Monday Tip-Off: My Experiences Updating NBA 2K11 (So Far)

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Re: Monday Tip-Off: Quest for a Reliable Jumpshot

Postby Andrew on Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:41 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 9:22 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 9:47 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 2:29 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 11:11 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 11:25 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 Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:40 am

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 9:17 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 7:56 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 12:06 pm

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 12:54 pm

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 1:01 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 5:26 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 7:27 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 10:39 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 12:06 pm

Andrew youve got to give the people what they waaant

NBA Live 97 Mod Remaster

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

Postby Andrew on Thu Apr 26, 2018 12:42 pm

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 10:56 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 8:53 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 12:31 pm

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 9:48 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 10:19 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 3:04 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 3:15 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 11:13 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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