Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sunday update

Now that my Econ 432 paper is done, I can write a little bit.

First of all, thanks to all those who read my blog over the weekend. Special thanks to Ted Roethke for his comment. I'm aware of IS' new deals with and Baseball Prospectus. I think it's a step in the right direction for the hobby as a whole, but I'm not sure if it's enough. I'm also not entirely convinced that internet banner advertisements have quite the same effect as print ads did a few decades ago. We'll see what happens in the future. I really hope that IS puts a link to the "stand alone" DMB game on their website.

Fantasy baseball vs Simulated baseball

There seems to be a disconnect between Dayne's fantasy-based vision for DMB and the way this industry has progressed. Those of you who regularly visit the Diamond Mind boards are well aware of the protestations against an online-only game by most "stand alone" fans. My guess is that their feelings have a lot to do with playing games like APBA, Strat-O-Matic and DLBB by hand. Once you bought the cards, you had them literally in your hand, and nobody could take them back. You could do whatever you wanted with them, create any crazy innovation you want, or even study them and come up with complicated theories of card creation (yes, I've been reading a lot of old APBA Journal issues). However, if the future is entirely located with games like Simnasium, all of this will go out the window.

Simnasium (or Diamond Mind Online, I suppose) also takes away the "manage your own big league team" aspect of the simulation. If you look at old APBA and Strat-O-Matic advertisements, you'll notice what a prominent role the concept of managing a team yourself played. That was, to my knowledge, always the big sell of these baseball simulations. However, when games are played automatically by a centralized computer system, without any more human input than adjusting a few managerial tendencies. Gone is the thrill of pulling the pitcher early, of pinch-hitting for the overrated slugger, or calling surprise bunts and steals.

My problem with fantasy baseball is that it doesn't allow the player to do anything other than draft and trade. Simnasium perpetuates this problem, as does the online Strat-O-Matic game. Now, I'm not going to deny the popularity of such a product. Fantasy baseball fans will certainly enjoy playing similar fantasy games with the best baseball players of all time, or with seasons such as 1986 and 1941. Still, it doesn't seem like the proper way to approach the simulated baseball market. I'd much rather see Simnasium try to direct the fantasy fans over to the simulators, not the other way around. After all, why give up a feast for a bowl of ramen?

Google Searches

Quite a few visitors to this site come from Google searches such as "compare APBA and Diamond Mind." I hope they aren't too disappointed, since my goal here is not to pit one game against another. APBA, Strat, Diamond Mind, Action PC, OOTP, SBS and every other baseball simulation has its own set of strengths and weaknesses, and I don't want to take too much time to merely compare how each game works. I've played APBA for over a decade, Diamond Mind for over 5 years, and Strat-O-Matic for under two weeks, and I'm very pleased with all three. Instead of discussing the merits and weaknesses of each, I want to use this blog to put each game (or drafted team, or what have you) in the proper historical context. After all, the thing that's really interesting about baseball simulations is not how the game engines work; rather, it's how they make long past eras of baseball history come alive.

Anyway, sorry for the lack of pictures today. You'll have to wait for the next team preview -- I'm not quite in the mood at the moment. It's back to reading for the time being.

Oh, and my league begins on April 14th. Mark those calenders!

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