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Old 11-08-2011, 07:06 PM   #1
BradC
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The History of OOTP (updated as of 7/22/13)

The History of Out of the Park Baseball

Out of the Park Baseball was born in 1998, when lead developer Markus Heinsohn had the vision to combine a highly realistic baseball simulation with career play. His goal was to create a game that allowed users to run a virtual baseball franchise. With realistic statistical output, the game was satisfying to hardcore baseball fans and casual gamers alike.

"A friend of mine brought home a bat and a glove from a trip to Miami, so we started hitting tennis balls into the neighbor’s gardens. That was in 1991," Heinsohn told Inside Mac Games in a July 2012 interview. "We then formed a baseball club and started playing in organized baseball leagues in 1994. In the meantime I played all sorts of baseball computer games, but there was no management-related game that I liked, so in 1998 I decided to simply develop my own game, just for fun. When it was done in 1999, I figured it was probably good enough to earn some money with it, and that’s when it all started."

The first version was released in May 1999, with the help of Sean Lahman, who sold the game through his website. The initial version of the game was very promising and received outstanding ratings from several online gaming sites.

After Sean Lahman changed jobs in 1999, Steve Kuffrey teamed up with Markus Heinsohn that year, and they worked together to develop the second version of Out of the Park Baseball, which had become known simply as OOTP within the growing game community. OOTP 2 was released in April 2000, and the fan base started to mushroom. The breakthrough release came one year later, when the constantly evolving and always improving OOTP 3 received outstanding reviews and became the game to beat in the baseball simulation world.

Not satisfied, the OOTP team continued to strive towards making improvements. With the help of a growing and active user community, OOTP Developments released OOTP 4, 5, and 6 over the next three years, garnering numerous industry awards in the process. Infogrames published OOTP 4 under the name Season Ticket Baseball in the years 2001 and 2002, but the product became an industry casualty when other sports products in Infogrames' line fell short of expectations.

The SI Partnership

By late 2004, OOTP was up to version 6.5, and Markus had found there just wasn't much more room for growth in the existing code base. In 2005, OOTP announced a partnership with Sports Interactive, a U.K.-based company well-known in Europe for its Football Manager simulation that had built a rabid following among European soccer fans. As part of this partnership, Markus rewrote the entire game from the ground up, taking advantage of new coding technology and SI's development platform.

The result was OOTP Baseball 2006, released in May of 2006. OOTPB 2006 was an extremely ambitious leap forward for OOTP. Whereas previous versions of the game had allowed some degree of customization, the league structure had always been fixed. That is, every OOTP game consisted of one league with no more than 3 levels of minor leagues. OOTPB 2006 blasted away those barriers, opening the way for users to create baseball universes with as many leagues as they wished. But after a long and difficult development cycle, OOTPB 2006 suffered from some growing pains, struggling a bit with its own scope and complexity.

The following year, however, the development team had an opportunity to revise and refine the interface and the feature set. Historical simulations received some great new features, as did online league commissioners. OOTP Developments also added FaceGen technology to create realistic faces for fictional players. The result was OOTP Baseball 2007, which dramatically reversed the disappointment of 2006 and received critical acclaim throughout the sports gaming community.

The Split From SI

In September of 2007, OOTP Developments announced an amicable split with Sports Interactive, who had since been purchased by SEGA. In the wake of this split, OOTP Developments released their own branded version of OOTPB 2007 called "OOTP 8."

OOTP 9 and OOTP 10 further enhanced the image of the series, with consistently positive reviews from fans and critics alike. Version 9 offered a revised scouting system, improved financials, the return of in-game sound, and more. Version 10 featured a redesigned pitching system, better in-game AI and play-by-play, an inaugural draft with budgets, and more.

OOTP 11 was released in April 2010, and before it was even available, Operation Sports declared it their "Text Sim of the Year" and gave it a score of 9.5 out of 10. Version 11 served up a host of improvements, including team owners with distinct personalities, in-game improvements, including control over base runners, an improved historical simulation, overall interface and engine improvements, and more.

iOOTP is Added to the Lineup

2011 saw twice as much OOTP as the company expanded its baseball lineup with iOOTP Baseball 2011, a portable version of the sim for iOS (iPhone/iPod touch/iPad). Based on the OOTP engine, iOOTP let players easily take their baseball passion with them. While it didn't feature the deep customization, full minor league play, and other features found in OOTP (due to memory constraints in iOS hardware), iOOTP offered the same hands-on team management as its big brother. It also introduced a whole new audience to the joy of baseball sims.

While Markus oversaw the development of iOOTP, the main work was done by Sebastian Palkowski, the newest member of the OOTP staff. Sebastian was no stranger to sports sims, having previously worked on a hockey one, and he was a long-time OOTP player, so he was able to hit the ground running with his work on iOOTP. Being a fellow Boston Red Sox fan probably also helped his relationship with Markus. (There's no truth to the rumor that OOTP's PR and Marketing personnel must be Philadelphia Phillies fans.)

Meanwhile, OOTP 12 greatly improved on what was by now a venerable sports videogame franchise. The new version offered a revamped financial system, with more realistic contract possibilities, one-click access to online leagues, improved AI, expanded storylines, better in-game sound, recoded international scouting, and more.

OOTP 13 and iOOTP 2012

On April 9, 2012, OOTP 13 was released to the general public after an April 6 release to those who pre-ordered the game. New features in OOTP 13 included: 2012 major league rosters; a real-time simulation mode that lets players watch games play out in real-time (or at a faster speed); interactive storylines that allow gamers to make decisions when situations happen (i.e., a star player becomes difficult—player can release him, trade him, or ignore the problem; each choice impacts fan attitudes, player morale, etc.); a revamped pitching model that more closely mirrors real life, where most drafted pitchers are starters and later become relievers, rather than being drafted as relievers; and random historical debut, which allows real players to show up at any point in history (perhaps Ruth shows up today and Koufax is drafted in the 1930s).

In addition, OOTP 13 offered a revamped user interface, more custom playoff options, Associations that can combine multiple leagues and share free agents, rules, and more, core gameplay engine and AI improvements, and more.

On April 5, 2012, iOOTP Baseball 2012 Edition was released to Apple's iOS App Store. New features in iOOTP 2012 included 2012 major league rosters, detailed player histories, a revamped user interface, a new fictional setup, the ability to use pitch-by-pitch mode, the ability to use the DH in any league, and more. The iPad HD version, which takes advantage of the iPad's larger display, was included free, as in the 2011 version.

iOOTP 2013 and OOTP 14

On April 4, 2013, iOOTP Baseball 2013 was released to Apple's iOS App Store. New features in iOOTP 2013 included 2013 major league rosters, achievements, a redesigned interface, new trading AI, a new player development system, more realistic player creation, historical career play with real rookies imported each season, and more. The iPad HD version, which takes advantage of the iPad's larger display, was included free, as in the 2012 version.

On April 12, 2013, Out of the Park Baseball 14 was released to everyone who pre-ordered the game; the general worldwide release was April 15. New features in OOTP 14 included: 2013 major league rosters; a recoded player origin system, allowing, for example, foreign players to be signed as free agents, like Ichiro Suzuki and Yu Darvish were; a recoded scouting system; a new fielding ratings development system; a new Player Development Center for tracking purposes; achievements; new trading AI; more realistic player creation; a new in-game "Pitch to Contact" option; and more.

Last edited by BradC; 07-22-2013 at 06:31 PM.
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