updated 04:13 pm EDT, Sat May 3, 2014
Annual release of hardcore baseball simulator examined
Baseball statistics have been a siren song to game developers long before computer simulations. Simulation games, ranging from 1961's Strat-O-Matic baseball, to 8-bit Micro League Baseball, have been around for decades. A more recent entry into the baseball simulation fray is Out of the Park Baseball, now in its 2014 edition -- known as OOTP 15.
Let's be very clear what OOTP15 is. It is a hard-core, stat-driven simulator. You won't be grabbing a controller, and hitting X to swing. Success or failure of the individual player is driven by ratings and statistics accumulated by the Out of the Park developer. Out of the Park is available on iOS, Windows 7 and up, OS X 10.6 and up, and some distributions of Linux. Costs vary, with the iOS version running $5 with in-app purchases, and $40 for the more inclusive computer versions.
So, that out of the way, OOTP15 allows very fine control over nearly every aspect of a baseball franchise. The PC and OS X version have every historical season from 1871 through 2013 included, with a large number of seasons available by way of in-app purchase in the iOS version.
We jumped into the sim, as we're familiar with baseball and watch a great deal of it every year. Hey, we subscribe to MLB.tv -- so how hard could it be? We were nearly immediately mired in stats, some of which are clearly from the more modern MoneyBall era of stat tracking. Regardless of info overload, we were able to crank through half of the 2014 season very rapidly, making decisions as fine as micromanaging each pitch, through deciding what to do with situational pitches such as runners in scoring position, and ultimately, just letting the players "play" every day while fiddling with the franchise on a macro level.
We were pretty satisified with our time, so we let a baseball purist hack away at the game for a couple of weeks, as he was way more familiar with baseball statistic acronyms than we are here at MacNN. He jumped into the franchise mode with a minor league team. While initially frustrated with player call-ups to the majors, he realized that this was a feature -- not a bug. Minor league managers have to deal with the whimsy of the parent club all the time as a fact of life. When his time was up with the game, he immediately headed over to Steam to pick up his copy.
As a baseball title, you'd expect to find baseball iconography. Sadly, as the OOTP15 crew don't have a license for such, they don't exist in-game. However, a little Google sleuthing will find the team graphics, and the ability to import them readily, albeit without the express written consent of the MLB commissioner.
When I was a much younger man, a friend and I played through most of the 1986 baseball season in MicroLeague Baseball, a stat and rating-oriented Baseball sim for 8-bit computers. Shockingly, we came to the same result at the end of the season, culminating a showdown between Mookie Wilson's Mets and Bill Buckner's Red Sox.
Things went much worse for the Sox on the green screen than it did in real life, but that week that my friend and I simmed through an entire season on a 1Mhz Apple IIe proved to me that computer simulations were the future. OOTP15 is that future brought forward for lovers of the game.
Who is OOTP15 for: Baseball fanatics, with an appreciation for the stats of the game
Who is OOTP15 not for: Arcade baseball players