MLB 09 The Show – Road to the Show Training Modes

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MLB 09 The Show Screenshot 2/3

Hey everybody. My name is Eddy Cramm (Senior Designer), and it’s my turn to bring you MLB 09 The Show blog #3…or #4…maybe #5. Not really sure which one we are on. Bear with me, we are all working some long hours right now getting this game polished and out the door!

I am here to talk about the new features in Road to the Show. When all of this RTTS stuff started 3 years ago, the whole idea behind it was to give a unique career mode experience that focused exclusively on you. Initially that meant that we would fast-forward you to your events so that you only dealt with your fielding plays and your plate appearances, etc. Because lets be honest, who wants to sit out in RF during a career mode and watch three groundballs to the infield. It sucked in little league and it sucks in a career mode, too. But as RTTS progressed, our focus grew to be more than that. It became more about giving the user more control of his path to the majors.

Last year really took a huge step in the goals and points system. The guys on the front-end team like Aaron Luke, Kolbe Launchbaugh, and Jeff Ullman have built a pretty nifty system. That’s right…“nifty.” And from a gameplay standpoint, we have always wanted RTTS to feel like you are doing exactly what you would be doing, from going to Spring training, to working up through the minor leagues, etc. But success isn’t just about what you do in that game situation. Success comes from being prepared when that game moment arises. And contrary to what Allen Iverson thinks, that means practice. That thought process is what brought us to our main new feature this year. Training mode.

Training Mode
In RTTS this year, you will be given opportunities throughout the season to participate in training sessions as selected by your coach. There are two types of training sessions this year. Batting training and Base Stealing training. When we first started designing the batting portion of our training, we kept it a lot like the way the goals system worked. You would be asked to do a specific thing in training and you would be judged on your performance. So when a training session came up, you would be told, “Go practice bunting,” or “Work on your plate discipline.” That is all well and good, but it sucks if you have no interest in practicing your bunting, or could care less about laying off bad pitches. Maybe you just want to get in there and try to mash home runs.

It was one of our A.I. programmers, Brian Ma, that suggested a slight change of focus. He suggested that we just create one type of batting training and just judge it based on what the user does in there. To which I said, “Screw off Brian, I am the designer here! Get back in your office and write some code!!” Ok, maybe I didn’t say that. It was actually a really great idea and is basically the approach we ended up taking. It satisfied one major thing that I thought we were lacking with the original design. It gives the user control of the type of player he can create. So if you take your guy in there and you want to build up his bunting attributes, you can focus on that. If you want to work on your discipline, contact, power, vision, it is all based on what YOU decide to do and how well you do it in the 20 pitch training session.

MLB 09 The Show Screenshot 2/3

Base Stealing
Base Stealing training is something that I have wanted to do for the last couple of years now. This year we have done that. In this training, you will have full control of how far you take a lead and when you decide to take off. You have free reign to get a great jump or totally screw it up and get picked off. But that is only half of it. The pitcher should have something to say about how comfortable you are with your lead and your jump. We have introduced new A.I. and animations for the pitcher so that he will do his best to keep you off-balance, like mix up his pickoff moves to give you different looks or even slide-step to the plate to try to get an advantage.

But just like in real life, some guys have better moves than others, or MORE moves than others. So we have different here as well too. So if you are facing a guy like Pettitte, you will have to be a little more cautious. In this training mode, you will be judged on your aggressiveness, your reaction time and your success. The better you do, the more attributes you will gain in Base Running Ability, Base Running Aggressiveness, and Speed.

For realism purposes, we created a training facility where you will do your training when you are in the Majors. But also for realism, if you are in Spring Training, or in the Minors, you will do your training at your home field. During the season, your training sessions will be offered at the beginning of the homestand. Both the Batting and the Base Stealing training are also available in the Main Menu as practice options. These practice options are the same structure except you get to choose who you want to hit or run with, which pitcher you want to face, AND you can choose which pitches he will throw at you from his repertoire. So if you just want to face Santana’s slider, or Zito’s curve, or mix in a combo like Hoffman’s change/fastball, go for it. You can also choose any stadium in case you want to try to hit it over the Green Monster.

MLB 09 The Show baserunning training screenshot

I think that about covers it. I think that everyone will really like the new additions to RTTS and I look forward to the feedback. I will answer one question right now that I know will be asked. “Why is there no Pitching or Fielding training??” Valid question. I am glad you asked. Basically it comes down to a question of quality. We have designs for Pitching and for Fielding, but doing all 4 this year would mean that we would have had to do a little less with each mode just to get them all in. So we made the decision to focus on the two and make them as polished and fun as we could. And yes, plans are already underway to bring Pitching and Fielding training to 2010.

If you have made it all the way to the end of this blog, props to you. Hope you got some interesting info out of it and go out and pick up MLB 09 The Show. You are going to love it.

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