Yes, and I still prefer PYS or Pawapuro over it. The Show was real close last year, and this year it looks like they'll likely pull even, which isn't surprising as they continue to implement cool features from the Konami titles into their product.Projectjustice said:Why would they do that? Did you even play 2K8?
MLB 2K9 First Hands-On - Gamespot
Pitching and batting get some tweaks in our exclusive hands-on with MLB 2K9.
If it has been a while since you've played 2K Sports' MLB 2K series, don't be surprised if the first pitch you throw on the mound is a strike. OK, allow yourself to be a little bit surprised; after all, the long-running baseball series has been chasing the virtual pitching sweet spot for nearly as long as Vlad Guerrero has been chasing curveballs. While it's too early to put the final judgment on our pitching prospects in MLB 2K9--as well as the rest of the game's lineup of features and improvements--based on what we saw last week during a demo of the game with 2K producers, things are looking up.
Like all of the core titles in 2K Sports' roster of sports games, MLB 2K9 has been pulled into internal development. The result is a baseball game that, at least graphically, has been built from the ground up. Producers told us that while the AI code has been modified and built from previous entries in the MLB 2K series, the look and feel of the game are new. That includes the new front-end menus, which are reminiscent of those found in NBA 2K9.
There's no jaw-dropping feature in MLB 2K9 that looks to reinvent baseball games entirely. What the development team has done, instead, is pay attention to the complaints about MLB 2K8 and directly address them. While the preview code we played still looked and felt early (with graphical hitches aplenty), producers told us the development aims to deliver a smooth gameplay experience running at a full 60 frames per second. In addition, all of the cutaways during gameplay--from the crowd, to the players warming up in the batter's circle, to the batboy running up to home plate--will be real-time renders, not prerendered cutscenes.
Real-time cutaways are nice, but it's the nuts and bolts of pitching, batting, and fielding that will make the difference with MLB 2K9. We sampled all three, and while fielding remains virtually unchanged, the pitching and batting controls have received some subtle tweaks that improve both. The focus is still on the right stick, with each pitch in your pitcher's arsenal having a unique pattern to follow. Unlike in MLB 2K8, however, the timing is much easier. Last year's game featured an expanding and contracting onscreen ring in the strike zone, which determined both the effectiveness and the timing of your pitch. In MLB 2K9, the contracting ring has been removed, effectively removing the "timing" aspect of pitching and thus the rash of meatballs you would unwittingly throw in last year's game. Producers told us that pitching is still a challenge, but the game will focus more on the accuracy of your right stick movement than the timing of your release. Considering our intense dislike for last year's pitching system, this felt like an improvement to us, though obviously more time is required to see how the system plays out in the long run.
Batting, too, has received a face-lift. As with pitching, you still use the right stick to swing the bat. Unlike in previous games, however, you don't need to time your backswing; instead, you can hold the right stick down and your batter will stay in his prepared backswing stance. Then, when the ball crosses the mound, you can swing as you normally would. While the batting in MLB 2K8 was probably more true to life, it's more fun in MLB 2K9, and in this case, we'll go with fun over realism. Another new feature: the ability to influence the path of the ball when you make contact by moving the left analog stick in any direction. Move it up for a fly ball, down for a grounder, left to send the ball toward the third baseman, and so on. Naturally, the timing of your swing and when you make contact with the ball will still come into play here; the left stick will be just for influencing the path of the ball.
Our hands-on time with MLB 2K9 was limited to an inning or so. Afterward, producers gave us a tour of some of the other features that will be part of this year's game. As in previous MLB 2K games, the Inside Edge scouting service will be a big part of the action in MLB 2K9. Using the Inside Edge feature, you can get a detailed breakdown of the tendencies and history of every big-league player in the game. Producers told us that the Inside Edge feature also had an influence on the player ratings that the team came up with for this year's player roster. In addition to the Inside Edge player rating, MLB 2K9 will use sabermetrics, the highly specialized stats made famous by baseball analyst Bill James. These stats are essentially different ways of analyzing players and include value over replacement player, stolen base runs, game scores (average game score for a given pitcher), and more.
Both Inside Edge scouting and sabermetrics statistics will be ideal tools for use in your MLB 2K9 franchise, which has a look and feel much like that of NBA 2K9. Using an MLB.com front page, you'll get caught up with all of the latest news in your virtual franchise, generated on the fly from stats and game results as the season progresses. You can control up to 30 teams in your franchise (up from four in MLB 2K8), and as in NBA 2K9, you can customize what you control and what you don't in your franchise. Don't want to deal with the minor leagues? Automate it. Don't want to deal with player trades or your pitching rotation? Automate them.
Another similarity between NBA 2K9 and MLB 2K9 involves player ambitions. As in NBA 2K9, every player in MLB 2K9 will have individual desires based on factors like financial security, team prestige, and playing time. How each player measures up in each of these categories will determine just what he's looking for when it comes time to sit down and negotiate a contract. The smart GMs will tailor their offers to their players' individual needs. Add to that the MLB version of the living roster feature that was found in NBA 2K9, and you've got a baseball game that goes deep with the stats and will be constantly updated to keep up with the real sport.
Good news for fans of the playing-card feature in MLB 2K8: The feature is returning for MLB 2K9. Even better news? It's going to be easier to earn cards and build your playing-card team than it was last year. For those who missed it last season, the trading card feature lets you earn player cards of real MLB players by completing various challenges, and then field your own unique team in the game (or take online against other players' trading card teams).
Last year, you had to complete a challenge with a certain player to earn that player's card; in MLB 2K9, you'll be able to earn a card by either completing a challenge with that player or completing a different challenge against that player. For instance, to earn Ryan Dempster's card, you'll need to either pitch four consecutive shutout innings with the Cubs starter or get six earned runs against Dempster in a single game. While we'd still prefer to buy cards in packs with in-game currency and leave a little of the trading-card system to chance, this new system will at least make it easier to build a decent team quickly. You'll naturally start with a full set of cards to build a playing-card team, and you'll be able to substitute in better players as you go. As in last year's game, you'll be able to get cards only by earning them in a game--no cards will be awarded for simulating games.
With Gary Thorne and former Mets GM Steve Phillips replacing Jon Miller and Joe Morgan in the booth, MLB 2K9's commentary will have a fresh new sound to it. And, of course, the game will still have all of the online features you've come to expect from the folks at 2K Sports. Still, it's the control changes that we're most curious about. We hope to get a better idea as to how these new tweaks change the gameplay in MLB 2K9 and will be bringing you more on the game ahead of its release in early March.
Wait.....no more Jon Miller and Joe Morgan?New Broadcast Team Gary Thorne provides the play by play calls alongside color analyst Steve Phillips giving a new perspective and more depth for a true-to-life, insightful
broadcast. With improved sound effects including real time crowd noise youll feel like youre actually sitting in the park.
New Broadcast Team Gary Thorne provides the play by play calls alongside color analyst Steve Phillips giving a new perspective and more depth for a true-to-life, insightful
broadcast. With improved sound effects including real time crowd noise youll feel like youre actually sitting in the park.
daycru said:Have their been any impressions? Every year 2K releases these good looking yet super filtered bullshots and every year the game is an affront to God himself.
sportzhead said:Looks pretty damn good.
Major League Baseball 2K9 Developer Diary: Gameplay
Submitted on: 02/10/2009 by Steve Noah
Hi everyone, my name is Jonathan Rivera and I am the Gameplay Producer on MLB 2K9. As an avid gamer and baseball fan, it was a dream opportunity for me to work on a baseball title. I look forward to building on what weve been able to do this year and continue to improve on this franchise. As some of you already know, this year was challenging as we were switching development studios, as the game is now developed internally at Visual Concepts.
With a new team, came a lot of opportunity to evaluate areas of the game that worked and didnt work. This was a very important part of the process because most of us internally felt like there were many items in MLB 2K8 that separated us from our competitors.
Here at 2K, we are always striving to deliver the most authentic experience to our users. We want the users to look at our game and notice small details like how Kevin Youkilis holds his bat before each pitch and how he transitions his hands from higher on the bat down to a normal grip.
Signature style is something that weve been doing quite a while now across our sports titles, and we expanded on that this year even more for MLB 2K9 with over 300 new signature animations. When we announced that Tim Lincecum was going to be our cover athlete, we were all pretty excited to have a Cy Young winner represent our game, but even more than that it was going to be a great opportunity to really nail his signature delivery.
Soon after the announcement was made about him being our cover athlete, he came into our motion capture studio and we were able to capture a lot of animations unique to Tim including pitching from the windup, the stretch, strikeout reactions, homerun reactions, stepping in and out of the batters box, and many others. We spend a lot of time researching and perfecting each players signature style that it was a relief having the athlete come into our studio and all we had to say was Do what you do! The shoot was an amazing experience, and our game will be better for it.
The goal this year was to make the game more accessible while maintaining the challenge our dedicated fans have come to expect, and we did this in five key areas.
One of the things that we all really enjoyed was the control for pitching. We felt like pitching with the Right Analog Stick was natural and it really added a lot of depth to gameplay. The thing that I liked the most about performing gestures was that it forced the user to really think about what pitch they want to throw in each situation. With traditional controls, once you perfected the timing of the meter or button presses, it was easy to get the perfect pitch every time. Because the perfect pitch in our game is defined in many different ways including having the perfect gesture, its not as big of an issue and adds a lot of variety to gameplay. With that said, we felt like the meatball was too much punishment for making even the slightest error last year in MLB 2K8.
Changes to pitching:
Ø No more meatball The idea of throwing a bad pitch when you made a poor gesture was good but the way we designated a meatball was definitely too harsh. What we did instead was to identify earlier on in the gesture process the pitch the user is attempting to throw, if they dont finish the gesture or make a poor gesture we simply affect the way that pitch is thrown. For example, Fastballs will be straighter and slower while Curveballs will have less break on the ball. Naturally, this will make those pitches more hittable without making them meatballs.
Ø Removed the Release Timing - We felt that the Release Timing aspect of throwing a pitch made the game less accessible. After thorough focus testing, we discovered that the aspect of pitching that attributed to the most meatballs was the release timing. As a result, we kept Release timing as an option to the user but not on the default controls. If a user loved the way it worked last year, they can turn it on from the pause menu.
Ø Inside Edge Data driving the AI Inside Edge is our exclusive scouting service which is also used by some MLB teams to get reports on players. As in previous years, you can purchase these reports during your franchise to earn an extra advantage when facing the AI opponents. Our pitchers decision making is primarily based off Inside Edge data for pitchers and weaknesses. When deciding what pitch to throw where, our pitchers have to take into consideration many different variables most simply broken down into two aspects:
o What does the pitcher want to throw and where?
o What are the hitters weaknesses?
We spent a lot of time tuning this aspect as it is crucial to the final experience a user has while playing the game. For example, one of our early iterations of this feature resulted in the pitchers rarely throwing fastballs because the data indicated that Fastballs are the pitch that hitters are most successful against. The problem was that our AI wasnt taking into consideration enough of Pitchers strengths rather mostly the hitters weaknesses. After much tuning and testing, we ended up with a system that takes all of those variables into consideration and then decides what pitch would be ideal in that specific situation and count.
The same pitch selection logic is used for the user by our catcher. In our game, our catcher suggests what pitch to throw and the location. The decision making of the catchers suggestion is the same used by the AI when pitching.
When evaluating the hitting system we knew that we really liked swinging with the right stick. We wanted to keep the same basic swing of pressing DOWN and then UP to time the actual swing. In MLB 2K8, we felt that most pickup and play users struggled with figuring out when to press down thus resulting in many poor hits. In order to fit our overall goal of making the game more accessible, we allowed the user to press down to set at any point during the at bat. We found that this not only made the game more accessible, it also made the game significantly more fun and allowed us to implement other aspects of hitting so that the user can focus more on pitch, and location of the pitch.
One of the high level goals that we had going into designing hitting for MLB 2K9 was to give the user the opportunity to read pitches and decide when to swing. In last years game, most users would swing at every pitch and be pretty successful. This year, our AI pitches more to the edges and out of the strike zone so it really helps if you can take a pitch and wait for your pitch as MLB players do in real life all the time. To help achieve this goal, we moved the hitting camera a little bit lower than it was in MLB 2K8 which allows the user to get a better read on the pitches low in the strike zone.
One of my favorite new features that we implemented is the ability to influence hit direction. Hit influence is controlled by the Left Stick:
Ø Up for a Flyball
Ø Down for a Groundball
Ø Left to Influence the hit Left
Ø Right to Influence the hit Right
That means if you want to attempt to hit the ball in the air to left field you just hold the Left Stick up and left.
Additionally, this feature really works because it allows a more realistic way of hitting where if you attempt to pull an outside pitch, you are most likely going to get a poor hit. As a hitter you are better off going with the pitch and swinging in the direction of where the pitch was thrown.
Lastly, we implemented zone hitting as an alternate control scheme. Zone hitting is where you have a cursor and you have to put the cursor in the same zone that the ball crosses the plate in addition to your regular swing. Zone hitting works with either the Classic swing (press A button) or Total Control (RStick). We also added a sweet spot to the cursor, if you lineup the sweet spot of the cursor where the ball crosses the plate, the hitter will get an additional boost to your hit.
For fielding, we really liked the controls of last years game but we thought we could expand on the current system and streamline the throw system a little bit more. Our main goal was to fix a lot of the fielding bugs that were in last years game in addition to adding a couple of new features to add a level of depth to the overall experience.
We received a lot of feedback in last years game about certain animations taking too long to play and feeling like there was nothing you can do to put a sense of urgency to your fielder. Also, once you started to throw in a certain direction, you werent able to change your mind so as soon as you start the throw meter you are committed to that throw. As a result, we added two new features:
Ø Quick Throw Modifier The throws will be quicker but there is a risk/reward to this feature, because you are essentially rushing your throw, there will be more room for error on the throw meter.
Ø Hold Ball As long as you have the button held down, the player will not throw to any base. This can also be used to pump fake during a pickle.
For baserunning we thought, well we hit, pitch and throw with the right stick, why shouldnt we run the bases with it too? So, the simple baserunning controls are:
Ø Press A button to select base runner
Ø Using the Right Stick press in the direction that you want the base runner to run to. So if you hit a ball into the gap, just move the Right Stick to the left to indicate that you want to try to stretch a triple. If you want him to stop at 2B, just press UP on the right stick.
We also drastically changed the way you steal bases in our game for MLB 2K9. This is one of my personal favorite features because I think it adds a lot more risk to stealing and gives the user full control over their base runner.
Basically, when you have a runner on first base you press LT (L2 on PS3) to take a lead. To steal, hold LT until it vibrates which will indicate that your runner is ready to take off. The runner will now take off when you release the button. Stealing on the fly certainly adds a lot of fun to base stealing because now the user is forced to try to get a good jump on the pitcher. If you get a good jump, you will actually take off right before the pitcher starts his delivery and get a perfect steal.
We also added a little more information for pitchers, if you look over at the runner thats on base, we give you his steal rating which indicates how much of a threat he is, so if you have Benji Molina standing at 1st, his steal rating will be pretty low and you can focus on the hitter.
As always, we spend a lot of focus and attention on getting the right atmosphere for a baseball game. We want our users to feel like they are getting the same experience in playing our game as if they were watching a baseball game on TV. There are many different aspects of presentation that help the overall goal to improve the atmosphere in our game.
First, we wanted to get rid of cut scenes and have everything happen real-time. When replacing cut scenes with real-time events, we not only focused on big events like home runs and world series celebrations but smaller details like, What happens to the bat after a player gets a hit?, the answer is the ball boy runs to the bat, picks it up and takes it back to the dugout. Our dugouts now react to the events on the field; if a pitcher is subbed out the manager walks out to the mound, takes the ball from the pitcher on the mound and gives it to the reliever coming in from the bullpen. We felt like that kind of real-time detail would add a lot to the overall experience.
Next, we established players moving around in real time. It gave us an opportunity to create a lot of the same camera shots that are used during a live telecast. We have many shots of the players walking back to the dugout, players running out of the dugout and to their positions in-between innings, the players warming up in the bullpen, etc. When playing our game, I always feel like the presentation adds a level of authenticity to our broadcast that enhances the baseball experience for me.
Finally, we focused on improving the crowd in our game. MLB 2K9 has the best and most lively crowd that weve ever had. Our crowd now reacts to our game not only over audio but you can see them individually get up after pitches or when a big pitch is coming, theyll all get up in anticipation of a big hit or strikeout. If a home run is hit, you can see the crowd get up and watch the ball fly out as they would in real life and when the ball lands, our fans will try to catch it.