WHAT'S NEW FOR '98

FPS: Baseball Pro '98 inherits the core set of features that made Baseball '96 so popular. But go ahead and run Baseball '98 and you will immediately begin to see the major enhancements that take FPS: Baseball '98 to a new level of ease-of-use, accuracy, and fun!.

The first change you will notice is the newly designed startup screen. For those of you who just want to jump in and swing the bat, this feature provides you with quick access to batting practice, exhibition games, or arcade play without having to deal with leagues, schedules, or statistics.

Batting practice has been enhanced, as well. Instead of being limited to practice with only a single team, you may now choose to face off any batter and pitcher from the 1997 MLBPA season in any of the 28 big league ball parks.

Another enhancement is the addition of adjustable difficulty levels in the arcade game. You can quickly choose an "Easy" or "Normal" setting for batting, fielding, and/or base running, in any combination, or if you want, you can set your own custom difficulty levels by changing such things as the effective size of the bat for hitting or the size of the glove for fielding.

Graphically, the game has been enhanced by the addition of the player's uniform numbers on the backs of their jerseys in the arcade game. Additionally, the Front Office portion of the game has seen a face lift with the addition of background photos on the desktop.

The Remote League concept has been expanded considerably from the difficult, process-intensive system found in FPS: Baseball '96, to the new Remote Manager utility. Remote Manager completely automates the task of running and playing in remote leagues over the Internet. It can even create expanded reports with embedded HTML codes for automatic updating of team and league Web pages.

Simulation gamers will appreciate the new "fastsim" module, which sacrifices game highlights in favor of completing seasons in about one third the time required by the "normal" simulation engine. Best of all, the new fastsim doesn't come at the expense of consistency and accuracy, as it is a derivative of the original simulation module, rather than being a completely new design.

Of course the 1997 MLBPA association is included with the game, as well as an association reflecting team rosters as of the end of the 1996 MLBPA season. Additionally, the 1997 MLBPA Opening Day association features the 1997 schedule, complete with interleague games.

The most important new feature cannot be seen without playing the game and looking at the statistics. The heart of the game, the batting and pitching model, has been completely redesigned to more accurately simulate the batting and pitching tendencies of the MLBPA players. Pitchers need to be able to establish their ability to throw strikes with each of their pitches and need to change speeds and locations to be successful. A mediocre fastball or hanging breaking ball in the middle of the strike zone will get punished accordingly. Batters will tend to wait for a good pitch that they can drive, until they fall behind in the count and then will work to protect the plate. Computer controlled batters will even check their swing, or at least attempt to, if they identify a pitch as being unhittable.

We've spent the majority of our efforts working to improve the accuracy of the simulation model, from both raw statistical results and "on the field" points of view. When it comes to "accuracy," FPS:Baseball Pro '98 is unique in that it provides both accurate statistical results and uses the same physics and type of pitch-by-pitch thought processes that the real MLBPA players use.

In addition to the improved batting and pitching system, the entire on-field artificial intelligence system has been modified. Fielder and baserunner logic has been enhanced to allow players to more accurately gauge their abilities on the field and basepaths, resulting in better fielding and base running by the computer-controlled players.

Field Manager AI in the Stadium and General Manager AI in the Front Office have been improved, as well. Each manager should perform a more capable job of controlling the team on the field and of providing the team with the right talent to win, or to rebuild for the future as circumstances require.

Along with this advanced strategical intelligence, is the addition of altitude to the game's physics model. As can be seen from the barrage of runs coming out of Denver the last few seasons, altitude can have a huge effect. In fact, the same physics that would send a ball 400 feet to dead center in New York would send it sailing 40 feet further in Denver!

Even better than having improvements to the game's AI is the ability to change it yourself, and that's just what you get with BB98! Over 800 different aspects of the game's AI and physics model have been included in the [Playbalance] section of the BBPRO.INI file in the BBPRO_98 directory. These entries allow you to adjust various aspects affecting the game's results, giving you the ultimate baseball "construction set." For more details, check the BBPROINI.TXT file in the BBPRO_98 directory.

We can't detail every improvement or change from the previous version, so just jump in and check it out.