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 odd technical issues that have been present in various basketball games over the years.
Games (and software in general) having bugs are a fact of life. Among older gamers such as myself, there’s sometimes an erroneous belief that the games we grew up with didn’t have such technical issues. Before patches were viable, developers did have to ensure that games were as bug-free as possible before they shipped, but many of the all-time classics have glitches of some description. Of course, on top of the need to stamp out bugs before games were finalised on cartridge and disc, the simplicity of those older games avoided some of the pitfalls of their more complex descendants.
To put it another way, the bigger video games have grown, the more bugs and other technical issues they’re prone to having. When it comes to PC games, the need to support a variety of hardware also provides further challenges. To that end, while there are several valid criticisms we can and should make of basketball video games, the mere presence of technical issues doesn’t indicate laziness, incompetence, or a lack of care. If making games and software that were entirely bug-free were easy – or indeed, possible – we’d see it happen. With that being said, various hoops titles have had notably odd bugs and technical issues, and today, I’m looking at five of them.
1. Autorun Affected Saving in NBA 2K12 under Windows XP
Remember Windows XP? It ended up being one of the more stable and popular versions of Windows, though Windows 7 arguably ended up taking that crown. In any event, if you’re familiar with XP, then you may recall that unlike its successors, it didn’t prompt us with a choice of actions when removable media such as optical discs were inserted. This meant that software and games with autorun fired up immediately, or at least brought up a launcher. There was convenience in this, but if you didn’t want it to happen, you had to either leave the disc in the drive, hold down the left Shift key after inserting a disc, or change the autorun settings to disable it permanently.
If you were playing NBA 2K12 on PC under Windows XP, you would’ve wanted to consider one of those three options. Whenever the game launched from the disc using autorun, it wasn’t possible to create any new save files. You could overwrite existing saves, but you’d get a disk error message whenever you tried to create a new one. Exit out and relaunch the game from the desktop or Start Menu shortcut, and everything would work as normal. It seems that when the game was launched from autorun, the game tried saving to the DVD-ROM instead of the hard drive, which obviously wasn’t going to work. The bug was never patched, but at least there was a workaround.
2. Player Lock was hidden in NBA Live 08 PC
In our community, the PC version of NBA Live 08 is easily one of the most infamous games in the entire series. To date, it’s the final NBA Live game to be released on PC, and it’s also a rather sloppy product across the board. From gameplay quirks to issues such as a broken sim engine in Dynasty mode, it’s difficult to get much enjoyment out of it. We certainly tried, however, and did our best to enhance the game – or simply just fix it – with mods. The silver lining here is that the file formats were basically identical to NBA Live 07, which allowed us to substitute face, jersey, court, and even menu files from the previous game. It even allowed us to fix an odd technical issue.
For whatever reason, the ability to select Player Lock is not available in the game’s control options. The functionality is still present though, as evident by the fix that was devised. By swapping in a frontend file from NBA Live 07, it was possible to access the Player Lock option once again. Sloppy oversights such as this one – even if we were able to fix them ourselves – emphasise how the PC and PlayStation 2 versions of NBA Live 08 were complete afterthoughts for EA Sports by that point. As much as many of us were disappointed in NBA 2K21 Current Gen for feeling more like NBA 2K20.5, it’s in far better shape than the slapdash release that was NBA Live 08 PC.
3. Baskets Not Counting At One End of MyCOURT
When it comes to technical issues, some of the most frustrating examples in annual releases are when there are new bugs in returning features. Everything was working fine the year before, but in the newly released game, it’s broken. While this may seem odd to a lot of gamers, the fact of the matter is that creating a new game isn’t just a case of copying and pasting everything (even if it sometimes feels like that’s the case). Even if features are familiar, indeed identical to how they were in the previous game, code is still often re-written. The task of integrating existing features and code with the new does result in bugs arising where everything had previously worked fine.
Of course, understanding the reasons behind the phenomenon doesn’t make it any less frustrating, and that was the case when in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER, we weren’t able to tally baskets at the far end of the floor. Shots would fall through the basket – we could even throw down dunks – but they’d register as misses every time. This made 3v3 MyCOURT games unplayable, as one of the teams would be unable to score. Solo players also suffered, as a handful of the shootaround tasks that can earn extra VC require making shots in both baskets. On the bright side, Patch 1.03 resolved the issue by late September, and there were no further technical issues in MyCOURT.
4. Inability to Rebound in Shootaround Modes
The Neighborhood was our first taste of a hub world experience in MyCAREER, something that has since been expanded upon with The City. It’s fair to say that it’s a “love it or hate it” concept; or at the very least, a “love it or put up with it because that’s the only way you’ll be able to play MyCAREER and its connected modes” idea. For those who love the idea of The Neighborhood and The City, the appeal is in the atmosphere of a living world populated with other gamers and places to explore. For those who aren’t fans of the approach, the main drawback is the inconvenience of running here and there instead of navigating menus, and all of the time that it wastes.
On top of that, the new player menu interface wasn’t compatible with some of the existing features of MyCAREER. While navigating The Neighborhood in NBA 2K18 and NBA 2K19, the same button used for block/rebound during gameplay brought up the menu. Unfortunately, the team practice facility, walk-on/Rec Center, and Pro-Am arenas were considered part of The Neighborhood. As a result, when shooting around in those gyms, there was no way to jump for rebounds, as the button would just bring up the menu instead. The controls worked as normal in MyCOURT games, but it was an annoying oversight everywhere else. Thankfully, it was fixed in NBA 2K20.
5. Random Crashes Exiting Games in NBA Live 07 PC
NBA Live 08 marked the end of the series on PC, and made it painfully obvious that the prior gen version (and by extension, the PC port) were a complete afterthought by that point. However, the writing had been on the wall for a year at that point, as it was just as clear that the PC, PlayStation 2, and Xbox version of NBA Live 07 was a much, much lower priority than the Xbox 360 release (which was still one of the worst games in the entire series). We did get a single official patch for the game on PC, but it barely scratched the surface as far as correcting the myriad of technical issues and gameplay problems in the title. As such, we just had to put up with them.
One of the technical issues that I believe most of us have run into at one time or another in NBA Live 07 PC is its tendency to randomly crash upon exiting a game. It doesn’t matter if a game is still in progress, or you’re trying to exit back out to the menu after completing it. You’ll find yourself back at the desktop, which needless to say is particularly frustrating if it was a Dynasty mode game. Not only did the official patch fail to address the issue, but we could never pinpoint the cause and develop an unofficial fix or workaround. The best we could do was to reinstall the game until it worked properly; a most unscientific and unsatisfactory “solution” to such an issue.
Do any of these technical issues sound familiar? Can you recall any other particularly odd technical issues that you’ve encountered in basketball games over the years? Post about them 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.