Statis Pro Advanced

Statis Pro Advanced Forum — delphi forum for the Beckner version.

statis pro advanced is the modern version of the old AH statis pro baseball game from the 70’s—90’s.  this game has changed some, but still has the same feel and flow of SP.  added items include L/R breakdowns (where available), completely revised steal mechanics including pitcher’s hold rating, expanded PB ratings, and revised formulas to help make the game much more accurate statistically.

current seasons available:  All-Time Greats, 1900s Great Teams, 1946, 1961, 1967, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1986, 1999,2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.  Orderform

a special thank you to derrick beckner, creator of this version, who recently took some time to answer several questions i had for him.


StatisProBaseball: could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Derrick: I grew up in Chambersburg, PA, home of Tom Brookens and Nellie Fox.  Played lots of baseball (good but not great) until I blew out my arm in County League baseball and moved on to softball.  Graduated from Penn State with degrees in History and Political Science.  Have worked at Penn State for 15 years, 11 in the Library (Archives and Maps) and 4 in Development Research. Married with one son.  Softball junkie, also love playing Squash (now there’s a game no one has simmed).  Big music fan.

SPB: do you create Statis Pro Advanced as a full time job?  i’m assuming it is a side job.

Derrick: It was just a little side project I had tinkered with for a couple years here and there, then I loaded an early version of the cards on tabletopsports and noticed that they were getting downloaded quite a bit (over 5000 downloads to date) and figured people must want these things, and started selling what I had on Ebay.  As I got customer feedback I went about redesigning the game and charts itself, adding some extra features, and trying to figure out which seasons people wanted (Answer: anything from the 70s).  While it will never replace my day job, at least until I have my 30 years in, I do work about 15 hours a week on SP Advanced.  Usually more when the current season is over.

SPB: how long have you been playing table top sport games?

Derrick: Man, since I was about 8 or 9, so 30+ years .  My first games were Baseball Strategy and Paydirt.  I got “Major League” Statis Pro Baseball, like many of us, in 1979 and played the hell out of it.  Then the Apple II version came out and I played thousands of games on that usually having my seasons scuttled by faulty floppy disks.  Started creating seasons with that and noticed that the Apple II version was different from the board version (and quite accurate).  Many, many years later, recalling that difference, was the kernel of the new pitching formula for SP Advanced.  I specifically recall Bert Blyleven being a 2-6 but having only two hits on his card, can’t remember which season though.  Got Pursue the Pennant in 1987 and was really impressed by the physical quality of the game, the color, those awesome ballpark cutouts, and the LH/RH splits.  Played that for many years then joined a Strat O Matic computer league, FCBL, which ran for a good ten years (won one championship) and a retro leage, GRAMMA, which played 1959 to 1973.  Never played the board version of Strat oddly enough.  After probably 15 years away from Statis Pro I played a game or two and was immediately reminded why I loved the game, it was smooth, quick, and the PB system is just simply the best baseball game engine ever.

SPB: what was your first game?

Derrick: I think Paydirt was the first one I played, and is still one of my favorites.  So simple you can get anyone to play yet enough strategy that the game is engaging and replayable.  Also had all the Bowl Bound charts too.  My first “sim” was War At Sea, an old, simple AH game that was fun, colorful, and got me hooked on history.  By the time I was out of High School I had probably 60 wargames.  Played a lot of PanzerBlitz and Panzer Leader with my step-dad and had a couple friends who would give the others a go.  Once I got to college, coincidentally, one of my roommates was a Squad Leader player and I played that exclusively, as far as war games go, until I was about 30 or 32 when opponents vanished and real world responsibilities started to preclude 12 hour gaming sessions.

SPB: what is your favorite sport game (and why)?

Derrick: I have to say SP Advanced is because it was a game I loved to begin with and now I’ve just put everything I’ve wanted in a game into what was already there.  The one thing I did exclude was a more detailed ballpark/weather effects scheme as I didn’t want to completely sever the backwards compatibility.  In retrospect I should have done it as I don’t think too many players are mixing and matching the old AH seasons and the SPA seasons.  Ballpark effects were coded right into the cards with the Clutch Defense Chances, it was a pretty good system if I say so myself, but it’s too late to change the game so dramatically at this point.  I think the different stuff rolls for each ballpark are simple and effective, and definitely more playable.

As above, I think Paydirt was my other favorite, simple, fun, attractive and relatively accurate.  The lack of individual players hurts as a sim, but as a game it’s great fun.  Strat-O-Matic baseball is easily my favorite computer sim, although I rarely play anymore.  They took a lot of customer input and by the 8th or 9th version had an excellent game with a good computer manager and league management tools.  Also loved the fact that you could play with the card images on the screen and the die rolls.  My all time favorite game was Advanced Squad Leader, just an awesomely brilliant and beautiful and thorough game.  You could play everything from D-Day and Stalingrad to the Norwegian fjords, East African jungles, the Sahara or the Indians and Japanese in Burma. Third Party game designers really ran with ASL creating all kinds of tremendous campaign games and scenarios.

SPB: what made you start re-creating Statis Pro?

Derrick: I think just about everyone who was a SP fan has done house rules for any number of things, but once I start tinkering with things I tend to get sucked into analyzing how everything else works and interacts.  The PB system was such a great system, but really it is very, very complex to make it work accurately (not like quantum mechanics complex, but pretty tough as far as game design goes) and the rulebook formula for pitchers was grievously flawed.  The steal chart, while elegant in its one-draw simplicity, didn’t cover quite enough breadth of runners or catchers ratings, and of course the lack of pitcher’s hold ratings was something that needed covered.  The baserunning chart resulted in way too may OF assists, the FAC out distribution was way off, there were WAY too many “No Action” results in the CD and BD charts.  I almost totally scrapped BD since there seemed to be no good reason for it to exist, but it was such a big and exciting part of the game I made due and then made it a modifier for “clutch” hitting, and then of course introduced the clutch pitching part of it.

SPB: how long have you been modifying it?  and how long does it take to create a season?

Derrick: It’s been quite a while on and off.  2004 was the first season I put up for sale and it took at least two or three years prior to that in part time tinkering and tweaking.  Of course like all good SP fans I created my own seasons when I was a kid.  It takes about 200 hours to generate a new season.

SPB: what things would you like to see improve in the game (i’m referring to things other than sales)?

Derrick: The big thing is that I would like to have better quality components, a real board, box, 110# card stock in particular, but that’s a big step as far as investment in materials go.  I purchased a color laser printer a couple years ago which will do #80 stock, but to get to #110 your talking several thousands of dollars for a printer as opposed to $700 or $800.  I’d like to keep prices where they are at or even lower if possible, although buying the printed games from me is still way cheaper than doing it yourself or having a printer do it.  I’m pretty happy with where the game is at right now but I need to do some clean up and consolidation of the older seasons I’ve done (team cards, some of the newer ratings and additional stats, fringe players) and tighten up and streamline some of the rule book.  This thing became a lot bigger than I thought so some rules were just cobbled together as I went.

SPB: do you get a chance to actually play the game?  if so, do you do replays or participate in a league?

Derrick: Not too much, but I do plan on playing some of 1975.  Played quite a few games of the Red Sox 2004 season before I got sidetracked.  Played some All Time All Star games as well.  Summers are tough for me to do any gaming between family  and softball, although I do get up every morning around 5:30 to at least get an  hour and half of work in on SPA.  To create a season like 2009 with 1100 some players takes easily 200 hours to produce.  My wife has been quite helpful in doing a lot of data entry for me.

SPB: we’re all fortunate that Jim Barnes has turned the game over to the public allowing several, including you, to keep the game alive.  have you ever had the chance to talk to Jim?  Ii you did, what would you like to tell or ask him?

Derrick: No, never did.  I was going to at one point but then I read an article where he said he is tired of people contacting him regarding the game and really doesn’t want anything to do with it at this point.  But he does understand how much people like the game and that many different people are carrying on with new seasons and such, I appreciate that he has allowed the fan-community to prosper.  So many companies and entities mercilessly quash fan produced material it’s nice to have the blessing of the creator of the game to take it in new and different directions.  I’d say thanks for designing a really solid and unique game engine for us to build on, it’s really stood the test of time and is the best thing out there IMO.

SPB: what do you see in the future for Statis Pro Baseball and more specifically SPA?

Derrick: I plan on creating new seasons as long as I’m around, which will hopefully be another 40 years at least.  I love baseball history and am a certifiable stat nerd so I have a lot of fun creating these cards, especially the older seasons before the 70s where I only know the players by reputation.  Working on an 8 team 1920s great teams set right now, should be very cool know that Retrosheet has LH/RH splits (at least by opposing starting pitcher) for batters and a lot more detailed information on a game by game basis than we previously had.  Probably another 70s set after that, people love the 70s, but of course 2010 will take precedence over anything else.

SPB: do you have a big interest in other sports?  i’ve only seen your name attached to this sport game (SPA), but that doesn’t mean you haven’t been behind the scenes on other gaming re-invents.

Derrick: Not a big fan of other sports sims (other than Paydirt/Bowl Bound as mentioned), just don’t have time really.  I play fantasy football with a bunch of friends, but that’s more a reason to get together and drink beer and watch football that any real competiveness.  Was in a great fantasy baseball league with a bunch of high school friends until it finally folded a couple years ago.  I follow the Steelers in the NFL and of course am a huge Penn State fan and just love college football in general.  You really haven’t experienced a sporting event until you tailgate at Penn State with 100,000 of your best friends out in the middle of a cow pasture… in 10 degree weather… in a blizzard… it’s awesome.

I did some work with Strat-O-Matic when they were updating some of their older seasons to the Super Advanced rules, specifically some late 70s early 80s sets, but that’s it.  I did input play by play information for Retrosheet way back in the early 90s.  Retrosheet, and its spawn, Baseball, are possibly the greatest thing since… well… baseball itself.

SPB: what sets your game apart from some of the others on the market?  why should they buy Statis Pro Advanced?

Derrick: I think it has a nice balance of playability and realism.  Dynasty League and Strat are great games but take quite a while to play and sometimes seem like interminable exercises in dice rolling when you move off the card.  APBA plays easy but is not accurate.  SPA is playable, pretty good for solitaire with the automated baserunning charts, and is really very accurate.  Wanted to hit that middle ground, and I like Fast Action Cards as opposed to dice, but do include a dice version of SPA for those who prefer them.  I tried to make the cards as attractive and informative as possible with team colors, transaction information, a lot of real life stats and replay aids.  Personally I really like thing like seeing who won MVPs, led the league in HRs, who were all-stars, so I include those nuggets as well.  In 1975 I started including uniform numbers and debut dates.  I also  like that you can look at the cards and immediately determine how good the player is unlike some other games where you have to count hit chances scattered all over the place.  Finally I think the pitchers have real personality in SPA.  A game pitched by 1999 Pedro Martinez is going to feel different than one by 1973 Nolan Ryan or 1986 Jimmy Key.  I think other games don’t quite grasp that aspect, especially when you are dealing with truly dominant pitchers.

SPB: what’s your favorite baseball team?

Derrick: Boston Red Sox, been a fan since I can remember, don’t really know why.  Probably because my dad and most of my friends were Yankee fans, with a good dose of Oriole fans on top of that.  I vaguely remember the 75 World Series, but distinctly remember  following the 1977 pennant race all summer with the Sox, Yankees and Orioles slugging it out.  That Red Sox team had some massive power, too bad Fergie Jenkins never quite lived up to his billing in Boston.  Loved Yaz, Luis Tiant, and now that I can say it, HALL OF FAMER Jim Rice.  Took way too long.

SPB: what’s your favorite baseball season?

Derrick: 2004, no question.  The 2004 ALCS may have been the alternatively the worst and best week of my life.  That come back was so impossible, so unfathomable, the fact that it actually happened still boggles the mind.  After they lost Game 3, 19-8, I was about ready to open up a vein I was that depressed.  Remember they had lost the 2003 ALCS to the Yankees in Game 7 in 11 innings after the Grady Little – Pedro debacle.  Two years in a row could possibly have had me give up watching baseball and become a fan of the WNBA or MLS. But luckily we had Curt and The Sock, Big Papi becoming the greatest clutch hitter in post season history, Pedro, Dave Roberts and the steal, Johnny Damon, Millar, Foulke basically ending his career by pitching his guts outs for the team, Manny being Awesome Manny, just a great, great season and a great bunch of characters.  I have the Boston Globe’s front page framed and hung in my office with photos of Schilling, Pedro, Papi hitting his Game 5, 14th inning single, and Varitek shoving his glove into A-Rod’s face from earlier that season. They were like the 2000s version of the Bronx Zoo only they had a level headed manager and excellent ownership.  Throw a guy like Billy Martin into that team and it’s a freaking disaster.  Billy Martin would have had multiple strokes dealing with someone like Manny.

SPB: last question and maybe the most difficult:  how would you describe yourself in four words or less without using the word “jello”?

Derrick: Won’t Harsh Your Mellow.

SPB: derrick, thank you!  i appreciate the time you took to answer these questions, and so thoroughly, i might add.


Posted 08/06/2010 by rick

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