A Look at The Baseline: A TSO NBA2K Online Association
As the NBA lockout seemed to last forever, David Stern, Owners and Players’ Union only really knew when the thing would end. This only left the guys that are big NBA fans with the option of waiting for the release and buying the 2Ksports video game, NBA 2K12.
Traditionsportsonline.com, (better known as TSO), stepped up to give the title a forum of its own, thus creating the first official basketball league on the site. Bondzai eventually stepped up to the commissioner’s role.
Bond’s goal, “for this league is for it to be the Premier NBA league on the site and to set an example of how NBA leagues can be run to spawn interest to form other leagues. Sometimes basketball gets overshadowed on the site by the football fans, but since this league started I have seen more hoop heads coming around.”
Explain Management and how the league works from the leaders side?
“I’m (Bond) the commissioner of the league and we have a trade committee consisting of myself, Blaza, BDS, and J-Face. I really consider the trade committee to be the “leadership team”. Those guys have really helped to make the league what it is.”
Pace of Play and Member involvement?
Bond: “The pace of play is determined by the game. We are set to medium which means that we move 1 calendar day every 6 hours. The good part about this is we never have to wait for users to “advance”. When guys join, they know that the pace of the league is predetermined so if we have to take a sim here or there no one gets upset about it. If the day comes up and you haven’t gotten your game it, it sims. User games also sim. The cool thing is that as the game advances, it opens up several games down the line. So that allows you to really get out ahead and play games at your own pace.”
“As far as member involvement, I couldn’t be any happier about it. Everyone is doing a great job posting game summaries. The pace being set for us I think really keeps people interested, since there’s always games to play and trades to make. Even in game progress from the participants! It really keeps everyone engaged. Dru started a few threads with some good content (Baseline Insider, Dru’s Random Question, and Award Races. Bucs did a good job providing signatures and ZCar is tracking the Rookie of the Year race. Also we have a running Skype chat that everyone is involved in that keeps the interest up and generally makes the group more solid.”
Commitment: what kind of time and emphasis is put on the league
Bond: “Really you need to almost play a game per night. Now the schedule allows you to play a pretty good amount of games ahead so it works out pretty well. Most of the guys knock out a bunch of games on the weekend and don’t have to play as much during the week. Some of the guys knock out a bunch of games during the week and have all weekend to do whatever they want.”
BDSDIGITAL: I believe we have 20 members. Some are more casual than others as far as time and emphasis. I do think there are several in that league that consider it their #1 TSO league. There are several guys that don’t even play NCAA anymore. I personally am in the league almost every day either to play a game, look at the robust stats that 2k gives us, looking at potential trades, standings, etc. It get’s a little bit of my gaming attention daily. I’m sure that there are several that do the same thing.”
How many years can you get through?
BDSDIGITAL: “Once we have a file running properly, I’m sure guys will be in it ‘till next release.
I think a season at our pace takes 7-8 weeks so It would stand to reason 6 per gaming cycle…which doesn’t sound like much, but for playoff teams that can equal 350-500 actual games! Which is obviously a ton.”
Having to restart (a few times?) have you all figured it out or are you guys just scratching the surface of what the league could turn into?
Bond: “I think this whole game cycle is going to be and has been a great learning experience. A season takes like 8 weeks at our pace, so we should get in 3-4 seasons before the next release. It’ll be very, very interesting what improvements they make for 2k13 Online Association and I have a firm belief that most that are in it now will be in it the next release.”
What did 2K do right?
Blaza: “First of all, the gameplay is phenomenal. There are a few quips and complaints but overall the 2Koffers a great game of basketball and CPU games can be just as epic as user games.
There are tons of different styles of play and I think our league has a great combination of fellas who all play differently.”
“You have guys like Ryala and Makin who really try to push the pace and run up and down the floor. Then you have guys like Dru, Bond, and BDSDIGITAL who play a bit more deliberately and look to shoot your lights out. I’m a firm believer in the old adage of “styles make fights” and its always fun to see two of our guys getting after it on the hardwood.”
“Some guys have the others numbers and you can never assume the transitive property because each squad matches up differently to the next. The playbooks are extremely well done in my opinion. There are just tons of options and I really feel like they give each team a sense of character and individuality.”
BDSDIGITAL: “I love the stats that are available. The gameplay strategically is ridicuously good and the graphics are great. The atmosphere in game is good during the regular season, but will blow you away in the playoffs. Green outs at the TD Garden in Boston are intense! The gameplay from the cpu increases in difficulty in the playoffs as well. You are really challenged to adjust and step up to win a playoff series. The online association itself for a first release is fantastic. They did a great job with it and I really believe 2k13 Online Association might end up being the greatest sim, online sports title ever….if they learn from a few of their mistakes this year.”
Blaza: “The metrics kept in the Online Association are AMAZING. Can’t stress enough how great of a job they did here. There are TONS of efficiency ratings which combine with the more traditional statistics to give us all the juicy dirt we stat junkies desire. Basketball is a game of percentages and I really enjoy looking at these as it can paint a nice picture of your team as well as the competition. I try to look at numbers regularly and it really helps assess performance.”
Bond: “The gameplay is insane, probably the best sports game I’ve ever played gameplay wise. Also the graphics are ridiculous. We’ve talked about our girlfriends/wives walking by and thinking it was a real game. For the 1st year of a real Online Association I think 2k did a really good job.”
What did they lack in, what can be improved?
Bond: “I think the biggest thing is more commissioner control. For instance, if someone quits the league they can’t ever join back up. Also there are some settings that are available offline that aren’t available in Online Association. Other than that I’d say job well done.”
Blaza: “Just the overall Online Association experience needs a bit of sharpening and refining. There needs to be a way to put squads on auto-pilot and the commish should have a little more control as far as throwing out results and adjusting settings. The fact that we cannot play on simulation is pretty ridiculous. I’m almost sure that these features will be added to the next release. For the first implementation of OA, I think they did a commendable job.”
BDSDIGITAL: “There are some games that seem like they are impossible to win. NCAA players know what I’m talking about. There are some games when players play much better than their ratings, which I guess is somewhat realistic from time to time….but there are some instances where you kinda scratch your head. Also there are some gameplay flaws. Sometimes you won’t go out of bounds even though your momentum should carry you into the 2nd row, sometimes you make a move to the basket the wrong way and you wind up behind the basket, etc. But those moments are pretty few and far between so it’s not the end of the world. Also in user games you can’t use all of the settings available in cpu games namely shot quality feedback, and shot stick feedback. You also can’t switch to alternate jersies…but all in all these are minor issues.”
The Fourth Quarter:
Blaza: “The Baseline has been a great success IMO. We’ve got a great group and the way the game plays really eliminates a lot of the ‘infighting’ that can sometimes happen with other games. Different styles of play are encouraged and the game is really all about adjustments and being able to be multiple on offense and defense.”
BDSDIGITAL: “We are working hard to not grow the league too big! But as word is starting to get around about how great this league and game are I feel like we’re getting requests on a daily basis to join…Bond is doing a great job and I can’t wait to see what 2k does to ’13 and how much demand we’ll have for the next release! Basketball has always been a minority sport on TSO, but with this release and the growing impatience with EA products the 2k basketball brand should be set to explode on the site.”
Thank you to Bondzai, Blaza and BDSDIGITAL for their time and effort. You can follow The Baseline click here.