Early Assessments of Quick Counts and Player Lock in MLB 14: The Show

by
Posted April 1st, 2014 at 4:00 pm

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SCEA made two time-saving features the most marketed additions for MLB 14: The Show. There is no doubt that the length of time it takes to play games has limited baseball’s potential video game consumer base and even hampered the ability for the most dedicated fans to play to the extent they would like. Of the two options developed for MLB 14 at least one is proving to be a worthwhile option to consider. 

Going in Player Lock seemed to have less fanfare than Quick Counts but it works as intended and the benefits are immediately evident. Users can have an influence on the outcome by controlling just a single player while completing a game in as little as 10 minutes. Over the course of a Franchise season the commitment is reduced even further for those who would choose a relief pitcher or single starting pitcher. For teams that don’t have stacked lineups it can be appealing to pick a favorite player and just use them. Whether it’s a pitcher or a position player the games end up requiring less of a time commitment and remain fun to play.

What is lost in using Player Lock is of course the amount of influence on each game. As a starting pitcher you’ll still have a huge impact but as a position player there may be a stretch of games that go by with little production or influence on the outcome. Still it certainly would be easier to go through a season in Franchise mode this way than playing in the traditional manner and in turn feel more involved in doing so than simming large chunks of games to save time.

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The Quick Counts feature on the other hand comes across as a complete failure as it damages the spirit and strategy of the games without providing much in return. It may actually be detrimental for novices to attempt and play this way. There’s a feeling of being lost throughout having given up context of the at bats and poor tendencies built through that. The flow of a normal baseball game is completely disrupted by using the feature. As a batter you feel as though you’re swinging blindly and a pitcher you’re just throwing and hoping for the best.

More often that not (it at least seems that way) batters are getting sent up facing two strike counts while pitchers see a batter that already has drawn three balls. That leads to no room for error and a sense of frustration from walking batters or striking out even more often than playing the traditional way. You aren’t digging yourself into those holes but are still expected to get out of them. Games also can quickly feel like they’re spiraling out of control since so many at bats are decided on the first pitch the user sees.

Surprisingly, though obviously the number of pitches in theory are being reduced, the games don’t feel as though they’re going by all that much faster than the norm. It’s definitely cutting out some time but the trade-off is not close to being satisfying enough. One Quick Counts game that was streamed live today took 52 minutes to complete.

That’s still excruciatingly long and it’s not worth giving up things like being able to set up a batter or looking at some pitches while at the plate. Stripping out the presentation (which in that game I mostly skipped through anyway) can speed things up even more but how much is the user willing to give up before it’s not really baseball or The Show any longer?

Offering options of different ways to play will always be welcome and the need to reduce the time investment with baseball games will be something developers continue to consider. There may be no ideal solution however that will be able to avoid sacrificing some of the the strategy and pacing of baseball. It’ll be up to each individual to decide if the benefits in time saved outweigh losing some of the elements that make up the sport.

  • v77b

    Yea there are way too many 2-strike counts when you come up to hit. Maybe they can patch that?

    • PSNHitman17

      Hopefully because at this point it is hard to steal & bunt

    • Hank

      It may depend on who’s hitting and who’s pitching (as well as pitcher fatigue).
      Make a mental note to see if that’s why you’re seeing a lot of 2-strike counts next time you play with QC’s.

  • PSNHitman17

    Totally agree pasta, online seems to have gotten worse as far as graphics.Quick counts online have made online pretty much who can score first wins. Lastly there where times when the screen would show one thing, but the game would do another. Overall i don’t feel quick counts has really shortened the game like i had wished.

    • http://pastapadre.com/ pastapadre

      My first online game was nothing short of a disaster. Quick Counts were on, and it was the worst experience I’ve ever had as far as a way to play a sim sports game. Innings going by in three pitches before I could settle in at all. Getting to see a single pitch with your best hitter (and online basically swinging and praying) is not fun. Not terribly laggy but ending in a disconnect.

      • PSNHitman17

        I do however feel that you get better quality pitches with quick count, however if you miss it you usually strike out.

        • http://pastapadre.com/ pastapadre

          Yeah maybe…though I think that pressures you into a feeling of needing to swing – and making safe swings rather than looking for something specific.

  • triguous

    I’d like quick counts in RTTS.

  • Mike

    I understand why quick counts made sense to a typical ADHD gamer “nothing’s happening, it’s boring.. I wanna swing at everything”.. But from a baseball fans perspective, the first 2-3 pitches in every count are usually the difference between winning and losing. It would actually make more sense to skip routine defensive plays that result in outs, or allow the user to cue 3 pitch batches and have them animate rapid fire one after the other. That would equal 3 pitches thrown or seen in about 6 seconds and allow the user to retain control. I still wouldn’t use it, but it’s a middle ground between gamer and baseball fan.

    • DoreBuster

      Joey Votto walked 135 times last season. How many of you have the skill, patience, and time to duplicate that number in a season?

      Chris Carter struck out 212 times last season. How many of you have the (lack of) skill, patience, and time to duplicate that number in a season?

      More importantly, how many of you have the ability to both draw a lot of walks when you play as Joey Votto and strike out a lot when you play as Chris Carter?

      One of the biggest variables in the game of baseball is a hitter’s (and pitcher’s) command of the strike zone. The problem with video game baseball is it’s really hard to realistically recreate this variable.

      Thanks to my skill level, I usually tend to hit like Vlad Guerrero in that I don’t walk or strikeout a lot. I’m sure there are many of you like me in that regard. I’m sure many of you are great at striking out a lot or even walking a lot too. The problem here is everyone we play with usually has the same command of the strike zone. Whether I play as Joey Votto or Chris Carter, my skill level homogenizes their walk and strikeout totals.

      A correctly executed quick counts that uses player ratings to help determine working counts can go a long way towards accurately portraying every player’s unique command of the strike zone.

      • Mike

        You make an interesting point.. I would like the game to force you to adopt a different approach to be successful with different types of hitters, but there’s no chance they risk frustrating gamers with that. I dislike how much my skills/approach effect game results. I don’t walk or strike out much either, but I also very rarely pull the ball with power, and I’ll almost never turn on an up and in fastball and crush it. A guy like Carter swings for a contract knowing that 30HR and 212SO’s gets paid a lot more than 19HR’s and 120SO’s. That mentality is difficult to translate to a game.

        I don’t think 135 walks is even possible with the way the CPU pounds the strike zone, you would be taking a lot of just misses with a 2 strike count to get there, and you would have to watch 1 or 2 meatballs on the way to 4 balls. Even with a realism slider set, the game just isn’t written to be played like a real baseball game.

        I don’t know what the answer is.. but it’s not quick counts for me.

        • DoreBuster

          I believe the CPU has to pound the strike zone, or else many gamers would be striking out 20+ times a game. Many professional hitters have trouble with junk outside the zone, and they don’t have to deal with the lack of depth perception experienced in a video game. It would be a challenge for me to lay off one ball much less 4. That’s why I see quick counts (as a compliment to the CPU pounding the zone) as the best solution towards accumulating realistic walk and strikeout totals.

      • Hank

        Awesome point DoreBuster.

        If I can add, this is where my desire for Hitters Eye comes in.
        I love that feature in MVP and the 2K series and I think it’s time SCEA ditches the unrealistic Guess Pitch for a Hitter/Batter’s eye.
        This will help further the distinction between good hitters and hackers.

  • Adam Lathrom

    Try doing an online franchise draft right now. Laughable. Looks like when that draft finishes in about 15 hours I will be restarting another league. Yes, just me and another were in a league, so I’m not ditching out on 30 others.

    • Adam Lathrom

      LMAO…..3 hours in and were on pick 20

    • PSNHitman17

      lol sounds like fun, add me i’m always willing to play.

      • Adam Lathrom

        Couldn’t even finish the draft, it was pathetic. Gonna retry again this evening. I don’t have a PS3 Mic so we use XBox One party chat. So if you have both of those, feel free to add me on both, AvengedAgainst is the gamer tag and psn id.. Prolly try and start around 5pm central or depending on when my buddy gets of work

  • WhySoSerious

    @pastapadre:disqus Do you EVER have anything positive to say about The Show? Or are you still pissed off they shut you out? I mean seriously!

    • http://pastapadre.com/ pastapadre

      Yeah, I mean, I must really hate the series that I awarded the Best Sports Game of 2013 to! Or, you know, I just judge it in a balanced fashion giving credit to what it does well while still pointing out its deficiencies.

    • Lake Allen

      Fanboy comments like this are a big part of whats wrong with gaming now. The Show is not so special that it can’t be criticized. Too few reviewers actually play the games enough or check to see if the PR was bs’ing and then when someone does people like you who think they work on the game make comments to save the day for the corporations. So sad.

    • Keith.

      Speaking of positives, I’ve always been a Broadcast camera guy but I love the new dynamic batting camera, which makes the game feel fresh. Can’t wait to see how nice that looks on PS4. I’m also really liking the changes they’ve made to outfield defense, which was immediately noticeable on Vita. The only real somewhat negative for me is the Vita graphics and the lack of automatic instant replays (on Vita), because I’ve been playing a ton of NBA2k14 on PS4 since November and it’s kind’ve hard to now go back. This game should be beautiful again though on PS4.

  • D-DAWG

    No surprise that quick counts doesn’t do The Show justice. Can anyone tell me if playing co-op with online franchise is an option or not. Example: 2 human players both on the same team vs all other teams? Thanks!!

    • Adam Lathrom

      No you can’t do that, but you can have two teams and all others be AI. Hopefully servers will be more stable today

  • PSNHitman17

    Pasta have you tried Dynamic Difficulty? I personally think it is amazing and takes out the need for sliders.

    • Josh

      I’m liking that a lot as well. Madden had that (or maybe still does, don’t play it much anymore) and it helped keep the game challenging.

  • Josh

    I’m actually enjoying the quick counts. Yes, it does take away some strategy, but I have been able to look at pitches and what not. I have played seven games in franchise and each game has taken about 30 minutes, 35 at the most, opposed to the hour it took last year without. I have yet to try player lock, but I will.

  • PSNHitman17

    1st No hitter of the year

    • Keith.

      Pittsburgh against Pittsburgh?

      • PSNHitman17

        It was online, so i had no idea he was gonna pick pittsburgh till 2 late.

  • bergeron

    I can’t see myself using Quick Counts. I’ve always just slightly adjusted the sliders to make the CPU throw more strikes. I don’t have the patience or the time to play 90-minute games.

  • Anthony Suriano

    I played a game online with quick counts, and I didn’t like it. I had a 5-0 lead in the 7th inning and was pitching. I was faced with a 3-0 count, which if I was pitching from the start of the count, the last thing you want to do is walk someone up 5-0, so I’d have avoided it being 3-0 by throwing a fastball in for a strike earlier in the count. Then a 2-1 count showed up, and you feel like the counts could let the other team back in the game (not saying the game is doing this on purpose) with little to no margin for error to walk a batter. It’s a good idea on paper, but doesn’t translate well to the strategy involved in baseball, so I won’t be using this method. I’m trying to equate quick counts to what it would be like in another sports game, but I can’t. I was thinking if you put each team at the 50 yard line in Madden, but you’d still have to play out the game clock. Baseball doesn’t have a clock, so it’s unique like that. While a real NFL and MLB game take about a similar 3 hours to complete, play a video game for these sports, baseball is longer than other sports. Just have to set aside some time to play if you want to get all the nuansces.

  • J. Alfred Prufrock

    Most people are saying they love the quick counts option, and you’re trashing it, Pasta? You’re trying too hard to be the smartest guy in the room. Give it up.

    • http://pastapadre.com/ pastapadre

      Based on what I’ve observed, saying most people love Quick Counts is far from accurate.

  • Hank

    I like the idea of quick counts. But in the end, I would imagine those who buy baseball games actually enjoy baseball and accept the slow pace that comes with it.
    If I only have 30 min, I’ll disable presentation and use QC’s.
    If I’m not in a rush, then I’ll enjoy all The Show has to offer.
    At least with the options, one could get through a 162-game season a lot faster while still being able to enjoy a FULL game now and then.

  • pastaganda

    Interesting the negative review of quick counts considering virtually every comment in every forum on the feature I can find are overwhelmingly positive. I feel theres a bias or agenda here.

    • http://pastapadre.com/ pastapadre

      I think Quick Counts are absolutely awful and I’m never going to use them again because they disrupt the game without saving you much time. If someone disagrees and wants to use Quick Counts good for them, that has nothing to do with my evaluation of the feature.

    • PSNHitman17

      I’m still on the fence, I think Quick counts have there moments but they also can be looked at as a reason you may have lost and not stood a chance in a game.

  • Anthony Pandolfo

    Perhaps this has been mentioned before, but, nonetheless, here’s my problem with Quick Counts. Depending on the count when you take control, the result of the at-bat, if you’ve pinch hit or made a pitching change, will be attached to the player that was removed.

    For example, I make a pitching change at the start of an inning, but the count was already 3-2, so when my replacement pitcher throws ball four, the walk is given to the guy who left the game. This may be the way it works in real baseball, but this gets a little hairy here. I pinch hit for the pitcher, but, because the count is what it is, the pitcher is credited with, say, the walk.

    If you make a substitution, the game needs to undo the simulated pitches, redo them with the substituted player in, and then allow you to take control and play.

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