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Monday Tip-Off: Do We Need Those Stinking Badges?

Monday Tip-Off: Do We Need Those Stinking Badges?

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 whether NBA 2K’s MyCAREER and its connected modes are too reliant on Badges, and their general implementation.

Sim games have long sought to properly differentiate between players, beginning with detailed ratings. Those base attributes alone haven’t always been sufficient though, and so developers have experimented with mechanics such as Freestyle Superstars in NBA Live, and Signature Skills in NBA 2K. Signature Skills have given way to Badges, which like their predecessors, grant boosts and represent special abilities that the standard ratings can’t account for. As with Signature Skills, or the similar Traits system in NBA Live, they’re available to real players and career mode avatars alike.

These days, Badges are probably more important than ratings/attributes. You can max out a player’s ratings in a certain area, but it takes the effects of a Badge to ensure that they’re sufficiently levelled up. On one hand, this does make the exceptionally skilled stand out from the very good, much as Freestyle Superstars in NBA Live once aimed to achieve. On the other hand, it also means that high ratings – which are theoretically only given to the best real players, and take a long time to grind for our MyPLAYERs – are far less powerful than they should be, if they aren’t paired with the various boosts afforded by Badges. Given these issues, do we need those stinking Badges?

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NLSC Podcast #340: Gamers Just Wanna Have Fun

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Episode #340 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

Gamers just wanna have fun, but NBA 2K21 has presented a few obstacles in that regard. Issues with the Mamba Forever edition pre-order bonuses have caused PlayStation 4 and Xbox One gamers much grief. The frosty reception to NBA 2K21 has also resulted in record-low Metacritic scores from critic and user reviews alike, and some trolling tags have appeared on the game’s Steam store page. We discuss some of the snarkier comments and whether it undermines efforts to provide constructive feedback, as well as the toxicity of elitist thinking. In the wake of the shooting hotfix, we also share further impressions following a full week with NBA 2K21, including our latest thoughts on shooting, player movement, gameplay balance, and other core aspects. We also circle back to last week’s news about Scott O’Gallagher and Rob Jones, and consider the impact on the NBA 2K series moving forward.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. The show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

Monday Tip-Off: Imperfections Don’t Need Imperfect Solutions

Monday Tip-Off: Imperfections Don't Need Imperfect Solutions

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 simple but important message: imperfections in basketball games don’t need imperfect solutions.

There’s a running gag when it comes to Bethesda’s Fallout games: “it just works”. This sarcastic jab at bugs and other imperfections in the series is a reference to Executive Producer Todd Howard’s declaration that Fallout 4’s “dynamic game engine” would ensure that everything about it “just works”. And, to be fair, while I didn’t enjoy Fallout 4 as much as I did Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas, the game does indeed work. Does everything work as well as it should? Not exactly, and that’s why Todd Howard’s utterance of those words has become a meme.

In all fairness to Todd Howard and Bethesda though, they’re not alone in that regard. To be completely fair to the Triple-A gaming industry at large, achieving perfection is easier said than done, and the scope of their products is going to result in issues such as bugs and oversights. As gamers, consumers, whatever we want to call ourselves, we do understand that. However, some things are just poorly planned, designed, and implemented. Although we do criticise these issues and suggest solutions, I’ve also seen many gamers defend these imperfections. Not because of the difficulty of game design, mind you, but the notion that imperfect solutions cancel out valid complaints.

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Monday Tip-Off: Unfinished NBA 2K20 Business

Monday Tip-Off: Unfinished NBA 2K20 Business

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 sticking with or returning to NBA 2K20 after NBA 2K21 is released, in order to take care of unfinished business.

As I’m writing this, I haven’t pre-ordered NBA 2K21. That may change by the time you’re reading it, because I do intend to buy the Current Gen version of the game. In fact, I’m leaning towards getting the Mamba Forever Edition, in order to save money on the PlayStation 5 release later this year. The only reason I haven’t pre-ordered as yet is because there’s still time to do so, and it doesn’t matter whether you pre-order several weeks or just a few days in advance. They’re not going to run out of copies, and I’ll receive the bonuses either way.

Of course, with the release of NBA 2K21 looming, the clock is ticking on NBA 2K20. In fact, as this article is going live, we’re on the cusp of NBA 2K21’s demo being released. That means pretty soon, we’ll all be turning our attention away from NBA 2K20…or will we? The game has already received content beyond the usual cut-off, thanks to the NBA’s hiatus and restart; a situation that also means that NBA 2K21 will be released with this season’s rosters, and before the 2020 Playoffs are even over no less. With that in mind, I could definitely see myself sticking with NBA 2K20 a little while longer, or at least going back to it after trying out its successor.

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NLSC Podcast #337: Playing Your Cards Right

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Episode #337 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

As the NBA 2K21 demo looms, we’ve received an insight into MyTEAM with the latest developer blog. Much of this week’s show is spent providing a comprehensive breakdown of the blog, which delivered some promising news. We also offer up some final speculation ahead of the demo’s release, though we’re keeping our expectations low as far as its scope is concerned. With the launch of NBA 2K21 Next Gen happening a couple of months into the Current Gen version’s life cycle, we also talk about our plans for the latter. Other topics include Ante-Up, MyTEAM pack odds, the positives and negatives of regulation in the Auction House, and the oldest releases that we could feasibly play regularly again.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. The show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

Monday Tip-Off: The Decline of MyCAREER Offline

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 decline of MyCAREER offline, and its effect on the career experience in NBA 2K.

MyCAREER has been my main mode of choice since I was drawn to it back in NBA 2K13. As I’ve mentioned on many occasions, I’ve felt a desire to return to my roots as a franchise gamer – especially given the depth currently on offer in MyLEAGUE – and have also spent time with MyTEAM, as well as Ultimate Team in NBA Live over the past generation. However, MyCAREER has been difficult to quit, particularly as I’ve grown to appreciate the online scene through 2K Pro-Am. The connected experience offers several benefits, but it’s also contributed to the decline of MyCAREER offline.

I was originally going to cover this in a Friday Five article which would’ve been titled “5 Ways Offline MyCAREER Is Worse”, but I decided that the list format wouldn’t do the issue justice. One of the major reasons for my change of heart and mind is that I stumbled across this Reddit post from about five months back, outlining the way that MyCAREER offline has been downgraded over the years. It was well-researched, and I must credit it here as a source of information for the specific changes I’ve noted. Its title was apt, too. It’s a matter that doesn’t receive nearly enough attention, and I’d like to rectify that by covering it today, while also considering some possible solutions.

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NLSC Podcast #333: Just Two Creatures of Habit

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Episode #333 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

Would you pay $16,000 for a promotional copy of NBA 2K15? Someone on eBay is hoping that you will! We’ve spent considerably less on recent additions to our collections, which we were excited to pick up. Speaking of collectables, a few copies of Slam City with Scottie Pippen have also popped up on eBay, leading us to reflect on that somewhat forgotten game. Meanwhile, an influx of new gamers in NBA 2K20’s online scene has further emphasised the need to implement proper ranking and matchmaking measures (and inspired another rant). We also discuss what it takes to change our gaming habits on the virtual hardwood, and how some of those habits were formed in the first place.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

Monday Tip-Off: 3v3 Pro-Am in NBA 2K20 is…FUN?!?

Monday Tip-Off: 3v3 Pro-Am in NBA 2K20 is...FUN?!?

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on how 3v3 Pro-Am in NBA 2K20 has been…dare I say it…fun.

I’ve been critical of the lack of proper matchmaking and new restrictions on 5v5 Pro-Am since the latter was introduced in NBA 2K19. Last week, I noted that it took all three of our teammates quitting for Kenny and I to have one of the best games we’ve ever had in The Rec. I’m on record declaring that NBA 2K’s online experience is in really rough shape, regardless of its general popularity and engagement numbers. Despite some fun games here and there, I stand by that as being the case on the whole. There are many improvements that could be made to online play in NBA 2K.

However, I have found an online mode in NBA 2K20 that has been fun more often than not. So fun in fact, I’ve titled this article like a clickbait YouTube video. The NLSC squad hasn’t had a 5v5 Pro-Am game this year as we haven’t had the numbers, but on a few occasions we have been able to get three of us together. Normally in that situation we’d head to The Rec, where it’s a little easier to control things when you account for more than half of the team, or maybe The Playground, but not so much this year. Instead, we’ve given 3v3 Pro-Am a try, and I’d have to say that it may be the most consistently fun online mode in NBA 2K20.

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Monday Tip-Off: Thank You, Rec Quitters!

Monday Tip-Off: Thank You, Rec Quitters!

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 thank you to the Rec quitters that left Kenny and I to play 2-on-5 in a game last Saturday.

Because The Rec can be very hit and miss when it comes to having fun and playing a good game of virtual basketball, I’ve played much less of it this year. It’s a bit more enjoyable when you head there with a friend or two, but with three fifths of our regular NLSC squad understandably skipping NBA 2K20 after being disappointed with NBA 2K19, most of the times I’ve ventured into The Rec, I’ve gone there solo. Kenny and I have hopped on for a few sessions together though, and while there’s been frustration, we’ve at least been able to work (and commiserate) together.

That’s what we did last Saturday. Both of us were having a quiet evening at home – kind of the way it goes with the current pandemic, after all – so I hit him up about jumping on for a game or two. The first game was a frustrating overtime loss that we really shouldn’t have been in a position to win, yet could’ve if not for poor decision-making and clock management by our teammates. Thanks to some mic trouble, we also weren’t able to chat during that contest. After resolving that issue, we decided to play one more game, in which our three teammates all quit in the first quarter after we fell behind 15-5. As I said, I’d like to send out a thank you to those Rec quitters.

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The Friday Five: 5 Best NBA CAPs in NBA 2K20’s Neighborhood

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 takes a look at five of the best NBA CAPs I’ve seen in NBA 2K20’s Neighborhood.

Since the introduction of Park, 2K Pro-Am, and ultimately The Neighborhood, it’s been interesting to see what kind of players people create. I don’t mean their build or Archetype, though that’s obviously an interesting discussion as well. I’m talking about the appearance gamers choose for their MyPLAYERs. Whether it’s through the face scanning capabilities or expanded face creation tools, we’re invited to insert ourselves into the game. While a number of gamers do indeed choose to do this, it seems that many prefer to create an original avatar, or in some cases, run with an NBA lookalike.

I would suggest that most gamers choose custom faces and NBA CAPs for the same reason that I gave up on face scans: the functionality is cumbersome, buggy, and takes too long to inform you that a scan has failed. Even when a scan has been successful according to the app, the game will often inform you that there’s a problem, with the condescending error message “try again and play close attention to the instructions”; instructions, mind you, that along with any troubleshooting info, do not exist. It’s no wonder people prefer to role play as a goofy avatar, or as an NBA player. Some of the NBA CAPs are quite good, with these five ranking among the best I’ve seen so far.

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Monday Tip-Off: We DO Give a Damn ‘Bout a Bad MyREP System

Monday Tip-Off: We DO Give a Damn 'Bout a Bad MyREP System

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 the importance of fixing MyREP, not just in terms of its rewards system, but also allowing it to carry over year-to-year.

Keeping an annually-released basketball game fresh in a way that satisfies its toughest critics – the hardcore hoops gamers – is easier said than done. Take a ranking and rewards system such as MyREP, for example. If it’s the same year after year, we’re prone to complain about it being too stale and familiar. If it changes, there’s bound to be a lot of people who preferred the old system, as well as those that were open to a change, but aren’t feeling the new approach. There’s also the issue of having to start over from scratch every year; a common complaint in general these days.

I want to talk about both of those issues related to MyREP: its use as both a reward and matchmaking system, and the concept of being able to carry over rep from the previous game. It’s something I’d like to see NBA 2K get right as we enter a new generation with online basketball gaming as popular as it’s ever been, yet also in rough shape. Because of its effects on features and the online experience, it’s more than a cosmetic badge. We have good reason to give a damn about a bad MyREP system. Yes, that is a reference to “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, and indeed, I’m keeping the musical motif going as I wax lyrical about this matter.

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Monday Tip-Off: A New Big Man on Campus

Monday Tip-Off: A New Big Man on Campus

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 recap of my experiences playing as a big man in The Rec, after years of assuming the role of a playmaking point guard.

I documented my experiences trying out a big man build that was similar to the way I played in my local league as a teenager many years ago, in a previous article that I titled MyPLAYER in the Middle. As I noted in that feature, playing as a big man after years of MyCAREER games as a point guard felt very strange and quite frustrating at times. It was, as you would expect, a major adjustment with such a drastic change in role, to say nothing of going back to being a 60 Overall after maxing out my point guard build at 99.9 Overall. At the same time, it was an interesting experience.

Of course, playing online is a whole different brand of virtual basketball, and I was curious to see how it compared to my experiences as a point guard. I’ve often heard that it’s easier to get games in The Rec as a big man, as they tend to be in higher demand due to a majority of gamers opting for point guard and wing builds. Having played several Rec games with guard-heavy squads, and sometimes struggling to get games because of people quitting to avoid that scenario, I was hopeful that that would hold true for my alternate build. As far as the quality of the on-court experience was concerned…well, I figured The Rec would always be The Rec, but it was worth a try.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Changing Face of NBA 2K

Monday Tip-Off: The Changing Face of 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 thoughts on the changing face and identity of the NBA 2K series in recent years.

Back in early May, I noticed a Tweet from Brian Mazique, in which he responded to the suggestion that NBA Live should be free to play as a way to win people back as they try to return to prominence. He described NBA Live as being irrelevant, noting that when it comes to NBA 2K, Visual Concepts and Take-Two are looking at games like Fortnite and Call of Duty as the competition and sources of ideas for engagement. It may sound harsh, and there are a lot of people who want to see NBA Live succeed and would be willing to make the switch if it did, but it’s an apt statement.

In fact, it’s apt on two counts. Gaining relevance and market share is obviously one of the challenges facing NBA Live, and that’s something I’ve previously discussed here in Monday Tip-Off. However, Brian is also quite right that with NBA 2K becoming a fixture in pop culture, and in some ways transcending its genre, its peers are popular games like Fortnite and the Call of Duty series. That’s a great position for NBA 2K to be in, but it’s also a troubling one for enthusiastic hoop heads. To state the obvious, those games are not basketball titles, whereas NBA 2K is. Competing with and borrowing from those games has resulted in a changing face and identity for NBA 2K.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Online Experience We’ll Never Have

Monday Tip-Off: The Online Experience We'll Never Have

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 the online experience I’d love to see in NBA 2K, but we’re highly unlikely to ever have.

Aside from some admittedly fun sessions of 3v3 Pro-Am and jumping into The Rec after spinning double MyREP on the Prize Wheel, I’ve not been playing online in NBA 2K20. I’d been dabbling with a session or two in The Rec every so often, but in order to finally let MyCAREER go, I’ve focused on finishing my rookie season and generally avoided taking part in any of the connected experiences. Thanks to so many hit-or-miss sessions, I no longer have the same enthusiasm for the online experience that I once did. It’s made it much easier to abstain from those modes.

Even the satisfying runs in 3v3 Pro-Am had their annoyances. Despite playing well and even winning eight games in a single session, I somehow dropped from 99.9 to 99.4 Overall, spotlighting some of the major flaws with the MyREP and Overall Rating systems in NBA 2K20. Of course, the tendency to punish rather than reward is just one of the problems with the online experience in NBA 2K. It’s unfortunate, as online play in NBA 2K should be so much better than it is. From issues with lag and matchmaking to meta-gaming and what it takes to get there, I can’t help thinking about the online experience that NBA 2K should offer, but we’re unlikely to see.

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Monday Tip-Off: Trying to Quit MyCAREER

Monday Tip-Off: Trying to Quit 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 some reflections on how I’ve tried (and failed) to quit MyCAREER this year.

I’m having a problem in NBA 2K20: I can’t quit MyCAREER. I mean, I can exit the mode. I can find the menu option just fine and there’s no bug that’s preventing it from working as intended. No, I’m having trouble leaving the mode alone. I was all ready to quit this year. I reached the Hall of Fame in NBA 2K19, and felt closure. I felt the lure of MyLEAGUE and MyTEAM. Yes, I’ve set up a MyLEAGUE that I’d like to get stuck into at some point. Yes, I’ve played quite a bit of MyTEAM this year, and built a decent lineup without spending any money.

And yet, I haven’t let MyCAREER go as I intended to do. I tried out the new Player Builder in the demo, played through the story so that I could see what it’s like this year, and gave online a try. I thought that would be enough, but I kept getting drawn back in. I’ve played past the All-Star Weekend, and am just about at the point where the real 2020 season shut down. I’ve maxed out all my ratings and Badges, and am at the point where I can level up to 99 Overall with consistently great performances. My player is viable for online play, even if online play isn’t always viable. I’ve put quality time into MyCAREER…and I want to quit.

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