OOTP Baseball 2017 Review

Note: I was provided a early review copy of the game.

First, let’s cut to the chase: Out of the Park Baseball is back in it’s 2017-titled installment, and it has maintained it’s strengths, improved in it’s weaker areas, licenses from both MLB and the MLBPA, and more data and options than ever. If you are wondering if it’s worth getting now over previous versions, the answer is: yes, yes it is. And if you are wondering if it’s a good OOTP to start with, I say: yes, yes it is. It’s not perfect, but nothing is.

Now, this review mostly focuses on what’s new. What I said in my three previous reviews still, for the most part, holds up.

But, man, what is added is substantial. Previous years may have added a bit here and there, or introduced features that, while good in theory, were somewhat unfinished in practice. And while that “never finished” feeling still is in effect in some areas of OOTP 17, this year’s installment is one of the most polished leap forwards in the series.

Take, for example, the 3D view. In previous years, the 3D view was sometimes more trouble than it was worth, and sometimes would wonk up the system. But now…

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 11.39.23 AMAs you can see, you can now see little peg-people representing the players. And they will move to represent the plays that happen. For example, if a batter walks, you’ll see their little peg move down to first, and if there’s a ball hit to left, you’ll see a little ball go to left and see the left-fielder chase it down. It’s not exactly high-technology, but it gets the point across. Even better, it doesn’t seem to affect how smoothly the game runs, although of course that will depend a bit on your computer. I love this, it adds a bit of “as it’s happening” flare to games that wasn’t there before, and turns what to me was something of a boondoggle way of viewing the field into something I’ll probably use regularly.

Also in that picture, you can see a bit of another great new feature: historical exhibition play! I covered this a bit during one of my “30 Teams, 30 Posts” installments, but I’ll cover it again a bit here. Basically, you can have any MLB team in history play any other MLB team in history. You could do this before, but it was very time-intensive. Now, it’s as simple as selecting a team and choosing your wanted setting and/or rosters. It’s both a good way to see interesting match-ups and also a good introduction to OOTP for people who haven’t played it before and don’t want to jump straight into the longer modes.

That doesn’t mean that the longer modes haven’t received updates. They have. In addition to the usual upgrading of rosters to their current state, is also the addition of historical minor leagues! Want to see what might have happened if Michael Jordan had continued his baseball career? You can!

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 10.06.07 PMWhile those are the big changes, there are also some small changes that, together, add a lot. For example, there are now computer-written recaps for games you play and/or simulate. Is it something that completely changes the game? No. But they are nice to have.

Really, if I have any issues with this year’s installment, it’s how the Steam version of it only supports the workshop for mods. In previous years, you could use a in-game system to download new logos and rosters from the internet easily, this time it only can connect to the Steam Workshop. While OOTP Developments has said that most if not all mods will eventually come to the Workshop, right now only two are there, meaning to get some mods you have to go poking around the internet for the files and install them manually. Annoying, but not a deal-breaker by any means. Hopefully it improves soon, though, as OOTP and Steam’s Workshop would seem to be made for each other.

But, really, other than that and maybe the occasional bug that will always rear up in a game of this scale and complexity, Out of the Park Baseball 2017 is quite possibly the greatest baseball simulator of all time. At least… until next year, when those mad geniuses will probably top it again!

 

 

 

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BREAKING OOTP Ep. 7: Schlafly’s Royals (Also “30 Teams, 30 Posts” for the Royals)

In BREAKING OOTP, I push Out Of The Park Baseball to it’s limits in various scenarios. Some will answer questions, some will settle scores, and some will push Out Of The Park Baseball to it’s very limits, to see if I can literally cause the game engine to beg for mercy.

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post (of varying amounts of seriousness) about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2016 season. Earlier installments can be found here. This also fulfills the Royals part of that.

This will be a controversial entry in BREAKING OOTP. It’s going to be a bit political. You see, not too long ago, a woman named Phyllis Schlafly had an opinion on baseball. There’s nothing wrong with that. People have opinions about baseball all of the time. Some of them are even insightful.

Her opinion, however, was hateful, ignorant and wrong. She believes that MLB should KICK OUT ALL OF THE FOREIGNERS. In fact, she openly says “It is time to cut off visas for foreign baseball players, and return our National Pastime to Americans.

This, needless to say, is a bigoted and xenophobic view of baseball, and anyone who honestly believes it should be rightly sent to the dustpan of history. However, it’s also objectively wrong and ignorant. Even if she was right that Americans have a god-given privilege to have every baseball job in America (AND SHE IS MOST DEFINITELY NOT RIGHT), her arguments for the superiority of American MLB players are so paper-thin you could poke holes in them with a baby’s finger. For example, she uses the claim that the vast majority of Hall of Famers are American to “prove” that foreign players are inferior, utterly ignoring the fact that the vast majority of Hall of Famers came from an era before baseball became the diverse multi-national pool of players it is now. She also uses as “evidence” the fact that only Americans won the big awards in 2015, ignoring the fact that that was an aberration and that plenty of people from outside the United States have won those awards in the past.

So, to prove this bigoted old lady just how wrong she is, I’m going to show just how out-of-their-league a team made up entirely of American white guys would be in modern-day baseball. But who?

Now, she seems to think (according to her actual article, which I’m not linking to because I don’t want to give her the pleasure of the hits) the 1944 Cardinals were the pinnacle of baseball. Never mind that 1944’s Cardinals weren’t even the pinnacle of white American baseball, given most of the stars were off fighting WWII. Still, the 1944 Cardinals did win the World Series, so to produce her vision, I figure it would be a good idea to do it to the most recent MLB champions, the Kansas City Royals. It’s obviously not a one-to-one correlation, but it’ll do. Go below the jump for more:

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Breaking OOTP…. ON THE OUT OF THE PARK BASEBALL WEBSITE!

Hello. Just wanted to let everybody know that a very special edition of BREAKING OOTP is now available. Just not here. Oh, no, it’s in an even cooler place (hard to believe, I know): the official blog of Out Of The Park Baseball! So, if you want to see what happens when the entire field is shaped like a literal diamond and the outfield walls are 700 feet tall, GO THERE NOW!

What I’m Looking Forward To In “Out Of The Park ’17”

Out Of The Park Baseball 2017 is coming next month. And I’ve got some thoughts on what I’m most looking forward to:

  • Historical Minor Leagues!

Minor League teams from 1919 to 2015 will be available for the first time. This is going to be really neat. I can presumably do a tournament of the best affiliation-era Red Wings teams now, and others probably will be able to do things like having an “independent” Pacific Coast League during the 40s and early 50s.

  • Historic Exhibition Mode!

In past OOTP, to have the 1927 Yankees play the 1975 Reds required making your own league that happened have both of them. This time, though, there will be a option that means you can just do that. Here’s hoping OOTP Developments also allows minor league teams, international teams, and fictional teams (like the MARIOners) to be used in this.

  • Real player photos out of the box!

In the past, you had to download the faces from modders to appear in the game’s “FaceGen” system. But due to a license with the MLBPA, that no longer is going to be an issue.

  • Better 3D!

The 3D engine of OOTP has always been better in theory than it has in practice, but judging by the images shown on the preview page, it’s going to be making a significant improvement. Something much needed.

  • Improvements to other parts of the game!

More realistic career arcs, auto-created game stories, a better interface… while they won’t be as “sexy” as the better 3D, Minor Leagues, or exhibitions, these are all going to make the product a better game as a whole.

Get hype!

(Blogathon ’16) BREAKING OOTP, Ep. 5: The No-Homers Club

This post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

In BREAKING OOTP, I push Out Of The Park Baseball to it’s limits in various scenarios. Some will answer questions, some will settle scores, and some will push Out Of The Park Baseball to it’s very limits, to see if I can literally cause the game engine to beg for mercy.

Do you remember the Arena Baseball League? Y’know, the league where only an infield existed, an MVP had 213 HRs and a Cy Young winner had a ERA over 7? Well, now we are going in the opposite direction.
BEHOLD THE GIGANTOFIELD!

Gigantofield_webcastYes, it’s a field so big it can’t even fit in the picture. 500 foot walls to all fields. And, what’s more, it has a domed roof, a wild grass field that probably was last mowed reliably three months ago, and enough foul space to qualify for statehood.

And now, the Arena Baseball League will play in this monstrosity. Let’s look at it’s OOTP park factors:

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 3.39.13 PMSo, let’s see, according to this, batting averages will be cut in half from a neutral environment, but doubles will be twice as frequent and triples one-and-a-half times as frequent. Also, outside the park HRs should not exist.

Mommy.

So, after the now-anachronistically named “Arena Baseball League” expanded by two at the end of last season, ten teams will struggle against the darkness. No hope for hitters.

OR IS THERE?!?!

Let’s get started by simulating the opening month of April and then looking at the leaderboards… hmmm…

YEAAARRRGGGH:

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 3.46.28 PMThere have been two HRs (both inside-the-park) hit in the entire league. The batting leader is hitting just .318. Mark Hamilton of the San Antonio Coyotes has 28 hits… 23 of them doubles.

Now, let’s look at the pitchers:

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 3.50.34 PM0.58 is leading the league in ERA amongst starters. Manny Lopez, by the way, had a 8.53 ERA back when the Arena Baseball League lived up to it’s name.

Okay, now let’s zoom to the All-Star Break…

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 3.56.45 PMOof. As you can see, the total number of Home Runs now stands at 3. The leading batting average is .312, and that’s the only BA over 300. The leader in doubles would already be tied for 30th all-time in a single season in the real world.

The pitching standings similarly continue to be a bit off-kilter:

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 4.05.39 PMAmazingly, despite how good all of these pitchers seems to be, there has only been one no-hitter in the first half of the season… and it was barely in the top ten best pitching performances of the half!

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 4.06.45 PMWowzers.

Now, let’s go to the end of the regular season and look at what has come:

Oh. Oh dear…

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 4.14.51 PMThe best batting average is a .304. .304. That is 1968 level of bad hitting (in 1968, Yastrzemski won the AL title with a .301). However, the doubles record of 67 has been demolished, and Arturo Luna had more triples than any MLB player has had since 1925.

Now, how about pitchers?

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 4.21.00 PMA 0.99 ERA in 208.2 IP is very impressive, needless to say, and 306 strikeouts is more in a season than any pitcher has had since Randy Johnson was in his prime. Amazingly, there was only one no-hitter: Ron Turner’s in the first half.

Now, let’s look at the league as whole, shall we?

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 4.26.17 PM8 total home runs. 6998 total doubles. 564 total triples. The league as a total hit .215. Well, at least what hits did happen were usually exciting, right?

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 4.29.26 PMKind of surprised the league ERA was 3.06. I thought it’d be a little lower.

So… what did we learn? We learned that pushing the fences way back is bad for offense but will cause any balls that get past the outfielders to allow for extra bases. We learned that nothing particularly “game-breaking” occurs in OOTP if you do this. And, uhm, we learned that having deep outfield fences is nowhere near as fun to write about as arena-ball fences. I mean, yes, this is partly because I’m distracted by other blogathon concerns, but it was way more fun writing about insane scores statistics as opposed to what more-or-less was just a deadball era.

Next Time on Breaking OOTP: The most controversial Breaking OOTP yet

At 8 PM: BIZARRE BASEBALL CULTURE

This post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

 

Breaking OOTP, Episode 4: The Seattle MARIOners vs. Pablo Sanchez and the Backyard Kids

BreakingOOTPlogo

In BREAKING OOTP, I push Out Of The Park Baseball to it’s limits in various scenarios. Some will answer questions, some will settle scores, and some will push Out Of The Park Baseball to it’s very limits, to see if I can literally cause the game engine to beg for mercy.

Last time, we made the Seattle Mariners be full of Mario and Donkey Kong characters. This week, though, we have a exhibition series between the MARIOners (minus any Mariners) and… the Backyard Baseball kids (shown here to be on the Dodgers, because reasons)! Yes, Mario vs. Pablo Sanchez. At stake: The title of GREATEST VIDEO GAME BASEBALL TEAM OF ALL TIME.

Or something like that. Go below the jump, and be sure to check the previous post to see how I created the Mario characters- I used an almost-identical process for the Backyard Kids:

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NEXT TIME ON BREAKING OOTP: MARIO vs. PABLO SANCHEZ

Aside

Next time on BREAKING OOTP, the Seattle MARIOners from last time face off with the Backyard Baseball Kids in a 7-game series to determine who is the greatest video game baseball team ever.

Yes, you’ll hear about Princess Peach pitching to Pablo Sanchez. You will learn the result of Angela Delvecchio vs. Bowser. Pete Wheeler might challenge Petey Piranha’s arm!

Look out for it this coming weekend or so.