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.
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.
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?