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 unorthodox ideas for basketball video games.
While everyone is entitled to their opinion, when it comes to suggestions for basketball video games, there are some ideas that probably don’t need to be explored. At the very least, certain suggestions probably shouldn’t be high up on the list of priorities. For example, I don’t really see the point of Create-a-Fan, and a Referee Mode would be better suited to a professional wrestling game (and even there, I’ve found that the novelty has worn off fairly quickly). That being said, there’s no harm in throwing out some off-the-wall ideas that certainly could be fun.
It’s important that we focus on the important issues with gameplay, game modes, and functionality, and as a gaming community, I believe that we do a good job with our feedback. We have laundry lists of serious and well-thought out constructive suggestions on how the games can improve, but there’s always room to throw out some more creative ideas for extra content and features. Some of these suggestions are a little out there, but could have merit if implemented properly. In the spirit of innovation and trying something different, here are five somewhat crazy (but still reasonably practical) ideas for future basketball video games.
1. More Mini-Games for MyCOURT
This is something that Arcane and I talked about while we were shooting around on my MyCOURT the other night. None of the other members of NLSC THRILLHO were around to play 2K Pro-Am, and it was a night when we weren’t having much fun with MyPARK either. As such, we ended up just shooting around while we chatted, and then played a single one-on-one game (incidentally, Arcane was victorious). We noted that while it was nice to have some online multiplayer functionality in MyCOURT, the options remain fairly limited, and it would’ve been handy to be able to invite a couple of CPU-controlled players to play two-on-two or three-on-three.
The first idea would be to give users a more proactive role in contacting other players in MyCAREER. If you want to call over some teammates (or other contacts) for a practice or quick game, you’d be able to do so instead of waiting for them to drop by. The option could also be used to fill out squads if you’re looking to set up a game with your friends, but need extra players. The second idea would be to add some more mini-games and modes of play to MyCOURT: a dunk contest, three-point shootout, H.O.R.S.E, and so on. On top of being something extra to mess around with, if it contributes to the Doin’ Work meter, it’d also have a practical use for MyCAREER.
2. Retro Camera Angles & Multiple Filters
Over the years, the goal in both NBA Live and NBA 2K has been to make the in-game presentation more closely resemble a real television broadcast. As with many areas of the games, there’s still room for improvement, but nevertheless both developers have achieved some great results in this regard. Authentic broadcast camera angles should absolutely remain a part of the game, but I reckon it’d be a cool throwback to have some old school camera options as well. It may not be a setting I’d always choose, but if there was an NBA Live 95-style isometric angle, I know I’d use it from time to time.
If we’re aiming for a retro experience, a variety of visual filter options would also be great. The 2010 reboot of NBA Jam did this, with a pixellated effect setting that was very nostalgic. A cel-shaded filter, similar to the NBA 2K12 Legends Showcase DLC, would be fun as well. And while we’re talking about throwback aesthetics, what about the retro broadcast effects from NBA’s Greatest? Imagine being able to manually select those visual styles while playing with the retro teams. If we can take it one final step further, I’d also suggest the ability to create our own custom filters in-game, allowing us to create a new aesthetic without the need for external modding.
3. Franchise Mode Scenarios
When I was first mulling over this idea, I was thinking of something fairly straightforward. I was working along the lines of the handful of pre-made scenarios in LucasArts’ Afterlife, or the “famous expedition” scenarios in Pirates Gold. Following that template, franchise mode scenarios would present users with preset starting points in Dynasty, MyGM, or MyLEAGUE, each providing their own challenges and interesting situations. Scenarios might include a fictional trade, a major injury just before the trade deadline, a team that needs to make a big run down the stretch to qualify for the postseason, and so on. I think it could work and be a fun idea, but…
…but, wouldn’t it be even more fun if we could design the franchise mode scenarios ourselves? I’m not sure how popular the scenario modes were in the handful of NBA Live and NBA 2K games that featured them, but they were a great idea. This would be taking that idea even further, giving users the ability to set rosters, standings, stats, injuries, and other variables to create a detailed franchise scenario. From there, you’d be able to play the scenario, as well as share it with other gamers so that they could take on the challenge. Throw in some auto-generate functions so that you don’t have to assign every single stat, and I believe it becomes a fun and viable concept.
4. Unlock your MyPLAYER/Rising Star Player for MyTEAM/Ultimate Team
One of the issues that can make the team building modes in both NBA Live and NBA 2K a little difficult to get into is the weak selection of cards you begin with. Now that Ultimate Team and MyTEAM both feature temporary cards in the form of short term players and Free Agent cards respectively, you are generally granted a top player out of the box, but they’re gone after a few games. While you’re still trying to beat the preliminary challenges to earn a few cards to build up your roster, it would help to have at least one star player who you don’t need to randomly win or pull from a pack. So, where is this helpful star player going to come from?
Look no further than that MyPLAYER or Rising Star player you’ve been diligently grinding to improve. The ability to unlock your career mode player for use in the team building modes would provide you with a star you’ve crafted yourself, someone who could immediately provide a boost when you’re just starting out, or facing a tough challenge. As an added gimmick, I’d suggest that your player have unlimited contracts, though they’d first need to be unlocked by completing an objective in the respective career mode. That way, there’d be a little something extra added to both modes, and a fun use for your avatar in a mode that isn’t player locked.
5. Allow Switching of Players in 2K Pro-Am & LIVE Pro-Am
I’ve saved this idea for last, because it’s probably the craziest and least practical. It came to me when I was writing my Wayback Wednesday piece on Online Team Play in NBA Live 08, and I was reminded that if there were less than five users on a team, player switching could be enabled. The concept has evolved since then, and modes like 2K Pro-Am, MyPARK, and LIVE Pro-Am are now played with our own avatars, so it makes sense that we’re always player locked. On the other hand, wouldn’t that make player switching in online team-up modes even more fun and interesting?
The basic concept here can be summed up thusly: “Can you play better with my MyPLAYER than I can?”, or perhaps, “Are you better at being ‘me’ than I am?” Switching would be restricted to organised squads, and would require both users to accept the switch when it’s proposed. It could also be used to take control of AI players, similar to switching control to Justice Young when Orange Juice is activated in NBA 2K17’s MyCAREER. Since the AI doesn’t always take full advantage of controlling a 95 Overall MyPLAYER when a user gets booted, there’s plenty of incentive right there to at least momentarily step into someone else’s shoes.
Should these ideas be implemented in future iterations of NBA Live and NBA 2K? I think at least a couple of them could work and have some merit, though I definitely wouldn’t put them ahead of more crucial additions and improvements. Still, it’s fun to consider some ideas that are a little unorthodox, and could possibly inject some extra enjoyment into the games. Do you have any ideas like that? Share them in the comments section below, and 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.