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Building the "perfect" baseball game, a thread


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Hey everyone,

 

Hopefully everyone's having a solid summer :)
 

So, I wanted to come up with something fun here for the community. An activity, if you will.

 

Let's roleplay a bit. Let's say...a studio has sat you down in a meeting to hand you the reigns of Untitled Baseball Game (UBG).

 

You are now the lead director for this project, and the studio wants you to come up with a baseball title that would emulate the experience of your favorite baseball title (could be The Show, could be High Heat 2002, could be MVP, could be Hardball, etc) with a mix of the old and the new baseball titles. It could be a baseball sim, or it can be an arcade title, or even a hybrid of both (like a sandbox).

 

This would be the studio's first baseball game, and let's say that the studio is looking to release a new version of UBG every two years, so the sole expectation for your first entry is that it be a fun, enjoyable representation of the sport. To give you some creative freedom, the studio has decided that there will be no licensing. They don't have the clout/reputation/budget to gain licensing rights, so everything in the game is completely fictional.

 

Upon doing your research in the past 15 years and digging deep into the years of your youth, you come up with a huge list of things you found fun in current and older games that you'd like to implement in this game to make as close to a "perfect" type of baseball game. 

 

Let's split this into several categories that should give you some aspects you can talk about and elaborate, for example. You wouldn't need to cover everything, so ideas are welcome:

 

Visuals

Gameplay/Realism

Audio
Features

CPU/Artificial Intelligence

Other

 

If you wanted your team to make an extremely solid first title, what do you focus on first? Second? Third? What's on wishlist/timeline for UBG 2 and beyond?

 

I've wanted to make this thread for quite some time to get some feedback/ideas on what the community considers to be a "great" baseball title, as mostly everyone here have played a ton of baseball video games over the years, whether that's as kids, or as teens, or as grown adults, or even as older adults. I've filled up a notepad with cool ideas. We all love this sport and it's been a rough 15 years being a fan of baseball video games, with a lack of choices on what our "flavor" of baseball is. 

 

I wanted to give the community a fictional scenario and see what everyone would value above all else. Let's hear it!

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KC great to hear about you, hope everything is going well.

 

I read your topic and comparing to other games we have a reality:

- FIFA, NBA and NFL are names that almost everyone can link to the respective sport.

- For baseball that not happen especially with MLB, so we should use a name that people around the world could easily link to that sports not only in USA, it should work for the Asian, Europe and Latinamerica markets.

 

So they se not my favorites but names like Strike Out 2023 or Home Run 2023 could be an option :)

 

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12 minutes ago, Fiebre said:

KC great to hear about you, hope everything is going well.

 

I read your topic and comparing to other games we have a reality:

- FIFA, NBA and NFL are names that almost everyone can link to the respective sport.

- For baseball that not happen especially with MLB, so we should use a name that people around the world could easily link to that sports not only in USA, it should work for the Asian, Europe and Latinamerica markets.

 

So they se not my favorites but names like Strike Out 2023 or Home Run 2023 could be an option :)

 

 

I named it Untitled Baseball Game as a joke, this fictional game would be titled something cool at some point

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The most important thing for me would be gameplay. 

MVP has a feel to it that no other game has come close since. Batted ball trajectory, general gameplay. Sure, 2k's graphics look better, but that's to be expected of a game release almost a decade later. I played The Show 15, and for me it's gameplay is pretty good, but there's just something to MVP that makes you want to keep playing, all these years later. So, yeah, gameplay would be number one for me.

Modability is also something that gives a game longevity. If that's in the best interest of the studio, that's another story. But when you can create players, teams, leagues, etc. it just adds depth to the whole product. And in the process it creates a following online. Nowadays, a modding community in a sports game is not what it used to be.

So, those two for the first game, and then build up on it and add better graphics and audio over the years.

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Since there is no license (which is good) the first thing we would have to have available for the people who buy this is the ability to mod everything like in Mvp.

 

Borrowing something from a golf game for a second if none of you mind, there should be an ability to create detailed stadiums like Links 2003 has for fans of that game who create real and fictional courses. There is a program that they use and they end up making some very impressive courses. Imagine that ability here? What would a PaulW have done here? His ball parks were phenomenal but with  utility like this, who knows?

 

Visuals are important for some people but not really for me. If you want an example go and play High Heat 2002 or 2003. The cyberfaces were bad and the default stadiums looked terrible.

 

Be sure to have mouse support unlike High Heat 2004.

 

The option to save your game at any point is important. We had that in Hardball, Tony Larussa, Old Time baseball and High Heat but not in Mvp. I am convinced that if there were a Mvp 2006 from EA we would have seen this.

 

The audio should be done by a well known announcer. Vin Scully maybe? Bob Costas?

 

I can try to think of others later on.

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Imagine if every current announcer and broadcaster sold the rights to using their voice in future baseball games. It would be great to play a franchise with your teams actual broadcasters. James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader did this and a digital version of his voice was featured in the Obi-Wan series on Disney+.  From now on, even after he dies, Disney can use a digital representation of his voice.

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So for a first entry in this series, I'll share thoughts I've wrote down on customization:

 

This is going to sound crazy but I would not want the game to be modder friendly. I'd spend as much time making any in-game tool as robust as possible and because the game wouldn't be bound to licensing requirements that can dictate how things like baseball uniforms are represented, I'd just let people's imaginations go wild with what they can make. As a compromise, I would love to make created items exportable for the community though. I also feel like if the game was highly customizable, that can be a tentpole feature that bleeds into every other aspect of this game, like franchise mode.

 

Uniforms: When I think of customization, I think about how Super Mega Baseball does customization, but crank up the options times 100. I would just include as many shapes/fonts/tools within the game as possible to allow people to create literally anything from any time period and make it work within the game's engine. Give me layers of customization and scale, so if you wanted to make a simple baseball uniform, you can utilize like an "easy mode", but if you're obsessive over details like I am, toggle the "advanced" option at any point in the process and you should be able to fully customize your uniforms, all the way down to the kerning on a jersey.


Players: I personally love the in-game player creation tools from the MLB The Show series (because I'm able to accurately create myself, and I've seen what others can make), but I want to be able to modify things further and really make your player unique, like tattoos, frequency of accessories worn (like your player can wear sunglasses for 30% of all sunny games during the season, and in other games he will go for the eye black instead), more variations in cleats, just more everything, really.

 

Stadiums: Ah yes. I've taken extensive notes on this when the feature premiered in MLB The Show 21, because this is the ultimate customization dream for a lot of people, and most of what I've suggested they've improved on in MLB 22, but while building a ballpark is new for The Show series, what I'd love is to make every stadium modular (which I think is how they're approaching their stadiums as the CAS tools improve) and give people as many props and options as far as stadium design goes, along with custom mow patterns, logos you can put on the field, etc.

 

This is stuff you can tie into franchise/expansion mode as well. I'll make a separate post for gameplay design at some point that will elaborate on this, but...visualize something like an Expansion mode where you've built out a stadium for your Portland Mavericks, and you can improve on that stadium over time based on the amount of revenue your club makes (as a callback to MVP 2005) for example...

 

Miscellaneous:

As part of Franchise mode, I would definitely love for a feature where you can rebrand your team and you can change the logos used on promotional material and in-stadium ads and what kind of color scheme (if any) get used in-game and at the ballpark. 

I've got a ton of ideas, believe me. I've long wanted to make an unlicensed baseball game that retained a realistic visual style.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Kccitystar said:

 

 

This is going to sound crazy but I would not want the game to be modder friendly. I'd spend as much time making any in-game tool as robust as possible and because the game wouldn't be bound to licensing requirements that can dictate how things like baseball uniforms are represented, I'd just let people's imaginations go wild with what they can make. As a compromise, I would love to make created items exportable for the community though. I also feel like if the game was highly customizable, that can be a tentpole feature that bleeds into every other aspect of this game, like franchise mode.

 

 

 

 


When I said modability I should've said customizable. 

 

3 hours ago, Kccitystar said:


I've got a ton of ideas, believe me. I've long wanted to make an unlicensed baseball game that retained a realistic visual style.

 

 


Please share them. Making an actual game is an incredible long and hard process though.
 

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  • 3 weeks later...

To me the perfect baseball game would be a combination of Out of the Park and MLB 2K, just give me a roster spanning over the entire history of MLB and affiliates baseball, with endless strategic possibilities for manager mode and a player career mode where I can create my own character and see him evolve, this would be an absolute beast of a game and I doubt it could be feasible, sadly, but it would be the ultimate baseball game.

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  • 2 months later...

I wouldn't want this new game to just reinvent the wheel so I'll just explain some things I liked from past baseball titles as far as gameplay goes.

Gameplay design - Hitting Mechanics

  • I've always like the idea of having just two swing types, a normal swing and a power swing. A lot of games just go this route as it's the simplest approach to hitting.  All in all I'd avoid trying to make the hitting mechanics some sort of meta game on the first release.
  • I'd probably go for a 1:1 precision approach to hitting with a cursor, but the cursor has to be bat-shaped vs some arbitrary thing like a circle or some non-bat shape. Pro Baseball Spirits' hitting implementation is great.

Gameplay design - Pitching

  • First of all, we gotta bring back motion blur. Baseball pitches are thrown fast and should look fast.
  • Given that in recent years we've been able to obtain more and more pitching data (and hitting data as well), I'd like a proper use of physics across all aspects of the game. Exit velocities, spin rates, arcs, etc. This should help give players a more accurate representation of ball movement for pitchers (i.e. a sinker/two seamer from a pitcher like Jonathan Loaisiga will move across the zone differently compared to the same type of pitch from a different hurler) and with this adjustment, there would be far more hit variety for hitters.

Gameplay design - Audio

  • Stadium ambiance can do wonders for the immersion, I'll leave it at that.

I've got some more ideas but this is what I've documented so far.

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Visuals

So this is a huge thing for me but I keep debating on a specific visual style. On one hand, I would love something hyper realistic, like this T-Mobile Park, but at the same time, a lot of the games from my childhood were pixel art based, and some pixel art these days look absolutely ridiculous. I would also be perfectly cool with an animated art style too, but that's only because I've never seen something like this done for an American sports title before.

 

I mean, to me, regardless of art direction, the most important thing to me would be that it animates extremely well and the players feel like players with weight and momentum when they swing, pitch, field or run across the ballpark.

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Great points.

I'm not such a big fan of the animated art style. I'd rather haver pixel art. Still, I'd prefer better gameplay over better visuals. It's what would give a game more longevity in my opinion. If we look at MVP, specially after so many years, the graphics isn't what makes people come back and play it over and over again.

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1 hour ago, sabugo said:

Great points.

I'm not such a big fan of the animated art style. I'd rather haver pixel art. Still, I'd prefer better gameplay over better visuals. It's what would give a game more longevity in my opinion. If we look at MVP, specially after so many years, the graphics isn't what makes people come back and play it over and over again.

 

The art style can be the last thing that gets implemented to be honest, because the visuals if you are going for realism are 9/10 just a reflection of the time it was made.


I suggested an animation style solely because we've been there done that with 3D graphics as far as I've been playing video games but highly detailed pixel art (something like Baseball Stars but in 1080p widescreen) would be truly incredible.


 

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Gameplay design - Traits

 

Another gameplay idea that I think would be solid to any potential baseball game is the implementation of a fully loaded trait system/player personality model. 

MVP tried this with players when it came to contract offers and roles, and MLB 2K12 tried this with ambitions as well and they tie into player morale and the overall composition of the team. MLB The Show has a system like this called Quirks for all players which functions similarly to something like the Special Abilities in Pro Baseball Spirits and Super Mega Baseball, but developers really need to take a look at how OOTP does it.

It's something I'd truly love for a 3D baseball title, because if you apply the player personality model/special skills/traits across players, managers and team personnel, it gives you an entirely different level of depth in how you play a baseball title or even the modes in general.

I think over time, traits would add a ton of strategy in how you play a team, and in how you structure your lineups in every game mode, plus they help differentiate players a lot more than just comparing players using 0-99 values for attributes.
 

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It would certainly add more depth. The 0-99 skill values has for long been one of the main complaints from NHL gamers for example. There is virtually nothing that sets a player apart from other.

How they react to certain counts, how they perform in certain situations should be fairly simple to quantify in baseball. The rest is trickier, as it is in real life. But like you said, OOTP has gotten somewhere. That kind of traits is generally more associated with GM games or 'Franchise Mode', but it should be interesting to see how it works in an actual simulation.
 

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It would certainly add more depth. The 0-99 skill values has for long been one of the main complaints from NHL gamers for example. There is virtually nothing that sets a player apart from other.

How they react to certain counts, how they perform in certain situations should be fairly simple to quantify in baseball. The rest is trickier, as it is in real life. But like you said, OOTP has gotten somewhere. That kind of traits is generally more associated with GM games or 'Franchise Mode', but it should be interesting to see how it works in an actual simulation.
 

 

Tendencies are a solid base to work from to be honest.

I should definitely take this offseason to go back to learning Unity 3D.

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50 minutes ago, Kccitystar said:

 

Tendencies are a solid base to work from to be honest.

I should definitely take this offseason to go back to learning Unity 3D.


I don't really have any programming skills, but if there is anything I can do to help, let me know.

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16 hours ago, sabugo said:


I don't really have any programming skills, but if there is anything I can do to help, let me know.

 

There's a ton of learning resources for Unity3D or even Unreal Engine and it's gonna be a journey lol

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I know. My programming knowledge is from my high school days. So, circa the Jurassic period. Pascal and C. But like I said, that was two knee surgeries ago.
Still, anything I can do to help, even just to bounce ideas, you can count on me.

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