The Friday Five: 5 Tips for Creating Basketball Game Content

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 tips for anyone who wants to get involved in creating content for basketball video games.

So, you love basketball video games, and you want to create some content for or based on them. That’s great! The ratio of creators vs. consumers in any community rarely favours the creators, so any time that somebody new wants to create entertaining and informative content for basketball games, it’s most welcome. From our original content and talented modding community, to popular YouTubers and the EA Sports Game Changers, people are talking about basketball games, finding ways to help their fellow gamers enhance their experience, aiding the developers, and providing something interesting and entertaining to read or watch.

Although there are some well established platforms on which to create basketball gaming content, it can be difficult to know where to begin. To that end, I thought that I’d put together a shortlist of tips for anyone who wants to get involved in creating mods, videos, articles, and so on. Having observed what makes other people’s content successful (and in my opinion enjoyable), as well as having tried my hand at more than a couple of creative endeavours related to basketball games over the years, these are some traits and techniques that I like to keep in mind. Hopefully, some of them will be useful to aspiring content creators within the basketball gaming community.

1. Pick a Medium, Theme, & Style That Suits You

Shaq, EJ, & The Jet in NBA 2K17

By medium, I mean the basic type of content you’ll be creating, e.g. mods, articles, videos, or audio content. By theme, I mean the specific mods that you’ll create, or the scope of topics you’ll cover. For written articles, videos, and audio content in particular, you’ll need to find your “voice”: the style that works best in getting your point across and making what you’re producing fun, insightful, and engaging. It’s something that you can experiment with as you go, and feedback from your audience certainly helps. With modding, most of the techniques tend to be standard, though if you discover a new and better way of doing something, that’s always good to know.

Basically, you need to find what you can do, and what you most enjoy doing. There’s no harm in trying your hand at a bit of everything, though videos in particular can be very time consuming, and there are only so many hours in a day. If you’re sticking with content that suits your skills, specific basketball gaming interests, and your free time, you’ll find that it’s not only easier to stick to a regular schedule – that’s important – but the process of creating the content will be a lot more fun. Your choice of content and personal style is also crucial. If it’s not your “thing” or if you’ve grown tired of it, the creative process is going to feel like a chore, and you’re more likely to quit.

2. Get More Footage & Screenshots Than You Need

Unused Bradley Newley Screenshot for NLSC Content

When you’re capturing footage or screenshots for an article or video feature, it’s far better to have too much than too little. Granted, if you know exactly what you want and you can get the precise amount, that’s certainly sufficient, but it’s better to be able to pick the best from a few alternatives. As long as you’re not running out of hard drive space, it’s difficult to have overkill here. It avoids having to re-use screenshots too often in articles, or repeating clips in order to pad out a video, especially if they’re not relevant to what you’re talking about. You can always cut what you don’t need, but it can be a hassle if you have to go back and get something that you missed.

Even if you have no immediate use for some of the media you capture, you never know when it will come in handy for another feature down the road. There are times when familiar topics will come up again, and while you may sometimes want to reuse previous footage or screenshots, other times you’ll want to freshen up your features with some new media. Generally speaking, this advice mostly applies to written articles and video features, but in terms of modding, I’d suggest that it never hurts to make extra backups. You never know when you might like an earlier version of a mod better, and want to go back a few steps to try again.

3. Always Go Back & Double-Check Details

Midwest Division Halftime Video in NBA Live 99

This one is fairly self-explanatory when it comes to modding. Whether you’re updating rosters, textures, or models, attention to detail is paramount. Whatever it is that you’re doing, you’ll want to get the best results possible, so double-check to make sure the details are correct. If the content is an article or video that provides commentary or analysis, for the sake of offering up an accurate insight, you’ll definitely want to do some double-checking. Some content will involve off-the-cuff remarks and observations, but if you’re looking to present definitive and accurate facts on a certain topic regarding basketball games, it pays to do your homework.

I can attest to that from personal experience. There have been many times when I’ve been creating content for an NLSC feature where I thought that I remembered something accurately, but I’d actually forgotten some of the specifics. Double-checking has allowed me to catch that in time, correcting and expanding upon the details. When I’ve neglected to double-check, that’s when I’ve overlooked things and made mistakes. That’s bound to happen no matter how good your memory is, especially if you’re talking about an older basketball game that you haven’t played in a while. When that’s the case, fire up the game, and make sure you’ve got it right.

4. See What Other Basketball Gamers Are Creating

LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant in NBA 2K11 - 2017 Season Roster

Approaching what I talked about in this week’s Monday Tip-Off from the perspective of a community creating content for basketball games, originality is important, but it’s also a good idea to keep tabs on what other people are doing. You don’t want your content to be too derivative, but it pays to know what’s popular, what’s becoming overdone and played out, and where there might be a niche that your content can fill. This applies to both the specific type of content you’re creating (including the topics that you cover), and the style in which you present it. Consider it market research, regardless of whether or not you’ll be producing monetised content.

I’ve mentioned this in previous articles about modding, but it bears repeating: it’s important to take a look at the mods that other people are creating. If a certain team or player is receiving a lot of updates, it might be a good idea to see what else you can fix, update, or modify. If there’s someone with a similar idea for a big project, it might be in both of your best interests to collaborate. While I’ll always advocate creating what you want – more on that in a moment – when it comes to modding, sometimes it’s better to team up and pool resources, or not make another LeBron James face when there are already ten other great updates available for him.

5. Create Content That Would Interest You

Michael Jordan vs. Clyde Drexler in the Ultimate Jordan Roster for NBA Live 08

Needless to say, you’re going to want to create content that finds an audience, and resonates with your fellow basketball gamers. Of course, being a part of that userbase yourself, you should already have a pretty good insight into the kind of content that would be interesting and enjoyable. Furthermore, if you’re not interested in the content you’re creating, then it’s going to be hard to make it genuinely interesting for your audience. If a particular topic or approach isn’t working then it might be time to re-evaluate what you’re doing, but if you’re grudgingly covering topics that you have absolutely no interest in, you really can’t do your best work.

It helps to brainstorm ideas for future content, keeping a list of what you’ve done and what you’d like to do. I’ve got lists for all my weekly and special features, and although a current event or gaming experience might inspire a topic I hadn’t thought about covering, it helps to have a backlog of ideas. While I obviously consider what my fellow basketball gamers might want to hear about, I also think about the content that I personally want to consume, which allows me to focus on subjects I can cover in detail and with enthusiasm. You know the kind of basketball gaming content that you like; chances are that many of your fellow gamers are interested in it, too.

In addition to scratching a creative itch and entertaining your fellow gamers, creating content based on basketball games has other benefits. We’ve seen it have a positive impact on the development of future games, and it’s even earned more than a couple of people jobs in the industry. Therefore, as a community, we should definitely be supportive of each other’s creative efforts. Do you have any tips for content creators in the basketball gaming community? Post them in the comments below, as well as in 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.

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