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 just-for-fun list of five filmmakers whose styles could make for some rather unique MyCAREER stories.
Ah, MyCAREER stories. While I’ve gone on record several times saying that I’m not a big fan of the concept, I also believe there’s a way that they could be done better in future games. Basically, it comes down to having more story branching options, and perhaps even a couple of different starting points. A wider variety of dialogue options and meaningful choices would really enhance the role playing aspect of MyCAREER, as well as provide an opportunity for everyone to have a more unique experience. If there’s going to be a story, let the gameplay drive it, and simply use the cutscenes and other elements as added flavour.
The underlying narrative and its characters should also be solid. In that respect, NBA 2K18’s MyCAREER mode has been, to be blunt, a big disappointment. From the somewhat absurd background of DJ to the multitude of annoying and unlikeable characters (again, looking at you, B Fresh), this year’s story has been grating. It’s felt like a step backwards from NBA 2K17, which was written and directed by Creed‘s Aaron Covington. Bringing in a Hollywood screenwriter again might help in NBA 2K19 and beyond, but who should Visual Concepts work with? Just for fun, here are five filmmakers whose take on MyCAREER might be interesting to say the least.
1. Kevin Smith
As I noted, NBA 2K18’s story leaves much to be desired, from the basic premise to the characters and their cringe-worthy dialogue. Speaking of which – no pun intended – the lack of extensive dialogue choices has been a weakness since the story-driven approach was first adopted in NBA 2K14. With that in mind, who better to inject some interesting characters and dialogue than Kevin Smith? By his own admission, action scenes and innovative cinematography aren’t his forte, but Smith has created more than a couple of memorable characters in the View Askewniverse. Furthermore, if there’s one thing he can do well, it’s conversations with several quotable lines.
Naturally, there are a couple of potential drawbacks here. As with Spike Lee’s “Livin’ Da Dream” in NBA 2K16, the family-friendly rating might be a bit of a problem for Smith. Hockey is more his thing as well, so he might not be well-suited to craft a narrative for a basketball video game. As far as the action to conversation ratio is concerned, it would be funny to see a Kevin Smith-produced MyCAREER where there’s barely any gameplay, but your MyPLAYER does have a lot of bawdy and philosophical conversations about comic book characters. And of course, the Quick Stop would have to be featured in The Neighborhood. Snoogans!
2. Seth MacFarlane
If Visual Concepts has any desire to team up with successful, mainstream filmmakers in order to craft future MyCAREER stories, then Seth MacFarlane would be a pretty solid choice. His television shows, films, and general style of humour certainly aren’t for everyone, but whether you’re talking about Family Guy, American Dad, the Ted films, or The Orville, his works have proven to be quite popular over the years. The story in NBA 2K18 has clearly gone for a little humour, and if that’s the direction they want to go in, it’s definitely in Seth’s wheelhouse. That E10+ rating is going to be a problem though, and there would be some drawbacks to a MacFarlane MyCAREER.
Remember how I noted that most of the characters in NBA 2K18’s MyCAREER are annoying, jerks, or annoying jerks? If the recent seasons of Family Guy are any indication, Seth MacFarlane may not be the person to fix that particular problem. There’s probably also a strong possibility that your MyPLAYER will be turned into a bumbling idiot with a talking animal for a sidekick. Mind you, there’s potential for some fun mini-games when your MyPLAYER randomly sets up a cutaway in the middle of gameplay. If the 2K Zone has taught us anything, it’s that there’s room for mini-games in NBA 2K. We’d just need to be able to earn extra VC by playing them.
3. Michael Bay
Fans and critics tend to have strong, usually negative opinions about Michael Bay’s films. More than a couple of people have uttered the phrase “ruined my childhood” (or words to that effect), whether they’re talking about his take on Transformers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (though to be fair, while he was a producer, he didn’t actually direct the recent TMNT films). Still, for all the negative reviews and the gripes of the movie-going public, his films are box office smashes. Clearly, a lot of people do have an interest in seeing his work, and find his films to be entertaining despite the criticism. The same could be said of MyCAREER, at times.
Bay is, to state the obvious, a big fan of action. This is great news for anyone who’s weary of lengthy cutscenes with dreary conversations about improv groups, or Reese’s Puffs. At the risk of sounding like a tagline on a poster, Michael Bay’s MyCAREER would be a non-stop thrill ride. Earn an endorsement? Explosion! Level up your MyPLAYER? Explosion! Meet up with other NBA players? Epic action scene, with its fair share of explosions! And that’s just the cutscenes; the gameplay experience would be just as action-packed and explosive, perhaps even literally if you reach a high enough level. It’ll be a MyCAREER story that’s more than meets the eye.
M. Night Shyamalan
When discussing alternate theories for MyCAREER stories in previous Friday Five columns, I’ve suggested a couple of (admittedly clichéd) plot twists. Should 2K decide to officially explore that angle in future narratives, the filmmaker they should obviously bring in is M. Night Shyamalan. Sure, not every one of his films has been a hit with audiences or critics, and his trademark style has been lampooned on several occasions (“What a twist!“), but if there’s one thing Shyamalan knows how to do, it’s swerve the audience throughout a film before busting out a twist ending. Granted, we see it coming these days, but the exact nature of the twist can still be a surprise.
Hopefully, a Shyamalan MyCAREER would be more like The Sixth Sense, and less like The Village. Preferably, it would have a better story than After Earth, too; a lot of people paid to see that only to be disappointed, and we’ve had enough disappointing transactions in MyCAREER. The question is: are we ready for all of the supernatural elements that will likely make their way into the story? The fictional teammate we meet in our rookie year? They’re a ghost, or maybe a figment of our imagination all along. That’s if the whole thing isn’t a dream, we’re not in a coma, and the NBA itself actually exists in the MyCAREER universe. Things could get a little dark.
5. Zack Snyder
Of course, if dark and gritty is what you desire, I’d suggest that Zack Snyder would be the ideal filmmaker to helm the story in MyCAREER. The sky in The Neighborhood wouldn’t be quite as bright, and the garbage would likely be strewn about rather than tidily binned and bagged as it is now, but it would be visually interesting. Snyder’s career has been filled with adaptations featuring famous characters, and among the superstars of the NBA, past and present, there are many memorable personalities. Granted, not everyone will be satisfied with the portrayals, but as long as nobody’s neck gets broken, I’m sure his story would avoid being too controversial.
In NBA 2K17, we saw MyCAREER experiment with new mechanics, specifically the ability to switch control between Pres and Justice Young. With Zack Snyder on board, they could try changing up the gameplay with a mechanic based on one of his most famous stylistic choices: slow motion. Imagine if, after gaining significant momentum and heating up, your MyPLAYER was able to slow down time to pull off moves and beat defenders. Such a mechanic would be quite overpowering though, so I imagine you’d need to be a fair way along the Road to 99 before the ability was unlocked. The Slow-Mo Badge should be tough to earn, after all.
Once again, this is all in fun. In all seriousness, I’d rather see a toned down story in MyCAREER, with the narrative mostly being told through gameplay. If 2K was to go crazy with the idea though, which filmmaker would you like to see them work with? Have your say in the comments 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.