|Managing Out Of The Park Baseball|
July 11, 2012 | Jon Carr
Join us for an interview with the creator of the long-running Out of the Park Baseball series, Markus Heinsohn. Find out what inspired him to create the first game, how he keeps things creatively fresh, whether or not fans help shape the games, who his favorite team player is and more.
Jon Carr: How did OOTP start out? What sparked its initial conception and release?
Markus Heinsohn: A friend of mine brought home a bat and a glove from a trip to Miami, so we started hitting tennis balls into the neighbor’s gardens. That was in 1991. We then formed a baseball club and started playing in organized baseball leagues in 1994. In the meantime I played all sorts of baseball computer games, but there was no management-related game that I liked, so in 1998 I decided to simply develop my own game, just for fun. When it was done in 1999, I figured it was probably good enough to earn some money with it, and that’s when it all started.
JC: OOTP started in 1998 and now its 2012. 14 years is a long time for a single series and genre. How do you keep things fresh personally and creatively?
MH: We have a huge community; they are really passionate and supply us with all sorts of ideas and suggestions. So, this is my number one source of creativity. Apart from that, I like watching baseball games on TV, and every once in a while a nice idea pops into my mind where I think “That would be great to have in OOTP!”
JC: Sports simulation is such a niche genre, how has that worked out for your company?
MH: Well, in Europe sports simulation games are huge. Soccer simulation /management games sell 7-figure amounts of copies. We are tiny compared to that, but as a company we’re doing fine. Our hope is that someday the US market realizes what a fun genre it is, so I can finally buy that damn Porsche.
JC: Of course you have a deep passions for baseball. Who is your favorite team and player?
MH: I do not have a favorite team to be honest. I like the Braves, Red Sox, Cubs, Rays, Nationals and Indians. My favorite player of all time is Ryan Klesko (with Tino Martinez a close 2nd), and of the currently active players I’d pick Kevin Youkilis, The Greek God Of Walks.
JC: How do fans and the community helps shape the game?
MH:We collect suggestions in a big database, and often simply by reading the forums an idea pops up and gets immediately implemented. Without the fans the game wouldn’t be half as good as it is, seriously.
JC: Do any real baseball players enjoy OOTP?
MH: Curt Schilling is a big fan of the series. I am sure there are a few others, but they haven’t said ‘hello’ on our forums yet.
JC: What was the decision to bring OOTP to iOS, how did it happen?
MH: The idea was simply to reach a different audience and introduce them to the sports simulation genre. So we hired another developer (Sebastian Palkowski) and we started developing the game. The first version was released in May 2011 and was a big success for our company.
JC: What experience does the iOS version offer? I understand some constraints in the iOS hardware don't allow for everything.
MH: The game was designed to be very basic. The memory restrictions make it very hard to offer the full OOTP experience, but that was not the intent to begin with. We want people to have a quick, fun and realistic baseball management experience, and iOOTP offers just that. There is no intention to have it as fully featured as the desktop version, as we would probably cannibalize our own market that way.
JC: Besides sports, what style of games do you enjoy playing?
MH: I like science-fiction games and games where you build something (Sim City, Civilizations etc.).
JC: What do you like to do in your spare time? (Outside of gaming.)
MH: I do martial arts (Taekwon-Do), which is my number one hobby. I also love listening to music and cooking with my friends. Photography is another hobby I am interested in. But that’s about it, I guess, besides baseball, of course.
For more on OOTP 13 check out IMG's reviews and the company's website to get all the latest updates.
Jon Carr is an IMG writer who also hosts the MacGameCast and enjoys conducting interviews, previews and writing all the features he can think of. When not reviewing games or scheming world domination, he's probably playing a new game in Bootcamp or keeping up on all the latest game and tech news. He builds websites for a living but spends all the time he can furthering the Mac game community.