Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.
Another year is almost over, and with next Friday being January 2nd, this week marks the final edition of The Friday Five for 2014. It’s certainly been a fun and interesting year here at the NLSC, so I wanted to use this week’s column to reflect on the past twelve months, throw out a couple of “Best Of”/”Editor’s Picks” lists, and look ahead to what’s in store for 2015.
Before I go on, a big thank you to everyone who checks out The Friday Five each week, spreads the word about it on social media, and comments on the articles themselves. I enjoy writing the Five and (hopefully) giving you all something interesting and entertaining to read every week, so I really do appreciate your support of the feature. With that said, let’s get started with the Year In Review of 2014!
1. My 5 Favourite Friday Fives
Let’s start out with my favourite Friday Fives of 2014. As I said, I enjoy writing the Five each week, and so far haven’t missed a Friday since I started the column at the beginning of 2013. Occasionally I’ll find myself scrambling for a topic on Friday afternoon, but sometimes, those are the ones that I end up enjoying the most, once I’ve decided what I want to write about. Here are the Friday Fives that I invite you to check out again (or catch up on, if you missed them the first time around):
- 5 Things I Loved About My NBA Live 06 Dynasty
- 5 Things You Should Know About Making Roster Updates
- 5 Patches I Always Wanted To Make
- 5 Random Basketball Video Game Facts
- My All-Time Starting Five
A couple of those Fives are articles that I’ve been wanting to write for a while now. I wanted to explain what goes into making roster updates, and why I’ve had to step away from them. I enjoyed wondering what might have been, and tossing out some patching ideas that I could never get around to doing. It was fun to share some trivia regarding a few of my favourite basketball video games. My All-Time Starting Five was an obvious topic that I’d somehow overlooked, and it was interesting to re-evaluate a couple of my long-time picks. And of course, I felt very nostalgic as I reminisced about my NBA Live 06 Dynasty. So much so, I started playing it again!
2. NLSC Podcast: 5 Editor’s Picks
In our third “season” of the NLSC Podcast, we were able to do some exciting things, as well as hit a new milestone. In addition to the fun we had in getting together to record our regular episodes, we were also able to chat to developers on four different occasions, beginning with Scott O’Gallagher (then with EA, now with 2K), NBA Live Executive Producer Sean O’Brien, and of course, our good friend Leftos. Needless to say, a few of those shows make my editor’s picks, which are as follows:
- Episode #90 (Sean O’Brien Interview #1)
- Episode #95 (Leftos Interview)
- Episode #100
- Episode #91
- Episode #99 (Sean O’Brien Interview #2)
It was definitely huge for us to get those interviews, as Sean gave us a great deal of information in our first chat with him, and it was a lot of fun having Leftos back on the show for the first time since Episode #37. We wanted to do something special for the 100th episode, and I feel that we achieved that with JaoSming and Leftos coming on the show, as well as my interview with NLSC co-founder Tim Tschirner. Episode #91 was also one of my favourite shows as we reflected on our interview with Sean, and got to talk about some very exciting news: the full PS4/X1 port of NBA 2K15 that the PC would be receiving. I hope that you enjoy (or enjoyed) listening to them!
3. A Good Year for NBA Live and NBA 2K
Throughout the preview season, I expressed optimism about NBA Live 15 and NBA 2K15, both in the Forum and on the Podcast. When both games came out, I personally felt that my optimism had been justified. Both games have their issues and drawbacks, and NBA Live still has a long way to go in its rebuilding efforts, but my initial impressions of both titles were far more positive compared to last year’s releases. Additionally, I feel that for the most part – and in the most important areas – both NBA Live and NBA 2K are on the right track.
NBA Live 14 had a lot of promise and some good concepts, and I did have some fun with it, but it was still very rough. The amount of improvement in NBA Live 15 across the board is very impressive. Again, there’s still a long way to go, but it was a very pleasing leap forward, and the game has only gotten better with the two title updates it’s received so far. Even Dynasty Mode received a few welcome enhancements, despite not being the focus this year. The response to NBA Live 15 has been far more positive than it was for NBA Live 14, and it feels like the series is back on its way up, with Sean O’Brien’s vision starting to take shape.
As for NBA 2K, the series has continued to roll with NBA 2K15. Approaching this year’s game with more patience, and a determination to break old gaming habits, I’ve enjoyed it a lot more than I did NBA 2K14. I’m still iffy about the direction of MyCAREER, and I don’t much care for the MyPLAYER’s personality, but the ability to scan your own face is a very cool feature. MyLEAGUE is fantastic, and a welcome alternative to the RPG-driven MyGM, which is still a great mode in its own right. It’s not perfect, there are some troubling issues, but it still an outstanding game. We just have to keep working on our modding resources, now that we have a full PC port.
4. 2K Hires Several Community Members
Following their pick-up of Leftos last year, Visual Concepts has hired a handful of people from the basketball gaming community over the past twelve months. The one and only President of the Sim Nation, Da_Czar, is now working with the development team in an official capacity. Vlad, the creator of RED MC, will be joining the team as a programmer. Mike Stauffer, aka bedwardsroy19, is putting his knowledge of the sport to great use with the daily roster updates for NBA 2K15.
And of course, our own JaoSming joined them in September when he was hired to work on the new 2KTV show, hosted by Rachel DeMita. While we certainly miss having Jon on the Podcast, as well as his many great contributions in terms of mods and tutorials, we are extremely proud of him, and it’s great to see him drop by the NLSC Forum whenever he has the chance. It was also fun to parody Dan Gilbert’s infamous open letter, and farewell my friend from the NLSC team with some Comic Sans correspondence of my own!
I’d also like to touch one last time on the conspiracy theories suggesting that 2K Sports is hiring members of the community to shut down modding, or actively working against modders in general. It’s a ridiculous suggestion, and frankly disrespectful to the people who have been hired because of their passion and talent. If 2K wanted to shut down modding for good, they could easily do so with a Cease and Desist. With new file formats to work out, we’re better off focusing our energy on devising new solutions, not pointing fingers and making wild accusations. In any event, congratulations again to JaoSming, and all of the community hires!
5. Looking Ahead to 2015
I honestly feel that 2014 was a great year for the NLSC. We were able to break some news for both NBA Live 15 and NBA 2K15, this year’s releases suggest a bright future for both series, we had some noteworthy guests on our Podcast, and our modding community continued to do some very impressive things. We’ve also really enjoyed bringing you original content throughout the year, from the Podcast to feature articles and regular columns.
We’re looking to do more of the same in 2015, only bigger, better, and with a few new features making their debut. More columns, more analysis, more resources and tutorials. New video content, hopefully including the return of the Top 10 Plays of the Week. We’ll also be running a (slightly belated) feature for the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live, which will naturally include articles and retrospective reviews, but also a lot more. I’m really looking forward to doing some fun stuff with that.
As far as NBA Live 16 and NBA 2K16 are concerned, we’ll be doing our best to keep you up to date with the latest news, and hopefully arrange for some more developer interviews on the Podcast. As I said, I believe the future is bright for both series, so I’m optimistic that most of us will be able to look forward to at least one game or the other. We’re also looking to expand our Wiki, spotlight community-made content, and a few other things that I hope you’ll really enjoy. In short, we’re looking forward to making 2015 another great year here at the NLSC, and even better than 2014.
Once again, a huge thank you to everyone who has checked in throughout the year, and supported The Friday Five. There’s more basketball gaming fun on the way in the new year, so keep it locked to the NLSC. As always, I invite you to respond to any of our feature articles in their respective comments sections, as well as join in the discussion that’s taking place throughout the NLSC Forum. In the meantime, that’s all for this week; please join me again next Friday, and throughout 2015, for more instalments of The Friday Five.