It is generally regarded as the most sophisticated baseball simulation on the planet. While Out of the Park Baseball 13 (OOTP 13, for short) may closely follow America's national pastime, it was not created by a red-blooded American. OOTP is the brain child of Markus Heinsohn, a lifelong baseball fan... in Germany.
You can read more about Out of the Park Baseball 13 on its website here, or check out a story I wrote about simulating the 2013 Seattle Mariners here.
Recently, I got a chance to interview Markus about his interest in baseball, and the story of his remarkable baseball simulator...
How does a guy who was born and raised in Germany come about creating the most accurate and authentic baseball simulation in the United States?
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.
What experience do you have with US baseball? Have you ever been to a Major League game?
MARKUS HEINSOHN: I watch several games live per week (thank God for MLB.tv and the Internet) and have been to the United States a few times and caught some live games there (Angels and Braves). I loved being at the ballparks; the atmosphere was simply stunning!
How do you get a following for a text-based simulation game, when HD and 3D are all the rage these days?
MARKUS HEINSOHN: I personally think that no fancy 3D game can ever outperform the best gaming engine ever, which is your imagination. When reading the text, I imagine what happens on the field, and I enjoy that immensely. In Germany we call this "Kopfkino." Not sure if Google translates that properly...
What, in your mind, makes OOTP a fun game to play?
MARKUS HEINSOHN: Since there are so many different ways to play the game, I cannot really answer that question. It's a different thing for different people. I personally like starting a league with MLB players with a draft. It's a lot of fun and I can spend hours just thinking about who I will be drafting next.
Do you play the game yourself? How do you play it (historical replay, fictional, etc)?
MARKUS HEINSOHN: Yes, I play the game quite often, but for whatever reason I am not very good at it. Like I said in the previous question, I love fictional teams with MLB players. But I enjoy playing historical leagues (the early 90's) as well, and the new random debut historical mode of OOTP 13 is tons of fun as well -- I love the surprises you get in the draft pools. I once had Bonds and Ruth in the same draft where I had the first pick. I went with the Bambino.
If you're a fan of baseball and/or a dead-on accurate sports simulation, go ahead and try this game out today! Thanks to Markus for taking the time to do this interview. He is keeping very busy keeping in contact with the OOTP community, and I'm sure looking forward to creating OOTP 14.