Saturday, February 16, 2013
Baseball Mogul 2014: Fixing The Game (Part 1 of 2)
Baseball Mogul 2013 is too easy.
There, I said it.
It's possible to take control of a mediocre team during Spring Training and turn it into a playoff team before Opening Day. You go to the Trading Block and offer up some minor leaguers, until you can get a good player at every position. If you keep pestering the computer-controlled teams, you can eventually find a lopsided trade in your favor.
In addition to browbeating the computer GMs into giving you good players, the player ratings make everything too easy. As long as you give your Scouting Staff enough money, you gain psychic powers regarding the talent (and future talent) of every player in the database.
If you haven't yet come to these conclusions, that's great! I'm glad the game continues to challenge you. But if you've been playing for 15 years, you've probably learned a lot of tricks to beat the computer teams.
Dumb Computer GMs
One solution to the problem with trades being too easy is to play on the "Mogul" Difficulty Level. But "Mogul Level" messes with things. For starters, free agents often demand much more from you than they do from the computer teams. And the computer-controlled teams turn down trades that no real-life GM would turn down. Furthermore, to keep the league competitive, the game lets the computer-controlled teams break some rules that human-controlled teams have to follow (like signing players even when the team is in debt).
The computer-controlled GMs need to get smarter, instead of circumventing the rules and relying on free agents that hate the human-controlled team. The previous Trade AI was based on something called "Tradezilla" -- a set of player valuation tools derived from an "artificial life" simulator. We simulated millions of seasons to determine which players (and player qualities) had the most value. This was great for evaluating players, but it didn't "think" the way real GMs think. That is, it couldn't identify personnel weaknesses and then actively construct trades to improve the team.
So, eight months ago, we started with a detailed analysis of over 1,000 trades and contract signings in Major League Baseball over the last decade. Four thousand lines of code later, Baseball Mogul 2014 has a completely new module that controls player signings, player trades, and roster management.
Player Ratings Are Like Cheating
Player Ratings are the other problem that can make previous versions of Baseball Mogul too easy. If you have a choice between 2 players in the draft, you pick the one with the 93 Peak Rating over the one with the 83 Peak Rating, every time.
I'll be back in a few days with my thoughts on player ratings. Until then, thanks for reading.