Baseball is a game completely built on statistics. For every happening in the game, there is a statistic. The game is completely built on probability, and every management decision is based on it. And as long as I can remember, there have been baseball games built on simulating the game based on mathematics, statistics, and probability. First, it was dice based games where you read charts based on the roll. Then, the card based games like APBA, Strat-O-Matic, and (my personal favorite) Statis Pro Baseball became the norm for the diehard simulation fan. As the PC became more prevalent in the home (note: You have no idea how I’m aging myself here), games like Micro League Baseball gave simulation fans the outlet to recreate their favorite seasons, predict new seasons, or create the ultimate “what if” scenario to determine the greatest teams or players of all time.
Eventually, the GM element that was typically simulated in your own mind started making its way into the games, and you could match wits with simulated GMs across the league. More and more front office capabilities have made their way into the game, allowing for not only on field simulations, but for off field as well. At the top of the list for the current baseball simulations is the Out of the Park series, or OOTP for short. And this year’s edition – OOTP 13 – shows no signs of relinquishing its title any time soon.
The beauty of OOTP 13 is how seamlessly you can decide just how hands on you will be with your team. Do you want to be the GM, and trust your manager to make the game time decisions? Do you want to just manage the team, and let the personnel decisions come from the top? Or, are you going to make every decision – who starts and sits, who is on the MLB club and who goes to AAA, and how much will a ticket to the game cost? OOTP 13 let’s you define what impact you’re going to have on your team.
The first interface you encounter in the game is the set up of your OOTP Universe. Here you set whether you want certain rules in effect. Do you go with the default rules, or is the DH rule a goner? Keep the new 1 game wild card playoff, or ditch Bud Selig’s stupid addition and go back to last year’s wild card rules? You set up who you are, pick what team you’ll run, and determine how your MLB will be run.
The next part of the game is the GM mode. Here is where you’ll take a look at your active roster, your 40 man roster, and your minor league system. You can take a look at general minor league reports that tell you who to move up and who to move down, and you can get scouting reports on the players in your system. Don’t agree with what you’re seeing in scouting? You can add more to the scouting budget, or fire the scouting staff and hire a new one. Don’t like your manager and his staff? Unleash your inner George Steinbrenner and send them all packing. The interface allows for all of this and just about anything else you can imagine as a GM, and does so with a lot of ease and flexibility.
The big part of GM mode that adds a ton of realism is the situation simulator. You’re dealing with major leaguers, and major league egos. You may get outbursts from players on your team about their role or playing time. And you get to deal with the fallout of those situations (lucky you!). Do you upset your player further to keep team unity and discipline, or do you go light to keep that superstar happy? Tread lightly, because the folks at OOTP have done a fine job of making sure your every decision makes an impact on the season in some way or another.
At this point, I’d like to make a personal note. As a Cubs fan who is trying to build his favorite team back to respectability in this game, I have only one thing to say to Jim Hendry: Thanks for nothing!
Tying all of this together is the manager mode. You can go in game and manage your favorite team through the season. Again, flexibility is the name of the game, and what makes OOTP the best sim out there. Do you want to micromanage every pitch? Do you want to just tell the pitcher or batter how to work this at bat and let them go? Do you want to call for an intentional walk or pitchout? It’s all here, and you can dive into this as far or as little as you wish. You can even simulate the entire game, week, month, or season, and let the game stop to notify you of anything that may need your attention (player outbursts, injuries, scouting reports, and the like).
If you’re looking for a baseball simulation that takes every aspect of America’s Pastime into account, and does so with a near flawless execution, then look no further than OOTP 13 for the PC, Mac, and Linux. If you think that you can do a better job than your team’s manager/GM, then this is where you can prove it. If you’re into baseball simulations, you owe it to yourself to pick up OOTP 13 at http://www.ootpdevelopments.com/ because the changes in this year’s edition turn this franchise from a Major League All-Star to a First Ballot Hall of Famer.