Broken Fingers, Broken Dreams

Okay, by now I’ve posted a few times about my Baseball Stars addiction. It’s the game I find myself in the middle of when I didn’t even quite know I’d started playing anything at all. There I am, swinging the bat, pitching the ball. It’s a bit like sleepwalking.

I play it so much that it’s incredibly trivial to win game now, unless some really weird stuff goes down. That makes it pretty dull as a game, even though I keep playing it as some kind of interactive security blanket. So today I said to the game, I said, “I have more ability in my little finger than you have in your entire AI.” And it went, “Prove it, fatty.” Which is weird, because I’m quite slim.

But anyway, I decided to try and win a game of baseball with my favourite team (the American Dreams) using only one finger. Doing this rules out quite a few interactions. When batting, you can’t tell your guys to run extra bases (so no doubles, triples, or inside the field home runs), you can’t stop your guys on base from running any time the ball gets hit (which means they’re always getting out on fly balls and so on), you can’t adjust your batter while the ball is coming in on a pitch for a better angle. When fielding, you can’t throw to anywhere except first base (so you can’t stop doubles, triples, and inside the field home runs), you can’t make jumping or diving catches (not that I ever do anyway), and because I didn’t notice that you could, I couldn’t throw either fastballs or off-speed pitches.

What I’m saying is that with one finger, my team was like a bunch of idiots who aren’t very good at baseball.

Despite this, because the American Dreams are one of the better teams in the game, and because the AI inexplicably chose a terrible pitcher to start with, I was actually cruising to victory for large swathes of the game. I was up 7-0 for a while, and up 12-8 going into the bottom of the 9th. I kind of felt disappointed by how easily I was getting away with it, actually – I was hitting home runs and the opponents were swishing their bats unsuccessfully at my outside pitches.

Then there was the bottom of the 9th. It was a bit like the AI had “figured it out”, though of course it’s not that sophisticated. They started getting hits and, thanks to the fielding restrictions of only ever throwing to first bse, the game went down the toilet. Run after run scored as I threw ineffectively to my first baseman and watched the enemy skipping between the other bases with abandon. The sense of deflation was surprisingly intense. I really thought I was going to win and that I’d be all blasé about it, but secretly deeply pleased to have reached such a dominant position with respect to the game. It was not to be.

I do not have more ability in my little finger than the Baseball Stars AI, as it turns out.


7 December 2010
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