The Friday Five: 5 Tips for Managing & Earning VC in MyCAREER

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Re: The Friday Five: Top 5 Positives and Negatives in NBA 2K19

Postby Andrew on Sat Sep 22, 2018 5:21 am

September 21st: Top 5 Positives and Negatives in NBA 2K19

My full reviews for NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 will be out shortly, but before then, I wanted to offer up some more of my initial impressions of this year's games. This time I'm talking about the latest offering from Visual Concepts, NBA 2K19. After really enjoying NBA 2K17, I was quite disappointed with NBA 2K18. It wasn't just the unapologetically greedy approach to microtransactions and the brutal grind, either. I just didn't enjoy the gameplay experience, and thus shelved NBA 2K18 much earlier than previous games, firing it up only to get screenshots for articles.

In a nutshell, I felt that NBA 2K18 was a surprising regression for the NBA 2K series, uncharacteristically stumbling off course. Is NBA 2K19 heading back in the right direction? In some respects, yes, but there are some key areas of concern, and design choices that I'm disappointed in. The team at Visual Concepts clearly did learn a few lessons from last year's game however, and took gamer feedback to heart. With that in mind, NBA 2K19 is - as quite a few people have put it - the game that we should've received last year. At the same time, it's not entirely the game that I was hoping for this year. Let's take a look at the Top 5 Positives and Negatives, at least as I see them.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Alternatives to Overall Ratings

Postby Andrew on Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:58 pm

September 28th: 5 Alternatives to Overall Ratings

If you play basketball video games - and in particular, if you maintain the rosters for them - then Overall Ratings often cause a lot of hassle. I've written not one but two articles on the matter, and since then, the situation sadly hasn't gotten any better. During this past preview season, there was plenty of grumbling when an Overall Rating was revealed and it didn't seem quite right. For their part, players themselves have strong opinions as to what their ratings should be. Of course, many of them feel they should be 90+ Overall; even rookies who still have everything to prove!

Overall Ratings remain a point of contention in basketball games (and sports games in general), but unfortunately, they are a necessary evil. They provide us with a succinct overview of a player's value and standing in the league compared to his peers, which is important when trying to put together trades in the franchise modes. The concept of 99 Overall Ratings also gives us a lofty goal to shoot for in the career modes. As such, Overall Ratings aren't going anywhere. I do think we need them, but what if we were to replace them with a less controversial system? Does such a solution exist? Well, here are five possibilities that I can think of, that might be viable alternatives.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Alternatives to Overall Ratings

Postby [Q] on Sat Sep 29, 2018 2:24 am

I think the LUT way is a good way to get a quick snapshot of what a player is good or bad at (if they got rid of the fake "overall" number)
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Weird Moments in Basketball Games

Postby Andrew on Fri Oct 05, 2018 10:55 pm

October 5th: 5 Weird Moments in Basketball Games

Most video games have their weird moments, mostly because none are immune to glitches. Any game with random events, real physics, or other elements that allow them to be somewhat organic and dynamic will probably yield unusual results from time to time. In basketball games, we can also see weird results with the sim engine or strange moments when the AI breaks down. It's safe to say that we've all experienced those oddities and have some stories to swap. I'm not talking about those kinds of moments, though.

No, I'm talking about the weird moments that were actually intentional on the part of the developers, or are the fallout of something that happened during the development of the game. Even if they're working as intended, they're still weird. I'm also thinking about weird moments that we've been able to create ourselves due to a design quirk that lends itself to an unusual situation. Some of the moments I've listed here are interesting oddities, some reflect a lack of attention to detail, and some are hilariously bizarre. With that being said, please enjoy what I feel are five rather weird moments in basketball video games.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Features That Are Older Than You Think

Postby Andrew on Sat Oct 13, 2018 12:24 am

October 12th: 5 Features That Are Older Than You Think

We've seen some really cool features in basketball video games over the past couple of generations. Extensive historical content, brilliant presentation, and innovative approaches to modes, have all continued to push the basketball gaming experience further and further. Not every idea pans out, and there are always some of us who prefer an old school approach when it comes to certain features, but the amount of innovation and creativity is still very impressive. Of course, not all of those concepts and features are necessarily brand new ideas.

As I've discussed in many Wayback Wednesday features, there was an impressive amount of innovation in several early basketball video games as well. Modern tech has allowed developers to push the envelope even further, but it's interesting and sometimes surprising when we look back and see that certain features were attempted many years ago, with varying degrees of success. That isn't a bad thing, as good and creative ideas should be revisited when the technology allows them to be even better, perhaps even the way that they were originally envisioned. Those original attempts do deserve credit though, as they demonstrate that some features are older than we think.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Teams to Play With in NBA Live 19 & NBA 2K19

Postby Andrew on Fri Oct 19, 2018 11:43 pm

October 19th: 5 Teams to Play With in NBA Live 19 & NBA 2K19

A new season is upon us! If you've been holding off on starting your main Franchise, MyLEAGUE, or MyGM game until opening night rosters are finalised, the time has come. Many of you probably have the perfect team in mind already, but if you're like me, you may be mulling over a few possibilities. One of the most frustrating moments you can have in basketball gaming is to get about ten games into a franchise game, and realise that you don't enjoy playing with the team you selected. That's not too far in to start over, but it's better to pick a suitable team the first time around if possible.

So, who to pick? I'm sure that the Golden State Warriors will be a popular choice once again, especially online. Their new starting lineup of five All-Stars - at least once DeMarcus Cousins is healthy again - will be quite a quintet to run with. They are a little cheap on the virtual hardwood though, and a stacked team isn't to everyone's liking when it comes to franchise modes. A few teams have shaken up their rosters and made big acquisitions this offseason, and while it remains to be seen how well they'll fare in real life, they should be a lot of fun to guide to victory in NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19. Here are five teams to consider this year.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Outmoded Features in Basketball Games

Postby Andrew on Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:53 pm

October 26th: 5 Outmoded Features in Basketball Games

Something I've really enjoyed doing with my Wayback Wednesday articles this year is to look at specific features in old basketball games. I do want to get back to doing some full retrospectives on older titles, but I feel that it's interesting to look back on older features, options, and gameplay mechanics that hoops games used to have. As I've mentioned on more than one occasion, there are certain aspects of those older games that I'd love to see implemented once again in future titles. In some cases of course, the basic concept would have to be updated and reworked a little.

On the other hand, there are certain features and functions that can definitely stay in the past. They aren't necessarily bad or beyond being reworked into a newer concept, but they've become outmoded. There simply isn't the need for them that there used to be; either another feature or function does the job better, or advances in technology and game design have rendered them largely useless. They are nevertheless important parts of basketball gaming history though, and it's interesting to see how some of them have evolved or been replaced over time. To that end, let's take a look at five outmoded features that no longer need to be staples of basketball games.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Ideas for Basketball Games from Other Genres

Postby Andrew on Sat Nov 03, 2018 12:09 am

November 2nd: 5 Ideas for Basketball Games from Other Genres

Basketball games, like all sports titles, differ from other genres of video games when it comes to their nuances and our expectations. In many video games, there are several breaks from reality that are not only acceptable, but desirable. The lack of realism in specific aspects of gameplay doesn't break our sense of immersion the same way it will in a game that is attempting to accurately depict a sport. To that end, certain features, functions, and concepts that we find in other genres of video games aren't necessarily a good fit in basketball titles.

At the same time, while Da_Czar's famous catchphrase of "Don't play video games; play basketball!" is a great philosophy for developers and basketball gamers alike, the fact remains that basketball games are still video games. There are aspects of real life, such as commercial breaks, that they don't need to replicate. Similarly, there are good ideas for features, functions, and even content that can be utilised by a wide variety of genres. Even though the concepts aren't basketball-centric in and of themselves, they could still greatly enhance future NBA Live and NBA 2K releases. Here are five such ideas that basketball games could stand to borrow and make their own.
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Re: The Friday Five: Top 5 Developer Cameos in Basketball Games

Postby Andrew on Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:26 pm

November 9th: Top 5 Developer Cameos in Basketball Games

The first video game Easter egg dates back to 1979, when Warren Robinett added a means of accessing a hidden screen in Adventure for Atari 2600, which displayed the message "Created by Warren Robinett". At the time, Atari did not give credit to any of their developers for fear of having to negotiate expensive salaries for well-known and highly regarded designers, and Robinett's Easter egg was his response to that policy. Since then, video games have come to credit their design teams, and these days, key developers are well-known to gamers, and often interact with us.

Of course, the credits screen isn't the only place that developers have had a presence in their own games. Several basketball games have included secret unlockable bonus teams featuring members of the development team, though the practice has largely been phased out in recent years. We still see developer cameos in other areas of the games though, as they lend their names (and sometimes faces) to fictional coaches, NPCs, and generated rookies. They'll also pop up in a few other places outside of the credits. Playable or not, developer cameos have provided some amusing moments in basketball games, and this week, I'm counting down my picks for the top five.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Games That Felt Like Backwards Steps

Postby Andrew on Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:39 pm

November 16th: 5 Games That Felt Like Backwards Steps

Ideally, each release in an annual basketball game series should improve upon the title that came before it (and indeed, all previous games in its lineage). That's not always feasible, and missteps will happen from time to time when new ideas and technology don't pan out as intended, so it's always welcome when a new release is able to build upon the success of its predecessor or bounce back after a disappointing game. I feel that this is a good year for basketball games, with NBA Live 19 continuing a steady improvement for NBA Live, and NBA 2K19 addressing many of NBA 2K18's issues.

We're not always so lucky. As much as sports games are often criticised for seemingly releasing the same game every year with new art and rosters, there are times when a new title leaves us wishing that that was indeed the case. It's impossible to live up to everyone's expectations, and whether or not certain changes are for better or worse is often subjective, but there have been basketball games that were definite backwards steps for one reason or another. Let's take a look at five prominent examples and the ways in which they can be considered backwards steps when compared to the games that came before them.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Times Games Messed Up Player Appearances

Postby Andrew on Fri Nov 23, 2018 11:38 pm

November 23rd: 5 Times Games Messed Up Player Appearances

Developing basketball games - or any video games, for that matter - is harder than a lot of people realise. It bears mentioning, as some gamers do go overboard in their criticism and suggest that making a flawless game is a simple task. In our modding community, we have a bad habit of denouncing the art teams in particular. It should be noted that it's a lot easier to mod a finished game than it is to create one in the first place, and that individual modders aren't under the same restrictions when it comes to spending a lot of time on a single player face, or other art assets.

With that being said, there are times when there have been notably unusual mistakes or unimpressive results, particularly when it comes to player appearances. I'm not just referring to player faces that don't look as realistic as we'd like, though there certainly have been some noteworthy examples in that vein over the years. However, there are times when player appearances have been messed up in ways that go well beyond a cyberface that looks a little off. Be it an oversight in development, some kind of technical limitation, or another cause entirely, here are five times that we looked at a player in a hoops game and noticed that something definitely wasn't quite right.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Ways NBA 2K Pushes Microtransactions

Postby Andrew on Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:47 pm

November 28th: 5 Ways NBA 2K Pushes Microtransactions

As much as I've criticised microtransactions in previous articles, I have to admit that I'm guilty of partaking in the practice. On some occasions, I've been more willing to drop some spare change on content because I've been enjoying the game so much. At other times, it's been through gritted teeth because the grind has been so painful, and I've wanted to play online sooner rather than later. I've never broken my budget with microtransactions, but simply out of principle, this year it's been my goal not to spend any real money on any form of virtual currency (in particular, Virtual Currency).

So far, I've made good on that resolution. The only VC that I didn't earn in-game was the 5000 VC pre-order bonus for the standard edition of NBA 2K19. I'm currently 73 Overall, and I would have to say that grinding up the hard way has been a rewarding journey. It is most certainly a grind though, especially now that ratings upgrades are getting more expensive. You really notice how actively (and sometimes, aggressively) 2K pushes microtransactions when you're trying to avoid them! Metaphorically, it's gone from a gentle nudge to a firm hand shunting you in the small of your back. Here are five ways that NBA 2K games pressure us in the name of "recurrent revenue".
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Ways NBA 2K Pushes Microtransactions

Postby [Q] on Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:35 am

Wow, I had no idea you had to re buy items in different modes. That's just ridiculous.

Its crazy to think that every year they put players into a dilemma of choosing between having fun or paying more money. But wasn't the point of buying the game to have fun? It's almost like you're paying $60 fora trial version and have to pay for the full experience, especially if you're an adult and don't have all the time in the world to grind.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Ways NBA 2K Pushes Microtransactions

Postby Andrew on Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:47 am

I suppose the thought is you either have the time, or the disposable income. As I said though, if you want to get online and be competitive right away, you either have to order whatever special edition they're doing to get the extra VC, or pay for some to get your ratings up. You still need to grind for Badges (and that's a little easier this year), but just getting your athletic and other key ratings up on Day 1 is a tremendous advantage.

It certainly is getting to the point where you have to work to have fun with the game, at least if you're playing MyCAREER and the connected modes. MyLEAGUE is fun out of the box, at least.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Ways NBA 2K Pushes Microtransactions

Postby [Q] on Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:58 am

That's the thing though... remember when games were made to be fun right out of the box?

Imagine if in Super Mario Bros you had to collect 100 coins before you could unlock the mushroom to grow into super Mario. Or you could pay $1 to skip that and buy a mushroom with real money
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Ways NBA 2K Pushes Microtransactions

Postby Andrew on Sat Dec 01, 2018 1:21 pm

Exactly, and I love that analogy. MyCAREER is obviously meant to be an RPG-like journey with levelling up and whatnot, but it could stand to have a better progression system. It's an area where NBA Live has it right, because your starting ratings do allow you to at least be competent in online play from the beginning. Not so much in NBA 2K.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Tips for Managing & Earning VC in MyCAREER

Postby Andrew on Fri Dec 07, 2018 11:41 pm

December 7th: 5 Tips for Managing & Earning VC in MyCAREER

Fighting the urge to buy VC to level up faster in NBA 2K19's MyCAREER? You're not alone, as the game is designed to push you in the direction of microtransactions. Since the situation is unlikely to get better anytime soon, I've decided that it would be more productive to focus on some content that helps gamers rather than critiques 2K's design choices. After all, while microtransactions are strongly encouraged, VC can indeed be gained without spending real money. With that in mind, I've devised five tips that I hope will be useful for both earning and managing VC.

Before I get to the tips, I should emphasise that it's still going to be a long process. As the push for recurrent revenue is quite aggressive, the grind is very real. Perseverance will pay off, however. Aside from the pre-order bonus for the standard edition, I've not spent any VC that I didn't earn in-game, and as of this writing, I'm sitting at 74 Overall (starting from the base rating of 60). I did skip The Prelude for this player, though as a bonus tip, I would suggest that you play through it in order to get a head start on upgrades and Badges, as well as an opportunity for a higher salary out of the gate. With that being said, let's take a look at some strategies for VC budgeting!
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