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 basketball gaming pet peeves that I can’t really justify.
When it comes to basketball gaming, we all have our major and minor complaints. Major complaints encompass issues that significantly affect our enjoyment of a game, and if it’s an obvious design flaw, a lot of gamers are probably going to share the same view. Minor complaints, on the other hand, may not be as broad. They tend to be more a matter of personal preference, and there’s likely to be more disagreement as to their importance. Beyond that, we have pet peeves, which tend to come across as being far pettier and nitpicky.
That is the nature of pet peeves, of course. They’re things that are that non-issues or mild annoyances at worst to most other people, but for whatever reason, greatly bother us personally. To that end, you might suggest that most pet peeves are difficult to justify, even though they can certainly be based upon understandable and logical reasoning. However, the pet peeves that I’m discussing today are tough to justify beyond my own personal preference, and in some cases, I would have to admit that they’re largely inconsequential. They do bug me all the same though, so without any further ado, here are five of my pettiest pet peeves in basketball gaming.
1. Teams Ordered by Name Instead of Location
For many years, NBA Live and NBA 2K took different approaches to team listings. NBA Live always listed teams alphabetically by city or location, while NBA 2K listed them alphabetically by team names. These days, both games list teams alphabetically by name in their respective menus. I’m guessing it’s something that a lot of people haven’t paid much attention to, but when it comes to my basketball gaming pet peeves, this is one of the first that comes to mind. Personally, I’d prefer both games to list the teams alphabetically by location instead of name. At the very least, I’d like to see NBA Live go back to doing that, as I feel that it’s the better approach.
Here’s the thing, though. I have absolutely no reasonable argument for that. There is no reason why one method is better than the other, as both are perfectly logical ways of listing the teams alphabetically in the menus. Whatever argument I could make in favour of listing teams by location could easily apply to listing them by name. The only reason I prefer that approach and feel that it looks “correct” is that that’s how it was done in the games that I played growing up. I would like to see both games make the change, but again, it’s very difficult to advocate for. After all, it’s not a big deal, and it’s fine just the way it is. Nevertheless, it is one of my pet peeves.
2. Pet Peeves Regarding Years Pro
This one is specific to NBA 2K. When you view a player card in the default rosters, the experience/years pro data will match the number of seasons they’ve played, up until the current one. In other words, a rookie will have zero years of experience, while a player entering their fifth season will be listed as a four year pro. However, once you begin a new game – be it MyLEAGUE, MyGM, or MyCAREER – the current season is added to their experience. Players with four complete seasons under their belt will thus be listed as five years pro, while rookies will now be one year pro. It bothers me more for rookies, since they’ve yet to complete their first season.
Conversely, NBA Live only takes previous seasons into account for a player’s years pro listing. As with the previous point, I prefer that simply because it’s the approach that I’m familiar with. I thought that a glitch had occurred when I saw my rookie MyPLAYER back in NBA 2K13 listed as a one year pro. Technically speaking, however, neither approach is incorrect. A player halfway through their fifth season could certainly be called a five year pro. A rookie is a first year pro in their debut campaign. It’s a pedantic take on the term “experience” (complete seasons to date vs. number of seasons including the current one), but hey, that’s how pet peeves work.
3. Lack of Original & Instrumental Music
Music plays a big role in our nostalgia for video games. Hearing a song from an old favourite brings back memories of all the good times we had with it. Judging by some of the comments on songs we’ve uploaded to our YouTube channel, I’m not the only one who feels that applies to basketball gaming as much as any other genre. I don’t really mind the soundtracks in more recent games and usually find at least a few songs that I enjoy, but I do miss hearing original instrumental tracks. I also got a kick out of original songs like Snoop Dogg’s title track for NBA 2K11, as well as basketball-themed remixes such as the NBA Live mix of Chingy’s “Right Thurr“.
While I’m not alone in that regard, I’d suggest that I’m not in the majority, either. It makes sense to include new, popular songs in the soundtracks of NBA Live and NBA 2K, choosing genres and artists that generally appeal to most of the fanbase. The appeal of those songs to the majority of the demographic probably makes it difficult to justify having an in-house composer to create some original tracks, or the possible added expense of having an artist record a special game-themed remix instead of simply licensing the existing radio edit. At the end of the day, pet peeves about the soundtrack are also pretty far down on the list of priorities.
4. NBA 2K’s Roster Editing Interface
I feel that I can sort of justify this one, but again, a lot of it comes down to personal preference and what I’m used to. As it stands, NBA 2K’s in-game roster editing tools are far more comprehensive than anything we had in older NBA Live games (and of course, far better than the complete lack of customisation functionality in recent NBA Live titles). I’m definitely appreciative of that, but I’m not that keen on the approach of managing player movement by directly editing each player. Instead of choosing to trade, release, or assign players individually, I’d prefer to have expanded trade and sign/release interfaces, as we did in those old NBA Live games.
Being able to cycle through the teams to sign and release players, or select multiple players to trade at once using the same interface as the franchise modes, made moving them around a lot quicker and easier. At the same time, there was more back and forth as far as exiting out of the trade players menu to open up the sign/release interface, and of course exiting out to another screen altogether to reorder the lineups. Moving players around may be a bit slower in NBA 2K, and that’s been one of my pet peeves as I’ve looked into creating roster updates for the 2K games, but the ability to perform so many functions without backing out into other menus does make up for that.
5. Default Teams in Play Now
If we’re talking about inconsequential pet peeves, this may be the perfect one for me to end on. Obviously, the main appeal of basketball video games are the modes and not standalone exhibition games, but there are times when you’ll want to jump into a Play Now game. Traditionally, the default teams in Play Now have been the two teams from the previous season’s NBA Finals, which is only logical. More recently, however, both NBA Live and NBA 2K have taken a different approach, replacing one of the Finalists with your designated favourite team. NBA Live switches the other default team to a rival club, while NBA 2K uses the defending champion.
There’s nothing wrong with that approach. It certainly makes sense for gamers to immediately have their favourite team selected by default, and there’s logic in either having a rival or the defending champion as the other option. That said, I like the idea of having a fairly neutral or standard starting point to cycle through the teams, and the previous year’s Finalists are as good a choice as any. For that matter, I’d also be in favour of the teams being randomised every time that you enter Play Now. Of course, it’s hardly a big problem that urgently needs to be addressed, so even though it’s only a pet peeve, it’s difficult to really justify the small amount of bother it causes me.
What are some of your basketball gaming pet peeves that are difficult to defend or justify, but still bug you all the same? Have your say in the comments section below, and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum! That’s all for this week, so thanks for checking in, have a great weekend, and please join me again next Friday for another Five.