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Interview with Allen McPheeter, Game Designer: Microsoft Baseball 2001

ActiveWin.com: What are some of the main advantages Microsoft Baseball 2001 has over the previous version, Microsoft Baseball 2000?

Allen McPheeter: The biggest thing, what we're most excited about, is the addition of the Baseball Mogul features into the game. With that, we took what was a pretty fun single-game/arcade experience and made it into a pretty fun season/career play experience. That's very cool, because most sports games don't give you such a substantial feature expansion from one year to the next.

ActiveWin.com: Did you receive any assistance in development from professional baseball players or managers? What were their comments on the game?

Allen McPheeter: No.

ActiveWin.com: How long was Microsoft Baseball 2001 in development? Did you set any milestones or overcome any setbacks?

Allen McPheeter: It was about a 6-7 month project. In some ways, it was a miracle that it shipped at all. My previous project, with another company, involved transferring an existing code base from one development team to another, which didn't work. The project never shipped, because the code had never been developed with changing teams in mind. On Baseball 2001, we actually took over two separate code bases, one from Baseball 2000 and one from Baseball Mogul, and merged them. I was really impressed with the way our team made it happen.

ActiveWin.com: In Microsoft Baseball 2001 we see that there are "Front Office Management" features added. What were the goals of these features? How do you think they add to the overall realism of the game?

Allen McPheeter: We wanted to make a big impact with Baseball 2001 by expanding the appeal of the game to a new set of customers. Now we have something to offer to people who want the General Manager challenge as well as those who want the on-field action challenge.

What makes that great, and more realistic, is that you can't just assemble a team of superstars and beat the tar out of your opponents. You've got to balance how much you're spending on player salaries and how much you're receiving in revenues. And if you blow that balance and go into debt, you've got a long uphill road to climb. It makes you appreciate the players of average skill, who can contribute to your success, as well as the big superstars.

ActiveWin.com: What do you think Microsoft Baseball 2001 has over its competitors?

Allen McPheeter: It's the only game that gives you both a fun, great-looking arcade game AND a challenging financial general manager simulation.

ActiveWin.com: What is your favorite part of this game?

Allen McPheeter: I love playing the general manager stuff, but I just got back from the Major League Baseball FanFest during All-Star week and was reminded (again) of how much fun the arcade is.


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