There are a few things that you can count on every year: one of three studios will churn out a new Call of Duty, Ubisoft will take another stab at Assassin’s Creed, and SCE San Diego Studio will release a new iteration of MLB The Show, bringing their critically acclaimed baseball sim one step closer to looking and feeling exactly like real life.
In fact, while many developers can grow complacent with their lack of competition in a sports game, San Diego Studio takes pride in not just delivering a roster update each year, but continually delivering a great baseball experience.
“It starts from the top down,” said San Diego Studio community manager Ramone Russell. “Our team is very passionate about baseball and proud of the work that we do. When we start pre-production that’s the first thing we ask ourselves, ‘What do we need to do this year to make those giant leaps for people to say that this is the sports game that they have to own?’”
Russell believes that these giant leaps come in the form of new features being implemented into MLB 15 The Show. Players who pick up this years installment will find all-new licensed equipment, GM contracts in franchise mode, and the ability to transfer saves, just to name a few.
More specifically, the save transfer feature, which allows players to carry over their Road to The Show and Franchise mode progress from MLB 14 The Show, is something that has been years in the making and will continue in the years to come.
“(Transferring saves) is literally for the life cycle of the PlayStation 4 console,” said Russell. “So if we make MLB 19 you’ll still be able to use your saves. It’s a feature we thought about four or five years ago, but it took us two years of background for us to implement the feature this year and get it to work.”
Additionally, fans of The Show’s franchise mode will be happy to hear that trade logic has been completely reworked for added realism. This means that you can no longer finagle the Angles into giving you Mike Trout for a dump off of prospects. What’s more, franchise mode will also be getting a trade finder feature. According to Russell, in years past, if players had an aging, but still capable pitcher — say CC Sabathia — that they were looking to cash in on for younger talent, they would have to individually search for trades. Now, players just have to put Sabathia in the trade finder and with a push of a button can find trades that other teams will accept.
For even more authenticity, San Diego Studio is going to great lengths to ensure MLB 15 The Show is as close to real-life baseball as possible. Thanks to the power of the PlayStation 4, all in-game players have their own unique skin tone, each stadium has its own unique dirt and grass colors, and the sun’s position and lighting will reflect not only the time of day, but the month of the year.
“(The PlayStation 4) has given us a bigger canvas to paint on and more colors,” said Russell. “The seasonal sun and shadows, the player's skin tone realism, that was impossible on the PlayStation 3… For those 10 years of making MLB The Show we had seven skin tones to loop in for over 750 players. Now we give our artists this tool that can pull up a head scan and everyone gets his very own unique skin tone that’s based off real life. And that goes into stadiums as well… so now every MLB stadium has their own unique grass and dirt color pulled from real MLB footage.”
In regards to the recent decision to shut down MLB 14’s online features, Russell noted that each year the developer does an evaluation of server activity and makes the best business decision based on that. Each year a new evaluation is done and at the very least, according to Russell, the servers for MLB 15 will stay up for as long as they did for MLB 13, though anything past that will depend on demand.
Speaking further about servers, Russell added that San Diego Studio is not ignoring The Show’s online issues and wants people to know that they have taken leaps and bounds to improve the online experience.
“It’s our second year in our new online paradigm and we spent literally the entire cycle trying to get that one-to-one online experience,” said Russell. “It’s gotten better every single month. Where we left MLB 14, it’s way better than it was there and we can’t wait for people to play it.”
Buffalo wings, writing, sports, and video games: those are the things that I love most in this world. If I'm not crying at the New Jersey Devils or New York Giants' most recent loss, chances are I'm playing video games. During the summer, you can find me at the golf course tearing up the ground doing my best Bubba Watson impression. Oh and by the way, the first Uncharted is the best one of the series... View Profile