Out of the Park Baseball Ushers in a New Era of Baseball Games
When it comes to sports simulation games, the question of innovation is always an interesting one. Naturally, the rules of sports rarely change in a dramatic way; this means that making gameplay change to a simulation is always tricky. And when you consider the fact that sports developers have to churn out a new game each season — this becomes an even bigger struggle.
Beyond making cosmetic changes, developers of games like Out of the Park Baseball resort to adding new and interesting gameplay modes, separate from the base game. That’s why Out of the Park Developments added a fantasy-esque card mode dubbed “Perfect Team” to last year’s iteration of their game. That was simply the beginning though as they’ve also implemented tournaments and collection missions for the Perfect Team mode. Seeing as this way of playing the game has become quite popular with their player base, we’ve decided to shine a little spotlight on it. We’ve spoken to representatives of the company about what’s next for the Perfect Team mode but also for the game and the company itself.
Out of the Park Baseball 2020 Changes
Community Manager Kris Jardine spoke to our journalists about the Perfect Team mode. More specifically, we spoke to him about the changes to this mode that the developers made in the new Out of the Park Baseball 2020. He said that the devs took all of the received feedback from the players quite seriously, especially in terms of the in-game strategies players have used and the rating system. In response, the devs have tinkered with the algorithms that rate players, especially when it comes to historical players who are not currently active. They added some tweaks to their defensive ratings to more realistically reflect how baseball was played in previous eras. Apart from that, the devs worked on general AI improvements.
We asked the devs if there was any specific kind of player strategy that was interesting to them. In response, they mentioned that teams which were built solely on the basis of speed were fascinating to them. Players constructed teams that could rake up to 600 stolen bases during a season spanning 162 games. And when you usually consider baseball, you think in terms of good defense, heavy hitters, or someone with a solid average.
But in Out of the Park Baseball, people have managed to go with Lou Brock, Billy Hamilton, and Rickey Henderson without caring if they drop 500 fly balls. But some people have made this sort of strategy work.
Seeing as the developers are working on a mobile version of the game, one question was logical. Is the above-mentioned Out of the Park Baseball Go tied with the Perfect Team mode on the PC game, or was it a separate mobile baseball simulation? The answer to that is more complicated than a straightforward yes or no.
The version of Out of the Park Baseball that they’re building for mobile devices is definitely brand new. However, players will also be able to take part in the Perfect Team mode from the Go app. There are all the needed running parts — scoreboards, team management options, ripping packs, the Auction House, and so on.
To be clear — the Perfect Team mode will be available for cross-platform play on both the PC and mobile devices, with the same saves. However, it remains to be seen if the devs will manage to implement this in time for the release. There’s a possibility that this will have to wait until one of the updates that will follow.
Perfect Team Tournaments
The company representatives were also keen on sharing more details about the announced Perfect Team tournaments, which the players will be able to take part in. Our journalists wanted to know if these were to be user-generated or provided by the company; the fan base definitely wants to know all the details.
According to Jardine, the initial plan is for players to have the ability to take part in up to three simultaneous tournaments. And all of these competitions would be provided and managed by the developers, through their own servers. Though, they did mention that player-run tournaments are not improbable in the near future. As for now, there will definitely be a wide variety of different tournaments. For example, Perfect Team players may opt for a tournament where only bronze-level cards are allowed, with a 32 team limit and a double elimination. On the other hand, there could be a tournament with completely open rules, no restrictions regarding the roster or anything of the sort. The possibilities are truly endless, including something like a big tournament with 256 teams and only Diamond and Perfect cards.
Third-Party Data Trackers
Our journalists wanted to know if there had been any third-party websites that tracked player data and auction house information. And if so, does the publisher need to give them the green light first? The developers were not oblivious to the fact that many fans would welcome third-party sites that would aggregate information about the auction house. After all, this would be of huge assistance to players, seeing as they would benefit from someone providing them with tools to identify trends.
Keeping this in mind though, the devs were hesitant to confirm that they’ll be adding this option for sure. They did confirm that there had been discussions regarding this subject, and the feature hadn’t been ruled out. If it does happen, it will be because the development team found that it was the best thing to do for the community.
While OOTP Baseball has definitely become one of the premier baseball simulations on the market, it’s not all rosy. There have been a couple of player concerns regarding the devs’ newfound focus on the Perfect Team mode. Namely, the long-term fanbase has noticed that this fantasy sports option in the game has brought a lot of popularity to the game. In fact, some people who have never touched a game simulation are now playing Out of the Park Baseball. But on the other hand, this kind of financial gain from the Perfect Team mode means that the developers have a bigger incentive to focus on that part of the game, possibly, to the detriment of other playing modes in the game.
However, while speaking to our journalists, the developers basically waved away such concerns. In response, they invited both the player base and journalists to just closely follow what the team would be doing in the time to come. Basically, they will keep on trying to improve the core of the game, meaning, the basic playing modes. And at the same time, they’ll try to introduce further new things to the game. Improving details like exit velocities and launch angles is still a priority; the developers won’t forsake the technical quality of the game. They realize that the support players gave to the classic franchise mode is what made Perfect Team happen in the first place.
Speaking of the Perfect Team mode, we were itching to know if any players had actually completed the more difficult collection missions. Responding to this, the developers mentioned the two collection missions which were, to them, objectively difficult. One of those is what they referred to as “tiered” missions. But what are these anyway?
Let’s say you have a Chicago White Sox mission collection. And you want to get the biggest reward, like a perfect Ed Walsh. This is an astounding Chicago White Sox pitched from back in the day. And in order to get him in-game, you would have to go through a set of five other missions, collecting all sorts of players from the Chicago White Sox — but from different eras. Seeing as many of these cards are extremely rare and really expensive, it’s definitely not an easy feat to achieve. However, people have actually managed to do it a couple of times.
On the other hand, we’ve got another subset of collection missions which are also incredibly difficult. If you want something truly time-consuming and incredibly tough: try collecting all of the champion cards for every World Series during the 1980s. Achieving that will mean the completion of the World Series Champions of the ’80s mission. At least when the devs last checked, no one had actually completed this mission yet.
At the point when they launched the newest version of the game, the devs had implemented almost 120 missions. Within just a couple of hours, there were people who had completed more than 90 of them as some would say — right off the bet. Though, no matter how professionally some people approach this simulation, there are still some challenges which no players have completed.
As the dev team plans on further supporting the game with content, they will create more collections. And as time goes by, they plan on these becoming progressively tougher to beat; something akin to endgame content in some multiplayer genres. Much like the aforementioned White Sox collection, many of these will be team-specific too.
One of the last questions our reporters posed to the development team was a detail that players were dying to know. Namely, do the devs plan on going back and providing player pictures for cards that exist already, but don’t have them?
Responding to this, the dev team diplomatically responded with a simple — never say never. Elaborating on this, they concluded that pictures for all players are definitely something that everyone in the community would be happy to have and something that the devs would love too. However, looking at the current short-term roadmap, this isn’t a priority for them.
Loot Box Legislation
Every once in a while, video games come into the regulatory spotlight. It seems that every few years, some righteous senator seeks to make their mark by damning violence in games. However, this time around, the attempt to regulate gaming is very different. The newest legislative trend concerns loot boxes in games, which have been deemed gambling by many legal authorities around the world. With such a hot topic, our reporters were dying to know what the OOTP Baseball developers thought on the subject.
Unfortunately, they were quite vague on the subject, leaning in neither direction. However, they maintained that the game would be in compliance with any local regulations. Their focus won’t be wider gaming trends, legislative or otherwise — but the development of Out of the Park Baseball.