Building a Better Baseball Game: Part II

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posted 7/13/2004 by Charlie Sinhaseni
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A few years ago when I worked for GamePen I wrote an article called Building A Better Baseball Game. It mentioned a number of improvements that could be made in the baseball genre which have since been implemented into today’s baseball games. And while I’m impressed with how far baseball games have advanced in the past couple of years, I can’t help but think that there’s more that could be done to cater to fans.

Foremost, the designers need to start catering more to hardcore fans. How do you do this? Simple, by including the actual MLB umpires. Serious, real fans at the games know names like Angel Hernandez, Ed Montague and John Hirschbeck. Why not include them and their likenesses in the game? And while we’re at it, let’s include their tendencies into the game too. Tailor the strike zone to cater to how the actual official calls the balls and strikes in real life. Some are also more apt than others to throw players out of the game. Give them a temper meter that gauges how upset they are at specific players and managers. When that line is crossed let them throw the players out of the game. Ejections happen almost every single day, it’s about time that they’re better incorporated into our video games. Better yet, when players get ejected let the player choose how he reacts to it. Nothing fires up a team better than an ejection. How about they let players pull a Milton Bradley and toss a bunch of balls onto the field? Then make sure to penalize players for it. Sure it might energize them and bring them back into the game but it might cost that player a suspension. Baseball is a game of consequences and repercussions and players should be able to take a part in that.

Since we’re already including the umpires, it would be nice to see the designers flesh out the player/umpire interaction. Almost everybody in the game argues balls and strikes yet the developers fail to capitalize on this. What if after a strike out you can press a button to dispute a call? Then from there, the umpire (depending on his personality) will take into account your reaction. If his reaction was positive perhaps your strike zone will shrink, if it was negative then it’ll grow. Let the same happen for pitchers. All too often will you see a pitcher walk off the mound for what he thinks is an inning-ending strikeout, only to be called back to the mound by the umpire. While we’re at it, how about batters who head for first base on what they think is ball four only to be called back for strike two? It’s the type of thing that you see in real life, why not in video games?
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