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MLB 2K10 Fielding Improvements

  POSTED February 23 |   VIEWS 8726

Jonathan Rivera, Gameplay Designer for Major League Baseball 2K10, tells us about MLB 2K10 Fielding Improvements. This year 2K spent a lot of time fixing bugs and improving the overall quality of the game.

 Screenshots Gallery

"This year, we worked tirelessly to address those problems while adding fun new features surrounding the mechanics of fielding. As a high level goal, we wanted to remove the frustrating areas of our game. As one of our other designers Sean Bailey (who some of you know from writing the My Player Insight) said, “There’s nothing more frustrating in a baseball game than when you expect an out and you don’t get one, or you expect to be safe and are called out” due to some blip in the game. That pretty much summarizes our overarching goal for Major League Baseball 2K10, we want to address those frustrating areas and make sure that your expectations are not only met but hopefully surpassed. 

New Fielding Mechanics

Queue up throws
First, let’s discuss a new mechanic. In MLB 2K10 we’ve introduced one big ability that we haven’t supported in previous years, and that’s being able to “pre-load” a throw or, as we call it, “queuing up throws”. The high level concept is that we allow you to begin your throw meter before your fielder has gathered the ball. Last year, you had to wait to handle the ball before you could load your throw. If the user pre-loads a throw this year, they will get a smooth animation that has both the gather and the throw in the same animation. 
We added so many new queued up animations this year that after each game we play, we see a new animation and we have to go to the replay to see it in-game. This new feature adds smooth gameplay and some riveting moments. 

Double Plays
 
Another exciting addition to the fielding environment is support for “2-man” animations. These are animations that have both the fielder and the baserunner involved. Because we are able to capture both players in the entire sequence, the in-game result is a seamless animation that looks very natural. The most exciting of these 2-man animations are the double plays. We captured over 100 new double play animations to add support to this feature. These are going to add many “WOW” or “Did you see that?!” moments when turning double plays. I think the community is really going to have a positive reaction to all of the new double plays that we added and be enthralled with how fun it is to turn a double play in our game. 

Home Plate Collisions
 
In addition to the double play “2-man” animations, we also added a lot of coverage for home plate collisions and plays at the plate which include both the catcher and the baserunner. 
The idea here was to make plays at the plate more special. In Major League Baseball® 2K9, plays at the plate didn’t really pop as exciting moments in a baseball game. Plays at the plate are a big opportunity for us, as designers, to make run scoring moments feel special when there is a close play. To do that, we installed collision animations, as well as 2-player slide animations, where the catcher and the baserunner are involved in the same play. 

Steals/Pickoffs
 
As with double plays and home plate collisions, steals and pickoffs also got a makeover in this year’s game. The high level intent was that all close plays were 2-man animations so that the user could actually go to replay, zoom in and look at the tag, and watch carefully how the glove touches the baserunner before he slides into the bag as you can see below (screen is currently above, not below). My favorite part about how these animations look is that the fielder and the baserunner are always aware of each other and their reactions are a result of whether the play was successful or not. 

Wall Climbs
 
Another area of the game that got an animation overhaul was the wall climb feature. We have many new wall climb animations. Wall climbs are always a tough challenge because we want to make them possible to achieve without harkening back to Major League Baseball® 2K7, when it happened way too frequently, or Major League Baseball® 2K9, where it was nearly impossible to do. We tuned it to where, if a fielder naturally gets into a situation where he can make the wall climb based on ratings and situation and the user presses the button within an allotted window, the fielder will be successful in bringing one back. 
We also introduced a ton of new “Surrender” animations. Surrender animations play when a home run is absolutely crushed and the fielder will give up on pursuing the ball because it’s way out of there.. Both wall climbs and surrender animations are exciting new additions to the game and introduce a lot of amazing moments during gameplay. 

Drills
 
In My Player mode we added the ability to play defensive drills that will help you field your position better. These drills are also available from the front end menu so that you can practice that position with any player. The intent of the drills was to put the user in real game situations that will help with their reaction time and understand the correct play on any given situation. For example, in our Infield drill, one of the goals will be to field a ground ball and throw the runner out at home plate as he streaks down the line. Here is a full list of drills: 

Hitting 
*Contact & Power – Test your ability to control where you put the ball based on pitch location. You’ll be asked to pull the ball, hit it up the middle or go opposite field. 
* Plate Battle – Make contact or take a ball. This is all about reading pitches. If you swing and miss or don’t swing at strikes, you’ll lose points. 

Fielding
*Infield – Practice playing the field at any infield position with specific objectives (as mentioned above). 
* Outfield - Practice playing any outfield position. 
* Catcher - Practice blocking balls in the dirt as the catcher and recognize game situations to make the right decision. 

Baserunning 
*Lead off & Jump – Stealing drill that will teach you how to become a better baserunner. 
* Advancing & Sliding - Learn how to take the extra base and master the sliding controls. 

Pitching
*Control & Velocity – Learn how to pinpoint pitches. This drill is a valuable tool to check out different pitchers and how much their pitches move. This is available in the front end so you can practice with any pitcher. 
* Composure & Stamina – Learn how to manage low stamina and low composure situations. 

Fun Gameplay
We added all of these new features and animations to fielding but it’s all about the fun gameplay. We understand that there were many areas of fielding that needed more polish/bug fixing from last year’s game; that was definitely our #1 priority so expect a much smoother experience overall. Specific issues we have addressed include
* Dropped catches
* The 1st baseman moving his foot off the bag
* User steals were very difficult 

After we improved those big problem areas, we focused on adding new animations and features. I feel like this is the most fun/authentic baseball experience out there now and I hope you guys will enjoy."

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