Last year, I had a chance to speak with Sebastian Palkowski, the lead developer for Out of the Park’s first foray into the mobile world, iOOTPBaseball 2011. Palkowski and his team faced a number of challenges in bringing a stat-filled, simulation-heavy baseball game to the mobile market, but after playing the game for a year, it feel rights to call iOOTP ’11 a success.
Given how well the first attempt went, I was curious to see how that experience informed this year’s iteration, iOOTP Baseball 2012. With a year of mobile experience under his belt I also wondered whether Palkowski would attempt to build on the groundwork laid in ’11 or if he’d go in another direction entirely.
Fans of last year’s game can rest easy, because iOOTP ’12 mostly refines what worked in ’11. Palkowski said one of the primary goals for ’12 was to make the game more stable.
“With the 2011 version, we had some stability problems on older devices and, later, the iPad 1 due to high memory usage, so the first thing I did was to look over the source code and find areas where I could save memory,” said Palkowski.
Feature-wise, the iOOTP team tried to focus on numerous small additions rather than one or two large features that would take up development time. One of the most interesting for longtime fans of the series is the pitch-by-pitch mode. In last year’s IOOTP, players were limited to the ‘action pitch’ of each at bat.
This year, they can not only sim to any part of the game they want if they’re low on time, but they can also take their time and play out each individual pitch of the game.
It’s a feature that Palkowski himself has gotten lost in a time or two.
“Once, I sat in a train to visit Markus [another developer on the iOOTP team] and played a playoff game,” Palkowski said. “I got so lost in it by calling all the pitches that at one point I yelled at my device. Luckily the train was not too full, but I got some looks from other passengers.
As cool as that might be for hardcore players, Palkowski’s favorite feature of ‘12 is actually coming with the first update to the app, and it’s a whole lot more nerdy.
“We brought down the size of the app from 170MB to about 30MB. We did this by removing all the historical seasons (which were pre-generated quick-games) and adding a database to the app,” Palkowski said.
“Now all new historical seasons will be generated from that database. Right now, this makes no difference to the user, but for us it opens so many new opportunities with historical leagues: “as played” schedules, all-time great teams, maybe even real rookies after you finish a historical season and continue to the following year. So this will be something we will heavily use in the future.”
With two years of successful mobile versions of OOTP in the books, it might be tempting to see what other platforms the OOTP franchise could appear on, but Palkowski cautioned that right now the team is focused on the iOS version of the game. An Android version could be in the works if they were to add a few members to their team.
Palkowski also wants to get AppleTV support for iOOTP so that players can experience the game on their big screen, rather than their iPhone or iPad.
Given the dedication Palkowski and his team have to iOOTP, I wouldn’t doubt for a second they’ll get that AppleTV supporting rolling sooner than later. And frankly the idea of playing a text-sim baseball game on a 60” flat screen sounds pretty good to this baseball nut.