Happy New Year! We are starting 2024 with a big development for Fullcount: Players will now play full at-bats, instead of a single pitch.
When we started working on Fullcount, we imagined it as a game that pares all of the drama and excitement of a baseball game down to a single moment, the final pitch of a tied game. In the bottom of the ninth, with a full count and the bases loaded, a batter and pitcher face off in one ultimate, game-deciding contest.
As we tested the pre-alpha version of the game, we found that the element players loved the most (ourselves included) was the intensity of the mind game between batter and pitcher. Much like in a real baseball game, Fullcount is all about anticipating what your opponent will do (and what they think you will do…and what you think they think you will do in response to what they think you think they will do….) In early December, we fed that mind game by adding heatmaps that show where pitchers throw the ball most often and where batters tend to swing. The gameplay became about how each player imagines the other will act based on the data from the heatmaps.
The expansion to full at bats was the next logical step our exploration of the psychology of baseball. We realized that, to really lean into that sense of reading an opponent and anticipating how they’ll play, players needed to play more than one pitch to get to know each other. Now the batter and pitcher face off for three strikes instead of one (or until the batter gets a hit, walks, flies out, etc.). The players have more chances to read and adjust to one another’s strategies, and the suspense builds from pitch to pitch.
Feedback on early play tests with full at bats has been very positive, and we have some new features in the pipeline (a pitch history display for each encounter, for example) that will further enhance the experience.
Of course, every adjustment to the game introduces new complications. A single pitch has a clearly defined maximum game length and number of transactions. A full at bat could be over quickly (a homerun or pop fly on the first pitch, for example), or it could extend indefinitely if the batter keeps fouling off pitches. It’s harder to predict the number of transactions, and, thus, the required gas.
At its core, though, Fullcount is not a game about predictability. It’s a game about possibilities, about the suspense that builds as two people contend to outwit and outmaneuver one another, about that moment when, after a long, nail-biting showdown, the stadium erupts over the cathartic *crack* of the bat.
Thanks for reading! We have some more exciting changes in the works that I’ll cover in the next devlog on January 29th. The switch to full at bats is not yet live at fullcount.xyz–though you can still play the single-pitch version of the game there–but it will be publicly available once we finish testing.