Chilly temperatures can’t shake the warm feelings we get when we realize that not only are pitchers and catchers reporting soon, but the next version of Out of the Park Baseball is getting ready for spring training too. OOTP 12 will throw out its first pitch this spring, and we want to make sure you have the best seat in the house two days early.

How? By pre-ordering the game now for just $29.99. Not only is that 25% off the list price, but you’ll also get to download the game two days before its official release. Hurry, though, because only those who pre-order in January will get the game early, and the special pricing ends the day before OOTP 12 ships this spring. After that, the full price will be $39.99.

With pre-orders for Out of the Park Baseball 12 underway, we started chatting in the office about iOOTP, which is being developed for iPod Touch, iPad, and iPhone. And then we realized: Wouldn’t it be great to make sure one lucky OOTP 12 player also gets a chance to experience our other upcoming baseball sim?

So here’s our offer to you: Pre-order OOTP 12 by the end of January and we’ll enter you in a drawing to win a brand new fourth generation 32GB iPod Touch, along with a free copy of iOOTP when it arrives at the App Store. That’s right: you’ll get twice the OOTP fun this summer, whether you’re in front of your computer or out and about. And you’ll even save $10 and get OOTP 12 two days before its official release.

Lineup Improvements in OOTP 12

PC Gamer called OOTP 11 “a no-doubt, walk-off home run no-brainer to become a part of your game collection,” and OOTP 12 is no different. Our All-Star lineup of features gets better every year, and we’ve again improved many of them during this off-season. We’re not done yet, so stay tuned to future newsletters.

2011 Major League Rosters

Here’s a treat: the best roster set we’ve ever produced, from the big leagues’ top stars to the guys making their debuts in rookie leagues. All players are individually rated with updated statistics and realistic contract data. Last year’s top draft picks are included too. Could Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, with the veteran leadership of newly-acquired All-Star Jayson Werth, help propel the Washington Nationals to the top of the National League East in coming seasons?

Revamped Financial System

The Philadelphia Phillies shook the baseball world this winter when they signed top-flight free agent pitcher Cliff Lee, despite expectations that he would opt for the highest bidder. Now you can do the same with OOTP’s improved player contract negotiations, which are more realistic and fun. You can even try to talk your owner into expanding the available budget, letting you squeeze in another All-Star contract. Don’t forget to stay on top of the latest free agent signings and other news in the new off-season center, and keep your finger on the pulse of your team’s finances with an improved view.

Contract possibilities are now more realistic, including vesting options, buyouts, minor league split contracts, signing bonuses and more performance bonus options. You can even now include remaining contract payments as an option in trades with AI-controlled GMs.

Online Leagues

We’re proud to support Official OOTP Online Leagues with a full-featured interface inside OOTP 12. With just one click, you can join a team, and creating a league is just as easy. Commissioners can make their leagues public and advertise open teams, with the ability to accept or deny requests from would-be GMs.

Official OOTP Online Leagues offer several key advantages:

  • League files are patches rather than full-size files, saving plenty of up- and download time.
  • Reports can be saved in MySQL databases, increasing their upload speed.
  • Forget about FTP: team data exports and imports work through the database. That results in improved compatibility and security for the league web site server.
  • An export tracker.
  • The promise of more great features to come, including online drafts and trades.

Greater Immersion and Realism

Historical leagues benefit from improved AI and real life transactions and as-played lineups as optional features. Thanks to OOTP’s sophisticated game engine, you’ll be able to enjoy the most realistic historical simulation results possible. How would the 1927 Yankees fare against their 1961 counterparts?

In addition, storylines have been expanded, and there are new ways to interact with your players. News presentations have also been revamped, making you feel like you’re part of the hectic 24-hour “better stay on top of this” news cycle that dominates today’s sports reporting.

In-Game and Core Engine Changes

Like a manager constantly seeking ways to get the most out of his lineup, we’re always tinkering under OOTP’s hood. Here’s what you can look forward to this year:

  • Recoded parts of the in-game AI, making it the most challenging ever in an OOTP game.
  • Improved in-game sound, adding better quality sound files and more variation.
  • Improved player evaluation AI, resulting in more realistic AI roster moves.
  • Recoded parts of the trading AI.
  • Recoded parts of the scouting engine.
  • Improved injury and recovery system.
  • Added WAR (Wins Above Replacement) as a statistic.
  • Added a playoff roster for more realistic team transactions.
  • Greatly enhanced the world database structure, resulting in more realistic fictional league and player creation.
  • Added a simulation module, allowing you to match up two teams from the same league for a set number of games and see the simulation results. This is great for research purposes or just for toying around. For example, how would the 1927 Yankees fare against the 2004 Red Sox?

But that’s not all – the feature list is not final yet and will include even more great additions before the game is released. Stay tuned.

The home team has taken their positions in the field and the first batter is approaching home plate. What will happen next? Find out in OOTP 12. Pre-order your copy today!

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail