Hey everyone, I’m Kirby St. John, a designer with the MLB The Show development team. My main focus year-to-year is improving and evolving one of our most popular modes, Road to The Show. The mode made some big strides last year, especially in terms of gameplay and presentation, but for MLB 14, we really wanted to focus on the logic and systems that govern the mode in an effort to allow for more variety and less restrictions. We also wanted to provide some new experiences never seen before in RTTS. The video touched on a lot of topics, but in this blog I will expand on what was introduced there and discuss some of the exciting things that were only briefly mentioned.
Topps Amateur Showcase—A new beginning to your favorite mode
Covered In The Video:
- When creating your new ballplayer, you will select a home region (West, Central, East, International), which will become your team in the Showcase.
- The Showcase comprises of three games.
- Major League® scouts will be grading your performance in order to determine your Draft stock.
- The Draft experience includes the ability to hear all of the selections in your round called out, including your own name.
- You are able to re-play the Showcase by “returning to school,” but doing so will age your player.
The addition of the Topps® Amateur Showcase in MLB® 14 The Show™ is really an exciting addition to RTTS because it opens the possibilities of what you can experience in terms of career progression. In past versions of the Road to The Show, it was always assumed your player was an A-Potential player, destined for greatness in the Majors, and he was treated as such. That all changes in MLB® 14, as the new RTTS player will start out as a middle-of-the-road, C-Potential prospect with many unanswered questions about his future skills. However, over the course of the three Showcase games, that blurry picture will become much clearer, as the scouts will analyze your every move on the field. It is important to know that they are not just interested in stats. They are mostly watching your approach to each situation you encounter. This means that a game where you get three bloop base-hits probably won’t be scored as well as a game where you go 0-for-4 with four well-hit missiles to the outfield. At the end of each game you will receive an update on how your stock has changed as a result of that game’s performance. Also, your Potential rating will reflect the rise or fall in your stock, so when the Topps® Amateur Showcase is all said and done, you may be anywhere from a F-Potential, 7th Round pick to an A-Potential, first overall selection.
A Few More Notes:
• The Topps® Amateur Showcase features its own presentation package, with color commentary focusing on your player and in the context of the games being played with the Draft looming.
• All Showcase games are played in the Baseball City, FL stadium, which is part of the Spring Training list.
• You are awarded Training Points for each year you decide to “return to school” to help you improve your player before you compete in the Showcase again.
• As a Starting Pitcher, you will pitch 3 innings in each game for a total of 9 innings.
• As a Closing Pitcher, you will pitch 1 inning in each game for a total of 3 innings.
• You can still choose your organization before the Draft. You will be taken by the team of your choice in the round you have been projected for.
• After your name has been called in the Draft, Matt Vasgersian, Eric Karros, and Steve Lyons will provide their analysis and discuss what they think about your future as a pro.
New Advancement Logic—No more goals, way more possibilities
Covered In The Video:
• There are no more advancement goals you must achieve in order to be considered for a promotion. This includes both statistical goals and training goals.
• The new logic was designed to replicate how organizations evaluate and rank their players in real life. Performance is obviously the most important factor, but a player’s perceived upside, or Potential, and their current skill level are also key components when it comes to comparing players.
• There are no longer any restrictions as far as how far up or down you can move when you are promoted or demoted. It is possible to go straight from Double-A to the Majors if the situation is right, although this will be pretty rare.
• Advancement Periods are no longer set to a certain number of games or series. Promotions and Demotions can happen at any time during the regular season. Essentially, your organization is always evaluating you and getting called-up or sent down will come as a surprise, just as it would in real life.
The new Player Comparison screen is the best place to keep track of your career progression and to compare yourself against other players in your organization. If you find yourself ranked above the starter at the level above you, you can expect that a promotion might be coming for you in the near future. However, you must be ranked significantly higher than that player to take his job. You can also view players at other positions or on other teams if you’re interested. There is a lot of information to analyze on this screen, so here is a breakdown of what it all means:
• Perception: A player’s current career status as determined by his playing level (Minors or MLB®), his age, his Overall, and his Potential. Keep in mind that this is not an attribute and does not directly impact advancement decisions. It is simply a quick description to give you an idea of where a guy stands as a player.
• Performance: A description of the player’s statistical output for the current season compared to what is expected of him based on his Overall rating. There are five levels of Performance: Exceeding Expectations, Above Expectations, As Expected, Below Expectations, and Failing Expectations. Performing better than “As Expected” will help raise your Potential, while the opposite is true if you play worse than expected.
• Role: A player’s current role within the organization. This can range from Double-A Bench to MLB® Starter.
• Potential: A player’s perceived ceiling as a ballplayer. This is the type of player your organization believes you could become at the peak of your career. This rating will update periodically throughout your career based on you statistical performance, making it possible to change the way your organization sees you, good or bad. As mentioned, this is a key factor when it comes to ranking players on the Comparison Screen. You will often see a player with a high Potential ranked higher than other players with better Overall ratings because teams really value high-upside players. A player with an “A” Potential will often be on the “fast-track” to the Majors as long as his performance and skill progression are good.
• Overall: This is a player’s cumulative rating based on all of his attributes combined and how they relate to the primary position he plays. This only changes when you train attribute with Training Points or if attributes begin to regress due to lack of training. Overall plays a big part in advancement decisions, but it can be overshadowed by Adjusted Overall if it is significantly better or worse. Essentially, an organization will ignore what they believe a player’s actual skill level is if his performance forces them to think otherwise.
• Adjusted Overall: A player’s Overall rating that is modified to reflect his current statistical output. For example, if a player’s Overall is 75, but he is “Exceeding Expectations,” his Adjusted Overall might be something like 83. A player’s Adjusted Overall is a major factor in advancement decisions, especially if it varies from a player’s actual Overall rating by a large margin.
[Comparison Screen screenshot]
Again, players on the Comparison Screen are ranked based on a formula that factors Potential, Overall, and Adjusted Overall. Those factors are weighted differently depending on the Performance level of each player in an effort to make statistics more important when they are really good or really bad.
A Few More Notes:
• You will likely not be promoted to the next level just to play a bench role unless it’s for something like replacing an injured player temporarily.
• However, you can be benched if you are playing really poorly in a starting role and you’re Potential is not on the high side. If your Potential is good, but you are struggling, you are more likely to be demoted to a lower level as a starter to get more seasoning.
• The Trade Request and Position Change Interactions have been tweaked to allow for more mobility. It will not be as difficult as years past to get traded, and changing positions is pretty easy to do as long as your Overall rating doesn’t take too big of a hit by doing so. Using these Interactions strategically could be crucial to putting yourself in a better situation to move up the ladder. For example, you will likely want to change positions if you are a Center Fielder playing for Anaheim. Just a tip!
Oh Yeah, There’s More…
The process of creating your RTTS ballplayer has be re-envisioned in a couple different ways. To start, you now have the option to create a player modeled after a real MLB® player. If you choose to do so, your player’s skill set will emulate that of the player you chose, but with trimmed down attributes to make him Double-A quality. In addition, you will also inherit other things like his body attributes, handedness, signature animations, pitch repertoire (if applicable), and accessories. However, all of that is still editable to your liking.
You can still choose to build a custom player, and that process has also been improved. We have removed the sliders, and instead you now have five “Flex Points” to add to the tools like Contact, Power, Fielding, etc. The tools are obviously different for pitchers, but the concept is the same. We provide you with positional minimums to get you started. So, now it’s up to you what you want your strengths to be, and adding to a tool like Power won’t take away from a tool like Speed.
The Training Screen has been enhanced this year to make it more user-friendly and informative. You no longer have to guess how many points it will take to level-up an attribute, as the screen will tell you exactly how many points it will cost to upgrade to the level you have set the bar to. You can also train multiple attributes at one time and keep track of how much progress you have made with each attribute in that current year. From a logic standpoint, the cost of training has changed too, so now it is really expensive to level-up when you start getting attributes in the 80’s and 90’s. This makes it harder to become unrealistically good and expensive to maintain such high attributes when they start regressing.
When it comes to earning Training Points for your player, the Performance Evaluator has seen some significant changes that will greatly impact the way you play the mode. First of all, the PE now tracks your performance and approach during base running and fielding appearances, something we have never done before. In the field, you will be rewarded for things like quick reactions to a ball hit your way, smart throwing decisions, assists, and put outs. Errors and bad decisions will take away points. On the bases, stealing bases, getting good jumps, successfully tagging up, getting into scoring position, scoring a go-ahead run, etc. will earn you points, while getting picked off, making bad decisions, or getting caught stealing will obviously hurt you. The idea behind this change is to make those elements of RTTS gameplay more engaging and meaningful than they have been in the past.
If you want to maximize your Training Point earnings, you can also purchase the new RTTS 2x Boost from The Show Shop using your Stubs. This will provide you with double the amount of Training Points for each appearance you have over a set number of games (innings if you are a pitcher). What makes this unique and fun is that your in-game performance is vitally important to you maximizing the reward you receive, so make sure you are on top of your game when the Boost is active!
Finally, the Performance Evaluator also extends to games that you simulate.
Every appearance your player has in a game that is simulated will be evaluated and rewarded with Training Points, however at a fraction of the in-game rate. For example, if you player gets a base-hit in a simmed game, you can expect to get about 50% of the value you would have received had you actually played and gotten that hit yourself. The idea behind simulation training points is to allow those users who don’t obsessively play every appearance to stay afloat, keep progressing, and get deeper into their careers, without having to grind away at each game in a long season. Still, your player will progress much faster if you actually play the majority of your games.
The training modes you encounter throughout your career have been given a freshening up in MLB® 14 The Show™ by adding a few new modes and changing the scoring system for each. New modes include Bat Control, where you use good timing to hit balls to designated zones on the field to score points, Pitch Command, a pitching accuracy game where hitting the center of the bull’s-eye earns higher scores, and Catcher Training, where users work on accurately catching pitches and quickly reacting to balls in the dirt that need to be blocked. When it comes to scoring, all training modes now use a cumulative points system that then rewards bronze through gold medals for reaching certain benchmarks. Further, each medal type will reward you with a certain amount of Training Points, which can be spent however you want on the Training Screen. Attributes are no longer automatically increased based on the type of training you are doing. These changes should make playing the various training modes more fun and more important to the progression of your player.
Playing RTTS as a Catcher
It has always been a long and arduous task to play RTTS as a Catcher, but some major changes to that experience should change all of that. You are no longer required to call every pitch in the game while your team is on defense. Instead, you will now only be calling pitches when there are runners in scoring position (when it really matters). Also, you now have to actually catch each pitch as it crosses the plate with the new Catcher’s Glove Indicator. You will use it similar to how you use the PCI when batting with the Zone or Zone Plus Analog batting mechanics. You don’t have to be perfect with your accuracy, but missing the pitch location by too much will result in your Catcher missing the pitch and having the ball potentially bounce away. If you are really accurate with your catches, you will successfully frame the pitch, thus increasing the chances that a borderline pitch will go your way. Blocking pitches in the dirt is also part of your responsibilities, which you can do by quickly moving your glove down towards the dirt when you see the pitch heading that way. Occasionally, you will also be required to field your position on pop-ups or dribblers in front of the plate, but for those plays you do not need to call the pitch.
We are constantly striving to improve the presentation aspects of Road to The Show, as it is one of the best places for us to be able to talk about your player’s story and give you the experience of what it’s like to play professional baseball. In MLB® 13, we introduced The Topps® Player Spotlight (Bowman® Prospect Spotlight for Minor Leaguers), which highlights your player in a conversation format and discusses various topics relating to your player’s career progress. This year, we have expanded on that concept by adding new topics that will give monthly updates about your recent performance, talk about any hitting streaks you may be on, or discuss great performances you have had lately.
In addition, we have added back the Broadcast presentation style to RTTS, but enhanced it with some of the audio improvements made in MLB® 13. You can now fully experience all of the play-by-play commentary, while also hearing nearby sounds such player and coach yells and on-field sound FX. If you prefer to play without the commentary and only enjoy the on-field experience, you can still do so by setting your RTTS Presentation Style to “First-Person.”
Enjoy The Season!
Alright everyone, I’ve ran out of things to talk about. I know it was long, but I hope all of this information gets you psyched up to start your new career(s) in Road to The Show. Thank you for reading and for the awesome support you give us here at San Diego Studios every year. I really hope you enjoy MLB® 14 The Show™ and the upcoming baseball season!