[note: This is a reprint of an entry I wrote last night on my new blog at www.lonestranger.net. I think this game would be of interest to many people here.]
For the past week I have been addicted to a new online game. It's an baseball management simulator called SimYard. Like other baseball sims, you pick a team name, logo and colors, and pit your team against others.
SimYard has an interesting twist to it. Your team is made up of semi-pro players who you find while interacting with the fans around The Park. You pick a field at the park and wait for someone to accept your challenge, or you find a field with another team waiting and accept theirs. There is no set game schedule or requirement to play specific teams. It's more like pick-up baseball.
Currently, your team has a roster limit of 40 players comprised of the usual positions. Each player has a set of internal stats that make up what kind of player they are, ranging from 1 to 20 (I assume it's 20. The highest I've seen is a value of 17 on one of my pitchers). The stats fall into one of three disiplines: batting, pitching and fielding/baserunning. Batting, for instance, is made up of the Hit, Bat Speed and Power stats. They go up against pitchers who use the Finesse, Pitch Speed and Endurance stats.
Each individual matchup in the game is determined by the server using these stats, pitch by pitch. You can see the current number of balls and strikes on the status display and the results of the matchup show up on a representation of the field. You have as much control over the batter or pitcher as a real manager does in the dugout. Sure, you can call substitutions, but like in the real game, you don't have time to think it over too much before play continues on. Each pitch takes about one second, and a full game can be completed in anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. The automatic manager does a pretty decent job replacing pitchers when they get tired and ineffective batters in the later innings, so don't feel overwhelmed with figuring out who to pull and when. The pitcher's endurance stat determines how long they can go in the game and how much rest time they need in between starts. Typically, it's anywhere from 10 to 20 hours, which would equate to about four to six days in real life.
The games go much like any game you watch on TV. You root for your players like you would your favorite team, yelling at the screen when hitters can't seem to do more than create a breeze and your pitchers appear to be throwing underhanded. Of course, you do the same when your four-slot knocks a grand slam or your pitcher goes a complete game.
The baseball season is 24 days long, plus two days of spring training at the start of the month and two days of a post-season tournament at the end of the month. Even though there are no official leagues in The Park, standings and stats are kept. A simple games behind calculation determines where your team is in relation to the others. Since everyone plays a different number of games in the schedule-less format, you can play half as many games as one team and still be next to them in the standings. The date of the seasons is set in the late 1890's, which some consider the beginning of modern baseball. Everything from then to now is a blank slate... ready for you to make history. Each new month bring a new season, new standings and new opportunity.
The top teams will play in the post-season, however not much about that has been revealed to the public yet. I do know that you'll set your starting rotation and closers to pair up against your opponents, and the computer will schedule the tournament with as many as 64 teams.
All of that is free. Starting next month, there will be a way to take your team to the next level, by purchasing a stadium license and joining a league with it's own schedule, standings and playoffs. Not only will you be playing against better teams, you'll also have to keep the fanbase you built at The Park happy with good seats, concessions and souveniers. They'll show their happiness by attending games and spending money at the park so you can turn around and offer your players contracts and keep them on your team.
The game is currently in beta, so you may notice some changes as the month goes on, as SimYard developer Erick Robertson tweaks things and adds features. Erick sure did his homework when he came up with the engine behind the whole thing, so be sure to let him know you enjoy the game if you see him in the game's chat or forums.
So come on out and check out SimYard. Anyone who is interested in baseball, especially those who take part in fantasy baseball should find enjoyment in taking a team of players and trying to beat the pants off of everyone at The Park. You can find me in there as, who else? LoneStranger.