Monday Tip-Off: Canned Moments & The Myth of the Skill Gap

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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Current Gen Rec vs Next Gen Rec

Postby Andrew on Mon Mar 29, 2021 6:49 pm

Monday Tip-Off: Current Gen Rec vs Next Gen Rec

Back in December last year, I declared that The Rec in NBA 2K21 was garbage. I stand by that opinion, and the conclusions I drew about who we should blame for the current state of the mode. In short, blame can be attributed to toxic attitudes within the basketball gaming community, but Visual Concepts themselves share responsibility given how the online scene panders to elitism and focuses on pushy recurrent revenue mechanics. The Rec went from being a hit-and-miss experience that could be quite fun at the best of times, to an absolute nightmare.

And so, I gave up on it. It was a healthy decision, especially since I wanted to move away from MyCAREER and its connected experiences. As unfortunate as it was that it took all the fun being sucked out of the mode to break my habit, it did at least prove to be adequate incentive. Of course, I did still dabble with MyCAREER in NBA 2K21 Next Gen in order to play through the story and earn a Trophy, with a view to playing the occasional online game. If nothing else, I was curious to see if anything would change, and wanted to keep tabs on the scene in order to advocate for improvements. With that being said, what is The Rec like on Next Gen compared to Current Gen?
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Ready (To Not Be) Player One

Postby Andrew on Mon Apr 05, 2021 2:57 pm

Monday Tip-Off: Ready (To Not Be) Player One

I'm fortunate in that I'm not completely reliant on the online scene to enjoy basketball video games. I grew up gaming in a time before online play was common - or for that matter, possible - on the virtual hardwood. Dynasty was my mode of choice in NBA Live, and I've also racked up many hours playing single player MyCAREER in NBA 2K. I'm therefore able to enjoy the offline experience, which is vital given that the online scene in NBA 2K has a myriad of problems, ranging from technical issues and design flaws to toxic attitudes and a sloppy style of play.

At the same time, while I find it easy to eschew the online scene, I would prefer it to be better than it is. Obviously I'd like to jump in on occasion, having developed an appreciation for it over the past generation. Even if I'm not partaking in it myself, I'd still like to see the scene thrive and be the best possible experience for those who are playing it; especially gamers who play exclusively online. I've previously discussed vital changes that the developers need to implement, such as proper matchmaking. Today however, I want to focus on the problem of how so many gamers aren't ready to drop their Player One mentality online, and how that could possibly be remedied.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: The Case of the Mysterious Screenshot

Postby Andrew on Mon Apr 12, 2021 10:24 pm

Monday Tip-Off: The Case of the Mysterious Screenshot

For a long time - far too long, in fact - I left my weekly articles until the last minute. Not just writing them, but coming up with the topic, too. Even after I devised lists of ideas for future articles, I didn't always have anything prepared by the time Monday, Wednesday, and Friday rolled around. In recent years, I've made a point of building up a buffer of articles based on my list of topic ideas. It's meant that I've always got something ready to go, and if I've set aside the time, I'm able to schedule features a week or two in advance.

This prep work has been important for time management, consistency, and quality. Even though I've been pleased with certain articles that were actually written at the last minute, I'm far more satisfied with features that I haven't had to rush. Part of preparing articles in advance is ensuring that I have appropriate screenshots to use, which means taking the time to fire up the necessary games to capture them, and set up any specific scenarios as required. It's usually obvious why I have a particular screenshot in my archives, but recently I discovered one that left me stumped. This mysterious screenshot was for an article idea that I've completely forgotten about.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Thoughts on MyTEAM Seasons

Postby Andrew on Mon Apr 19, 2021 3:35 pm

Monday Tip-Off: Thoughts on MyTEAM Seasons

One of the major changes in NBA 2K21's MyTEAM was the adoption of Seasons. For those unfamiliar with the concept, MyTEAM Seasons run for about six weeks, with each Season featuring its own theme, content, and Challenges. While modes of play such as Domination remain unaffected by Seasons, and Triple Threat Offline simply gains new rewards as each new Season begins, Season-based content such as The Agenda has a time limit. If you have any unfinished business on The Agenda by the time a new Season begins, too bad; it's a new day in MyTEAM.

The Seasons approach is not unique to MyTEAM and NBA 2K, of course. It's a form of the "games as a service" model that mobile and Triple-A games alike are using with ever-increasing frequency, which invites cynicism because of the way those mechanics utilise FOMO to push microtransactions, season passes, and so on. Less cynically, however, it's a way to keep content fresh and not overwhelm late adopters with an overabundance of content. I'm generally in favour of Seasons in MyTEAM, but I do have a few criticisms and concerns that I'd like to discuss. Along with a few other aspects of the mode, the approach could be even better in NBA 2K22.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Playoffs Mode Is Underrated

Postby Andrew on Mon Apr 26, 2021 2:06 pm

Monday Tip-Off: Playoffs Mode Is Underrated

Underrated and overrated are relative terms. In online discourse, their usage often boils down to not liking something that's popular, or wanting the things you like to be more popular than they are, with little regard for consensus or objectivity. Since I'm talking about a mode that I believe is underrated, perhaps it would help to mention a few synonyms, such as undervalued, underappreciated, and overlooked. With that in mind, when we're talking about underrated modes in basketball gaming, what are some of the examples that you immediately think of?

You could argue that the rise in online gaming has made franchise modes underrated, but they're still fairly widely enjoyed by basketball gamers of all ages. The W and The W Online are underappreciated examples of how a career mode without recurrent revenue mechanics is still viable, but the WNBA's popularity relative to the NBA is a factor. Staunch MyCAREER and MyTEAM gamers tend to underrate the opposing mode despite both ranking among the most popular experiences in NBA 2K, and boasting impressive depth. When it comes down to it though, the most underrated mode is one that we've had for decades now: the humble standalone Playoffs mode.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Broadcast Views; As Good As It Gets?

Postby Andrew on Mon May 03, 2021 7:38 pm

Monday Tip-Off: Broadcast Views; As Good As It Gets?

Fans are fanatical; it's in the name! It's fun to passionately enjoy things, but it doesn't take much for those strong feelings to turn to tribalism and toxicity. That attitude isn't just directed at people outside the fandom, either. There are all kinds of schisms in just about every fanbase you can imagine. Just because you like the same things, it doesn't mean you have the same opinions, and we're all convinced that our point of view is correct. When it comes to basketball video games, we can be really snobby about our preferences, from gameplay settings to the modes that we choose to play.

That's why we see absurd statements like "Who even plays MyTEAM?", when in fact it's one of the most popular modes in NBA 2K. It's why we see exclusively online gamers sneering at people who prefer single player experiences. "What difficulty are you playing on?" is a valid question if someone is bragging about their abilities on the virtual hardwood, but can easily turn into gatekeeping when someone is just talking about having fun with the game, which is the point of it after all. And then, there's the mocking of choice in camera angles, particularly the broadcast cameras. I'll just say it: it's one of the weirdest, dumbest forms of gatekeeping I've seen in basketball gaming.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Rookieville Was A Terrible Idea

Postby Andrew on Mon May 10, 2021 2:26 pm

Monday Tip-Off: Rookieville Was A Terrible Idea

I don't want to say I told you so, but my track record with predictions is hit and miss, so I'll take the opportunity to say: I told you so. Well, maybe not you, specifically. Perhaps like me, you saw the concept of Rookieville in NBA 2K21 Next Gen's MyCAREER, and realised it was terrible idea. Perhaps you saw it for the gatekeeping measure that it is, instantly giving The City an air of elitism. If so, you looked past all the bells and whistles, and the admittedly impressive loading times, to see the issues with the approach. As such, you won't be surprised that it's drawing criticism.

Of course, fanboys and shills couldn't see the drawbacks; or at the very least, didn't want to acknowledge them. To actually take a deep dive into the problems with The City, and Rookieville in particular, is to be a spoilsport in their eyes. Why are we daring to hate on such a cool idea? Don't we like fun? Aren't we good enough to get past Rookieville and into The City? As I pointed out in my previous article, it's not that getting past Rookieville is difficult; it's that it's unnecessary and problematic. It's not surprising that fanboys and shills are ignoring the issue and bleating defensively, but it's concerning that no one at Visual Concepts was thinking ahead here.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Rookieville Was A Terrible Idea

Postby TGsoGood on Fri May 14, 2021 10:53 pm

hoping Rookieville does not come back but I am sure it will be back.
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NBA 2K21 TGsoGood Mods and releases - viewtopic.php?f=267&t=110608
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Rookieville Was A Terrible Idea

Postby Andrew on Sat May 15, 2021 3:10 pm

That's my feeling as well. It's been how many releases, and we still can't snooze the "Updated Required" message until the end of the current game? The concept could work if it were against CPU opponents as some kind of initial grading system, but even then, I don't care for the literal gatekeeping aspect of it.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Canned Moments & The Myth of the Skill Gap

Postby Andrew on Mon May 17, 2021 8:06 pm

Monday Tip-Off: Canned Moments & The Myth of the Skill Gap

There's been a lot of talk in recent years about NBA 2K implementing a "skill gap". It seems that every year, we get a gameplay blog in which a new or tweaked mechanic is touted as bringing a proper skill gap to the forthcoming game. By and large, this is a promise that games have failed to deliver upon. That's not to say that the changes aren't improvements in their own right, or that there isn't any skill involved in playing NBA 2K. Furthermore, gamers definitely do demonstrate different levels of skill - such as it is - especially in the online arena.

However, it isn't a true skill gap as such, because the way one wins and loses in NBA 2K doesn't necessarily come down to skill; or at least, not pure stick skills. There are factors such as meta-gaming in MyCAREER and its connected modes, and pay-for-advantage mechanics in terms of quick MyPLAYER upgrades and pack openings in MyTEAM. I've discussed those issues at length before, so I won't be going into them today. Instead, I want to talk about core mechanics that stand in the way of NBA 2K truly having a skill gap. One of the most pressing issues in that regard, as I'm sure many NBA 2K gamers are all too aware, is the prominence of canned moments.
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