Monday Tip-Off: Cynicism & Developer Blogs

Talk about the NLSC Podcast, Wiki and other site related issues and content here. Site and community announcements are also posted in this section.

Re: Monday Tip-Off: An Actual Comparison of NBA Live's Graphics

Postby Andrew on Mon May 28, 2018 9:55 pm

May 28th, 2018: An Actual Comparison of NBA Live's Graphics

This topic has been on my list of Monday Tip-Off ideas for a while now, so it's about time that I finally cover it. Since the reboot of the NBA Live series in 2013 with NBA Live 14, the game has been under heavy scrutiny from gamers and professional critics alike. It stands to reason, as our expectations of basketball video games have only grown over the years, especially with NBA 2K raising the bar with several fantastic releases. There has been a lot of very fair and accurate criticism of EA Sports' hoops series, in this community and elsewhere, resulting in quality constructive feedback.

However, there have also been plenty of comments that are purely intended to bash the games, or present a hyperbolic critique. NBA Live's graphics are usually the most frequent target in this regard, since they're among the first impressions we have of any video game. Buzzwords like "cartoonish" are thrown around a lot, as are comparisons to PlayStation 2-era graphics. I've already explained the many problems with the word "cartoonish" in a previous article, so this time I'd like to focus on the accusations of "PS2 graphics". Unlike "cartoonish", there's no ambiguity here, as we can make direct comparisons between games. When we do, it's clearly an inaccurate assessment.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Two Comebacks in Ultimate Team

Postby Andrew on Mon Jun 04, 2018 6:10 pm

June 4th, 2018: Two Comebacks in Ultimate Team

As I've discussed in a previous article, and on several episodes of the NLSC Podcast, Ultimate Team has been my mode of choice in NBA Live 18. I've put together a team of 90s All-Stars that are quite fun to play with, and have generally allowed me to have a lot of success in the mode. However, some of the recent challenges have been...well, quite challenging, albeit mostly due to some cheap play by the AI. It's resulted in few frustrating losses, though also some very rewarding victories. Over the past week, I managed to earn a couple of comeback wins that felt very satisfying.

After fighting back to pick up the victory in dramatic fashion in both games, I knew I had to keep the footage of the final minutes for posterity...and for an NLSC feature. Here for your enjoyment are the final moments of my two games against the Central Division Legends and this week's Team of the Year Challenges. Catch it here on our YouTube channel if you can't see the embedded video.


phpBB [video]
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: The Harsh Reality of the NBA 2K League

Postby Andrew on Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:14 pm

June 11th, 2018: The Harsh Reality of the NBA 2K League

To say that the NBA 2K League has received an overwhelmingly cold reception is an understatement. Sure, there are people streaming the games, catching the highlight reels, and generally enjoying the League. However, a lot of people have had some harsh words for it, too. Posts about the League on the official NBA 2K social media accounts are often derisive and insulting. Similarly, when the NBA's official accounts post about the League, the responses are often downright hostile. Although there is support for the NBA 2K League, the detractors are much, much louder.

Furthermore, while the NBA 2K League has found an audience, it's not a particularly big one given the overall strength of the NBA 2K brand. Pastapadre has been keeping tabs on the viewership numbers, which have sunk as low as 2000 viewers on a night when there were no real NBA games to compete with. Although it's still early days, and 2K likely anticipated some teething problems in the inaugural season, there are plenty of discouraging signs moving forward. The harsh reality of the situation is that no matter how successful NBA 2K may be, the NBA 2K League may simply have too many things stacked against it to succeed.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: The Harsh Reality of the NBA 2K League

Postby [Q] on Tue Jun 12, 2018 4:20 am

Blizzard did the same thing with Overwatch league, which seems to have been received fairly well. There's a link to it right from the main menu of the game plus a Live icon when they are streaming at that moment.

What also helps them is that they have given new characters, new maps, new game modes, new skins, all out of goodwill and for the sake of supporting the game after its release. That's something that 2k has been lacking in.

All in all, it seems like it's just yet another money grab by 2k which is getting old, for sure.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: The Harsh Reality of the NBA 2K League

Postby Andrew on Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:55 am

Absolutely. It also seems to lend itself better to eSports, because it can't be compared to a real sport; there's no alternative, like there is with a basketball game that is indirectly competing with the real NBA. Success or failure often comes down to animation selection, particularly on shots in the paint, which is also a factor.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: The Harsh Reality of the NBA 2K League

Postby [Q] on Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:20 pm

Yeah, I guess it a weird funny way, it is competing with the real NBA and obviously losing, because why would you watch people play a subpar simulation of the NBA when you can just watch the real thing? You can't see people and robots and machines shoot each other in real life, so I think that helps other games like Overwatch, or the big one on Youtube right now is Fortnite
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: The Harsh Reality of the NBA 2K League

Postby Andrew on Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:14 pm

The uniqueness and the lack of canned moments do help other genres seem more appealing. The other issue is that people still look down on gamers, professional or otherwise, and eSports. eSports leagues that focus on the hardcore base that's likely to have an interest in watching others play the game in question have an established audience, and any crossover with other demographics is a bonus. In theory, the NBA 2K League has a clear crossover appeal with people who like basketball and basketball video games, but a big chunk of that potential audience has an intense disdain for it from a conceptual standpoint. As I said in MTO, the hardcore base in this case also doesn't feel inclined to support the League either, partly due to a lack of interest in the concept, but also a realisation it does nothing for them.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Matchmaking & Microtransactions

Postby Andrew on Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:10 pm

June 18th, 2018: Matchmaking & Microtransactions

I've mentioned matchmaking and microtransactions in previous articles discussing what I feel must be done in future NBA 2K games, and with the preview season more or less underway, it's time to revisit these issues. Both are aspects that the NBA 2K development team must handle carefully, to ensure that the experience provided by NBA 2K19 is as accessible and as enjoyable as it can be. If the wrong approach is taken, then this year's game is going to suffer from the same problems as NBA 2K18, with similar backlash. 2K is overdue to show its fanbase some genuine goodwill.

I originally planned to discuss matchmaking and microtransactions separately, but the more I thought about it, the clearer it became that the two issues are closely linked. Their respective shortcomings in last year's game combined to make its most popular online modes far less inviting and enjoyable than they should've been. The lack of in-depth matchmaking made the pay-to-win aspect of microtransactions a much larger issue. Likewise, the impact of microtransactions in NBA 2K18 made the lack of proper matchmaking all the more apparent and problematic. If handled better, they needn't cause as many problems with the competitive balance in NBA 2K19.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Nostalgia in Basketball Gaming

Postby Andrew on Mon Jun 25, 2018 10:34 pm

June 25th, 2018: Nostalgia in Basketball Gaming

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. Deconstructing it as a concept is a little beyond a site dedicated to covering basketball video games but suffice to say, experts who know a lot more about psychology and sociology than I do have identified both positive and negative aspects of nostalgia. Nevertheless, I'd say that for most of us, it's a healthy indulgence of our old favourites, whether it's video games, television shows, films, music, sporting moments, or whatever. It's often fun to reminisce, not to mention good fodder for discussion and debate.

Basketball games appeal to our nostalgia with retro content such as historical teams, but old hoops games themselves also hold a certain appeal. It's fair to say that many of us are nostalgic for the titles we grew up playing; I know I am, which is why I enjoy producing my weekly Wayback Wednesday feature. We also hold up the best releases from yesteryear as a benchmark for new games, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. After all, we do want to see basketball games continue to improve, especially when it comes to the annual releases. However, it is possible to get caught up in nostalgia, judging new games unfairly and exaggerating the quality of older titles.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: The Harsh Reality of the NBA 2K League

Postby shadowgrin on Sat Jun 30, 2018 4:50 pm


That brings us to what I feel is perhaps the biggest problem with the NBA 2K League. The blunt fact of the matter is that the League does nothing for NBA 2K gamers at all. Its partnership with the NBA allows Visual Concepts to flex their muscles as a brand, and for Ronnie 2K to feel important, but that doesn’t do anything for us.


Damn that was cold. Did Ronnie ran over your dog or something. :lol:
Though in the back of my mind it's telling me that I've seen Ronnie do some douchbaggery to the fanbase before which I can't fully recall.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Nostalgia in Basketball Gaming

Postby Andrew on Sat Jun 30, 2018 9:15 pm

Well, there was this:

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Which of course came a day before they released a blog about all the new shoes that you could purchase for your MyPLAYER. It's not the only time he's been smug and dismissive towards the fanbase, while revelling in his status as an alleged "cult hero".
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Franchise Modes Still Matter in Basketball Games

Postby Andrew on Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:12 pm

July 2nd, 2018: Franchise Modes Still Matter in Basketball Games

Reading through the deep dive blog on Madden 19's Franchise mode, I have to admit that I felt a bit envious. While not all of the specific features would be appropriate for NBA Live 19, the point is that the Franchise experience in this year's Madden will be receiving some significant attention. Although it's been confirmed that all modes in NBA Live 19 will be getting some additions and enhancements - good news as the game aims to take the next big step - it's probably safe to say that Franchise Mode will be a much lower priority than The One.

That's understandable of course, as it's catering to the current trend that favours career modes and their connected online experience. However, it's been a long time since NBA Live's Franchise mode was a high priority, receiving the attention that it needs and deserves. Indeed, there were a few missteps in the "streamlined experience" in NBA Live 18, so I'm hoping for some much-needed enhancements this year. NBA 2K meanwhile has featured a much deeper franchise experience in the form of MyGM and MyLEAGUE, though it could benefit from a few fixes and some fine-tuning. I hope neither game neglects their franchise modes, as they still matter to gamers.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Previewing Offseason Modding Projects

Postby Andrew on Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:45 pm

July 9th, 2018: Previewing Offseason Modding Projects

I've been creating content for basketball video games since 1997, and needless to say, a few things have changed since then. The games have come a long way, and I have different responsibilities and interests within the hobby. Over the years, I've become less involved with modding. As I've discussed in previous articles, that's mainly due to a combination of burnout, and having to ration my free time accordingly. Not as many people are playing the old games that I have more experience editing, and there's a lot to learn in terms of modding NBA 2K, so I've felt less motivated.

However, having enjoyed the hobby for many years, it's hard to resist the lure of making updates for games; especially old favourites. While I don't want to set any dates or make any concrete promises, I am looking at getting involved with some bigger projects during this offseason. I've been tinkering here and there and mulling the possibility of getting more involved in modding again for a couple of years now, and the recent release of the new version of the Ultimate Base Roster has provided me with some added inspiration to dust off those modding tools. I'm also inclined to try out some new things. Here's what I'm looking at working on in the coming weeks.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: The Self-Destruction of NBA Playgrounds 2

Postby Andrew on Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:34 pm

July 16th, 2018: The Self-Destruction of NBA Playgrounds 2

Back in May, I wrote an article discussing the opportunity that NBA Playgrounds 2 had to become the definitive arcade basketball game of the current generation. In the immediate wake of the game's indefinite postponement, such a suggestion still felt somewhat plausible. As the weeks and months have passed, however, it's starting to feel laughable. We haven't heard a single thing since the game was postponed, and despite vague promises in the game's official Facebook group, there's little to back up the idea that "good things come to those who wait".

Right now, Saber Interactive is insisting that the game isn't cancelled, and that the release was pushed back for positive reasons. While that may ultimately turn out to be true, their silence is not inspiring confidence. Gamers are starting to feel sceptical and cynical, rather than anticipating an announcement that's still "coming soon". While the game may indeed come out, it's going to have a tough time living up to the hype and expectations set by its mysterious delay. Even if it turns out to be an improvement on the first NBA Playgrounds and a solid game, the opportunity to become the arcade basketball game of this generation may have slipped through Saber's fingers.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Should 99 Overall Ratings Be Possible To Attain?

Postby Andrew on Mon Jul 23, 2018 8:24 pm

July 23rd, 2018: Should 99 Overall Ratings Be Possible To Attain?

Few aspects of the core gameplay experience in basketball video games cause quite as much controversy as overall ratings. They cause heated debates and much frustration when a player's overall appears to be too high or too low, or otherwise incorrect when compared to other players. It's all too easy to place too much emphasis on them, even though the individual ratings are more important, and the formula for calculating the overalls often makes it difficult to get every player's rating to be "perfect". However, although they can be problematic and even unclear, they are an important mechanic.

A debate that I've seen come up more than a few times over the years is whether or not any player deserves the maximum rating of 99 Overall. Not counting some of the boosted cards in Ultimate Team and MyTEAM, only a few players have reached that level in NBA Live and NBA 2K over the years, including Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Magic Johnson. It's also become a prominent goal to reach in NBA 2K's MyCAREER, emphasised by NBA 2K18's Road to 99. Few things make a player stand out in a video game quite like boasting a maxed out overall rating, but the question remains: should 99 Overall be possible in the first place?
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Time to Light the Fire on a New NBA Jam

Postby Andrew on Mon Jul 30, 2018 8:39 pm

July 30th, 2018: Time to Light the Fire on a New NBA Jam

Although I'm a long-time fan of sim-oriented basketball games, I'm also a big fan of NBA Jam from back in the day. It's something that I've mentioned several times on the NLSC Podcast, and it's likely quite evident from all the times that I've covered a topic related to NBA Jam in Wayback Wednesday features. When the possibility of a brand new entry in the series was seemingly hinted at earlier in the year, I compiled a list of things that I believe a new NBA Jam game should have. As much as a new NBA Street game would be great to have, I'm still partial to seeing another Jam title.

Not only do I believe there is still a market for the game, but it feels like the time is ripe to bring back NBA Jam. The success of the original NBA Playgrounds last year has rejuvenated interest in the genre, though it arguably never went out of vogue in the first place. More importantly, we now know that its sequel - freshly renamed NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 - will be published by 2K Sports. With NBA Playgrounds joining the "2K family", I'd love to see EA Sports resurrect the classic arcade property that it owns the rights to. With 2K going all in on an arcade hoops title in addition to their long-running sim game, it's time for EA to light the fire on a new NBA Jam.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: How Other Games Helped Our Modding Community

Postby Andrew on Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:46 pm

August 6th, 2018: How Other Games Helped Our Modding Community

When it was announced back in June that Madden 19 would be released for PC, the news was met with enthusiasm, and not just from the Madden community. While PC gamers who have been waiting for the return of EA's NFL series are reaping the most tangible benefits right now, it's welcome news for those of us in the basketball gaming community as well. Madden's return to PC bodes well for the possibility of NBA Live also making the jump back to the platform in the future, something we've wanted to see since the game became a console exclusive beginning in 2008.

For now though, it's merely a promising sign for the future. As discussed in Episode #258 of the NLSC Podcast, it was encouraging to hear Connor Dougan talk about a PC version of NBA Live in a recent interview, and even make specific mention of mods. The prospect of a revitalised Madden modding community should also be of great interest to us as a possible indication of what we should expect from a future PC release for NBA Live. After all, while we've done some great work over the years, the other talented modding communities that created content for EA Sports games helped us immensely. Indeed, without their contributions, we'd have been far less productive.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: How Other Games Helped Our Modding Community

Postby Breems on Tue Aug 07, 2018 4:01 am

We had a similar situation when trying to mod the old NovaLogic Delta Force (FPS) games back in the day. NovaLogic was also popular for their flight sims built on the same engine, so it led to a lot of shared knowledge and tools.

I miss the old days of modding and creating those types of primitive tools. I actually owe my career as a software developer to the many hours I spent modding games.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: How Other Games Helped Our Modding Community

Postby Andrew on Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:51 am

It definitely was a golden age in our modding community, no doubt.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Cynicism & Developer Blogs

Postby Andrew on Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:19 pm

August 13th, 2018: Cynicism & Developer Blogs

NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 are just a month away from release, which means we're in the thick of the preview season. We're not necessarily getting huge information dumps or new media every day of the week, but the stream of previews is growing steadier as their launch draws nearer. Of course, there are still quite a few things that we'd like to learn about the upcoming games, even though they're already available to pre-order and will be released in just four weeks. As previously discussed, this has become the norm for basketball gaming's preview season.

So far, we've had one deep-dive developer blog for NBA 2K19, detailing all of the improvements and additions to MyLEAGUE, MyGM, and MyLEAGUE Online in this year's game. More developer blogs should be on their way, and Mike Wang has also been dropping some important information about gameplay enhancements via his Twitter account, but sometimes it's difficult to take even the best news at face value. When we take a look back at the developer blogs throughout the years, it's easy to notice a few patterns and recurring themes. Some people may call it "hating", but if you've experienced a few preview seasons, it can be tough not to get a little cynical.
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Andrew
45? That's a bad luck number!
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