Further Impressions of MLB FOM

Posted January 28th, 2009 at 11:37 am


I posted up my initial reaction to MLB Front Office Manager last night where I was encouraged by the manager mode and that the online fantasy mode appears to have the potential to be enjoyable. After putting some more time in with the game I can discuss some other areas and whether my overall feeling has changed at all. Continue on for further thoughts on the game, some screens, and a couple videos videos of managing a game.

I started up career mode and the first thing you do is create your GM. This to me isn’t a big deal since as far as I’ve come across you rarely see him. Options are limited as there are only 12 heads and 6 outfits to choose from. You can change the body type also. The GM’s background can be picked out of 5 options. I went with “businessman” which was stronger in trades and contracts but weaker in scouting. I’m not sure how much, if at all, these GM ratings affect how the game plays out. There isn’t really any way to gauge that.

I got a budget to spend on scouting. Spread it somewhat evenly across the US regions and Puerto Rico. I didn’t want to invest in Japan at this time, I didn’t see how much it would cost but supposedly it would account for a large chunk of the budget. We’ll see how this all pans out, no way to tell this early on.

One of the biggest issues in the reviews have been the menus. I somewhat understand what the complaints are. In some cases you have to go to multiple areas to take care of one task. There are a lot of sections and it took a while for me to figure out what you could do where. I was weeks into my career when I finally figured out where I could resign my own players (in the “payroll” area).

The biggest issue to me is sorting the players. There are so many players in the pool that it is a mess to make sense of. When there are like 100 1B to choose from how do you decide based on numbers that are pretty much impossible to interpret? I ended up just choosing at random when a high “potential” number caught my eye. You have to enter each individual’s page to see their ratings which gets tiring. The overall rating is useless and that is all that’s displayed in the sorting area. You also can’t sort between starters and relievers. You’ll have to pull up their individual ratings pages and look at their stamina instead.

Offering contracts to free agents is relatively easy. What I don’t like is you have no idea of their response. Whether they are considering it or not or if they have interest from other teams. All you find out is via email whether they have accepted or rejected your offer. There isn’t a process like Head Coach had where you bid against other teams, and that may have been something they should have done here.

The email section keeps you updated on big events from around the league as well as upcoming events to be aware of. It seems like the email icon lights up every day even when there aren’t any new ones which has annoyed me. It also hasn’t done a good enough job of explaining things. When I was wondering why there were no big name free agents in the pool it was because they hadn’t hit the market yet. I didn’t realize I was just days away from this happening. It has though done better since with informing me of the Rule 5 draft and arbitration deadlines.

Despite some rumblings about unrealistic free agency signings or trades I really haven’t taken issue with them. Yeah the contracts are really high for the big name stars. Yeah some of them make demands that seem insane. But its a game, and within it maybe they end up being worth that I don’t know. I did sign Vladimir Guerrero just to make a splash, 6 years 18 million per with an option for a 7th year at 20 million. CC Sabathia went to the Giants for 26 million a year. Manny Ramirez to the Indians for 25 million a year. What I have the most trouble with, as stated earlier, is figuring out value for names I’ve never heard of/created players. The ratings just aren’t enough to know how they’ll perform.

The player ratings are definitely the biggest issue. Overalls are low and don’t help in regard to figuring out talent level or value. Individual ratings are too general also, and having to base decisions off them is confusing and time consuming. I’ve read that some big names drop-off quickly also but I’m far off from seeing that for myself, though right now it is tough to see how they would put up league leader type stats with these mediocre ratings everyone has.

Manage mode continues to be a surprisingly fun experience. As I pointed out in my first impressions, a downside is you make your decision and have to stick with it. You can’t change it once it has been set for a particular situation. I don’t think I’d want it stopping after every pitch anyway, but maybe they should’ve had a way for you to set your situations. Something like having to option set for when you choose to bunt that the game would ask you again if the count got to two strikes. I also have not seen the ability to do a mound visit which is a slight disappointment. Other than those things I love the flow of it and the results seem to turn out better than when the games are simmed.

Overall I think the game is still exceeding at least my own expectations. The key is to not overanalyze everything about it and doing so is a big part of what makes it more accessible. You can jump in and have fun with it. But if you’re the type to look at every deal the CPU makes and call it unrealistic then you’ll probably get frustrated quickly. At this point I just wish the player ratings and sorting had been set up better. Other than that my gripes aren’t many right now. Hopefully that feeling carries over to the online fantasy once I get that up and running next week.

Below are two videos of manage mode. The first is at “real time” speed and the second is using the “2X” speed. I’ve also added some screens of menus from the fantasy mode.