MLB SlugFest 20-04 Interview
Interviewed by James Chheng, Jeffrey Chea, and Yan Boey Biao.
We recently conducted an interview with Mark Flitman, MLB SlugFest 20-04 Producer, Midway Sports.
1. Can you discuss your role on the game?
I am the producer of MLB SlugFest 20-04, but I also contributed to the writing and a few voices for the audio track. As well, I was the producer for MLB SLugfest 20-03, NFL Blitz 20-02 and NFL Blitz 20-03.
2. Were you surprised at the success of MLB SlugFest 20-03?
The SlugFest team knew we had created one of the best-looking, most entertaining baseball games on the market, but you never know until the product hits the shelves. MLB SlugFest 20-03 is unlike any other baseball videogame on the market - it's licensed by the MLB and MLBPA and it features hardcore, lightning-fast, adrenaline-style gameplay so it appeals to action gamers and hardcore sports fans. The franchise debuted as the best-selling baseball game on the PS2 in 2002, so we know we did something right.
3. Can you discuss the game modes that will be in the game?
There are five game modes - Quick Play, Tournament, Challenge, Season and Home Run Derby - that will give MLB SlugFest 20-04 even more of the hard-core action plus key baseball aspects that fans got out of SlugFest 20-03.
- Quick Play takes a player straight to the adrenaline-style action found in the SlugFest franchise by playing a single game against another team.
- Tournament Mode allows the player to compete against a few teams in a bracket tournament, similar to the playoffs, and offers a more in-depth baseball experience.
- Challenge Mode pits your team of choice against every team in the MLB and a few surprise teams!
- Season Mode consists of 52 games, a full season Slugfest-style!
- Home Run Derby is a 2-8 man tournament to see who is the best slugger!
4. Will MLB SlugFest 20-04 be more of just a roster update of MLB SlugFest?
There is a significant "roster update,” such as new play-by-play and color commentary, customizable instant replay, fantasy stadiums and characters, but that's just the tip of the iceberg as far as new features and improvements are concerned for MLB Slugfest 20-04. Expect new developments, such as Create-a-Team mode that let's you form your own All-Star team and Customizable Instant Replay, so you can control the camera and relive the big home runs and diving catches. Home Run Derby will be another new feature that allows you to match your favorite MLB players against the most feared long ball hitters in the league.
5. Can you go into the Create-a-Team feature? What part of the team are you able to create? If you select players from existing teams, will they still play for their existing team, meaning the possibility of having two Barry Bonds?
Create-a-Team allows you to choose any players in the game for your team - it's not a draft. The player has the opportunity to create a team that reflects his or her style, such as creating a team that consists of all Golden Glove winners or big-hitters so it makes SlugFest more of a customizable experience.
6. The graphics were reportedly improved from last year's game. Can you comment on how the graphics are 'much improved'?
We have an incredible team of artists. The team improved every stadium, retouched all the players, added a new crowd and elements in the stadiums that the player can interact with, such as walls that crack, windows that break and lights that shatter. The game feels like real baseball, but you will still have the abilities to make outrageous plays and step up to bat in fantasy ballparks as member of a fantasy team if you want to mix it up.
7. In last year's game, the computer's fielding was incredibly accurate. Will there be a little more variation this year?
Yes, we have worked hard to improve not only the catching animations, but also the A.I. Since these updates, the computer's fielding skills have improved, and it's smarter about quick gameplay choices. We also developed new catch animations, cocky catch animations and error animations.
8. Having to manually control all aspect of the game might not be for everyone, will the game allow specific parts to be controlled by the computer?
We worked very hard to make Slugfest easy to play, but hard to master. Anyone should be able to pick up a controller and play the game, but the more you play, the more you learn. The game functions on a variety of levels. For example, you can run to a base and hope you're safe; or slide into a base to increase your odds; or drop-kick the defensive player and try to knock the ball free. MLB Slugfest 20-04 has a number of positions for offensive or defensive players, it all depends on the skill level of the gamer.
9. Will the game automatically switch to the nearest fielder when the ball is hit? In last year's game, it was really frustrating to try to switch to the correct player in time while trying to concentrate on fielding the ball at the same time.
Yes, we have improved this feature. Every second counts in a game, and it's extremely important for the sports games to be user-friendly.
10. Is the batter/pitcher interface still the same?
The interface is similar. We added three new pitches per pitcher, for a total of six per pitcher. Another enhancement is that the pitchers will experience fatigue, and the rosters
are bigger. The larger rosters allow substitutions, more relief pitchers and pinch
hitters. This year we've added a “special pitch” option, creating some wild pitches for even more adrenaline-style baseball.
11. Will there be a Create-A-Player option? Will we be able to edit any player ratings or looks?
Not this year, but you may see this in MLB Slugfest 20-05.
12. How about A.I. sliders, which would control tendencies of the computer?
No "sliders" but we do have difficulty levels that a player can choose.
13. Has anything been done to the base running A.I.? Did you personally have any issues with this aspect of the game last year?
MLB Slugfest 20-04 has a very dedicated and creative team that is constantly pushing to improve the game. We are always making efforts to modify the base running and decision making of the A.I. Among a few of the new features, players will be smarter when it comes to base stealing, when to use a hard slide and when to try and break-up a double play.
14. Will there be more roster space this year?
We have added eight more players and three more pitchers per team. The increased rosters add a whole new strategy element and make MLB Slugfest 20-04 even more of a challenge. We want both hardcore baseball fans and action gamers to be satisfied with not only the extreme-style play, but also the real-life baseball aspects like real players, teams and stadiums.
Thanks to everyone who provided the questions as well as the folks at Midway and MSL PR for setting this interview up.