i bolded the online info he talks about... he didnt say anything about it not being for the wii.... he talks abou the online so its for every plattform it sounds like
When 2K Sports acquired exclusive third-party rights to publish MLB games a few years back, game fans wondered just how long it would be before we saw an arcade hardball game to complement the publisher's already existing MLB 2K series. So while the announcement of The BIGS in October of last year wasn't much of a surprise, it's interesting to note that 2K and the development house behind the game, Blue Castle Games, have been working on the project for two full years. Just ahead of the game's release next month, we had a chance to talk with one of the cofounders of Blue Castle Games and lead game designer on The BIGS, Jason Leigh, to get an updated report on the game's progress and learn about Blue Castle's approach to redefining arcade baseball games.
GameSpot: How has development been going on The BIGS, and how far along is the game at this point?
Jason Leigh: Development has been going extremely well! It's amazing how quickly the almost two years of creating this game have gone by. We're right at the end now and are throwing everything we have left in our tanks at the game to make sure that it is as good as it can possibly be. Despite the crazy hours, one of the more enjoyable parts of finishing a game is getting to play the heck out of it as you're tuning. Over time, you get a sense of whether or not you've made a good game. Several of us here at Blue Castle had that sense when we were working on the MVP Baseball series, and we definitely have that feeling right now on The BIGS. Over the last couple of weeks I've personally played some of the most fun video game baseball of my life, so that's a great sign.
We really did set out to make a top-shelf arcade baseball game, and we couldn't be happier with where we are at right now.
GS: Baseball is a game rich with tradition, though some folks say it can be a tad dry. How do you go about creating an over-the-top arcade baseball experience while still being true to the sport?
JL: There are so many ways to approach the problem, but our mantra from the outset was: "Don't break baseball!" We didn't want to artificially make it exciting by bending the rules, or worse, turn it into a different sport. Baseball is already an exciting game, so our focus was how to make the coolest stuff happen all the time. The BIGS is very much a solid representation of baseball, but taken to an entirely new level.
The first thing that you'll notice with The BIGS is that it has a really cool arcade pace. There is minimal downtime, and everything feels faster and snappier. We put a lot of effort into our animation system to make sure that there is a lot of style and athleticism with the catches and throws. The players really do feel more heroic, even when pulling off routine plays. When they start to pull off the big moves--diving catches, double plays, wall catches, etc.--we really made sure to pay that off with bigger animations, audio, and presentation.
Beyond that, it's really the metagame that makes this a full-fledged arcade game. We have a very cool turbo and power-up system that we are really excited about.
GS: What has surprised you about the game and, more specifically, the development process, since you initially announced it last year?
JL: Well, I'd have to say that it is pleasantly surprising that many of our original bets have paid off. Setting out to build a company, a team, and a game all at the same time was quite a challenge. To accomplish that, we had to be as smart as possible up front when deciding what to focus on. Nailing the game's pace was a huge key, and I'm superhappy with the way that we have done that. The overall balance that we have managed to strike between arcade and "sim" feels great. Multiplayer has also been a great surprise. We're having some absolutely amazing two-on-two games in the office, both online and off. Other seemingly obvious factors, like spending early effort on having a solid baseball engine, have paid dividends, as we're able to focus on tuning and polish at the end rather than wrestling with the basics. I can't stress enough how important that has been for us.
From a visual standpoint, our art team has blown us away. You can probably tell from some of the initial screenshots that the game looks good, but in motion it's incredible. We're really proud of how we have represented the MLB license. The players are phenomenal, and I would personally put our stadiums up against the environments in any next-gen game on the shelves. A lot has been made already about the bottle and glove in San Francisco, but it really does give the game a personality all its own that helps it stand out from the other baseball games. With any luck people will be able to see the game's trailer around the same time that they read this interview so that they can get a better sense of what The BIGS is all about.
A final surprise? Given that we are releasing our game midseason, we are able to put a certain pitcher into the game and give him a certain signature pitch, which is something that we did not anticipate a few months back.
GS: When we last spoke about the game, [Blue Castle Games' general manager] Dan Brady said that one of the lessons learned in developing previous games is to keep the game to a manageable scope. How do you feel you've kept to that goal during The BIGS' development? Did a "manageable scope" mean features left on the cutting room floor?
JL: We certainly did focus on creating a tight experience, but "manageable scope" definitely doesn't mean that we've created a game that feels feature-light. If anything, we've been adding stuff at the end to augment what's already there and working. Gameplay feels very rich, and I think people will appreciate how much we're going to throw at them. Combine that with a nice set of modes, and we're pretty pleased with what we're giving baseball fans.
GS: What new details can you give us on the league challenge mode in The BIGS?
JL: First of all, the mode has been renamed "rookie challenge." It's a classic zero-to-hero journey where you create a rookie player and take him from spring training to World Series MVP. Being an arcade game, you don't do this over several seasons of simming a dynasty mode either. Our anchor single-player experience is not a sim-style franchise mode at all--it's the arcade story of a Cinderella season for "the Rook."
You start in spring training, build your player's skills in a series of cool training minigames like obstacle courses and stints in the batting cage, and then take your team through a variety of challenges in the regular season. There are scenarios, stat challenges, best-of series, player steal games, and even boss challenges, where you pit your rookie against the masters of their discipline. Taking on Ichiro to become the king of running is pretty cool. We have the all-star break where your rookie participates in our version of home run derby and the midsummer classic itself. Once you've climbed through your league and earned your playoff spot, your rookie is really going to have to step up to lead his team to the World Series.
Along the way, you unlock some nice rewards for your player to make him more unique and give him some real attitude. We have sunglasses, batter ditties, tattoos, wicked bat graphics (the American flag bat is my personal favorite--watch for it in the trailer), and you can even choose a nickname for the commentator to latch onto. It's a pretty neat experience watching your little rookie start his "career" in spring training as a stock player and slowly become this outrageous hero who is leading the team to victory.
While you have to play well with your whole team to win, the mode is very much about the rookie, and we support that with audio and even some special cinematics. We've put a lot of work into it and are really happy that we're giving something juicy for gamers to sink their teeth into. Oh yeah, and you can play it co-op with a buddy too.
GS: What other modes are in the game that you can tell us about?
JL: On our main menu we have some of the mainstays--play now, exhibition, online, and our own arcade version of home run derby. Rookie challenge is our big single-player mode, and that one will take a good 20-plus hours to beat. Beyond that, we have roster management and our arcade-ish create-a-player mode. The one that I'm most excited about, though, is home run pinball. This is a next-gen-only mode that puts a batter in Times Square and challenges him to do as much damage as possible. It really does play like a pinball machine, with cool physics and grouped targets that trigger bonuses. You can earn extra balls, bonus points, multipliers, and even multiball, which sends out three balls on every hit to score triple the points. The visuals and audio are great, and combined with the ball physics, random deflections, and explosions, the end result is a ridiculously audacious and satisfying mode for an arcade baseball game. The best part? We track high scores if you're online, so we can't wait to see the kind of points that people can rack up in the battle for the top spot.
GS: Will MLB star players like Derek Jeter, A-Rod, or Barry Zito "feel" different than a typical player in The BIGS? If so, how are you presenting that "star" quality?
JL: We've already talked about the visuals, and I think that we have done the players proud with how incredible they look in the game. In terms of "feel," it was one of the main goals for the design and artificial intelligence teams from the outset to make sure that players felt very different and that when you were controlling a star you could feel the difference. In a sim game, you can't really tell the difference between a guy with 87 speed versus a guy with 93 speed. We have gone with a much simpler arcade-style player attribute system--five attributes and only five levels of each.
In The BIGS, there is a world of difference in the abilities of different players. You can totally feel the extra velocity on throws or the ability of a shortstop to cleanly field the ball. On top of that, even cooler animations show up for players with the highest attributes. You will not get a 180 Jeter-style leaping throw from deep in the hole if your player only has a two-star arm. So a guy like Jeter, who has a five-star glove and a five-star arm rating, will make the huge stretched plays and still be able to get the out at first. Pitchers with higher attributes will have way more zip on their fastballs and some really nasty break on their breaking balls. Zito's curve is something to behold. And A-Rod's power at the plate is obvious when you lay into a pitch and knock it out of the park.
Where you really notice this is in the rookie challenge. We give you some points to spend up front before sending your player on his journey. You could choose to go heavy on batting early, but if you plan on creating a third baseman you're going to be letting your team down more often than not when you're dropping balls and opponents are legging out singles because you've ignored your glove or arm attribute. Over time, as you train your player and build his skills, you can totally feel his worth to the team increasing. It's really satisfying to feel this progression.
GS: We heard about some of the game's power-ups, such as the headwind power-up. Can you give us some more examples of the kinds of power-ups in the game? Are there any that you are particularly proud of?
JL: The headwind power-up has not made it into the final game. It was in there, it was functional, it was pretty cool, but just like when editing a movie you sometimes have to get rid of a great scene in order to make the larger piece work. In its place is what we feel is a far cooler and more unique metagame system that suits our gameplay better and is more in keeping with the tone that we wanted to set for the product. This is how it works:
We have a turbo meter and a power-up meter, called the big play meter. You fill the turbo meter on the mound by throwing strikes or at the plate by taking balls. Immediately you have strategy layered on top of strategy. Not only are you managing the count, but you are also managing the metagame. If you are close to earning enough turbo to engage it, it totally changes your approach. Once you have enough turbo to engage, you can use it for one pitch or one swing of the bat, or for plays in the field and on the base paths. Your pitches will be uglier, and your timing window for hitting will be bigger. Turbo earning also uses a multiplier, so consecutive balls or strikes fill your meter faster. You do not want to give up three strikes in a row, because your next batter is going to be facing a ton of turbo.
The big play meter is filled by making big plays. These include wall catches, strikeouts, double plays, singles/doubles/triples/home runs, and so on. Once you have the meter filled, you have the option of engaging big heat with your pitcher or a power blast with your batter. These are heightened gameplay moments with some really cool visuals and huge gameplay advantages. Striking out a batter with big heat steals half of his big play points. If you have power blast engaged, getting your bat on the ball will send it out of the park and more often than not will destroy a scoreboard in the process. If both sides engage their power-up at the same time, we enter duel mode, which is basically a batter/pitcher clash of the titans, and, man, is it satisfying to come out the winner!
The coolest thing is that turbo allows you to make big plays more easily, which means that the two systems feed off each other. And when it gets late in a tight game, it's usually the player who has managed his meters better that has the edge. We're really pleased with where this system has ended up and have put a ton of work into it to ensure that it's our signature gameplay element.
GS: What can you tell us about the Wii version of The BIGS, particularly regarding its controls?
JL: The game uses both the Wii-mote and the Nunchuk. We've really focused on ways to apply the Wii's very unique controls to all of the specific actions of baseball. As you might expect, you get to swing it like a bat and throw it like you would a ball. We're in the final stages of refining the control scheme, so I'm sure we'll have more details to share soon.
GS: What kinds of Xbox Live achievements will be in the Xbox 360 version of the game?
JL: We have several. Lots of obvious ones like "get X strikeouts" or "get X home runs" in a game. Some tougher ones like "pitch a perfect game." You get some big points for beating rookie challenge in both leagues, and we also have achievements for hitting high score thresholds in home run pinball.
GS: In that same vein, is it possible we'll see The BIGS in the PS3 Home online service?
JL: Not this year, unfortunately.
GS: With just around a month to go before launch, what's left to do before the game is sent to the factories?
JL: First, polish and tune like mad! Baseball is a finicky sport to get "right," and we're doing everything we can to make sure that two years of development is being paid off with attention to detail at the very end. We're really happy with where the game is, but every waking hour is spent making it as good as it can possibly be.
Second, get the word out that The BIGS is coming! This is a very sweet, over-the-top arcade sports game, and it is our hope that baseball gamers are ready for something different. People who love baseball are going to appreciate us treating the sport with respect, and people who love arcade games should be pleasantly surprised that we've managed to amp it up to the level that the best NFL and NBA arcade games have achieved in the past.
Finally, get some rest! Our team has sacrificed a lot to give gamers the best game they possibly could. We couldn't be prouder of everyone's effort over the last two years. Without our great people, we could not have been in a position to deliver what we feel is going to be a stellar game.
GS: Finally, a real baseball question. What's more likely: the Brewers being atop the NL Central in September or Joe Torre being with the Yankees in 2008?
JL: Those Brewers are on fire! At this point, Joe may have to win a World Series to keep his job. He has been awesome for that team, but it doesn't look good at this point. So, I'd go with the Brewers. Plus their stadium looks unbelievable in The BIGS, and I'm halfway through a rookie challenge with them!
GS: Thanks for your time, Jason.
By Brian Ekberg, Gamespot