MLB 2K10 Developer Interview: 2K10 Is Not 2K9!

Spawn Kill and several other gaming outlets were recently invited to join in on a MLB 2K10 Developer Q&A session. Ben Bishop, Producer of 2K Sports, Jonathan Rivera, Gameplay Designer and Sean Bailey, also a Gameplay Designer for 2K Sports were all there to answer our many questions about the upcoming baseball sim. While there were a lot of questions about the additions to MLB 2K10, everyone seemed to just want to know one thing: Is it going to be like MLB 2K9?

Throughout the call no one from the dev team was shy about saying how disappointed they were with last year’s title and mentioned that MLB 2K10 is much improved. Though we didn’t get to have an open Q&A session at the end of the call the developers were able to give us some insight on what they did to make sure they don’t repeat the issues from 2K9.

Here are some of the highlights from the call and if you are interested in listening to the entire call we got that for you as well below the questions. Enjoy!

How much of 2K9 was used in 2K10 and was the game rebuilt from the ground up for the new release?

Sean: We completely rewrote everything from fielding, hitting, pitching, the physics, AI, camera views, swapped up all the animations. We had a lot of work ahead of us because I don’t think any of us were happy with last year nor should we have been. So rather than just trying to touch up last year’s game we just made sure the new game included all the fixes that frustrated people as well as a new, rewritten game.

What new additions were made to the franchise mode and how wide of a range of options are available to the player now?

Jonathan: The biggest new addition is the 40 man roster in franchise for September call up. The draft happens in the middle of the year. Another new addition is the trade finder. You can essentially add any player out on the trade block so other AI teams can make you offers for that player. In addition to that we have compensatory picks for free agents. So in the off season when you’re trying to sign a player you might risk losing a first or second round draft pick and if you lose a high rated player you will also get a compensatory pick.

Since gamers and industry critics have noted that early iterations of MLB series have struggled with technical issues surrounding pitching, hitting and gameplay, was this a primary focus of improvement for 2K10?

Sean: It’s almost an understatement to call it a primary focus of improvement. We didn’t just want to improve, we wanted to nail it. We knew that the core gameplay experience needed improvements across the board but when it came to pitching and hitting we really went beyond focusing on improving. We created an entirely new experience starting with the cameras, different strikes zones, different swing types, different analyzers, different replays and the physics were all rewritten. It was a huge primary focus of improvements.

Has there been improvement to the hitting component aside from the defensive swings? Its either been too easy or too hard to make solid contact as the big hitters would almost always turn a fastball into a sure homerun and an average player could barely get it out of the infield.

Sean: It has been out of balance in the past. Aside from defensive swing we have made it all about the timing. The days are gone when you can simply hold the influence stick and just paint where you want the ball to go on every swing. It’s all about timing, which is very satisfying. The balls that are hit with more velocity in real life are the ones that are pulled or the ones that a right handed batter sends down the first base line weaker are late swings to the opposite field. The timing was done in a very realistic way that takes care of a lot of complaints of the past.

What determines whether or not the Batter’s Eye feature appears? Is it purely based on their real world skills or are there other factors involved such as the pitchers skills? How often can they see the Batter’s Eye appear in a game?

Sean: When this originally came up the problem we were trying to solve is we were trying to make certain players better in the video game that are good in real life at reaching base and getting walks but didn’t have that skill set in the video game. So what we did was come up with eye rating versus lefties and righties and the batters eye rating drives the frequency of the Batter’s Eye. So the guys that take a lot of walks they have a very high eye rating so theyre going to see it more often. It also helps if they have good timing.

Why did you add the My Player feature in this year’s game?

Ben: It really seems like across the board in all sports titles that are out there right now career modes in general are becoming the popular thing and something that people are expecting to see. It was a big focus for us to be able to add the mode this year. A lot of our early build up and planning went into making My Player in this year’s version. At the same time we had NBA 2K10 come out with My Player and so that was a basis for what we did too. We really felt like it was a hole that we needed to fill with 2K10.

In My Player can you give an estimate on how long it will take to get into the Majors?

Ben: That can really vary there is so much flexibility you can do. You have a lot of flexibility in terms of how you want to play the game. When you actually do play a game you are just playing the moment that your player is directly involved in. You can play though a game in 5 or 10 minutes depending on the situations you end up with. You can also simulate games entirely, you won’t get as many skill points through simulation but if you can do that. Simulating the game might take you a bit longer to get the call to the majors. Playing all the games can get you to the majors in as soon as 10-15 games.

Framerate and online lag was a big issue for last year’s title. What was done to fix the issue s for the upcoming game?

Ben: This was something that was important for us. We felt that there was room for improvement from 2K9. We definitely made sure that we got the framerate up to an acceptable level. That’s a huge part of making the experience good and you are in full control. If you get a little lag or framerate drops, it can take away some of that control from you. It was certainly important for us to make sure we were as optimized in those departments as we could be.

Is there a PC version and how did last year’s response to the PC version go?

Ben: We definitely have a PC version this year too. You will get all the same features you will get in the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions. I think a lot of the responses were similar across the board, just a lot of room for improvement and we definitely took a lot of the criticism to heart. The PC version just like the other versions is very much improved. The series in general is going much more in the right direction.