Monday Tip-Off: The Self-Destruction of NBA Playgrounds 2

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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Planning a Return to Franchise Modes

Postby Andrew on Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:39 pm

October 23rd, 2017: Planning a Return to Franchise Modes

My recent Wayback Wednesday series on franchise modes in NBA Live and NBA 2K served to remind me of just how much fun I've had with them over the years. I've wanted to return to franchise gaming for a while now, and writing those articles only added to my enthusiasm. I've gravitated towards MyCAREER and other modes in recent years, which is funny given that in MyLEAGUE and MyGM, we now have some of the deepest franchise experiences in the history of basketball video games. There are reasons why my habits have changed, of course, but I do feel like it's time to make a return to franchise modes.

Now that NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 have been out for over a month, receiving multiple official patches and roster updates, it's an opportune time to dive into the franchise experience. With the 2018 season tipping off, my interest in creating a fictional reality on the virtual hardwood has also been piqued. I do still have an interest in the card collecting modes, online team play experience, and MyCAREER, so I'll have to ration my basketball gaming time accordingly. Beyond that, however, I do have a few other matters to consider as I plan a return to the franchise experience that I enjoyed so much as a younger basketball gamer.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: A Call For More Nicknames

Postby Andrew on Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:46 pm

October 30th, 2017: A Call For More Nicknames

When I finally succeeded in getting my face scanned into NBA 2K18 - or more specifically, The Prelude - it didn't turn out anywhere near as good as my NBA Live 18 scan. As I noted on my Twitter at the time, it ended up looking a little like a combination of young Adam Sandler circa Billy Madison, and young Alan Ruck from Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Once the full game came out and I was able to visit Doc's barbershop - expensive haircuts and all - I was able to add a beard. While it still isn't a great likeness, at least it looks a little less like a Sandler-Ruck mash-up.

A few weeks back, I ended up giving my MyPLAYER longish hair, in the process making him look a little like Jaime Lannister from the early seasons of Game of Thrones. I briefly reconsidered renaming him, and even went so far as to outfit him with some yellow wrist tape, in an effort to imitate Jaime's golden hand (uh, spoilers for anyone who still hasn't gotten into GoT yet). I also looked at changing the audio nickname, but the most appropriate choice was probably "Cold Hands". It got me thinking that the selection of nicknames for MyPLAYERs in NBA 2K could definitely stand to be much larger, and more varied.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: A Call For More Nicknames

Postby [Q] on Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:59 am

I think it's a good idea to have the option to do 2 initials and their jersey number as that's the formula for most nicknames nowadays (PG13 & CP3 come to mind)
It wouldn't require a lot, just recording all 26 letters and all the numbers should already be in the game
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: A Call For More Nicknames

Postby Andrew on Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:50 am

That's what I was thinking, too. As generic as I find those nicknames, they'd be better than Freq, Pres, and D.J. (unless of course, your initials are D.J...but then, you still might not want that backstory).
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: The Value of Virtual Currency in The Neighborhood

Postby Andrew on Mon Nov 06, 2017 10:38 pm

November 6th, 2017: The Value of Virtual Currency in The Neighborhood

Yes, I'm writing about Virtual Currency and NBA 2K18 again. I guess I'm a hater, a biased NBA Live fanboy looking to bash 2K at every turn. According to at least one disgruntled former reader, that's exactly what I am. Or maybe, just maybe, I'm simply a dissatisfied consumer who believes that all of us who play NBA 2K18 deserve to be treated more fairly. Whether it's NBA 2K, NBA Live, NBA Playgrounds, or any other game that we play, we do ourselves a disservice by not speaking up when there are issues. There's no guarantee that we'll get the result we want, but if we don't speak up, we can pretty much guarantee that we won't see the changes we desire.

Frankly, I'm still talking about Virtual Currency because it's an on-going issue. After dropping the prices of hairstyles, facial hair, and hair colours in an early patch, Visual Concepts haven't made further adjustments to VC earnings and in-game prices. Well, that's not entirely true. They've reduced the reward for Player of the Half and Player of the Game in 2K Pro-Am. What they haven't done is increase the VC rewards, bring back the difficulty multiplier, or reduce the prices of clothing and consumables. This is particularly infuriating when you consider the actual in-universe value of Virtual Currency. Thanks to our MyPLAYER card, that's something we can easily figure out.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: The Value of Virtual Currency in The Neighborhood

Postby [Q] on Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:41 am

No difficulty multiplier? So does that lean you play everything on rookie difficulty?

Honestly the prices for gear and haircuts wouldn't be that bad if that's the only thing to spend VC on but when you have to choose between that or improving ratings or the tons of other stuff to spend it on, it's a bit ridiculous.
Capcom has the same model for Street Fighter V where the in game currency is nowhere near enough to get stuff or at least the full game experience without paying. They give you an opportunity to earn 6000 points once every week but there's a dozen new DLC characters at 100000 each plus new stages for 40000 or 70000 and even new costumes for like 30000. If you only want new characters you would have to wait 14 weeks and do the challenges every week to get the points.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: The Value of Virtual Currency in The Neighborhood

Postby Andrew on Tue Nov 07, 2017 10:23 am

The lowest difficulty level available in MyCAREER is now Pro, but yeah, it seems to have discouraged people from playing on higher difficulty levels while grinding for Badges.

Yeah, you could possibly ignore the absurd in-universe prices if there was a separate currency for upgrading attributes, but as it stands, it just compounds the frustration.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Battlefront II Events in NBA Live 18

Postby Andrew on Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:54 pm

November 13th, 2017: Battlefront II Events in NBA Live 18

As you may know, EA Sports recently introduced some crossover content in its sports titles, promoting the upcoming release of Star Wars: Battlefront II. For NBA Live 18, this took the form of Live Events challenges, all of which take place on a fictional Star Wars-themed court (located in Orlando, of course), with various Battlefront II-inspired gear and accessories available in the reward crates. As it stands, there's currently a last call for the Battlefront II Challenge, giving gamers one final chance to earn some Inferno Squad-themed gear for their players to wear in The Streets.

I must admit that with all the grinding I've been doing to improve my NBA 2K18 MyPLAYER for 2K Pro-Am, I haven't taken part in as many Live Events in NBA Live 18 as I'd like. However, having caught the trailer for the Battlefront II events, I wanted to make sure that I at least played a game or two before the promotion was over. The fictional court certainly looked cool, and I figured it wouldn't hurt to stock up on some extra gear for my player to wear in The Streets. As such, I jumped online in NBA Live 18 last week, and managed to take part in a few games.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: NLSC GrindTime vs. Elite Team in 2K Pro-Am

Postby Andrew on Mon Nov 20, 2017 8:47 pm

November 20th, 2017: NLSC GrindTime vs. Elite Team in 2K Pro-Am

As Arcane and I discussed in Episode #228 of the NLSC Podcast, our 2K Pro-Am squad for NBA 2K18, NLSC GrindTime, has been having some competitive games as of late. Although we had a rough start to this year's campaign, our record has been improving, and we've had some enjoyable sessions in recent weeks.

We're at the point where we're starting to get matched up with some Elite teams, which naturally puts our stick skills to the test. One of our recent matchups with an Elite tier squad turned out to be quite a game right from the opening tip. I present to you that game in its entirety, accompanied by some classic NBA Live menu music.


phpBB [video]

https://youtu.be/svtDCtqI538
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Fans, Not Fanboys; Critics, Not Haters

Postby Andrew on Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:33 pm

November 27th, 2017: Fans, Not Fanboys; Critics, Not Haters

In one of the earliest Monday Tip-Off features that I posted, I discussed the issue of fanboys and haters in the basketball gaming community. Glancing back at a couple of the comments, I perhaps didn't explain my point clearly enough. Needless to say, it's virtually impossible for anyone to be completely impartial. We're all going to have our own preferences, and a bias that's tough to completely put aside. To a certain extent, a strong devotion or aversion to a brand is a justified reaction to continued enjoyment or disappointment. Taken to the extreme, however, we just end up getting on each other's nerves, and ultimately doing ourselves a disservice.

The motto I've adopted in regards to the NLSC is "fans, not fanboys; critics, not haters". In other words, we should look to enjoy basketball gaming and celebrate our hobby, but at the same time, we shouldn't shut down criticism and pretend that there aren't any problems. Similarly, we should point out the things that we dislike and make constructive criticisms, but we shouldn't blindly bash the games, nor tell our fellow gamers that they shouldn't enjoy themselves. It's easy to forget that enjoyment and criticism aren't mutually exclusive, and that we're not all divided into fanboys and haters. At least, we certainly shouldn't be aiming to be in one of those two groups.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: How Modding Projects Fall Apart

Postby Andrew on Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:36 pm

December 4th, 2017: How Modding Projects Fall Apart

Although I'm not as involved with modding as I once was, I won't deny the lure of working on roster updates. I've previously discussed some of the mods that I'd like to make, should I be able to put aside the free time and get sufficiently motivated. That certainly still holds true, and as previously mentioned, I do have a list of modding ideas, similar to my lists of topics for the Monday Tip-Off, Wayback Wednesday, and Friday Five features. Every so often, I might do a little bit of preliminary work on one of those ideas, but aside from one or two beta releases, a majority of them haven't progressed any further than that.

I've really enjoyed producing my Wayback Wednesday content since I introduced the feature a couple of years ago, as it's been a way to reminisce about old favourites, and talk about some interesting modes, community history, and basketball gaming trivia. It's also provided an opportunity to indulge in some retro gaming, which I enjoy doing across a variety of genres. Of course, I sometimes find myself becoming drawn towards an old release, especially if it's one that I've spent a considerable amount of time modding. Such was the case with NBA Live 2003, where I recently toyed with the idea of a mod, only to be reminded of how easily projects can fall apart.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: The Worst Pass in Playground History

Postby Andrew on Mon Dec 11, 2017 10:36 pm

December 11th, 2017: The Worst Pass in Playground History

As discussed in Episode #230 of the NLSC Podcast, Arcane and I have been heading to The Playground for a few games after wrapping up our sessions of 2K Pro-Am with the NLSC squad. We've enjoyed a victory over a couple of Playground veterans, and after donning our Gatorade t-shirts, also managed to rack up five wins to earn some bonus VC. In some respects, our time on the online virtual blacktop in NBA 2K18 has been more enjoyable than our recent Pro-Am games, which have been rather rough. However, there was a moment of particular frustration after the ball was checked to Arcane, and his pass to me went completely awry.

I now present to you what may be the worst pass in the history of The Playground, and indeed, any mode of basketball gaming.


phpBB [video]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckRSFuvZ2Ec

Check out the full article for further commentary.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: MyPLAYER Dunk Envy in NBA 2K18

Postby Andrew on Mon Dec 18, 2017 11:27 pm

December 18th, 2017: MyPLAYER Dunk Envy in NBA 2K18

I know today's NBA has become about three-pointers. Me, I'm still partial to dunks. It's a love that carries over to basketball video games, especially when it comes to the career modes. By equipping my player with flashy dunks that I could never perform in real life, I'm able to live out some fantasies on the virtual hardwood. I realise that dunking on every play isn't exactly sim, and that goes against my usual approach to basketball games. What can I say; it's fun to dunk as often as possible! Unfortunately, it's something that I'm missing out on in this year's MyCAREER mode.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: MyCAREER vs Reality; Bulls vs Celtics

Postby Andrew on Mon Dec 25, 2017 10:07 pm

December 25th, 2017: MyCAREER vs Reality; Bulls vs Celtics

Merry Christmas and Season's Greetings, basketball gamers! I hope you're enjoying the holiday season with friends and family, and are looking forward to a day packed with NBA action. For those of you who are playing MyCAREER, 2K Pro-Am, or The Playground in NBA 2K18, be sure to take advantage of the double experience points on offer! If you've made a decent amount of progress on the Road to 99 and currently find yourself inching very slowly towards the next cap breaker, it may be a good opportunity to make some further headway. That's assuming, of course, that you can fit it in with the rest of your holiday plans.

I've been playing a bit of MyCAREER myself as of late. I'm not enjoying it as much as I did last year, but it's had its moments, and it's the best way to grind for the Badges that are essential to succeed in 2K Pro-Am. After hearing from 2K Support that there's nothing that can be done about my dunking problem, I'm also toying with the idea of grinding up a second MyPLAYER. For now though, I'm sticking with my original MyPLAYER, especially as the real season has caught up to my game. That gave me a fun opportunity to play the Bulls' latest game against the Celtics, the same day that I watched the real contest on TV. Here's how they compare.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Basketball Gaming Questions for 2018

Postby Andrew on Wed Jan 03, 2018 6:59 pm

January 1st, 2018: Basketball Gaming Questions for 2018

It's the beginning of a new year, which means we're heading towards the halfway point of the NBA season, and we're also a few months into the lifecycle of the most recently released basketball games. By the end of 2018, we'll have at least two new releases - NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 - but we've still got several months of basketball gaming before then. Needless to say, as we compile our Wishlists for the development teams at EA Sports and Visual Concepts, we're naturally hoping to see our most desired improvements in the new games come September.

However, it's also fair to wonder about the current basketball games, and hope that they'll hold up until their successors are released. Personally, I do feel a sense of optimism about the future of basketball gaming, but at the same time, I also have a few concerns. I'm sure that I'm not alone in that regard, and with that in mind, it's crucial that we speak up when we have the opportunity to provide constructive feedback. The questions I'm posing here, I feel, cover some of the most pressing issues regarding NBA Live, NBA 2K, and NBA Playgrounds. Whatever the future holds, we're sure to get an answer to some of these questions by the end of 2018.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: To Be, Or Not To Be, A Developer

Postby Andrew on Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:38 pm

January 8th, 2018: To Be, Or Not To Be, A Developer

For those of us who have grown up playing video games of any genre, the prospect of one day being able to work on them ourselves is very appealing. From what we've heard from people in the industry - including former community members who have been hired by EA Sports and Visual Concepts - it is indeed an amazing and exciting career, in many ways a dream job. It does come at a price, however: long hours, harsh deadlines, and intense scrutiny from a target audience that can often be extremely toxic. Much is demanded of a video game developer, and it's clear that you need to be all in on the job, as well as willing and able to weather the tough aspects of the gig.

I don't believe that I've ever told this story publicly, but around ten years ago, I had an opportunity to join the team at EA Canada as a developer on the NBA Live series. As my continued presence here and lack of in-game credits would indicate, I didn't take the job. It was a difficult decision for reasons I'll get into shortly, but beyond any personal issues or possible concerns about the direction of NBA Live, I had to ask myself one rather pertinent question: did I really want to do it? Would it truly be a dream job for me, one worth moving to the other wide of the world for? In short, and with apologies to William Shakespeare: to be, or not to be, a developer?
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Returning to Ultimate Team in NBA Live 18

Postby Andrew on Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:08 pm

January 15th, 2018: Returning to Ultimate Team in NBA Live 18

Since the reboot of the series with NBA Live 14, Ultimate Team has arguably been my favourite game mode. There are a couple of reasons for that. First of all, the franchise modes in the last few NBA Live games haven't been as deep as I'd like, which limits their appeal. Having dedicated a lot of time to MyCAREER and 2K Pro-Am in recent NBA 2K games, I also haven't felt inclined to double up with the career modes in NBA Live. Second, upon trying out Ultimate Team, I found the concept more appealing than I ever thought I would. As someone who collected basketball trading cards back in the 90s, it's felt quite nostalgic, and has been fun to play.

So far, I've spent most of my time with NBA Live 18 playing through the early stages of The One, several LIVE Events, and some Play Now games here and there. I've wanted to get back into Ultimate Team though, and looking at some of the lineups that my fellow gamers have been sharing here in the Forum, my eagerness to put together my own super squad has been growing. Since everyone on the NLSC 2K Pro-Am squad has lost their enthusiasm for the mode, I instead chose to spend a few hours last Friday evening playing Ultimate Team. I've got a long way to go in terms of building my lineup, but I'm already reminded of what drew me to the mode.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: A Stop Sign on the Road to 99

Postby Andrew on Mon Jan 22, 2018 9:17 pm

January 22nd, 2018: A Stop Sign on the Road to 99

As I mentioned yesterday in my first attempt at hosting the NLSC Podcast solo - don't worry, I'm not intending on making that a regular occurrence! - I've lost my interest in MyCAREER and its connected modes. This is in stark contrast to last year in NBA 2K17, where I reached the second season. I even played twelve minute quarters and abstained from simulating, except for a few minutes of garbage time in a handful of games towards the end of my rookie year. Although we briefly took a break from the mode, the NLSC's official 2K Pro-Am squad was also active throughout the year. In short, I had a lot of fun with MyCAREER and the connected online experience.

That hasn't been the case this year. I've spoken before about the lack of goodwill, and the ridiculous in-universe value of Virtual Currency. On the Podcast, we've discussed our frustration with the lack of balance and proper matchmaking in online gameplay, as well as some of the gameplay quirks that bother us the most. Admirably, Arcane is already through to his second season, and currently sits at 92 Overall. I did intend to grind my way to at least 90 Overall - I'm presently at 89 - but right now, I can't see it happening. Forget about 2K Pro-Am; at this point, I'm not interested in playing the single player experience of MyCAREER. I've reached a stop sign on the Road to 99.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Advice for the Modding Community

Postby Andrew on Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:44 pm

January 29th, 2018: Advice for the Modding Community

Whenever I discuss the modding community here at the NLSC, I always preface my remarks by acknowledging how talented it is, and how much great work it's produced over the years. It's something that I do believe, and I feel it's important that we take time to acknowledge the effort that modders put into enhancing our basketball gaming experiences. Of course, it's also a statement I feel I have to put out there as something of a disclaimer when I address problems in the modding community, to emphasise that it's not meant as a slight. Unfortunately, I feel compelled to do that today, due to some excellent points that were raised in this topic.

I was originally going to reflect on my concerns in a lengthier piece, but the more I thought about it, the more that seemed like the wrong approach. I feel it would be more effective if I addressed the issues directly and succinctly, offering up my advice on how we can avoid these pitfalls as a community. By clearly identifying these issues and offering some solutions in point form, I hope that this article can be a straightforward guide to cultivating healthy attitudes and good habits in the modding community, as well as provide explanations as to why we've come to adopt certain customs, rules, and etiquette in regards to the hobby.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Advice for the Modding Community

Postby Kevin on Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:24 am

Mod because you enjoy the hobby and want to enhance the games, not to make money.

This was definitely what I thought back then. I thought that putting my downloads into adlinks would make me get money fast but it didn't. I do think some modders nowadays (and even back then) were teenagers looking for some money so they resorted to that.

Consider a tip jar, and go easy on the ad links.

I wish nlsc had a rule that implements a one-adlink for one download. I remember back in 2k14 when people would just put it through 4 or 5 adfly links, shit made me just exit the tab and move on.

Don’t hold releases to ransom.

See some modders like that every release of a new 2k game. Like we've already told you countless times that your work is amazing and the previews you posted got 3 comments saying it's good but you won't release it because not a lot of people were jerking you off that day? Jesus.

Enjoy the hobby.

This. Nothing good comes out of your mind when you're burnt out of modding. Also, play the game sometimes. I think I spent more time modding 2k16 rather than actually playing the game.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Advice for the Modding Community

Postby Andrew on Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:50 am

Depending on how bad the situation gets, we may have to enforce some stricter rules. The downside is that some people will just stop posting their work here, but hopefully, they'd be replaced by people who are willing to be more reasonable about ad link usage. It can be a delicate situation to work out.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: An OT Victory for NLSC GrindTime

Postby Andrew on Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:10 pm

February 5th, 2018: An OT Victory for NLSC GrindTime

As Arcane and I discussed in Episode #235 of the NLSC Podcast, last Friday we made an unlikely return to 2K Pro-Am in NBA 2K18. After some rough sessions and generally feeling disenfranchised with the game, everyone on the squad decided that it would be best to take a break. However, we felt like giving it another try last week, and subsequently, "just one game" became three. We were victorious in the latter two games, with the second win coming in overtime following a clutch three-pointer by The X. It was definitely one of the more satisfying games NLSC GrindTime has had.

Since I saved the footage of the final few seconds of regulation, as well as the entire overtime period, I thought I'd share it with everyone to tip off a new week of gaming here at the NLSC. Watch it below, or check it out here on our YouTube channel.


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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Has Traditional Basketball Gaming Come to an End?

Postby Andrew on Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:53 pm

February 12th, 2018: Has Traditional Basketball Gaming Come to an End?

Basketball video games have obviously been around for a long time, bringing great enjoyment to people who love both the sport and gaming. Compared to other sports, basketball has proven to be a little harder to accurately represent in a video game, with so many variables affecting the level of realism. While arcade-oriented games often still hold up thanks to their casual approach, sim-oriented titles tend to show their age. Whether it's the shot distribution, scores that are too high or too low, a lack of realistic strategy, or a shallow season mode experience, a lot of classic games do leave something to be desired, as much fun as we had with them when they were new.

Fortunately, basketball gaming has improved in leaps and bounds over the years. From deep and engaging modes to smarter AI and more realistic gameplay, we've been able to enjoy experiences on the virtual hardwood we could only dream of all those years ago. However, it feels as though basketball games have set a new course in recent years, shifting away from the experience that we've traditionally wanted. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and it's important that the games keep up with changing trends and demographics, but as we discussed in Episode #236 of the NLSC Podcast, it sometimes feels like traditional basketball gaming is coming to an end.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: What I'm Playing (February 2018 Edition)

Postby Andrew on Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:48 pm

February 19th, 2018: What I'm Playing (February 2018 Edition)

NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 have been out for about five months now, and so far, I've spent a considerable amount of time playing both titles. As discussed in the latest episode the NLSC Podcast, I've settled into a routine as far as what I'm playing in each game. Although I might branch out and change things up from time to time, the modes I'm currently playing are the ones I expect I'll remain hooked on until the 2019 season releases. As I'm running a bit short on time today and am still working on a few of other features that I hope you'll find entertaining, I've decided to run with a quick column this week, discussing my current basketball gaming habits and rotation.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Modding Projects I'm Working On

Postby Andrew on Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:22 pm

February 26th, 2018: Modding Projects I'm Working On

I'm a bit under the weather today, and seeing as how I wasn't able to prepare anything for this week's Monday Tip-Off ahead of time, I don't have a full column or a video feature for you. However, I thought that I'd follow up on something that I mentioned in Episode #238 of the NLSC Podcast, regarding next month and modding. I don't want to reveal everything just yet as I'm still getting everything sorted, but I'd like to make March a celebration of modding in our community. I'm hoping to release some new work of my own, and get all of our active modders in on the act.

With any luck, that will all be tipping off in just a few days when March is upon us, but in the meantime, I wanted to share some previews of what I've been working on here and there, as well as a few ideas that I'd love to see come to fruition, if and when I can make time to work on them. With that in mind, I am a little hesitant to share some of these images as I'd rather not announce anything that I'm not going to be able to get finished, so please keep in mind that those ideas aren't set in stone. I do have a couple of projects that are progressing quite nicely though, so without any further ado, here are a few things that I'm working on right now.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Quest for a Reliable Jumpshot

Postby Andrew on Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:41 pm

March 5th, 2018: Quest for a Reliable Jumpshot

When The Prelude was released in September last year, I agonised a little over the MyPLAYER Archetype I wanted to run with. Although I was tempted to run with a Pure Playmaker, I decided that I'd give Sharpshooting Playmaker a try. It seemed like a solid choice, especially as we wanted to make sure that we had at least a couple of viable threats from the outside on the NLSC's 2K Pro-Am squad. Given that I like to rack up assists and run the offense, retaining the key skills and Badges of a Playmaker also seemed like a wise idea.

The results have been mixed. The Sharpshooting Playmaker Archetype doesn't have a Hall of Fame level Badge, which locks me out of attaining one of the Trophies. As I've previously discussed, due to what seems to be an issue with my player's dunking tendencies, I can very rarely throw down, even though I've upgraded my rating to be able to unlock a few fancy dunk packages. My biggest issue, however, is that I'm yet to find a jumpshot animation that I'm comfortable with. I've tried several jumpshots, from real players' signature animations to custom jumpshots of various combinations. Unfortunately, none of them have been as reliable as I'd like.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Juggling Realism in MyCAREER

Postby Andrew on Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:22 pm

March 12th, 2018: Juggling Realism in MyCAREER

Although a shift in gaming practices may sometimes suggest otherwise, it's fair to say that we generally want basketball video games to be as realistic as possible. Even if we're indulging in a fantasy by putting ourselves into the NBA and simulating the life of a professional basketball player, the general aim is to mix reality and fantasy. Sure, the tales that are now told through MyCAREER may be a bit far-fetched, our abilities are greatly enhanced, and we receive a lot of attention for a raw prospect, but apart from that, the gameplay and overall experience is intended to mimic real life.

This premise has made MyCAREER an extremely popular and successful mode. As I've said before, it's made a fan out of me, despite traditionally preferring the franchise experience. However, as MyCAREER has expanded and introduced new concepts, from the connected online experiences to the hub world of The Neighborhood, there have been more and more inconsistencies with the way the mode has handled realism. Some of them are quite puzzling, and difficult to justify or reconcile with other design choices. Moving forward, the MyCAREER team will need to decide how to handle realism; specifically, when to be strict, and when to take liberties.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: All That's Leaked is Hot Air

Postby Andrew on Mon Mar 19, 2018 8:47 pm

March 19th, 2018: All That's Leaked is Hot Air

The preview seasons for NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 are still at least a few months away, but it seems that the fakers are getting an early start. Over the past couple of weeks, supposed "leaked" details and fake trailers for this year's games from EA Sports and Visual Concepts have been making the rounds, and sadly, it seems a lot of people have been fooled. As we discussed in the most recent episode of the NLSC Podcast, these practices do nothing to help the basketball gaming community. We need to be aware that people are trying to fool us and call it out, not entertain the notion that clear fakes and clickbait lies are leaked media and reliable scoops.

This behaviour is nothing new, and I've discussed it before. As long as online gaming communities have been around, there have been trolls signing up to forums or getting in touch with fan websites, claiming to have insider information. With social media and YouTube providing platforms for virtually everyone to have their say and create content, it's easier than ever to spread misinformation and hoaxes. The more tech savvy trolls can easily whip up screenshots and even videos that can be presented as leaked previews of an upcoming release. At a glance, the better fakes may be halfway convincing, but really, the only thing that's leaking here is a bunch of hot air.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Building My 90s All-Stars Ultimate Team

Postby Andrew on Tue Mar 27, 2018 1:29 am

March 26th, 2018: Building My 90s All-Stars Ultimate Team

As I've noted in previous articles and in episodes of the NLSC Podcast, my current mode of choice in NBA Live 18 is Ultimate Team. Unfortunately, Franchise mode just isn't where it needs to be yet, and while I do like the concept of LIVE Events and LIVE Run, living in Australia, I've found online play to be very choppy so far in NBA Live 18. While I obviously hope NBA Live 19 will see an improvement in both of those areas, for the moment I am enjoying playing Ultimate Team. I was taken in by the mode when it debuted in NBA Live 14, so even if those other modes were more appealing to me right now, I know that I'd still be spending some time with LUT.

I spent a considerable amount of time with Ultimate Team back in NBA Live 15, and managed to put together a team comprised of 90s Legends. As Legends packs began to be released for NBA Live 18, I decided that I wanted to try that again, especially as it's currently still the only way to play with Legends in NBA Live. After drawing Scottie Pippen a few weeks back, those efforts got off to a very promising start. After adding John Stockton and Karl Malone last week, I found myself with a formidable starting five that's reminiscent of the old 90s All-Stars squad. While I'm quite satisfied with that lineup, I wanted to round out the bench with some more 90s players.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Absolute Controls Are Absolutely Best

Postby Andrew on Mon Apr 02, 2018 10:11 pm

April 2nd, 2018: Absolute Controls Are Absolutely Best

It took me a while to get used to the controls in NBA 2K. Having spent years playing NBA Live, it was difficult getting used to dribbling moves being performed with left stick movement and the Isomotion trigger. Even after the series adopted right stick dribbling controls in NBA 2K13, I wasn't quite as proficient in pulling off slick moves and breaking ankles as I had been in NBA Live. Eventually, I discovered the root of my clumsiness on the sticks: the default Camera Relative controller setting, which makes stick movement dependant on your player's position relative to the camera.

The Absolute setting, which standardises stick movements no matter where you are on the court and which camera angle you're using, made NBA 2K's controls far more accessible to me. It helps that it's the same approach that NBA Live has always used for its right stick controls, but aside from familiarity, I've always felt it simply made more sense. There's a legacy issue in NBA 2K where the Camera Relative/Absolute setting randomly resets, which means I'm always checking to make sure that it's still set to Absolute before I start a session. After all, when it comes to dribbling controls, I strongly feel that Absolute controls are absolutely best.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: The Perils of Digital-Only PC Releases

Postby Andrew on Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:25 pm

April 9th, 2018: The Perils of Digital-Only PC Releases

It's not fashionable to admit it, but I'm still a fan of physical media. Part of that comes down to where I live, of course. Australian Internet speeds don't always make digital releases for PC games desirable, and certain streaming services are either unavailable, or don't carry the same selection as their US counterparts. A DVD, Blu Ray, or game disc not only alleviates any issues with Internet speed and data limits, but also offers a physical collectable that I can put on a shelf. Be it TV series, movies, or video games, I enjoy seeing them all lined up in my collection.

Of course, I also enjoy the benefits of digital releases. They obviously provide a lot of convenience, and save on shelf space. There's no need to drive to the store, or wait for copies to arrive in the mail. Physical media can be lost or damaged, while a digital release can just be downloaded again. When they're tied to a platform such as Steam, there are no issues with lost or invalid serial numbers, and patches will come through automatically. These days, we don't actually have a choice in terms of the only PC sim basketball video game, as NBA 2K is only released via Steam. It's preferable to having no PC version at all, but there are some perils to digital-only PC releases.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Basketball in Other Video Games

Postby Andrew on Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:40 pm

April 16th, 2018: Basketball in Other Video Games

Here at the NLSC, we cover basketball video games; you may have noticed! We were founded as a fansite for NBA Live way back in 1996, existing for many years as the NBA Live Series Center. As the NBA 2K series grew in popularity and was finally ported to PC, we began covering it as well. When we re-branded ourselves as simply the NLSC in 2011, we decided that we'd officially dedicate ourselves to basketball gaming as a whole. Be it NBA Live, NBA 2K, NBA Jam, NBA Playgrounds, or any other hoops title, it's a welcome topic in our Forum, and something we'll consider creating content for.

Of course, while we're passionate about basketball games in this community, most of us tend to play a variety of other genres, too. From platform and action games to first person shooters and RPGs, our interests extend beyond the virtual hardwood. The funny thing is that basketball tends to follow us around, showing up in settings where elements such as playcalling AI, realistic stats, and accurate player ratings are of no importance. Just for fun, I thought that I'd take a look at some other games where basketball makes a cameo, despite the title otherwise not having anything to do with the sport, or any of its most famous players.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: A New Opportunity with NBA Playgrounds 2

Postby Andrew on Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:17 pm

April 23rd, 2018: A New Opportunity with NBA Playgrounds 2

As I mentioned in Episode #244 of the NLSC Podcast, I've been meaning to write an article on how NBA Playgrounds was a missed opportunity for Saber Interactive. The game was solid and generally well-received, but several gamers, myself included, felt that it could've been more than what it was. While there were several fans that shot down any and all constructive criticism, often quite toxically, not all of us were ready to make excuses for its shortcomings. NBA Playgrounds had an opportunity to be this generation's definitive arcade basketball game, but unfilled promises and potential led to it falling short of achieving that status.

However, Saber Interactive now has a new opportunity with NBA Playgrounds 2. While some gamers are questioning the release of a sequel so close to the original (and essentially abandoning further updates for the prior release), I think it's a sound idea. NBA Jam Tournament Edition came out a year after the original Jam. EA Sports likewise released NBA Jam: On Fire Edition a year after the 2010 reboot. Each built upon its predecessor, taking the genre to new heights. Saber now has an opportunity to do the same thing with NBA Playgrounds 2, learning from their first attempt and taking gamer feedback into account. Hopefully, they've been taking notes.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: A New Opportunity with NBA Playgrounds 2

Postby WithAuthority on Tue Apr 24, 2018 6:56 am

Andrew wrote:April 23rd, 2018: A New Opportunity with NBA Playgrounds 2

As I mentioned in Episode #244 of the NLSC Podcast, I've been meaning to write an article on how NBA Playgrounds was a missed opportunity for Saber Interactive. The game was solid and generally well-received, but several gamers, myself included, felt that it could've been more than what it was. While there were several fans that shot down any and all constructive criticism, often quite toxically, not all of us were ready to make excuses for its shortcomings. NBA Playgrounds had an opportunity to be this generation's definitive arcade basketball game, but unfilled promises and potential led to it falling short of achieving that status.

However, Saber Interactive now has a new opportunity with NBA Playgrounds 2. While some gamers are questioning the release of a sequel so close to the original (and essentially abandoning further updates for the prior release), I think it's a sound idea. NBA Jam Tournament Edition came out a year after the original Jam. EA Sports likewise released NBA Jam: On Fire Edition a year after the 2010 reboot. Each built upon its predecessor, taking the genre to new heights. Saber now has an opportunity to do the same thing with NBA Playgrounds 2, learning from their first attempt and taking gamer feedback into account. Hopefully, they've been taking notes.


Still don't understand why developers and some people feel that moon physics and flip dunks equate to a fun experience. You can make a street basketball game that isn't cartoonish. You can make an arcade game that has depth on the court.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: A New Opportunity with NBA Playgrounds 2

Postby Andrew on Tue Apr 24, 2018 11:06 am

An arcade basketball game, by the nature of the genre, is a more casual and less realistic experience. Make it realistic, and you're making a sim game. Making a more sim-oriented streetball game is an interesting prospect, though I guess through Blacktop and The Playground/MyPARK, we already have that experience in NBA 2K.

As for the appeal of games like NBA Jam, NBA Street, and NBA Playgrounds, they are historically very popular because they offer a change of pace from the games that aim for more realism. They don't appeal to everyone of course and that's fine, but saying you don't understand their appeal is basically a covert way of saying that you don't like them and think everyone who does think they're fun is stupid and wrong. Different strokes for different folks, and all that.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: A New Opportunity with NBA Playgrounds 2

Postby [Q] on Tue Apr 24, 2018 11:54 am

I actually had a lot of fun playing a s the kings in Live 2000 on arcade mode
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: A New Opportunity with NBA Playgrounds 2

Postby Andrew on Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:01 pm

Arcade Mode in NBA Live 99 and 2000 is actually on my list for Wayback Wednesday. Not this week as I've got something else already written and scheduled, but I do want to cover Arcade Mode at some point.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: A New Opportunity with NBA Playgrounds 2

Postby Dee4Three on Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:26 am

[Q] wrote:I actually had a lot of fun playing a s the kings in Live 2000 on arcade mode


Interesting.

I also did this with the Kings, it was a blast. My best friends and I loved the Kings, just loved the way they played ball (Especially the excitement with white chocolate)
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: A New Opportunity with NBA Playgrounds 2

Postby [Q] on Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:27 am

I mean they'd had arcade mode since 95 but in 2000 they added some effects like jumping higher on dunks iirc

That white chocolate to Webber connection was awesome
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: A New Opportunity with NBA Playgrounds 2

Postby Andrew on Thu Apr 26, 2018 9:39 am

NBA Live 99 and NBA Live 2000 both had the exaggerated dunks with the Arcade setting. It actually gave that setting some meaning beyond switching the rules on and off.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: A New Opportunity with NBA Playgrounds 2

Postby WithAuthority on Thu Apr 26, 2018 11:06 am

Andrew youve got to give the people what they waaant

NBA Live 97 Mod Remaster

:D
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: A New Opportunity with NBA Playgrounds 2

Postby Andrew on Thu Apr 26, 2018 11:42 am

How many people are clamouring for that, realistically? ;)

It would be fun to continue doing some stuff with older games, though. It just comes down to free time, because it's a lot of time and energy to spend on something that isn't going to get a lot of downloads these days.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Completing the Comeback with NBA Live 19

Postby Andrew on Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:56 pm

April 30th, 2018: Completing the Comeback with NBA Live 19

When Michael Jordan made his first comeback in 1995, it was obvious that he was a little rusty. Although His Airness had his moments as the Chicago Bulls made a run during the second half of the season and ultimately lost to the Orlando Magic in the second round, he wasn't quite at the same level he had been when he walked away from the game in 1993. There were number changes - to 45 and back to 23 again - and an offseason of hard work that saw MJ return to form in the 1996 campaign. The Bulls won a then-record 72 games, and by the time he retired for the second time, MJ had led them to three more titles. Undoubtedly, his first comeback was a success.

To draw a parallel to basketball video games, the NBA Live series currently finds itself in a similar situation. Once the yardstick and the top-selling five-on-five sim-oriented NBA title, NBA Live went on hiatus in 2010, following the failure of NBA Elite 11. After switching back to the NBA Live moniker and returning to the virtual hardwood, the series has been trying to shake off the rust and recapture former glory. It's had its bright moments though, with NBA Live 18 being a significant step in the right direction. With that in mind, EA Sports has a great opportunity to make like Michael Jordan in 1996, and successfully complete its own comeback.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Completing the Comeback with NBA Live 19

Postby WithAuthority on Wed May 02, 2018 7:53 am

Do you have a word document of all these blogs so i can just print them out and read them one by one, like a basketball video game history book? Serious question.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Completing the Comeback with NBA Live 19

Postby Andrew on Wed May 02, 2018 11:31 am

Not all in one document, but I do write up my articles in Word first before posting them.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Getting Back to Basics with NBA 2K19

Postby Andrew on Mon May 07, 2018 8:48 pm

May 7th, 2018: Getting Back to Basics with NBA 2K19

For years, NBA 2K has been the dominant brand in basketball gaming. It started with EA Sports' misfire when NBA Live 06 was released on Xbox 360, devoid of Dynasty Mode and generally being a rough transition to the next generation. As NBA Live continued to struggle, NBA 2K stayed the course and went from strength to strength, garnering higher ratings from reviewers and eventually becoming the top-selling NBA game when NBA 2K9 outsold NBA Live 09. The series has continued to innovate and receive praise from gamers and gaming publications alike, setting sales records and expanding its brand with its own weekly TV show, and now an eSports league.

And yet, despite all its success, the brand doesn't feel as untouchable as it once did. NBA 2K18 received an unprecedented amount of backlash over its greedy and anti-consumer approach to microtransactions, which greatly affected some of its most popular modes. Beyond that controversy, a lot of gamers felt that the game had simply taken a few steps backwards with a new motion system that didn't seem quite ready, AI that didn't feel as smart or realistic, and rosters that were riddled with problems. While 2K's strategies for "recurrent revenue" obviously won't be going anywhere, I'd suggest that NBA 2K19 could otherwise really benefit from going back to basics.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Time to Close the Book on MyCAREER Stories

Postby Andrew on Mon May 14, 2018 9:19 pm

May 14th, 2018: Time to Close the Book on MyCAREER Stories

I know, I know. I've talked about MyCAREER stories a lot. I've made my position on them very clear since they made their debut in NBA 2K14. However, we're now five years into the story-driven approach in MyCAREER. Not only can we rank the stories in a Top 5, at this point we've also had ample time to evaluate the approach so far, and consider how it should be handled moving forward. It's fair to ask whether or not a story is necessary or wanted in MyCAREER, and if it is, what can be done to continue to innovate in future iterations of NBA 2K.

As you might expect, my suggestion is that a new approach is needed, but I'd like to explain my reasons beyond a simple distaste for the narratives we've experienced so far. This is intended to be a constructive piece that offers ideas and solutions, rather than just bashing an aspect of NBA 2K that I don't particularly like. My dislike of the stories themselves is a factor, but if the goal is to innovate and offer new experiences, then MyCAREER stories could actually be getting in the way of that. While it would be possible to steer them in a new and more innovative direction, I do believe that it's time to close the book on MyCAREER stories.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Time to Close the Book on MyCAREER Stories

Postby [Q] on Tue May 15, 2018 2:04 am

What I don't like about the big name AAA title games and platformers is that it's essentially a movie where you play just to get to the next cut scene and what you do does not matter. You will have the same experience as everyone else. There are big games like Uncharted or Last of Us that I didn't really like for this reason.

Bringing that to a sports game is the wrong move in my opinion. There's so many different things that could happen that wouldn't make sense in the story as you documented and for a lot of people that's a deal breaker
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Time to Close the Book on MyCAREER Stories

Postby Andrew on Tue May 15, 2018 2:15 am

Absolutely. It doesn't do anything for the role playing aspect, and if you're looking to maintain a story topic or especially a YouTube series about MyCAREER, it's basically going to be the same as everyone else's, except perhaps for the team and some superficial choices like the billboards and signature shoes that you can choose between and design. As I said, it doesn't make sense when you're averaging a triple-double and doing all kinds of impressive things as a rookie, only to get a cutscene where everyone acts like you're still finding your feet or hitting the rookie wall. Bad overall storytelling and annoying characters just make it even more grating.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Artificial Difficulty in Basketball Games

Postby Andrew on Mon May 21, 2018 10:13 pm

May 21st, 2018: Artificial Difficulty in Basketball Games

No matter what the genre, it’s all too easy to blame a video game itself when we lose. We’ll blame the controls, the mechanics, the AI, the overall design…anything except our own skills on the sticks and buttons. However, there are times when video games pose a challenge simply by not playing fair, manipulating and manufacturing the results. Be it rubber band AI, lightning fast reaction times, or some other tricky tactic, it all comes under the heading of artificial difficulty. Often a necessary evil, it can be used very effectively under certain circumstances.

If implemented poorly, however, artificial difficulty can ruin gameplay by punishing gamers for being too good. It can be particularly intrusive in sim-oriented basketball titles, where the gameplay is intended to accurately mimic the real life sport. There have been great improvements to the AI in the long-running NBA sim titles over the years, with many enhancements that have resulted in a more sophisticated virtual basketball experience. Unfortunately, a few legacy issues with artificial difficulty do remain. I believe it’s vital that the developers at EA Sports and Visual Concepts find a way to move past them in future NBA Live and NBA 2K releases.
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