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Monday Tip-Off: Who Put Basketball In This NBA Game?!?

Monday Tip-Off: Who Put Basketball In This NBA Game?!?

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on people who dismiss the importance of realistically depicting basketball in an NBA game.

A few years back, I wrote an article questioning whether basketball gamers were still simheads. It’s one of those topics that I always want to approach carefully, so as not to fall victim to the same gatekeeping nonsense that I despise. While some games are for the “strictly hardcore” crowd, most genres should be welcoming to everyone. That doesn’t mean they can’t have a learning curve and competitive play, but they should be accessible to newcomers, and fun for all. Furthermore, it’s vital that a game like NBA 2K is able to cater to different tastes, within reason.

However, we’ve reached the stage where prominent voices in the community – and their fanbases – are actively pushing back on the realistic depiction of basketball in an NBA game. As someone who has been playing hoops games for decades and seen the rise of NBA 2K and the fall of NBA Live owing to their respective abilities to deliver sim titles that are both fun and realistic, it’s dismaying to see some truly terrible takes receive the amount of support that they do. The notion that an NBA sim game doesn’t need to strive for any sort of realism or basketball strategy is absurd. It speaks to the downside of NBA 2K’s broadening popularity, and catering to a wider audience.

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NLSC Podcast #445: Is NBA 2K23 The Greediest 2K Ever?

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #445 of the NLSC Podcast!

The greediness and pushiness of microtransactions in NBA 2K23 is under fire this past week, as the honeymoon period with the game appears to be drawing to a close. We’re certainly inclined to agree with that critique, though it’s disheartening to see people shilling and shouting down valid criticism. While we’re still enjoying NBA 2K23, there are concerning issues from gameplay balance online, to the expense of MyTEAM packs and upgrades in MyCAREER. Meanwhile, the quickness in patching a happy accident with MyNBA Eras rosters while leaving other issues untouched highlights a continued lack of goodwill. We also recall a cool feature in the Japanese-exclusive NBA Starting Five 2005, and open up the mailbag to get the community’s thoughts on the approach to VC in NBA 2K23, as well as find out what they’ve been playing so far.

To get involved with the mailbag or to provide any feedback on the show, hit us up in the comments, reach out on social media, or post here in the NLSC Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. You can also find the show on our YouTube channel, along with the rest of our video content. As always, thanks for tuning in, and go get buckets!

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

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

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

To get involved with the mailbag or to provide any feedback on the show, hit us up in the comments, reach out on social media, or post here in the NLSC Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. You can also find the show on our YouTube channel, along with the rest of our video content. As always, thanks for tuning in, and go get buckets!

Monday Tip-Off: Bringing Online Team Play to NBA MyCAREER

Monday Tip-Off: Bringing Online Team Play to NBA MyCAREER

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with an out-of-the-box suggestion for the NBA side of MyCAREER: online team play.

When MyCAREER in NBA 2K17 brought us Orange Juice – both the story and dual player controls – I figured that the mode would continue to innovate in its mechanics. The ability to control two players and switch between your MyPLAYER and Justice Young was a novel concept, and underscored the theme of becoming the next great duo in NBA history. However, the NBA side of MyCAREER neither repeated nor built on this creative idea. Instead, the focus has been on mechanics such as Takeover and the online meta. It’s about finding the most powerful builds for online team play.

On one hand, this is understandable. The online scene is extremely popular, while NBA MyCAREER is beginning to gain a reputation similar to franchise modes, i.e. “that’s something for old heads”. That’s not to say that younger gamers don’t play the NBA side of MyCAREER, but gamers young and old are more frequently using it to level up their player for online team play. I believe there’s a missed opportunity here, for both gamers who prefer the online scene, and those who enjoy NBA MyCAREER. What if the two could be merged? No, I’m not talking about 2K Pro-Am, The Rec, or The Playground. I’m talking about an online multiplayer element to an NBA career.

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NBA 2K23 The City Preview

NBA 2K23 The City Preview

The release of NBA 2K23 is imminent, but before it officially launches, the latest developer blog has given us all a preview of The City. Once again, The City will be the hub world for MyCAREER in the Next Gen version of NBA 2K23, whereas Current Gen has the GOAT Boat.

Key improvements this year include reducing the size of The City and adding fast travel options to make it easier to traverse. There are also new designs for the stomping grounds of the four affiliations, a central area for the competitive modes, and an arena for NBA games.

Once again, I’ve summarised the blog below, but be sure to read it for the full scoop and preview screenshots. You can also check out the trailer that was released. Got any thoughts? Feel free to share them in the comments below, as well as join in the discussion here in the NLSC Forum! With the game almost in our hands, our post-release coverage will be tipping off very soon. As such, we invite you to stick around for everything we do here, from discussion of the game to our modding community!

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Wayback Wednesday: 10 Years of Embracing NBA 2K

Wayback Wednesday: 10 Years of Embracing NBA 2K

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m reflecting on ten years of embracing NBA 2K, after growing up playing NBA Live.

Just in case there’s any confusion, no, this isn’t a tenth anniversary for NBA 2K. As the special edition of NBA 2K19 reminds us, the series is already twice as old as that! However, 2022 marks ten years that I’ve personally been embracing NBA 2K as a key part of my basketball gaming experience. If you’ve grown up with NBA 2K and never played NBA Live when it was the brand leader, this undoubtedly sounds strange. Why would I need to warm up to NBA 2K, and come around on embracing it? As a keen basketball gamer, shouldn’t I want to play the game that’s been on top for years?

Of course, but for an older gamer like me who grew up with NBA Live, embracing NBA 2K and its approach to sim basketball took some time. There was bias and a comfort zone to push past, not to mention availability and preferred platform. While I have my criticisms – and it’s important that we do constructively criticise any game we play, basketball or otherwise – I have grown to truly appreciate and enjoy the NBA 2K series. It’s been ten years since I’ve fully committed to embracing NBA 2K, so it feels as though some reflections are in order. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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GOAT Boat Sets Sail in NBA 2K23 Current Gen

GOAT Boat Sets Sail in NBA 2K23 Current Gen

Following on from the MyCAREER trailer, the latest developer blog provides our first look at The Neighborhood in the Current Gen version of NBA 2K23. Once again, this year’s open world in the PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch version of the game will have a nautical setting, as the GOAT Boat replaces the Cancha Del Mar.

The layout of this year’s virtual luxury liner has been revamped, and more courts have been added. There are also no-wait gameplay options, new Seasonal excursions, and an updated quest system with NPCs in The Neighborhood.

As always, I’ve summarised the key information below, but check out the GOAT Boat blog for the full scoop on The Neighborhood in NBA 2K23 Current Gen. What are your thoughts? Share them in the comments below, and join in the discussion here in the NBA 2K23 section of the NLSC Forum!

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Monday Tip-Off: Zero-Sum Thinking & Basketball Gaming

Monday Tip-Off: Zero-Sum Thinking & Basketball Gaming

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with my thoughts on how there’s too much zero-sum thinking in the basketball gaming community.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept, zero-sum thinking involves perceiving situations as a zero-sum game; in other words, a scenario where a gain for one side means a loss for the other. Needless to say, this leads to a belief that mutual gain and benefits are impossible. Our success must come at the expense of someone else’s failure, and every situation involves a winner and a loser. Obviously there are zero-sum games and scenarios where this is true, but a bias towards zero-sum thinking does result in fallacious assertions.

Needless to say, zero-sum thinking occurs in a number of matters, many of which are more serious than basketball gaming. However, since that’s what we cover here at the NLSC, that’s the context I’m discussing here today. If you’ve observed or partaken in the discourse in the wider basketball gaming community, you’ll have encountered zero-sum thinking, even if you didn’t recognise or label it as such. Again, it’s hardly unique to basketball gaming, and is inevitable when passionate people have different ideas about their hobby. That doesn’t mean we can’t call it out though, because it does foster toxicity, and doesn’t help in the development of better basketball video games.

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Monday Tip-Off: Free-to-Play & Triple-A Basketball Games

Monday Tip-Off: Free-to-Play & Triple-A Basketball Games

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on the prospect of Triple-A basketball games being free-to-play (aka F2P).

It’s no secret that NBA Live, once the brand leader in sim NBA video games, has been struggling for well over a decade. It hit a low point with the failed attempt to rebrand and revamp the series with NBA Elite 11, one that it hasn’t been able to recover from to date. With its inability to topple NBA 2K, or even just make some inroads into gaining a bigger share of the market, I’ve seen people suggest that the console version of NBA Live become a free-to-play title. The argument is that it would be a lower risk, and encourage more gamers to give it a try.

Interestingly, I’ve also seen suggestions that NBA 2K become a free-to-play game. In this case, the suggestion has nothing to do with quality, but rather finance. As you’re undoubtedly well aware, the nature of NBA 2K being an annual release means that in modes such as MyCAREER and MyTEAM, there’s a reset on our progress with each new game. That means more grinding, and more money spent. With annual sports titles often being derided as glorified roster updates, it’s no surprise that a free-to-play model, or perhaps a new game every few years with subscriptions for updates in between, are ideas that have been floated. I certainly have some thoughts on that.

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NLSC Podcast #429: It’s Lit, Fellow Kids!

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #429 of the NLSC Podcast!

Is it worse to be called a moron by Steve Kerr, or hear Grant Hill go full “How do you do, fellow kids?” and call something lit? Suffice to say, the past week has delivered some awkward moments in virtual commentary! Conversely, Twitter produced some surprisingly positive (but certainly welcome) interactions. Playing NBA Live 06 PC also reminded us of a unique animation, and our frustrations with canned moments in recent titles. In light of confirmation that Madden 23 will be another last gen port, we speculate on what to expect from NBA 2K23 PC. We also discuss unfortunate generated player tattoos, choosing a retro season mod to play with, and whether a squad of Christian Laettners is better than a team of Andrew Langs.

To get involved with the mailbag or to provide any feedback on the show, hit us up in the comments, reach out on social media, or post here in the NLSC Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. You can also find the show on our YouTube channel, along with the rest of our video content. As always, thanks for tuning in, and go get buckets!

The Friday Five: 5 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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NLSC Podcast #426: Variety & Options on The Virtual Hardwood

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #426 of the NLSC Podcast!

After an unscheduled break due to one of us being under the weather, we’re back on the air! We’ve been playing a variety of classic basketball games since our last show, particularly favourites from the late 90s and early 2000s. Notably, we’ve been playing them with some classic teams and legends roster mods, which is tempting us to get stuck into some retro modding. We also provide updates on our ongoing seasons, including Shawn Kemp highlights and an example of video games imitating life. On a less positive note, a couple of recent Tweets have reminded us that elitism and gatekeeping is alive and well within the basketball gaming community. Needless to say, we feel compelled to hit back against those attitudes. In this week’s mailbag, the community tells us their favourite games in the NBA Live series, and we share our thoughts on those titles.

To get involved with the mailbag or to provide any feedback on the show, hit us up in the comments, reach out on social media, or post here in the NLSC Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. You can also find the show on our YouTube channel, along with the rest of our video content. As always, thanks for tuning in, and go get buckets!

Monday Tip-Off: The Community, Or The Wrong Parts of It?

Monday Tip-Off: The Community, Or The Wrong Parts of It?

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on blaming the entire basketball gaming community for changes and additions that only a vocal minority asked for.

Even though everyone in the basketball gaming community shares a common passion, we’re not always on the same page. We’re divided along several lines: mode of choice, online or offline gaming, ideal controls and mechanics, how much realism the games should have, and so on. This makes it impossible for anyone to speak on behalf of the entire community, and no one person’s vision alone is right for basketball gaming. In turn, developers have many voices to listen to – some offering up conflicting feedback – and so are guaranteed to disappoint a contingent of the fanbase with certain choices.

While we collectively understand that, in our disappointment and indeed our outrage, it’s difficult to accept. When we’re disappointed and angry – whether it’s about video games or anything in life – we want to lay blame. We point the finger at developers, the suits, and even ourselves. In all three cases, that blame isn’t entirely misplaced. However, when it comes to blaming ourselves, we’re talking about a much larger group; a group that has less control than the other two, and is less likely to be wholly in agreement. As such, when we blame what we see as an undesirable aspect of NBA 2K on the community, we’re often pointing the finger at the wrong parts of it.

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NLSC Podcast #420: The Legend of Keyon Dooling

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #420 of the NLSC Podcast!

Inspired by QB1120’s stories of Keyon Dooling in NBA 2K7, we fired up the game to see what the fuss was all about. Turns out, we have a newly-minted Video Game Legend! We also connected with Brent and NBA Live Girl for a 4-player session of NBA Jam: On Fire Edition that none of us wanted to end. After recapping some other recent adventures on the virtual hardwood, we talk about the reason we’re able to play so many basketball video games: our passion for collecting. We open up the mailbag to talk about the games that our listeners wish that they owned, as well as some of the purchases that they regret.

To get involved with the mailbag or to provide any feedback on the show, hit us up in the comments, reach out on social media, or post here in the NLSC Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. You can also find the show on our YouTube channel, along with the rest of our video content. As always, thanks for tuning in, and go get buckets!

Monday Tip-Off: Aiming For Stats & Records

Monday Tip-Off: Aiming For Stats & Records

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on what it’s like when we aim for stats and records on the virtual hardwood.

Not to sound like a grumpy old man or anything, but there’s a big emphasis on stats and records in the NBA these days. That’s not to say they weren’t ever relevant, or something that fans and players alike never cared about. Wilt Chamberlain was very much aware of his stats and records, so this mentality predates the three-point era, let alone the past couple of generations. However, it does seem like everyone is obsessed with numbers these days – including rather obscure statistical achievements – to the point where actually winning games and even championships seems secondary.

It’s interesting how this mentality also applies to basketball gaming. Of course, we’ve long used hoops games to put up crazy numbers, leading to a big night for players in real life to be referred to as a “video game performance”. A handful of video games over the past couple of generations have even challenged us to put up stats and beat NBA records for Trophies and Achievements. The funny thing is that it’s not always easy to post ridiculous numbers on the virtual hardwood, or to replicate the feats of NBA greats and record holders. Also, while it’s fun to try alone, chasing records and stats can be a disastrous approach in online play, coming at the expense of winning.

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