Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Community Behind The Show

Each year, the highlight of spring training is the annual release of Sony's MLB The Show franchise. Developed for Playstation 4, MLB The Show 17 has raised the bar once again when it comes the sports video games. While the game itself is always spectacular, there's an incredible group of people behind it that take the level of immersion up a notch. Enter the Operation Sports Full Minors creators.

I reached out to Scott Spindler, the man behind the @OSFMRosters handle on Twitter. it is through the efforts of Scott and a few confidants, that Franchise mode in The Show is transformed into the most realistic organizational experience in console based gaming. While MiLB players are not allowed to be created in video games as they aren't represented by the MLBPA, it's due to the efforts of the OSFM guys that each of these up and coming talents not only gets in the game, but is also realistically represented.

Sure, names, heights, and weights are all imported, but the OSFM rosters encompass complete facial representations, attribute accuracy, and a deep dive into how each player should be reflected for their respective franchise. In an effort to more completely understand what all goes into creating such a great user experience, I asked Scott a handful of questions about all things OSFM rosters.

Off The Baggy: Can you provide me a little background info about the rosters? How many of you guys work on them? Anyone you'd like to name specifically? How many years has it been this same group?

OSFM: First of all thank you for allowing us to talk about this amazing project and what we do. We take pride in what we do and strive to release a top quality product. We have had past releases downloaded well over 500,000 times.

It is a community effort at Operation Sports, a sports gaming community. These rosters were first started by a man named Michael Koncz, or Knight as we know him. We have continued, on I am Scott Spindler a father of 2, and married guy who does this as a hobby. This year's team is led by myself as well as Chase Bast, also known as Showtyme on OS, Billy Brent, Aka Willard and Christian Weber also known as Bacon. He is a University of Milwaukee college student. I have been involved for over 10 years and the other guys came on board in the last few. I originally partnered with Knight to do it, but he has since stepped aside to live life but still gives his blessing. I dedicate every set each year to him. 

OTB: With the annual launch of MLB The Show, the OSFM rosters have become a must have for Franchise players. What made you decide to take the plunge on what is no doubt, a very time consuming process?

OSFM: It's my love of the game. All of us, we want perfection. The baseball community is tight knit and wants the best. Same for the sports gamers. Sony has given us a great game to take and make the what we can of it and the response has been amazing. We are not affiliated with Sony at all.
It is very very time consuming. This current roster is based on past years and we work on it year round. When the new game comes out I put in over 200 hrs of work alone, and the other guys do the same. Its incredible.

OTB: Year after year, the OSFM rosters highlight some of the best young prospects in the game. Have you had interaction with any players you've created?  

OSFM: Absolutely, I have had many many interactions with minor league guys asking if I will put in a certain stance or bat, or if I can boost some rating. It's all good and the players love the set as well.

OTB: If you can think back over the past few years, is there a prospect you really nailed and were incredibly proud of? Anyone that has significantly beaten your ratings that sticks out to you?

OSFM: I am a Phillies fan so obviously I take heart with that team, but in no way let that affect the way we do any ratings. We are such perfectionists that we won't release if a career minor leaguer's height and weight aren't accurate. We make sure when we release it's as perfect as can be. Obviously we are human and have errors but for a project involving us to create thousands and thousands of players, our quality control is top notch.

OTB: Given the time commitment, and the overall quality of the OSFM rosters, have you ever considered charging for the end result, or at least noting that donations are appreciated

OSFM: We have been approached many many times. Its not about money or getting paid to do it. We do it for the love of baseball and the show. We have thought about some kind of donations or fundraising so who knows maybe at some point we will do something with that but not now.

Make sure to check out the @OSFMRosters on Twitter to find out exactly when you can get your hands on the latest version. You won't want to be playing MLB The Show 17 without them.

I also happened to reach out to Steve Noah, the owner of Operation Sports. The community itself fosters a lot of these exciting projects, and rosters are built for a handful of different games. He had some thoughts he wanted to share as well. In relation to the site itself, he said "It's all about the love and passion the community has with the games. I'm just happy they have somewhere to gather details and generate discussion to make the best rosters possible. I'm not sure how they do it, but every year, they get better at what they do."

Operation Sports has created an incredibly strong community, and a go to forum destination. Fans and developers alike access the website, and both the content as well as the user base in top notch. Steve also directed a comment specifically to the guys behind the OSFM rosters saying, "As for OSFM and all of the other rosters that are worked on at OS, I can't thank them enough for providing fans an updated roster every year. It takes a lot of time, more time than people realize. I can't thank them enough."

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