Sunday, March 19, 2017

"Baseball Mogul is Horse Shit"

We got the following tweet a couple months ago:


... and then this (by someone else) ...


... and this (by yet another person):


I should be pissed off, but these made me smile. I love that people get emotionally invested into their Mogul teams. And it's nice to see people so angry about something other than politics.

These tweets also illustrate what people mean when they say that a game "cheats" or is "rigged". It's not just that the game is difficult — it's that the sim engine has "catch up" code — it waits until you get ahead (in a game or in a season) and then turns on the afterburners to kick your ass.

I briefly worked on the PC version of Madden in the 1990s, and know that it had strong catch-up code (and probably still does). On MLB Slugfest, we created different difficulty levels, but the game didn't cheat — the results were the same regardless of whether you were winning big or losing badly.

I assure you that Baseball Mogul isn't "rigged". There isn't a single line of code in the game that looks at the score (or the standings) and then adjusts the results accordingly. If your team goes 16-8 in April and then 9-18 in May, I guarantee that it's just bad luck. The cheating described in these tweets is purely in the minds of the players. And Baseball Mogul has never contained any catch-up code, so there isn't anything hiding deep in the simulation code that I somehow forgot to remove.

Although the simulation doesn't cheat, the diffculty level does affect the computer GMs' desire to do a deal with you. For example, GMs on "Fan" level will actually make trades with you that they would normally turn down (if offered by another computer-controlled team). Difficulty level also affects the revenue earned by any human-controlled teams.

Difficulty Level Artificial Intelligence
(Computer GMs)
Revenue Adjustment
(Human-Controlled Teams)
Fan Biased in favor of trades offered by human-controlled teams. +5%
Coach No
adjustment.
None.
Manager No
adjustment.
-5%
Mogul Biased against trades offered by human-controlled teams. -10%

As you can see, Baseball Mogul cheats in your favor on "Fan" level, and cheats against you on "Mogul" level. But this adjustment only affect your revenue stream — it doesn't pump up the losing team in order to keep things interesting, and it doesn't penalize your team just because you are on pace to win 100 games.

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