Out of the Park Baseball X Preview (PC)

Out Of the Park X, the 10th iteration of the baseball management simulation series, is nearing its own personal Opening Day. And while games such as MLB: The Show or MLB Power Pros have risen in recent times to dominate the baseball gaming landscape, OOTP has been hitting it out of the park for a decade now.

Created and developed by Markus Heinsohn, OOTP is a baseball junkie's dream. In fact, OOTP’s best asset is that it allows players to take various roles in the baseball universe. For the "dream land" gamer, OOTP lets you become an overseer of your own baseball universe, which can have its own convoluted or simple rule-set. For those who have read the book Universal Baseball Association, it is like a modern-day version of that premise -- hopefully minus the dead player or mental breakdown.

Additionally, for the "future MLB general manager" gamer, OOTP also allows you to take control of an MLB team during the current MLB season and beyond. Think you can perform better than real bench bosses or general managers? Well, now you can find out.

Finally, for the historians in all of us, OOTP lets gamers simulate decades of MLB history so that anyone can attempt to -- to borrow a phrase from the Legends of Wrestlemania game -- relive, rewrite and redefine that history.

So what if Ruth was never traded? What if the strike of '94 never occurred and that Expos roster stayed intact? These are the types of questions that you can explore. In the end, you are only limited by your imagination.

But whatever role you choose, OOTP has always excelled because of the open-ended features, solid gameplay mechanics and complex simulation engine. These combined factors have made it easy for players to have a fun, addicting and statistically accurate playing experience, and it has been that way since the first OOTP was released in May of 1999. (I have been a fan of the series since OOTP 3.)

Since May of '99, the series has been through some ups and downs, but in today's gaming landscape the OOTP series has become one of the best sports-management series available today.

So what does OOTP X have in store for us? Let’s have a look and find out.

What’s New?

OOTP X comes complete with real 2009 rosters that range from the MLB all the way down to the lowest minor league levels. But this game is not simply a roster update. Underneath that roster update, I have observed an underlying theme that describes many of the new features in OOTP X.

That underlying theme is improvement. And this improvement is a comprehensive term pertaining to many areas of OOTP X.

Specifically, we have been promised improved in-game/player evaluation AI, improved in-game play-by-play, improved ratings editor -- just plug in player stats and the editor will do the rest -- improved inaugural drafts (complete with team budgets), improved news stories and an improvement in the simulation of historical play.

And while those sound nice, one improvement that excites me is the in-game presentation. I am excited about the presentation improvements because there will be "widgets" available in OOTP X. Personally, I’m hoping that the in-game UI in OOTP X is something akin to a spruced-up version of MLB.com Gameday because I feel that it would help engage the user -- especially since OOTP is devoid of other graphical features.

However, these are just some of the smaller changes in OOTP X. There are other new elements that could potentially change the way we approach the game.

The Pitching

No doubt, the biggest new feature in OOTP X is the complete revamping of the pitching system. The most obvious change is that every type of pitch in a pitcher’s arsenal will now be rated. This goes along with the three standard attributes (stuff/movement/control) that have traditionally measured a pitcher’s current and potential ability. Additionally, other factors such as a pitcher’s pitch velocity, endurance and ground-ball percentage have also been revamped.

So a pitcher could have overwhelming stuff and still struggle because he only has one average pitch (e.g. a fastball) and no decent off-speed "out" pitches. Likewise, you will see that a superstar pitcher like Santana will have a number of quality pitches at his disposal. Hopefully, these changes will allow each pitcher to come into his own in unique ways, which will allow users to judge them accordingly. Additionally, I hope that the revamp will enable players to further separate the great from the good and the good from the mediocre. And I also hope it will be a way to judge whether a pitcher is cut out for the rotation or the bullpen.

Needless to say, the intricate complexity of the changes to the pitching system and OOTP game engine are above my level of understanding. But despite this fact, I am hopeful that these revisions will add to OOTP’s overall framework while still ensuring realism and accurate statistical output.

Closing in on Reality

OOTP has always been about replicating what it would be like to manage a baseball club, particularly the MLB variety -- although this does not represent how all OOTP users play the game. So it is not surprising that some new additions in OOTP X are designed to further enhance some real aspects of the MLB, particularly in the areas of arbitration/free agent compensation and injuries/minor league disabled lists.

In regards to arbitration/free agent compensation, the game will now allow the user to follow real MLB rules. So you, as the assumed GM, will now offer arbitration-eligible players whatever amount of money you feel is necessary, while a virtual arbiter will resolve the case. Also, players eligible for free agency can now also be offered arbitration. And if that player declines your offer -- essentially a salary decided upon by a virtual arbiter -- and decides to become a free agent, your team will receive a compensatory draft pick in the supplemental draft, which is another new feature in OOTP X. And if that player is a Type A or Type B free agent, your team will land another first-round or second-round pick from the player's new team.

Another new feature in OOTP X is the inclusion of minor league disabled lists. This is an important addition because now each team will have its own DL. I realize some people might think this is a minor feature, but in previous OOTP games, every team in an organizational structure -- from the MLB down to rookie ball -- shared a disabled list. This caused some problems when attempting to manage the minor league squads, so hopefully this addition will improve the quality/intelligence of that management.

Also promised is an improvement to the OOTP injury system. This year the injury system will be revised so the frequency and duration of player injuries match up more closely with reality.

All these features, no matter how extensive or minute, aim to further enhance OOTP and bring the series that much closer to reality.

But at this point, there is still room for skepticism.


I am eagerly anticipating OOTP X, but I am still skeptical about a few things.

For instance -- and I have been pondering this since I first set eyes on the feature list -- is that really it in terms of new features? Not to seem overly negative -- that is not my intention -- but the feature set seems sort of underwhelming. Perhaps I am just expecting too much because this is the 10th version, but I wanted something grand and momentous. Perhaps there are some super-secret-awesome features still kept under wraps? Maybe not, but hopefully there are some extra things we are still not aware of yet.

Another question is, how effective will the various promised improvements be? Needless to say, promises to improve various areas of the game, such as the in-game management or player development, have been made for years now. So until I actually see some solid improvements in these areas, I will have to remain skeptical.

Finally, I wonder if OOTP X will be solid, playable and bug-free when it is released. I certainly hope it will be ready, but I would not be surprised if gamers had to wait until a patch or two was available post-release. As always, we will just have to wait and see.

Will X Mark the Spot?

Overall, when looking at what OOTP X has to offer, I appreciate the fact that some of the new features could have a major impact on the way gamers approach OOTP. And I am optimistic that some of the other improvements, such as the arbitration rules and the new presentational elements, will add some more positive elements to the series.

However, I must admit that I cannot help but feel a bit underwhelmed by the overall feature set at this point. Nevertheless, at the very minimum, I hope that OOTP X improves and builds upon the solid foundation put forth by OOTP 9, which was by far my favorite OOTP game since OOTP 6.5.

As stated earlier, OOTP is set for release any week now and will be available for purchase and (eventually) download here. And for any further information, please check out www.ootpdevelopments.com or the OOTP forums.

Member Comments
# 1 njd.aitken @ 05/13/09 04:52 PM
Nice write up.

Never played the series, but perhaps I'll try it out this year.
# 2 TrueKingPK @ 05/13/09 06:38 PM
Actually it is a sound game. I picked it up for the first time last year and am into my sixth season using a fantasy league. I read the comments about bugs. The thing that sold me is that if there were bugs Markus was quick to address them. Solid game I am going to wait for version 11 though as there are not enough changes for me to purchase this version.
# 3 Hellisan @ 05/13/09 11:50 PM
Really wish they would combine this game with even a modest baseball graphics system (think PS2 quality) and still make it completely non-controllable but at least have the game show on the field, ala Earl Weaver baseball back in the day. yeah the graphics were horrible but the game itself was phenomenal for its time.
# 4 BobbyZ23 @ 05/14/09 10:10 AM
Oh how I loved me some Earl Weaver Baseball, back in the day. What's it been, about twenty years?
# 5 Sweed @ 05/14/09 10:30 AM
Been playing OOTP since v4 and am looking forward to v10. Unlike the reviewer I think the additions announced are BIG. The two that stick out to me are arbitration and pitching.

When I first started playing OOTP it was easy to keep a great team together. OOTP has improved on this over the years with player service time and arbitration rules. v9 is the first OOTP that I let players go that I wanted to keep due to budget considerations, a very welcome sight. The new arbitration rules in v10, ala real life, will add even more challenge to keeping a winning team on the field.

The new pitching model, as you point out, will give a better picture on what type of player you have ie starter, middle man, or closer. In previous versions you could put the "good endurance, great stuff, control" guy in the rotation and have success. Now if that guy has only one or two good pitches he more than likely becomes a reliever as he won't have that "third pitch" he needs to get through a batting order multiple times.

Neither of these new features are in your face fireworks but both add a lot to the behind the scenes strategy of running your team.

I don't want to get into any arguments but I do want to comment on Stain's post. Maybe it's because I play solo but I don't see the financial model as being complex. I play out all of my games and it takes me a few weeks to finish an entire year, ie January to December with all FA, spring training, draft, season, and post season. Out of all of that I probably spend a couple of hours on financials, mostly negotiating contracts and deciding who I can afford to keep and who I have to let go. I am not an accountant IRL as a matter of fact I don't even have a college degree.

With regard to his rant against the OOTP boards, I just don't see it. I belong to the boards of OOTP, Sports Interactive(Football Manager), Front Office Football, and I hear these criticisms of all of these places.

"Never go to the SI boards and ask a question about soccer, especially if you are American. They'll destroy you!"

"The elite at FOFC will run you in the ground!"

"Never criticize OOTP on their forums!"

I've seen guys get burned at all of these places and I've seen guys treated with respect. I know enough about soccer to enjoy playing Football Manager only because of the good advice and conversations I had at the SI forums I was warned to stay away from. I don't know Stains case but most times it has to do with the attitude one comes in with. Come into any forum with "the game sux" and no explanation and you will have trouble. Come in with "hey guys I'm having trouble understanding feature X" or "I've been looking over how feature X works in your game and I don't think its quite right because of a,b, and c" you will usually get some intelligent conversation.

Does the OOTP board have it's share of jerks? Yes, just like all boards. Put these people on ignore and save yourself the aggravation. Deciding to not buy a game because someone on a message board was a jerk, to me, is silly.
# 6 PeckinOrder @ 05/14/09 12:34 PM
I have to agree with Sweed on this. I have been playing this game since 99. I took some time off in between the versions missed 6 and 6.5 altogether, but this game since day one has beent he most intricate game ever played and over the years tiny improvements to AI, and I think the things they are putting in this game are HUGE. This unfortunately isnt a true graphical video game that needs major updates each year like Madden or The Show. But the small things for some are huge for the full time gamers. I think the added pitcher knowledge and attributes are HUGE. Now you will be able to draft a player with a 6 endurance and know that he will be good because of a93 rated Fastball and an 88 rated Breaking ball throwing 96 MPH (Joba). And I absolutely love that the game allows you to play it rather then it doing all the work in regards to compensation.

I am in a league now (www.mlsb.allsimbaseball2.com/forum2) that we have to work compensation and arbitration essentially outside of the game in order to get that realism.

The major criticism I have of the game is AI Developement and compensation eligibility. Unfortunately at thsi time the game (V9) doesnt evaluate players properly in terms of compensation. Players who are type A players or Type B Players are often not supposed to be. In another league I was in, a guy who had 150 IP in the Minors and 23 in the Majors was a TYPE A free agent when he really was a minor leaguef ree agent.

One thing that wasnt discussed is fantasy drafts where you can now institute a salary cap to the draft where teams can only pick players up to a certain amount of money. I am running a league right now (www.fsb.allsimbaseball4.com/forum) where we did a fantasy draft with an 80 Mil cap, but had to monitor the cap outside of the game where now you can handle it all inside the game.

I also believe that there should be more emphasis on development upgrade and downgrades in the game rather then needing an outside utility to get me that information. I want to see in game right away that my player took a dev hit or took a dev upgrade rather then signing into GETCHS Utilities to see that.

Also, to talk about the claim that the boards are harsh, and Im not disagreeign with you, because I've never truely used the boards I have always had a pretty good knowledge of the game itself to not need it or just read the manual for my answer. But unfortunately every site (even OS) you will find immature children who think they are gods of knowledge (yet they are 17 year old failing their Social Studies class) who will make you feel like a 4 year old for asking questions. There will always be a place to ask question. however no matter where those places are there will always be a group of idiots who's only true passion in life is to make others look stupid when in fact its them all along.
# 7 zukes @ 05/14/09 07:46 PM
I've been playing since OOTP 5 and I will be buying the game. I, like PeckinOrder, play out all my games and do not find the financial system hard either.

The OOTP boards are no worse than these, in fact I find them much more helpful. They are sticklers in that they would like you to use the search function, but if you have a question that can not easily be answered by doing a little research then they are really helpful.

I find it annoying here when guys come on and start the 457,326th thread about the announcers saying something about the "little things" thread in The Show or similar.

Anyway, if OOTP delivers on most of what they have promised for X it will be huge. IMO, this is already the most immersive game there is on the market.
# 8 zukes @ 05/14/09 07:48 PM
If the OOTP Forums are really that much of a pain to other people, we could probably get a decent one going here too. I only play solo, but I could take a stab at any questions you have about the game.
# 9 ChubbyBanana @ 05/14/09 08:14 PM
Originally Posted by zukes
If the OOTP Forums are really that much of a pain to other people, we could probably get a decent one going here too. I only play solo, but I could take a stab at any questions you have about the game.
We have a small group of people here who play or are just starting to play.

I want to echo what Zukes said that if anyone has a question they should just ask in our Baseball (Other) forum. I'm sure we'll be able to point you in the correct direction
# 10 dave731 @ 05/14/09 09:28 PM
I frequent the forums at OOTP and they are like anywhere else. Some good guys and some bad guys...

As far as the game, if you are a fan of the game of baseball in any format, then you are doing yourself a disservice by not picking this game up. The last version I got was OOTP 2007 which was phenomenal IMO. 9 was supposed to have been good and I am breaking down and getting X now. I can't wait for it to come out and if some OSers start a league, sign me up. Markus needs to go ahead and create the perfect version of the baseball game and then start working on basketball and football before he gets to old to use a computer. Imagine a football sim with the depth, features and replay factor of OOTP....sigh
# 11 Hellisan @ 05/15/09 05:38 AM
Yeah about that Bobby..... I had a league made up of guys in my high school and a couple of other guys in my youth group, we had a helluva time. Some of the team names we used were the Holy Sox (me) the New Jersies, the Chill Breeze, etc. I remember the guy that ran it would never let anybody read the manual for the game. He liked to stock up on players that got hot in the postseason, and none of us knew what that player streak code meant because he kept the damn manual locked away. No internet like we have now to look things up.
# 12 Tycobbler @ 05/15/09 07:32 AM
I'd also be glad to lend a hand to someone in need. Been around since '02 on the boards, and am always at the ready to help if i can... ok i have no life lol
# 13 dcordash @ 05/15/09 11:00 AM
Got to agree, at least partially, with Stain. The fan-boys on the OOTP forums can be very rude and relentless. They need to adhere to the golden rule of tech forums..."if you don't have anything nice(constructive) to say, don't say anything".
Prob wouldn't keep me from buying the game.

What will is, if this year's MLB roster set produces ridiculously unreal numbers as version 9 did. That is an umbrella statement I realize but, I'm not going to get into the specifics of it now. I spent wayyyyy...wayyy to much of my time trying to explain this to the OOTP fanboys on the forums last year. Was not a pleasant experience.
# 14 shnuskis @ 05/15/09 02:41 PM
A couple of things about the review. How does a pitcher have awesome stuff if he only has one average pitch?

As far as the negatives in this review, isn't it hard to have negatives unless you have actually played it?
# 15 ChubbyBanana @ 05/15/09 03:04 PM
Originally Posted by shnuskis
A couple of things about the review. How does a pitcher have awesome stuff if he only has one average pitch?

As far as the negatives in this review, isn't it hard to have negatives unless you have actually played it?
Well it's technically a preview...
# 16 CMH @ 05/18/09 11:33 PM
Not sure what Stain is talking about here. Sure there are guys that don't know how to behave around new guys that need some help. But there are plenty more that offer help at every turn.

Every forum has smart guys that want to make questions seem stupid. But every forum also has vets that respect the community and want to help new guys out.

You simply let the bad guys affect you and that's what they wanted.
# 17 Tycobbler @ 05/18/09 11:35 PM
"stuff" is considered for a pitchers ability to strike a batter out. There is also a pitchers "control" and "movement" to be considered. So a pitcher can have awesome stuff (strikeout ability) but also walk alot of batters, and give up too many homeruns.
# 18 CMH @ 05/18/09 11:35 PM

It's not possible. The preview is a bit off there. If a guy has only one pitch and it's average, his stuff rating won't be high.
# 19 WipeTheStain @ 05/20/09 11:22 AM
What Stain didn't tell you is that the first post he made on the OOTP forums stated the game was s*** and then proceeded to bash the hell out of it. So he set the tone for the conversation and people responded to him in kind.

Now he comes here and cries because he got what he gave.

Sounds like any other message board out there to me.
# 20 WipeTheStain @ 05/20/09 11:26 AM
Oh, he also bashed anyone who liked the game as a fanboy and lashed out at them too.

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