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NLSC Podcast #371: Hold The Guacamole

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Episode #371 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.

We’ve both caught the modding bug, but one of us has been far more motivated and productive than the other. Of course, that doesn’t stop us from making lofty plans for roster projects! A recent Tweet by the EA Playtesting account offers a glimmer of hope for the future of NBA Live, though we’re wary about reading too much into it. Meanwhile, polls on Twitter and Reddit have made it clear how the community feels about the prospect of shot aiming in NBA 2K22…and invited toxic responses from the online elitists. In this week’s mailbag, we’re reminiscing about ESPN NBA 2K5 and NBA Live 2005, and discussing the idea of MyTEAM being released as a standalone game.

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.

Monday Tip-Off: Ready (To Not Be) Player One

Monday Tip-Off: Ready (To Not Be) Player One

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 more thoughts on the online scene in NBA 2K. Specifically, in order to improve the quality of play, gamers must be ready to not be Player One.

I’m fortunate in that I’m not completely reliant on the online scene to enjoy basketball video games. I grew up gaming in a time before online play was common – or for that matter, possible – on the virtual hardwood. Dynasty was my mode of choice in NBA Live, and I’ve also racked up many hours playing single player MyCAREER in NBA 2K. I’m therefore able to enjoy the offline experience, which is vital given that the online scene in NBA 2K has a myriad of problems, ranging from technical issues and design flaws to toxic attitudes and a sloppy style of play.

At the same time, while I find it easy to eschew the online scene, I would prefer it to be better than it is. Obviously I’d like to jump in on occasion, having developed an appreciation for it over the past generation. Even if I’m not partaking in it myself, I’d still like to see the scene thrive and be the best possible experience for those who are playing it; especially gamers who play exclusively online. I’ve previously discussed vital changes that the developers need to implement, such as proper matchmaking. Today however, I want to focus on the problem of how so many gamers aren’t ready to drop their Player One mentality online, and how that could possibly be remedied.

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Monday Tip-Off: Current Gen Rec vs Next Gen Rec

Monday Tip-Off: Current Gen Rec vs Next Gen Rec

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 comparison of my experiences playing Rec games in the Current Gen and Next Gen versions of NBA 2K21.

Back in December last year, I declared that The Rec in NBA 2K21 was garbage. I stand by that opinion, and the conclusions I drew about who we should blame for the current state of the mode. In short, blame can be attributed to toxic attitudes within the basketball gaming community, but Visual Concepts themselves share responsibility given how the online scene panders to elitism and focuses on pushy recurrent revenue mechanics. The Rec went from being a hit-and-miss experience that could be quite fun at the best of times, to an absolute nightmare.

And so, I gave up on it. It was a healthy decision, especially since I wanted to move away from MyCAREER and its connected experiences. As unfortunate as it was that it took all the fun being sucked out of the mode to break my habit, it did at least prove to be adequate incentive. Of course, I did still dabble with MyCAREER in NBA 2K21 Next Gen in order to play through the story and earn a Trophy, with a view to playing the occasional online game. If nothing else, I was curious to see if anything would change, and wanted to keep tabs on the scene in order to advocate for improvements. With that being said, what is The Rec like on Next Gen compared to Current Gen?

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NLSC Podcast #367: Courting Controversy

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Episode #367 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.

The surprising quality of Garfield Kart (of all things) leads us to consider how to make a good rip-off, and where so many NBA Jam clones have come up short. However, our main topic this week is controversial and unpopular basketball gaming opinions. We share a few of our own potentially divisive takes, and react to the fantastic responses we received on Twitter when we invited our followers to share theirs. As it turns out, some opinions may be more popular than some people think! Additionally, we touch on how people are discouraged from sharing unpopular opinions – or just opinions in general – particularly valid criticism. In this week’s mailbag, we return to the question of when releases should and likely will end for Current Gen.

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.

NLSC Podcast #366: A Lifetime On The Virtual Hardwood

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Episode #366 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 recent modding disaster inspires us to reflect on some of our past follies, and the need to adopt good modding practices. In particular, we note the appeal of a fresh start, and how it distracts us from what’s already on the workbench. Our main discussion topic this week is something we’ve been thinking about for a while: the stigma against older basketball gamers, and adult gamers in general. We discuss the issue of age-appropriate hobbies, the benefits of gaming regardless of age, and how long we see ourselves hitting the virtual hardwood. In this week’s mailbag, we’re talking about putting the fun back into the sim titles, and an interesting scenario regarding the three-point line.

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.

Monday Tip-Off: Are Short Quarters The Standard?

Monday Tip-Off: Are Short Quarters The Standard?

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 games being designed around playing on short quarters rather than the regulation length of 12 minutes.

Playing on 12 minute quarters rather than shorter settings has been a point of pride for me over the years. Well, pride may be too strong of a word – it’s not really any kind of accomplishment, after all – but I always felt fulfilled when I could play through a full 82 game season with regulation quarter lengths. The downside is that even in my favourite franchise experiences, I usually didn’t play more than a couple of seasons unless I resorted to simulating. As I’ve grown older and gained new responsibilities, I’ve had to make peace with the idea of simming games.

It’s been harder to warm up to the idea of playing on short quarters, though. It just doesn’t feel right; it’s not “sim”. If nothing else, I don’t like that the minutes per game averages for my team don’t line up with the rest of the league. The addition of an accelerated clock in various NBA Live titles over the past generation, as well as the ability to normalise stats in NBA 2K’s franchise modes, has provided a solution here. Of course, in MyCAREER, longer quarters allow for more Badge progress in short order, and there’s no normalisation option for stats. Caring too much about that does seem like folly however, as it feels like games are designed for short quarters.

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Monday Tip-Off: Less Online, And I Feel Fine

Monday Tip-Off: Less Online, And I Feel Fine

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 generally avoiding the online scene in NBA 2K21 has led to a more positive experience.

Don’t get me wrong; NBA 2K21 has its issues on Current Gen and Next Gen, though especially the former. It has its frustrating moments, and that’s when I usually end up putting it aside. However, I have honestly been enjoying the Next Gen version enough to want to play it regularly. Beyond a handful of improvements and appealing content, the main reason I’m having a better time on the virtual hardwood as of late is that for the most part, I’m not playing online. That means no more organising online sessions, or jumping into The Rec to play with randoms.

That’s not to say that I’m completely eschewing the online scene. MyTEAM’s Agenda does steer me in that direction in the quest to gain XP and level up, but other than that, I don’t go out of my way to play online. Again, there are some frustrations that you will encounter because of the legacy issues in NBA 2K21, but by avoiding online play, I’m at least dodging the ones that are user-driven and self-inflicted. It’s felt so refreshing to dive into other experiences, especially ones that I haven’t had enough time for in previous games thanks to MyCAREER and its connected modes. Of course, while I do feel fine about my recent gaming habits, it’s also unfortunate.

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Monday Tip-Off: “It’s Business” Is Not An Excuse

Monday Tip-Off: "It's Business" Is Not An Excuse

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 rebuttal to the idea that the fact developing video games is a business is somehow an excuse for lousy practices.

Video game development is a business. There is a business side to the creation of video games that, to the companies developing and publishing them, is just as crucial as the artistic side. There, I admitted it. In fact, I never denied it. If a business doesn’t turn a profit, it doesn’t keep operating for very long. If a product isn’t profitable, it’s going to have a very short shelf life. This is basic economics, so even when we’re grumbling about questionable practices regarding design and recurrent revenue mechanics, we understand that video game developers need to make money. But

But, there are good ways and bad ways to do business, even when it comes to the often downright predatory and exploitative practice of microtransactions. The goal of turning a profit does not excuse issues with the product itself. There is nothing wrong with expecting value for money and satisfaction with your purchase, and speaking out when you feel that a product has failed to deliver in that regard. When the pursuit of profits – especially through recurrent revenue mechanics – actively interferes with the quality of a product, it’s fair to criticise developers for compromising the experience. Saying “it’s business” is no excuse for design choices that are anti-consumer.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Reddit Post That Tried to Warn Us

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 reflections on a Reddit post that tried to warn us about some looming issues with the direction of the NBA 2K series.

There’s a Reddit post that I’ve mentioned and linked to in quite a few articles since it was made in the official NBA 2K subreddit back in 2018. That post was titled “The ‘MMO-ification’ of NBA2K and the perils of ignoring player retention: Thoughts from a former MMO developer“, and it was very well-received. After all, this wasn’t just a random gamer speaking out in frustration, or even a prominent content creator or pundit. This was someone who worked in video game development, and saw first-hand how certain approaches affected both gamer enjoyment, and a game’s success.

The criticisms this former EVE Online developer made were astute, and they were on the money about it only being the beginning. Their post touched on matters that many reviewers, and even content creators and community leaders, tend to ignore. It spoke about design philosophies – matters beyond tech and specific game features – that were responsible for problems in the games, and painted a worrying picture for the future. Today, I’m revisiting that Reddit post, and picking out some relevant quotes that identify problems that were troubling in NBA 2K18, and have remained so in its successors. As you’ll see, the insights of that Reddit post were almost prophetic.

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NBA 2K19 Servers Shutting Down December 31st

NBA 2K19 Servers Shutting Down December 31st

As per the official 2K Support Twitter account, the NBA 2K19 servers will be shut down on December 31st, 2020. After that point, all online content will be unavailable. This includes Play Now Online, MyTEAM, and the entirety of MyCAREER and its connected modes. Any Virtual Currency and MT you have will also be lost, and in-game roster sharing will no longer be possible.

This falls in line with 2K’s policy of providing online support for 27 months, adopted after the NBA 2K14 server shutdown resulted in controversy. Interestingly, the NBA 2K18 servers were kept online for an additional three weeks, before being shut down earlier this year on January 18th.

Since December 31st is only a little over a week away, I’d advise you to wrap up any business before the NBA 2K19 servers are gone. This includes aiming for any Trophies/Achievements in the online modes, completing a season in MyCAREER, and playing with your favourite MyTEAM cards. With roster sharing also disappearing once the servers are gone, I’d also recommend that you download any rosters you want while you still can. This includes projects such as the Classic Seasons rosters by Stildo33 and company.

Thanks to sticky-fingers for the heads up in the Forum!

NLSC Podcast #354: 2K Giveth, & 2K Taketh Away

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Episode #354 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

Where can you learn about the differences between versions of Tecmo Super NBA Basketball? Our podcast, that’s where! Patch 1.03 for NBA 2K21 Next Gen is also out, and it’s full of fixes and gameplay tweaks. There are minimal differences, but as we note, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The impending shutdown of the NBA 2K19 servers leads to a discussion about lost features, old games still being sold at full price, and a huge opportunity for 2K to generate goodwill. In this week’s mailbag, we’re talking bad ratings, not feeling like we’re in control in newer 2K titles, and our non-basketball gaming habits.

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 mailbag questions and topic suggestions for 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 Next Gen Patch 1.03 Now Available

NBA 2K21 Next Gen Patch 1.03

Patch 1.03 for NBA 2K21 Next Gen is now available, and it’s considerably larger than the last update for Current Gen! As with other official patches, it should come through automatically as long as your PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/S is online. If it doesn’t, try restarting your console, or checking for updates manually.

On top of updates to courts, jerseys, and player likenesses, Patch 1.03 for NBA 2K21 Next Gen includes several fixes and gameplay tweaks. Charge and block animations have been tightened up to minimise sliding, and CPU defenders now recognise the direction of a flipped screen. Green Release windows are now smaller on heavily contested shots, and an exploit with double teams has been fixed.

An assortment of bugs have also been resolved in MyNBA and other modes. The City has been updated with a holiday theme, which includes new jerseys in The Rec. Check out all of the patch notes below, as well as here in our Wiki. Feel free to share any thoughts in the comments, and join in the discussion here in the Forum.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Rec Is Garbage, But Who’s To Blame?

Monday Tip-Off: The Rec Is Garbage, But Who's To Blame?

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 who’s to blame for The Rec being utter garbage in NBA 2K21, and how – or if – the problems can be fixed.

I have to blunt: The Rec is absolutely woeful this year. Walk-On play has always been a hit-and-miss alternative to team Pro-Am, owing to the all the issues that arise when you play with randoms. It’s been particularly toxic and unenjoyable in NBA 2K21, though. Admittedly, I can only speak to my experiences playing on the Australasian server, and I’ve yet to create a MyPLAYER on Next Gen and jump online. The scene may be a lot better on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, at least in North America. It’d be a low bar to clear, as the mode seems to have hit rock bottom.

While the issues are familiar, the continued decline of The Rec – and it’s felt like it’s grown even worse since NBA 2K21 Current Gen’s launch – raises a few questions. The two most pertinent are “who’s to blame”, and “how can it be fixed”. As you might imagine, the first issue has a significant impact on the second. The answer is quite complicated, and that naturally means the solution isn’t easy either. Still, I’ve been thinking about this a lot in recent weeks. While I am taking a moment to grumble here, I want to turn that into something constructive. If we as a community can identify these issues and suggest solutions, perhaps we can help improve the scene.

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NLSC Podcast #353: Online Gaming Isn’t Everything

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Episode #353 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

With the quality of play in The Rec hitting rock bottom, one of us has made a very healthy decision to walk away from the online scene. On that note, leaked internal documents from Sony suggest that online gaming hasn’t destroyed the single player or local multiplayer experience. This is certainly good news for modes such as MyNBA, and the single player portions of MyCAREER and MyTEAM. Recent events also prompt us to discuss proper etiquette for modders and content creators alike. Our featured discussion this week is all about further NBA 2K21 Next Gen impressions, as we break down our three favourite and three least favourite aspects of the game. In this week’s mailbag, we talk about wishlists for this generation, and memories of basketball gaming in the holiday season.

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 mailbag questions and topic suggestions for 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: Annual Rituals & Goals in NBA 2K

Monday Tip-Off: Annual Rituals & Goals in NBA 2K

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 reflections on my annual rituals and goals in NBA 2K games.

I buy NBA 2K every year. In fact, throughout this past generation, I’ve double-dipped with copies for PC (for mods) and PlayStation 4 (for online play). I suppose that makes me a part of the problem as far as supporting the game despite having gripes with it, but in my defense, I’m both a collector and a content creator. Without at least one copy of the game, it’s difficult to provide coverage post-release. I know this all too well, having covered NCAA Basketball 10 throughout its preview season, and then not at all afterwards because I couldn’t import the game (I since have for PS3).

It’s also my aim to enjoy the game every year, and with the NBA Live series being rather underwhelming or completely absent from the basketball gaming space for much of the past decade, I’ve been getting my virtual hoops fix from NBA 2K. As such, there are a few rituals I engage in, and goals that I strive for, in each new NBA 2K title. In some respects, it’s probably made it difficult to break some of the habits I’ve formed, especially in MyCAREER. On the other hand, it always provides me with some baseline goals from which I can derive a sense of accomplishment, as well as completion. If I manage to attain these goals, I feel like I’ve got my money’s worth.

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