The Friday Five: 5 More Tips for Patchers

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.

A few weeks back, I provided five tips for patchers that were mostly aimed at people who were just getting started in the patching scene. This week, I thought I’d offer five more tips for patchers, with a focus on what to do after you’ve mastered the basics and are getting more comfortable patching the games.

These are fairly general tips regarding our patching community and culture, so if you’re looking for information on how to create a specific patch, please consult the appropriate tutorial. However, I do have a couple of things to say about developing good patching habits and being a productive member of our patching community, so please read on for five more tips for NBA Live and NBA 2K patchers.

1. Use the upload facilities in our Downloads section

Uploading to the NLSC Downloads section

Yes, it’s another shameless plug for our Downloads section and its upload facilities. However, it’s important that anyone in our community who is looking to share their updates is aware of our database and knows that they can upload files to it, as long as they have an active Forum account. Uploading files is absolutely free and while there is a 100 megabyte limit per file, there’s no restriction on the number of files that you can upload to the database. You can also add a file with an external download link, though I’d encourage everyone to upload to our server whenever possible.

We’re keen to get as many patchers as possible adding their files to our Downloads section, so that we can provide the community with a comprehensive collection of updates for all the games that are being patched. We’re also eager to preserve files and prevent them from getting lost, as a lot of great updates have gone missing over the years when external hosting services have been shut down, or purge older uploads. For those who find the upload form a little confusing, JaoSming has created a video tutorial, and I’m certainly happy to answer any questions you may about the process as well. The facilities are there for everyone, so please make good use of them!

2. Make backups

S_Brat's Dwight Howard face update for NBA Live 08

There are two kinds of backups that you should be making when patching. The first is a backup of the original file (or files) that you are editing, so that you can easily restore things to a working state if you need a fresh start. There are methods of restoring the original files if you forget to do this of course, but it’s a good habit to get into as it’s much quicker if you’ve got a backup readily available.

You should also keep a backup of your modified file (or files) as you make progress on whatever it is that you’re working on. If something does go wrong – and it easily can, when you’re tinkering – you won’t have to start all over again from scratch. This applies to completed works as well, as there may be times when you need to go back and work from a particular version of your update, particularly when changes in a new version aren’t going to plan and are too difficult to manually undo.

3. Look at other patchers’ work

JaoSming's 4x Basketball Update for NBA 2K14 PC

As a community, we’ll ideally be able to continually update and improve our tutorials and resources, so that new and experienced patchers alike have access to the templates and know-how needed to create great updates. However, as I mentioned in my previous tips article, a little bit of intuition can go a long way and tends to be greatly beneficial to anyone who’s looking to patch. Taking a look at the great patches that others in the community are releasing needn’t just be inspiring; it can also be informative.

By all means read the tutorials and ask follow up questions when you’re stuck, but it’s a good idea to take a look at other people’s updates for clues on how to do this and that. Notice something a little different about a player in a roster? Open it up in the appropriate editor and see which values have been used. Does a court/arena update feature a cool effect? Check it out and see which textures have been modified. Not all patches will yield a lot of information on how they were made, but from experience I can tell you that taking a closer look at modified files can be quite helpful when it comes to pointing you in the right direction.

4. Find a niche or specialty/take stock of what’s needed

MJ and Pip in the He's on Fire 2K14 mod for NBA 2K14 PC

When it comes to patching, there’s nothing wrong with trying your hand at a bit of everything, or developing a few different specialities. However, if you happen to have a particular talent for a certain kind of patch, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to what you do best (or enjoy the most), either. Above all, it’s always a good idea to look at the game in question and see what needs to be fixed or updated, as well as what other people in the community are making. For example, if we already have a couple of great face updates for LeBron James, but no faces for the new rookie crop, then it makes more sense for the latter to be a higher priority.

A word of advice if you do carve out your own niche in the patching community however: don’t hold your knowledge to ransom or horde information in an attempt to monopolise your area of expertise. That kind of egotism isn’t good for the community and if you’re patching for personal glory, then you’re patching for the wrong reason.

5. Consider the benefits of open source/sharing resources

Andrew Wiggins in the March Madness 2K14 mod for NBA 2K14 PC

That brings us to the matter of sharing resources and an open source approach to patching. Using someone else’s work as a base is a ticklish subject and has caused many debates throughout the years, mainly because it’s something that we’ve been fairly strict about as a community. However, in recent years there’s been a movement to embrace more of an open source approach. While it’s still important to give credit where it’s due and often a good idea to ask first – and if someone really doesn’t want their work re-used by anyone else, then that must be respected – we would like to encourage everyone to at least consider letting their work be used in other projects, or converted for use with other games.

Perhaps most important though is a willingness to share information on how patches are created, as well as templates and other such resources. As I mentioned before, we’d like to have a comprehensive library of patching resources that we can improve upon as new information is discovered and new techniques are developed, so we encourage everyone to share their knowledge and help out new patchers wherever possible. Our own JaoSming has set a great example on both fronts, with his open source patches and a host of informative video tutorials. We want to be a patching community that is always growing, improving, and helpful towards each other, so please keep this stuff in mind when you join the ranks of patchers here at the NLSC.

That’s about it for the moment. What other advice do you think would be helpful to our patching community? Have your say in the comments below and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum. Thanks for checking in, please join me again next Friday for another Five.

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