Exclusive A SimHeads.com exclusive – an interview with Scott Drader

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A SimHeads.com exclusive – an interview with Scott Drader

SuperMegaBaseball came out of nowhere from an extremely small company to debut to rave reviews (Gaming Age 100; Polygon 90; IGN 81). It is available now on the PS3 and PS4 and it is being upgraded and released on Xbox One and PC later this year. We are joined today by Scott Drader of Metalhead Software to discuss the game.

Simheads (SH): We find it amazing that a small team can produce an unlicensed sports title on next gen systems and receive very high ratings from what can be a very critical community. Can you tell us how many people work at the company and also tell us briefly, how in the world did the team pull this off?

Scott Drader (SD): Leading up to shipping the first version of SMB in December, we peaked at 6 or 7 people (only 3 of which were full-time), and right now we have about 9 actively contributing. No doubt, part of the reason we were able to do it with such a small team was that our development cycle was very long (the first lines of code were written 4+ years ago when there was only 2 of us working part time). There are also great efficiencies in a small, local team where there is nearly zero communication overhead and all knowledge is spread across only a handful of people - especially when that handful of people is talented, and I’m very grateful for the amazing help we’ve had along the way. We also worked a lot.

“Super Mega Baseball is one of the most enjoyable, satisfying
I’ve played in a long time.” - PSX Extreme

SH: Many have commented that the game looks arcade but plays simulation. Was this the intent of the team from the beginning or did this evolve as the game was being developed?

SD: The idea from the beginning was always to model the sport accurately. It’s a sport of inches and I think you really need to get those fundamentals right for it to truly capture the feel of the sport over the long term – I’ve played a lot of the older games and it’s very easy to tell when the physics are scripted or when there are obvious preferences given to particular plays (homeruns, etc.). As far as the look and feel, we knew we wanted to keep it light-hearted, and in fact started with some pretty outlandish ideas (post-apocalypse baseball!), but it just slowly evolved into what it is now. We definitely aimed to appeal to a wider audience with the comical look, but that did have the unwanted side effect of making it hard to communicate to hardcore baseball fans that there’s a really good baseball simulation under the hood.

“A gem and perhaps the greatest indie sports game of all time. In fact, it's so good that big-budget sports devs need to take an honest look at it—there's a lot they could learn.” - GameCritics

SH: The big announcement that came out recently is that the game has been updated based on user feedback and will also be released on Xbox One and PC as Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings. The game will add two new stadiums and more customization among other things. What new feature are you most excited about?

SD: As the person who obsesses most about the details of the baseball simulation, I’m biased on this, but all the tweaks to the input code and AI really add up to a more polished baseball sim. While the initial release was in a pretty good state, there were some things that would get annoying at high Ego (difficulty) and I think it’s now playing a lot nicer across the full Ego spectrum. Also, given that we started with the 4 ballparks and that you would see those ones a lot, I think having 2 more in there does a lot to help keep the presentation fresh.

“I’d go as far as calling this a must-play for anyone even remotely
in sports games. You won’t regret it.” – NZGamer

SH: We do not believe editing players' attributes or customizing teams (jersey colors, logos, team name) made it into the update. Can we expect these features sometime in the future?

SD: We’ve got a handful of high priority items on our roadmap, and those things you mention would all fall under one particular roadmap item – deep team customization (the current customization options in the game are focused on customizing the players themselves, not so much the team stuff). So yes, it’s way up on our list, but I should not at this point make any promises about exactly which release that will be a part of. As an aside, we’ve definitely had to channel a lot of our development hours into porting thus far this year, and I can assure you we’re looking forward to getting everyone back onto new features.

“Super Mega Baseball should be your next purchase
if you enjoy baseball on any level.” - Destructoid

SH: Can you comment on sales figures or whether the sales met your expectations? Do you think a SMB 2 or maybe a Super Mega Hockey or Football is something that could occur in the future?

SD: It was hard to have anything beyond a hand-waving guesstimate of sales for the initial release. We shipped on only a couple of platforms, with no existing reputation or brand whatsoever, and basically zero marketing budget - those are all things we’ll need to address before I can say if we’ve ultimately met our expectations. Ask me again in 6 months As far as the next thing, I can’t say too much at this point because we’re still throwing around ideas and nothing has been locked in yet. We’ve got a nice foundation in baseball with SMB and definitely want to go further with it. Of course there’s also the undeniable pull of larger markets in other sports. And we live in the land of hockey… Honestly it’s up in the air and there will be some fun conversations around here in the coming weeks.

“With sound mechanics and some great difficulty tuning options, this should appeal
everyone – whether you're a baseball fan or not.” - Push Square

SH: What is your initial impression of Simheads.com?

SD: Clean layout, fast, good forum interface, thumbs up! Just as we need new games to stir the pot, we need new venues for conversation.

“Super Mega Baseball is one of the best baseball games out at the moment. Sure it may not be a licensed game like The Show, but the gameplay is as good as the official MLB game.” – TheSixthAxis

SH: Thank you for your time and for producing such a refreshing sports title.

SD: Thanks for having me! I hope we can do it again not too far down the line. Cheers!

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