• Aug
    02

    HHP: Drungo Hazewood Reviews OOTP 15


    by DrungoHazewood

    I've been reviewing OOTP for the Hangout for many years now, so a lot of veterans know the basics of the game.  It's a text-based simulation with a depth that may not be matched by any sports game in the world.  It's not a video game, it's doesn't have hyper-realistic graphics, you won't see photographic quality representations of Buck Showalter coming out of the dugout to argue with the umpire.

     

    What you will get is an immersive experience in the baseball world of your choosing.  One of the major new features of version 15 is the inclusion of real rosters from a variety of US and international leagues.  While you literally have almost no bounds to the world you create, most players will probably start with real life leagues, and here you're not limited to just Major League Baseball.  If you start your OOTP career managing or GM'ing the Orioles you are now free to scout Japan, Taiwan, Korea (try to keep a light touch, I've heard they react poorly to aggressive scouts), Europe, and a variety of other leagues.

     

    Another highly-touted feature of the new version is a 3D stadium modeling addition.  While the game is text-based, there have long been static representations of stadiums and a FaceGen module that allows for realistic photograph-type representations of the game.  A few versions ago a very simple ball-placement engine was added to spruce up the in-game experience.  Now a 3D modeling module has been added.  The game designers have set the bar low, saying this is mainly for future growth, so the expansive online community can start to generate models of real and fictional ballparks.  Right now that's just getting off the ground and the feature isn't ready for prime time, at least from my experience.  After a half hour of downloading user-generated models and trying to integrate them into my baseball world I had enough problems that I reverted to the old jpgs.  The 3D models look very promising, but in OOTP15 it feels like a beta feature.

     

    Real Major League logos and other artwork seem absent to new users of the game.  Due to rights restrictions they can't be included in the game.  But there are in-game links to popular user-generated add-ons that look as professional as anything included in most licensed arcade baseball games.

     

    Version 15 keeps all of the best things about the previous iterations of the game.  It's so deep it can be daunting.  I have a long-running 40+ league simulation that literally has tens of gigabytes of data on the 20,000+ players and many hundreds of teams.  As a GM you can micromanage your organization down to the very lowest level of minor league team.  You can invent an entire indy league, place it in small towns in Western Maryland, design logos and artwork and uniforms, attempt to sign players on your $10,000 budget, and then try to win the trophy in your new kingdom.

     

    There are still several primary ways to play the game.  You can start a historical simulation using real players from any era of baseball history, with special tools to make that model real history, or you can set a starting point and allow things to naturally evolve.  Other people start in the present day and play today's game.  And still another group thinks reality is silly, and invent their own baseball universes.  From a single league in Western Maryland to a 100-league universe that includes Hobbits and ice baseball, almost nothing is off limits.

     

    I think a sizable chunk of the OOTP target market is the type of baseball fan who reads sites like The Hangout, or Baseball Prospectus, or Baseball Think Factory, and has baseball-reference.com and Fangraphs in heavy rotation.  Those people will be in heaven.  Early versions of OOTP quickly adopted sabermetric concepts, and OOTP 15 stays close to the cutting edge with easily-accessible mountains of the latest stats.  Clicking on Matt Wieters in my test simulation I can see that through 82 games of the '14 season he's 2.9 wins over replacement, has a 142 OPS+, a .879 OPS, is a +2 fielder, and has thrown out 34.5% of opposing basestealers.  And that just scratches the surface; almost everything you could find on baseball-reference's splits pages are available to the OOTP player.

     

    Every year I recommend OOTP to the kind of in-depth baseball fan that has a home on Orioles Hangout, and OOTP 15 will get my endorsement once again.  It's become a given that each year Markus Heinsohn and his small team of developers will release a new game that builds on its 15+ year foundation, and yet somehow adds new features that you soon will wonder how you ever did without.  OOTP 15 continues this tradition, strongly confirming its place as the best baseball management simulation on the market.


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