Sunday, May 22, 2005

Ok, it's time for another rant about a crappily made video game. Ready?

I signed up to beta test Ultimate Baseball Online a long time ago. The idea was simple: A massive online multiplayer baseball game where you take one player of approximately low skill level, play games, level him up and get him to the big leagues. I like that concept.

Apparently the project has died and been restarted several times, most recently under the tutelage of ESPN, who is now offering the game, in another "beta test" phase, for free. I was excited. I downloaded. I drank the kool aid.

I installed the game this afternoon while listening to the Brewer game. Then, in the middle of the Brewer game, it locked up my computer. I've considered killing for less.

So I waited until late tonight, when nothing else was distracting me, to try it again. I was still excited, until I actually started playing. Here's what I found.

Step 1: The graphics blow. Imagine if, all of a sudden, instead of connecting to your bones, your muscles connected to some point infinitely distant in the sky. Imagine how hard it would be to see the world around you if everyone's muscles did that.

Step 2: My "fully customizable player" was, in fact, 1% customizable. I named him. I told the game he's a pitcher. The game then assigned him lots of non-adjustable skill levels, decided what pitches he throws (12 of them, in fact), and, of course, the game still decided to make him completely impossible to view, graphically, since his "stretched to infinite" muscles hid all notable physical features.

Step 3: I decided to try a game. The lineups were also non-adjustable, so as a pitcher, I would've been due up first, that's right, a leadoff hitting pitcher. Maybe they were impressed by my muscles. It would've been impossible to not hit me with a pitch.

First, though, I had to pitch through the top of the first. The following sequence occured.

GAMEOVER steps to the plate.
KLSnow throws a strike over the inside corner.
The catcher throws the ball back, but KLSnow can't see it and blows the catch 3 straight times. KLSnow's defense grows restless.
KLSnow throws a strike over the outside corner.
GAMEOVER: "Dood, throw it over the middle."
KLSnow thinks that's poor advice.
KLSnow throws GAMEOVER a slider that looks like a fastball over the middle, but breaks away. Strike 3.
GAMEOVER: "Fine, I'm gonna pitch hard to you too."
KLSnow thought that's how baseball is played.
KLSnow blows a couple more relay throws.
The next hitter steps up. KLSnow throws him a fastball over the middle. The hitter hacks and misses.
KLSnow blows the relay throw, and tries to find the button to talk to his teammates to explain his problem seeing the ball.
After trying lots of combinations of buttons to talk to his teammates, KLSnow hits escape, and sees "Are you sure you want to quit?"
KLSnow has never been more sure of anything in his life.

In 5 minutes I had a poor experience with the game's graphics, it's non-customizable nature, its gameplay, and of course the kind of people who would play a massively multiplayer online baseball game. I'm glad I didn't pay for this. Immediately after quitting, I uninstalled it. The only thing that makes this experience better than Donkey Konga is the fact that no money changed hands.

This has been KL Snow.

1 comment:

Josh Carlisle said...

Sorry for omitting to sign - I posted the above.