MLB 2K12 - Catch-All


It's about a month away, and I'm getting pretty excited for the new version. I thought 2K11 was a solid game that did some stuff supremely well. AlL I 'm hoping for is a bit of an update, cleaning up some bugs and glitches that were missed the last time around.

There is some concern that this might be the last baseball game 2K does. The series has performed dreadfully since 2K signed MLB to an exclusive third party deal. The last two games in the series have been much better than their reputation, but a far cry from what sony puts out for the PS3. But I suspect they are just going to avoid an exclusive deal and continue making games.

Kotaku's Owen Good did a nice piece on the upcoming game, even if it comes off a bit dour.

His impressions on some added nuances to pitching:

Here's how it works. Each pitcher on the roster is governed by his real-world tendencies, as measured by 2K Sports' statistics partner. If someone's best pitch is a changeup, of course, he doesn't necessarily throw offspeed all of the time (as its intent is to destroy a hitter's timing). Even though that pitch still has the "best pitch" flag in the pitch selection menu, if you throw it more than the pitcher does in real life, you're going to see its baseball icon turn red, indicating you've gone to it too many times. This will not only deliver a performance advantage to hitters, they'll see it coming because everyone up and down the bench knows you're favoring it.

Further, location matters more. MLB 2K12 still has a favorable strike zone that doesn't require you to get all of the ball, sometimes even any of it, in the rectangle to have it called a strike. I was a fiend for going to a backdoor slider in tight spots, usually low. You can abuse location as much as you can pitch type, and the areas you're going to will start to black out in the strike zone display. This is something the hitter can see, too, and if he sees a black bar across the strike zone, he knows anything headed there is going to be ripe for a gap shot. So favoring a type of pitch and location all the time—and we saw this when people tried to exploit the perfect game challenge last year—is a one-way ticket to the showers regardless of who is throwing.

Nuances to the throwing meter:

The changes to fielding also represent the kind of staged refinement we've seen in other areas of the game, such as the analog pitching controls. Last year, the game introduced a fielding meter that prized timing a throw, rather than just laying on a button or on the stick. It was rough to adjust to at first, and a lot of routine plays ended up with overthrows and desperate saves as gamers tried to get a handle on it.

Now you get a variable meter, which becomes obvious on infield plays. An infielder who is able to set his feet will almost never overthrow the bag. He'll see the dangerous red portion of the throwing meter completely wiped out, and while yellow areas can mean trouble, a fielder with a solid rating isn't going to wing it over the first-baseman's head.

It's in plays where a fielder can't set his feet that you're going to see last year's risks and variables, which really should be limited to these kinds of bang-bang situations.

2K did recently release of new features that a bit paltry, to be honest.

•MLB Today Season Mode
For the first time ever, play along with the real-life MLB season AS IT UNFOLDS. Take charge of your favorite team and see how you stack up against the rest of the league over the course of a six month-long season.

•Dynamic Tendency System
Just as in real-life, opposing pitchers and hitters will learn your tendencies from one at-bat to the next, challenging you to mix up your approach on both sides of the plate as each game unfolds.

•New Throw Meter
A revamped throwing system presents a classic risk vs. reward situation every time you make a play. Will you queue up throws before fielding the ball to save time, or take a moment to set your feet for better accuracy?

•Improved My Player Mode
Want to be the next All-Star slugger or ace starter? All-new player types let you decide your path to the Majors. Goals, expectations, ratings and progression are all customized by position and player type.

I left off the fifth feature, since a new soundtrack isn't really worth discussing. But the MLB Today Season Mode looks like it might be EXACTLY what I was wishing for the two years. I love playing games that feature current starting pitchers and rosters for that day, along with commentary and presentation that reflects real world stats. If Pujols struck out three times the day before, they might mention that in the game. It was a just a great way to do play now games.

With season mode, I'd love to see them let the stats I accumulate in the games I play replace the real life stats. I'm anxious for more details on that.

If you don't have NBA 2K12 yet, 2K has quite a deal.


For $10 more, you get both games. $60 for MLB 2K12, or $70 for both.

Since I have been thinking about pickng up the NBA game for some time, this is an easy buy for me.

I'm looking forward to it too. There is 'kinda' of a preview in the new Game Informer. They really point out the downsides of 2011, which we really noticed. They point out like you have Jay', that minimal effort may go into this one because of the last year of the contract. I hope someone pick's it up that has more love and technique for the game that rivals the PS 3 ball game.

Btw, the season play along seem's very cool. And if you don't make all the games, it sims in for you. (I just hope they somehow differentiate your stats/records from the sim. But maybe too much of a hassle and it would throw off lot's of other stuff. But ...)

I'll live if this is the last edition. EA's last baseball game, MVP 05 was a good game, and probably as disappointing to lose as NFL 2K5 was.

And EA did just hire Kolbe Launchbaugh away from SCEA, where he had a prominent role in the rise of MLB the Show. They say he will mainly oversee Madden. But I have no doubt Peter Moore is going to get back into baseball once the exclusive deal with 2K is over. Who do you think he tabs for MVP 13?

I just hope they mine a lot of the good ideas MLB 2K has produced over the last few years, and puts together a more solid product.

Official Trailer dropped.

Not much info. They show off some of the new catcher animations, and new uniforms for the Marlins. Basically, it looks like last year's game, which is what I expected.

Here's the Million dollar Perfect Game Contest trailer. The new format pits eight perfect game winners in a tourney, and the winner getting $1 Million.

Time for some actual information:

Just kidding! 2K released their first Developer Diary today.


Why change pitching
Before we get into the details of what changed with the pitching system for Major League Baseball 2K12, I wanted to provide some insight into why we made these changes to the game. A lot of the inspiration came from discussions with our cover athlete, American League MVP Justin Verlander, who spent time talking through the psychology of pitching in the MLB. There were two key strategies that Justin emphasized as critical to success that really struck a chord with our design team.

First off, pitchers in the MLB, especially starters, make a conscious and strategic effort to mix up their pitches and locations to keep the batters off balance and guessing. Fall into a predictable pattern or go to the same pitch or same location too much and the batters in the MLB will start to zone in on your pitches.

Second, pitchers adapt their approach to each batter based on what happened during previous at bats and what has and hasn’t been working for them so far in the game. If a batter is having success off your two seam fastball, you might try a different approach next time he comes to the plate. If multiple batters are hitting your slider, you are likely going to rely a little more heavily on your other pitches. On great days where you aren’t giving up hits, you might make few if any adjustments; but on days where you are giving up hits and runs, you make adjustments in an attempt to shut down the batters.

After reflecting on this for a while, we realized that this is not traditionally how the games unfold within the video game world. Most users execute pitching strategies that are in stark contrast to what the top pitchers in the MLB espouse and they succeed. Based on observation, we found that most video game users find 2 or 3 pitches that they are good at throwing and throw them to just a few locations in the strike zone that they feel comfortable with and get decent results from. Users don’t mix up locations nearly enough, they don’t rely on their full pitching arsenal nearly enough and they don’t adjust their strategy to the batters or what has and hasn’t been working today. Why?

After more deliberation we realized that this was largely a result of the game not adapting in a believable way to how real world batters adapt and not providing any feedback to the user about how their approach to pitching may impact the results of this and future at bats.

So for MLB 2K12 we set out to change how batters react to pitching patterns and also how we expose to the user what their pitching strategy is leading towards. The end result is a more dynamic pitching experience where, just like in real life, no two days on the mound play out the same way and the experience is much more true to how real life MLB pitchers approach the pitching.

Making Pitch Strategy Matter
For MLB 2K12 we added new systems within pitching to detect and expose whether or not you are mixing up your pitches appropriately, mixing up pitch locations and also determine how effective your pitches have been to each batter and overall for the day. Over the past few months as we have played the game with the changes below, even the most knowledgeable and skilled baseball players in our office find themselves adjusting their playing tendencies and reveling in the challenge of adapting their strategy on the mound as the game plays out. MLB 2K12 both rewards and teaches you how to maximize your efforts on the mound.

Mixing up pitches
Let’s start with mixing up pitches. First we use each pitcher’s Inside Edge data to determine how much you should be throwing each pitch during a game. Some pitchers may throw a changeup 20% of the time while another may throw his changeup only 6% of the time. We use these values to determine whether or not a specific pitch is being thrown too much or abused. This also means that the experience changes from pitcher to pitcher and we are encouraging you to throw more like the real life counterpart.

We keep track of how many times you throw each pitch, and if you are throwing a pitch at a higher percentage than the Inside Edge data for that player, we warn you by changing the background of the pitch to yellow. The warning doesn’t mean you can’t throw the pitch, it doesn’t even mean that you shouldn’t throw the pitch, it alerts you that you might be using that pitch too much and the batters are starting to pick up on this tendency. If you continue to throw the pitch at an abnormally high percentage when compared to the Inside Edge data and it reaches the point where the batters are now watching for the pitch, the background for the pitch turns red. At this point, you should really consider backing away from the frequency of usage of the pitch because the batters are looking for you to throw that pitch. You are still able to throw the abused pitch but the batters are watching for that pitch so they are more likely to read it well as a strike or ball and more likely to hit it hard.


If you start throwing more of your other pitches, the abused pitch will change back to yellow and if you continue to mix it up well it will return back to normal. By watching for these changes you can ensure that you are mixing up your pitches in a believable way for that pitcher. The decision is still yours but your best results will come from a good mix of pitches. If you throw a pitch that batters are waiting for, big hits are frequently the result.

This feedback about pitch tendencies is also a great way to learn more about the pitchers in MLB and how each of them approaches mixing up their pitches. We also have the numerical breakdown of your pitch tendency displayed in the new Pitch Track system that is available by pressing left on the D-Pad. We’ll cover more about the new Pitch Track system later.

Mixing locations
Mixing locations is also a key strategy for success as a pitcher. If you only throw to one or a select few spots in the strike zone, the batters are going to catch on and start looking for the ball in that spot. If they get a ball where they are looking for it, they are likely going to hit it hard and some fan might get a souvenir. It is true that throwing down and away is very effective, but if you only throw down and away then batters can focus on just that spot. You need to throw pitches into other locations to keep them honest and make them read the pitch as it comes to the plate.


If you throw too many pitches into the same zone, that zone will turn black. This is your indication that the batters are looking for pitches in that zone and it would be a good time to start varying up your pitch location. It is important to mix it up so the batters need to read the pitch coming to the plate. A lot of hitters are susceptible to the high and inside fastball, so don’t be shy about running a few up and in. Maybe try to get them to chase above or inside the strike zone. Break off a few curve balls in the dirt and see if you get them to swing at a dirt ball.

Just like with pitch tendencies, our new Pitch Track system has a breakdown of how many times you have thrown to each zone available for your viewing pleasure.


Pitch effectiveness
Each day a pitcher takes the mound, there’s no guarantee that any of his pitches will work the way they normally do. It might be your release is a little off or maybe the batters are just picking it up better coming out of your hand, but whatever the cause, some days some of your pitches are going to get knocked around. How effective your pitches are working is a big contributor to you staying in the game or the manager going to the bullpen. We determine each pitch’s effectiveness for the day based on the outcome of at bats. We look at all the hits and strikeouts and which pitch they came off of. If you are striking guys out with your slider, its overall rating will be up a little. But if you are giving up hits off your fastball, your fastball is going to be down. We also keep track of which batters have hit or struck out against each pitch. When you give up a hit off your fastball, it goes down a little against all batters. But when you face off again against the batter that got the hit, your fastball rating will be down even more. Obviously singles don’t affect your pitches as much as giving up home runs. These adjustments simulate how on some days certain pitches may work better or worse than normal, and how that can have a profound impact on your strategy as the game unfolds.

For example, if C.J. Wilson gives up a HR to Jay Bruce off his fastball, Wilson’s fastball will drop 5 points against all batters. However, the next time Bruce is up, the fastball will actually be rated 15 points lower than the original rating. This creates a different strategy and experience against each batter depending on who is having success at the plate that day and who isn’t. Singles, doubles, triples, and home runs will lower a pitcher’s ratings (by a different amount for each one) while strike outs will increase a pitcher’s rating.

On the good days when you aren’t giving up hits, your pitches will be their base overall and pitches that brought you strikeouts will even be up a little. This means you are likely going to work your starting pitcher late into the game. In contrast, on the days you are giving up hits, your pitch ratings are going to be lower and as you get further into the game it might make more sense to go to your bullpen for a fresh pitcher rather than continue with your starter. If your starter’s pitches are down overall, then your bullpen pitcher may actually be more effective. This is yet another aspect of how these pitching changes are going to impact your games.

Just like in real life, in MLB 2K12 you need to adjust your strategy on the mound as the game unfolds. No two outings will be quite the same and you will be pushed to use all the weapons in your pitching arsenal to maximize your success.

Other Pitching changes
We made a few other adjustments within pitching for this year. First, breaking balls have realistic physics based on the location in which they are pitched. A low curveball will break much more than a high curveball. High curveballs will have little break, giving the batter that juicy hanging curve that so many pitchers fear throwing. A righty trying to backdoor a slider against a left-handed batter will notice less break than if he came all the way across his body by throwing the pitch inside. All of this of course is still modified by each pitcher’s movement rating per pitch. It’s just another realistic element that captivates the physics of a breaking ball based on location that we see in real life.

Second, warnings and ejections are now in MLB 2K12 for drilling batters. After a few batters are hit, the ump will issue a warning to each dugout. Anyone who hits a batter after the warning is issued will be ejected from the game.

And lastly, you will not have to access the in-game pause menu or use the D-pad shortcut to check if pitchers in the bullpen are warmed up. When a pitcher is fully warmed up, the gamer will be notified automatically.

In MLB 2K12 we made a lot of changes and adjustments while you are at the plate, all aimed at bringing a more challenging and rewarding play experience to our users.

Hit Types, Distribution and outcomes
For MLB 2K12 we completely rewrote the core of our hitting system. We listened to user feedback last year about the high frequency of soft line outs in MLB 2K11, and saw a great opportunity to improve the game. The mechanics of making swings remains the same, but what happens when you swing and make contact is entirely new. A lot of research went into every possible hit type that occurs during the MLB season as well as the frequencies in which each hit type occurs. We rebuilt the system from the ground up to recreate believable and accurate to real world results based on the timing of the swing and where the ball was pitched. The result is a much more accurate representation of hit results than ever before.

Just like real life, your swing timing has a huge impact on where the ball is hit. You can now pull outside pitches by swinging early, but if you want to go to the opposite field, just let the ball get a little deeper into the zone before swinging. What type of hit you get is also based on your timing, but also factors in where the pitch was thrown. If your timing is good you will generally drive the ball hard, but if your timing is bad you will likely chop, ground, foul or fly the ball off the bat. Swinging at low pitches generally creates a few more grounders and lower line drives, while making contact on the pitches up in the zone offers a better chance to drive the ball hard. Where the ball is located doesn’t completely dictate the outcome but it influences the likelihood of the different types of hits.

MLB 2K12 showcases many new types of hits including soft bloopers for singles, line drive home runs and line drives off the wall, high bouncing choppers, slow dribblers, and line drives and deep shots that fade and slice down the line based on the physics of the ball-spin.

Overall, you will notice a much greater variety of hit results in MLB 2K12.

Pitcher vs. Batter
We talked a lot about what the changes to the pitching look like from the pitcher’s perspective, now it is time to cover how those changes look from the batter’s box.

When a pitcher is abusing a pitch by throwing it too much, the frequency of the batter’s eye, or pitch tell system, is increased. Knowing what pitch is coming and whether or not it will be in the strike zone or not is a huge advantage as the batter. Additionally, for MLB 2K12 the batter’s eye displays the exact pitch type being thrown (rather than just simply fastball, breaking ball, or changeup). In our testing, this is the single biggest advantage that can be provided to a batter; if you know when to swing and have a clue about the timing, hitting the ball becomes a lot easier.

If the pitcher is going to the same location in the strike zone repeatedly, that zone becomes black in the same way as the pitcher sees it. If you watch for a pitch in that location then you can expect great results.

When you start hitting a pitch around the park, that pitch’s overall rating drops. Lower rated pitches are easier to hit hard and are easier to read, meaning more batter’s eye tells. You still need to maintain your plate discipline and swing timing, but hitting the ball hard and well will be easier.

All New Bunting
The bunting has also been completely reworked so the user is now required to match the height of the ball when bunting. How precise you need to be depends on the bunt rating of the player at the plate. The batter smoothly moves up and down as you feature the right stick. Nailing the right height of the bat on the bunts will result in laying one down with the right amount of speed to be a successful bunt.


Bunting is an acquired skill though, and poorly aimed bunts will result in fouls or outs most of the time. Just like all of the changes mentioned above to every area of gameplay, the outcome and result is in your hands. No randomness. You are the one dictating the outcome of the game.

New Power Swing Animations
We also re-shot and replaced every single power swing animation. The new power swing animations showcase better bat speed and effort by the batter when going for the fences. It is very obvious that you are going for it all. Again, true to real life, the batter will be slightly slower out of the box after performing a power swing versus a contact swing.

I can't wait for the demo (just to play some ball with new app). Is it scheduled for 20 March? or ...?

And EA did just hire Kolbe Launchbaugh away from SCEA, where he had a prominent role in the rise of MLB the Show. They say he will mainly oversee Madden. But I have no doubt Peter Moore is going to get back into baseball once the exclusive deal with 2K is over. Who do you think he tabs for MVP 13?


I can only HOPE!!

Man, still no word on demos from 2K or SCEA.

I think last year's poor sales of both franchises have taken the imperative out of trying to sell baseball games.

If anyone is still playing MLB 2K11, you can download rosters that are up-to-date as to the start of spring training. Just got to 2K Share and look at the most recent rosters. MKHarsh33 is he username you are looking for. It's easy to tell, of the five rosters on the page, the rest have single digit downloads, and his is over 1,900. He's even updating line-ups.

I played a Cards/Angels game today, hoping to make Pujols pay. I decided to also take on CJ Wilson, which was not so smart.

After striking Pujols out in his first two at-bats, he made me pay with a two-run triple (a beautifulk hit off the wall that caromed over the head of my OF, turning the a double into a triple), and a 480 foot Grand Slam. Meanwhile, Wilson shut my Pujoless Cardinals 7-0.

Over the last month, I've been playing this a lot again. As a PS3less gamer, this is my now my favorite all-time baseball game. No other gam has brought me back so often.

Thanks for the tip on updated rosters. I saw you playing and was going to ping you for some on-line play, but got side tracked.

I think you are strictly 360 still, but that Diamond Dynasty mode in, 'The Show' really looks cool. Creating your own team, logo etc. Putting in friends, family etc. names (and your own) in rosters and play. I'm not clear yet on how the stats are created, but it sounds like loads of fun if it works.

Anyway, back to 2K, I'm hoping things come together for a good game. Again hoping that both games play smoother on-line (although 100's of folks in both games play loads of games. We might be a bit too picky:) I figure it's doing it to me, it's doing it to you (hopefully;) and even's the playing field. So who cares, as long as it's not a great distraction from playing the game).

The Diamond Dynasty mode looks awesome. I really enjoyed similar modes in EA's NHL series. Even the Madden version was cool. But that mode is tailor made for baseball, and I really like what Sony has done with it.

Unfortunately, a PS3 is not in the cards for me. Even if I decided to spend the money, I really don't have room under my TV. I already have my 360 sitting on top of my TiVo!

As far as online play, I am really picky. 2K claims to have it perfected, with zero lag. Last year they patched in an online update that really improved it, but it was still kind of funky. They have said that they have spent a ton time improving the tech they use, so we will see.

Operation Sports announces demo out next Tuesday,
the 28th. Yea! (although demos usually lack the polish, but still...)

Donan wrote:

Operation Sports announces demo out next Tuesday,
the 28th. Yea! (although demos usually lack the polish, but still...)

I was just going to post that.

Most sports games ship without commentary because it is hard to figure out what commentary will play in a given game, forcing the to include nearly all of it in the demo. That results in a gargantuan demo to download.

I'm pretty happy as I get the Cardinals in the demo. They will be facing the Rangers.

I pre-ordered the game today, in case there are supply issues with the NBA 2K12/MLB 2K12 combo pack. It's probably no big deal, but I'm kind of pumped to get the NBA game, and this makes the price pretty awesome.

I saw the they expect a gameplay video and developer diary next Monday. We'll see.

I went ahead and pre-ordered The Witcher 2 today, also. And now it looks like TW 12 is on my buy list. It's getting to be an expensive spring.

To make matter worse, I checked out the Vita, and I may try and sell my PSP and games to pick one up. Gamestop will give me $50 for the PSP, which is not bad. I have a bunch of gams I can trade-in with it, but I'm sure they are not going for a lot.

And if I get a Vita, then there is a The Show, even though it lack the Diamond Dynasty mode.

Developer Diary #2 is up.

In MLB 2K12 we focused on increasing the decision-making and realism of fielding while making it play even more true to real life.

Throwing System
Just like with our pitching, we looked at our throwing system with the goal of increasing both the realism and the strategy required to excel. During the course of a game, fielders are faced with everything from routine plays such as a simple ground ball hit to the SS with no runners on base, to difficult plays like a well-placed bunt down the 3B line with a speedster at the plate. What makes the plays challenging or easy is how much the fielder needs to rush his decision making and rush to get the throw off. With more time available to make the throw, a good fielder gathers the ball, plants his feet and makes a strong throw to the base. The difficulty rises when the fielder doesn’t have time to plant his feet and needs to rush to get the throw off to have any chance of making the play.

So in MLB 2K12 we redesigned our throwing meter to dynamically change the difficulty of making a throw as a play unfolds. The throw meter changes depending on whether the fielder is attempting a running queue up throw, a running throw, or a throw while balanced and set. Just like in real life, if you have the time to get set to make a throw you are going to have your best chance of making a good throw.

The hardest throw you can attempt is a quick queued throw while on the run. These queued running throws allow you to gather and throw the ball all in one motion and result in getting the throw off quickly, but they sacrifice velocity and accuracy. The easiest throw to make is when your fielder has already gathered the ball and his feet are planted. In the images below you see three different configurations of the throw meter: a running queued throw, a running throw and a planted throw.

Click here for high resolution

Red = high risk, good chance for a throwing error or pulling the fielder off the bag

Yellow = lower chance of error or pulling the fielder off the bag but still possible, and the throw will be low velocity.

Green = high velocity throw that is generally on target

Above is a quick breakdown of what the different colors represent, but it is very important to remember that the fielder ratings can greatly impact the outcome of each color. If you are throwing with a fielder like Jimmy Rollins or Troy Tulowitzki who have very high arm ratings, putting the throw meter into the Red will have a much lower likelihood of an error than a low rated player. It is very important to know the ratings of your players to help you make decisions about how aggressive you are going to be in a close play situation.

Again, along the lines of realism, the key is to get your feet set when making a throw on a routine out. Gamers who let the fielder come to a stop and make throws with their feet set will not be at much risk for an error and will enjoy the giant green sweet spot. When performing these types of throws on routine outs, the fielder will make a throw conducive to how much time it will take the base runner to reach first. If your 3rd baseman is taking a second or two to get a good grip on the ball or to shuffle and make the throw, it is because he knows the batter leaving the box doesn’t have any speed. Like in real life, charging a slow rolling dribbler or chopper against a fast base runner will require a tougher throw that has greater risks (and a smaller green zone). Queue up throws and throws on the run should be saved for must-have outs or close plays at the bag. Jose Reyes or Nyjer Morgan mistiming a swing may result in a chopper in which the fielder’s only way to get the out is to perform a queue up throw on the run. This obviously is not the case when a slow runner hits a slow chopper after mistiming a swing. The new throw meter provides the gamer with a risk/reward decision that makes fielding in 2K12 both more fun as well as realistic looking and feeling.

We also wanted to allow more advanced decision making and playmaking in the field. We now allow the fielder the option to either cancel a throw or simply choose to redirect the throw to a new base or target. Obviously, these decisions can only be made if the ball is still in your hands. So as the fielder you now have even more control over your decisions and playmaking as the play unfolds.

You might be charging a bunt down the line and decide to risk a queued up running throw and peg the throw meter into the red. Now you have some decisions to make, how critical is the out? Do you want to risk still making the throw knowing that there could possibly be an error on the throw or pull the fielder off the base? Or do you want to cancel the throw and essentially concede the hit? This is something that you see happen frequently in the field. The fielder is making what is going to be a hard play and doesn’t like his grip, balance or timing and simply holds onto the ball rather than making a really poor throw and opening up the possibility of giving up an additional base.

To redirect a throw you simply select your new target and the throw meter will appear. This can be useful in cases where you are throwing through the cutoff man and need to change your decision as to where you are going to make a throw. Maybe you thought you were going to be able to make a play at the plate, but as the ball is coming in from the outfield you recognize that the runner will be safe. So, you decide to try to throw out the trailing runner or simply throw to another base to hold a runner. Redirecting a throw does take a little time if the fielder is already in the throwing motion because he must first abort his current throw and then throw to the new target which may be in a different direction.

These changes and additions to the throw system make fielding much more engaging. Every play is a unique situation that requires you to make a series of decisions on each play. How long is it going to take to reach the ball? How fast is the base runner? Is it the last out of the inning? Is there a runner advancing home or into scoring position and does that run matter? Should I take an easy out or try to turn a hard double play? Do I have time to plant my feet and make the throw? Do I need to throw on the run? Did I gather the ball cleanly? Some plays end up feeling routine while others are tense and exciting.

Improved AI
Our fielding AI has taken another step forward as it now also incorporates the new throwing system into the AI decision making progress. When the AI has the time to make an easy throw, they gather themselves, plant their feet and make a solid throw. AI fielders can also adjust their decision making as each play unfolds rather than being tied to one animation per play. Say for example the batter hits a slow groundball to the second baseman with a runner on first. As the ball and base runner approach, the 2B can quickly try to tag the runner out as he passes, and then re-set his feet and make a controlled throw to first to get the hitter.

On top of the gameplay improvements, fielding also has taken big strides forward visually. For MLB 2K12 we developed a completely new blending system that allows for a more seamless gameplay experience, especially in the field. Fielders perform smoother animations across the board thanks to this new tech. In addition to the new blending technology, the following areas of fielding were completely reshot and replaced with new animations: Infield throws (intense, casual, timing/situation specific) and catches, outfield throws (more throws with all arm instead of crow-hops) and catches, ambient and around the horn throws and catches, as well as every catcher animation. The blending improvements combined with the new set of fielding animations have created a great-looking game of baseball in the field.

Other Improvements

Base Running
This year we completely reshot the base running animations to ensure they are more fluid and believable looking. We also improved the rounding angle that the runners follow to create a better overall base running system. We now have tighter and wider round animations. So if you are running to first base and early on set the runner’s target to second base, he will take a wider angle around first that allows him to maintain more speed on his way to second. If you make the decision to send your runner to second when he is almost at first, he must take a sharper angle that requires him to slow down to make the cut. We also worked to improve the mappings of player ratings to base running speeds with a close eye on how long it takes runners to get to first base. We did a lot of research into base runner times to first base, and with this improved tuning the plays at first base are close more frequently.

Manager AI & Bullpen Management
We rewrote the manager AI and bullpen management systems so that our AI does a much better and more believable job of managing the pitchers. The AI now uses multiple sets of decision making to determine when they should turn to the bullpen. Overall the results are what you would expect. Most of the time starters pitch to their expected pitch count for the day. If they are doing really well, they throw closer to the high end and if they are struggling they may get pulled near or even before the low end of their expected pitch count range for the day. These changes to the manager AI, coupled with higher pitch counts generated through our batting and pitching improvements create much more believable outings for starting pitchers. Workhorses like Justin Verlander or Matt Cain can frequently work into the 8th inning on good days, while pitchers that give up more hits and have lower stamina are sometimes chased out of the game in the 6th or even 5th inning.

On the user side we added notification messages for when pitchers in the bullpen are warmed up and also start warning you when they are fatiguing due to leaving them up for too long. The decision is still up to the user as to when they want to bring them in, but these notifications eliminate the need to constantly be looking in your bullpen to check the status of pitchers warming up.

Pitcher Ejections
Pitcher ejections are back in the game. If too many batters are hit by pitches for the umpires liking, the umpire will issue bench warnings. From that point on, any pitcher that hits a batter for either team is ejected, so you might want to reconsider how far inside you really want to pitch.

All of the gameplay changes, additions, and improvements have come together to create a realistically challenging yet extremely fun game of baseball. Each game is a totally different experience from the previous one, all while leaving you in control of your destiny. We can’t wait for everyone to get on the sticks so they can see for themselves all of the improvements in MLB 2K12.

And finally a gameplay video! And I think this looks freaking right on!

Well...I'm kinda...uh...hmmm...EXCITED!!

Donan wrote:

Well...I'm kinda...uh...hmmm...EXCITED!!

Well, hopefully the demo shows up overnight. I really like what I've read and seen so far.

No demo yet as of 10:23 PST

It's up on the web site now. I could not find via the dashboard, but I was able to download it from the web.

Lucky you! Still nothing on dashboard as of 11:42 PS.

It's a pretty stripped down demo. No replays or any other aspects are not availiable, which is understandable. Saw a glitch when batting that a black box kept appearing on the left corner down. Went away so no real distration.

Hitting, at least thus far seem's easier. I'm not a great hitter. I took the Rangers and first at bat Ian Kinsler took it deep to right center. (so not great hitter, let alone home runs are almost non-existent for me). Within the first 6 hitters, I had 4 hits and two runs. Maybe just showing how bad some pitchers are in the first inning. So after 5 Rangers have 3 runs on 6 hits and Cards 0 runs on 1 hit(Lohse versus Harrison).

Basically this is really just a tid bit of the game it seem's to me. Graphics a bit better. Some new animations. Some nice panels show up to clue you in on some things. So really, I'll play a few games just to see more, if any new animations that might have been included. Then back to 2k11 for really playing.

What they continue to do and it drives me nuts(!) is when someone hits a good one, instead of showing the ball going out into the field to be fielded and then thrown in etc, they just show the guy running the bases. Yes, once in a GREAT while, they may show the whole play, but it's more just watching the guy run the bases. Bah!

Oh, yea, no on-line play.

Donan wrote:

It's a pretty stripped down demo. No replays or any other aspects are not available, which is understandable. Saw a glitch when batting that a black box kept appearing on the left corner down. Went away so no real distraction.

That's not a glitch. That's a clue that the pitch is tending to aim there. We'll see how effective it is. Also, I think it is on a pretty easy difficulty level. I wish you could at least see what it is, even if you can't change it.

Here are my thoughts:

The demo really doesn't tell you a lot. It's two innings, no commentary. The AI doesn't have a lot of work to do, although in one game in did bring in the closer in the 2nd inning.

Basically it plays just like last year. The new throwing mechanic works well, but will take some getting used to. But it accurately makes throws on the run harder. When pre-loading a regular ground ball to second, it seemed to cause my player to bobble the ball. Or he just bobbled the ball. Hard to say.

You will be ejected for beaning batters, so there is one contingent of fan made happy. But interestingly, I hit three guys n a row, and it warned both benches. So in online play you could use this to keep your opponent from throwing in. Probably not, and who knows if online play will be worth the hassle.

Check swings are fixed. I held up a swing on a pitch in the dirt, got the animation of the first base ump with the safe call and a ball was called. Last year it was bugged, and every check swing was a strike, and the ump animation did not play.

I'm not sure what I think about the variable pitching ratings. It was something I really liked in MLB 2K8 that was dumped. In 2K8, they had payoff pitches with 2 strikes and pitches in critical situations. When that happened, it gave you a box in which you had to aim for. If you hit it for a strike, you got boost. If you missed it, you lost all of your gain. you could bump a guy's 80 FB to 92 if ou worked at it. You could also turn it into a 75. It was surprisingly fun as a sort of mini-game within the game that would see you pitcher having different pitches work better or worse for him in different games.

Here, when you surrender hits, it goes down depending on how hard the hit was, or maybe just more for a HR and less for a double or single. If you get outs, it improves. But over two innings it is impossible to tell if this is pointless or overdone. All you know is that you ratings are red when going down and green when going up.

The game will also ding you for using the same pitch over and over. Each pitcher has a set % of how often he throws pitches based on his real life stats. If you go over, the meter turns yellow. When it goes red, your pitches are less effective. This seems overdone. For one, it should not register in the first three innings or so. Or at least one time through the line-up. On the plus side, it eliminates the overuse of breaking pitches which is what made it so easy for someone to get a perfect game each year. You can't just hammer away with a guy's best pitch over and over.

And really, it is going to take more than two inning games to see if the effects are dramatic, or minimal. I like the idea, but this seems a bit much. I had my meters turning yellow and red a lot, and I usually just throw what the catcher calls. So it seems too sensitive.

It is going to reward taking the time to think about what and where you are throwing to a guy. And they finally got hanging curves right. If you miss up, it also does not break as much and hitters will take advantage. I have not really delved into the pitch tracker, but you can now see what you are throwing, and to where.

I think the game looks cleaner and better. Player faces are much better. But overall, it plays and feels like MLB 2K11. For me, that's really good. For people averse to lots of info on the screen, you might get annoyed. Lots of flashing and moving graphics. I like it, and it doesn't bother me. but some are going to hate it.

Overall, this feels like the natural progression we have seen from 2K10 to 2K11, and now to 2K12. If you found those games fun, then you will be happy with this. We'll see if the ol' bugs rear their heads, and how realistic the results are in the box scores next week.

It let me play 6 innings. I did see some different animations. On a double play, the 2nd basemen fumbled it a bit, but got off for a double play. No ducking by the 3rd base coach when ball hit at him. Some different looks at outfielders fielding the ball.

But Jay' is right about throwing when fielding. Definitely something to get use to.

Well I can see what taking the Rangers first did: missed the short tutorial. Play cards and explains pitching's new features, as well as throwing etc. And indeed it ended in 2 inning. And yep, I couldn't hit zip:)

Can't wait to pick this one up. I thought about The Show, but since my PS3 is off getting fixed, that made the decision easy. Unfortunately, it comes out the same freaking day Mass Effect 3 comes out, so I expect it will sit on the shelf for a few days while I get my space opera on...

Early impressions after 6: looks very good. Like the pitching indicators on how a pitcher is doing with
his pitches; Actually saw game follow a ball bounce off the fence which is a good thing; the pitching box that shows where a pitchers pitches has gone was giggling a bit; And as far as the Mariners go, I saw the game patch first thing so I figured rosters would be 'current'. But they didn't have the line-up that was announced about a week ago. Plus Dustin Ackely has always had a shadow and they have him clean shaven. Lastly for now, maybe I couldn't just find it, but couldn't re-
arrange the line-up once game was underway.

note: On-line manual not available as noted in game flip card that comes with game.

Don't see any Kinect functionality either.

I'm hoping to pick the game up on my way home from class to day. Of course my daughter is home sick, and my wife has taken the opportunty to stay how with her and "work" from home.

What this means is that we are now Supernatural central, and they continue to watch episode after episode of the show on Netflix. My wife's "work" is knitting while watching with my daughter. So I have no idea if I am getting Xbox time.

I'm glad to have heard that initial concerns about frame rate have already been rectified by a release day patch.

Hope to catch someone to try on-line play.

More comments on game: Graphics definitely seem crisper and it appears to me, that everything seem's a bit larger. Play-by-play seem's off at times on what really is happening. Some very nice, new graphics for plays. Unfortunately my main gripe which I thought on my first hit, was solved, is still there. I.e. when top play's are replayed, or a good hit etc., the replay still just show's the player just rounding the bases! No overall all play shown (i.e. ball flight; how it's fielded etc.) Gads.

I like how it brings up a box to tell you a relief pitcher is ready. I got some usual spaz fingers so hit two guys in a row; ump warned both teams one more by either side would result in ejections:) Just played one game so far and played the 'real game' of today. But can't tell how that pans out, or wether it really matters now 'cause it's just Spring Training.

I finally put some ime into the game. my impression is the same as most, it's a nice upgrade from 2K11, and there doesn't seem to be any bugs yet.

It can look like a nice game at times, and others it is just fugly. They added to and improved the running animations. But they seem to run with lot sof hesitation.

Even after the patch, there is still frame hiccups when you make contact. It's not really bad or a big deal to me, but it makes the game look cheap. It has had zero effect on my gameplay.

I'm totally sold on Dynamic Pitch ratings. I love that I can get a Wainright's 96 rated 12-6 Curveball to 99, or have it drop into the 80's. During the course of a game, it creates confidence or lack thereof in different pitches. It feels right.

I'm less sold on having pitches lose effectiveness based on if you use them too much according to each pitcher's real life %'s. It is kind of cool that when you have a RED coded Fastball, you know it is a good time to pop in a change-up, and it works. On the other hand, t feels like the game is dictating too much, and taking a lot of your choices away. The penalty for throwing a RED coded pitch seems heavy. I am going to have to ive this time to see how it affect strategy over the long haul.

You can turn off Dynamic Pitch Ratings, but I have not seen a way to turn off the other. Maybe that turns both things off. Not sure yet.

I made four small changes to sliders that greatly improved the feel of the game.

I used All-Star as my base, as the game plays well from there.

I dropped USER Pitch Control from 45 to 30.
I dropped CPU Strike Tendency from 50 to 40.

I also bumped CPU Pitch Speed by 10. I can remember now what the value was. But it provides a smoother looking pitch speed that is easier to time and read. The game is obviously geared towards the average player that swings too much, and hates for the pitch to not go exactly where he wants.

I also increased USER OF Run Speed from 20 to 30.

This was a SIGNIFICANT improvement in the feel of the game. One of the things run speed affects is how long the AI will move your player toward the ball. At 20, it had serious issues with the guy starting, then stopping, then trying to catch-up. At 30, there is none of that. And OF looks like they are running in mud at 20, and look perfect at 30.

My Batting camera is set to:
Zoom 1
Height 6

I started out with height at 8, but decided a bit lower helped judge strikes better. I may fiddle more, as I did not really spend a lot of time testing it.

I suspect CPU Base Stealing Aggression will need to be dropped. They run a lot. But I have Molina, and he has a gun. I've nailed several, including Jose Reyes.

I played a game online last night. It was hit or miss, and mostly miss. When it was going well, it was like playing offline. It was that good. But it froze up a lot. And then it would get choppy. and then it was smooth for a few pitches. Then it would get choppy. If you have a great connection, and play someone with a great connection, it's probably going to be a blast. We'll see how it does over time.

It's not a big deal, as baseball is always the worse online game to play. the games take longer than any other, and split second timing needed to pitch and hit requires the best connection. It's unreasonable to think an online league is worth the time and effort. It's probably a million times better than The Show, and it still doesn't matter. All baseball games ought to go with a manage only mode for online, like BBPro 98.

Overall feel for the game so far is very positive.

Thanks for the comments Jay'. I too enjoy Dynamic pitching. Plus the little queues showing how my particular pitches are working. Looks of cool panels telling you different aspects. I just love the pitching routine in this game. Love to have it in the 'other' one.

Thanks for the tips on slider controls. I'm o.k. with the pretty much the default right now. Just a few changes in how I view different things.

Course I'm using veteran. I'll try All-Star just to see how it feels.