Super Mega Baseball 4 is officially launching for the Nintendo Switch and other platforms on June 2! Check out the trailer and screenshots below. We also had the opportunity to speak with Scott Drader, Studio Director and Senior Producer, Metalhead Software over a zoom call about the soon-to-be-released Super Mega Baseball 4. Thank you to Scott and all the PR staff that helped coordinate this!
PN: Tell us a little about yourself and your responsibilities on the project.
Scott Drader, co-founder in the studio, back in 2009, with Christian Zuger. So it’s been a long time working on Super Mega for me. We joined EA with the acquisition in 2021. Now, Studio Director and Senior Producer on the Super Mega franchise. I do a lot of the same stuff I’ve done for a really long time on this series, and I’m looking forward to talking about the new one with EA.
PN: It’s been about 3 years since Super Mega Baseball 3 launched, talk us through the development of Super Mega Baseball 4, what were the main goals with this iteration?
EA came along during the pandemic and said: we like your baseball game, and we like your team and studio. What do you think about joining us, and doing a bigger version of Super Mega with us? Obviously, when you have worked for a team that’s been independent for 10 years, that’s a big decision. But everything we heard around how we would handle the creative approach on the new game made sense. We joined up and had lots to learn working in a bigger company but EA’s been super supportive and treated us really well and let us run with what’s worked for a very long time now. So I think the new Super Mega game is gonna feel like a logical progression of the first three games with, hopefully, a little bit of fanfare and some star power around it that we wouldn’t have been able to do on our own.
PN: How does Super Mega Baseball 4 set itself apart from other baseball franchises like MLB The Show?
I think, on the field, the game stays pretty true to the sport in terms of statistical outcomes. What’s hard to accomplish on the field in baseball is hard to accomplish in the game. That’s always been the case. None of that’s changing. Where we’ve differed massively and where we differ from MLB The Show, like a lot of other games in EA Sports and other AAA sports sims, we regularly break from authenticity in the spirit of pure fun. The games exist in a space sort of between the sports simulators that have dominated in the market for a long time now and just pure video games. We’re making a lot of decisions that are just in the spirit of pure fun from a video game perspective. Still true to the sport on the field but I think when you look at the mechanics that surround the on-field gameplay, like the franchise mode mechanics and the content, the fictional world that the game is built around – all of that stuff is a little more fun, a little more in the video game direction of humor, parody. I’ve always thought of it as kind of a hybrid space that sort of lives between traditional simulation sports games and pure video games.
PN: I saw the inclusion of some former pro players likenesses in Super Mega Baseball 4, is there a potential for fully licensed MLB teams/rosters down the road?
It’s a really interesting design challenge there when you have a series that’s sort of rooted in fictional content and a lot of your existing player-based community is totally in-tune with that fictional content. But also, we know we can bring a lot of excitement to the series and some legitimacy in terms of the folks that maybe have passed over this series over the years because it didn’t have any sort of connection to real world players. We knew that was an opportunity with this one. What’s the right first step for a game that’s been about fictional content? What’s the right first step into licensing? And yeah, one of the ideas we came back to you was just the game’s always sort of had this timeless nature. It’s always sort of been a timeless celebration of baseball that you can pick up at opening day or all-star break or right in the middle of hockey season. It doesn’t matter. It’s a celebration of baseball and it felt like a really good step for the first series to bring in some timeless heroes of the sport.
You’ll see in the new game, there’s a new built-in league that exclusively features the historical legends of the sport. It’s called the Legends League, so that’s the easiest way to play with all of them. You can get in there and it’s essentially organized roughly by era. So, the teams in the Legends League, you’re basically pitting players from slightly different eras of baseball against each other. It’s all balanced from a gameplay perspective. Not every Legend player is gonna be an A-plus or like an S tier player. It’s a really fun integration. It’s a different way of doing it. You’ll see in pennant race what’s going on there with the Legends is that it’s still rooted around the same core balanced league that we did with pennant race on Super Mega Baseball 3, but there’s four retired legends playing, essentially ringing for four semi-randomized players on each team in the Super Mega League. You’re gonna have to think about every pennant race such as which team is benefiting the most from the Legend players that are on our team this week.
We’ve also just done as much as we can to keep it super flexible around how you wanna play the game. We’re gonna have folks that wanna play with the Legends. We’re gonna have folks that wanna play with the traditional fictional content. We’re gonna have folks that wanna play with customized content. That paradigm kind of permeates throughout the game where we’ve tried to create as much flexibility in terms of which of those groups of players you wanna play with.
PN: A lot of the immersion in these sports games can come in the details, can you tell us a little about the audio enhancements players can expect with Super Mega Baseball 4?
The audio was the thing that we typically had a partner team doing on previous Super Mega games. This was the first time that we did audio in-house and we had audio aspirations factored in right from the beginning of the creative process for the whole game. The amount of content we’ve been able to do on this one is massive compared to previous games and there are all sorts of things. We had player names being announced for the core Super Mega players on 3. We have that for the Legends too, but like all of the customized player names that you can pick – I think it’s actually into the thousands of names that you can pick – and all of those will be announced in game. So, from a customization perspective, that’s just super cool. We got a custom soundtrack built for the game. There are 15 totally original tracks that are made for this game and in the spirit of this game. We’re trying to put a little bit of the metal back into ‘metalhead’, but it actually touches on quite a few genres. I think we have somewhere around 88 songs in the game. All carefully picked from essentially libraries that EA has given us access to. There’s hundreds of new audio clips featuring the audience just making snippy comments about what’s taking place on the field. There is also a GTA-style Radio DJ running you through the front end. It’s all connected to the fictional world that builds on the various made up brands and so forth that you’ve seen in the stadiums for the last three games. We approached it saying: how do we keep building up this fictional world while bringing new players into it? Super Mega Baseball 4 is the first take on how to do that in a unique way – I don’t think there’s anything else on the market that’s doing it quite like this.
PN: For those that might be new to ‘deck-building’ in games, can you walk us through that feature and how Super Mega Baseball 4 utilizes it?
One of the key features is a new thing called shuffle draft. This is like a kind of deck building, board game inspired way of assembling a team that lets you source players like Legends, super classic / super mega players. It lets you essentially draft a team, re-draft an entire week from a configurable pool of players and then take that league into one of the other game modes. You can play a season with that week or franchise. You can, if you’re a fan of the game from before, you could take the Sirloins and then bring in the Legends as the free agents for that franchise play through. You could start with the Legends league and play with The Empire which is a team of recent MLB Legends and then bring in the Super Mega Baseball players. There’s a ton of flexibility around playing all different parts of the game, different mixtures of Legends, classic / super mega players and customized players. So, sticking to a lot of the roots and trying to do it thoughtfully in a way that it still feels like a Super Mega game.
PN: I recall in Super Mega Baseball 3 that there were day/night lighting setups for parks but I don’t believe it was dynamic or would change throughout the game, is that the case in Super Mega Baseball 4?
We thought about dynamic lighting, but it came down to performance trade-offs. You could probably tell from Super Mega Baseball 3 that we had picked the most majestic time of day. Where we pushed really hard from a stadium perspective on Super Mega Baseball 4 was trying to get the same number of stadiums as the number of teams in the core league. We never had enough in previous games where each team had its own unique home stadium which we got to do with this one. Every team has their own home ballpark for the first time which we’re super stoked about. We’ve stuck with picking sort of three times a day for each ballpark and those have been given like a pretty big upgrade and I think they look better than ever.
PN: What’s up next for the development team? Any sort of DLC or further updates planned for Super Mega Baseball 4?
We’re gonna keep an eye on how we’ve done it with the previous games. We’ll see how people are feeling about the game and we’re not gonna announce anything specific post launch. There will be a couple of stadiums coming as post launch DLC where the environment teams are still working on those.
PN: Sounds great. Appreciate your time, Scott!