Tuesday, April 25, 2017

MLB The Show 17: Design, Realism, and Fun

Enormous Bottoms, now in AAA, had a chance to win both the HR and RBI titles with four games to play in his season (now playing for the El Paso Chihuahuas after his original team foolishly traded him away).

He had 30 HR, one behind the leader. He was comfortably ahead in RBI, with 95, but wanted to reach that magic century mark.

Well, in those four games, his team put exactly zero runners in scoring position while he was at the plate. Zero

So what did he do? He hit four home runs (three on consecutive at-bats in one game), and one of those homers brought home a runner from first.

That's going big, Bottoms style.

34 HR and 100 RBI. League leader in both.

This was perfect. He wasn't rated highly enough to call up to the Majors, but he was good enough that he would destroy AAA until he built up a huge bank of training points.

One week later, he was traded.

He went from a beautiful ballpark to an absolute dump, but there was a short porch in right field, and when he hit a routine fly ball that turned into a home run in the season opener, it looked like it might not be so bad after all.

In the second game, in the first inning, he tore his MCL.

Out for the season.

In the offseason, hewas picked up by the Astros in the Rule 5 draft (one of many arcane rules in baseball). A Rule 5 pickup must stay on the major league roster for an entire season or he reverts back to his previous team.


Now healthy but far weaker than the other outfielders on the Astros roster, Enormous Bottoms gets fifteen at-bats in the first thirty games of the season. On the rare occasions when he plays, he presses and performs poorly.

Now, in one sense, this is just incredible game design, because it's an uncanny mirror to real life. I felt frustration, and anxiety, and even a little anger.

You know what, though? It's not very much fun.

I'm torn. One of the things I did in Gridiron Solitaire (which was ludicrously realistic), one of the things I prided myself on, was that the game would organically generate all the crazy momentum swings and emotions of real football, and it did.

Sometimes, though, as in real life, those momentum swings were downright punitive, and quite frustrating.

So I know how difficult it is to make a sports sim seem realistic, and what The Show has done in career mode is absolutely amazing.

I could have had more fun, though.

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