Our Review of Out of the Park Baseball 14 It's all-encompassing and comprehensive. April 17th, 2013
“It’s not too often you hang an 8 on somebody,” said Terry Ryan earlier this week. Ryan was of course referring to the 2-8 scale scouts use to determine a player’s future impact.
Well, Mr. Ryan hasn’t yet played OOTP 14.
From the beginning it’s easy to see that this is an exhaustive, almost all-inclusive simulation that will appeal to the most hardcore of baseball gamers. I’m not a firm believer in comparing games to each other, whether it’s previous incarnations of the same game or a different game altogether, so don’t expect to see comparisons to OOTP 13 or OOTP 6.5, for what it’s worth.
I mention OOTP 6.5 because I’m an old-schooler who is still playing it, and quite frankly it is hard to believe the game has come this far. Right away you’re tasked with choosing unemployment, or from 17 different leagues ranging from Rookie ball to the major leagues. Just input a name, age (no limit, so you can be your own Billy Heywood if you want!), and you’re ready to go.
In fact, the menus could be a bit daunting for a newbie, which certainly can make ‘cannot be fired’ mode a preferable option until one finds themselves up-to-speed with the game.
From the main screen, click on your name and an utter cavalcade of options come up, as you navigate through your personal email, player and staffing shortlists, and an edit screen where you can -- at this risk of sacrilege -- play God and act as a manager of any other team (as long as you’re in commissioner mode). Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but it’s all-encompassing and comprehensive.
Roll over to opening day, and the rosters are almost perfect. The Twins, for instance, come preloaded with injuries to Tim Wood, Scott Diamond, and Anthony Swarzak. All three players started the season on the DL. In fact, if it weren't for Eric Farris, Anthony Slama and Chris Herrmann, OOTP would have nailed the Twins opening day 25-man roster.
And honestly, it’s pretty difficult to expect perfection in this regard. Another incredible similarity is a game-listed payroll of $81,650,000. The Twins opening day payroll, via Baseball Prospectus, was $82,010,000. That is downright amazing. So too is the finances page, which lists the owner’s name, age, patience, and fiscal personality. For instance, Twins owner Jim Pohlad is listed as patient, and a penny-pincher. That seems to fit what the public feels about him.
All of this is customizable, too. If you prefer a less realistic experience, you can change the budget with which you’re afforded, your owners name, and even your home ballpark (complete with park factors!). Another neat function is that you can see player ratings based on your scout -- in the Twins case, real-life scouting director Deron Johnson -- or OSA, which is the OOTP Scouting Association. Like real-life, it is interesting to see how two different sides look at a player.
But now it’s time to hit the play button.
Single games can be simulated, or played through by using command keys to dictate how you want to work your strategy. This includes pitching around a guy, pitching to contact, hitting the batter intentionally, and pretty much anything else you can think of. And if you get tired of going batter by batter, you can skip to specific innings with one simple click. At the end of the game, you can even write a postgame recap if you have any sportswriter tendencies (which shows up in your email the next day, with all kinds of news and computer-generated press releases).
This isn’t a game for someone who wants to blow through it quickly, however. Indeed, one can simulate a day, week, month, or year at a time, but the game will frequently update the player on injury updates, such as activating a pitcher from the DL in Double-A, or something of the like. It could almost come across as annoying to someone trying to simulate to a specific day, like 5/7 when the draft list is published, or 7/1 when the international free agency period begins. In fact, in the first month I played, I had 15 players go on the DL in my organization, and had something like 10 or 12 email interruptions. Again, details details details!
In terms of in-game stuff, almost nothing seems off. The first trade proposal was from the Mariners, and featured Dustin Ackley for Byron Buxton and an organizational arm. Not a trade which would happen in real life, but a much more realistic jumping off point than I’ve seen in many other simulations (such as Scott Baker for Stephen Strasburg). The second was an odd one, as the A’s offered Hiroyuki Nakajima -- in the midst of a 56 OPS+ season -- for closer Glen Perkins (95 ERA+ at the time) and Buxton (108 OPS+ at Cedar Rapids, but a top prospect). The toughest part of determining the realism to me when it comes to trade offers is that nobody really knows what those look like in real life. Obviously they aren’t sent as jokes, and that last one sort of comes across that way, but all-told one weird trade offer doesn’t take away from the overall gaming experience for me.
OOTP14 In Game View
The draft is a tremendously detailed part of the game, diving into slot bonus baselines -- to make sure you don’t spend too much on your top picks -- as well the ability to negotiate bonuses, with compensation picks coming in for unsigned players just like in the big leagues. The international signing period -- like how the Twins signed Miguel Sano -- also has a cash cap in place, like real life, to keep you from overspending. If you do that, you will be penalized, ranging from less money available to fewer contracts you can offer.
Welcome to Draft Day
In essence, one would do well to bone up on the rule book before cracking open the game!
The rest of the game experience is as you’d expect. All-encompassing from the beginning, to the midsummer classic, to expanded rosters, to the postseason. And then it all starts again.
Good luck putting this one down.
*The customization up front (name, birth date, modes [commish mode, gm only, can’t be fired, start w/ team or unemployed])
*17 different leagues (4 Rookie Leagues, 2 short season A, 5 High-A, 3 AA, 2 AAA, ML)
*Velocity readings on individual pitches.
*The statistical interface is pretty much all-encompassing.
*The email system (scouting reports, news, and more)
*The financial system (complete with international spending limits, etc.)
* Intricacies (owners can pass away, international scouting and leagues, an incredible number of statistics including WAR, wOBA, and OPS+)
*Menus do run a *little* on the slow side.
*The interfacing is a little overwhelming/complicated.
* Trade proposals can -- at times -- be a little weird.
Overall, there's almost a cautionary tale to be had here: Buy it, you'll like it. But you might like it too much.
The game is whatever you make it. Literally. It can be as detailed or as simple as you wish, and if it's on your laptop, it can go with you wherever. That's incredible.
Customization It quite literally deserves an 11 here. There's almost nothing one couldn't change on this game if they felt like it.
Bradley Woodrum of Fangraphs said it best: "The game keeps itself fresh, constantly. Loved ones will be neglected."
Online The only drawback here might be finding enough people that are as into the game as you. Also, 40-man rosters and Rule-5 stuff can be extremely difficult to keep up with among mixed company. None of this is the game's fault, though.
Presentation The only thing that has to happen is to find a way to make the menus less busy, or maybe searchable. Still, after a short learning curve it gets easier. And harder, that is, to put the game down. Also: Online updates. Keep an eye out for them.
I know some of you are old enough to remember baseball in the 70's -
The Big Red Machine - With Rose, Bench and Morgan, The swinging A's who dominated the AL in 71,72, 73, 74 with Bando, Campenaris, Rudi and REGGIE. How about the Orioles who went back to back World Series apperances in 69 and 70 with Robinson Brooks and Frank) an Boog Powell
How about Nolan Ryan and his no-hitters. The Pirates with Stargell, Clemente, Sanguillen and the Giants with Mays, McCovey, Marichal and Bobby Bonds
Now some of you are younger and may not have seen these guys play but it was one of the greatest periods in baseball history (IMHO)
The sad thing about running a "historic" league is that you already know what the player has done IRL and the aggravation grows when you run these leagues and players do not perform as they did in real life. This is where RBL comes in. I have no desire to try and be "historically accurate" I am proposing a "What If" -
We can throw records and facts out the window and play with a new sense of "Historic" remaking. Who says that Pete Rose has to get 3000+ hits - Maybe he has a terrible career and Minnie Miniso actually ends up being a hall of famer. That is the fun part I am trying to propose to interested parties....
You manage these stars (draft the future) and you decide what happens - Sound interesting - Sign up.
In February of 2012, NOBA had one of the most fascinating inaugural seasons in OOTP 12. NOBA offered a fast paced five sim a week league that is realistic, competitively balanced, and immersed in transactions and activity. NOBA experienced simulation experiences that captivated GMs in and outside of the league. The wait list was long, the competition was fierce, the fingernails were chewed.
In 2013, the NOBA commissioner unexpectedly left the league leaving it to run without any direction or supervision. After lengthy conversations and requests for a capable commissioner, NOBA suffered the first ever OOTP online league lockout. GMs put their heads together in an attempt to rediscover the lore and greatness of NOBA and to find “that guy” to take it to the next level of online leagues. Insert Joe Colosimo.
Joe, an original NOBA GM, took over a once highly regarded league and reinvented NOBA, introducing OOTP online leaguers to NOBA 2.0. Along with Tony Cepparulo, Joe and the other managers recaptured the original NOBA greatness and then blazed a trail to uncharted territory in online leagues. With a diligent application process, a steady eye on transactions and activity, a constantly yammering group chat on AIM, and constant communication NOBA 2.0 has once again reached the upper echelon of OOTP online leagues.
Our general managers are a colorful mix of sarcasm, savvy, dazzling wit, creative trading, and constant out of the box thinking. This blend of gentleman is what keeps NOBA on the forefront of OOTP. They appreciate the thrill of savoring every moment of the league. Need assistance regarding the game? Fire off your question and wait for multiple answers from all angles. When Joe declares “sim time” on the group chat page on AIM you can almost hear the GM’s bounce with giddy anticipation. They respect the agony of going 2-5 and relish their victories with each sim. In NOBA, you earn the right to gleefully mock those you beat, and eat multiple slices of humble pie when your “The Trade of all Trades” goes awry. NOBA is all knowing.
Currently we are in the midst of the 2016 season where the standings reflect that only a few are out of the running. To give you an idea about the competitive balance in the league, the past four World Series Champions have been the San Diego Padres, Kansas City Royals, San Francisco Giants, and Los Angeles Angels. We are in the final phase of having a brand new glistening web site where the functions are limitless. Want to post a column about how your team is flat out awesome? The forum is there for you to post away...and be replied to. NOBA is bowing up and the time to get in is now. There are a few open spots that will be filled shortly and the teams available are the defensive minded Tampa Bay Rays, prospect loaded Houston Astros, prospect loaded Toronto Blue Jays, and the rebuilding Oakland A’s.
It takes more than just a rapid simulation schedule though to thrive. What makes NOBA so special? Take a look for yourself
• Brand new website with chat room capabilities
• AIM Chat room where GM’s talk trade and trash
• Steady communication about what’s going on and coming up within NOBA
• All-Star and HOF voting
• A commissioner who is available, active, and adapts to what the league needs
• Complete GM Freedom. Flourish by YOUR abilities, struggle by YOUR mistakes.
• GM’s who will help a novice OOTP onliner get accustomed to how the league works.
• GM’s who will be active and offer assistance
• 90% export rate for each sim...that equates to constant activity
NOBA is the league for those who want to go head on into a challenge with a smile on their face. It’s fun when you’re in first place. It’s frustrating when your small market owner wont open up his wallet in January. It’s hair-pullingly infuriating when teams over pay for a player “because they can”. It’s painfully glorious when you come out of nowhere to earn the Wild Card in September, only to lose in the LCS. NOBA has everything for every GM. I’d tell you more but I have to get back to my team..the Yankees just outbid me on a 38 year old watermelon tossing free agent pitcher because they knew I needed one for my playoff push..damn you Evil Empire.
“National Online Baseball Association (NOBA) is a league that delivers fast results. At five sims per week, each progressing seven days, you’ll quickly discover how well or adverse your decisions have fared. Commissioner Joe Colosimo regularly communicates important in-game events, he is always available to listen to GMs’ concerns, and is continuously looking toward improving the league. In all of the leagues that I’ve been a part of, I highly recommend joining NOBA.” Kuruna (Padres GM)
"NOBA was the first online league I joined. All the GM's were very accepting and patient with my being a novice at this. Joe, the commissioner, was patient and very helpful in getting me up to speed. Now that I have a full season under my belt, I could not imagine being in a better or more enjoyable league. The GM's are entertaining, helpful, energetic, and most importantly quite active.The sims are fast paced, timely, and the commissioner does a great job of communicating all things NOBA to the league. No way I'm giving up my chair at this round table anytime soon." JJ Parker
OOTP online league rookie.
Lords of the Realm Series CONSTITUTION:
The Lords of the Realm Series was established to create a challenging and fun baseball league experience for using the OOTP 13 baseball simulation game. The fundamental premise behind this series is that to be successful the player (acting as the GM) must operate his/her franchise as a successful business (e.g. consistently turn a profit) while at the same time producing winning results on the field. The Lords of the Realm Series will be a severe test by creating strict limits financially under which a successful GM must field and maintain a highly competitive squad. The competition will be from other equally talented GMs. Each league in the Lords of the Realm Series may operate under slightly different baseball worlds, but the requirement to bring success to the field while maintaining a viable business will be constant.
The Baseball Association League is built off the historical start to professional baseball. In the latter part of the 19th century, the National Association, National League, and American Association all started operations. The premise here is that the 16 teams that started out (no more than 1 team per city) and became professional baseball.
The Baseball Association League is the first of the Lords of the realm series and is set up to be a challenging and fun league at the GM level. While you can manage yourself, the league is set up to compete at the GM level. The league will have 16 teams, 8 teams will make the playoffs each season. No expansion is planned. Each GM will control what type of scout you want, hire the manager to get the most out of his team, hire coaches, determine scouting and player development strategies for the organization, and make player moves. The league will use the historical/fictional managers developed by Robert McGraw. These managers have the strategy settings pre-set. Thus you will want to hire a manager that fits the style of player you envision for the franchise. Individual managing/overriding the manager settings is allowed but not recommended. Squad, lineup and pitching settings are still done by the GM. The financial parameters each GM will have to manage will be very tight. To consistently succeed you must be better than your peers at both on and off field performance (e.g. win titles and make profits).
The league uses historical teams at the start of baseball, with fictional players and a set of historical players. The historical players used had to be in the majors for at least 4 years (no cup of coffee guys). Historical players will always start at 18 years of age (e.g. using the Spritze HS database). The historical players will come in at a rate of about 25% to the fictional players. Historical players arrive randomly.
January 25, 2013 - Out of the Park Developments has announced that Out of the Park Baseball 14 will be released in early April, and can be pre-ordered now. A pre-order before February 15th will save $5. Starting February 16th the price becomes the regular $39.99, but you still get the game 3 days early on a pre-order.
2013 roster set, which features up-to-date Opening Day rosters for all major league teams but also thousands of individually-rated players for all minor leagues and hundreds of players from the 2013 first-year player draft class. Major league player ratings are officially based on Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projection system.
Completely Recoded Player Origin System
Completely recoded player origin to make your league's development much more realistic. There are now 5 different ways new players enter the league, and each one can be customized for the number of created players and their nationalities:
The First-Year Player Draft: By default, players in the draft pool are now from the USA, Canada or Puerto Rico. However, the nationality can be tweaked in great detail and can also include a set percentage of random nationalities. That also applies to the following optional player entry methods.
International Amateur Top Prospects (optional): These players are typically 16-to-17-years-old who have a reputation of being top talents. They appear as free agents in a new special international section of the league transaction screen and most likely will demand contracts with high signing bonuses (another new feature). You can customize the number of these players who will be created each year.
Established International Free Agents (optional): These players are typically from Japan, South Korea, Cuba, Taiwan and Mexico and are between 22 and 32 years old. They typically have slightly below average major league talent, but there will be the occasional star player, like Yu Darvish, Ichiro, or Aroldis Chapman.
International Scouting Discoveries (optional): Your team's scouts constantly evaluate the international leagues as they seek young, raw, and unknown talent. The success of your head scout is determined by the scouting budget, the quality of your scout, and his assigned regions. When your head scout discovers a player who he feels may have a shot at becoming a pro, that player is automatically assigned to your team's new international complex. Players in the international complex may remain there until their 20th birthdays, after which they will have to be assigned to a minor league team or released.
Players from Independent Leagues (optional): You may also have your head scout look for talent in hidden independent leagues. These players are typically from the league home nation, but once in a while an international talent may be discovered here too. Independent league players are typically in their early-to-mid-20s and usually only have an outside shot at becoming borderline major league players. However, there may be the occasional feel-good success story.
Recoded Player Creation Algorithms
Recoded OOTP's complex player creation routines. This ensures more stable long-term simulations and more realistic player careers and stats output.
New Fielding Ratings Development System
In real life, young players usually start out playing positions that demand a certain grade of athleticism. However, as players mature, they often grow out of these so-called skill positions (such as shortstop, catcher, or center field) and have to shift to the right side of the defensive spectrum. This is now properly modeled in the OOTP player development engine. For example, if you draft that talented 18-year-old 6'3" 175 lb shortstop, you may end up with a below-average 230 lb corner outfielder eventually.
Recoded Scouting System
Recoded the way OOTP evaluates players, both for the OOTP Scouting Agency ("OSA") and your head scout. For example, players with several years of pro experience are now better scouted than in previous versions, and the OSA is more accurate overall, providing a valid second opinion on players. There are also players who are vastly overrated or underrated by almost all scouts, resulting in more late-round surprises.
Better Player Development Tracking
OOTP now properly tracks the development of your players and offers several ways to analyze the data. You receive monthly player development updates from your head scout (or the OSA, if scouts are disabled), who highlights the most important changes, such as when a pitcher in the lower minor leagues learns a new pitch and improves his prospect status.
Expanded Real-Time Simulation Experience
Adding an expanded view on a single game that is currently in progress. This new view shows you the most important facts of the selected game, like the current batter-pitcher matchup, past plays, basic box scores, win probability, and so forth.
Added a screen that keeps track of all the trades in the history of the league, with a detailed look at the involved players' salaries, overall ratings, prospect rankings, and so forth. OOTP 14 also adds a "Not interested in Player X" function that prevents the AI from repeatedly offering a certain player to you.
On top of these headline features, we are tweaking and improving other areas of the game too, such as:
- Improved interface
- Better player evaluation AI
- Roster AI recoding, resulting in better managing of minor leagues and the 40-man roster
- Better contract negotiation AI
- Improved depth charts and pitching staff control, i.e. list your preferred pinch-hitters, pinch-runners and "LOOGY"-Pitcher.
- New graphical depth chart screen
-Improved league strategy settings; i.e., define the number of starting pitchers, relief pitchers, and position players carried by the AI teams, split by DH and non-DH sub-leagues.
- Smarter in-game AI
- Improved in-game control, including "Pitch to Contact" option and better stealing control in one-pitch mode
- Much more storylines
- Improved play-by-play commentary
- One-click joining of online leagues
- New playoff series analysis screen
GM Games will be following the release of OOTP14 very closely. Brandon Warne, our lead Baseball writer is eager to bring you his take.
Our Review of PureSim5 Baseball Definitely one of the Better Baseball Sims on the Market. November 16th, 2012
It may be November, but if you’re anything like me, baseball is never far from your mind. And while console games like MLB The Show, and for many of you, the old MVP series, there are a great many players who are looking for something to fill more of the fantasy void. As a fantasy owner of eight teams, I feel your pain.
Insert PureSim5, a baseball simulation modeled after the OOTP series that most people are aware of. If you’re not an OOTP fiend like I am, here’s the link to one of my leagues: www.netsportssimm.com. From there, you can get a feel for what simulation leagues look like. I’m in two of these -- unfortunately, the archaic OOTP 6.5, which is fun but can’t hold a candle to the newer versions -- and basically the gist of it is that you start a league in whatever season you want, and progress from there. As you can see, we are in the midst of the 2042 offseason. I’m the Minnesota Twins, and am trying to spend additional money because the way finances work in the game dictates that I can’t pocket any more ‘cash’. Sounds weird to associate that with the Twins, but it’s where I’m at.
Actually, we did the exact same league and it crashed about 40-45 years in -- essentially where we’re at now -- so that tells you a. how long we’ve kept these two leagues together and b. that I’ve essentially played about 150-200 sim seasons (including defunct leagues). Indeed, I’ve been around the block a time or two on sim games.
So let’s get down to the nitty gritty on PureSim5. At the open screen, you get five choices and ‘quit’. You can do the following: New Game, Load Game, Quick Load, Mod Files, and Options. Most of those are self-explanatory, though I think Mod Files may be an exception. The Mod Files are where you can download things such as MLB faces, logos, and ballparks, as well as fictional team logos, All-Time logos, and background images. All of these serve to make the gameplay more customizable, and most of them are inherent to previous versions of PureSim. To get a feel for the game, I’ve downloaded the face pack. Adding packs to the game is relatively simple; all you do is download it and the game will add it automatically. I recommend restarting the game to make sure the update takes, but it doesn’t appear to be necessary.
One thing I noticed while tooling around the game is the discrepancy between the good players and the bad ones. The good players have consistently good rankings; free agents and poor players do not. And while this might be a Captain Obvious statement, part of me wondered if the gorge between the two is a bit too sizable. Like Madden in previous years, it serves to truly differentiate the haves from the have nots -- because let’s face it, three years ago nobody was chasing down Devin Hester from behind -- and that’s probably for the best since these players are free agents for a reason.
PureSim5 Player Cards
Opening a new game brings you a nice handful of options. You can start a game in PureSim classic mode, PureSim classic quick stars (you choose the number of teams, divisions, etc.), Major League Career (choose your year and format), Major League Career Tru-Transaction mode (you manage, GM makes moves as they occurred in real life), and Sandbox mode (any season 1900-present, with real players if you wish). Finally, you can choose your ratings format: 1-100, the 20-80 scouting scale, a number of 1-xx formats, and finally, no scoring whatsoever. The last option is how you want finances, market sizing, and free agency to work. You can be the equalizer with all markets the same size, or you can have it just like it is.
For the intents of my review, I’ll be the Minnesota Twins -- team I’m most familiar with -- and will sim through the entire 2011 season to keep it fresh and timely. Unfortunately, a 2012 option doesn’t appear to be available yet. So we have normal market sizes, free agency, and all that goes with what I feel should be an accurate replication of the 2011 baseball season. Let’s see if I can prevent the Twins from losing 99 games again!
Right from the get-go you choose your file name for a save; this is nothing revolutionary, you just have to make sure you can remember it. Then you select your team and change them off CPU. Then comes even further customization for your ‘association’ -- your league, in essence -- such as choosing size of rosters from 35-60 -- I’m using 40 like in real life -- as well as making expansion possible, allowing ratings to change in-season, and a handful of others. Here are the ones I enabled:
Injuries Can Occur
Player Ratings Can Change In-Season
Allow Computer AI Trades
Use Player Photos
Import Players Prior to their MLB Debut
I also selected a strict fatigue/durability model -- as opposed to age-based -- as well as DH in the AL, five-man rotations and closers on a pitching staff, and importing players’ historical stats. Finally, I selected TRU-life for the player development engine; essentially this models what players did in that real time frame, with potential adjustments due to natural variation and the like.
Random thought at this point: Wow. This game is very thorough on the front end. The final piece before starting the game is to import the major league players from the season that you’ve chosen. So far, the setup for a game might turn off people looking for a more basic interface, but if one can get past the intro, there are clearly options for players looking for all different playing experiences. Additionally, you can update some, not all of the options as your season goes along, so don’t fret making too many hasty decisions when starting up the game.
Spring training is the first activity that awaits prospective players, and it’s basically just a simulation of the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues that we’ve grown to love as baseball fans. I’ve never really known anyone to enjoy these parts of games anyway, so I don’t think simulating through the spring is much of detraction. Before opening the season, PSPN -- clever, huh? -- posts its preseason power rankings -- Twins 22nd -- and an annual “most feared hitters” list. It’s a pretty cool feature, even if I don’t agree with the methodology (batting average and home runs? yuck). There’s also a “frugal or fancy free” feature that profiles team payroll. Again, cool feature, but not exactly necessary. Onto the season! We’ll be using the real 2011 schedule.
At the season opening screen, you can do a number of things. You can edit your association notes -- essentially a notepad -- as well as check season stats on an ESPN-like interface. It’s pretty cool, to be honest.
ESPN..err we mean PSPN Coverage!
Let’s have a peek at the roster and front office options. From the front office you can edit a lot of things -- keep in mind, I’m on commissioner mode -- such as GM and manager tendencies, as well as managing every single part of your roster. It’s really an in-depth, well done aspect of the game.
For this review, I’m going to try to improve the Twins club from within, using the best 25 men at my discretion to try keep the Twins from repeating their worst season in club history. Just for fun, I tried out the trade interface, and the Angels offered Tyler Chatwood for Danny Valencia. That seems like a pretty good offer, and leads me to trust the engine behind this game pretty well. Similarly, hitting ‘shop player’ will suggest a handful of players that other teams are willing to offer you. At this point, I have to tip my cap to whomever programmed the game engine, as this is well done.
Before I start the first game, I survey my front page with lineups and so on. The ‘Ask a Scout’ feature is pretty cool, where you can consult your local ‘scout’ on how he sees fit to update your team.
In the interest of brevity -- you’re clearly laughing at this 1400 words in -- I’m just going to start with the rosters as-is. Strangely, player stats for 2011 -- such as Joe Benson’s cup of coffee -- are in the game. For me, that makes 2011 rosters a bit strange.
Options for each individual game, as well as yours, are QuickSim and PSPNCast, which is similar to GameCast on ESPN. On your own game, you can also manage, which is the third option. I’ll manage game one before I sim for a bit. Game one features Carl Pavano and Ricky Romero, and before the game you get the option to alter your pitcher and batting lineup, as well as weather conditions and a few ‘quick facts’ before heading into the game interface.
The home page lists your lineup, the defensive players on the field presently, and some stat interfaces as well as a list of roster options available to you -- pinch hitters and relievers, essentially. Every time you strike ‘enter’ the game progresses one more step. You have the option to hit the B key (bunt), L key (lineup), 2 key (to steal second or third with 3 button, based on your base running situation), H key for hit and run, and much more. It’s really in-depth.
In the first inning, Alexi Casilla reached via a single, Delmon Young was hit by a pitch, and Jim Thome singled to center. I’m given the option to run on Corey Patterson (84 arm) with Casilla (71 speed). I went aggressive and scored, but this is a pretty cool option. So far, I’m really digging this game, and we’re just a few hitters in, even though the batting lineup with Joe Mauer hitting seventh and Jim Thome playing third is, shall we say, a bit odd.
Now, with Pavano on the mound and a runner on, I have the option to check the lineup, walk a guy intentionally, pitch around him, change my infield and outfield positioning, and do a pitchout or a pickoff move. Again, very thorough, as the Blue Jays score a pair of runs to make it 2-1. Now I’m not going to bore you with how the game turned out, so I’ve auto completed to the end of the game. Final score: Minnesota 4, Toronto 3 in 12 innings. Glen Perkins got the win, so for the fun of it, I checked his ratings. 85 stuff, 79 control, and 70 velocity. The 52 endurance is a bit high, perhaps mixing his starting days with his closer days into making him a possible rotation candidate, but even games like MLB The Show goof this sort of thing. I can’t complain too much.
I’ve opted to simulate through April at this point. The game pauses to give you options, such as pausing to see new issues of the PSPN magazine, and to let you know if there are injuries or trades proposed. On the left side of the screen is an overlay updating you on statistical leaders, such as Jered Weaver with the most wins, Fausto Carmona with the most walks, and even some team stats, such as Denard Span with a .372 OBP. This really helps the game have a good MLB feel to it.
At the end of April, the Twins are 13-16. Not good, but fortunately only a game-and-a-half out of first place. So basically, bad Twins and a bad division, just like 2011. Another pause the game makes is for scouts to evaluate talent periodically each month, which is a pretty cool feature. Oddly, simulating a month stopped at June 3, so I’m thinking it goes month-to-date rather than calendar month. No matter, as the Twins enter June in first place 30-27, with a three-and-a-half game lead on Detroit.
Now, we’ll move onto the All Star break, which takes us through July 10. Hold up; the Nationals are interested in trading for Scott Baker on June 21. Let’s take a look, shall we? The Nationals gave a list of one-for-one trades they would make. This list includes Tom Gorzelanny, Wilson Ramos, and.....Stephen Strasburg? Well, I’d be a fool to pass that up, but I think it’s a negative strike against the game engine, as this would never happen. In fact, up until the break, I got offers on every single major player on the Twins roster -- I didn’t take or even look at any of them -- as well as guys like Ben Revere and Trevor Plouffe. I like to envision this as how Terry Ryan’s phone might ring, but if the deals were anything like Baker-for-Strasburg, then you could probably assemble an All Star team in no time.
Fast forward to July, and from what I gather, there is no All Star game, just an All Star Break. Not a huge mark against the game, but an oddity to be sure. The stats at the break seem pretty reasonable, with the exception of Joe Mauer hitting .252/.333/.319 with just 3 home runs. What’s pretty cool is the game calculated his WAR (-0.1), wOBA (.300), and that he’d thrown out 49 percent of all attempted base thieves. As a huge sabermetrics geek -- I work for Fangraphs after all -- these are wonderful additions to the game engine.
Now we’ll simulate through August 31 to have a peek at the roster expansion options. On the way as we approach the trade deadline, plenty of deals proposed make sense, such as Span to Tampa Bay and Morneau to Toronto. I like to see a trade engine in games that can at least be somewhat realistic -- Strasburg notwithstanding. A quick peek-in during late July shows the team under .500 at 52-54 and still leading the Central. Yikes. It also showed 14 complete games for Cliff Lee in Philadelphia, which seems a bit high.
On September 1, a note pops up alerting the GM to make his call-ups to get to a 40-man roster, which I just auto’d. At a 40-man roster, you’ll obviously have to move some guys around to get them work, but it’s extremely realistic. On September 28th, the Twins clinched the division with a 78-83 record, and it led to a matchup with Boston in the ALDS. Obviously, after September you have to send players back down for a 25-man playoff roster. With little surprise, the Red Sox dispatched the Twins in three games. In game seven of the World Series, Roy Halladay outdueled Ervin Santana, and the Phillies won the World Series.
PSPN gives awards at the end of the season in a pretty cool format, and there are plenty of awards, such as Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, and a handful of others. Afterwards, when you head to the offseason, a prompt comes up with a score out of 1,000. For instance, my Twins score was 635, and three straight years under 500 will result in a GM being dismissed, which is a cool, if simple element of realism. After a pre-offseason evaluation of talent, we’re ready to start the offseason, which I’ll attempt to abbreviate to keep you reading.
After retirement, ranking of players, updating the almanac, listing individual and team records broken in-season, and talent evaluation, we’re ready to begin the offseason. The draft picks aren’t totally listed in a way that’s easy to find players, but the menus sort quite easily, based on talents and bonus demands. After the draft is completed, free agency starts, and the list pretty much accurately resembles last offseason’s list, with players like David Ortiz, and Jamey Carroll, but also some oddities like Alex Rodriguez. All in all, most things make sense, with the exception of Kevin Kouzmanoff asking for $3-plus million per season. And now, we’re back to the beginning.
All told, this is a fun game as long as you aren’t 100 percent committed to reality and realism. I’d definitely recommend it as a sim if you’re looking for something to supplement OOTP or something of the like.
November 3rd, 2012 - I'm a virtual virtual sports community lifer.
While I was unaware of the vast world of mail leagues (that's antiquated, your-grandpas-snail-mail mail leagues, where you rolled dice to see who got a hit, not hit a button), I became quite in tune with the world of online sim gaming. My first taste, which happened to be the only online league run by OOTP dynasty legend DreamTeams, came in December of 1998. I was a freshman at Bloomsburg University, and being a freshman that spent the majority of my time at the Rec Center and not at the frat houses, I had a lot of evenings to kill. Finding the MLEB (Major League Electronic Baseball) filled a creative void. I took over the league a year later, and then merged with another league, moving to High Heat as the base, in 2000. That league, the eMLB, still runs today. It is one of the longest-running leagues around, with a core of guys comprised of those two leagues from fifteen years ago.
Throughout the years, that core group has engaged in several ventures together, including a couple I have been fortunate to run. One, the American Baseball League, was a bit ahead of its time; it had a history played out before we took over. The owners helped shape the course of events, adding in players they had enjoyed watching throughout their own solo leagues. It was a very simplistic, very successful league, predicated on the axiom that immersion draws people in. It is a virtue by which the most successful leagues operate; if you don't have a fourth wall, you're going to soon realize that you're just playing a computer game.
Other concepts have had various degrees of success. However, one idea had long been on my mind.
The daily league.
In 2001, while suffering from summer classes and pneumonia, I began to piece together the idea of running a complete sports world, along with an ESPN-esque site, to keep everything together. Eleven years later, that idea is closer to fruition...though it is still a long ways away (having a pro and college football sim combo would go a long way towards alleviating that problem, to any developers reading this).
However, I have been fortunate enough to encounter, join, and immerse myself in one league that is achieveing such an endeavor. That league is MLBPro.
The league, formed in June, has embraced the day-by-day model. It has a very dedicated core of owners who participate daily; some write articles about their team. There is a chat room on the website (shill alert: http://www.mlbpro.net) that is generally always busy. There are nightly live sims using OOTP's tidy Live Sim feature. There is a podcast or two, run by yours truly, as often as possible.
Rivalries are formed. Bonds are made. Competition is fierce.
The beauty of this kind of league is that you can basically select your level of participation. If you want to micro-manage your team in every facet, and utilize the seven-day lineups, as well as check the waiver wire and your minors every single day, well...that's how I run my group of gritty Phillies. If you wish to be more laissez-faire in your approach, well, you can check in every few days. There's a mix of both in MLBPro; however, there is no shortage of participation. The league is operating at 85% league participation (in this case, that means multiple exporting each week); this will grow shortly, as the inevitable new blood enters the league to replace those who discover this format isn't for them.
To that end, I recommend trying any format you think you may be even remotely interested in; you never know what may click for you. Some like the pace fast, and seeing their plans come to a quick resolution. Others prefer building the story. I'm generally in the latter camp, but it took me awhile to understand that.
If you are someone that loves talking trade, well...I can assure you...this league is for you. I have never witnessed a trading deadline like this one. It honestly felt like what I imagined the real deadline to be. I turned three deals myself, moving Cliff Lee for several players, while securing a couple of smaller deals in the process. I'm still processing all of the news from that day for a column this weekend.
Anyway, while this, my introductory column here at GMgames, has somewhat devolved into a shill for the league in which I play, there are two bigger points to make:
1) We are heading towards the day when our gaming environment can mirror the current news environment. The day of a collection of guys getting together, each taking a sport, and creating a universe in which all of the sports exist on the same plane, and people operate under that working premise, is coming. And it's coming sooner than you think. For those of you who have had a chance to read Tiger Fan's breathtaking multi-sport dynasties at FOFC or the OOTP forums, you know just how incredible such a concept can be, when done right (and that's the underlying point...if you're going to do a project, any project, you can't do it halfway).
2) If you are new to the community, and we are currently in the ebb-and-flow of seeing more new blood enter the atmosphere than in the past, play around with many different formats, before deciding what is your wheelhouse. You may surprise yourself.
And, while you're deciding, stop by MLBPro, and say hello. You may decide to stay awhile.
You'll love our latest roster set, which features not only up-to-date Opening Day rosters for all major league teams but also thousands of individually-rated players for all minor leagues. Can Yu Darvish propel Texas to the top of their division, or will Albert Pujols give Los Angeles the pop they need to win that race in the AL West?
And that's not all. We're also current with the rule changes introduced by the new major league labor agreement, including:
New rules for free agency, draft pick compensation, salary arbitration, and the amateur (Rule 4) draft
Houston's move to the AL West at the beginning of the 2013 season, with the corresponding schedule adjustment
A second wild card team in each major league, starting with the 2013 playoffs
Real-Time Simulation Mode
Here's a great way to feel like a big league general manager: turn on the new Real-Time Simulation Mode. While you browse stats, plan roster moves, look for available free agents, and so forth, OOTP simulates the current day in the background at the speed you choose, complete with a scores and highlights ticker at the bottom of the screen.
The league scores screen lets you follow all the games in progress, so if something exciting is happening, you can jump in and watch or take the reins of your team (or any team, if you're in commissioner mode). The game's stats update in real-time too, so if one of your pitchers just threw a no-hitter, you'll see that reflected in his profile, and the news screen will highlight his accomplishment. League standings and statistical leader rankings also automatically update as games conclude.
After the day's games finish, you can advance to the next day, or you can tell OOTP to play out all the contests in real-time for a preset number of days.
OOTP 13 takes the storylines introduced by OOTP 12 to the next level with a layer of interactivity that brings you even closer to the general manager's office.
Here's an example: Your team is mired in a bad slump, and your star player takes his grievances to the media. Do you fine him to set an example, with the possibility he could become even more upset and see his morale decline? Do you ignore the incident and risk losing the respect of other team members? Do you take the drastic step of labeling the player a cancer and releasing him or arranging a hasty trade?
The decisions you make influence the way storylines develop. No two are ever alike, and they have wide-ranging effects on injuries, fan interest, team chemistry, player morale, player ratings, player potential, owner attitudes, and much more.
This system is optional, so you can turn it off if you want. We imagine there are many big league managers who would love to do that in real life.
League Associations and Expanded Playoff Modes
The game now supports associations with multiple leagues. Associated leagues may share certain rules, free agents, and/or draft pools. Once all seasons are completed in the associated leagues, the winners may meet in extra playoffs, determining the ultimate champion of your OOTP game.
League playoffs in OOTP 13 also offer more custom options, including, for example, first-round byes. Now you can run your league playoffs any way you want.
We have completely overhauled OOTP's interface, creating the best-looking and easiest to use OOTP experience to date.
OOTP 13 introduces a number of new or completely recoded screens, including:
A redesigned manager home screen with a new task manager that keeps track of when you last visited certain sections of the game and alerts you to tasks that need your attention.
A new in-game screen that merges the widget screen with the broadcast screen and automatically utilizes the available screen space in an optimal way.
Completely new team and league home screens.
A new minor league system overview screen as part of the team screen.
A redesigned player profile screen.
A new global home screen that lists the most important information about each league in your currently loaded game.
A new league association screen.
An improved league schedule screen that adds a section which lists the next 7 days of action.
An improved league standings screen.
A new centralized online league screen.
Improved league setup screens.
On top of the new and redesigned screens, we have changed the way HTML reports behave inside the game. In OOTP 13, these reports and pages look like normal game screens and links to teams or players act like normal game buttons, eliminating possible confusion.
The menu system has also been improved, providing a cleaner look at the available options presented by a menu. Among many more small but useful changes, we have moved the toolbar to the right of the screen so it can be hidden or shown with a single click of a button.
Improved Online League Play
Creating, commissioning, and playing an online league is easier than ever before in OOTP 13.
This year we streamlined the OOTP Online League functionality, as well as the entire online league experience in general. We added one central place for online league features - it displays all available options and actions for commissioners and managers alike.
Core Engine Improvements
Each year we improve or expand the game's core functionality, and this year is no exception.
OOTP 13 features the following improvements:
Recoded trade AI engine, resulting in the most competitive computer GM ever in OOTP
Improved pitcher creation & development. OOTP 13 creates fewer pure relievers for the draft. More pitchers are generated with the potential to become starters. Not all pitchers will capitalize on their potential, though; failure to develop an off-speed pitch or build stamina may necessitate a move to the pen.
Improved roster AI in general
Improved in-game AI
Improved play-by-play and league news
Improved simulation speed
Improved historical simulation accuracy
Improved ballpark import/export, including background pictures and proper ball coordinates
June 20, 2011 - OOTP Developments have confirmed the latest release of Out of the Park Baseball Version 12 for their customer pre-orders.
This has been confirmed by Brad Cook, head of PR for OOTP Dev on their Twitter.
@ootpbaseball OOTP Baseball - Emails with download links have gone out to pre-order customers! Everyone else will be able to buy in two days. Thanks! #OOTP 12. #mlb
And by designer Markus Heinsohn on the Out of the Park Development 12 Forum.
GM Games will be reviewing OOTP12 inside and out but here is a sample preview that has been created by OOTP Developments and any opinionative commentary belew does not represent GMGames.org.
Lineup Improvements in OOTP 12
PC Gamer called OOTP 11 "a no-doubt, walk-off home run no-brainer to become a part of your game collection," and OOTP 12 is no different. Our All-Star lineup of features gets better every year, and we've again improved many of them during this off-season.
2011 Major League Rosters
Here's a treat: the best roster set we've ever included, from the big leagues' top stars to the guys making their debuts in rookie leagues. Our roster sets only exist thanks to the hard work of our rosters editing team, so we'd like to take a moment and tip our caps to them. Thanks, guys.
All players are individually rated with updated statistics and realistic contract data. Last year's top draft picks are included too. Could Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, with the veteran leadership of newly-acquired All-Star Jayson Werth, help propel the Washington Nationals to the top of the National League East in coming seasons?
Revamped Financial System
The Philadelphia Phillies shook the baseball world this winter when they signed top-flight free agent pitcher Cliff Lee, despite expectations that he would opt for the highest bidder. Now you can do the same with OOTP's recoded player contract negotiations, which are more realistic and fun. You can even try to talk your owner into expanding the available budget, letting you squeeze in another All-Star contract. Don't forget to stay on top of the latest free agent signings and other news in the new off-season center, and keep your finger on the pulse of your team's finances with an improved view.
*The new (optional) player development budget is another wise way to spend your hard-earned cash.
Contract possibilities are now more realistic, including vesting options, buyouts, minor league split contracts, signing bonuses and more performance bonus options.
* Recoded International Scouting
We have completely recoded the international scouting in OOTP 12. Instead of just setting a budget, you can now send your scouts to the countries you select! But spend your money wisely: high-profile baseball countries are much more expensive to scout than obscure ones. Will you discover the next living legend?
We're proud to support Official OOTP Online Leagues with a full-featured interface inside OOTP 12. With just one click, you can join a team, and creating a league is just as easy. Commissioners can make their leagues public and advertise open teams, with the ability to accept or deny requests from would-be GMs.
Online leagues offer several key advantages:
League files are patches rather than full-size files, saving plenty of up- and download time.
Reports can be saved in MySQL databases, increasing their upload speed.
Forget about FTP: team data exports and imports work through the database. That results in improved compatibility and security for the league web site server.
An export tracker.
The promise of more great features to come, including online drafts and trades.
Greater Immersion and Realism
Historical leagues benefit from improved AI and real life transactions and as-played lineups as optional features. Thanks to OOTP's sophisticated game engine, you'll be able to enjoy the most realistic historical simulation results possible.
In addition, storylines have been expanded and news presentations have also been revamped, making you feel like you're part of the hectic 24-hour "better stay on top of this" news cycle that dominates today's sports reporting.
In-Game and Core Engine Changes
Like a manager constantly seeking ways to get the most out of his lineup, we're always tinkering under OOTP's hood. Here's what you can look forward to this year:
Recoded parts of the in-game AI, making it the most challenging ever in an OOTP game.
Improved in-game sound, adding better quality sound files and more variation.
Improved player evaluation AI, resulting in more realistic AI roster moves.
Recoded parts of the trading AI.
Recoded parts of the main scouting engine.
Improved injury and recovery system.
* Added complete history for all coaches.
* Added the ability to save a game in progress and resume it later.
* Added optional confirmation questions after substitutions in-game, preventing mistakes.
* Added the ability to lock a player to a certain minor league level when the AI is in control of your minor league system.
* Added a new player development screen, including an organizational depth chart presentation.
* Added the option to have established international free agents enter the market during the offseason.
Added WAR (Wins Above Replacement) as a statistic.
Added a playoff roster for more realistic team transactions.
Greatly enhanced the world database structure, resulting in more realistic fictional league and player creation.
Added a simulation module, allowing you to match up two teams from the same league for a set number of games and see the simulation results. This is great for research purposes or just for toying around. For example, how would the 1927 Yankees fare against the 2004 Red Sox?