OOTP 15 improves on the already spectacular franchise

Tanaka suffers first loss; Cubs take opener 6-1
Yankees' financial might extends to minor league free agency as well

OOTP 15 start screen

You might remember a review of Out of the Park Baseball 14 from about a year ago. For those who don’t, OOTP is a powerful baseball simulation game that provides a fully customized experience. If you like the management aspects of The Show, but think that actually playing the games takes too long*, OOTP can scratch that itch.

* From what I’ve read, The Show is much more manageable this year due to a number of new features. It’s also apparently not impossible to score runs in The Show 14. Too bad this is the year I decided not to buy it.

For a full treatment of OOTP, please click the link above and read last year’s review. There are also some great points in the comments from long-time OOTP players. The beauty of OOTP is that the engine largely stays the same from year-to-year. Yet there are always changes that make the newest version better than the previous.

3D Live Simulation

OOTP 15 3D play

If, for some reason, you would like to watch and manage one of your games, OOTP has a new feature to make it more worthwhile. You can actually watch the game in 3D mode. It might not be my bag — I want to plow through seasons and see the fruits of my labor — but OOTP has at least made the sim process interesting.

I imagine in a few years they’ll have actual 3D player models to stand on the 3D field. A few years after that, actual pitches and swings. For now we have this. It’s not the most compelling feature, but it certainly beats the old watching method, if you prefer to play the dramatic games rather than just hit the sim button.

All sorts of leagues

OOTP 15 Leagues

You don’t have to play starting at the 2014 MLB season. You can start from many historical points, which is part of what makes this game stand out. It’s pretty fun to start a historical team and sim like crazy.

You can also create a completely custom fictional league, even with fictional players. Have ideas for different rules? You can implement them. If you want to play with an international league — Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Mexico, Cuba, Netherlands, Italy — you can do that, too.

The ratings system

One thing I love about OOTP is the ratings system. When you set up a new league, make sure that scouting is on. You’ll have to hire a scouting director, and the strength of your scouting director will determine how well you evaluate players.

For instance, your scouting director might rate a guy as having five-star potential, but the default ratings might have him as two-stars. If you have a great scout, you might have a diamond in the rough on your hands. But your scout can be wrong. To me this is one of the most realistic aspects of the game.

You can, if you’re so inclined, eschew the star rating and put guys on the 20-80 scale. It’s not for me, but it might give you some granularity you don’t get with the 10-point system (half stars).

The ratings seem to be stronger this year, too. There are a number of ratings, both actual and potential, that underlie a player’s star rating. It’s a lot of information to process, but it ultimately makes the game satisfying.

Strongest suggestion: make trades hard

If you leave trades at the default setting, they’re far too easy. There is just no way the Pirates would deal a healthy Jamison Taillon for Jeff Samardzija and a three-star prospect. Yet that’s what happened during the first year of my first franchise. It’s almost like MVP 2004: if you make enough trades, you can get a team full of four- and five-star prospects and players.

If you bump up the trade difficulty one setting, you’ll have a much more difficult time trading. That makes it more realistic. If you have a poorly performing reliever on a one-year contract, you won’t get any offers for him. That’s the way it should be. Teams just don’t do that; otherwise maybe the Mets could have traded Kyle Farnsworth. It also means that you can’t go plucking top prospects from teams. They don’t trade them unless there’s a need and it makes sense for them.

iOOTP 2014

OOTP #TANAK

I also got a chance to check out iOOTP, the stripped-down iOS version of the game. For $5 you could do a lot worse. It gives you the most basic version of the game. There is no minor league system, just a list of 20 to 30 minor leaguers who you can call up and send down at will. They develop, but they don’t play any games while in the minors.

I find the interface a bit obnoxious, but that’s because I’m used to the desktop version. You have to tap through a few screens to edit your lineups. In fact, the entire problem with the UI is the sheer number of times you have to tap the screen. But other than that, it’s a nice alternative if you’d rather just lay on the couch and sim some seasons.

Where you can get it

Head over to OOTP Developments website to pick up a copy of OOTP 15 for Windows, Mac, or Linux. It costs $39.99, so less than a copy of The Show. I don’t know about anyone else, but I find myself engaged in OOTP for far longer than I am with The Show or any other console baseball game.

You can get iOOTP 2014 from iTunes. Again, it’s $5. Not bad at all.

email
Tanaka suffers first loss; Cubs take opener 6-1
Yankees' financial might extends to minor league free agency as well
  • Bavarian Yankee

    I’m also a big fan of OOTP, great game. Too bad I barely have time to play it.

    btw: you usually get a 50% discount during the all-star break, so you might wanna wait another month or so to get it if $39.99 is a bit too expensive for you.

  • Bubba

    This is a really good game for all the Cashman/Girardi wanna-be’s. Be warned, however, this game definitely has just one more turn-itis. I can’t tell you the amount of times I thought I’d sim just one more week and then it’s 2am.

    It’s also kind of neat when an unexpected player breaks out. In OOTP 13, Kyle Roller eventually became an all-star.

  • The Other Matt

    Thanks Joe. I must say that I’m greatly intrigued by OOTP after reading your review. After reading your review, and going over some of the features on the website, I’m tremendously inclined to purchase the game, come Friday when I get paid. I’ve been playing Franchise mode on MLB The Show 13, where I have reached Spring Training of 2015, thus far. I’ve been extremely hands on in every aspect of it, manually controlling every transaction for the Yankees, setting lineups throughout the system (MLB, AAA, AA), and assigning the specific concentrations of player development. Additionally, I’ve played every game in manager mode, never skipping an inning, and occasionally have played a few games through manager mode for the minor league teams as well. And while I’ve tremendously enjoyed the process, now that there is another alternative (though I know the game has been in existence for a while), I’m interested in giving it a try.

    MLB The Show does provide an experience which allows you to control front-office decisions, but the games can be quite tedious and take a while. Although, I must say I do enjoy the realism of the game, despite the length. But sometimes – as with all games to a certain degree – the transactions can be a bit unrealistic and improbable. Just to mention a few, while it helped me tremendously, I was able to acquire Elvis Andrus from Texas (who was rated a 96), for Eduardo Nunez straight up, during my 2014 season. On top of that, in my first season I was able to acquire David Ortiz for Jim Miller and Bobby Wilson, in basically a cash dump, and I received Dylan Bundy from the O’s in exchange for a Single A prospect whose potential was a D. Meanwhile, the computer would reject other more realistic trades I offered, such as Curtis Granderson for Matt Kemp, or Brett Gardner for Desmond Jennings. A few other things I didn’t enjoy about MLB The Show is that every player once they reach 35 has a precipitous drop in their rating immediately and progressively. By the end of my first season Derek Jeter was down to like a 71 from about an 88-90, and David Ortiz – though he still hit for power – was nothing more than a platoon DH option by the end of my first season. While I appreciate the fact that older players should see a decrease in their rating in overall production, everyone having the same overwhelming downfall was a bit unrealistic and annoying. Also, you aren’t able to sign contract extensions in-season. But I digress.

    Hopefully, OOTP provides a more realistic option from the front office, transactions aspect. I appreciate Joe pointing out the thing about raising the level of trade difficulty, as that should allow for a more enjoyable and realistic transaction ability.

  • AndrewYF

    The best part about this game, IMO, are the online leagues, with teams run by real people. If you really want a challenge, that should be your path.

  • Adam from Bay Ridge

    I’ve played the Baseball Mogul games but have not tried OOTP yet. I am interested in trying out that iOOTP 2014 app…anyone know if they plan on releasing a 2015 version anytime soon?

  • http://www.ootpdevelopments.com Brad Cook

    Adam from Bay Ridge: iOOTP 2014 is the most current version of that app. The 2015 version will be out next April.

    Yes, our naming conventions are inconsistent: OOTP 15 (not 2015; version 15) is the current version of that game, since it uses version numbers, not the year. (OOTP ’15 is incorrect.)

    iOOTP uses the year in its name, so the 2014 version is the current one.

    And to make it more confusing, our hockey game, Franchise Hockey Manager, uses the common convention of using the next year in its name, so FHM 2014 came out in Sept. 2013 and FHM 2015 will be out this Sept.

  • Sam

    OOTP is legit. This game is totally addictive for an SIM Baseball players out there.