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.
I make a habit of mentioning it in our file additions bulletins, and it’s absolutely true: we have a really talented community here at the NLSC, when it comes to our patches and mods. I’ve usually shied away from compiling “best of” lists, or handing out community awards for patching, as it can easily lead to tension and bad blood. Furthermore, everyone’s hard work deserves recognition, and there have been a lot of great patches and mods throughout the years, all of which are significant in their own right.
However, there are a handful of releases that stand out from the pack, being patches that were particularly popular and well-crafted, and in some cases, drew a lot of interest from outside of our community. To that end, in this week’s Friday Five, I’ve selected what I feel are the five most significant patches and mods to come along so far. Without any further ado, let’s take a look.
1. The Original NLSC Roster Patches
No, I’m not so egotistical that I’d include any of my own releases on this list. I’m referring to the original NLSC roster patches, by Tim and Lutz. Those patches were first released for NBA Live 95 PC, and continued through until NBA Live 2001. By that point, Tim had moved on to work for EA Sports, and Lutz – who was making the rosters solo – was getting ready to step aside, too. For those five or six years, however, Tim and Lutz not only released invaluable tools for patching the NBA Live series, but produced outstanding, regular roster updates. In my view, those efforts basically jumpstarted the NBA Live patching community.
Those roster updates certainly inspired me to get into patching all those years ago, as I would go on to make a few roster patches of my own, before eventually taking over the NLSC branded updates from Lutz. And, in all modesty, I’d like to think that I did a good job with them. But those original updates by Tim and Lutz hold a very significant place in the history of our patching culture, for their quality, their extra content, and their role in getting things started. I still remember how excited I was to discover them, back in the day. If you have NBA Live 95 PC handy, check out Lutz’s final release, for the bonus “silly” rosters and the humour in his readme file alone.
2. NBA Live Street 2003
Before the now-defunct nbalive.org released NBA Live Street 2003, there had been other roster modifications that went a little further than updating the NBA teams for the current season. Special roster patches, if you will, that added Legends, or NCAA teams, or otherwise provided basketball gamers with something a little different. However, NBA Live Street 2003 was one of the first mods to do it in great detail, going above and beyond what had been done before.
Taking inspiration from EA Sports BIG’s NBA Street series, NBA Live Street 2003 took full advantage of the new CustomArt facilities in NBA Live 2003, featuring rosters with NBA players, streetball legends, And1 Mixtape tour players, and rappers, complete with a Rucker Park court, street jerseys, and much more. It was one of the first real total conversion mods for NBA Live, and still stands as one of the best patches produced by the community. It’s also inspired several other great Street patches that have come along in the years that followed, but it will always have its place as the original. Want to see it for yourself? Download it here.
3. Next Gen Practice Court
This might seem like an unusual pick as it’s a single court patch, as opposed to a big roster mod, or game-changing tweak. However, I’d argue that Andreas Dahl’s Next Gen Practice Court for NBA Live 06 was a game-changer in its own right. It’s certainly a beautiful work of art, and I can attest to how much other patchers admired it. JaoSming has referred to it as having had a big influence on his work, and when you consider the projects that he’s made over the years, it’s a huge compliment for him to hold it in such high regard.
Jon’s praise is well placed, of course. For those who are unaware, the Next Gen Practice Court is an extremely detailed and accurate recreation of the “Temple” practice court that made its debut in the Xbox 360 version of NBA Live 06. Needless to say, it was a little more creative, and visually interesting, than the high school gym practice court that was available in NBA Live 06 PC by default. In getting everything about the aesthetics just right, from the Tron-like lines on the court to the shape of the backboard, Andreas did some amazing work. It’s still available here, and well worth checking out.
4. The First AIACT Patches
For those who are unaware, AIACT.viv is the file that contains animation data in the last four or five PC releases of NBA Live. A handful of talented individuals have worked on modding the AIACT file throughout the years, producing some excellent results. I have to admit, I couldn’t recall offhand who made the first AIACT patch, but a search of the Forum brought up this thread. A user called alexmary first broached the subject, and offered up a few releases for NBA Live 2005 that are no longer available. So, barring any evidence to the contrary, I’m calling that the first AIACT patch in our community, and the release that started AIACT modding.
The community was able to persevere, not only making tweaks and adjustments to the default animations, but also succeeding in importing animations from other games in the series. Furthermore, once it was discovered that the March Madness series used the same files, we were able to take animations from its PS2 version, and import them into NBA Live on PC. This represented a big step forward in patching, a deeper form of modding that was changing core elements of the gameplay, and adding new content beyond custom textures and database entries. It was a significant discovery, and proof of what you could do with a little patience, perseverance, and experimentation.
5. Ultimate Base Roster
There’s no way that I could leave the Ultimate Base Roster off this list. What HAWK23 and the rest of the UBR contributors have put together is simply incredible. The NBA 2K12 version of the mod currently contains 63 complete season rosters and over 260 teams. The NBA 2K14 version of UBR, meanwhile, features 59 complete season rosters, and over 290 teams. Hours upon hours of hard work have gone into the Ultimate Base Roster mods for NBA 2K12 and NBA 2K14, to say the very least. UBR is so good, and so detailed, long-time console users have actually double-dipped with the PC version just to check it out.
With accurate team rosters, complete team artwork, era-specific faces, special teams, real Draft Classes, and so much more, the Ultimate Base Roster mods represent the most detailed effort that’s been made to keep basketball video games up to date, and add new content. It’s one thing to keep a game accurate and up to date all season long, and then a year or two after that. But to add all those complete historical season rosters, too? Such a release is more than worthy of having the word “Ultimate” in its name. We can only hope that NBA 2K16 and beyond will be more modder-friendly than NBA 2K15 PC, so that more patches like UBR can be made in the future.
Again, there have been so many great patches and mods produced in our community over the years, but those are five that I believe stand out because of their significance to patching culture, and the subsequent works that they have inspired. What are some of the other patches that you feel are up there in significance, or rank among your favourites? Let me know in the comments below, 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.