The Friday Five: 5 Things You Learn Making Roster Updates

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.

It’s been a few years since I released my last roster update for NBA Live, and although I’ve tinkered a bit here and there, I’ve never really gotten into roster editing for NBA 2K. That being said, I’m certainly no stranger to making roster updates, having gotten into the hobby when I discovered the NLSC back in 1997, eventually taking over the NLSC rosters when I became webmaster and Lutz passed them over to me. Make no mistake: over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time creating players, moving players around, editing ratings, and updating games for a brand new season.

There are times when I miss making rosters, though remembering the more tedious and time-consuming aspects of their creation makes me realise that I probably made the right decision in moving on. Of course, I’ve also found that making roster updates can be an interesting and rewarding exercise. There are a few things that you learn when you’re making those updates, so I thought that I’d talk a little bit about that in this week’s Five. Whether you’re looking to make your own roster updates for NBA Live or NBA 2K, or you’d just like a little more insight into their creation, I hope you’ll find it informative.

1. You’ll Become Quite Familiar with All the Players

Derrick Rose in the 2012/2013 Roster for NBA Live 06

When you’re making roster updates for NBA Live or NBA 2K – presumably NBA roster updates, but the same goes for any league – it’s important to pay attention to what’s happening in real life. You’ll need to do your research, keep tabs on stats, standings and transactions, and familiarise yourself with the effects of the in-game ratings, in order to keep your roster realistic and up to date. In doing so, you’ll find that you follow the league closer than ever before. This means that to some extent, you’ll become very familiar with all of the teams’ rosters. If nothing else, you’ll instantly recognise a lot of names.

Since I stopped making roster updates for the older NBA Live games, I’ve found that I’m not as familiar with some of the lesser-known bench players and journeyman as I used to be. Even though I’m playing the new games and still following the real NBA enthusiastically, I no longer have that extra awareness of those deep bench players, because I don’t have to look them up in order to create them with accurate ratings and correct bio data. While I don’t miss the arduous parts of making roster updates, I do kind of miss having that familiarity with teams’ rosters, top to bottom.

2. Overall Ratings Are a Pain

Kawhi Leonard in the 2012/2013 Roster for NBA Live 08

I’ve discussed Overall Ratings in a couple of Friday Fives in the past, and I stand by what I wrote before. While they do have a useful function in determining and succinctly representing a player’s value, their importance also tends to be exaggerated. It’s very hard to please everyone when it comes to Overall Ratings, because there’ll always be someone who feels a certain player should be rated higher or lower. For that matter, it may be impossible to give players the Overall Rating that you feel they should have, when editing and creating them.

The trouble with Overall Ratings is that they’re not always calculated ideally. Certain ratings aren’t weighted appropriately (if at all), which means that players who are notably strong or weak in a certain area may end up looking a bit overrated or underrated. Athletic ratings are a common culprit here, raising and lowering Overall Ratings undesirably. Sometimes there’s room to fudge a rating a little, in order to make an Overall Rating look “better” and rank players more accurately. However, when you’re maintaining a roster update, at the end of the day you have to accept that there will be a few Overall Ratings that aren’t “perfect”. You just have to do your best.

3. You’ll Think About Roster Updates While Watching Games

Paul George in the 2012/2013 Roster for NBA Live 06

As mentioned above, when you’re maintaining a roster update, you’ll no doubt be paying very close attention to what’s going on in the league. From statistics to player movement, you’ll be keeping track of it all, and making adjustments to the roster accordingly. It can get to the point where you’ll be watching an NBA game, and find yourself thinking that a player will require a slight boost to their speed in the next release, or you’ll be making mental notes about accessory changes because a player is now wearing a sleeve or a knee brace that they weren’t before. Of course this is just a side effect of being so attentive to everything that goes on the court.

Obviously, when it comes to the quality of the roster updates you’re making, this isn’t a bad thing. Such attention to detail is only going to improve the accuracy of the rosters, from the players’ ratings to their appearance. It doesn’t really take anything away from the viewing experience either, as you’re still enjoying the sport and focusing on what’s happening on the court. It’s just funny when you’re watching an important game featuring some of the biggest stars in the NBA, and your first thought is “Oh, Kobe Bryant isn’t wearing a sleeve at the moment. I’ll need to change that.”

4. It’s Hard to Walk Away

LeBron James vs. Kobe Bryant in an updated roster for NBA Live 08

My advice to anyone making any kind of mod is to only be involved in the scene as long as you have the time and the passion. It’s important to have both, because hobbies are something that you’re meant to enjoy; if you’re not enjoying modding anymore, it’s time to move on or take a break. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, especially when it comes to roster updates. Because they can be fun to make – more on that in a moment – maintaining them can become somewhat addictive. If you feel you still have a few updates left in you, it can be difficult to call it quits.

There’s also the problem of feeling obligated to continue making roster updates, and pressure from the community. For the most part, I think our community is pretty good about treating modders with respect, and understanding that modding is something that people do free of charge in their free time. All the same, once you’ve established yourself as a roster maker, there’s sometimes an expectation that you’ll keep producing those updates indefinitely. Again, most people in the community are actually pretty good about it, but it’s easy to end up pressuring yourself, which simultaneously makes you more and less eager to keep making rosters.

5. Making Roster Updates is Oddly Enjoyable

Michael Jordan in the 2012/2013 Roster for NBA Live 2005

I wouldn’t have kept making roster updates for all those years, especially for games I was no longer playing (and in some cases didn’t really like in the first place), if I wasn’t enjoying the process in some way. I’ve talked about this in previous articles, but there’s an element of creativity involved in all modding projects, and a satisfying sense of completion when you’ve finished an update and it’s ready to be released. Despite the more tedious parts of roster editing and maintenance, the process of creating players, making the trades, and putting everything together is something I’ve had a lot of fun with over the years.

Needless to say, the more tedious aspects of making roster updates do eventually lead to burnout, and combined with the fact that most gamers have moved on at this point, it’s why I’ve also moved on from creating the NLSC roster updates for NBA Live. Towards the end, I was really having to force myself to make them, as they’d become too much of a chore. However, that was the result of many years of making the rosters, trying to produce bigger updates instead of incremental ones, and not moving on sooner. I think all roster makers get burned out eventually, but before that happens, creating those updates can be a very enjoyable and rewarding activity.

As always, a big thank you to everyone who supported me when I was making the NLSC roster updates for all those years. I did have fun making them, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel the occasional urge to get back into it, but I think that those days are behind me. Nevertheless, I hope others continue making roster updates of their own, and getting the most out of the experience. For the latest releases for both NBA Live and NBA 2K, be sure to check out the Downloads section, and the 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.

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