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MVP 06 NCAA Baseball

Platform(s): PlayStation 2, Xbox
Genre: Sports
Publisher: EA
Developer: Electronic Arts Canada

About Rainier

PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!

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'MVP 06 NCAA Baseball' (PS2/Xbox) Developer Interview

by Rainier on Dec. 22, 2005 @ 1:10 a.m. PST

This new version of the MVP Baseball franchise will celebrate everything that makes NCAA baseball unique -- aluminum bats, intense action, and stadiums filled with school spirit and packed with passionate fans.

Q: What will be the biggest/most noticeable difference between MVP 2005 and MVP 06?

BB: Well, first it's an NCAA game, not a professional game! Seriously, I don’t know where to begin. With MVP 06 NCAA Baseball we return the depth and gameplay that people have loved over the years but have added a bunch of features that we believe will put this game above all our previous offerings. The biggest new feature is that we have a new batting system that we’re calling Load and Fire Batting that I think is going to completely change the way you think about batting in a baseball game. We have Precision Throw Control, all-new Online features, a new announcer team, a deep new Dynasty Mode tailored to college baseball, and a whole lot more.

MVP 06 is not a "fresh coat of paint" on an outdated an antiquated game or a re-release with a new mode and a DVD bundled inside. This is MVP Baseball. I believe the leap we made this year versus MVP05 in terms of depth and features is on par with the leap we made between MVP03 and MVP04.

Q: What has been the most fun part of making MVP a college game?

BB: I would have to say it’s been the challenge of adding the aforementioned features, as well as trying to help elevate the level of interest in NCAA Baseball. ESPN is committed to supporting NCAA Baseball on it’s family of networks and we at EA SPORTS are committed to making the best baseball game on the market, a game we hope can introduce a new audience to NCAA Baseball and get them hooked like I was after my first trip to Sunken Diamond to see Stanford play against Cal when I was only 8 years old. I truly believe that all it takes is one game- just watch one game in person and you too will be hooked. We hope the same is true with MVP06. Just one game is all it will take to make you forget the signature batting stances and star player faces, and remember it’s all about the game. I am confident this is far and away our best version of MVP and hope you all will feel the same way.

Q: What did you include to make MVP 06 really authentic?

BB: We traveled down to Omaha for the College World Series last season and recorded audio and sounds from not only the play, but of the fans as well. We also recorded sequences of team interaction, in terms of huddling up at home-plate after a homer, as well as reactions in the dugout. Unlike the MLB game, where we would emphasize the Manny Ramirez staring at his homerun ball, we will show things such as the team running to home-plate to greet the player that just hit the all-important big fly. We are showcasing team interaction on this game, which truly is the spirit of college baseball.

Q: Can you explain what ESPN integration means? Why is online everywhere important?

BB: We are excited to have been chosen to roll out the ESPN integration with MVP06. The cornerstone for our ESPN integration is Online Everywhere. It’s just what it sounds like, once you log in online for the first time, you are automatically logged online every time you boot up MVP06 from then on. While you are Online Everywhere you can send messages through EA Messenger and check out the news from ESPN.com. However I have to say that I love the ESPN ticker that scrolls across the bottom of the screen in real time with up to date scores from all different sports in the front end, in loading screens AND in gameplay! You also get ESPN Sportscenter radio updates directly from the ESPN Radio studios. These radio updates are pushed to your PS2 or XBOX every 20 minutes and like the ticker, are always current. In fact they scores on the ticker are often more accurate than some websites. All of this is available if you are Online Everywhere and it’s free of charge.

Q: Who is the new announce team? Did you change the format?

BB: The announce team in MVP 06 is ESPN’s Mike Patrick and 3-time all-American pitcher Kyle Peterson. We’ve also incorporated new visual enhancements and changed the format so it’s much more of a television style presentation.

Q: How many schools are in the game?

BB: There are 128 schools from all major NCAA conferences are available in MVP 06 NCAA Baseball, including teams from the Pac 10, ACC, SEC, Big 10, Big 12, WAC, and more.

Q: What is Load and Fire Batting all about?

BB: Load and Fire Batting feels more like batting than anything I personally have ever experienced in a baseball video game. We have broken it down to the most basic level: the right stick is your swing. To “Load” your swing, pull down on the stick. Pretty simple, right? To “Fire” your swing you pick up the pitch (the Hitter’s Eye is still around and very helpful) and push the stick forward towards it. For example, if the pitch is right down the middle you pull back and then push the stick straight forward for optimal contact. How you push the stick forward is determined by where the pitch is going. Load and Fire Batting is 1-part timing and 1-part execution. More than anything I think it’s a lot of fun. Honestly, when we first prototyped this mechanic we were a bit skeptical, but spending a ton of time tweaking and tuning it, we believe we have created something that will be adopted by other baseball games down the road in the same way our pitching meter has been.

Q: How does precision throw control work?

BB: Actually it’s quite simple to learn, but like hitting is tough to master. Like Load and Fire Batting, Precision Throw Control is mapped to the Right Stick. The short of it is that you press the stick towards the base you are throwing to at which point a meter will appear beneath the thrower. Your goal is to release the stick when the throw meter fills up. The further you fill it, the more velocity you have on your throw. If you under fill the meter, your throw will tend to go high (like if you release a ball too early when you are playing catch) and if you release too late, the throw will tend to go low (again, like if you hold onto a ball too long while playing catch). One more thing: when you are choosing the base to throw to the more accurate you are in moving the stick over, the more accurate your throw will be with regards to left/right error. I don’t want to get into too many specifics but I can tell you that you’ve never had so much control over where your throws are going to end up.

Q: What are the enhancements to the dynasty mode this year?

BB: We at EA have always prided ourselves on having deep and engaging Dynasty experiences and MVP06 is no exception. Here are some brief highlights:

  • Year Round Recruiting: From day one you begin stacking your team for years to come. We also have a really cool way to scope out who you recruit and to whom you offer scholarships. The more accomplished your coaching staff is the less guess work there is to signing the next top prospect or an overrated bench warmer.
  • NCAA Challenges: Equipment suppliers and alumni approach you throughout the year with challenges. Should you complete them you will be rewarded with name brand equipment or facility upgrades to help woo recruits.
  • Team Goals: We completely overhauled how these work. Completing team goals now affects recruiting in many ways, as well as upgrading your coaching staff.

All told, I believe this is our deepest and most fun Dynasty Mode yet. I can’t wait to hear what all the hardcore Dynasty players have to say.

Q: Can I create my favorite team and stadium even if they’re not officially in the game?

BB: This year’s Creation Zone is broken down into 3 area; Create Team, Create Player and Custom Ballpark. Create Team allows you to build your program from scratch and join and Conference to show your mettle in Dynasty Mode. We’ve also totally overhauled Create Player featuring face and body morphs that create endless possibilities. Now you use the right stick similar to Tiger to create face and body adjustments.

We also have an all-new Create Ballpark, which I am really excited about. I know we had this feature last year but our handling this year is completely different. We focused on what matters to gamers- the playing field. You can change the wall distances and heights, playing surface, amount of foul territory and the setting. The cool thing about changing the walls is we have loaded 30 predefined dimensions, OR you can create your own using the analog sticks. You can push and pull different points on the wall to change the distance and height in order to create almost any type of ballpark you want! We are very excited about our Creation Zone and believe it will allow users customization options never before seen in a baseball video game.

Q: Can you tell us about the other improvements to the Graphics? Game engine?

BB: We have a myriad of graphical enhancements in MVP06. First we have an all new player model to accurately represent the 18-22 year old NCAA Baseball player. We also took a different approach to uniforms this year and the result is a much more life-like fabric treatment. We also have all new faces, prettier stadiums and have replaced many animations that improve the overall movement in the game.

One addition that I think is really cool is that all of the stadiums are lit for time of day transitions. This means if you choose to start a game at 6pm local time, the sky will transition from light to dusk to dark all before your eyes. We have replaced many animations that improve the overall movement of the game. All told, if you set up MVP06 next to MVP05 you will see the improvements right off.

In terms of game engine, MVP 06 has a lot of improvements from its predecessors. For example; we’ve added imperfect fielders. This means that if a player is running toward a ball at the wall, he won’t take the same path every time. Instead, he may have to back-track in order to get the ball or shift to the right or left. We wanted the fielders to have more humanistic responses to make this game more authentic

Q: How many players does MVP support online? Offline?

BB: MVP 06 supports up to 4 players both online and off using Co-op Multiplayer, which means you can play on the same team as your buddy. This gives you the option to play a variety of ways: 1p vs CPU, 1p vs 1p, 2p vs 1p, 2p vs 2p or 2p vs CPU.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

BB: MVP06 doesn’t have the pro license but it is the best game we’ve made to date by a long shot. As you can see, we’ve added a bunch of new features, polished everything to a nice shine and created what I believe to be the best baseball video game out there. I promise you will get more than your money’s worth.


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