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.
If you’ve been around the community for a long time, you’re probably aware that I’m not as active as I once was as far as patching is concerned. While the temptation is always there to get creative and put something out for the community, I’m finding myself with less time and motivation to work on any patching projects. As far as the content I’m currently producing is concerned, I’m enjoying co-hosting the NLSC Podcast and writing this column every week; compared to patching, I find it a lot easier to make time for them in between my other NLSC duties (and of course, my real life commitments and responsibilities).
However, the temptation to patch is sometimes difficult to resist, and as you may have seen, I’ve just released a new set of bootup screen updates for NBA Live 2005 through NBA Live 08. I do like the idea of releasing an update or two every now and again, though that of course leads to the question, “Why not make new roster updates every once in a while?” Well, there are a few reasons why I’m not doing that. In the interest of giving everyone an honest answer, I thought that I’d offer an insight into the development of the NBA Live roster updates, and why I’ve had to step away from them. Here are 5 Things You Should Know About Making Roster Updates.
1. They’re time consuming
When you’re talking about updating an older game with current rosters, you’re not talking about something that you can just whip up in a day. I don’t want to downplay the time and effort that goes into some of the amazing art updates that we see in the community – art updates that I’m very grateful to have been able to use in the current roster updates – but talented patchers have been able to create single face, court, or jerseys patches relatively quickly. Quality updates for logos and certain other textures can be created in a few hours.
Roster updates, on the other hand? Not so much. It takes a lot of time to create a new batch of rookies, and it can be a rather monotonous task. You’ve gotten over a big hump once that’s done, but there’s still combing through the rosters to update ratings, making all the transactions, changing accessories, replacing coaches, adding and modifying values to accommodate custom art files…a whole lot of stuff, basically.
Now, the process of doing all that is not exceptionally difficult, since NBA Live’s roster files are quite patcher-friendly. I think it’s much harder to master the art of making good faces, courts, jerseys, and so on, and experience does lead to efficiency. However, there’s still a lot to get done, and unless you’re releasing smaller “demo” types of updates – something that bigh0rt has been doing with the Jam and NCAA mods for NBA 2K, and an approach that I think is a fantastic idea – it’s going to take a while before everything is finished, and the roster is ready to be released.
2. They’re tough to maintain when you’ve got a lot going on
So, the updates take a little time. So what? Most people in the community are willing to wait, so just forget about the ones who want to act like spoiled brats. Tune out the people who are pestering you about the rosters, take your time, and above all, manage your time well. The rosters will be out when they’re done and not a moment sooner. Well…I don’t disagree with that line of thinking, as it’s all well and good in theory, but the reality of the situation is that it’s not necessarily feasible.
Making time is easier said than done. Granted, I don’t have a family, so a lot of my time is my own. However, I do also have to work, I have a social life, and various other obligations as well. Also, like most people, I enjoy having downtime where I can just catch up on my favourite TV shows, read, exercise, or yes, play (rather than patch) video games. At a certain point you need to prioritise what you’re doing with your time, and these days, making roster updates is simply lower down on the totem pole. Any patcher whose output has slowed down because the real world has gotten in the way will tell you the same thing.
Of course, as far as making time to patch is concerned, I also have the added disadvantage of running the NLSC. Obviously, I have some very helpful and dedicated people lending me a hand, but by the time I’ve done my share of the moderating, taken care of daily news updates, and produced content like the Podcast and Friday Five, I don’t always have the time (nor the motivation) to roll up my sleeves and start patching as well. I don’t mean to imply that I’m the only person in the community who’s busy or has a life outside the site, but again, given the time consuming nature of making rosters, it’s meant that I’ve had to step away from them.
3. Releasing fewer updates doesn’t make it easier (or quicker)
One of the suggestions that I’ve received from people who have asked if I can continue making the rosters is to just release fewer updates each season. While I appreciate what is intended to be a helpful suggestion – and it’s kind of what ended up happening, anyway – it doesn’t actually make things easier. When it comes down to it, the workload doesn’t change, and it actually makes things more daunting and hectic when you’ve got more to catch up on, in terms of transactions and creating players.
Honestly, I think one of the reasons that I’ve become burned out on making roster updates and feel less motivated to try and make the time for them is that I haven’t released more updates; that is, minor updates. As I said before, bigh0rt’s approach of “demo” type releases is a fantastic idea, and something that I should’ve done with the current rosters. In fact, that’s something we did use to do: release post-Draft updates that contained the first 15 picks, or the first 20 picks, or maybe even the first round, with the rest to follow in subsequent releases.
Unfortunately, it came to pass that a lot of people downloading the updates simply wouldn’t read the release notes, which meant a lot of posts and emails about players who had been “forgotten”. In the end, it became less of a headache to release a more complete update right away. Then that became its own headache. So, my advice to anyone who wants to create current rosters, or another big project? One step at a time, minor updates in between major ones.
4. It gets harder to justify updating older games
I still hold NBA Live 2005 and NBA Live 06 PC in very high regard. They are two of my all-time favourite games in the series, and indeed, two of my all-time favourite basketball video games, period. NBA Live 07 and NBA Live 08 PC…I’m not quite so fond of. However, for a time, quite a few people were still playing those games, so there was a demand for current roster updates and other patches. Because patching can be a lot of fun, quite a few of us continued to make updates for the benefit of gamers who were still playing those older titles.
The thing is, those games are getting quite old now. NBA Live 2005 has been out for ten years, and while it remains a great game for its day, a majority of gamers have moved on and are playing a more recent release, if not the latest one. There’s a lot more interest in developing tools so that we can mod NBA 2K15, than going back to play and update NBA Live 2005. Similarly, the NBA Live PC Project for NBA Live 06 was intended to be a community effort, but as the years have gone by, fewer people have volunteered to help out. That’s not to say that there’s absolutely no interest at all, but at this point, interest has certainly dwindled.
That’s also not to say that we shouldn’t update the older games, or that you shouldn’t play them. I would never discourage anyone from doing either of those things. However, if you are still playing those games, you do need to accept that they have been out for a long time, and several years have passed since their patching heyday. With the roster updates in particular, it comes back to time. It’s a lot of time to put aside and invest in something that not nearly as many people are going to download as they once did. Once again, I would never discourage anyone from playing or patching an older game, but if you do, please don’t begrudge others for moving on.
5. They can be fun, and you can make them
Alright, so far I’ve spent the entire column talking about how the rosters are a time consuming chore that I’m unable to work on anymore. That’s why I do want to finish on a more positive note, because I have actually enjoyed making roster updates over the years. True, it doesn’t feel like fun when you’re at a monotonous stage of the proceedings, and it doesn’t help when you’re being pestered about release dates, or abused because you made a mistake somewhere. However, a majority of the people in our community have been friendly, supportive, and appreciative, and in turn, I absolutely appreciate that.
As tedious as certain tasks can be, it’s fun to sculpt the rosters and see them take shape. It’s another way to follow along with the NBA season intensely, as you get to learn about benchwarmers and other players who are flying under the radar. You’re doing something constructive, and there’s a feeling of pride and accomplishment when you compile an update, zip it up, and put it out there for anyone and everyone to enjoy. I wouldn’t have done it for as long as I did, if I didn’t get some enjoyment out of it.
That’s why I do feel the occasional tug of temptation when it comes to patching. I suppose I could never rule anything out, though it’s highly unlikely that I’ll get back into updating the rosters for the older games; so, please don’t get your hopes up about that. However, I can certainly provide advice to anyone who wants to try it out for themselves, as well as offer up my previous updates as a base. Open source is something else I should’ve embraced a long time ago, and if it can benefit the contingent of the community that’s still playing and patching those games, I’m all for it. Keep in mind though: only patch so long as it’s fun, and you have the free time.
That’s all for this week. Are you still playing any of the older NBA Live or NBA 2K games? If you’re a patcher, what’s your take on updating the older games? At what point would you step away from patching? As always, I’m interested to hear your take on this week’s column, so sound off in the comments below, and feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum! Thanks for checking in, please join me next Friday for another Five.