Hi everyone. Eddy Cramm (Sr. Designer) and Aaron Luke (Designer) here to bring you the next installment of our MLB 08: The Show blog posts. This time around we are going to talk about some of the details behind Road to the Show. Coming into this development cycle, we knew we were dealing with a feature that was very well received by the public in its first go-around. That being said, we still saw a lot of room for improvement. We decided to focus on three main areas, but honestly, we ended up changing a lot more than that. We wanted to add depth to the game play experience to better reflect what a player has to do as he develops in a professional system. We wanted to give the gamer more information up front so that he had a better understanding of how his decisions are affecting his career player. And we also wanted to really improve the management system so that goals and movement happened as realistically as possible.
This year’s edition boasts enhancements to nearly every aspect of the mode, so much so that we’ve dubbed it Road To The Show 2.0. Starting with the front-end aspects, the PS3 Create Player system has received a major overhaul to include modifiable geometry of nearly every aspect of the head and face. If that weren’t enough, we’ve also added several new batting stance and pitching style animations, along with a handful of new player accessories to aide in the customization of your created player.
RTTS 2.0 features an all-new Advancement System that acts as a road map for the player’s career progression, featuring advancement goals given by the team’s manager. The RTTS player is evaluated based on the player’s current skill set (attribute levels) and the player’s statistical performance; to decide what role within the organization the player will be given, as well as what skills are lacking and need attention. Advancement goals are then given, which encompass both attribute improvements and statistical goals, for the sole purpose of improving the player’s skill set to reach the next level. The goal durations will range based on the type of player you are. Starters will have longer durations, with higher expectations, whereas bench/bullpen players might have shorter durations and slightly lower expectations. Once you have achieved enough goals, or your player is simply too good statistically to be ignored, you will then become qualified for the next step in your career.
We spent a lot of time dealing with the balance of this mode. In order for a mode like this to feel right, there has to be a sense of realism as to how you progress. If we push you through too quickly, you don’t feel rewarded and if we hold you back you will feel helpless. So when we started balancing things the first question we asked was, “When does a player hit their peak?” With some research we found that most Major Leaguers start hitting their prime around 28 years old. So using that as a point of reference we started looking at how many years does a ballplayer play to get to this point. We determined that it is 9 years into a professional career on average for a player to work their way up from the minors to that peak level. So using that information, and knowing how many attribute points the player has available to him before he maxes out, we adjusted the criteria so that you will progress and regress at a very realistic pace. Knowing that you can relate your performance directly to how it happens in the pros is totally satisfying and makes the mode that much more enjoyable.
The manager messaging system has been revamped as well to provide the user with career progression specific messages including: organizational changes, advancement goal progress and results, and promotion/demotion related messages. The previous “good game” style messages are a thing of the past, so you’ll need to pay more attention to your messages in order to keep up with the organization. Statistically speaking, we’ve gone and added a new Game Stats tab within the RTTS Locker Room screen that displays all of your player’s stats for every game within the current season. This new screen will display every game the RTTS player participated in – whether you actually played the game or simulated through it – for the entire current season. For position players, you’ll have an at-bat-by-at-bat display of your stats including how you reached base and where you ended up, or how you recorded an out. Pitchers will have inning-by-inning stats that show your pitch count based on the strikes vs. balls totals along with the hits allowed, earned runs allowed, walks allowed, and strike outs recorded within each inning.
The in game situational goals have received several improvements including broadening the goal result types, the addition of training points to the varied results, and an on-screen display of the result and the points earned/deducted. This year you will be rewarded for positively performing towards your goal, so even though you may not have achieved the goal entirely, if you aided the club in your efforts, you’ll still be rewarded. Achieving and failing goals will net training points that will vary based on the goal type and the current game situation. A simple goal of reaching base safely will reward fewer points in the beginning of the game, than it would in a leadoff slot in the 9th inning. Upon completion of the game and returning to the front-end, you’ll be presented with the Career Update screen where you’ll notice we’ve added an entire breakdown of every training point your earned (or lost) based on the type of stat or goal they apply to.
Within the gameplay, we wanted to add goals and situations that really detail what it is like to play the game. Last year we focused on the basic events: hitting, baserunning, and fielding the ball; but there is a lot more that a ballplayer needs to know to be successful. So this year we added fielding situations where you may have to position yourself correctly for a double play or be in the right spot for a cutoff. You will have to make sure that you cover the base on a steal, or on the back end of a double play. Personally, my favorite feature is an element in baseball that has existed forever, but is never utilized in games – 3rd base coaching signs. This year, one of your goals might be “Check your 3rd base coach for a sign.” If you get that, your goal is to know what that sign means and act accordingly in game. Your base coach may also ask you to sacrifice, hit and run, steal, or just swing away. As you progress through RTTS, you will have different levels of help to learn the signs. In AA, we will pretty much spoon-feed you the correct answer, but once you get to the majors, you will be expected to know what the signs mean. This is by far my favorite addition to RTTS because it adds a level of authenticity that baseball video games have lacked.
Overall, RTTS 2.0 has a lot more depth, balance and logic than the inaugural version and will really give you the sense of what it’s like to work your way up the professional ladder like no career mode ever before. If you liked Road to the Show last year, you will love it this year. And if you didn’t like it last year… you will probably STILL love it this year! And if for some reason, you still don’t like it this year? We have a lot more in the works for next year.
Thanks for your time and we will see you in The Show!