Thursday, June 30, 2016

Video Games and Baseball: Part 2

One of many unique baseball teams/logos
Coming back up to home plate, I would like to add to what has already been said about baseball video games. Gamers have seen MLB video games been made left and right, updated every year for the hardcore MLB fan. Nothing wrong with staying true to the real game of baseball, but we can't forget about why customization and giving baseball a fun fictional spin are actually critical to positive fan reception.

The above logo of the Kokomo Jackrabbits baseball team is one example that I can use to describe how game devs can make a baseball video game fun. Just look at the logo and observe it for a little bit. Forget about the fact that human beings play on this team and rethink the logo. What do you see? What can you imagine? Cartoon jackrabbits swinging carrot themed baseball bats? Cartoon jackrabbits playing baseball on their own farm themed baseball field? Do you see where I'm going with this?

Detail or no detail, make baseball fun for gamers!
We don't need to just let Mario and the Mushroom Kingdom draw up our imaginations of a fictional baseball league. Why can't we let our imaginations run wild, create our own unique characters, and throw out a fictional baseball league for gamers to enjoy? This is the sort of thing that will get gamers talking, in my opinion. I am aware that creating a custom cartoon baseball league from scratch is a challenging endeavor, but my point is that it can be done with enough time and thorough planning. Game devs can pull it off. They just need to have the patience to see it through.

Give gamers enough things to do. Give them options such as varying tournament styles, customizable regular season formats, distinct Challenge Modes, etc. Give them the ability to unlock new character models for custom teams. Throw out as many ideas as you would like within reason. Make it up to the player to decide what he or she will include in their own fictional baseball league. Does the player want to have a bunch of forest animal species play in this league? Does the player want to see people who take up real life occupations duke it out Backyard Baseball style? Does the player want to keep the league in the United States, or does he or she want to take the league international or intergalactic?

It also helps that you give gamers a Tutorial Mode to work with so that way they won't feel lost when dealing with the game's mechanics. Never forget about the Tutorial Mode. Trust me.

I guess it depends on what the game devs would consider to be fun and playful for a fictional baseball league. Maybe you want to implement themes like the Wild West, Medieval England, Pirates of the Caribbean, Samurais and Ninjas, etc.? Maybe you just want folks who come from settings like Bad News Bears, The Sandlot, The Natural or Bull Durham? Maybe you want some mixture of everything I've mentioned in this blog post? Think about it.

Now at the bottom of the 9th inning, I will walk it off with this thought. We need to keep gamers interested. We need to keep them coming back to play. That's the name of the game. That's the goal of any video game we make for our audiences. We can't just settle for cookie cutter ballparks that have almost the exact same ballpark dimensions. Nobody wants to see that. Instead gamers want to see ballparks that are quirky like the ones we know; Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Coors Field, AT&T Park - the ballparks of yesteryear that are no longer with us; Ebbets Field, Polo Grounds, Sulphur Dell,  Crosley Field - and the ballparks that you probably haven't heard about; Point Stadium in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana, Clipper Magazine Stadium in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Bringhurst Field in Alexandria, Louisiana.

I know game devs are creative and I think one day it will be time for them to step into their own batting cage and start swinging away with concepts and designs. Warm up in the bullpen and see what you got to throw out there! Play ball!

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