I started playing text simulations close to a decade ago. For a kid who grew up playing Sim City and Front Page Sports Baseball, text sims were a way to finally capture the essence of an entire sports universe that completely belongs to you and your imagination.
So when I ran into the Out of the Park (OOTP) Baseball series years ago, after graduating from playing Baseball Mogul for years, I was ecstatic.
OOTP is the most realistic baseball simulation in the world. It’s powerful, comprised of stats and has can be connected to databases that allow you to simulate pretty much any baseball scenario you can dream of from the past to present. It has a financial engine and a stat engine beyond comparison, too.
OOTP 9 was released this week. The trick to these games is that they’re not like run of the mill PS3 or high-quality video games where you SEE the action on your screen. Nope. Instead, you see the action in the form of a web cast or play-by-play screen that texts the action to you. This year’s version has sound, so you can hear and see ball animations. But I don’t generally care for that stuff, as I prefer to simulate through seasons fast.
I was a beta tester on the game this year, so I’ve seen it from its early stages to its launch and this is the most stable release of the game ever released and the most comprehensive. While there are things that I wish were added over others, it’s still hands down the most complete version of the game — without patches — ever and it’ll just get better as it’s patched down the road.
Want the major leagues to have 50 teams? You can do it. Wanna control your favorite team and do better than the GM using real life players? Sure, go ahead. Pretty much any conceivable thing you can come up with in a baseball simulation, you can do now with text sims. It’s the sort of thing that if you’re not careful, you can get completely immersed in for hours and days and longer. There are also online leagues you can play in, to compete with other real people from around the world. That adds a whole new dimension to the game and there are virtually limitless games you can create, so you can play with a major league and create a fantasy league or something else.
The question people ask a lot is “is it fantasy baseball?” Not in the sense that it’s tied to what’s really happening on the field. The game is a simulator. It will simulate the results based on the way the team’s are setup, etc., but you don’t HAVE to use real life players. You can go with invented players whom don’t exist, but over time you get invested in after watching the team year after year. These games are the perfect solution to fans whose real life team have them bored to tears or who they never get to see.
These games are often made by small teams often comprised of one or just a few developers. They don’t sell more than a few thousand copies, yet, they’re wildly popular among this small niche base of fans and are comprised of several intertwined communities with their own histories and interesting cultures.
There are a bunch on the market including the most popular game in the world — Football Manager — a game released by Sports Interactive and Sega, that allows you to simulate the world of professional soccer. The game has a massive following in Europe and around the world — even here in the U.S. The most realistic football sim on the market is called Front Office Football.
OOTP 9 is the most advanced baseball sim out there right now and is worth checking out. It might be a bit of a learning curve to the casual gamer to text sims, yet, if you like baseball…there isn’t a game that can give you more than you’d bargained for than this one.