World Series Baseball 2K1 Q&A

We recently got a chance to ask Sega's David Perkinson a few questions about the upcoming World Series Baseball 2K1, which is being developed by Sega of Japan for the Dreamcast. Here's what we found out.

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videogames.com got a chance to ask Sega's David Perkinson a few questions about the upcoming World Series Baseball 2K1, which is being developed by Sega of Japan for the Dreamcast. Here's what we found out.

videogames.com: Are you focusing on more sim-style play, arcade-style play, or a combination with World Series Baseball 2K1?
David Perkinson: I would say that we are trying to make the best possible combination of both the arcade- and sim-style baseball games. We want to keep the game easy to learn and quick to play but to make sure that all of the depth of the sim games is there as well. On that level, 2K1 will follow much in line with the Saturn World Series predecessors, which we feel were the perfect blend of both sim and arcade.

videogames.com: What features (mechanical- or design-wise) lend to the sim/arcade blend you're trying to create?
DP: Some of the things that help us achieve that blend are: intuitive controls that don't overwhelm the user with complicated button combinations needed to execute fundamental game instructions, easy-to-understand pitching and batting interfaces that allow for more strategy as the user becomes more familiar with the players, and a quick game pace that minimizes the time spent between pitches. On the sim side we've got thorough and challenging AI, detailed player attributes to make the players in the game perform more like their major league counterparts, realistic ball physics, and stunning playing environments.

videogames.com: Speed is not something one associates with baseball, yet speed is a feature associated with the Dreamcast. How will speed (or potential speed) factor into WSB2K1?
DP: Yeah, nobody wants to play a real three-hour baseball game, do they? We want the user to be able to play a full nine-inning game and feel like they've had the baseball experience in 20 to 25 minutes. Again, much as in World Series I, II, and '98, we want to strip the game down to its key elements: pitching, hitting, running, and fielding. Anything that interferes with that is unnecessary.

videogames.com: What game engine is WSB2K1 using, and could you tell us about its features?
DP: The game is using a modified version of the engine that the Naomi version of the game uses. People who have seen the Naomi version can expect the Dreamcast version to be extraordinarily different. There are massive changes being made to the stadium art, player animations, player-specific details, and depth of gameplay.

videogames.com: What are the gameplay modes, and what will they entail?
DP: The game will feature all of the game modes that our users would expect: exhibition, season (with multiple season lengths), playoffs, All-Star game, and home-run derby. We will of course also have a trade feature, player creator, and instant replay.

videogames.com: How many actual MLB teams will be featured?
DP: The game will feature all of the real MLB teams for the 2000 season with fully updated rosters and the most accurate player attributes and behaviors on the market.

videogames.com: Will there be an edit mode, and if so, to what degree will players be able to edit the game?
DP: Yes, there will be an edit mode in the game. The user will be able to create players and teams, as well as make trades between all 30 MLB teams. We feel that this should allow the user to make all of the changes that they could want.

videogames.com: Could you tell us about multiplayer?
DP: Multiplayer in World Series 2K1 will be for two players. It will be exactly like every other multiplayer baseball game on the market, except of course for the fact that our game is better.

videogames.com: Could you tell us how the various stadiums we re-created for the game and what we can expect to see in them? How do they differ, and how will some of the better-known stadiums' most identifiable features play into the design?
DP:
The stadiums in the game were created by an incredibly talented group of artists whose sole mission was to make all of the stadiums as true to life as possible. Unlike in the arcade version of the game, there will be no differences between the actual Major League stadiums and the stadiums in the game. Nor will there be a limited number - they will all be represented. As far as how they will play into the design, well, that's for the player to figure out. They will face the same challenges as big-league managers do every day.

videogames.com: Will the game offer night baseball? Weather effects?
DP:
Yes, the game will offer night baseball and the full complement of weather effects. During season play, all of the weather is stadium-specific and will mirror the climate of the actual parks. For example, if you're playing in Pac Bell Park, there will be a much greater chance of rain early in the season than later in the season. Also, Pac Bell will be windier than many other parks. In exhibition, the user will be able to customize the weather for every game. Along with the weather, be sure to look for some more "atmospheric" effects - like the thin air at Coors Field. Also, it goes without saying that the weather will have an effect on the game itself. Players will wear down a little faster in the heat, balls will get a little extra lift when the wind is blowing out, etc.

videogames.com: What does the development team think is the single best feature that sets WSB2K1 apart from other baseball video games?
DP:
Wow, that's a good question. We think there are many things that set it apart from other baseball video games. We've got incredible depth of animation, beautiful playing environments, state-of-the-art graphics, and great gameplay. If I had to pick one of those, I'd say that it would be the gameplay that distances us from the competition.

videogames.com: What baseball video games, if any, did you learn from, in a good way or bad way?
DP:
I think that we've learned a lot from our previous work on the Saturn and the Genesis. Sega Sports is very proud of our baseball heritage, and we feel that the World Series line has been the benchmark for all other baseball games on the market. If we can take all of the best elements of the games from our previous systems and get them into World Series 2K1, and onto the Dreamcast, then we'll have a great title on our hands.

videogames.com: How different is designing a baseball game from creating a football game, for example, and how does that affect the final product?
DP:
Well, I think that you have to target a few key areas with each sport and build your game around those elements. For football, those elements might be collision, speed, and size. In baseball, the elements might be a little more subtle. Football has a flow that lends itself very well to the gaming world, while baseball needs to be sped up a little bit - though without damaging the drama and strategy of the pitcher/hitter confrontation. Another one of the main differences between the two, and something that can cause problems on both the art and programming sides, is that in baseball the stadiums actually change the way the game is played. There is no other sport where the playing environment is as important as in baseball. Every park is unique, especially the classic parks and the newer "retro" parks, and all have their little idiosyncrasies that absolutely have to be captured in order to make the game authentic. It is possible to make a football, hockey, or basketball game without showing anything outside of the playing field. In baseball, the stadium is part of the playing field and has to be faithfully represented.

videogames.com: What sort of sounds/announcers/bat-cracking can players expect?
DP:
We will have a realistic play-by-play announcer, umpire calls, stadium-specific crowds that cheer more vocally for the home team and go out of their way to make the visitors feel unwelcome (within reason, of course), some player commentary, and a full assortment of sound effects. As with the rest of the game, it's our goal to make the user really feel that they are at the ballpark - and sound is a key way to do that.

videogames.com: Any VMU games?
DP:
There will be no VMU "games," but the user will be able to use the pitching and batting interfaces on the VMU. Having this functionality on the VMU is very exciting and finally allows the players to have total secrecy when playing in multiplayer. Finally, you won't have to worry about your opponent's eyes wandering when you are picking your pitch!

videogames.com: Will WSB2K1 be playable online through SegaNet?
DP:
World Series 2K1 will not be playable through SegaNet. You'll have to wait for World Series 2K2 for that.

videogames.com: When do you plan to launch the game?
DP:
The game will be on store shelves in mid-July to coincide with the All-Star Game in Atlanta. We're really excited about World Series 2K1 and are confident that it will be the standard-bearer for all baseball games this year.

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