones that we find more bothersome, as we know it didn’t necessarily have to be that way. In all fairness though, these restrictions can sometimes be for the best. If not for some of them, games would be unbalanced and far less enjoyable. When cleverly implemented, restrictions can prevent exploits and ensure that games are challenging, without ruining the fun.

Striving for realism in sim games also results in restrictions that can be frustrating, but ultimately in an enjoyable way, since they reflect obstacles that teams and players do actually face in real life. To that point though, we’re bound to grumble when we’re restricted in a way that doesn’t accurately represent an NBA rule. As for frustrating restrictions that are simply design choices, there have been some over the years that just haven’t been good ideas. Alternatively, they’re good and sensible ideas in theory, but were poorly executed. Some of those restrictions are recent or rare, but others are recurring issues that we’ve been encountering in basketball games for generations.

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The Friday Five: 5 Franchise & Season Games I Wish I’d Finished

The Friday Five: 5 Franchise & Season Games I Wish I'd Finished

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 franchise and season games over the years that I wish I’d been able to finish.

As I’ve said in a previous article, completion is what you make it in basketball video games. In other words, you don’t necessarily have to finish a season in franchise and career modes, collect every card in team building modes, or unlock all of the Trophies or Achievements, just to feel a sense of completion and closure. If you’ve enjoyed a basketball video game and felt like you got your money’s worth, that’s what matters at the end of the day. Of course, there is something special about playing through an entire season from start to finish, hence my kick with NBA 2K14 MyCAREER.

I’ve finished seasons in a number of basketball video games over the years, and they’ve become some of my most treasured virtual hardwood memories. It’s always felt incredibly rewarding, as I prefer to play every game on twelve minute quarters. Due to that preference though, there are some franchise and season games that I didn’t play through to their conclusion, having run out of time before the release of a new title. With that in mind, they’d make excellent retro gaming opportunities, which I’m obviously quite open to. Unfortunately their save files are long gone, meaning that these old franchise and season mode games can never be revisited and finished.

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The Friday Five: 5 Reasons NBA Jam: On Fire Edition is the Best Jam Game

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 reasons that I rank NBA Jam: On Fire Edition as the best release in the NBA Jam series.

We really need another NBA Jam game. I know there were gamers that skipped the NBA Jam games by EA Sports, either because they were burned by previous non-Midway Jam titles, they didn’t trust or want to support EA, or a mixture of both. I understand having that stance, but frankly, you missed out on a couple of really good NBA Jam games! They were faithful to the originals, while also bringing something new to the table. It’s because of this that NBA Jam: On Fire Edition remains my pick for the best NBA Jam game to date.

I know that’s a big claim to make, especially when the original NBA Jam still holds up today. Tournament Edition was a fantastic follow-up to that, and though Midway lost the Jam moniker, NBA Hangtime was a worthy sequel to TE. NBA Showtime: NBA on NBC and NBA Hoopz were also fine games in Midway’s branch of the lineage; Acclaim’s titles, not so much. In short, there is some stiff competition for NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, yet I do believe that it stands above the rest. While EA were struggling with NBA Live by the early 2010s, they made great use of the NBA Jam license, creating the definitive Jam experience with NBA Jam: On Fire Edition.

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The Friday Five: 5 Cover Players That Won Titles The Same Year

The Friday Five: 5 Cover Players That Won Titles The Same Year

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 cover players that won NBA titles in the same season their game came out.

Last week, I listed five players who graced video game covers in the same year that they made the NBA Finals. More specifically, I was referring to players who made the Finals, but were ultimately the runners-up. Obviously, cover players who won titles while being the face of a game technically qualify as examples for last week’s list as well. However, I did want to draw a distinction between the cover players who “only” made it to the Finals that same year, and those who actually won titles. While both are accomplishments and interesting trivia, the latter is naturally rather more special.

To that end, the number of cover players that won titles in the same year is smaller than the already select group of names who made the Finals while being the face of NBA Live, NBA 2K, or another title. As I noted last week, publishers like EA and 2K are no doubt more interested in a player’s popularity and marketability than whether they’ll be in the Finals, or NBA Champions. I have no doubt that they’re happy when it does occur, but given that it’s a gamble even if they ink a deal with a player from a contender, it’s a bonus boost to the brand at the end of the day. NBA Champion cover players are something that a handful of titles can boast however, including these five.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways Your Turnovers Are Inflated

The Friday Five: 5 Ways Your Turnovers Are Inflated

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 ways that your turnovers will be inflated in basketball video games.

In an era where stat-padding is encouraged – in real life and on the virtual hardwood – the turnovers column is one that you don’t want to fill. They indicate ballhandling blunders, and only serve to help the other team; especially live ball turnovers! Of course, a perfect game is easier said than done, as mistakes will happen. If you look at some of the best playmakers throughout NBA history, you’ll see that their turnovers are often high. The downside of handling the ball so often is that you will be targeted by master thieves, and you’ll have more passes to be intercepted or mishandled.

Turnovers in sim basketball games generally reflect the ways that players cough up the ball in real life, but the numbers can be inflated. The goal of representing real life mistakes can lead to contrived situations where the ability to keep control of the ball and make smart decisions is taken out of the user’s hands. In the worst case scenario, this leads to losses when the game decides that despite doing everything correctly, the user will commit a costly turnover at an inopportune moment. If nothing else, it will lead to inflated numbers that don’t quite tell the truth about a gamer’s ability to take care of the rock. Here are five ways that your turnovers are bound to be inflated.

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The Friday Five: 5 Reasons NBA Live Flopped on PS4/X1

The Friday Five: 5 Reasons NBA Live Flopped on PS4/X1

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 examines the five main reasons that NBA Live flopped on the PS4/X1, aka the eighth generation consoles.

Unlike certain content creators and other haters in the basketball gaming community, I don’t delight at NBA Live’s shortcomings, or gleefully dance on its grave. While NBA 2K has provided many of us with hours upon hours of entertainment on the virtual hardwood and blacktop, we’ve also seen the drawbacks that come with a lack of competition in the genre. If you’re a fan of football games – NFL, that is – you’ve known the pain of not having alternatives even longer than basketball gamers. Even if the lone game is satisfactory, the lack of choice still stings.

Of course, it’s not quite the same situation. Madden’s monopoly comes from EA Sports having the clout and money to secure an exclusive contract when the NFL were offering it. NBA 2K’s monopoly, meanwhile, has been solidified by EA’s inability to produce a viable alternative. We’re more than a decade removed from NBA Live being the top-selling basketball game, and longer still from when it was easily the gold standard in the genre. Its attempts to rebuild during the PS4/X1 generation were largely disappointing, and have left the series in a tenuous position. These five factors are the chief reasons that those NBA Live games flopped.

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The Friday Five: 5 Retro Teams I’d Like To See in NBA 2K (Part 13)

The Friday Five: 5 Retro Teams I'd Like To See in NBA 2K (Part 13)

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 part thirteen in a series discussing retro teams that I’d like to see added to NBA 2K.

This isn’t the first time I’ve revisited the topic of retro teams that I’d like to see in NBA 2K in back-to-back weeks. Although I do like to spread out sequel articles in the name of variety, sometimes I’ll stick with a topic if the next part is in the can, and it still feels relevant. Parts eight to eleven of this series came out in consecutive weeks back in 2019, and as I mentioned in part twelve, I’ve already shelved the topic for so long that I needed to take new screenshots from the latest game. Also, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to post the thirteenth instalment of the series on Friday the 13th!

With that being said, let’s get into the next five retro teams that I’d be in favour of the developers adding in future NBA 2K games. Actually, I’m cheating and suggesting six teams in a list of five, but you’ll see why when you get there. As I’ve previously noted, since 2K has ventured beyond the parameters of iconic teams, such as former champions, their opponents, and other perennial powerhouses, my lists have likewise explored some more unorthodox choices. My aim is to suggest teams that are fun to play with, historically significant in some way, and would allow for some handy new assets to be included for modding projects. I believe these five – uh, six – fit the bill.

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The Friday Five: 5 Retro Teams I’d Like To See in NBA 2K (Part 12)

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 part twelve in a series discussing retro teams that I’d like to see added to NBA 2K.

This is one of my longest-running series of Friday Five articles, yet somehow, I haven’t posted a new instalment since 2019! It’s not that I haven’t had any ideas for retro teams that I’d like to see added to NBA 2K, either. In fact, I had ten further suggestions when I posted Part 11 in this series, all ready to be written about. I even had screenshots prepared for those articles. Indeed, the series has been on the shelf for so long while I discuss other topics here in The Friday Five, that it only felt right to get brand new screenshots using a newer game!

With that out of the way, what other retro teams could I possibly suggest that haven’t been mentioned already? Obviously I’ve covered a lot of ground so far, and a few of the teams I suggested in earlier instalments have actually been included since. I’m not claiming credit here, but since I was genuinely keen to see those retro teams be added to the games, I’m pleased that it happened! Once again, I’ve been delving into some unorthodox suggestions, since 2K already made the wise decision to expand beyond conventional choices of champions, their opponents, and other celebrated squads. Without any further ado, here are five more retro teams that’d I’d really like to see.

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The Friday Five: 5 Tips & Tricks You May Not Remember

The Friday Five: 5 Tips & Tricks You May Not Remember

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 basketball gaming tips and tricks that you may not remember.

To state the obvious, success in basketball games comes from employing basketball strategies; at least to some extent. Older games have more primitive mechanics, arcade titles facilitated strategies that wouldn’t work in sim games (or real life, for that matter), and even newer releases aren’t entirely free of exploits. Still, then and now, most tips and tricks for basketball games adhered to concepts that also applied to real hoops: take the open shot, pound the ball inside for higher percentage looks and to draw fouls, position yourself properly, take advantages of mismatches, and so on.

Those are all important points to remember, and they generally apply to all basketball games, new and old. Of course, because they are video games at the end of the day, there are predictable moments and useful tricks that are more “video game tactics” than “basketball strategies”. Outside of exploits such as Curry slides and zigzag cheese, these have become less common as games have become more sophisticated. Trying to play old games with a realistic approach that’s more suited to modern titles can work, but you’ll have more success if you use some antiquated tips and tricks. Here are five examples of such strategies, some of which you may have forgotten.

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