Home
Feature Article
MLB 14 The Show: Debating the Merits of Quick Counts

How is everyone finding the quick counts in MLB 14: The Show? I've certainly heard several opinions on this new wrinkle to the gameplay for the 2014 version of Sony's baseball franchise, including a spirited discussion on the most recent Press Row Podcast. I can certainly appreciate both sides of the argument, as there is a definite trade-off when activating the feature. The idea of speeding up the game and forcing some realism may end up diminishing the control someone has over the game — and it's certainly not realistic. Then again, it serves an important function: speeding up the game.

The basic idea of quick counts is that each batter who comes up to the plate will have a randomly generated pitch count that infuses a bit of “forced realism” into the game while supposedly speeding things up. Players will see most count types, except for 1-0 and 0-1 counts. There always has to be 2 pitches in the count, so that means there will be every count from 0-2 and 1-1 all the way up to 3-2. Sometimes a good hitter will come up and face a 1-2 count; other times a weaker hitter will saunter up to the dish and get shown a 3-1 count. I get the feeling there is some kind of logic informing who gets what counts, but I've still seen some fairly erratic hitting scenarios.

The big benefits of quick counts are brevity and realistic hitting situations. I would say that quick counts manage to succeed in both of those areas. The games do certainly move along faster with the feature turned on, as I have found that some innings will last only 60 seconds if you get some 1-2 counts or if you swing at a bad pitch or two. The pace is quickened further if you actually skip a lot of the presentation elements, which definitely varies from user to user. I find myself taking in the atmosphere at certain points of the game; other times I just want to develop a rhythm for pitching and keep things moving.


Having some pre-fabricated counts also assists in getting a pitcher's overall pitch count to where it should be, as most baseball games struggle to have an accurate number of balls compared to strikes. By enforcing some 1-ball, 2-ball and 3-ball counts, it helps create the illusion that the at-bat has progressed in a realistic way, and it forces the batter to pay attention to the situation each time he comes up to the plate. I've always found The Show to have some challenging pitch speeds, and it can be difficult to pick up the ball on the way in. When facing a pitcher with insane velocity, it makes it hard to lay off pitches and be choosy. The quick counts alleviate some of this by spotting the batter a ball or two once in a while so that it's easier to work a count and actually compete against the game's elite hurlers.

However, the inclusion of quick counts has several unintended consequences. For starters, it takes away a good deal of agency from both the batter and the pitcher, as they are forced to deal with lots of random scenarios that they had no control over. A batter wanting to bunt, for example, may find himself with a 1-2 count, nullifying the possibility of moving the runner along. Just the same, someone who wants to work a count and wait for a steal opportunity may be given an 0-2 count and have to swing desperately to stay alive. For the pitcher, things are just as complicated. They may want to throw passively against a certain batter, but a 3-1 count may force them to put something in the zone at a crucial point in the game. Sometimes it's even possible to miss the pitch count and throw a ball on the outside edge, conceding a walk right away. Then again, the pitcher can surprise some batters by throwing a strike right away and getting a K on an 0-2 count.


I certainly applaud the efforts of Sony San Diego in trying to address the issue of brevity and realism in baseball videogames, and I think they've found an intriguing option. It fixes a lot of problems, but it does (by its nature) introduce some new ones. This sort of innovation is welcome, though, just like the dynamic difficulty option. I've said before how it's hard for developers to mitigate the fact that user input is always going to mess with the realism in sports games. When a player can swing as much as he wants in baseball, hit as much as he wants in hockey and spin as much as he wants in basketball, it creates certain scenarios where the developer just can't find a solution.

For game designers, there almost has to be something of a compact between them and the end user: if you're playing the game and expecting realism, play it realistically. When a developer gives a player too much agency, the opportunity exists to stretch and bend the rules. By enforcing some realism, the developer can at least control the optics of the sport and instill some realistic stats and scores.

If nothing else, quick counts seem like a successful first step in addressing not so much a problem but a reality. Sports games are always going to struggle with some aspect of the competition they're representing, whether that be presentation, realism, feedback, immersion or idiosyncrasy. The question is: what tools do developers have to address each of these unique problems? I think we're still in the process of finding out.

How about you, OSers? What are your feelings on quick counts?

-----

Follow me on Twitter @glennwigmore

 


MLB 14 The Show Videos
Member Comments
# 1 GlennN @ 05/15/14 10:41 AM
I thought I would hate quick counts and never use the option. I admit I was totally wrong. I use it all the time now. Other than when I would bunt, or steal a base, it makes for more accurate pitch counts and I don't feel like I lose much (I am way too much of a free swinger, so I never drew any walks before using QC).
 
# 2 PhlliesPhan6 @ 05/15/14 11:26 AM
Once I started using quick counts, it seems to be all I use now. I don't have very much time to play so it is a bonus. Sure, you get into some un-desirable counts in certain situations, but so do major league players. If anything, I think it helps mix up the games a little bit. At first I was a little worried about it driving up the pitch counts and not being able to ever pitch a complete game. However I pitched a complete game (perfect game actuallly) with Cliff Lee with only 98 pitches. So I've been getting some realistic total pitch counts.
 
# 3 knick9mm @ 05/15/14 11:45 AM
I agree you lose some control but it definitely speeds up the game and that far outweighs losing some control. I also like the realistic pitch counts I get.
 
# 4 SVCbearcat10 @ 05/15/14 11:48 AM
I don't think I could use anything else now. It keeps me way more engaged as almost every pitch is meaningful. I don't have time to complete an hour and a half games to get through a season. Plus, I like the variety of situations you encounter. I don't think it takes away choices (bunting, stealing, etc.), it just makes those choices more inline with what you see in real life. You have to weigh risks/reward since the count may ruin your plans... just like real life when the batter doesn't get the job done. It takes out the arcade video game aspect of having too much control and adds more of a sim element of actual baseball situations.
 
# 5 tril @ 05/15/14 12:13 PM
only complaint is that it causes me to lose that immersion factor. I dont use it at all.
I play 6 inning games and the pace of games move along quite nicely. only drawback is that I had to lower every pitchers stamina in the game.
baseball is a time consuming sport,
they could have tried a mercy rule. but that would mess up the stats.

next year for quick counst they should include some hiiting and pitching situations where its starts with an 0-0 pitch count
 
# 6 ty5oke @ 05/15/14 12:28 PM
Love it. Glad they finally were able to put this feature in.
 
# 7 speels @ 05/15/14 12:42 PM
I like it in general, but what I don't like is the fact I start with 2 pitches already thrown. Playing NL teams, there is a lot of bunting by the lower part of the order and with quick counts, that part of the game is basically null and void. In the same way, my running game is terrible because I get Reyes on first and sometimes I get an 0-2 count and can't run with him.

What I would like to see is a choice every time a batter comes to the plate of whether I want a quick count or not. That way, if I get a runner on and the pitcher is next to bat, I can choose just to start with a 0-0 count and move over the runner, but if no one is on and I want to speed up the game, I can just use the quick count option.

It could be fairly simple, at the start of the game you choose quick counts on/off, then as your batter is coming to the plate if you click the X button, whatever you had chosen as your default selection to start the game will be put in play, if you press the O button, you get the other.

So let's say you chose quick count, anytime you press X, the next batter starts with a quick count, however, if a player comes up that you want to bunt with, you choose the O button and start with a 0-0 count. Or if you want to run on the first pitch, you can just start from the 0-0 count. I would really put us in control of the speed of the game as well as allow us to use this feature while maintaining the reality of baseball.
 
# 8 RandallB21 @ 05/15/14 01:02 PM
The only reason I don't use quick counts is it take the art of pitching out of the game. Setting up hitters by changing speeds and locations goes away with quick counts. I can see for the casual gamer or the person that want to have quicker results, but the nuances of baseball separate it from other sports.
 
# 9 DGuinta1 @ 05/15/14 01:16 PM
I don't like the unrealistic aspect of subbing a picture after he has already thrown 2 pitches but other than that love it. Thank you SCEA!
 
# 10 Dazraz @ 05/15/14 02:08 PM
If time is an issue I'd rather Sim the odd half inning. Having a mode where every Batter will have always seen 2 Pitches doesn't work for me. Now if we had an option where a generated count could be anything, even 0-0 that would be more viable for me.
 
# 11 mf756193 @ 05/15/14 02:26 PM
Quick Counts is by far one of the greatest features ever invented for a sports game and I think it works great. So happy that I can complete a game now (with realistic stats) in roughly 20 minutes. I will never play a full length game again!
 
# 12 Graviolies @ 05/15/14 02:42 PM
I love quick counts and it finally makes playing games in franchise mode viable and still get past one season or two. I think most of the problems people find with it would be alleviated if you could, say, hold a button to start the next at bat with a 0-0 count. Think of it like doing a hurry up in madden. Slap single with your leadoff hitter? Hold the touchpad button as the next batter comes to bat so you can hit and run on an empty count.
 
# 13 Inhocmark @ 05/15/14 03:18 PM
There are some negatives to quick counts...probably too many deeper counts (you're not getting a CG in under 120 pitches) and a limitation on what strategies you employ in regards to bunting H&R and stealing but its actually a decent forfeit to get a game over in 30-40 minutes.

What it can help too is people that have difficulty with reading pitches out of the pitcher's hand (guilty) being knowing situationally what a pitcher is going to throw and being able to react.
 
# 14 Eyeman79 @ 05/15/14 03:31 PM
I like it and won't go back but I don't agree that stats are not affected. I'm 40 games into my Pirates franchise and I have scored and given up the least runs in either league. Maybe it's just the way I play, but when you step in there with an 0-2 count you can't waste a big swing . I still like it I may actually finish a season, which I have never done.
 
# 15 stlcardsfan44 @ 05/15/14 03:41 PM
I absolutely love quick counts. The only issue I have with it is bunting. I think Sony should add a box that asks you if you want to bunt in certain situations. If you say yes to bunting. You can go up there with less than two strikes and try to move the runners over.
 
# 16 asu666 @ 05/15/14 03:54 PM
I tried Quick Counts for a few games and went back to regular at bats because Quick Counts disrupted my ability to steal bases and bunt runs over.
 
# 17 japsubie @ 05/15/14 04:22 PM
i used quick counts at first, it actually helped me become a more patient batter, throwing me into certain scenarios that i had no choice but to try and fight my way out of, thus making me more aware of pitch types and how to look for them. once i really became more of a patient batter, i switched it back to normal and have had much more success than ever before. i work the counts much better and actualy get the pitch counts up just as high as quick counts would, although maybe not every game. although quick counts is a great development for this franchise, i choose to still go the old fashioned way as i thrive for realism, and now that i have learned how to properly hit and work counts, i find i get the most realism out of playing with quick counts off. dynamic difficulty is a godsend also. lastly, in terms of speeding up the game, quick counts is great, but IMHO users can always just simulate half innings, or what not to advance games a little quicker if they so choose, for me... thats good enough.
 
# 18 misterkrabz @ 05/15/14 04:26 PM
I don't use quick counts. I take a lot of pride in drawing a walks in video baseball (as weird as that sounds). It's pretty satisfying when you get one. It's not satisfying when you start with a 3-1 count. The AB feels empty and it feels like I'm just going through the motions. The show and the old High Heat series were the only series that had AI that allowed you to work a count and draw a walk. I gave quick counts a shot, but for me it's not enjoyable.
 
# 19 jtott @ 05/15/14 04:28 PM
I strictly use quick counts... love it! The only issue I have is when I am needing to pinch hit for my pitcher.. I've had to bring in a pinch hitter with an 0-2 , 1-2, or like an 3-2 count ... which sucks, MOST of the time.
 
# 20 satchmykels @ 05/15/14 05:44 PM
Quick Counts don't work very well if you like to manage games (my pitchers walked over 40 batters in a weekend series against the A's and walked in 4 runs during an inning twice during that span) but I've found it can be pretty enjoyable if you're actually doing the batting and pitching for yourself. It seems in manage mode the pitchers are oblivious to the count and the fact that they don't have as many waste pitches at their disposal. They appear to go into every count thinking it's a 0-0 count. That would simply be an AI issue, which I trust will be figured out by the time 15 rolls out next year, unless quick count just wasn't meant to be used in manage mode, in which case it shouldn't be presented as a option for that mode. No matter, still having a blast with the game despite this extremely minor hiccup.
 

« Previous123Next »

Post A Comment
Only OS members can post comments
Please login or register to post a comment.