Saturday, February 28, 2009

Game Two

So with the stupid as hell slider fiasco (thankfully) behind me I played another Ex. game this morning, running on about 4 1/2 hours sleep thanks to a phone call at 7 AM that was a either a wrong number or a prank call from users at Operation Sports -- can't be sure which.

Again, I set the sliders to favor lower control and the game played brilliantly. I walked 4 times. I gave up 3 walks myself, hit 3 doubles fanned 10 batters, whiffed 8 times myself, and sat tired and giddy as I played an absolutely joyous game of morning baseball. I saw an OF drop a ball, diving to match a circus catch, I saw the CPU get thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double, saw it easily score from 2nd on a base hit, and I saw it use its bullpen to favor L/R matchups. All things that sound like baseball 101 but things that so many games screw up in one form or another.

It really is one of my big litmus tests with baseball games: Can I walk consistently? Can I strikeout consistently as well? And is this based on player tendency? It's important -- and it's where a lot of games tend to fall down. This part of the game HAS to be right, otherwise you aren't playing baseball, but rather a game that successfully resembles it.

You need the CPU to take strikes (it does in The Show) and you also need it to miss strikes that are in the zone (it does that too). That said the same has to go for you. You need to miss pitches that you think you can catch up to and you need to be able to issue walks even when you are trying to throw strikes. So far the Show passes these tests in a big way.

I am well aware that the whole walk thing has turned into a obsession with me over the years in every baseball game I play. I blame Bill James. But if accuracy is the goal we should see around 6 walks combined per game -- on average, depending on the players involved. (Something that can't be overlooked.) It shouldn't be a case of saying, "Hey I walked!" but it should be a crucial part of any baseball game design. At least I think so.

So I'm pretty darn happy this morning with what I'm seeing.

As for complaints, the doubles thing is something you are either going to agree with me on or you aren't. Not sure what else I can say. Are there enough doubles in the game? YES. Did they improve the down the line doubles issue from last yer? Yes. Is it where I want it to be? Not quite. I'm no programmer. I don't design games. But I only assume that this is a tricky issue because you don't want to fix one thing and then have it break 10 other things. I can absolutely live with hits going over the bag and not reaching the corner being singles as long as hitting a double isn't some rare occurrence -- and it's not.

I do see the occasional stuttering fielder animation. In this last game I dropped a SAC bunt and the catcher jumped out to make a play on it and was running, and then when he got near the ball he started walking/stuttering, then he sped up again and made the play and I beat the throw. It looked like that slow down cost him an out. I've seen that more than once, which is why I mention it.

I wish the game played faster. Right now this is my #1 "complaint" with the game. If you remember the old High Heat days you could play a game in 25 minutes. You could take out every last bit of fluffy animation and game waster that had nothing to do with the game itself. Here, you can't. Even if you turn the fast play on you are still going spend a bit too much time watching things that you shouldn't need to watch. I haven't timed a game yet, but I am curious to see how long a game takes with fast play on.

OK anyway, some franchise/stat tests coming today, unless I fall back asleep.