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Simulate Your Own Nervous Breakdown

Roy Halladay, IRL.

Jon Robinson at ESPN has published a piece on the upcoming video game “MLB 2K11.” An incorporated interview introduces readers to Sean Bailey, MLB 2K11 game designer, and Roy Halladay, MLB 2K11 hood ornament.*

You have to be impressed by the marketing push 2K Sports has been mounting in advance of this game’s release. Consider for example the MLB 2K11 Wikipedia page, which in addition to being pretty much a 2K Sports press release, appears to actually be cut and pasted from a 2K Sports press release. Seriously. It’s written in the first person.

The above ESPN article does reveal one cool tidbit about the game though: improved pitcher worriedness animations.

“Now if you’re throwing a no-hitter, the pitcher is walking around the mound and he’s not looking at or talking to anyone. He just wants the ball back really fast. But if he’s struggling, he will walk around the back of the mound, and you can see the stress build up throughout the game. And these little things, while they don’t change the gameplay, they are the types of things that once they’re tuned right, they make the whole experience feel more real.”

Into the heads of pitchers is EXACTLY where these games need to go.

Here’s why. Baseball, by its questionably thought-out but now accepted rules, puts pitchers, who are normally crazy people, in charge of the game. As a result, baseball is at its best when the heat rises in the mound’s psychological crucible. Think of the moments: Jack Morris, powering through that Game 7, or Roy Halladay, somehow holding focus through a playoff no-hitter. But — Roger Clemens, throwing a bat at little Mikey Piazza, or Pedro Martinez, bodily evaporating on that same mound three years later in the ALCS. It’s like the Roman Colosseum, but the Christians are SPs and LOOGYs, and the lions are ball fours and Texas leaguers.

2K Sports should put more of that in the game.

* ACTUALLY, Mr. Halladay seems to have done a lot of work with the developers.