Our first post-spring break show saw the full trio of hosts talk with Brad Cook of OOTP Developments about their new games and Dan Szymborski of ESPN. Talk was also about chain restaurants and the Big Dance. Take a listen below and be sure to subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher!
As if this week could not get any better, my favorite mobile game just got its 2015 release! MLB Manager 2015 is available now on Android and iOS for $4.99. That may seem like a lot for an app, but one Lincoln is well worth hours of baseball management on your phone and tablet. Screenshots can be found below. Also, be sure to listen into Big Red Sports Talk this week as Brad Cook of OOTP Developments calls in to talk about OOTP 16 and MLB Manager 2015.
iOS App Store:
OOTP Developments site:
MLB Manager 2015 also features Opening Day rosters, a Shop a Player function, and other new additions detailed below. The game offers the most immersive experience for armchair baseball GMs who want to guide their favorite teams to glory. It sells for US$4.99, with historical seasons available as in-app purchases on the iOS platform. (In-app purchases will be added to the Android version soon.)
“With its official MLB.com license and many great new features, MLB Manager is still the king of mobile baseball management games,” said MLB Manager lead developer Sebastian Palkowski. “It’s the perfect way to get in some baseball action on a smartphone or tablet while on the go.”
MLB Manager 2015 includes these features:
• 2015 Opening Day rosters: Each team has its projected 40-man Opening Day roster, as well as 20-25 top prospects, for a total of 60-65 players. An upcoming free update will include the official Opening Day rosters.
• Shop a Player: This option was brought over from OOTP to allow GMs to suggest a player for a possible trade and field offers from other teams.
• Simulate to Date X: GMs can now simulate to a specific date, and a new Don’t Disturb feature allows uninterrupted long-term sims.
• Player Shortlist: GMs can now add players to their shortlists so they can quickly return to their profiles any time. It’s a useful feature for tracking players’ careers after they leave a team.
• Career Stats Leader Boards: Retired players with 10 or more years of experience automatically join the career leader boards for home runs, strikeouts, and other stats.
• Improved In-Game Subs: When a GM makes a substitution during a game, they can easily see the current game situation, which is helpful when simming ahead in a game and being asked to, for example, put in a new pitcher because the AI pinch-hit for the current one.
• Better Trading AI: AI-controlled GMs make better trade offers.
OOTP 16 Steam link:
MLB Manager 2015’s core features include:
• Three game modes:
• Major League: Mobile managers guide their favorite Major League Baseball teams through the 2015 season and beyond
• Fictional: A fresh customizable world full of fictional players, providing a unique challenge each time
• Historical Major League: Three exciting past seasons to recreate — 1919, 1939, and 2012 — with the ability to buy more through in-app purchases on iOS only; in-app purchases will be added to the Android version soon. (On iOS, historical seasons are $0.99 each, 10 for $4.99, or all seasons dating back to 1901 for $19.99. Pricing will be the same when in-app purchases are added to the Android version.)
In Historical Major League mode, real players show up in the draft when they made their actual major league debuts, assuming the user owns those seasons.
• Managerial options that enable players to set lineups, pitching rotations, and depth charts before taking the field to make in-game calls, including when to issue hit-and-run and steal signs, how to configure the defense, when to pull pitchers and put in pinch-hitters, and more.
Players can also let the computer handle those decisions and set a series of sliders that dictate overall strategies, such as aggressiveness on the base paths, how often to pitch around batters, and more. They can simulate the season a day or a week at a time, jumping back in to manage games whenever they want.
• A play-by-play text stream that describes what’s happening on the field during the game, making it feel like a radio broadcast.
• An in-depth financial system that allows players to unleash their inner GMs. Are they looking for undervalued players who might help the team win while keeping payroll low, or are they free-wheeling spenders seeking high-profile free agents for the big win?
Players oversee trades, negotiate contract extensions, sign free agents, draft players, cultivate minor league prospects, move players between the active roster, minor league roster and disabled list, and more.
Baseball is my favorite sport and I always know that the regular season is right around the corner when the sport’s annual video game releases come out. Today is that day for Out of the Park Baseball 16, which is releasing on PC through their website and Steam. This year’s game is highlighted by an official MLB license and plenty more. Brad Cook will be calling into this week’s show to talk about the game, so be sure to listen in on Saturday night. Between now and then, I hope to type up some early thoughts on the game. Screenshots of the game can be found at the end of this article.
OOTP 16’s full list of new and improved features include:
2015 Opening Day Rosters
The brand new 2015 roster sets includes all Opening Day MLB rosters, via a free update to be released shortly after Opening Day, as well as the complete minor league system down to the rookie leagues. All major league (and certain minor league) player ratings are based on Baseball Prospectus’ industry-leading player forecasting system, PECOTA. The thousands of remaining minor league players are rated manually by OOTP’s established research team.
New international and independent leagues added
Last year, OOTP 15 introduced seven international leagues in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Mexico, Cuba, Italy and The Netherlands. This year, OOTP 16 adds the Australian Baseball League to that list, along with several independent leagues in the US and Japan. All of those leagues feature real rosters, with countless hours of work invested in researching realistic player biographical information, statistics, and ratings.
New team owner goals
Team owners now give short- and long-term goals, which may include: winning the World Series within X seasons; fixing a certain weakness on the roster; extending the contract of a star player; and much more. Players’ abilities to meet those goals not only decides if they’ll be fired but also determines if their contract will be extended at a higher salary, another new feature added this year. (The “cannot be fired” option still exists in OOTP 16.)
Improved team finances and reporting
The team finance system has been redesigned, including new season ticket sales, a team finances screen based on widgets, a new accounting screen, and much more. In addition, the finance-related AI was recoded, resulting in more realistic player contracts and negotiations, as well as more stable long-term team finances.
Completely redesigned manager and coaches system
Managers and coaches have certain personalities and special skills or preferences, which will result in plenty of interesting choices. Managerial choices include easy-going stat-heads and hard-nosed veterans, while some pitching coaches excel at working with power pitchers and others are better suited at overseeing finesse pitchers.
Recoded team strategy system
Players can set their teams’ in-game strategies faster and easier than ever before, but if they play in GM-only mode, they may find that some managers won’t allow certain strategies to be dictated.
Better playoff coverage
A new Pennant Chase screen displays the strength of the remaining schedule and the chance for each team to make the playoffs. The related news coverage was also improved.
Improved 3D ball flight
OOTP 15 introduced support for 3D stadiums and realistic 3D ball flight, which was a big step-up for the series. OOTP 16 improves on that 3D presentation and includes great-looking 3D models of all 30 MLB ballparks.
• New play modes (Manager only, GM only, and GM + Manager)
• An improved simulation engine that incorporates the latest research and trends, such as infield shifts and pitcher usage
• Rainouts with automatic rescheduling (including double-headers), adding the realism that comes with rain-shortened and cancelled games
• Better in-game sound effects
• An enhanced interface, such as a player info pop-up when resting the mouse pointer over a button which links to a player, or automatic syncing between lineups and depth charts when making changes to either of them.
• Player profile icons that let the user easily see how many times he has won certain awards, been a World Series winner, and more
• A new Find-A-Player feature: Define certain criteria (ratings, stats, salary etc.) and find the right player
• Recoded All-Star Game features with real voting (including online league support)
• Realistic OOTP Hall of Fame selection process, including simulated voting and new stats like JAWS, HoF Standards, Black & Grey Ink Tests
• More player awards: for example, Most Valuable Player, Playoff Series MVPs, best hitters by position, and Reliever of the Year
• Better playoff history tracking, including career playoff stats for all real players in the database and playoff leaderboards
• Alternate currencies (Euro, Pounds Sterling, Yen, etc.)
• The option to define background pictures for teams and leagues
• And more
Last Friday, midterms came to a close and students made their annual exodus from Denison for spring break. With the Denison Chamber Singers leaving the next morning for our tour in Iceland, I had a few hours with nothing to do. Same went for a friend of mine, Matthew, who was leaving on Saturday morning to fly to his grandparents’ house in Georgia.
Matthew, who is listed at 6-5, also happens to be a member of the Denison men’s basketball team. For months, he and I had discussed playing 1-on-1 together. We had to wait for his season to end and our busy schedules to die down, but we came to an agreement earlier this week to play after classes on that Friday. Why would I want to play 1-on-1, knowing full well I would get destroyed? For one, I knew that it would be something worth recapping on my radio show. After all, getting blocked and dunked on would make for some funny on-air chit chat. I also wanted to talk with him, in his element, about playing basketball. Most importantly, I thought it would be fun.
I entered a dimly lit Livingston Gymnasium to see that my competition was ready to go. Matt was listening to music on his phone, with his earbuds in backwards, running down his back instead of his chest. He was shirtless and visibly sweaty from putting up shots and practicing. He was also wearing these weird bands around his knees, which he told me are intended to prevent swelling. Before we started playing, he grabbed his shirt and left his phone on the ground.
We started chatting as I warmed up. Remember when I said Matthew was 6-5? Unless you know him, you would probably assume he was stocky with some post moves. He’s listed at 195 pounds, and I’m not even sure he’s that heavy. Matt is a guard in a forward’s body whose high school growth spurt essentially mirrored mine. I entered high school at 5-3 and now I’m 6-1; Matt was a 5-8 high school freshman. Playing in a “4 out” offense, his height was never a major deterrent to his playing time. He was able to shoot and play like a guard, even as he grew into the build more fitting of a forward. That gave Matt some skills most players his height do not have, including quickness and outside shooting. Needless to say, both of those were evident against me.
Before we began the game, I wanted to see Matt run his portion of a regular set piece in the Big Red offense. The play sees him run from the right wing to the left wing, going through the paint and using an off-ball pick to get open. He then gets passed the ball and pump fakes, regardless of how much space he has in front of him. As someone who attended nearly every home game and watched plenty of road games last season, I saw this sequence happen a lot. After a while, wondered whether or not Matt innately faked it or if it was the bench that made this call. As the puzzled forward begrudgingly walked through the simple off-ball back cut, I passed him the ball, fully expecting him to shoot. He didn’t. He faked the shot, just as he had during games. I asked him why he didn’t shoot, not just now, but in games, and my question was respectfully deflected. I never got an answer.
We played a best two-out-of-three series, with all games to 11. Obviously, I got torched. In the first game, I was shut out, 11-0. This demolition included a dunk, some three pointers, and a few layups where he blew by me. My offense included a couple blocks, plenty of bricked fadeaway jumpers, and a Ryan Kelly-style miss in the paint. Game two featured more dunks from Matt, but also some backing down in the post that I was not expecting. That’s something I never saw him use in a game. Matt was pretty good in the post, but that was against a noticeable mismatch in 1-on-1. I scored in the second game, but still got blown out 11-1.
I still don’t fully understand why Matt deflected my question before the game, but playing against him gave me some ideas. Matt knows how to play basketball and knows his role within the offense. He fakes because he is a shooting threat and it can change the spacing for his teammates. He’s probably run that play, both in his head and in real life, that it became second nature and I didn’t question it, regardless of my personal stance. My guess is that Matt would like to channel his inner Nick Young and fire up a lot more shots, but knowing his role, he has learned to fake it instead. It’ll be interesting to see if this mindset changes next season.
As much as sports are analyzed through statistics mixed with Xs and Os, the mental aspect is often overlooked. From my game with Matt, I got a better insight into how he treats this game within a game. When he plays basketball, his mindset is much different than mine, which was evident on the court. It is a mental aspect I would love to investigate further, but this first pair of games taught me a lot.
The final Big Red Sports Talk before spring break saw Alex preview the MLB season and elaborate on the Syracuse sanctions. It also saw the debut of an interview with Graham Bensinger, one of the young stars in sports media. Take a listen on the player below and be sure to subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher!