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.
Every online community has its own issues, but as I’ve said many times before, I truly believe that we have a good thing going here at the NLSC. While I’ve enjoyed expanding our content and relish the opportunity to both interview and provide feedback to developers at EA Sports and Visual Concepts, it’s probably fair to say that our enduring legacy is our modding community. Over the twenty years that the NLSC has been around, the talented modders in our community have produced some truly outstanding works.
For the most part, I do believe that our modders are largely helpful, and supportive towards one another. Like I said though, every online community has its own issues, and I believe there are areas in which we can improve. There are some troubling practices in our modding community, and for some of them, it’s well past time to nip them in the bud. While I may not be heavily involved in our NBA 2K modding scene at this time, I do keep tabs on it, and I’ve been involved in NBA Live modding for close to two decades now. As such, I do know what I’m talking about when I say that these are five things that modders should stop doing, to make our community better.
1. Previewing Work They Don’t Intend To Release
Let’s start with something that’s always been an issue with some modders, but has come up a couple of times recently. Over the years, certain individuals have displayed a habit of teasing the community with previews of work they never actually intend to release. Said modders tend to fall back on the weak excuse of supposedly being disrespected, which usually means that people haven’t gushed enough over their work, or someone dared to critique it. Similarly, there are other modders who will show off work that they only intend to trade privately for other releases, rather than making it publicly available. That isn’t what our modding community is all about.
Incidentally, there is a difference between a previewed project unfortunately falling through, and a project that was never going to be released publicly. The former will happen from time to time, because modders do have responsibilities and lives outside of modding, and technical problems can arise. Sometimes it’s tough to tell the difference, but if you take a look at an individual’s history in the modding community, and their general demeanour when previewing their work, it usually becomes clear whether or not they deserve the benefit of the doubt. Bottom line: if you want to be a part of the modding community, don’t do this. Cut the ego, and be respectful.
2. Password-Protecting Releases
This is another practice that isn’t exactly new, but nevertheless, it needs to stop. Some modders will password-protect their releases, which means users cannot access the files inside the archives that are being shared. The necessary passwords are generally shared with end users in one of two ways: either the password is openly posted on the download page or release thread – which kind of defeats the purpose of password-protecting the archive in the first place – or users are encouraged to contact the author for the password.
On the surface, this might seem harmless, but it definitely goes against the community’s approach of making mods freely and readily available to everyone. It adds an air of exclusivity to releases that we don’t want to see. Also, while I don’t want to fall victim to the slippery slope fallacy here, “message me for the password” is arguably just a few steps away from “send me a few bucks for the password”. If nothing else, people come and go from the community while releases remain, which means details like passwords for archives are forgotten and lost to time. There may be occasions when the practice is called for, but more often than not, it’s a bad idea.
3. Using Meaningless Gimmicky Names for Mods
Just to be clear, it’s absolutely fine to give a big project a name that succinctly describes it, and allows it to stand out. For example, if you’re trying to re-create an NBA Jam or NBA Street style of gameplay and atmosphere in NBA Live or NBA 2K, it makes sense to use the words “Jam” and “Street” in the title of the mod. That’s simply conveying the basic premise. The same goes for using names such as March Madness, College Hoops, NCAA Basketball, and so on, when creating college basketball mods. There’s no problem with modders giving their projects names like that, so that’s not what I’m talking about here.
What I’m referring to is the practice of modders giving projects gimmicky names that exaggerate their functionality. “HD” is usually fine, because it is possible to make higher resolution textures in some cases. “Next Gen” is starting to walk the line, and can cross it depending on the context. However, terms like “technology” and similar buzzwords are entering snake oil territory. It’s fine to be proud of your work, and new techniques are exciting to discover (and share), but we often balk at developers using buzzwords to promote a new title. As such, we shouldn’t do it ourselves, building up mods with gimmicky buzzwords, and promises of non-existent “new technology”.
4. Refusing to Share Resources with Other Modders
By “resources”, I’m referring to both tangible assets such as templates and files, as well as knowledge and techniques. I realise that an open source approach doesn’t appeal to everyone, and while we will encourage it, we certainly won’t enforce it. There are reasons why modders may be uncomfortable with certain works being modified and re-released, and that’s something we all have to respect. However, open source releases can greatly benefit the community, as does sharing assets and collaborating on larger projects. Pitching in and letting each other use work we’ve created is how this community has made some outstanding mods.
As a community, I feel we can do a better job when it comes to sharing knowledge and techniques, creating tutorials, and providing quality advice and feedback. Creating those resources and offering assistance does take up free time that we don’t always have, but we should be developing guides and tutorials that explain how to mod NBA Live and NBA 2K. There’s also the problem of people who refuse to share knowledge because they want to maintain a monopoly over certain mods, and hold something over the community. It’s one thing to not provide a tutorial because you’re short on time, another to jealously guard knowledge simply to stroke your ego.
5. Removing All Work (For No Good Reason)
While modders do retain the right to remove their work if they wish, we do encourage everyone to leave their releases for “future generations”, even when they’ve long since left the hobby. There are times when privacy may be an issue, though if that’s something you’re concerned about, then I would definitely recommend using an alias and an email address that you can easily abandon. Of course, if you do have a good reason for removing your work and your “digital footprint” from our community, then we’re sorry to see you go, but won’t begrudge you your decision.
The problem is that some modders remove their work to make a dramatic exit when they’re done with the hobby. Worse yet, some modders who have taken breaks and removed their work in the interim are clearly doing so to feel needed, missed, and “in demand”, hoping for an enthusiastic reception upon their return. In some cases, not only have mods been deleted, but also tutorials and modding resources, too. Frankly, this kind of attention-seeking behaviour just isn’t fair to the community. As with the other issues I’ve discussed here, it all comes down to ego. If that’s your motivation, then I would suggest that you’re not modding for the right reasons.
Are there any issues that you feel are standing in the way of our talented modding community getting even better? Constructive, open dialogue is always welcome, so feel free to raise those issues in the comments section below, as well as in 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.