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NLSC Podcast #332: The Measure of a Sim Gamer

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Episode #332 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

Many of us consider ourselves to be sim gamers, but what does that mean exactly? We discuss what makes a sim gamer “sim”, and the different approaches we can take with that style of play. We’ve also got plenty of suggestions for additional retro teams for NBA 2K, and share some of our favourites that we’d most like to see. The word of the week here is “esoteric”! Speaking of suggestions, we also have some ideas for new and revamped game modes. From an offline retro challenge mode to a concept like Quick Pick Play, and even tournament and road trip modes, there are still ways that NBA Live and NBA 2K can offer gamers even more content to sink their teeth into.

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: Can NBA Live Be Relevant Again?

Monday Tip-Off: Can NBA Live Be Relevant Again?

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 by pondering the question: can NBA Live be relevant again?

As a long-time basketball gamer that grew up with NBA Live, it gives me no joy to dump on the franchise. I believe that there are content creators out there who delight at the series’ struggles and subsequently ripping into it, but I’m certainly not one of them. For all the great things that NBA 2K has done, the slips in quality here and there, and of course the increased focus on microtransactions, demonstrate why it’s important to have choice and competition in the basketball gaming space. Some say NBA Live should just pack it in, but frankly, we need it, and we need it to succeed.

Unfortunately, that’s much easier said than done. NBA Live has struggled to get to where it needs to be over the past decade. Again, it brings me no joy to say that, nor do I relish pointing out that not only has its quality suffered, but so has its relevance. Indeed, a friend of mine who isn’t really into basketball, but picked up NBA 2K20 on special after watching The Last Dance, mentioned he was surprised that EA Sports doesn’t have a new basketball game out. It’s not surprising that someone who isn’t into the scene doesn’t know the full story behind the fall of NBA Live, but nevertheless, it speaks volumes about its relevance today. The question is: can EA change that?

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Monday Tip-Off: The Right Direction for NBA Live

Monday Tip-Off: The Right Direction for NBA Live

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with my thoughts on the right direction for NBA Live.

Needless to say, the past decade has been tough for NBA Live. Through cancelled titles and skipped years, the series has seen only five releases during that span. There have been promising aspects and good ideas present in those five games, and it could be argued that at least a couple of titles have been solid, but EA Sports has failed to move the needle. NBA Live is still languishing far behind where it needs to be as a viable alternative to NBA 2K and the enormous gulf in sales speaks volumes. NBA 2K has its issues, but NBA Live hasn’t been able to capitalise on gamer frustration.

The good news is that the door hasn’t been slammed shut on NBA Live. Thanks to a combination of readily apparent potential and 2K squandering goodwill, there is still interest in seeing NBA Live return to its former glory. Unfortunately, the series’ steps towards reaching that goal haven’t been as large as many of us would’ve liked, and one of the main reasons for that is the direction of the series. More specifically, this includes both the particular choices that have been made, and the tendency to change direction too often. NBA Live needs to have the right focus moving forward, but that raises the question: what is the right direction for NBA Live to take?

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The Friday Five: 5 Ideas That Were Better In Theory

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five ideas in basketball games that I believe were better in theory.

Basketball video games – and sports games in general – are often accused of being little more than expensive annual roster updates. As my interview with former NBA Live programmer Rod Reddekopp revealed though, even in the early days, a lot of code had to be rewritten and updated every year. Unless there are significant and noticeable changes in the modes, graphics, or gameplay however, it’s quite likely that we won’t appreciate all that work. On top of that, each new game needs some kind of hook, a fancy selling point that can be promoted in previews and on the back cover.

From our point of view, we want basketball games to keep getting better and add new content, and that means exploring new ideas. Whether it’s a change to the controls or a new gameplay mechanic, improved presentation and details, a new or enhanced mode, or additional historical content, we always want to see freshness and innovation. Our Wishlists show that we have plenty of ideas of our own that we’d like to see added in future games, and developers also have their own roadmap. The problem is that not all ideas pan out, no matter how creative and promising they once seemed. Ideas like the ones I’m talking about today were good in theory, but not in execution.

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The Friday Five: 5 Hot Takes on Basketball Gaming in 2019

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 features five of my hot takes on basketball gaming in 2019.

Another Friday the 13th is upon us, and I’ll be honest: I’m drawing a blank on fresh ideas related to good luck, bad luck, and the number thirteen. I suppose I could talk about having terrible luck with disconnections in NBA 2K, or how I lost my progress in my NBA 2K17 MyCAREER when I accidentally overwrote it with an old backup from the cloud, and then access to the save file entirely because the server was shut down during a time when I’d uninstalled the game. I could look back at NBA 2K13, or even the ill-fated NBA Live 13, but that’s more suited to Wayback Wednesday.

Instead, I’m going to take us into the weekend by sharing five hot takes about hoops gaming in 2019. After all, does anyone want a fair and measured take anymore? I’d like to think so as that’s my preferred approach, but there’s no denying the popularity of hot takes. If you agree with them, they make you feel clever and self-righteous. If you disagree with them, you can enjoy getting fired up and firing back at the person tossing them out. I can’t quite bring myself to abandon all reason and give you some hot takes on the level of an obnoxious talking head on a panel show, but I’ll share a few thoughts regarding our beloved hobby that you may or may not agree with.

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Monday Tip-Off: An Open Letter from An Old Head

Monday Tip-Off: An Open Letter from An Old Head

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 an open letter to younger basketball gamers and fans from an admitted old head of 34.

Hey there, younger fans of basketball and basketball gaming! Do people still say hey for hello? I’m trying to avoid a “How do you do, fellow kids?” type of scenario here. Because let’s face it, there is a generational gap between some of us, and I’d rather not condescend to you, or look foolish with some ill-fitting slang. I’ll just stick with hey. Anyway, I’m Andrew, and to a lot of people who are into basketball and basketball video games, I would definitely qualify as an old head. At least, that’s the term I’m seeing used in a lot of online conversations to describe someone like me.

I’ll admit that at the age of 34, I still feel too young to be classified as an old head. It’s probably a fitting term, though. My all-time favourite band and television show are both only slightly younger than I am. My nostalgia is rooted in entertainment and events from well over a decade ago, and my opinions on sports, movies, television, and gaming no doubt reflect that. I’m at that odd stage where I still feel a bit rebellious towards the generations older than me, while at the same time starting to feel like a grumpy old man. Before I completely devolve into yelling at clouds however, I’d like to try bridging the gap between an old head like me and the younger generation.

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NLSC Podcast #292: MyCAREER Killed The Franchise Mode

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Episode #292 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Arcane is back on the show this week as we catch up on the latest NBA 2K20 news, and discuss how a focus on career modes this generation has affected the course and quality of basketball gaming.

‘Tis the preview season, which means that there’s a lot of talk about bullshotting as new NBA 2K20 screenshots continue to drop. The soundtrack for this year’s game has also been revealed, not only bringing tracks from the big names, but also providing an opportunity for unsigned artists. However, the biggest news of the week is that the NBA 2K20 Demo will be released on August 21st. We speculate on what the new MyPLAYER builder might entail, what other content we can expect, and how the demo experience will translate to the full release. After noting the lack of NBA content in recent NBA 2K demos, we move on to this week’s featured discussion: has the focus on career modes adversely affected other modes, and the basketball gaming experience in general? As much as we’ve enjoyed MyCAREER this generation, it does feel as though other aspects of the games have been neglected. We consider what this might mean for the genre moving forward, and whether it’s another sign we’re no longer part of the core demographic.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on the latest NBA 2K20 news, and the heavy focus on career modes in today’s basketball games? 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: Should NBA Live Be More Like NBA 2K?

James Harden shoots in NBA Live 19

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 an interesting and important question that continues to be hotly debated: should NBA Live be more like NBA 2K?

As NBA Live continues to rebuild and re-establish itself in the face of NBA 2K’s dominance, there is a debate among basketball gamers as to the best direction for the game. There are gamers who would prefer that NBA Live remains distinctly different to NBA 2K in focus, style, and approach, and generally reject any suggestions that Live should borrow ideas from 2K. Conversely, as noted here on Reddit, there are others who would prefer that NBA Live essentially copy NBA 2K, but for a few details here and there (such as avoiding 2K’s approach to microtransactions).

Naturally, between those two extremes are more nuanced suggestions about NBA Live doing its own thing, while also borrowing some of NBA 2K’s best ideas (and in some cases, putting its own spin on them). To that end, of course, there’s still debate as to which ideas should be borrowed, how closely NBA Live should mimic what NBA 2K is doing, and to what extent any 2K concepts should be reworked. It leaves us with the question of whether or not NBA Live should be more like NBA 2K, or as the thread over on Reddit put it, “NBA 2K re-skinned” rather than NBA Live. For me, the answer is yes…and no.

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The Friday Five: 5 Gameplay Improvements NBA Live 20 Needs

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five improvements that NBA Live 20 needs to demonstrate in terms of its gameplay.

If NBA Live 20 is to be the big release many of us are hoping it will be, it will need to improve upon an area that’s been a perennial weakness since the series returned back in 2013: its modes. The different modes of play are what give basketball games their longevity, and this year’s release from EA Sports must add long overdue features and depth to Franchise, Ultimate Team, and online modes. Deeper customisation is also a must. Of course, while these are all vital areas of NBA Live that require attention, it’s crucial that above all, the gameplay experience continues to improve.

NBA Live’s gameplay has gone through some interesting ups and downs during this generation. NBA Live 14 felt very stiff on the sticks, with animations that looked very “last gen”. Since then, improvements have been made to the fluidity, the depth of the controls, and certain animations. Most NBA Live gamers would agree that there is still plenty of room for improvement, and I’m unquestionably in that camp. What are the most important changes and improvements that need to be made to gameplay in NBA Live 20? We compiled some great ideas in the Wishlist that we sent in to EA, but this week, I’d like to discuss five key areas where Live’s gameplay must improve.

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NLSC Podcast #283: A Chat With Izzy Snow

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Episode #283 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, my guest co-host is Izzy Snow, long-time community member, content creator, and the NBA Live 14 Gamer of the Year!

Izzy Snow joins the show to discuss his recent experiences with the full version of NBA Elite 11. This leads to a discussion of whether it was better for EA Sports to cancel the game outright, or if it would’ve been less damaging to release it and weather the bad reviews. We also talk about the current state of NBA Live and offer up some further thoughts on the issues with game modes, particularly Ultimate Team. In addition to revisiting NBA Live 06 on Xbox 360 and the question of where NBA Live needs to go from here, we also talk changes in the community, the need for competition, gaming habits as we get older, PC gaming and modding, NBA Playgrounds, and how Izzy became the NBA Live 14 Gamer of the Year back in 2014.

Tune in below!

Thanks once again to Izzy for joining the show this week, and be sure to let us know your thoughts on the topics that we discussed. 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: Are Basketball Gamers Still Sim?

NBA 2K has been drifting from the sim style

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 whether or not basketball gamers are still in favour of sim gameplay and game modes.

For many years, we basketball gamers would talk about how we wanted to see the five-on-five games become more realistic. As technology improved, we saw a steady and pleasing increase in the level of simulation basketball, with NBA 2K in particular achieving some fantastic results in developing sim gameplay. Sim gameplay is what we always emphasised in our Wishlists, and the cause was likewise championed by Da_Czar, the President of Sim Nation who now puts his knowledge and enthusiasm for realistic virtual basketball to use as a developer on the NBA 2K team.

However, despite the influence of Da_Czar, as well as other sim-oriented developers such as Scott O’Gallagher and Gameplay Director Mike Wang, NBA 2K has been drifting towards a more casual style. The change is definitely not due to a lack of knowledge, dedication, talent, or resources, as we’ve seen what NBA 2K is capable of in terms of being an outstanding basketball sim. NBA Live, despite having its roots in a sim style, has also been focusing more on the streetball side of things in The One. These changes in style are obviously being done to appease the core demographic. As such, it’s not just about whether or not the games are sim, but if we gamers are, too.

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Monday Tip-Off: Burned Out on Career Modes

Career Modes are focusing more on characters and stories (NBA 2K18 MyCAREER Trailer)

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 I’ve become burned out on career modes in basketball video games.

As I’ve mentioned on the NLSC Podcast and in a few previous articles, I’m feeling a strong desire to return to my roots as a franchise gamer. Years ago, I spent most of my time with NBA Live playing Dynasty mode, documenting my experiences in the Stories section of our Forum. Despite the strength of Association mode in NBA 2K, when I finally started to warm up to Visual Concepts’ series, MyCAREER turned out to be the mode I got hooked on. I also found myself enjoying the connected modes, primarily 2K Pro-Am. My gaming habits had certainly changed.

However, I now find myself looking to make another change, and return to the kind of experience that I played almost exclusively for so many years. That’s partly due to the fact that with MyLEAGUE and MyGM, franchise modes have never been better or deeper. They’re very appealing in their own right, but I’m also encouraged to return to them because the single player career experience has worn thin for me. While both NBA Live and NBA 2K are looking to do some tremendous things with their career modes this year, it’s coming at a bad time for me. After several years of playing them – particularly MyCAREER – I’m feeling quite burned out.

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Court Battles in NBA Live 19; Trailer & Developer Blog

Court Battles in NBA Live 19

The latest trailer and developer blog for NBA Live 19 have provided us with details on Court Battles, a new competitive mode in The One. Court Battles involve taking on your friends and the rest of the NBA Live community on their own One Courts. This involves competing in games against an AI version of a user’s squad to earn unique bonuses and rewards, with an ultimate goal of “controlling” as many courts as possible. A breakdown of the key points is as follows:

  • Court Battles are comprised of Campaigns, which include both a “defend” and “attack” phase. Your AI squad defends your court, while you play the games attacking other courts.
  • Defending your court includes setting the custom rules, defensive lineup, attacker handicap (a restriction placed on the attacking team to make their games more challenging and aid in your defense), and a game plan for your AI squad.
  • There will be 38 custom rules at launch, with more settings being added throughout the year.
  • Players available for your squad are earned through The Streets World Tour, LIVE Events, and levelling up in terms of Court Hype and number of controlled courts.
  • As mentioned, the ultimate goal is to control as many courts as possible (in addition to your own), in order to level up and earn better rewards. Bonuses are rewarded for controlling your own court, facing a more difficult opponent, and so on.

Be sure to read the entire blog for the full insight! You can also watch the trailer below, or catch it here on YouTube.

As always, feel free to share your opinions in the comments section below, as well as join in the discussion taking place in this topic in the NBA Live 19 section of our Forum.

Information on LIVE Run, 5v5 Online, & Hype in NBA Live 19

NBA Live 19: LIVE Run

The NBA Live 19 demo will be dropping in less than ten hours, but before then, we have some new information about this year’s game. This insight comes straight from Executive Producer Seann Graddy, in a developer blog posted over on the official website.

Specifically, the blog provides some further details on LIVE Run, 5v5 online play, and the Hype system in NBA Live 19. A breakdown of the key points is as follows:

  • Changes to 3v3 LIVE Run go beyond the new global courts. Games are now played to 11, with baskets counting for one and two points rather than twos and threes.
  • Hype is intended to set The One players apart from each another, since reaching 99 Overall will be an attainable goal with persistence. Hype has six tiers (Rookie, Pro, All-Star, Superstar, Legend, Icon), with each tier having five levels.
  • Raising your Hype earns new gear, as well as players for your squad and other rewards. You’ll also get a badge displaying your Hype level in online lobbies.
  • 5v5 LIVE Run will be more of a traditional Pro-Am experience, with five minute quarters and full rules, including fouls. It also benefits from the addition of the new global courts.
  • Private games on our One Court will allow for custom rules, including additional points for dunks and layups, and other variations on the Pro-Am format. More rule sets will be added post-launch.

Be sure to read the blog for the whole scoop! Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section below, and join in the discussion taking place here in our NBA Live 19 Forum.

Companion App for NBA Live 19 Now Available (Android & iOS)

NBA Live 19 Companion App Artwork

As an update to the previous bulletin, the NBA Live Companion App has now been updated for NBA Live 19. The new version of the app should be pushed through automatically for those who downloaded it last year and still have it installed. Otherwise, it’s available through Google Play and the App Store.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the companion app, it is used to scan your face into the game. The app can be used for both the demo and the full version of the game, with the face data that you scan in for the demo carrying over to the full version of NBA Live 19, should you pick it up. Progress made in the demo will also carry over.

The NBA Live 19 demo is slated for release at midnight on August 24th. If you download it, be sure to share your impressions with the community in the NLSC Forum! Also feel free to share the results of your face scans in this topic.