The Friday Five: 5 Ways Parsec Is Changing Basketball Gaming

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 ways that Parsec is changing basketball gaming within our community.

As recently as early 2021, Dee4Three and I were struggling to remember the name of Parsec when referring to it on the NLSC Podcast. We were interested in trying out “that program” which would allow us to connect with each other and play basketball games – or indeed, any games – without official or third party servers. At long last we installed it, and from that point on, we’ve been hooked. In the months that followed, we’ve tried a multitude of games with varying degrees of success, and discovered an array of titles that will work well enough with our connections (particularly mine).

It’s incredible how fun and reliable Parsec has been. Obviously, connecting with someone on the opposite site of the world isn’t as mind-blowing as it was some 25 years ago. Still, the possibilities of Parsec are exciting, especially when it comes to basketball gaming. Dee has strongly advocated for Parsec on the NLSC Podcast, and I echo that enthusiasm as it facilitates some fantastic virtual hardwood experiences, with minimal difficulty setting up. It’s fair to say that Parsec could usher in several changes to basketball gaming. This isn’t a paid promotion, as Parsec is free. It’s full of potential for our community though, and these are five ways that we can explore that.

1. Online Play Without Official Servers

2002 Clippers vs 2002 Mavericks in NBA Live 10

Let’s begin with the obvious benefit. Official servers don’t remain online indefinitely, as at a certain point it’s difficult to justify their cost and upkeep; also, publishers want to sell the newest game. NBA 2K titles are currently guaranteed 27 months of support, which isn’t completely unreasonable given the number of gamers that move on every year. It’s still unfortunate for those who want to stick with an older game, of course. Even if you have no interest in MyTEAM, or MyCAREER and its connected modes, once the servers are shut down, not even Head-to-Head play is possible. Or at least, not via the same functionality that was originally provided by the game itself.

Online H2H basketball gaming is possible using Parsec, without the need for the official servers. Because it’s remote desktop software with support for gamepads and other input devices, as long as there’s a good connection, there are a lot of games that you can play with minimal input lag. Indeed, in my experience, the performance has been on par with – and sometimes even better than – playing modes like 2K Pro-Am and The Rec using 2K’s servers. Obviously those modes are no longer available, but H2H play in games that no longer have online support – or for that matter, didn’t have it in the first place – is completely viable. To state the obvious, this is a huge benefit.

2. Shared Collections Facilitates Retro Gaming

Parsec Facilitates H2H in NBA Live 95 SNES

As video games have become increasing popular and certain titles have become major franchises, our collections have arguably come to be quite similar. If nothing else, a larger collection means a greater likelihood of overlap with your fellow gamers. Back in the day, I remember friends having games that I didn’t, and vice versa. Lending games – usually swapping them for one of yours – was a way of getting to try out some new titles without having to pay rental fees. You’d also go over to a friend’s house, or invite them to yours, and play different games. I’m sure that still happens, but it seems less popular in the age of online gaming and digital game collections.

Retro basketball gaming over Parsec can serve as the digital age equivalent of going over to a friend’s house and playing a game that you don’t have in your collection. You might be able to play an old title that you’ve never experienced before, and aren’t in a position to try out. If you’re not adept at getting old games to run on a newer PC, someone with more technical knowhow can share their retro basketball gaming setup through Parsec. It’s even possible to connect an Xbox One to Windows 10 via the companion app, and then use Parsec to have a remote user connect to your console! There’s more latency when doing that, but there are games that are quite playable.

3. Forging Friendships & Encouraging Community Spirit

Xbox One Can Be Played Over Parsec

If there’s one thing that we could stand to do better in our corner of the Internet, it’s to foster enthusiasm and a sense of online friendship. Not that I think we’re particularly toxic or anything – we’ve always strived to avoid that – but as a community, we’re not as tight as we used to be. Admittedly it was easier when basketball gaming was more niche and it felt like everyone knew everyone else in the Forum, but Parsec might be able to bring some of that back. Forums and Discord servers build communities, but when you connect on Parsec, it’s quite personal. When you invite someone onto your desktop, in a way it’s almost as though you’re inviting them into your own home.

In fact, some might say it’s even more personal. After all, you’ll let your friends sit on your couch and put their beer in your fridge, but how comfortable are you letting them touch your computer? I rest my case! In all seriousness though, within the basketball gaming community, Parsec can be a great companion to forums and Discord as far as forging friendships and building community spirit, because you’re making personal connections. It’s something that might not always be possible when meeting fellow gamers within games, such as in The Rec or The City/Neighborhood. A personal invitation inspires etiquette and goodwill that often isn’t given to randoms you meet.

4. Connecting Collaborating Modders

Jason Williams on the 2006 Heat (NBA Live 10 Fantasy Teams)

While we’re bringing the community together, let’s talk about modding. The ability to connect to a friend’s desktop doesn’t just facilitate gaming sessions, but collaborative work on modding projects. There are several uses that could be helpful here. If you’re both working on something at the same time, you can switch between each other’s desktops to glance at your virtual workbenches, and discuss what you’re doing if you’re mic’d up. You could demonstrate techniques to someone, by having them watch what you’re doing as you stream your desktop directly to them. If there’s enough trust, you could grant them access to virtually pick up tools on your PC!

Obviously there are other ways to connect and communicate, but direct access to your desktop allows for demonstrations and quick sharing of work. If you’re collaborating on a roster, Parsec would allow a fellow team member on the project to preview what you’ve done and provide immediate feedback, without you having to send them any screenshots, documents, or the roster file itself. You could work out issues in real time, and help troubleshoot when something isn’t coming together. In essence, it could create a virtual modding studio! And of course, when it comes time to test out the project, you’ve already got someone connected who can just pick up a controller.

5. Inspiring New Content Based on Parsec Sessions

Chris Paul in the OKC Valentine's Day Jersey (NBA Live 10)

With Parsec opening up so many possibilities with basketball gaming and modding, it stands to reason that it also invites creative new ideas for content. Dee4Three has put together several highlight reels from community games. We’ve also discussed the possibility of live streaming, or providing commentary with our highlights, perhaps as an extension of the NLSC Podcast. It’d be possible to create collaborate reviews and mod showcases, or undertake co-op challenges. Obviously, we’ve been running an NBA Live 10 Tournament. It could even lead to a new form of modding tutorials, where both participants share info, or one asks questions on the audience’s behalf.

Needless to say, these are not all original ideas. I’ve seen content creators in other communities connect via Parsec to play co-op games. From the looks of things, it’s already being put to great use in the Let’s Play scene. As far as basketball gaming is concerned, Parsec clearly isn’t needed if you’re playing the online team play modes in the latest title, but if you’re producing retro content and want to team up with someone who can’t be sitting next to you, it can do the job and with stellar performance. Once again, if the content that you’re producing is mods, then the functionality that Parsec provides can ably assist you in connecting and collaborating on various projects.

Have you tried Parsec yet? If so, what have your experiences been like? What other possibilities can you see Parsec facilitating for basketball gaming? Have your say in the comments, 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.

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