In recent years, one of NBA 2K’s most prized assets has been its interface for online leagues. Although not as popular as the ranked games, true NBA 2K gamers love to play in online leagues. The league I manage, Sim City Leagues, has enabled me to really reap the benefits of the online leagues over the past two years. The league is currently in its 10th season, with each and every campaign being played out as it should be.
However, despite the success of a few leagues, finding a good online league in NBA 2K can be quite a struggle. We have all joined those public leagues that have never even started, let alone been completed. Other gamers have probably been added as "replacements" to leagues, only to get in and have no games to play. And some have even ventured to various forums and started those "looking for a sim league" threads, only to have them bumped all the way down to the second page within minutes.
It is difficult to get in a good online league because there are not many good ones to join. Nevertheless, if there were more dedicated leagues out there, gamers could waste less time tirelessly looking for them. So with that in mind, the following is a guide on how to start up and maintain a good online league.
Finding League Members
How many times have you seen someone start up a league with nobody but that person signed up? Not knowing who is going to be a part of your league is never a good way to start. League members do more than just fill up the team sheet; they also influence other factors of your league.
Take schedules for example, you want a group of gamers that are usually flexible or at least able to get online at similar times. Also, the type of gamers you recruit might also determine how the league games are played. Some gamers want to run and gun like the ranked lobby games, while others prefer to be more "sim." Whatever you decide on, make sure to gather players that show they are active and dedicated. After all, a league is only as good as its members.
Finding good active league members should be job #1 for any commish.
Everyone’s style of play is different, so I am not going to tell you how to draft your rules. However, from my personal experience, I would refrain from making rules that are defined by certain number limits. For example, 30 points or less in the paint or 30 3-pointer attempts or less per game.
The reasoning behind this is that basketball is a free-flowing game, so each contest can present a different scenario in terms of numbers. A team with good offensive rebounding big men is bound to have more offensive rebounds than a Miami Heat-type front line, while a team with better shooters is more likely to have an offense geared towards the long-range shot.
Whatever statistics rules you make should take into account such factors. Because of this factor, rules are easier to follow and admin when based on averages. For instance, a rule like "teams can AVERAGE no more than X points in the paint" is a more effective way of dealing with the different scenarios that might occur in a basketball game.
Activity in most cases is what separates a good league from a bad one. Once the season starts, keeping players active is the main objective of a league admin. Other than promoting it, rewarding activity can also go a long way towards turning your league into a season-to-season hit. Since it is very easy for online gamers to quit when having a tough season, it is essential to let all players know that being active shall be rewarded in one form or another.
For example, players in my league know that a team with a record of 25-15 would get into the playoffs before a team with a record of 25-3. This is because the first team played more games than the second team -- the winning percentage becomes insignificant.
Activity during the season is another goal you need to try to accomplish.
Speaking of communication, another key ingredient for maintaining a successful league is to have a standard means of communicating within the league. In NBA 2K8, the league interface was a lot more user friendly in this regard since it had chat lobbies; however, since that is gone, you have to come up with another way of communicating with your members. Using their online personas is the most convenient way of doing this, but there is also messenger clients like AIM that get the job done as well.
Putting together a free Web site or forum is also an option. In NBA 2K9, the Web site support for both current-gen consoles helps a ton in this respect. Posting news and announcements while also keeping up with stats is a great asset to have -- just make sure all your members have their online names synced with the Web site and are aware of its existence. Having an established means of communication also helps keep league members active, whether they are talking about a blockbuster trade or just trash talking before their next game.
Having dedicated members, a good set of rules with sufficient enforcement, and a way to communicate with other league members is all that is needed to keep a league active. It might be somewhat time consuming to pull this off, but then again it also takes time and effort to start up those leagues that keep failing again and again.
Here is to those that want to get it right this time and make the season matter.