This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m taking a look back at the lost mods of NBA Inside Drive 2000.
While I was brainstorming ideas for The Friday Five, I came up with the topic of five games that could’ve benefited from mods. As I always do when I’m planning a Friday Five topic, I didn’t commit to it until I could devise five viable examples. One of the games that I had marked down on a preliminary list was NBA Inside Drive 2000, the only game in the Inside Drive series to be released on PC. Before I committed to that list however, I needed to do some research. Had there actually been a modding scene for NBA Inside Drive 2000 that our community here at the NLSC hadn’t partaken in?
As it turns out, there was! A quick Google search brought up a thread in the Operation Sports forums, reflecting on editing the game and downloading mods for it. I removed NBA Inside Drive 2000 from that Friday Five list, and instead decided to dedicate a Wayback Wednesday to looking into its apparently long-lost mods. Let’s take a look back…way back…
I was aware that there was some interest in modding NBA Inside Drive 2000 back in the day, and at least one utility for doing so. There was a plugin for the EA Graphics Editor that allowed it to open NBA Inside Drive 2000 files, facilitating the possibility of modding the game. Because we were an NBA Live fansite first and foremost with minimal to no coverage of other basketball game series, no Inside Drive mods were ever added to our database. NBA Live was still far and away the most popular game at the time, with a well-established modding community. Going by the thread over on OS though, there was an emerging modding scene for NBA Inside Drive 2000, too.
It apparently produced roster updates and graphics mods, from player faces to new courts and jerseys. There was an external tool for roster editing, which was necessary as the in-game customisation options were limited, as I noted in my retrospective. It appears that updates continued into the 2001 season, and a couple of people other than the OP recalled the game’s modding scene, having tried their hand at creating their own mods. Another poster recalls frustrations with mods crashing the game, as well as the limitation of the face and arm textures being mirrored, preventing the addition of accessories to only one limb. All these years later, it was fascinating to read about!
Yet another poster in the thread – who apparently has been banned since it was created in 2010 – still had the editor in their archives. They didn’t post it publicly however, and its name isn’t mentioned. Similarly, the people reflecting on the mods they had for NBA Inside Drive 2000 couldn’t remember the name of the site they got them from; again, it definitely wasn’t us. The thread only had a few more posts after that and didn’t succeed in digging up any lost mods for NBA Inside Drive 2000, though they did track down a player’s guide that you can still view. Even if it was a long shot, I decided that I’d go searching for these lost NBA Inside Drive 2000 mods myself.
Obviously, there isn’t much to go on, such as the name of the site that was mentioned in passing, or the exact name of the roster tool. Googling “NBA Inside Drive 2000 Roster Editor” yielded a rather snarky review of an official roster update for the game. It also pointed me back towards a topic in our own Forum, discussing NBA Full Court Press, NBA Action 98, and NBA Inside Drive 2000. There’s a post from benji linking to a site with NBA Inside Drive 2000 art mods. It was still active when the post was made back in 2013, but it currently loads a blank page. This looked like a job for the Wayback Machine over at archive.org! Would any of the content still be recoverable?
Unfortunately, it hasn’t been archived by the Wayback Machine; another dead end! My post after benji’s indicated that I’d visited the site after he shared it, as I’d noticed that it was part of the old NBA Live Webring. With that in mind, I figured it would be worth scouring my archives, just in case I’d downloaded any files during that visit. It doesn’t appear as though as I did, but on the bright side, I did find some files for NBA Live that are worth re-uploading, and might come in handy for various retro modding projects. I was still determined to try and find something about those lost NBA Inside Drive 2000 mods however, so I headed back to Google to attempt another search.
Searching for “NBA Inside Drive 2000 Mods” yielded this page, which helpfully lists no mods! “NBA Inside Drive 2000 Patches” didn’t produce any useful results either. Using other terms such as “cyberfaces” and “rosters” was likewise unsuccessful, only bringing up pages that I’d already found, or content related to NBA Live 2000. On a positive note, I discovered a video that pointed me towards an emulator that might be another alternative for retro gaming. Sadly, having seemingly exhausted all relevant search terms, I had to admit defeat. All of the best leads had dead ends, and even the Wayback Machine couldn’t help. It would appear that those mods are lost forever.
While that doesn’t make for a happy and exciting end to the tale, there’s a chance that by talking about it today, someone might stumble across this article and be able to provide more insight; or, better yet, some long-lost files! In the meantime, we can only rue the loss of a part of PC basketball gaming history. In hindsight, I wish we’d branched out into covering other games much earlier than we did. At the time though, NBA Live was king! That’s what our founders were playing on PC, as was I for so many years. It’s how I came to discover the NLSC back in August 1997, which in turn inspired me to create my own mods hosted on my own site: the NBA Live Domain.
Of course, our efforts to preserve more of the NBA Live mods from that era could’ve also been better. Hindsight is 20/20, of course. Many of the frequent contributors left the community as their interest in modding waned, or life simply got in the way. Their sites and mods remained available for many years, until they suddenly went offline. As is the case now, many gamers moved on to the newest title, and were no longer as interested in playing and modding the previous releases. We couldn’t imagine ten and especially twenty years into the future, and foresee that retro basketball gaming would become a niche interest that includes hunting down old mods to play with them again.
It’s one of the reasons why we encourage people to use our upload facilities whenever possible, as we’d like to preserve as many as mods as we can. Those facilities are also open to re-uploading old releases for preservation, especially those that have been lost for years. Even if they are uploaded elsewhere, as long as they’re freely and publicly available, we’re doing ourselves a service as a gaming community. I recall searching for some mods and editors for The Need For Speed – the very first game in the series, that is – that I originally found way back in 1997. I was thrilled to track them down, and it’s inspired me to do the same with mods for NBA Live and other hoops titles.
Learning about these long-lost mods for NBA Inside Drive 2000 also leads me to wonder “What If”. What if Microsoft had continued the Inside Drive series and it hadn’t been Xbox exclusive? We might’ve seen a modding community for the games flourish alongside what we were doing for NBA Live. Perhaps we would’ve expanded beyond the NBA Live series earlier than we did, or worked in tandem with other sites that were covering Inside Drive. Maybe these mods wouldn’t be lost today, and there’d be even more of them. With a few more PC releases and a modding scene to go along with them, the Inside Drive series may be fondly remembered by even more gamers.
It also puts our own NBA Live and NBA 2K modding efforts into perspective. While tinkering with both of those series has presented challenges, we’ve also been able to make a number of breakthroughs. Thanks to people with the talents and creativity to explore what’s possible and devise tools and solutions, our modding community has created some outstanding projects. We’ve also been lucky compared to other modding communities. Even considering the challenges we’ve faced, many of the NBA Live and NBA 2K titles we’ve worked with have been modder-friendly once we’ve worked out methods and file formats, and the necessary modding tools have been created.
From the sounds of it, there were some great mods for NBA Inside Drive 2000, but getting them to work without encountering glitches and crashes was difficult. Such troubleshooting is often part of creating and using mods, but it would appear that NBA Inside Drive 2000 was notably temperamental in that regard. It’s probably why the scene didn’t endure, even as modders continued to update NBA Live 2000 for over a decade after its release. It also helps that NBA Live 2000 is a far superior game, but it’s still unfortunate that we’ve lost that work for NBA Inside Drive 2000. It’s what happens when mods are spread out across a variety of free hosts, without any mirrors.
With that being said, whether you’re a long-time visitor of the NLSC, or you’ve just stumbled across this article thanks to a nostalgia-fuelled Google search, if you have any further insight into those long-lost NBA Inside Drive 2000 mods, I’d love to hear it! Once again, if you actually have any of those mods, or the modding tools that were used, our Downloads database is there to upload, share, and preserve them. I’m not expecting miracles, but it’s interesting what you can find lying around in very old backups. If nothing else, it sounds like there are some fond memories there, and as with the NBA Live and NBA 2K modding scenes, they’re always worth sharing.