With February and March comes MLB The Show developer livestreams, in addition to other things like actual baseball — and groundhogs. Today, we’re focusing on the developer streams.
Since the MLB The Show livestream schedule was revealed, one of the most discussed points relates to the these vague words: “rebrand your team in Franchise Mode.” In the sub-header of this specific livestream, the explanation was that “franchise lets you change team name, location and logos.”
You don’t have to be a sleuth to see something big was missing here: changing stadiums.
Was it intentionally left off of this list so it can be a big surprise? Or was it intentionally left off this list because it’s not in the game?
The forums here and elsewhere have explored the possibility of what rebranding might entail. Unfortunately, I don’t have the exact answers either (we’ll get those answers on February 13 during the next Sony San Diego stream). However, I can look at the four main elements of a rebrand, team name/location, logos, uniforms and stadiums, and how games in the past — MVP Baseball, All-Star Baseball, NBA 2K, NHL and Madden — have handled these areas to see if we can piece together what we’ll find out later this week.
Team Names & Locations
NBA 2K offers the best current option here. It has a list of available cities, and the ability to change your location name and team name. The cities available to choose from all have audio that the announcers will say.
Madden and NHL both have a list of cities to choose from, but no way of customizing them. If you moved your team to San Diego, you couldn’t call them California. In Madden, each city comes with a list of three available names, or you can keep what you already have. In NHL, you can name the team whatever you want.
Not surprisingly, MVP Baseball 2005 has the least robust set of options. However, the Owner Mode in this game was robust in that it allowed you to create a whole new stadium for your team, which is something we still don’t get very often today.
Another PS2 game that came out a few years before MVP offered some fun options: All-Star Baseball. While not the same as what’s likely happening in The Show (the stream schedule says nothing about expansion, which is what this game had), the game had a list of 36 expansion cities and 30 team names. Nothing was editable, and the logos were final, but some of them looked a lot better than most of the generic stuff EA was working with later on.
When it comes to The Show, I’m expecting to get the logo creator/editor that’s available in Diamond Dynasty. With that in mind, I imagine we’ll be able to name the team whatever we want. We should also be getting the location and team name, in addition to audio slots for each.
I think the best-case scenario for MLB The Show is a list of about 20 pre-selected cities. You would see the usual cities like Montreal, San Jose, Charlotte, Portland, Las Vegas, etc. Baseball is an outdoor sport, so having cities with information about times zones, temperatures and weather would be nice. I know that some cities would be left out, so there would be some backlash there.
In comparison, while Madden’s offerings are limited, they come with full announcing audio integration. Brandon Gaudin will say “The London Monarchs” rather than “The home team” or perhaps worse, nothing at all. Matt Vasgersian’s current audio sounds decent, but you can tell that it’s been spliced together.
NBA 2K does the best job here. You can upload any image you want and can download other users’ images. Not much more you could want.
NHL and MVP Baseball have custom logos to choose from, and in NHL you could recolor any of them. It’s not the best options, but they get the job done.
Madden and All-Star Baseball all had preset logos to choose from. Those logos were tied to the name of your team.
As I said above, I’m expecting to have the same Diamond Dynasty logo creator we’ve had the past few years. In terms of effectiveness, I’d say it’s on par with what NHL currently has to offer. When working with shapes, letters and fonts in the game, you can create some pretty good logos. However, it’s not quite on the level of uploading a logo from elsewhere. That would be a welcome improvement to the current system.
Once again, NBA 2K takes the cake here. Having enough usable templates for design novices but still giving more of a blank canvas to those more savvy users is great. There’s still room to improve as I said a few months ago, but it’s the best out there.
NHL provides customization of any template in use in the league, while MVP Baseball gave you 60 templates to choose from with no editable colors.
After choosing a team in Madden, you’re given a choice of three different uniforms. With about 15 cities to choose from, three nicknames per city and three uniforms per nickname, you’d think there would be 100-plus uniforms options, but there are only about 20 templates in there. Unfortunately, some of them are templates already in use in the NFL, which can sour the experience.
In All-Star Baseball, the away uniforms were tied to your chosen city, while the home uniforms were tied to your chosen logo.
For some reason, uniforms aren’t mentioned in the developer stream, which should be as worrisome as the stadiums being left off the list. But I think we’re getting the Diamond Dynasty creation suite within franchise mode. If that’s the case, It would be nice to get some updates there in regards to fonts and striping options. There’s also the question of uniform slots. Do we get alternates? Do they take the place of current uniforms, or are we able to get the current uniforms back?
This is the big question from everybody. NBA 2K and NHL do a great job with customization of everything around the arenas and the playing surfaces themselves. The ability to upload logos plays into 2K’s favor.
Madden has five stadiums to choose from now, but it used to have a pretty incredible stadium creator on the last generation of consoles. All-Star Baseball had seven generic stadiums to choose from, and there’s a video out there of an in-game tour of each, narrated by Derek Jeter.
Even though MVP NCAA Baseball 06 came out almost 15 years ago, the main thing people still remember about it is that you could edit your stadium. While the stands were static, you could set outfield wall distance, height and color/material. You could even give your stadium a cityscape background.
The worst-case scenario here is if there’s nothing at all done with the stadiums. As in, you move the Oakland A’s to Portland, but they still show up to work every day to play games in Oakland. If we’re stuck with the same stadium, then I’m not sure about the effectiveness of the feature. The best-case scenario is a blend of the stadium creation aspects of 10-year-old Madden (or even something like the indie lacrosse/tennis titles), with the customization of the current NBA 2K and NHL series.
I think we’re getting something like the All-Star Baseball series. There are already quite a few minor league parks available. So I think we’ll see around five MLB-caliber stadiums added to the game for use in relocation.
One thing that separates baseball from all the other major sports is the size of the playing surface. With football, hockey and basketball the court is the same. And in the games, you’re editing the things around it and the design of it. When customizing a stadium in baseball, the behind-the-scenes aspects of the game have to recognize that the size of the field is changing from a preset, hard-coded stadium already in the game. I know EA was able to do this 15 years ago, but I’m worried something will go awry in a game today.
Overall, I don’t think we’ll see anything different than what SDS has been using in past iterations of MLB The Show. I expect the Diamond Dynasty creation tools to be mostly the same, just now available within franchise mode. I hope neither uniforms nor stadiums were left off purposefully, and, at worst, we’ll get three uniforms slots and five pre-built stadiums to choose from. We’ll likely have the best version of this new feature coming with the next generation of consoles, and I think the development team is planning for that. Either way, I think my expectations will be met, but I hope I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
The MLB The Show 20 developer stream will discuss these things Thursday. After that the speculation will be over and the excitement or disappointment will kick in.
What kind of rebranding tools do you think we’re getting? What teams are you planning on moving or rebranding?