Tuesday, April 14, 2015

MLB 2015 The Show: Road to the Show (part two)

What usually drives me crazy about annual sports franchise releases is that so little time is spent on making the game better for the people who play the most.

The best example of this is Madden, which will have a bunch of new crap "features" that just represent churn, not improvement, and in some cases, they actively make the game worse. Almost always, though, those features are useless for the hardcore user.

If you wanted to play Road to the Show last year, and by "play" I mean multiple seasons, cranking through games, here were the problems
1. Loading times. Getting in and out of a game during the season meant 30+ second loading times each way.
2. Pitchers threw over to first base. All the time. I saw four consecutive throws over to first base between pitches dozens of times. Brutal.
3. Fielding cameras for outfielders. There were lots of edge cases where the fielding cameras was totally useless. There was an "arrow indicator" under the player's feet, but that could be imprecise. This made good fielding almost impossible for an outfielder.
4. "Hair Salem" (damn it, I can't read my writing. That could be anything).
5. Lots and lots of screen hopping to do things.

Guess what changed?
1. Loading times have been cut in half. Very, very impressive.
2. Pickoff moves are rare, and I've never seen more than one throw over between pitches.
3. Fielding cameras are still problematic for outfielders, unfortunately. This is easily fixable--just pull the camera back further--but there's no option to do that.
4. "Hair Salem". Yeah, I'm going to assume that's fixed.
5. Screen layout is much improved. I didn't like it--at first--but the more I played, the more it made sense. For the vast majority of what you do in RTTS, it requires less hopping around screens now.

Here's a view of the main menu for RTTS mode:

That is a TON of usable information on one screen: next game, team calendar, league updates, training info, player comparisons, and equipment (kind of a crap feature where you can earn and equip certain brands of gear for a stat boost. Not interested, and get off my lawn, you damn kids.).

Everything--absolutely everything--is one or two button presses away, at worst. Again, this is something that's most useful for the players who play hundreds of games, and it's terrific to see that player group being rewarded.

What this all means is that when I sit down to play, there's no single thing that is annoying enough to make me stop playing. Last year, the loading times drove me insane, and then, when I got into a game, the throws to first base were even worse.

Now, that's all fixed. Single games take around 5 minutes to play (you only see the plays your player is involved in), loading in and out is very quick, and it's all pretty fantastic.

Except for the $*#*@ fielding camera. Hey, nothing's perfect.

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