A Preview of Out of the Park Baseball 2016

Published: Feb 16, 2015 13:27pm EST
By Lance Rinker, Managing Editor for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Feb 16, 2015 @ 01:56pm EST

 

Every year a new sports game comes out, whether on console or for PC, and the most numerous complaints generally have to do with how little the game has changed from its predecessor. With Out of the Park Developments and their annual Out of the Park Baseball sim game, that has never been the case and OOTP 2016 seems to have really risen the bar for all baseball games across the board this year.

While the game itself has yet to be released (it launches in March), the list of new features and overall improvements seem to be another homerun for this game developer.

First and foremost, OOTP has – for the first time ever – secured a licensing agreement with Major League Baseball.

What this means is the game will feature all of the logos, players – all the way down to the low minor league level, all 30 MLB stadiums, and of course real 2015 Major League Opening Day rosters. My early expectations for this game are that it will be the most detailed, immersive, and experience yet for any baseball fan.

OOTP has already won numerous awards, including multiple “Sports Game of the Year” awards and from what we can tell from early screen shots and information provided, OOTP Developments is likely to earn itself another.

According to Lead Developer, and lifelong baseball fan, Markus Heinsohn, laying down the foundation for OOTP 16 began last August.

That’s when Heinsohn began brainstorming with his development team about how to improve upon one of the greatest editions in the OOTP catalog, OOTP 15, without creating a vastly different game that fans wouldn’t recognize.

Many of the new features introduced in this new version of the game came from the work put in very early on. From the improved A.I. to the Meet the Team screen, Heinsohn and his development team made it a point to only incorporate ideas and features that they felt fans would appreciate and knew fit into what makes OOTP great.

One of the newest additions to the OOTP development team is Matt Arnold, who actually flew to and lived in Hamburg, Germany for a while to work closely with Heinsohn.

“Coding began during the playoffs, and after the World Series, it kicked into high gear,” Heinsohn said. “The first thing we coded was the new Meet the Team screen.”

Heinsohn said the development timeline is right on track with where he expected it to be and the game will release right on time for fans to enjoy.

Some key improvements to this year’s game is an improved A.I. engine, making every aspect of running a major league team that much more realistic. Just as offensive production has declined in recent years on the field, OOTP 16 is introducing additional defensive strategies like the shift so it will be interesting to see how offensive production fares in the game.

Additional improvements include:

New team owner goals

The new team owner will give short- and long-term goals, which may include: winning the World Series within X seasons; fixing a certain weakness on the roster; extending the contract of a star player; and much more. Players' abilities to meet those goals not only decides if they'll be fired but also determines if their contract will be extended at a higher salary, another new feature added this year. (The "cannot be fired" option will still exist in OOTP 16.)

Improved team finances and reporting

The team finance system has been redesigned, including new season ticket sales, a team finances screen based on widgets, a new accounting screen, and much more.

Completely redesigned manager and coaches system

Managers and coaches will have certain personalities and special skills or preferences, which will result in plenty of interesting choices. Managerial choices will include easy-going stat-heads and hard-nosed veterans, while some pitching coaches will excel at working with power pitchers and others will be better suited at overseeing finesse pitchers.

Recoded team strategy system

Players will be able to set their teams' in-game strategies faster and easier than ever before, but if they play in GM-only mode, they may find that some managers won't allow certain strategies to be dictated.

New international and independent leagues added

Last year, OOTP 15 introduced seven international leagues in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Mexico, Cuba, Italy and The Netherlands. This year, OOTP 16 will add the Australian Baseball League to that list, along with several independent leagues in the US and Japan. All of those leagues will feature real rosters, with countless hours of work invested in researching realistic player biographical information, statistics, and ratings.

Better playoff coverage

A new Pennant Chase screen will display the strength of the remaining schedule and the chance for each team to make the playoffs. The related news coverage was also improved.

Improved 3D ball flight

OOTP 15 introduced support for 3D stadiums and realistic 3D ball flight, which was a big step-up for the series. OOTP 16 improves on that 3D presentation and will include great-looking 3D models of all 30 MLB ballparks.

Much more

  • New play modes (Manager only, GM only, and GM Manager)
  • An improved simulation engine that incorporates the latest research and trends, such as infield shifts and pitcher usage
  • Rainouts with automatic rescheduling (including double-headers), adding the realism that comes with rain-shortened and cancelled games
  • Better in-game sound effects
  • An enhanced interface, such as a player info pop-up when resting the mouse pointer over a button which links to a player, or automatic syncing between lineups and depth charts when making changes to either of them.
  • A new Find-A-Player feature: Define certain criteria (ratings, stats, salary etc.) and find the right player
  • Recoded All-Star Game features with real voting (including online league support)
  • Realistic OOTP Hall of Fame selection process, including simulated voting and new stats like JAWS, HoF Standards, Black & Grey Ink Tests
  • More player awards
  • Better playoff history tracking, including career playoff stats for all real players in the database and playoff leaderboards
  • Alternate currencies (Euro, Pounds Sterling, Yen, etc.)
  • The option to define background pictures for teams and leagues
  • And even more: Additional new features will be announced between now and when the game ships in March.

If you are a baseball fan, you owe it to yourself to play Out of the Park Baseball 16.

For information on how to pre-order the game,or join the OOTP community forum, visit ootpdevelopments.com/out-of-the-park-baseball.


 

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Lance Rinker
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