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 old features that could possibly be repurposed and included in future games.
Old basketball games include some interesting features, many of which I’ve profiled in Wayback Wednesday over the years. As I’ve noted in those articles, there are some features that were innovative at the time and fun to look back on, but are admittedly outdated now. They’ve either been replaced with a more evolved concept, or they just don’t fit in today’s games. On the other hand, there are features in old games that I’d like to see return. Some of them would fit perfectly into modern titles, while others would need to be revamped and repurposed to be properly utilised in a new game.
That last group is what I’m focusing on today. While NBA 2K remains a deep game, and NBA Live has introduced some good ideas over the past generation despite some shaky releases, there are some old features that would make a very welcome return; particularly if they were updated and adapted for use in contemporary gameplay and modes. Unfortunately, the design principles that Visual Concepts and EA Sports are adhering to these days may make it highly unlikely, but nevertheless, I’d like to throw out these ideas for repurposed old features. After all, you never know what may happen, especially if they can be repurposed in a way that makes them relevant again.
1. The Pressbook
When I covered The Pressbook in Wayback Wednesday last year, I identified it as one of the prime examples of old features that could be repurposed. In case you’ve forgotten, The Pressbook included a collection of screenshots and videos that were made available post game. Many of the screens were taken from angles that were difficult (or indeed, impossible) to achieve through Instant Replay, and there was also an upload feature. Obviously, The Pressbook is not as useful now that we have better angles in Instant Replay, as well as readily available screenshot and video capture functionality. There’s a way that it could be very useful in a new game, though.
While we have the ability to save screenshots and video of online games, we don’t have the luxury of using Instant Replay. That means all of our screenshots and highlight clips are from gameplay angles. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if a repurposed Pressbook could provide us with some cinematic angles and screens following an online game, how cool would that be? I’m sure that YouTubers would love to have those clips for their highlight reels and essay videos, as well as the screenshots for thumbnails. It would still be useful in its original form as well, but the possibilities for online play are a major incentive to revamp it and bring it back.
2. Quick Pick Play
For the uninitiated, Quick Pick Play essentially stood in for Custom Teams in NBA Live, long after the original concept had been abandoned. Instead of being able to create our own teams, Quick Pick Play was similar to the original Custom Teams feature found in NBA Live 95, 96, and 97. However, instead of choosing our own squads to fill the rosters of the Jammers, Slammers, Stealers, and Blockers, we picked two of the 30 NBA teams and selected the players we wanted for each. The idea was that we could play with the team and players of our choice, without having to go to the trouble of making all the necessary moves to customise their respective rosters.
You may also look at Quick Pick Play and think that it sounds a lot like Ultimate Team and MyTEAM, only without the need to collect any cards first. That’s a fair observation, and one of the reasons that EA and 2K would likely balk at such an idea in a modern game. However, I have a suggestion. Implement it as part of those card collecting modes, with a choice of all currently available cards. Gamers would have to win ten games without losing more than two in a row, after which they win one of the cards, chosen at random. You could also implement it as an exhibition mode, where it could essentially be practice for the real deal. That’d be win-win, in my opinion.
3. Roster Exporting
Very few games have featured full roster exporting functionality. Two that come to mind off the top of my head are the PC version of NBA Live 96, and Fox Sports NBA Basketball 2000. In case you’re not familiar with the function I’m referring to, both of these games allowed us to save the rosters from a season in progress, and use them to start another Season, or in exhibition play. NBA Live 96 PC only had one roster file to export to, though it was easy enough to back up and swap files. Fox Sports NBA Basketball 2000 allowed for multiple saves, but like most aspects of the game, the interface was very clunky, especially since you could also load rosters into a Season.
The advantages of this function should be obvious. It would allow us to share rosters created in a franchise mode save, or preserve them for use in a new save of our own. NBA 2K21 already allows us to share MyLEAGUE and MyNBA scenarios, and a repurposed roster export function would be an extension of that feature. I imagine it’d be very handy for people who create content centred on franchise play, as they’d be able to capture video and screenshots of every team in the league without having to control them. It would also be a means of preserving the DNA of generated rookies, many of whom end up becoming legends for us on the virtual hardwood.
4. Legends Pool
Speaking of Legends, both NBA Live and NBA 2K feature a number of them in Ultimate Team and MyTEAM. NBA 2K takes things a step further with a bevy of historical teams, but there are a number of retro players that aren’t playable outside of MyTEAM. No doubt this is by design, and this is why a Legends Pool – as seen in older NBA Live titles – is one of those old features that sadly seem highly unlikely to be repurposed. With that being said, I’m going to advocate for it anyway. The basic concept is that additional copies of all the historical players in the game are available in a pool similar to the Free Agents, where they can be added to any team’s roster.
Imagine the detailed roster projects that we could create with access to all of the retro players! Sure, roster creators can already make use of those assets, but the more we can achieve with in-game customisation tools, so much the better. As I said, 2K might be hesitant to do this because certain players will lose their exclusivity to MyTEAM, but I would suggest that most gamers who want to play with intact retro teams and retro season mods aren’t going to play that mode, and MyTEAM gamers will still rip open pack after pack to get them. I’d love to see NBA 2K get the most out of its retro content, and repurposed old features such as a Legends Pool would accomplish that.
5. Historical Challenge Mode
Look, I realise that people have mixed feelings about nostalgia these days, but it’s not as though appreciation for the past is completely nonexistent. Besides, since we had The Jordan Challenge and NBA’s Greatest, a new generation of stars became the elder statesmen of the league, and in some cases retired. I’m all for continuing to honour the players from the 90s and earlier, but with so many stars of the 2000s and 2010s now retired or approaching the end of their careers, it’d be great to see a new historical challenge mode. Sure, there’s Historical and All-Time Domination in MyTEAM, but that mode isn’t for everyone, and it’s not quite the same as those old features.
As with the other old features I’m suggesting could be repurposed, the issue is that there needs to be incentive for 2K to do this. The current approach makes money, while the old historical challenge features do not. I’d therefore suggest some kind of incentive to complete all of the challenges, or perhaps integration with MyTEAM. Perhaps completing all of the challenges would earn VC or Tokens, which could then be used to unlock MyTEAM content. Maybe it could unlock a Legends Pool. It could have leaderboards, and offer rewards for the best performances when completing all of the challenges. Whatever works best, I’m all for the concept being repurposed.
Can you think of any other old features that could feasibly be repurposed for future games? 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.