Monday Tip-Off: The Future of Basketball Gaming Nostalgia

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Re: Monday Tip-Off: 2K's Overlooked Gambling Mechanic

Postby [Q] on Tue Nov 05, 2019 10:47 am

Wow, I had no idea this was an actual thing. Was this in 2k16? I think I might have remembered something similar in the game, but I could be mistaken

I do remember they started doing this in Fifa but I think you had to go to a website or something to set it all up.

This definitely should not be in the game. And to put an ATM there to encourage it is way too problematic. Much like the ATM at the casino or strip club, they're not forcing you to participate but they are really encouraging it. This would have been bad for me personally if this was 2k7 and I was still playing the game religiously like I was then because I definitely enjoyed my fair share of gambling. Much like poker, it's gambling against others in what is mostly a game of skill but at the casino the house takes a rake for its role in facilitating the game. Just like how in LUT auctions the game took a percentage of all auctioned cards. Does 2k let you bet straight up against opponents or do they take a cut?
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: 2K's Overlooked Gambling Mechanic

Postby Andrew on Tue Nov 05, 2019 10:54 am

It's actually been in the game since NBA 2K15. You can actually find posts praising it back then. I don't think there's a percentage taken out a la the auction fees in MyTEAM and LUT, but yeah, it's straight up gambling.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Revisiting My NBA 2K18 Dunking Issue

Postby Andrew on Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:19 pm

Monday Tip-Off: Revisiting My NBA 2K18 Dunking Issue

From the first iteration of MyPLAYER Archetypes to NBA 2K20's pie charts, player builds have been a contentious aspect of MyCAREER and its connected modes. The approach is intended to balance the game and allow us to create the type of player that best suits us, but in reality, it's proven to be very restrictive. Only a handful of builds are viable - especially when it comes to online play - and those tend to be noticeably overpowered. Conversely, a lot of the builds that aren't as viable are often outright broken, and not enjoyable to play with.

I encountered a very strange issue with dunking back in NBA 2K18, playing as a Sharpshooting Playmaker. Despite increasing my ratings, equipping the appropriate animations, and being very familiar with the advanced shooting controls, I was rarely able to get my player to dunk. Hearing that there might be an issue with tendencies for point guards created in The Prelude, I contacted 2K Support. Predictably, they were no help whatsoever. I've since made a few observations when creating similar builds in NBA 2K19 and NBA 2K20, and so this week, I'm briefly revisiting NBA 2K18's MyCAREER to see if I can actually resolve my dunking issue.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: A Week Playing in The Rec

Postby Andrew on Mon Nov 18, 2019 11:06 pm

Monday Tip-Off: A Week Playing in The Rec

Because I've been casually playing a bit of MyCAREER while waiting for the season to start and the rosters to be updated for a MyLEAGUE game, my player has levelled up enough to be viable to play with online. As such, I've gone to The Rec a couple of times to see what it's like this year. Not much has changed in terms of the quality of play or stability of the servers, but it's had its moments. To that end, I figured if I was able to keep my expectations low, it'd be fun to jump on every once in a while for a change of pace. It's a way of earning extra VC for MyTEAM packs if nothing else.

That led me to wonder if there were better nights than others to jump into The Rec for a game or two. I recalled that when the NLSC squad was playing multiple sessions of 2K Pro-Am per week in NBA 2K17, some days yielded more enjoyable experiences with good competition, while other days brought frustrating times with opponents who exploited cheesy tactics. I decided that I'd play The Rec every night for a week in order to see which night - if any - was the best to jump on. I was also interested to see how quickly I'd get sick of it, and whether I'd end up too frustrated with the mode to play it any more. What follows is a recap of my week playing in The Rec!
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: A Week Playing in The Rec

Postby Dee4Three on Tue Nov 19, 2019 5:07 am

I have to say, I found it disheartening when you said that your week at the rec wasn't as bad as you thought it would be, considering it seems you technically only have 2 good days out of 7.

Reading this reminds me why I stay offline. The ballhogging, quitting, childish antics, ridiculous commentary, lack of basketball IQ and teamwork would drive me up a wall. The "elitism" aspect would no doubt make me jump on the mic, and give them a piece of my mind. (Or shake my cane at them, or whatever you want to call it).

Good for you sticking with it, hopefully your experience becomes more consistently positive moving forward.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: A Week Playing in The Rec

Postby Andrew on Tue Nov 19, 2019 12:33 pm

True, it's a sign of how low the bar is when it comes to playing with randoms. Playing in a squad is much better; at least then it comes down to opponents cheesing, and there are other squads out there who are more fun to play if you like a more realistic style. Although it was rough at times, I was encouraged by the fact other people wanted to play unselfish, winning basketball. Of course, it's also disheartening to think that we're outnumbered and the game isn't aimed at us.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: A Crossroads in the Modding Community

Postby Andrew on Mon Nov 25, 2019 10:38 pm

Monday Tip-Off: A Crossroads in the Modding Community

I've often spoken of how proud I am of our modding community, how I truly believe we have a good thing going here. I stand by that statement, but it's a remark that I've often made before offering up criticism of troubling practices within our community. I'll admit that I'm doing the same thing today, as the last couple of weeks have been an unusually turbulent time. There are a number of issues that have reached a boiling point, and troubling attitudes have been on display. It's culminated in at least one ban, and an unhealthy amount of tension for what is meant to be a fun hobby.

At the same time, it's led to a productive discussion about the path that our modding community is on, and the kind of community we want to be. It's allowed us to raise these issues and find out that many of us are on the same page. I'd like to continue that discussion here today. Yes, I have some criticisms that may seem blunt, but I would ultimately like something positive to come out of the messy situation that has arisen. As I've said in the Forum, it's getting to the point where we may have to amend our rules and policies, to ensure that we're maintaining the standard we've set and culture we've established. If nothing else, we want to make sure unwritten rules are written.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Revised In-Universe Value of VC in NBA 2K20

Postby Andrew on Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:54 pm

Monday Tip-Off: Revised In-Universe Value of VC in NBA 2K20

Didn't I already examine the in-universe value of VC this year? I did, but since then, one of the patches quietly nerfed salaries and some of the incentive payouts. To that end, I'm interested to see how the in-universe value of VC has been affected by the new base salaries. Since the prices of items haven't changed at all, their in-universe value will of course still look ridiculous regardless. For accuracy's sake though, I thought that I'd go back and redo the calculations in order to determine the current figures. Presumably, no further nerfs or buffs are in the pipeline.

Once again, you may wonder what the point of all this is. After all, the dollar amounts don't have any practical use or bearing on the experience, and the comparison of item prices to per-game salaries already speaks for itself. I maintain that it underscores that discrepancy however, and is useful information to know when someone excuses the need to purchase basic items as being a measure of realism. Yes, clothes in the real world aren't free, but by the same token, a basic t-shirt doesn't cost more than an NBA player's single game earnings; even a player on a minimum contract. With that being said, let's see how the in-universe value has changed following the VC nerfs.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Revised In-Universe Value of VC in NBA 2K20

Postby [Q] on Tue Dec 03, 2019 4:02 pm

This is crazy. Microtransactions were initially a way for developers to make their money back when releasing games for free. You'd essentially have to pay to have a decent experience playing the game while others who are ok with whatever limits are set can actually play the game for free.

2k is essentially now a full fledged AAA game using mechanics used by free to play games. To be able to have a regular experience playing 2k would be like having a job, just grinding away. Who the hell wants another job when they're trying to relax and enjoy their time off?

I'm really curious to know how much an average player spends on the game every year in addition to the $60 game in order to improve their player's skills that resets every year, to improve their virtual trading card collection that is worth nothing in a year, for cosmetics and animations, and more! Seems like anything you do in the game costs money
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Revised In-Universe Value of VC in NBA 2K20

Postby Andrew on Tue Dec 03, 2019 5:52 pm

The grind is a problem. It takes a while for MyCAREER and its connected modes to feel fun if you can't get an initial boost past the paltry 60 Overall you begin as. It's certainly possible to play the game and enjoy it without spending a cent on microtransactions, but you do have to be prepared for the grind and work the system to get every bit of VC you can. That's offline, of course; online is another matter. Also, while you don't have to spend money on VC, the pressure is definitely there to at least consider it, in order to enhance the experience. That's the part a lot of apologists gloss over: it isn't necessary, but they're doing their best to encourage it, and the experience can suffer because of it.

It's an approach that can work against them, though. Because you go from having a levelled-up player in the last game to a 60 Overall scrub in the new one, it often doesn't feel as fun in MyCAREER and doesn't give as good of a first impression. If your player wasn't so hamstrung out of the box - maybe if some progress could carry over, or if the grind was fairer - I think the first impression would be far more positive, because you've got a player that's capable of doing at least some of the things you're used to doing. The gameplay feels worse, but it's mostly because your avatar sucks again, and you're used to playing with one that's got better ratings and a bunch of Badges unlocked.

It just gets ridiculous when you consider the in-universe value of VC. Like I said in the article, knowing it doesn't have much practical use beyond countering the apologists who want to talk about how buying things makes it more realistic, but it underscores how unfair the prices are when you can point out that a simple black t-shirt costs almost $20,000 in-universe if you work out what 1 VC is worth relative to the dollar amount of your player's contract.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Revised In-Universe Value of VC in NBA 2K20

Postby [Q] on Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:06 pm

It's ridiculous that they'd expect you to put that much work into getting something like a black shirt as opposed to actually making progress and advancing in the game. You could literally spend the whole season earning VC just to be able to make your player dress the way you want. Then you would have to put in more work to actually make him better.

If this was like World of Warcraft or something where you'd keep your character forever, it would make more sense, but losing your progress every single year and having to redo it/repay for it makes it all seem even more pointless, like just dumping a year's worth of work into the trash can
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Revised In-Universe Value of VC in NBA 2K20

Postby Andrew on Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:41 pm

Indeed. In an interview, Rob Jones suggested that multiple currencies would be confusing, but there are three different currencies (VC, MT, and Tokens) in MyTEAM these days. Of course, you don't have to buy clothes for your player, but good luck getting games in The Playground if you're in the default outfit. It's like the situation where kids are getting bullied for not having premium skins in Fortnite; they're just cosmetic, but there's a whole in-game culture around those items and a stigma if you're in basic gear. You do have to buy accessories to wear in NBA games too - again, realistically the team would provide them to players for free - and while most bands are cheap (around 150 VC, IIRC), headbands are 1000 VC; two games' worth of the base salary if you skip the story, in other words.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Revised In-Universe Value of VC in NBA 2K20

Postby sticky-fingers on Tue Dec 03, 2019 11:40 pm

[Q] wrote:This is crazy. Microtransactions were initially a way for developers to make their money back when releasing games for free. You'd essentially have to pay to have a decent experience playing the game while others who are ok with whatever limits are set can actually play the game for free.

2k is essentially now a full fledged AAA game using mechanics used by free to play games. To be able to have a regular experience playing 2k would be like having a job, just grinding away. Who the hell wants another job when they're trying to relax and enjoy their time off?

i say that for years
i still cant understand HOW people can spend real money for upgrading/customizing a virtual character ?!
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Revised In-Universe Value of VC in NBA 2K20

Postby Andrew on Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:53 am

The pressure is there for them to do it if they want to play online right away and be competitive. The crazy thing is that it's an annual release; it'd be one thing if the game was current for a number of years, but twelve months later, the cycle starts all over again. A license to print money for 2K and other AAA developers.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Fixing MyREP in NBA 2K

Postby Andrew on Mon Dec 09, 2019 10:49 pm

Monday Tip-Off: Fixing MyREP in NBA 2K

I've outlined some of the problems with the new MyREP system in a previous article, so this week I thought that I'd offer up some more specific solutions. Thanks to my week spent playing The Rec, I've been able to level up and unlock some of the rewards, though admittedly MyCAREER is a mode that's gone on the backburner for me this year. All the same, I'd like MyCAREER and its connected modes to be as good as they possibly can be for my fellow gamers who still want to sink most of their time into those experiences.

As a replacement for the Road to 99, MyREP has its benefits and drawbacks. Among the positives, all of the rewards need to be earned by playing the game and gaining rep; there are no shortcuts through microtransactions. It's also drawn some attention away from Overall Ratings, a mechanic that often carries an overinflated sense of importance. On the downside, it locks offline gamers out of NBA-related rewards, doesn't adequately reward online gamers grinding for MyREP, contributes to elitism, and could stand to distribute its rewards far more logically. With that in mind, here's how I'd fix the MyREP system in NBA 2K.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: The Difficulty of Going Back

Postby Andrew on Mon Dec 16, 2019 10:42 pm

Monday Tip-Off: The Difficulty of Going Back

Recently, I looked into producing a couple of ideas that I'd been kicking around for Wayback Wednesday for some time: going back and finishing 100 Challenges in NBA Live 15's Ultimate Team, and finishing 50 Challenges in NBA Live 16 LUT. Once the NBA Live 15 server shutdown was announced, I knew that I'd have to get onto the first idea as soon as possible, as it would no longer be doable once online support ended. I drafted the introduction to the piece, fired up NBA Live 15, and started a game. I was intent on making a feature out of some unfinished business.

Only, that's as far as I was able to get. I couldn't finish the game, and after taking a glance at NBA Live 16, I likewise decided against going ahead with those features. Granted, it was partly due to calculating how much time it was going to take and deciding that it'd be too many hours of repetitive play that I could be spending on other projects. It was doable of course, as long as I put in the time every day before the shutdown, but the prospect wasn't appealing. I came to the realisation that it was no longer as easy to go back and play old games, compared to previous generations. For me at least, there's just too much difficulty in going back for an extended time.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Too Much at Stake to Experiment

Postby Andrew on Mon Dec 23, 2019 3:06 pm

Monday Tip-Off: Too Much at Stake to Experiment

During our discussion of franchise gaming in Episode #303 of the NLSC Podcast, I mentioned how franchise modes are a throwback to the days when we were freer to experiment with basketball video games. It's something that I've thought about a lot since getting into MyCAREER and the online scene in recent years. As much fun as I've had with those modes, I'm aware of how careful I've had to be in order to enjoy myself. A wrong choice can easily torpedo a saved game, wasting hours of grinding with undesirably dire consequences.

Of course, you could argue that that's part of the challenge now; a key component of an evolved experience. You have to think about your decisions and choose wisely, and if you don't and suffer because of it, then it's on you for not playing the game properly. I understand that, and there's merit in having to commit to a choice, as well as fun in an experience that's curated to some extent. However, if the consequences are actively discouraging us from experimenting and seeing everything that a game has to offer, that's rather unfortunate. We still have that freedom to experiment in a mode like MyLEAGUE, but in MyCAREER, there's simply too much at stake.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: 2019 Year in Review

Postby Andrew on Mon Dec 30, 2019 4:13 pm

Monday Tip-Off: 2019 Year in Review

We're at the start of a new week, but a couple of days away from the end of the year, not to mention a decade. Given the timing, I've decided to use this week's Monday Tip-Off to reflect on the past twelve months, just as I did last year. Although this isn't The Friday Five, I will be using a similar format on this occasion, as I'd like to take the opportunity to spotlight some of my favourite content from the past year, and discuss various aspects of the hobby under their own subheadings. If you've missed out on any of these features, I'll be linking to them so that you can check them out.

Overall, it's been another successful year here at the NLSC. Our modding community is still productive, and we've been able to do some fun things with our content. We expect to be around for some time yet, and basketball gaming itself is still thriving. There have been some ups and downs as there always are, and that does leave us with a few issues that we need to deal with moving forward. However, I'm confident that we can come together as a community and work out appropriate solutions. Without any further ado, here are my reflections on the final year of the 2010s, and an editor's pick of articles, podcasts, and other features that I'm particularly proud of.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: How I Cut Back Playing Online

Postby Andrew on Mon Jan 06, 2020 9:37 pm

Monday Tip-Off: How I Cut Back Playing Online

Dated references to Dr. Strangelove aside, I've found that I've enjoyed NBA 2K20 a lot more when I've eschewed online play for the single player experience. I could say the same for NBA 2K19 as well, as I mostly ended up playing MyCAREER in an effort to make it to the Hall of Fame (and succeeded in doing so).  However, I was still more inclined to play online last year, having gotten into the habit of grinding up a player that was viable for Pro-Am and Playground games. The rest of the NLSC squad was also giving online play one last try, whereas this year we've given up on it.

I definitely miss the camaraderie and fun of a virtual hangout with my fellow gamers and basketball-loving friends, but I'm not missing the frustration that we experienced so often over the past couple of years. I've expressed my criticisms of online play in NBA 2K before, but because we enjoyed getting together to play some games, it had become part of my gaming routine. Changing that has been easier in NBA 2K20, where I've spent more time getting into MyTEAM, playing with the historical teams, and getting ready to start a MyLEAGUE game. However, it's unfortunate that online play has become so unappealing, and that I can no longer get into it with my friends.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: How I Cut Back Playing Online

Postby [Q] on Tue Jan 07, 2020 8:21 am

Much like pick up ball in real life, your fun is directly tied to how knowledgeable and cooperative the others in the game are. Unfortunately, unlike real life, there is a lower threshold for playing a basketball video game online so you get a lot more people and a lot more casual gamers and those who don't care to play the right way.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: How I Cut Back Playing Online

Postby Andrew on Tue Jan 07, 2020 11:00 am

Indeed. I'll often see comments from online gamers on Reddit asking "How can you enjoy offline play?" (not always that politely), and the answer is if nothing else, it's consistent. It doesn't rely on strangers to play nice with each other, or the servers to be behaving themselves, or luck with any of the other variables that come with playing online. Is it more satisfying to outplay another user than it is the CPU? In some ways, sure, but there are other forms of satisfaction in single player experiences, and no toxicity that unfortunately has become prevalent in the online scene.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: How Career Modes Overtook Franchise Modes

Postby Andrew on Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:57 pm

Monday Tip-Off: How Career Modes Overtook Franchise Modes

As a long-time basketball gamer, it's been interesting to not only see how the games have evolved, but also how trends and attitudes have changed. A noteworthy example of changing trends is the popularity of franchise modes. There was a time when they were considered the pinnacle of modes in basketball games, a dream come true for those of us who remember playing the basic single season modes of early titles. These days, they're seen as passé; something for "old heads", despite the fact younger hoops gamers enjoy them too. If nothing else, they're no longer the flagship mode.

That distinction now belongs to career modes, and their connected online experiences. In some respects, it's not surprising. It took longer for fully-formed career modes to make their way into NBA 2K and NBA Live, and there had been an interest in seeing them for quite some time. Indeed, the franchise modes were often used to simulate a single player career mode, so gamers clearly wanted that type of experience. The shift towards career modes is still interesting however, especially as they've drawn in gamers who have traditionally been all about franchise play. How did this happen? Well, I have a few theories as to how career modes gained and maintained popularity.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: The Avatar's New Clothes

Postby Andrew on Mon Jan 20, 2020 10:49 pm

Monday Tip-Off: The Avatar's New Clothes

There's a well-established video game trope that TV Tropes calls "And Your Reward Is Clothes". It refers to unlocking new clothes for the player character (or characters), sometimes by completing tasks or purchasing them from an in-game store, or perhaps by finishing the game and continuing the adventure with post-ending gameplay. They may convey or accompany other bonuses, or they may just be for bragging rights. A good example of the latter is the "I completed Vice City and all I got was this lousy t-shirt", unlocked when achieving 100% completion in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Clothing items, and the ability to acquire new clothes, have become an increasingly prominent part of basketball video games. Although they are ultimately just cosmetic, they're nevertheless a significant part of the game's culture, especially when it comes to the online scene. It's one of those aspects of modern games that make me feel like a dinosaur, because to my mind, there's far too much focus on them. Although they're something that can be ignored, the pursuit of new clothes and the focus given to dressing up your avatar is presenting some problems, and detracting from the overall experience. That may sound melodramatic, but allow me to elaborate.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Rest in Peace, Kobe Bryant

Postby Andrew on Mon Jan 27, 2020 11:16 pm

Monday Tip-Off: Rest in Peace, Kobe Bryant

Depending on where you are in the world, the week was ending or just getting started when you heard the tragic news that Kobe Bryant had been killed in a helicopter crash in California. Following unfounded rumours and speculation, we eventually learned that his daughter Gianna, and seven other people, also lost their lives in the accident. It's been difficult to process the news. Words like "surreal" feel so cliché at a time like this, but they're nevertheless apt. Social media timelines and NBA broadcasts have been filled with grief and tributes since the terrible news broke.

I too feel compelled to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant, now that I'm past the initial shock. However, I will admit that I was hesitant to forego my planned column in favour of this one. I didn't want it to be in poor taste, to come across as an opportunistic content creator who's just trying to get clicks and attention by talking about a topical tragedy. Ultimately, I decided that I wouldn't let cynicism deter me. Whether you cheered for him or against him, Kobe Bryant was one of the greatest players in league history, carving out a remarkable legacy in the real NBA and on the virtual hardwood alike. It's only appropriate to pay tribute to him as we all mourn this awful turn of events.
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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Rest in Peace, Kobe Bryant

Postby sticky-fingers on Tue Jan 28, 2020 2:50 am

You had to write that for you, for us, for him.
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