Seamheads.Com Reviews Out of the Park Version 9
OOTP Developments recently released a new version of their Out of the Park (OOTP) baseball simulation game, OOTP9.
The game allows you to play real baseball leagues, and fictitious leagues. It allows you to sim the games entirely, or play as manager for a team against the computer or other managers. Finally, it allows you to be a â€œGMâ€ and manage rosters, control finances, trade players, etc. Results, including the simming of real leagues, can be rolled into a following year, to sim again, creating an entire â€˜historyâ€™ of sim baseball.
I have played in an OOTP5 league for around seven years, but have never played any subsequent OOTP versions. With Diamond Mind, which has always been my preferred baseball sim, no longer developing new versions of their PC-based game, I was very anxious to see how the new OOTP would compare, especially against the Diamond Mind strengths of play accuracy and Computer Manager capabilities.
Getting Set up
The first thing to note about OOTP9 is that it is purchased and downloaded online. The setup file alone is 228 MB, so youâ€™ll want to have some type of high-speed internet connection, or use a download manager, because otherwise downloading will be a VERY long process.
Setup appeared to run without a hitch, but when I opened the game to the initial screen, it appeared to be frozen. Checking the forum informed me that a patch (the FOURTH patch) was available, making the new version 9.1.6. Unfortunately, unless you wanted just SOME of the fixes, you could not just download an executable file, you had to download the ENTIRE setup program again! Hoping the new version might fix my problem, I re-downloaded, re-installed, and this time I got the initial screen with options to move on:
The game comes with a 2008 MLB season ready to go, plus it comes with custom â€˜standardâ€™ template leagues such as Major American League, Japan Professional Baseball League, etc. where the rules and division setups are based on those leagues, but the teams and players are all fictional. You can also create historical leagues based on real players and teams. These are imported using the Lahman Database, which comes with the software.
The key word for OOTP9 is CUSTOMIZATION. Almost everything is customizable, from the game screens and menus, to league playing rules, to league formats (full minors, no minors), to transaction rules, to player pictures, etc.
I wanted test several leagues, both auto-simming and playing vs. the computer:
1. My fictional/historical league (which uses real player names) imported from OOTP5
2. 1928 MLB Historical League
3. 2008 MLB
The game doesnâ€™t allow an import from OOTP5 up to OOTP9 directly. To import, I would have to load the OOTP8 demo game version, upload my OOTP5 league to the demo, and then convert that OOTP5 to OOTP9. Since it appeared that OOTP8 would be basically a full-blown version of the game, restricted to demo, I decided to pass on this idea for now.
I imported 1928 using the New Custom Game function, and the Historical sub-function. Things seemed to be fine as I pulled up team menus, checked out setup options. The game does a default setup, but there are SOOO many options you can tweak (do you want a designated hitter? Free Agency? Specific or more general scouting ratings?) that it takes a while to get through them.
While sorting through the various options, the game crashed. I tried to go back into the game 1928 season. The game told me it had crashed last time (!), and when I tried to open the specific game season, it told me that the file was corrupted. Uhg! So, I created another historical game file, only using 1937 instead. I played around with menus and screens for quite a while, to see if the game would crash again, but the only anomaly I encountered was getting the NY Giants Logo with St. Louis Cardinals below it, on the Cardinals team screen (I had been on the Giants team screen previously). Thinking the problem could be in the Lahman Database load instead of the program itself, I re-did 1928, and have not yet encountered another crash.
OOTP lets you become â€˜managerâ€™ of a particular team in the league, so I chose my favorite team, the Cardinals. I tried to auto-play 1937, but found that every time something happened to my team, the sim would stop and send me a â€˜noteâ€™, such as if someone was injured on my team, and it would wait for me to do something. As in everything OOTP, there is CUSTOMIZATION to tell the AI only let me know about injuries if theyâ€™re longer than so many days. The easier option was to turn the team back over to the â€˜realâ€™ Manager (AI Manager), and let it sim. On my laptop, each dayâ€™s games took about 5 seconds to complete. I was able to watch the standings change as the sim played the games. One thing I noticed is that the AI did a lot of trading of players, so by the end of the season the 1937 Cardinals didnâ€™t resemble the 1937 Cardinals very much. There also seemed to be a
I then proceeded to sim 2008. I started the sim from the Cardinalâ€™s team page, and was annoyed that I was only seeing the Cardinals W/L record change in a small window, with no standings. I interrupted the sim, and switched out to the â€˜mainâ€™ league screen, where I could see the standings, and re-started. The sim took off with the small window again showing Cardinal W/L, but the main screen with standings was not updating. I stopped the sim again, and the standings suddenly updated. Started the sim again, and the standings remained frozen until I stopped once again. I didnâ€™t have this issue with 1937, so it appears to be some type of bug (see below, where Cards are 33-35, but standings show 30-35).
I played some â€˜head-to-headâ€™ games against AI controlled teams in 1928. OOTP5 AI Manager would sometimes make â€˜crazyâ€™ decisions, such as using the backup catcher as a pinch hitter for a player, pinch hitting for the catcher in the same inning, and then putting in a bench position player at catcher instead of inserting the backup catcher for the next inning. I was not able to get the AI to make any such â€˜stupidâ€™ decisions in the head-to-head games.
While customization is certainly the strong point of OOTP9, it does have drawbacks. When I want to change some option, itâ€™s not always intuitive where I need to go to make the change. Also, the menus and pages are very â€˜busyâ€™, so sometimes the computer screen can get a little overloaded with multiple game screens and menus open, although you can even customize the menuâ€™s somewhat to display differently.
OOTP5 had a â€˜careerâ€™ mode, where you could create players based on their career statistics, instead of just one year. That feature is apparently gone from OOTP9. On the other hand, because OOTP9 imports players from the Lahman Database format, you can customize the Lahman Database, which some users have already done, to add in Negro League players, or Japanese League players, or minor league players. Not being able to easily import players was the biggest drawback to the Diamond Mind PC-based game.
Overall, I have to give the game good marks for improved AI manager, extensive customization, and easy player creation. The GM duties and financials are also very impressive and realistic. Drawbacks would be the sheer size of the program, the speed of the play, sometimes confusing menus, and difficulty finding and learning all of the extensive customization options. The game does have a 400 plus page manual, so you CAN find what you need, but the best designed PC games are the ones that require only minimal need for help or manuals.
OOTP9 costs $39.99, and can be purchased here.
If you like to simulate all of the front office responsibilities of a team, in addition to simming games, OOTP will likely be worth the purchase. If you only want to sim games, but want to be able to do â€˜what ifâ€™ histories, or completely fictional leagues, youâ€™ll be very satisfied. If you ONLY want to replay actual leagues, and have no use for front office or fictional teams, OOTP will still do that too, just about as well as Diamond Mind, only cheaper, and with easier team/league creation.