Gameplay and Animation Senior Producer Chris Gill shows off some of the new and improved A.I. for MLB 09 The Show today as follows:
Realism is THE most important thing to use here on the MLB 09 The Show team. Year in and year out, with a development team that has a wealth of baseball knowledge, not only as fans of the game but development members that have actually played the game at very high levels, we dedicate ourselves to making the most realistic baseball experience possible.
That being said, there were a few things about last year's game that were a bit frustrating and not as realistic as we would have liked. As much as we would like to tackle every idea out there, we strategically have to pick and choose our battles.
This year we decided to work on a little bit of everything, so today I'm going to highlight four of them.
1. CPU Fielder routes to the ball
In our quest to make the perfect baseball simulation, balancing the game can be a long difficult task. In order for our batters to reach the correct amount of doubles and triples in our game, we needed a couple things to happen.
The batter needs to get out of the box appropriately, round the bases correctly, and have his true-to-life times from home to first, first to third, etc...
The fielders need to react naturally, the same way they do in real life. Basically, if the runners are going to behave realistically, then the fielders need to as well, otherwise you would not have balance. So this year, our infielders and outfielders will react and behave appropriately on balls hit down the lines or in the gaps.
No more direct routes to the ball keeping you at first if you should have had a double. Now, in MLB 09 The Show, you will see outfielders rounding the ball, cutting it off at a BACK angle or just playing it off the wall. This truly looks and feels like you're playing in The Show.
2. Infielder Hot Shots
Another part of last year's game that I felt needed improvement to bring it that much closer to real life was the fact that fielders would catch just about everything hit their way. For the most part, if they could reach it, they would catch it, with a few deflections here and there.
This year, in MLB 09 The Show, our infielders become human again and are now vulnerable to Hot Shots coming off the bat of Albert Pujols. We've developed a system that will allow for the player to miss balls based on how hard they're hit, the fielding ability of the player, and the player's reaction time. Some balls are just too hot to handle for anyone, but if you are playing with the Gold Glovers, they'll have a better chance of making some unbelievable plays.
Balls will also take bad hops and hit off the player, and yes, your infielders will even make errors. Even though we've had errors in games past, we focused a bit more on it to, once again, bring this game closer to real MLB. The cool thing about this is, with the addition of the new routes to the ball, a shot down the line can get by that third baseman and give you a realistic chance to stretch it in to a double. These are my favorite plays.
We used to have a very generic set of tags that basically set the facing direction toward the incoming runner and then we would apply the tag. That OLD system would not account for the infielders set up at or around the base and the attacking angle of the runners slide. Now, in MLB 09 The Show, we consider all of that.
We have all new setups that are tailored for every base and every direction the throw is coming from. The catcher also has his own setup and tag system. We even have an all-new system for pickoffs and back picks. This makes for some really exciting plays at the base that make you feel like you're part of a real Major League Baseball experience
And I just wanted to mention this even though it really doesn't have to do with the tag section. For those of you that play our game regularly, you will know that we have always had a problem with "going the short way" with two outs. Well, you'll no longer be frustrated trying to go the "short way" with two outs.
With the incorporation of our "on the run catch system," on a ground ball to the third baseman with two outs, you can branch your throw to second and get a really cool catch on the run by the second baseman for the out, without having to throw across the diamond. The CPU will do this as well. Another side note, the CPU will tag your runner in the baseline if he can, instead of ignoring the runner and throwing to the base. You guys that play our game know what I mean.
4. Pitcher / Batter duel
The Pitcher/Batter Duel has always been what makes or breaks a true to life baseball simulation. We have dedicated a whole year to improving this feature and we will continue to do this as long as we make this game.
This is extremely important to us here on the MLB 09 The Show Team, and I know you'll appreciate the advanced technology, logic and dedication that has gone in to it. Oh yeah...we also have a new level for all you guys that brag about H.O.F. Mode being too easy. It's called Legend Mode. Good Luck!!
Also, be sure to catch a special interview of MLB 09 The Show cover athlete Dustin Pedroia on ESPN First Take live from Sony HQ tomorrow at 11:15am Eastern Time, as well as a live ESPN News segment that will air throughout the day.
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