Wayback Wednesday: Failed Franchise & Season Games

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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Tom Gugliotta & Basketball Video Games

Postby Andrew on Wed Feb 21, 2024 12:35 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Tom Gugliotta & Basketball Video Games

There are some well-known examples of players whose history with basketball video games is interesting and unusual. It seems such a weird and unfathomable situation nowadays, but back in the 90s, Roster Players were frequently a necessity due to the absence of Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, owing to them retaining the rights to their likenesses. Shaquille O’Neal was also briefly exclusive to NBA Live, and even David Robinson once required a stand-in. Of course, I also enjoy delving into virtual hardwood trivia concerning far more obscure players, such as Junior Harrington.

Now, on the scale of obscurity to all-time fame, Tom Gugliotta is probably closer to the likes of MJ, Chuck, Shaq, and The Admiral than he is to Harrington. That is to say, if you were to ask long-time basketball fans and history buffs, they’d be far more likely to recall Googs than Junior. With that being said, like so many players of yesteryear that were very good but not all-time greats, Gugliotta doesn’t get talked about enough. That’s unfortunate from a basketball standpoint, but his career also resulted in some fun NBA video game trivia. Let’s take a look back…way back…
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: EA Sports Cover Players in NBA Live 16

Postby Andrew on Wed Feb 28, 2024 12:56 pm

Wayback Wednesday: EA Sports Cover Players in NBA Live 16

Did you know that every single NBA 2K cover player is available to play with in NBA 2K24? Between the cover players that are still active and the game’s array of classic and All-Time teams, they’re all accounted for. Obviously, we haven’t had a new NBA Live since 2018, but even then, NBA Live 19 didn’t include every cover player in the history of the series. On top of that, a couple of the cover players that were included in NBA Live 19 were nevertheless retired, and thus exclusive to the collection of Legends in Ultimate Team.

If we want to find the last NBA Live game that featured a healthy selection of players who appeared on the cover of EA Sports’ long-running basketball sim series, we must go back a few years to NBA Live 16. In fact, not only does NBA Live 16 feature a number of NBA Live cover players, but also players who graced the covers of EA Sports’ college basketball titles. And so, I thought it might be fun to spotlight those cover players who are readily accessible in NBA Live 16, wearing EA Sports jerseys in the game’s practice mode. Let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: The NBA Live Toolkit

Postby Andrew on Wed Mar 06, 2024 12:39 pm

Wayback Wednesday: The NBA Live Toolkit

In some respects, roster editing in basketball video games has come a long way. We have access to animation packages, salary data, and other attributes that used to be hidden. At the same time, the in-game roster customisation tools still have many of the same drawbacks as they did in much earlier games. There are still attributes and bio data that we can’t edit or add for created players, or even modify for original players. Placeholder players are still difficult to deal with, as they’re not completely customisable. To make truly detailed roster mods, we need external editing tools.

Fortunately, talented people in the community have been able to step up and develop roster editing tools throughout the years. It began with our founders’ editors for the early NBA Live games, Vl@d took on the challenge for the burgeoning NBA 2K modding scene, and Looyh continues to carry the torch today. It hasn’t been easy, with executable and save files needing to be mapped and decoded. However, editing roster files did become easier with the adoption of the DBF format, and the process was further simplified by the NBA Live Toolkit. Let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: The Evolution of Roster Mods

Postby Andrew on Wed Mar 13, 2024 12:56 pm

Wayback Wednesday: The Evolution of Roster Mods

As technological improvements have led to the development of bigger and better basketball video games, our expectations have changed. What were once cutting-edge graphics are no longer impressive. What was once a deep and engaging mode now seems shallow compared to what’s available in a newer game…usually! This isn’t to say that old games are bad and not worth playing. I wouldn’t be diving into basketball gaming history, or advocating for retro gaming, if I didn’t see value in older titles! Still, we always want to see the genre make advancements, so the bar does get raised.

The same goes for modding over the years. While we made some fantastic roster mods for the early NBA Live games on PC, there were limitations to what we could change and include. As it became easier to modify textures and models in addition to player and team data, there was an expectation that roster mods would become more comprehensive. This led to a golden age of NBA Live modding that has since been continued with the NBA 2K series, but in some ways, it’s also been detrimental to the hobby. Let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Classic Teams in EA’s NCAA Basketball Series

Postby Andrew on Wed Mar 20, 2024 12:18 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Classic Teams in EA’s NCAA Basketball Series

It’s March Madness once again, and for long-time basketball gamers, that means our thoughts turn to college hoops titles. It’s been over a decade since we’ve been able to hit the virtual NCAA hardwood, at least without the aid of mods or retro gaming. As someone who grew up in a PAL region, I wasn’t able to play college basketball video games for many years. Indeed, it wasn’t until I was gifted a PlayStation 3 in 2019 and tracked down a few games from 2K Sports’ College Hoops and EA Sports’ NCAA Basketball series that I was finally able to experience them for myself.

I have to tell you, that’s been a blast! While the NCAA mods for NBA Live and NBA 2K have been fantastic, there are some aspects of college basketball that they can’t quite capture. The on-court experience in NCAA Basketball and College Hoops back in the day was impressively authentic, and a fun change of pace from the NBA titles. Even without adding real player names, I really enjoy them. However, something that has really captured my attention in NCAA March Madness 08 and NCAA Basketball 09 is the classic teams. Not only are they great bonus content, but they also had long-lasting ramifications on basketball gaming. Let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Timberwolves Franchise in NBA Live 2003

Postby Andrew on Wed Mar 27, 2024 12:55 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Timberwolves Franchise in NBA Live 2003

I’ve had a number of memorable franchise and career mode games over the years. My Dynasty games with the Chicago Bulls in NBA Live 2004 and NBA Live 06 are among my all-time favourite basketball gaming experiences. Likewise, I had a blast with MyCAREER in NBA 2K13, NBA 2K17, and NBA 2K19, and I’m still playing through the mode in NBA 2K14 for PlayStation 4. At the same time, I’ve had some games where I haven’t achieved completion or closure, such as my 1998 season in NBA Live 96 PC, and my Sacramento Kings Franchise in NBA Live 2002.

My Franchise with the Minnesota Timberwolves in NBA Live 2003 PC is another example of a “failed” game. Of course, labelling such games as “failures” probably isn’t the right way of looking at things. I’d actually like to delve into that topic in more depth sometime, but my Timberwolves Franchise does stand as an example of how completion is what we make it. Or, to put it another way, as long as it was fun while it lasted, it’s ultimately neither a failure nor wasted time. That Franchise was certainly memorable for me even if it wasn’t successful, so let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Basketball Game Manuals

Postby Andrew on Wed Apr 03, 2024 12:14 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Basketball Game Manuals

It’s getting harder to reminisce about physical media without sounding incredibly out of touch, and far older than I am. However, as consumers battle corporate giants over digital ownership and bemoan the disappearance of content from streaming services, I believe that more and more people are beginning to understand why many of us have been clinging to physical media for as long as we can. It’s not simply a case of wistful nostalgia, or a refusal or inability to get with the times. While digital media has the advantage of convenience, physical media offers posterity, and tangible ownership.

But yes, there’s also undeniable nostalgia with physical media, particularly video games. There was something special about going to the video store, browsing the shelves for a game to rent, and choosing one that would be yours to play…at least temporarily! Needless to say, it was even better when you bought a game. Not only was there no time limit to the fun, but you also had the box or case to admire. And inside the box or case, depending on the game, there were manuals, maps, charts, and so on. We’d enthusiastically pore over these materials well before we even dove into gameplay, including hitting the virtual hardwood. Let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Alternate Jerseys & Retro Gaming

Postby Andrew on Wed Apr 10, 2024 1:28 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Alternate Jerseys & Retro Gaming

One of my pet peeves with the modern NBA is the new approach to jerseys that was adopted when Nike got the uniform contract back in 2017. Sure, we saw the end of those terrible sleeved jerseys that adidas brought in, but it also resulted in a major shakeup to uniform designation and nomenclature. Instead of dedicated home and away jerseys, we have Icon and Association uniforms, with teams choosing which to wear at home and on the road. There are so many alternate jerseys these days from City to Earned Edition uniforms, with designs of varying quality.

What bugs me the most about the current approach to alternate jerseys is that they’re often worn as frequently as the Icon and Association uniforms; or at least, it certainly feels that way. That makes them less special than when they were Sunday uniforms, or otherwise only worn for a handful of games as a change of pace. Given how often some teams wear their City or classic jerseys, it makes you think that maybe those should be the primary uniforms! Grumpy grumbling aside, this approach has given me more of an appreciation for some of those old alternate jerseys, to the point where I’ll frequently use them when I’m retro gaming. Let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Revisiting the NBA Live 96 PC Rosters

Postby Andrew on Wed Apr 17, 2024 3:04 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Revisiting the NBA Live 96 PC Rosters

Have I mentioned that old basketball video games can be interactive almanacs? I believe I have, once or twice! It’s one of the things that I enjoy the most about retro basketball gaming, on top of the nostalgic throwback gameplay of course. As I’ve noted on several occasions, sim titles capture a snapshot of the league at the time they were released. This includes interesting trivia such as phantom stints, familiar faces in unfamiliar places, and familiar faces back in familiar places, to name just some of the examples that I enjoy keeping my eye out for.

I’ve previously revisited the rosters in NBA Live 2002, NBA Live 95 (both PC and Super Nintendo), and NBA Live 99 PC (with the official update). Those were fun trips down memory lane, but I’m even more excited to revisit the rosters in NBA Live 96 PC. It’s one of my all-time favourite basketball games, and while I sunk countless hours into it playing with my 1998 season roster, I also spent a considerable amount of time with the default lineups. It’s also helped me out with modding, and even in answering trivia all these years later! Let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Failed Franchise & Season Games

Postby Andrew on Wed Apr 24, 2024 1:35 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Failed Franchise & Season Games

Over the years in Wayback Wednesday, I’ve reminisced about several of my most memorable franchise, season, and career mode games. While they all represent fun times on the virtual hardwood for me, they haven’t been equally successfully as far as completion is concerned. Games where I’ve played through an entire season on twelve minute quarters stand out as the times I’ve really been hooked on the experience, but they’re arguably the exception rather than the rule. There are far more titles that I’ve never finished a single season in, than ones where I’ve had multi-year games.

Of course, as I’ve noted before, completion is what you make it when it comes to the annual sim titles. Unless you stick with a single game for more than a year, it’s tough to get the full multi-year experience in franchise and career modes; especially when you opt for full length seasons on twelve minute quarters without simulating! Even in the games where I didn’t finish the season, I still had a ton of fun. With that being said, there are also franchise and season mode games that I abandoned very quickly. To that end, this week I’m reflecting on some “failed” games, and pondering the concept of “failure” in that context. Let’s take a look back...way back...
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