I wish I could appropriately commit to things.
I have a tendency to either under or over-commit. For instance, for the past few months, I’ve been a burned-out blob on my couch. (Thanks, pandemic teaching!) Recently though, I picked up a Steam Deck. I say it’s mainly to start up a gaming club at my school, a high school in Providence (RI). But that’s only half-true…the ability to play nearly any damn game (curse you, NCAA Revamped!) is amazing.
I say that to say this: It rejuvenated my desire to jump into gaming. This was confirmed as I was playing Madden 22 with some of my students on Thursday. It was confirmed when I looked for games to play co-op with my girlfriend. And it was confirmed when I went onto GMGames’ Discord to call for games people want to be reviewed.
This is where the original sentence in this eventual review comes in. In addition to teaching high school Social Studies, I just recently added a part-time job hosting bar trivia and music bingo. I play in a competitive 35+ basketball league and was asked to play in another league on Sundays. (The best sports compliment I will ever receive was in the offer: “We need you and a big man for this league.” I will insert that into any conversation I can for the rest of my life, regardless of how appropriate its use is; it’s already never appropriate unless someone asks the question, “Hey, who the hell let you into this league, anyway?”)
I also wish to actually try to put my audio narration talents to use and earn money doing that. And I have plans to take improv classes (and mesh that community with my school community).
So, yeah…commitment. I’m likely way over-committed here, volunteering myself to write a re-review of Basketball GM, produced by ZenGM, aka Jeremy, also aka dumbmatter. (I’ll use ZenGM here for this piece.) ZenGM actually has a network of sports games, so even if basketball isn’t your thing, but you still found your way here somehow (perhaps you love my concise, get-right-to-it writing style), you may want to check out those games.
The original review, written by Stanners, was published on March 6, 2020. Coincidentally, that was the night I attended my first Celtics game. That was also the night Rudy Gobert decided to play a practical joke on the media, and cough on all their microphones, unaware he had COVID at the time. So it’s been a while. I will not use that as a flashpoint for this review. I plan to write this fresh, and take the game as it is right now, rather than where it has been.
(Also, it is 3:45pm EST, on October 21, 2022. This is merely to see how long it takes me, my overcommitting, ADHD-riddled brain, to get this done.)
Graphics / Interface
The first thing you should know is BBGM is browser-based. This is great, though I had difficulty with Orion, a MacOS browser that I use instead of Safari. (ZenGM offered me workarounds for that issue, but I saw it more as an Orion beta issue, and just moved to Safari. Really good to know that level of service exists right off the bat, though.)”
The second thing you should know is that, because this is a browser-based game, there aren’t things like in-game graphics, which you would find in games like Draft Day Sports: Pro Basketball. This is a full-out sim, and the graphics reflect that. This is neither good nor bad, honestly. If you want things like 2D, on-court action, this won’t offer that. If you want to get a game in while sitting in traffic or waiting in line at the grocery store…well, this game offers that.
The game looks like a blend of most text sims and basketball-reference.com. Again, this will work for some, not for others. Being someone who can get lost in any of the sports-reference websites (or Wikipedia), there is some appeal for me. The bonus of being an ultra-portable game (in that I could play it on any device with a web browser) is enough of a trade-off, especially if I get hooked on a particular league or team.
The interface, meanwhile, is easy, simplistic and intelligent. Everything you need for the league is accessible via the menu on the left side of the screen. If you want to condense one of the menus, click on the arrow next to the header. To get back to the overall home screen, simply click on the Dashboard link at the top of the column.
That’s it. That’s all there is. Like I wrote: easy, simplistic, and intelligent. The interface doesn’t need to be anything else than what it is now. I will say this…the ability to expand and condense different items, like the scores in the news section…that is pretty nice.
Suggestions For Improvement:
- I would love to see graphical representations of some stats and metrics, like if you were to compare players on various efficiency stats. A simple graph would suffice there. I don’t know how much it would tax a browser-based engine to create such things, but if the answer to that is in the neighborhood of “not much”, I would absolutely add it.
- I seem to have a gripe with most news/media sections of games. This one is absolutely no exception. I look at the news and media of games as the gateway into immersion. It’s your catch-all for what is happening in your universe. It should be intuitive and informative. Basketball GM skims on the informative. (Where are the dates for the news???) I also don’t know that it’s all that intuitive. How is that news section so empty? My season is 27 games deep. The Philadelphia Cheesesteaks (excellent name) are 22-5. How do they have zero news stories? Did they have stories, and they disappeared? I don’t know, because the news that has been grabbed doesn’t have dates attached to them.
- Also, what qualifies as a player feat? What is a rare event? Why can’t I choose what news I get? Why aren’t there game recaps, even if it’s just something like, “Golden State defeated the Cheesesteaks (excellent name), 127-124. Steph Curry led Golden State with 34/5/8 (GmSc), while Joel Embiid led Philadelphia with 27/12/4 (GmSc). If the game is advanced enough to point out walk-off threes, I would think that there’s enough room to have game recaps of the most recent week of games. (I would think that a full season’s worth of recaps is too much here, given the format…but a week’s worth would be a valuable addition to both the news section, and immersion in the league.)
Grade: 8. Basketball GM makes it clear what it is upfront. It is not a graphically-oriented game. It is for statheads. The game is set up to cater to statheads. It does that pretty well. Like I wrote, there are ways that presentation can be improved upon. But at its base, it serves its purpose very well.
The first thing you should know is BBGM is browser-based. This is great, though I had difficulty with Orion, a MacOS browser that I use instead of Safari. (ZenGM offered me workarounds for that issue, but I saw it more as an Orion beta issue, and just moved to Safari. Really good to know that level of service exists right off the bat, though.)
Basketball GM has many modes you can play from. And within those modes…
Okay, for starters, you can replay any season in history. Within that, you can pick up that season at five different points: Preseason, Playoffs, Lottery, Draft, After Draft.
Aside from that, you can also play with random (re: fictional) players. The benefit of this feature is that you can customize your actual league setup (one thing you cannot do in replaying a different point in NBA history). The customization here is REALLY interesting. Check this out.
When you create a team here, you can either use random players, or USE A HISTORICAL TEAM.
Why, that unlocks a ton of interesting what-if scenarios! That’s a completely awesome, and totally hidden, aspect of this game. If I weren’t doing a review on this game, I probably never would have found this. Why isn’t this option more of a highlight of the league creation section? It should be.
After that, you can select your team or randomize your selection, as well as your difficulty level. Increasing the difficulty makes trading and FA signing more difficult, as well as turning a profit (which, I guess, is the ultimate goal of the game…hence the title, Basketball GM).
After THAT requires you to click on “Customize Settings”. Before you do that, I ask you to go back up to the beginning of this section, and reread it.
That was MY reaction, said out loud, once I clicked on the Customize Settings button. Because…holy crap.
You can customize nearly every aspect of your league here. There are some settings that are turned off from your itchy trigger fingers…but that’s what God Mode is for.
Do you want to cap salaries? God Mode.
Do you want to force a retirement age? God Mode.
Play a particular season with different season statistical settings? God Mode.
By that last one, I point you to the Game Simulation section, which is all hidden behind God Mode. You can go through and answer the question, “What if basketball wasn’t like basketball?”, and muck up the statistical outcomes however you want! CHAOS CAN REIGN SUPREME. (I will say…this section should have a pop-up explanation screen with it. That there’s nothing attached to this section absolutely makes me less likely to mess with it, because while I’m certain that the settings run on a scale of 0.00-2.00, where 1 is the average for the year in question, I am still unsure as to what changing the settings will do.
(One suggestion for this section: Maybe have the actual statistical average attached to this, and allow it to adjust to whatever multiplier you attach to it. Example: In 1993-94, the NBA attempted 9.9 threes per game. So if I went up to 1.6, while I can do that math mentally, it still would help us visual learners know what the adjustment would be.
Yes, I do math mentally by visually doing it in my head. I see the numbers and they are tangible in my head. I don’t know if others do that. I was a borderline math genius at age 4 or 5–I have since regressed to likely just under the mean–and was told that I fascinated my uncle with how I would solve multiplication problems. I looked up, as if I was looking into my head to solve the problem. So both mental math and visual learners can be categorized together, even if I’m the only one that categorization applies to. Again, I have no idea. Tangent OUT.)
Other things you can have through customization:
Elam Ending (an alternative way of ending games, used in the All-Star Game and explained above)
- AI Trades
- AI Tragic Death Rate (?!)
(Just so you know, this list scrolls down. It’s an unbelievably spectacular list. “Player died a normal death. Move on, find a new slant.” You can also ADD YOUR OWN.)
Then there are the challenge modes. This deserves its own screenshot, because it’s a stunning list, and one I think should be included in other games.
There is one other part of this that I have not discussed, and that’s because I just found it (11.1.22, 3:15pm EST…I write that because of the timestamp noted at the beginning of the next section). I went through this whole section, and then wrote a very stern couple of paragraphs, as well as this exact inquiry to ZenGM on Discord.
I finally found this section, located in the Tools menu (which I collapsed earlier…I have a history of doing exactly these things, which usually always come back to haunt me). Then I clicked on it.
The game IMMEDIATELY set up a fantasy draft. Even though my league was 27 games deep into its season, I now have a fantasy draft to complete. It won’t let me undo that, either. So, know that can happen.
I will also say this: The first round of this particular fantasy draft is quite interesting, and not at all what I expected. There are definitely a couple of head-scratchers among the first 29 picks (I’m on the clock at #30), such as Lonzo Ball going to Brooklyn at #24. (This can be discussed in the next section, perhaps.) Regardless, the fantasy draft exists, so we’re safe.
(That said, I don’t know why this isn’t an option at the outset of a league’s creation, so I asked ZenGM. To sum up, he said that when he created the fantasy draft section of the game, there were no settings in the game, and that a fantasy draft anytime could be fun. It is a video game, after all. While I get that, this is one area where I’d look to revamp.)
(11.9.22, 12:11pm EST addendum: ZenGM pointed out a couple of different ways the game can be modded. This is directly from our conversation:
- It runs in a web browser. I expose an API through the browser JS debugging console that lets you do pretty much anything. https://basketball-gm.com/manual/worker-console/ are some examples, and there is a channel on my Discord dedicated to this where basically if anyone asks how to do something, I will try to tell them how.
- Source code is available https://github.com/zengm-games/zengm and not technically open source, but you can run your own version (including modifications) locally. And if someone makes a good improvement to the game and allows me to use it, I will put it in the game. https://github.com/zengm-games/zengm/pulls?q=is%3Apr are some of them, merged ones are actually in the game, and some closed ones too.)
Grade: 11? Can I do that? I should give it a 9.75 for the lack of a fantasy draft as part of a league creation, but I know you can just go and set it up after the fact. Still, though…can I have a viable reason for making this NOT a 10 (or 11), other than spite?
Okay. It’s a 10.
Gameplay / Sim Engine
Okay, so let’s get one major thing out of the way. This involves a realization my idiot brain made as I have been writing this (11.1.22, 3:02pm EST).
This game IS called Basketball GM. It is NOT called Basketball GM & Coach.
You aren’t going to coach in this game. No in-game decisions. When you access the in-game experience, consider your options.
That said, you are in charge of running a team. Your goal, and this is where I came to the realization above, is to win titles and turn a profit. To that end, you have some options at your disposal. For instance, you do have control over who plays more within your rotation.
However, you do NOT have control over what the rotations are. We’ll come back to this.
Really, above anything else, you have trades, the draft, and free agency. Let’s tackle each on its own.
Trading is a seemingly one-way street. There is no league-wide trade block, only the one for your own team. Now, with personalities and such not part of this, that can make sense. But for teams who are rebuilding, or for players who under or overperform their contracts, would it not make sense to shop these players around the league?
As it is, you can shop your own players around the league, as well as negotiate with specific teams over players.
I don’t have any scientific way of proving how balanced trading is. I’m reasonable at reading analytics, but rubbish at creating them. I wouldn’t even know how to go about such a thing here, anyway. I did find the trading in the game to be flexible and challenging. I also found myself asking myself, “Is he nuts?” with regard to other GMs and their demands. I haven’t tried to play hardball with them yet, though I plan to.
The Draft is pretty straightforward. You get the Draft Lottery first, which shows the teams in the lottery and their odds of attaining each pick. This screen was a little jarring at first, as it shows each pick attained in green; I had expected the order to adjust in real-time, as it does with other games. That is not the case here. I would add a finalized draft order on the right side of the screen when the lottery is done, so that the user doesn’t have to piece together the order on their own.)
The Draft has its own screen, set into two columns: Undrafted Players, and Drafted Players. One cool thing I discovered while running a draft: If you hover over the bar graph graphic next to each player’s name, you get a snapshot of their ratings, along with positive/negatives in green/red.
(Note + Suggestion: This can also be done via the roster screen. My suggestion is to allow for this on ANY screen. It would really streamline the experience if I could access these things from, say, the Transactions screen.)
The draft rosters are also not static in their ratings. They do fluctuate; however drastic those fluctuations are, I don’t know. But this does create dynamic drafts that are unique to their universe. I appreciate this, because it means that replaying a particular season does not necessarily mean that you will end up with the same result each time.
Lastly, there is Free Agency. This is…you guessed it, straightforward. It runs over a 30-day period. You don’t have an Assistant GM to guide you through this process, so it’s up to you to make or break your squad.
In my attempt at free agency, I’m pretty sure I broke it. (In my defense, I was just taking it through its paces at first, before deciding I wanted to try and rework my Boston roster.) Here is my order-of-operations:
- Went through and resigned a few players to minsals. Let a couple of others go.
- Since I was well over the cap, I could only sign minsals. To that end, I signed Danilo Gallinari and Duane Washington, Jr.,
- This is where I decided I wanted to try to improve the roster. This is also where things began to go haywire. I decided I wanted to remove Al Horford’s corpse from the roster. I was offered a deal of Buddy Hield and Walker Kessler for Horford, which intrigued me. Kessler is an interesting young big, and Hield could be a real asset to the squad.
- Of course, if I went down that road, I would have to remove Derrick White, who was pretty dreadful until the playoffs. So I shopped White, and found a first-round pick for him from Memphis. Even though it’d be a low pick, it’s better than anything else out there. Deal done.
- Traded Horford. Done.
- Oh…what’s this? Do my eyes deceive me? Gary Payton II is out there, and only at $1.95m? What??? Oh, but I don’t have the flexibility to go get him, even though I cleared a ton of cap room. Well, let’s just see about this…
- Dumped Daniel Theis for nothing. That still didn’t get me there.
- Dumped a Malik Fitts for nothing. Still not there.
- Considered it…then dumped Jean Montero and Walker Kessler (who I am intrigued by, and may try to circle back to get). THAT finally got me under enough to sign Payton for 3 years at $1.5m. To me, that’s a great deal, and mostly worth the loss of Theis (who is the real loss here).
- Since I had to round off the roster, I picked up Blake Griffin and Frank Kaminsky as minsal depth pieces.
The game then shows you the Season Preview (which is found in the history section; it should also be found in the News section). This gives you an interesting collection of data, mainly trending data from the previous season. I do wish it were more robust, with full standings predictions (even if just order-of-finish) and perhaps positional rankings, or even team rankings by position or grouping.
Going into the 2023 regular season, we’re projected to finish seventh. Welp. Guess we’ll see what happens.
I’ve talked with ZenGM about my principal suggestion for this area of the game, which is to add coaches. ZenGM said that coaches are “probably the #1 feature request”, which makes sense to me. From what I’ve gathered (ie from what ZenGM has told me), the obstacles to adding coaches are that it complicates things for the user (which it should, and I’ll explain why) and for ZenGM in coding, which, as someone who has only rudimentary understanding of coding but has been around many coders, I understand.
“It is tricky to balance,” continues ZenGM. “There are situations in many games (not even just sports games, but others where similar coaching-like features may exist) where the devs try really hard to make it balanced, but it still ends up that one strategy is the superior strategy in most situations.
“Although when it’s done right,” he goes on to say, “and there is true balance in a strategy game, that is the best!”
I agree. And that’s why I think it’s worth the attempt. My argument is simple: Dimension > Gaming The System. Those who are going to try to game the system are going to try to do it, regardless of what you put in there.
However, if ZenGM nails the coaching aspect…and the coaching aspect is just as important as the GM aspect in running an organization…you have a true masterpiece on your hands. And if you don’t nail it, you either try again or take it out. Such is life.
I think a solid coaching mechanic includes the following (as of 11.2.22, 12:23pm EST):
- Coaching Veterans
- Coaching Youth
- Coach Stars
- Handling the Locker Room
- Offensive Strategy
- Offensive Playing Style/System
- Defensive Strategy
- Defensive Playing Style/System
- Roster Management (short/long bench, short/long leashes for mental mistakes/poor stretches, etc)
If you have a roster filled with youth, are you going to have Phil Jackson running your squad? Certainly not. If you have a roster that is skewed offensively, are you going to hire Mike Brown? Probably not.
However, is there a hotshot coming out of college that you think might be perfect for your roster of, also-rans, ne’er-be-wells and Pat Beverlys? Or is there an assistant on your staff that you think should have the top job, and you’re afraid they’ll leave for another franchise? Guess you’ll have the decision to make.
The point is…the game can be challenging now. But I can see that challenge running out of steam in the current format. Basketball, at its core, is a game of systems and system fits. It is, and I’ll say this to anyone, anywhere…the greatest microcosm of the idealistic society we have.
No, seriously. It is. Consider it for a moment (and I’m pretty sure I’ve written this elsewhere, but I have no idea where): Go to any pickup game. Look at a team that holds court for 5-6 games straight. What do they have? A dominating scorer? Okay…if they do, what are the other four doing to ensure that player gets good looks? What are they contributing to get rebounds? What is stopping the other team from just sending a triple-team to that player? Do they have dominant defense? Okay…how did they gain that? Even if they are all just suffocating individual defenders, defense is still about communicating, anticipating, and teamwork.
How do you determine who runs the point? What if there are two players who can run things? What then? How do you get the most out of the five people who have just come together on the court to achieve the goal of staying on the court? Somehow, they’ll either figure it out, or they won’t. If they don’t, hopefully there are lessons and growth. I think we’ve all been there.
If they do, though…and I think anyone who has reading this has been there as well…that’s the best feeling in the basketball world, isn’t it?
The same applies to this game. The game, which having severe appeal, is lacking the critical third dimension, which is the systems, which is creating a roster to the person who makes the decisions. Sure, you could potentially mimic that by just trying to build your own system…but that’s an inauthentic mechanic, because it isn’t happening across the league.
That, to me, makes the attempt to build this into the game inevitable. If ZenGM were able to scaffold this by adding a relationship meter for players and coaches, coaches and GMs, even GMs and GMs…well, that would be the mountaintop achieved, I think.
I admit, that last one, along with my other two primary suggestions–shot charts and lineup and individual lineup statistics (like seeing how one player plays with a specific player, or without a specific player), can be the ultimate downside of a browser-based game, because it’s more data to collect, which can be prohibitive for such an environment.
Grade: 9. The engine is well-designed and versatile enough to handle a ridiculous amount of league settings. The AI, through my admittedly short runs, seems to be robust in transaction opportunities. I do think the engine is held back by the lack of styles or roster-building methods (ie coaches, systems, etc), which is why I gave it a 9, and not a 10. It’s missing that one variable that would really create an over-the-top experience.
Technically, Basketball GM is a solo venture. However…
“But people do play multiplayer leagues with it,” said ZenGM, “usually by having one person actually playing the game and controlling all teams, while coordinating with the GM for each team through chat.”
This is the real old-school way of doing things. This is on the list of things to eventually get done. However, where it falls on that hierarchy is unknown; ZenGM said that it’s a “big jump” from single to multiplayer. For a game that is overwhelmingly a single-player, generally quick-in-and-out experience, that makes sense.)
There is one other caveat to add here, and while this typically doesn’t fall into this category, there really isn’t another place to put it. While a strong advantage to BBGM is that you can pop into any browser and play, your files are stored locally on your machine. That means that leagues are, at their base, restricted to the browser on the machine you are on.
Of course, there are workarounds for this. You can export your league (Tools>Export League) and send it to whatever cloud you choose. I suggested to ZenGM that this process get built into the game, just to help automate the process and make it more versatile; I don’t know how easy it is to build what amounts to an FTP client into a browser-based game. If you are like me, though, where I could play a month over lunch on my MacBook, then get to the gym and play out a month while I walk by using my iPad…then continue on my iPhone while in the sauna, or perhaps even pull it up on my SteamDeck because I want to use the SteamDeck…well, just having to remember to do that step every time, then upload it to wherever it is I’m going to upload it, then physically go grab it again…it’s just something that, if it can be automated, I think that would be a wise move.
Grade: 7.5 While there is technically a path to do this, the game’s current intent is not for online players. I don’t feel like it’s fair to grade this game in this vein. Personally, I would reduce the scale here to out of 5. I would give it a 3.5, because there are methods to make this possible, but it is more of a labor of love to do so. That said, it’s doable, and people are doing it. So, it’s only fair to use the proper ratio, and give it a 7.5 here.
Our fearless leader at GMGames, Chris Valius, refers to Basketball GM as an “almanac on crack”. When asked about that, ZenGM laughed at that, then said it should be adjusted to “interactive almanac on crack”.
Then he said, when asked to sum up Basketball GM, that it is a “free, web-based, customizable basketball simulation game with minimal micromanagement and no microtransactions”.
That seems like a tongue-tying description, but…well, it’s exactly that. And that is refreshing, especially for this oldhead.
Look, if you’re a younger gamer, or if you’re an OOTPer, you’ll know where I’m going. I remember the old days of OOTP, where it was Markus Heinsohn, Scott Vibert, Andreas Raht, and a few others who were just building a game that baseball players would want to play. I remember when Markus took risks (H2H, sigh), but he was making a baseball game for baseball fans.
Of course, Markus was wildly successful. He got the partnership with Football Manager. He ended up getting the MLBPA license. And now, the game is under the ownership of another company, Com2Us. Along the way, OOTP got caught in the flood that is microtransactions. And while Perfect Team can be fun, the core game has not gotten quite the attention it deserves. It’s fallen into the trap that has hurt other successful franchises, like Madden and NBA2K. Microtransactions, and the energy and attention fed to the areas of those games that use microtransactions, have seemingly hurt the overall product of those games, because the cores of those games have stunted.
(I’m not saying they’re wrong for doing so; the goal of any business is to maximize revenue and profit. That’s a system that works for them, obviously.)
As it is, I rarely play Out of the Park anymore. And I’m on the beta team, have been for years. But the game, more and more, feels like it’s running in motion. There isn’t much that brings me back, outside of the online league I’m in.
In a way, Basketball GM is a siren for players who can remember when the games were simpler, focused products. (I know I’m coming off like a boomer here, which makes me vomit a little inside. I’m not attacking those other games here, I swear. Please don’t read this in…I don’t know, who’s considered old by young people these days? Carson Daly? I was originally going to say Wilfred Brimley, but then I realize I’d be digging myself a bigger hole, so I won’t say Wilfred Brimley.)
Anyway, Basketball GM is something you can pick up, play while you’re feeling it, and put down when you’re done. You put nothing into it other than your own effort and creativity. What you get out of it is entirely up to you. The return on mental/emotional investment is up to you.
Of course, the return on monetary investment is infinite, unless you donate to the cause (again, ZenGold is $5/month; you don’t get anything but no ads on the site). ZenGM is anti-freemium (“freemium games always suck” is what you’ll see on Your Account page).
So, while I’ve discussed the value, let’s actually discuss what the purpose of this is: the fun return on investment. Obviously, this is going to be a niche product. It’s geared towards basketball fans. It could also be geared towards history nerds, as well as anyone who likes to do what-if dynasties. TigerFan ran a total sports replay on the OOTP Dynasty boards a long time ago (okay, he’s done several…all are amazing and well worth anyone’s time), and that drew my appeal to such ideas. I still long for the day where I can run a full universe of basketball/baseball/football (and I guess hockey, golf, etc) leagues and make it feel like it’s in its own universe (like what DreamTeams, who was my gateway drug into this community back in 1998, did with his Metros League.)
So, I say all of that to say this: BasketballGM is fun. There is the ability to create an insane amount of scenarios in this game. The game has the ability to answer essentially any what-if question you want to throw at it. It is absolutely a fun way to spend some time on an afternoon.
I will also say this, and while this is my own opinion, I believe I am not the only one who has it. This game would go from “fun way to spend some time on an afternoon” to “this is my new obsession” if coaches and/or systems were in the game.
I still play basketball competitively (yes, there are competitive and talented 35+ leagues, and I’m a good enough player that the young bucks still want me to run with them). Hell, in one of the leagues, I end up coaching adult men. (We have a really weird basketball nerd dynamic, and I built the team…so while everyone has input and does what they do, I set the defense and defensive matchups, and will do subs if I’m on the bench…hell, I even called timeout two minutes into a game to chew everyone out for not having energy and getting rebounds. They listen, oddly enough.) I have a *really* hard time connecting to a game where the appearance is that everyone is playing the same style. That absolutely does disconnect a lot of the what-if scenarios for me, because it’s an incomplete scenario. What if Jordan never had Phil Jackson? What if Steve Kerr and his offensive principles never met the Dubs? What if Mike D’antoni tried to coach the 03-04 Pistons?
That’s the stuff that’s missing. Even if it’s not coaches, different offensive/defensive sets should exist. Basketball is, at its core, a system-building game. It’s a roster-building game. In the free agency example I went through in the Gameplay/Sim Engine section, when I saw Gary Payton II, I instantly thought, “oh, that would fit my overall coaching philosophy, which relies on defensive intensity.”
But Basketball GM doesn’t approach things that way. That mitigates the identity of a GPII, or a Bruce Bowen. Offensive players aren’t impacted by this…but defensive players, and defensive-minded teams, are, in my opinion.
In the end, maybe this matters to only me. And I have Wolverine Games to scratch that itch, so this could cover another aspect of my basketball nerdom that DDSPB couldn’t. For many, this game will be more than capable of doing a good job of bringing basketball in a way that is easily digestible and engrossing.
One thing I want to mention, before I wrap this thing up (yes, finally)…make sure you check out the Frivolities page. That’s a page that every game’s history section should have. All of them. That’s probably my favorite part of any game ever.
Hell, it’s even got its only GOAT lab.
Grade: 8.5. There is plenty of fun to have here, from quick-and-easy running a season, to setting up a league where the best player from each team dies at the end of every season. As I said (at length, yes, get on with it Comey, I know), adding coaches or systems would make this a 10. Or 11, if I can do that. It’s a big disconnect from authenticity for me, which does pull me out of the universe the game constructs. However, even if you are the same as me, there is still plenty in BasketballGM to enjoy. If you set up an account, you will put time into this game. I promise you that.
Overall: ZenGM is an oldhead at heart, and he’s created an old head game that fits into today’s market. It’s a well-designed effort that should find a niche in every basketball fan’s rotation of games. It is a lovely change of pace from games like 2K, and even DDSPB/CB, where some areas (like player discipline) can get repetitive and monotonous. Repetitive doesn’t exist in this game. You can find thousands of ways to play.
While coaches and playing styles/systems can detract from the overall immersiveness of the experience, there is more than enough here to make BasketballGM a mainstay in your game library. (Or a bookmarked website.)
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