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The Friday Five: 20th Anniversary of the NLSC

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.

If you’ve connected with us on Facebook or Twitter, you might have seen that this August marks the 20th Anniversary of the NLSC. As it happens, today also marks my 15th Anniversary as the NLSC’s Webmaster/Administrator. Time certainly flies; it seems like only yesterday that I was in high school, a couple of months short of turning seventeen, and being handed control of my favourite website. I’d like to think that for the most part, I’ve done a pretty good job in the role. While there have been some tough moments, I’ve certainly enjoyed running the NLSC, from creating mods and content to all of the discussions in the Forum. Well, most of the discussions!

I take pride in the work that I and the rest of the NLSC Team put into the site, as well as what our community has been able to achieve with modding and other ventures. Even though the NLSC is not my day job, my aim is to always approach it with professionalism and dedication, because I truly believe that we are a site with a great heritage. For twenty years – beginning as an NBA Live fansite, and in time expanding to cover NBA 2K and other basketball games – we’ve always been by basketball gamers, for basketball gamers. For this week’s Friday Five, I’d like to reflect a little on that heritage, and my involvement with it.

1. How I Found the NLSC

Andrew's 1997/1998 Roster for NBA Live 96

Even before I discovered the NLSC – then the NBA Live Series Center – the idea of keeping my games up to date appealed to me. Before my family got connected to the Internet, I relied on magazines, the newspaper, and weekly updates on NBA Action to keep up to date with player movement. I always wished that I could edit the default players, though; change their jersey numbers, edit their ratings, and so on. It also bugged me that my created Michael Jordan didn’t have a date of birth, or Draft information. When we finally got online in August of 1997, I jumped onto Altavista (yes, this was a long time before Google), and searched for “NBA Live 96”.

The NLSC came up. I was blown away by the work that Tim, Lutz, and Brien were doing. Roster updates that added new players, overwrote retired players, and gave created players full bio data. Easy to use editors, so that I could do it all myself! I was immediately taken with the patching scene, and began making my own rosters, as well as exchanging a few emails with the original NLSC trio. The NLSC quickly became one of my favourite websites, and I’d visit it frequently for the latest news and patches. I still remember my excitement when it became nba-live.com, the domain we obviously still use to this day. It was the site for NBA Live.

2. How I Came to Run the NLSC

A hyped Kevin Garnett in NBA Live 2001

After I started getting involved in patching and the NBA Live community, I needed a place to distribute my files. At the time, the NLSC wasn’t able to offer file hosting, so a lot of us had our own smaller sites where we’d upload our patches, and then share them over on the NLSC. I ended up creating a website called the NBA Live Domain, which was hosted at the now-defunct Yahoo! Geocities. The original site is no longer available (except in my backups) but with Arcane’s help, I did whip up a tribute version of the NLD, which you can check out here.

I established a relationship with Tim and the NLSC, as they were always willing to help out smaller sites with exposure. With Tim joining the NBA Live development team prior to NBA Live 2001, and Lutz and Brien looking to step back from the hobby, I was eventually approached with an offer to take over the NLSC. I was extremely honoured, and excited for the opportunity. I did continue to try and run the NLD at the same time, turning it into something of an “editor’s choice” site. It was too time-consuming maintaining both sites however, and the NLSC was where I needed to focus my time and energy, so I closed the NLD in December 2001.

3. The Highs

Michael Jordan dunks in NBA 2K16

Where to begin? A lot of nice things have been said about the NLSC over the years, which is always flattering. Whenever we receive recognition from developers or in write-ups about modding in the gaming media, I feel pretty good. We’ve been able to get some exclusive interviews with developers from both EA Sports and Visual Concepts, which have been well-received and I’ve immensely enjoyed conducting. I’ve been lucky enough to represent the NLSC at four NBA Live community events over the past ten years, which have been amazing experiences that not only benefitted our content, but have given me fascinating insights into game development.

Three people who have worked on the NLSC have gone on to get jobs with either EA Sports or Visual Concepts. Our modding community has made some amazing projects, and risen to the challenge in terms of developing new tools and modding techniques. We’ve been able to introduce new original content, and I’ve really enjoyed the creative process behind doing so. A lot of sites around the web have come and gone, but we’ve been resilient, adapted to changes in the basketball gaming community, and here we are. I’m very glad to be a part of this community, and proud to have had a hand in the success of the site for fifteen of these past twenty years.

4. The Lows

Vince Carter dunking in NBA Live 07 (Xbox 360)

Of course, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. On a personal level, running the NLSC has been stressful at times. Early on in my tenure, I wasn’t always very well-liked, and I did have some friction with a few people in the community. In retrospect, I can certainly see where youth and inexperience was a problem for me, and how I’d handle a few things differently now. We have had a few unpleasant people come through the community, and some of them ended up making their differences with the site and I very personal. There were a couple of times in those early years where I considered stepping down, though I’m obviously very glad that I persevered.

In terms of the NLSC itself, shortly after I took over, we moved to a new host that promised us many great things, but ultimately never delivered any of them. They also had a huge server crash a couple of years later, and we were basically out of commission for a few weeks. We’ve had some technical issues with a couple of our other former hosts, and of course when our last host informed us that they’d be discontinuing their services as of July, I feared we might have to shut down, or at least scale back somewhat. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. We’ve also had interviews fall through, nasty persistent trolls, and highly anticipated games that flopped. On the whole, however, the highs have definitely outnumbered the lows.

5. The Future of the NLSC

LeBron James dribbles the basketball in NBA Live 16

As I alluded to when I discussed what the NLSC means to me in a Monday Tip-Off column back in June, it’s difficult to put any kind of timeframe on how much longer I’ll be running the site. I’ll be thirty-two in October, I’ve been doing this for fifteen years, and who knows what the future will bring? All I can say is that I have no immediate plans to move on, as I’m still very much enjoying doing what I’m doing. As far as the foreseeable future is concerned, I anticipate being a part of it, and doing my bit in making the NLSC the best site it possibly can be for basketball gamers.

I’m looking forward to continuing to cover basketball games, and creating original content based on them. I envision many more articles, videos, podcasts, and yes, hopefully a few mods here and there. I’m hoping for more opportunities to conduct interviews with developers, gain more insights into the development of basketball games, and should I get the chance, attending future community events. We’re all set up on our new server, with more control over our hosting and better support than ever before. Right now, I feel the future is very bright for us, our modding community, and everything else that we do here at the NLSC.

Once again, a huge thanks to everyone who has continued to support us over the years! We made the move to a new server because we’re still in this for the long haul, so I hope that you’ll stick around as well. If you are spending some time here at the NLSC, I certainly invite you to head on over to the Forum, and join in the discussion. In the meantime, that’s all for this week, so thanks for checking in, and thanks for being a part of what we do here. Have a great weekend, and please join me again next Friday for another Five.

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Andrew Sutton
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Andrew Sutton

Having a developer on the podcast would be insightful especially in regards to slider sets. Do fully utilized sliders “break the game”?

beegees
Member
beegees

Happy birthday, mates! I think I’m with you ~10 years. I don’t know my first visit. I had bought Live 06, then Live 07 and have been visited nba-live.com often for patches. There is no need in patches today due my console space, but I visit you often: news, follow-back and actually articles etc. Have more successful years to come! 🙂