Hey everyone, Greg Batalucco (Game Designer) and Clayton Read (Associate Producer) here to bring you the next installment of the MLB 09 The Show blogs. This entry will focus on all the little details added this year to The Show that give it an added touch of realism. For this year’s version we wanted to make the game as accurate as possible and included in MLB 09 The Show are actual team mascots, new and improved stadium jumbotrons with game related movies, K boards, realistic crowds, and improved lighting and skies throughout the stadiums. All these enhancements add to the overall gaming experience to make MLB 09 The Show as real as it gets.
One of the main things we wanted to accomplish this year is to add as much realism to the stadiums and the crowd as possible. We’ve listened to what the community has been telling us: “We want that same experience that we get at a real ballgame, the look and sounds of the crowd, accurate and detailed stadiums, the smell of popcorn and hotdogs, etc.” Well we can’t add in smells (or can we?) but you can imagine. We devoted many, many hours of research to get everything as realistic and accurate in detail as possible in hopes of making it seem like you are actually at the game. We want your friend, spouse or whomever, to walk in the room while you are playing the game and say ,“Hey what game are you watching on TV.” That’s how real it is! In this blog we will go over a few of the things that help to make MLB 09 The Show the most realistic baseball game ever.
As both kids and adults we’ve laughed at, and had fun with, team mascots. They always make us feel young and truly enhance the ambiance of a live baseball game. This year in The Show you get to watch as your favorite mascots come to life. Thanks to the brilliant work by The Show’s character artists (and some interesting MOCAP sessions) you can see the Phillie Phanatic get the crowd fired up, Mr. Met dance on top of the dugouts and Bernie Brewer slide down his slide to the amusement of everyone at the game. You can also spot the Swinging Friar cheering by the rally bell, The Bird getting Orioles’ fans out of their seats and Wally the Green Monster leading a “Let’s go, Red Sox” chant. In over 20 stadiums, these mascots will help entertain and make each game more real and enjoyable. So whether it’s razzing the visiting players, having a dance competition with a few lucky (or not so lucky) fans or just trying to score a few laughs, the mascots will undoubtedly be something fun to watch out for in MLB 09 The Show.
Jumbotrons and Videos
For years we have talked about sprucing up our in-game jumbotrons. Yes, we did say sprucing. This year we took it upon ourselves to view every MLB stadium and get a good idea of what each stadium showed. Combing through countless hours of MLB video and artist photos we got a good feel of how we wanted to layout realistic jumbotrons. As you will see, the new jumbotrons throughout the MLB stadiums in The Show will show full statistics, lineups, pitcher matchups and anything you might see at a real MLB game. Another must-have feature that consumers asked for was added this year – game related videos. Go to any real life baseball game and watch your favorite home town pitcher strikeout a batter or favorite slugger hit a home run. Well, what do you see on the jumbotron? A really cool video that rocks out! From homerun and RBI videos, to “get loud” crowd meter and “stand up” videos which pump up the crowd, all these elements of realism go into making MLB 09 The Show true to life.
Every development cycle we find little things we’d like to improve on. One thing in particular this year was to get a better and more accurate crowd. What I mean by this is getting fans to actually wear the appropriate clothing, cheer at the right moments with the right level of sound and show up to the ballpark in real to life attendance figures. To do this we watched many hours of MLB games to view the crowds and get an idea of attendance levels for each team versus every other team it could possibly face. For example, a Red Sox/Yankees game should always be packed, and depending on where it is, Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium, there should be a mix of both fans. Now if you’re playing a game down in Florida with the Marlins, well you’re not going to see as many fans and you just might see more fans of the visiting team on certain days or nights. Crowd accuracy was a big thing added this year and we wanted to get as much detail into it as possible.
Another area we wanted to get more accurate was the clothing crowds wore to each game throughout an MLB season and fans leaving during a game. First, in dealing with fans’ clothing, we wanted to make sure they weren’t wearing t-shirts and shorts in April in, Detroit! Each team was charted out by looking at weather forecasts for each city and every month that a baseball teams plays. So now you will see fans in pants and warm jackets at appropriate times of an MLB season. Maybe even a few earmuffs! As well as in San Diego, most fans will be in warm weather attire, but once the sun sets, break out the jackets…burr!! What you might wear at a game for your favorite team is what our crowd will wear.
Secondly, in dealing with crowds leaving early from a game, we have gone through each team, their attendance levels, scores of games, who they are playing at the time and figured out when they would get up and say enough is enough, my team is getting blown out! As you can imagine, there are the die-hards out there and we track it, so no matter what, these fans always stay and support their team. And finally, we have added fans walking up, down and in and out of the aisles throughout each MLB stadium. Fans will also be seen milling around the concession areas and actual vendors are walking around the stadiums. So grab a hot dog and soda, because the little things matter to our team and hopefully you’ll notice these little details as well.
NEW LED and K boards
When you head out to the ballparks these days, you notice that each stadium has a unique look and feel. What we wanted to do is replicate this for our fans by having all the LED boards and K signs that real stadiums have. Fans can view every statistical category imaginable throughout our stadiums with the new LED boards that range from batter and pitcher stats to lineups and pitch count boards. Watch as the boards change and give you updated information for every batter and pitcher. Also, each stadium either has a section where the fans put up K signs or an LED K sign board. These track every K for the home team pitcher so look for this as you rack up the strikeouts. Hopefully you stat junkies out there will love the little added details and accurate statistical displays throughout each and every stadium!
When you play baseball, you want to feel like you’re watching a game, not a video game. For MLB09, the lighting methods were rebuilt from ground up to make everything fit together naturally. Employing Global Lighting techniques, we light the stadium using the sky, then turn around and light the players with the sky and stadium. This makes players feel like they belong to the part of the stadium they are standing in front of. Keep an eye on color, reflections and highlights on players as they move through the environment. Also watch the dirt as every step and slide of a long game shows itself, and as chalk lines get disturbed. Day time games vary over your season, from the soft feel of a cloudy sky, to the harsh rays of a clear summer day, and even overcast days if the time and place is right. Night games are now true to life as we capture those long shadows which stretch across the field at the start, stretching farther until finally the sun goes down and the stadium is fully lit by its own lights. How dark it is at the start of the game depends on the day of the year so don’t be surprised if your spring training game is dark at 7pm. All of these little details add together to help immerse you in the game, and bring you back to the core – playing hardball.
A key theme throughout this development cycle was realism, from stadiums to true-to-life batter stances and pitcher motions. We think we have it nailed. One area we wanted to really focus on this year was the player accessories and beefing it up. We have added eye black, glasses, wrist tape, and batting gloves in the back pockets to name a few. These are some of the player accessories that add to the realistic nature of our game. When you look at your favorite player and you see an arm band or shin guard you will know that we took the time to get that in the game. Focusing on the little things this year and listening to our fans, we have tried to get the details down pat.
You may have noticed in this blog I have mentioned realism quite a bit. Well there is a reason for this. The MLB 09 team really wanted to convey the sights and sounds of baseball to you, our fans, in the best possible fashion. So when you are playing with your favorite team or player, check out all these details mentioned here. We know you’ll love it.
We appreciate your feedback and will always listen to our fans as we try to make the best game possible. Thanks for your time and we hope you enjoy MLB 09 The Show and the realism we bring to you. OK, that is the last time I will say realism…oops. Sorry, I said it again.