For those of you who owned an Amiga – or even an MS-DOS PC – Eddie Dombrower and Dan Daglow’s Earl Weaver Baseball was and is the best baseball game ever made. Even now, no baseball game matches its physics model and player AI. Yes, there were some obvious glitches, such as the pitcher attempting to field balls rather than cover first, but no other game mentally captured the realism of baseball. Its graphics are primitive now, but even playing I Got It Baseball (igiBall), which is Weaver without pizzazz, one can see how stunning the simulation is. No game ever had its customization before – making stadiums was a pleasure, and allowed for off-the-wall parks, such as a tiny park with 50 foot walls. The player editor had me buying the Elias Analyst for its split stats for when I wanted to make my own season disks.
Well, fans of the game can rejoice – Dombrower is bringing it back, to the iPhone, as EWB Baseball.
Keep in mind, though, it’s not Earl Weaver Baseball exactly – it’s EWB (pronounced “yewb”) Baseball, because Earl Weaver owns the name licensing, so this is a spiritual successor. The engine, which Dombrower does own, is all Earl Weaver Baseball, however. Everything the original can do, EWBB can do, and better, since a lot of modern conventions will be included, and some innovative features as well.
GameStooge: From the current build, how will the game be graphically buffed?
Eddie Dombrower:For the first release, I intend to leave them pretty much as you see them in the screen shots. If time allows for the initial release, I’ll begin to add texture mapping to fill in the stands, improve the look of the grass and dirt. The animations are, in my opinion, strong enough for the resolution of this device.
Now, assuming that the game gets some traction and proves to generate some “real” revenue, here’s the second phase of the plan:
- convert the hand-created flat polygon renderings of the field and stadiums to openGL technology (which I can use elsewhere too)
- spend some time re-engineering the “Director” to pick better shots
- provide users with additional options for visual playback using the camera (the engine supports user defined camera positioning, but this was turned off for igiBall)
The “background” behind the stadium uses photos to provide city scapes and mountain scapes, and so on, and I plan to allow users to put their own photos behind the stadiums (currently 2 photos per stadium). That should allow us to, as a community, create the feel of the actual cities these ballparks live in.
GS: How will franchises and multiplayer play work?
ED: There currently isn’t the notion of active franchise modes in the product. If things take off, though, I’d love to add that. In the meantime, the product supports single league commissioner options to manually control a league. In the next phase, I would add the ability to pick or draft a team and become part of a league structure managed on the web so players could participate in a multiplayer league.
I also plan to create a system where players can challenge each other (either one-off or through a league schedule) to manage their teams against one another either in real-time (my iPhone to your iPhone) or asynchronously. Action mode will make it in shortly, possibly for the first release, so, I could manage and you could Play & Manage or we could switch or we could both Play & Manage.
In all these cases, the commissioner’s functionality manages a league through the scheduler.
GS: How will player, stadium, and league editing work?
ED: My opinion on this is that the iPhone is too small a device and has too poor of an input system for this much data manipulation. The plan is to set up accounts at the supporting web site, www.ewbbaseball.com (which should be live next week or so) and allow people to use igiBall (for free) to edit players, leagues and ballparks. If and when this takes off, I would make a web interface following on the same pattern of the Earl Weaver and igiBall games. We are also implementing a data base whereby you can create leagues with teams and players from across the years, probably managed on the web site.
Check out 19 additional screenshots of the game, development in-progress.