Roy Halladay's split-finger changeup is so nasty, they should change the name of the pitch to "Something Wicked This Way Comes."
And new to "MLB 2K11," gamers will be able to throw the ace up the ace's sleeve, striking out digital batters and making them look as foolish as their real-life counterparts.
Cool thing is, gamers have Hallady himself to thank for the new changeup being added into the game.
In a recent consulting session with the development team behind the upcoming title, Halladay's input was one of the driving forces behind the tweaks made to the game's pitching.
"Halladay and Tim Lincecum own the league with the split-finger changeup, and Halladay helped us with the break and how it works," explains "MLB 2K11" designer Sean Bailey. "He also explained how he pitches to contact every single pitch. He and (Phillies catcher) Carlos Ruiz memorize the blue zones of the Inside Edge scouting that we actually use in the game for every batter. He tries to throw a strike at their blue zone to get them to swing in order to keep his pitch count low. Halladay emphasizes pitch count in everything he does, so he was like, 'Guys, you have to show pitch count in the game.'
"So we threw out all the arbitrary video game terms like stamina and energy. Now if you pause it, we show you that pitch count. The manager tells you the range he wants you to throw, and while you don't have to listen to that advice, if you don't follow it, you're going to have a lot of tired arms in franchise."
On top of that, 2K Sports actually built a mound to Major League scale in their motion-capture studio and reshot all of the various pitcher emotions and pacing.
Adds Bailey: "Now if you're throwing a no-hitter, the pitcher is walking around the mound and he's not looking at or talking to anyone. He just wants the ball back really fast. But if he's struggling, he will walk around the back of the mound, and you can see the stress build up throughout the game. And these little things, while they don't change the gameplay, they are the types of things that once they're tuned right, they make the whole experience feel more real. And again, we have Halladay to thank for helping us add this type of detail into the game."
So what does Halladay think about all the new upgrades? I caught up with the Phillies superstar between takes of the "MLB 2K11" commercial shoot to get his thoughts on everything from the million-dollar challenge to what it's like pitching with the pressure of perfection. Here's what "Doc" had to say.
Jon Robinson: 2K Sports is holding a competition where a gamer can win $1 million for throwing a perfect game in "MLB 2K11." What kind of pressure will they be under to try and stay perfect with that much money riding on the outcome?
Roy Halladay: It's going to be tough. Obviously, that is something I didn't have to deal with, but it's great to be able to add that type of emotion into a video game, similar to what we do. There is so much on the line when you go out there, and if you can carry that emotion over into a video game, it makes the game, not only more fun, but makes it more involved.
Jon Robinson: Would you have felt more pressure throwing your perfect game in real life if there was a million bucks on the line?
Roy Halladay: I'm sure there would be, but fortunately for me, I didn't need to think about that. [laughs] It's going to be tough. It's going to be harder on people playing it with all of the thoughts of a million dollars racing through their minds. I know I couldn't throw a perfect game in a video game, that's for sure.
Jon Robinson: How were you able to deal with the stress of throwing a perfect game in real life? What was going through your mind in that ninth inning?
Roy Halladay: Any time things are going well, you have a singular focus and you're not thinking about the bigger picture. That's really what was going on for me the whole game, so by the time you get to the end of the game, you know what's going on, but you still don't pay attention to it. You're trying to do the one-at-a-time thing, and to me, it was pretty thought free. When you're on the mound, you want to think small, and that's what made it easy.
Jon Robinson: I know it's a jinx to talk to the pitcher throwing a perfect game or no hitter, but when does the silence start?
Roy Halladay: It's pretty standard throughout baseball that if you get through the sixth inning, nobody is going to talk to you. I did have a conversation with Jamie Moyer as I was walking up to bat in the eighth inning, but other than that, nobody said a word. There is definitely that thought process in baseball where you can't talk to the pitcher.
Jon Robinson: Should it be the same rule when people are playing "MLB 2K11." Just leave me alone and don't talk to me, I'm trying to win a million bucks here!"
Roy Halladay: [laughs] I'm sure it should be. Just kick everybody out and turn the volume down and go do it. It shouldn't be any different.
Jon Robinson: Do you have any advice for people who are pitching as you in the video game? How do limit the amount of hits you give up?
Roy Halladay: I think in a lot of respects, the video game can be really similar to what I do in real life. What I learned from playing against my son is that you can't throw the same pitch over and over or you pay for it. You have to move the ball around, you have to change speeds, and you have to make good pitches. That's what pitching is all about, whether you're playing the game or you're out there on the mound for real.
And that's what I really like about this game. With the pitching controls, you actually need to make different movements for each pitch, so it's not just about pressing a button and watching as it hits the spot perfectly. The pitching in this game is definitely more challenging. You actually need to spend some time practicing the movements in order to get them down correctly. Then add the pressure of trying to throw the perfect pitch with all that money on the line and I think you're going to have a lot of people sweating it out in their living rooms. 2K Sports has made so many great strides this year with the game and everything is so involved, and the great thing is, I was able to sit down with them and give them my input into what Major League players think and different things pitchers might do during the game. To see that all incorporated into the game is great.
Jon Robinson: So if I have two outs in the ninth and the perfect game is on the line, what pitch should I throw if I'm playing as you?
Roy Halladay: The sinker. It's all about trying to put the ball in play, especially if you can get the ball on the ground. My advice is to just keep the ball down.
Jon Robinson: Can you imagine how many broken controllers there will be if you throw the slider, but on the grounder one of your players makes an error that costs you all the money?
Roy Halladay: Let's just hope the umpire doesn't blow any calls.