The Friday Five: 5 Ways to Make The Rec Friendlier

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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Things Removed in NBA 2K21 Next Gen

Postby Andrew on Fri Feb 19, 2021 3:13 pm

The Friday Five: 5 Things Removed in NBA 2K21 Next Gen

When it comes to the things that annoy us most in the annual basketball games, legacy issues and the removal of popular features rank high on the list. For that matter, seeing legacy issues remain while cool features disappear is a common gripe born of those two complaints. Generally speaking though, we understand that there's only so much that can be done within one development cycle, and that certain changes won't come about until a new engine is introduced. Likewise, we know that some features are dropped due to technological reasons, or a lack of popularity.

It's the things that are removed due to design choices and philosophy that really make us grumble, however. NBA 2K21 Next Gen was advertised as being "built from the ground up", but it does bring back many familiar features, modes, and mechanics. A few things have fallen by the wayside with the series' jump to the next generation, though. There may be technical reasons for their absence, but it's inconvenient at best, and lacking in goodwill at worst. There's a chance that we'll see some of these things reintroduced if the demand/backlash is strong enough, but until then, here are five things from the Current Gen version that you won't find in NBA 2K21 Next Gen.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Cheats with Major Drawbacks

Postby Andrew on Fri Feb 26, 2021 1:44 pm

The Friday Five: 5 Cheats with Major Drawbacks

Cheaters never prosper, as the saying goes. Of course, that saying predates video games, where cheating often leads to great success! Doom II sure felt like a walk in the park when my cousin and I punched in IDDQD and IDKFA for invincibility and all the items. There are a couple of adventure games I probably wouldn't have ever finished if not for a walkthrough, and the Konami code has benefited many a gamer over the years. Alright, it's kind of cheating yourself and it's far more satisfying when you beat a game legitimately, but the point is that cheats are indeed effective.

Well, some of them. Some cheats are more like Easter eggs, unlocking weird effects and bonus content that don't actually help you win. Some are definitely just for fun, but even then, there can be drawbacks. As is the case in other genres, employing cheats in basketball games may not allow you to make any progress. The effects of some cheats are a letdown, while others may actually make the game more difficult. Whatever the case may be, you're better off avoiding these codes and activities if you want to enjoy basketball gaming to its fullest. Here are five such examples, and the drawbacks that you can expect to experience.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Divisive Artistic Choices

Postby Andrew on Fri Mar 05, 2021 2:17 pm

The Friday Five: 5 Divisive Artistic Choices

It's likely that at some point, you've heard the fable of "The miller, his son, and the donkey." It's the go-to fable whenever you want to illustrate that you can't please everyone; or, to use the wording of the moral that's appended to certain versions of the fable, "if you try to please all, you please none." The fable is talking about actions, but the message holds true for art and entertainment as well. Whether it's a video game, tabletop game, film, TV series (or an individual episode thereof), album, song, poem, drawing, painting, or whatever...nothing receives universal acclaim.

After all, it's impossible for a single work to cater to everyone's individual taste with its artistic choices. Of course, some artistic choices tend to evoke more extreme responses and opinions than others. They're the proverbial "love it or hate it" artistic choices, with very little in between. It's also interesting that some of the most divisive aspects of basketball games are generally inconsequential artistic choices that don't inhibit the core gameplay experience. Atmosphere is still important though, and a gaudy art style can be off-putting. With that in mind, here are five of the most divisive artistic choices that we've seen in various aspects of basketball video games.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Divisive Artistic Choices

Postby [Q] on Fri Mar 05, 2021 4:28 pm

After playing Live 2005 again, I remembered the lighting had been copied over from EA's ill-fated Catwoman game, so I don't think it was a good call in hindsight. But back then, I thought it was cool and didn't mind it
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Divisive Artistic Choices

Postby Andrew on Fri Mar 05, 2021 7:12 pm

I wasn't aware of that! Definitely not the right call, but I'll also admit to not outright hating it at the time. The fact that NBA Live 2005 was such a great game across the board helped too, even before we figured out how to edit the lighting file.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Odd Create-a-Player Features

Postby Andrew on Fri Mar 12, 2021 8:27 pm

The Friday Five: 5 Odd Create-a-Player Features

One of the most basic staples of roster customisation in basketball games - and most sports games for that matter - is Create-a-Player. Whether you want to add a real player that's missing from the official roster, insert your own avatar into the game, or spice things up with a fictional character, it's there to indulge your creativity. Despite being a staple of roster editing, Create-a-Player has been missing from a few games, including NBA Live 14 through 16, and NBA Live 18 before a patch added it post-launch. Other than that, most games from the mid 90s onwards have included it.

Create-a-Player modes have usually offered a standard set of features as far as the ratings, bio data, and other attributes that can be assigned. As the graphics of hoops games have improved, so have the face creation tools. Generally speaking, apart from an option here and there for added depth, most 5v5 sim-oriented basketball titles have very similar Create-a-Player facilities. With that being said, there have been a few games with creation modes that have included some odd features and options, ranging from design choices and limitations to unexpected content. You know the drill: I've got five such examples to discuss, so let's begin!
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Old Features That Could Be Repurposed

Postby Andrew on Fri Mar 19, 2021 8:14 pm

The Friday Five: 5 Old Features That Could Be Repurposed

Old basketball games include some interesting features, many of which I've profiled in Wayback Wednesday over the years. As I've noted in those articles, there are some features that were innovative at the time and fun to look back on, but are admittedly outdated now. They've either been replaced with a more evolved concept, or they just don't fit in today's games. On the other hand, there are features in old games that I'd like to see return. Some of them would fit perfectly into modern titles, while others would need to be revamped and repurposed to be properly utilised in a new game.

That last group is what I'm focusing on today. While NBA 2K remains a deep game, and NBA Live has introduced some good ideas over the past generation despite some shaky releases, there are some old features that would make a very welcome return; particularly if they were updated and adapted for use in contemporary gameplay and modes. Unfortunately, the design principles that Visual Concepts and EA Sports are adhering to these days may make it highly unlikely, but nevertheless, I'd like to throw out these ideas for repurposed old features. After all, you never know what may happen, especially if they can be repurposed in a way that makes them relevant again.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Underrepresented Seasons in Retro Mods

Postby Andrew on Fri Mar 26, 2021 8:58 pm

The Friday Five: 5 Underrepresented Seasons in Retro Mods

Full retro season roster mods are a huge undertaking. Even if a game features a large amount of retro content in the form of historical players and throwback team art, there will still be a lot of work to be done as far as adding players and creating their faces, not to mention jerseys, courts, and logos. To that point, a modder seeking to make a retro season roster will likely choose the year carefully. Some seasons will require less work than others - especially those in the 90s onwards - because of the amount of assets that can already be utilised.

Of course, there's another factor that goes into one's choice of seasons for a retro mod: popularity and notoriety of the campaign in question. I'll admit to always thinking of the 1996 season when it comes to retro roster ideas, because that's when I really got into basketball. Generally speaking, I'm also partial to years where the Chicago Bulls were on top. However, with a rich history spanning over seventy years, there are many NBA seasons filled with stories and highlights that should inspire more retro mods than they do. That's not to say that these seasons don't have any retro mods already, but all the same, I'd argue that they're underrepresented in roster projects.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Small Ways Games Went That Extra Mile

Postby Andrew on Fri Apr 02, 2021 11:22 pm

The Friday Five: 5 Small Ways Games Went That Extra Mile

The small details in basketball video games are a funny thing. It's possible to obsess over them too much, to the point of nitpicking. Nothing makes us appear to be an unpleasable fanbase quite like overreacting to a minor error or missing detail that most people would never notice, and hardly ruins the entire game. At the same time, attention to detail is important, and we do notice when games go that extra mile in order to be fun and immersive. Even if it's purely cosmetic, we're likely to say "hey, that's awesome" once we've seen it.

It may be a detail that we can barely see during gameplay, but it adds authenticity that we can appreciate when replays take us closer to the action. It may be functionality that improves the quality of the experience, or contributes to the atmosphere. In some cases, it may even be content that gets patched in, adding a level of detail that we didn't expect. Whatever the case may be, the developers went that extra mile to make the game better in small ways. I'm sure we all have our favourite examples of little details that impressed us when we discovered them, and so today I'm sharing five of mine, in no particular order. Hats off to the developers for these efforts!
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Cover Players You May Not Recall

Postby Andrew on Fri Apr 09, 2021 4:53 pm

The Friday Five: 5 Cover Players You May Not Recall

Although cover players have no bearing on the quality of basketball video games - some of the best releases have featured unpopular choices in that regard - they're still one of the first things that we picture when we think of specific games. Enthusiastic basketball gamers will most likely be able to name the cover player of any given title they're familiar with, at least when it comes to the main face of the game. Things get trickier when it comes to the international versions, where regional cover players are used to appeal to the local market.

In recent years, announcing and promoting regional/alternate covers has become a bigger part of the preview season. Several years ago, however, those covers weren't always well-known outside of the markets that received them, with some flying under the radar for many years. As such, one can be forgiven for thinking that some of them are bootlegs or the work of Photoshop, but physical copies of the games prove that they're legitimate. Although these versions are usually identical to the main release - except their language in some cases - there's a certain novelty to them, making them sought-after collectibles. Of course, tracking them down often isn't cheap or easy.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Old Basketball Games That Shot Up In Price

Postby Andrew on Fri Apr 16, 2021 10:24 pm

The Friday Five: 5 Old Basketball Games That Shot Up In Price

When it comes to sourcing copies of old NBA Live and NBA 2K releases, you won't end up paying too much. Got your hands on an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, and feel like taking a trip down memory lane with NBA Live 10? Even on eBay, you'll likely pay less than ten dollars, Australian or US. Even games from the 90s - such as the Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis/Mega Drive version of NBA Live 95 - are generally cheap, as there are quite a number of copies in circulation. You might pay a little more for complete-in-box, but they're mostly very affordable to collect.

And then, there are the old basketball games that have shot up in price. Last year I took a look at five old basketball games that are very expensive to collect, and there's some overlap with this article. However, I've been made aware of some other titles that are tough to affordably source, at least through a market like eBay. Old basketball games are somewhat of a niche genre when it comes to video game collecting, and as I noted, many of them are too common to fetch a high price just because of their age. They're still affected by the same trends as retro game collecting in general though, especially if they're legitimately rare and highly sought after, as some of these are.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Factors That Make a Basketball Game a Favourite

Postby Andrew on Fri Apr 23, 2021 3:41 pm

The Friday Five: 5 Factors That Make a Basketball Game a Favourite

What determines your favourite basketball video games? Quality and liking them a lot, obviously! Short and snarky answers aside, there are a number of factors that we can identify as playing a role in determining our favourite hoops titles. Nostalgia comes into play, but even then, there are specific aspects that hold nostalgic appeal. There have been several fantastic basketball games over the years, so it's interesting to look at the reasons why some of them end up standing out as our personal favourites, while others don't rank up there for us, as good and enjoyable as they may be.

Furthermore, there's also the matter of unpopular and controversial opinions, such as a game with a mixed reception being a personal favourite. When a game draws very polarising reactions, these factors will determine which side of the fence you stand on. And of course, just because a game is a personal favourite, it doesn't necessarily mean that you perpetually hold it up as the gold standard, or believe that no game since has been technically better. It just means that it occupies a special place in your memory, and you hold it in high regard for the great times that you had with it. If we break it down, I'd suggest that these are among the main factors that determine our favourites.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Incorrect Jerseys in Basketball Games

Postby Andrew on Fri Apr 30, 2021 2:28 pm

The Friday Five: 5 Incorrect Jerseys in Basketball Games

In sim basketball titles, accuracy down to the last detail is the name of the game. An arcade title usually has more wiggle room for inaccurate, exaggerated, and stylised details, but we still expect a certain degree of faithfulness in NBA-licensed products. Some inaccuracies are admittedly only apparent to the most eagle-eyed gamers who are particularly attuned to minute details on jerseys, courts, and shoes. However, other inaccuracies are blatantly obvious to everyone, leaving one to wonder just what the developers and artists were thinking (or what sources they were working from).

Case in point: the five incorrect jerseys that I'll be spotlighting today. Now, I've decided not to include any jerseys with incorrect colour palettes, such as the Chicago Bulls jerseys that were more pink than red for so many years. My reason is that they tend to be well-known examples too numerous to mention, and we can assume that they're the result of developers working from official colour palettes that didn't yield the proper results in-game. Instead, I'm focusing on jerseys that were incorrect due to weird mistakes in their design, or some other oddity. Some of these incorrect jerseys are noticeable right away, while others do require being something of a uniform buff.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Incorrect Jerseys in Basketball Games

Postby RayRay_953 on Mon May 03, 2021 6:47 am

Good read! I noticed quite a bit of jersey mistakes in 2K20 (probably some of the other 2Ks as well):

'91-'92 Sixers: home jersey uses red numbers and letters, and they should be blue. Away jersey with the shortest shorts has the "SIXERS" text on the shorts red instead of white

'01-'06 Sixers: All jerseys actually based on the ones worn from '97-'00. This means the '01 Sixers do not have the correct jerseys ingame, and the blue alternate with this style did not exist in real life.

'12-'13 Heat: Away jerseys say "HEAT" instead of "MIAMI"

'90-'91 Blazers: Jersey designs are correct, but the '91 Blazers are assigned the uniforms worn in the '91-'92 season by default, which means the user must choose the correct uniforms before a game.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Incorrect Jerseys in Basketball Games

Postby Andrew on Mon May 03, 2021 2:16 pm

Glad you enjoyed it! Appreciate the examples as well; between yours and the additional ones Pep pointed out, I'll probably have to write a couple of follow-up articles!
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Details That Aged Quickly

Postby Andrew on Fri May 07, 2021 2:09 pm

The Friday Five: 5 Details That Aged Quickly

It's impossible for basketball video games to completely avoid being outdated in their content. Obviously there are benefits to this - as I've discussed on many occasions, I love the way hoops games can act as interactive NBA almanacs - but the point is that certain aspects of basketball titles will have already aged by the time we get our hands on them. If nothing else, the rosters need to be locked by a certain date, which gives us fun oddities such as players only appearing on a particular team in video games, players who ultimately never played in the NBA being included in games, and so on.

Of course, now that official roster updates are the norm, it doesn't matter that a game's roster has aged by its release. An abundance of content updates and patches ensure that modern games can evolve and stay current far more easily than their much older predecessors could. Of course, there are elements that aren't updated, and although their outdated nature may not ruin a game, they nevertheless stand out. Some of the examples I'm discussing today aged quickly because of events that occurred after their release, while others were already outdated before the game hit shelves. Either way they're fun to look back at, especially when a major event is involved.
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Re: The Friday Five: 5 Ways to Make The Rec Friendlier

Postby Andrew on Fri May 14, 2021 2:49 pm

The Friday Five: 5 Ways to Make The Rec Friendlier

After years of playing 2K Pro-Am and The Rec as part of the connected experience in MyCAREER, I've mostly moved on as of NBA 2K21. Sure, I won't rule out playing online every now and again, but too many negative experiences combined with a desire to play other modes has led to little to no desire to jump on as often as I once did. In a way that's a shame, as when The Rec and Pro-Am were fun, they were a lot of fun. The worst games were tough to endure though, and believe me, I did all I could to stomach some truly wretched virtual basketball in pursuit of good games.

With that being said, I want the online experience in NBA 2K to improve. Whether or not I ever regularly partake in the scene again, I'd like to see it become as good as it possibly can be, so that the people who do want to play online have an enjoyable time. This applies to all of the connected modes in MyCAREER - as well as online play in MyTEAM - but The Rec's purpose as an arena for impromptu, makeshift squads means that it invites a specific brand of toxic play. From the comments I've seen on Twitter and Reddit, The Rec could stand to be a friendlier and more cooperative place. Here are five ways that it could possibly achieve that goal moving forward.
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