MLB 14 The Show: Menu Usability Misses

Console baseball games are few and far between these days. MLB 14: The Show is the latest entry in the Sony-produced series, and basically the only option for fans of baseball sims. It’s one of the first sports games to come out on the next-gen console generation (the PS4 in this case), and accordingly, it’s graphically quite sexy. If you’ve ever paid attention, crowds in sports games have been laughably terrible for a long time, so I’m excited to see some much-needed diversity in crowd animations.

Anyway, being a sim-style sports game, there are a ton of modes to choose from, and of course, an equal number number of menus to go through. I started playing through the Road to the Show mode, which has me creating and controlling a lowly minor league ballplayer. Playing through games earns experience, allowing me to build up my minor leaguer’s stats, and waiting for that call-up to the majors.

Along the way, MLB 14 has some difficulties in the way of usability. I almost expect it at this point – that these big sim-style sports games have terrible menus – but that doesn’t make it any better.

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iOOTP 2013: Consistency Wins Championships


Out of the Park Baseball (from Out of the Park Developments) is a PC-based baseball simulation that started back in 1999. iOOTP 2013 is the most recent iteration of the franchise that was released for iOS in the spring of 2013.

Putting a fully-featured, text-based baseball sim on the screen of a mobile phone is no small task. All the “gameplay” of iOOTP 2013 is essentially done through a series of menus and tables. It’s complicated for sure, but so is baseball, and that’s kinda the whole point.

When dealing with a big menu structure in your game, website, webapp, TV, ATM machine, car wash, or anywhere else, one of the keys to making it usable is consistency. If whatever the interface is keeps changing on your users, it’s going to be frustrating. And in iOOTP 2013, there are a few places that are frustrating because of needless inconsistency in the menus – let’s take a look.

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Madden NFL 13 Social: A Terrible First Impression

Logo for Madden NFL 13 SocialMadden NFL 13 Social is a freemium title for iOS and Facebook that is some combination of the offensive side of the Madden NFL series and a collectible card game. But to be honest, I never really got far enough into the game to find out because of how ridiculous it begins.

Being a Madden game from EA that is free, there’s a certain expectation that advertisements and in-app-purchases will be plentiful, which is definitely true. True story, here’s the first thing that greeted me when I opened Madden NFL 13 Social for the very first time:

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Retro Gaming UX Fails: Choosing Plays in Great Football

Title screen of Great Football for the Sega Master SystemThe Sega Master System was the 8-bit console of my household back in the day. Without a Tecmo Bowl to be had, Great Football was my American Football game of choice (i.e. the only one). If you haven’t heard of it, that’s not surprising – it doesn’t even have an entry on Wikipedia (yet!).

Great Football was released way back in 1987. For the sake of reference, Windows 3.0 was still 3 years away, and even Mac OS’ System 6 wasn’t released until 1988. Don Norman’s now-classic The Psychology of Everyday Things (later The Design of Everyday Things) wasn’t published yet either. So usability…was a little different back then.

Great Football for the Sega Master System was a pretty typical 8-bit sports game, and to be honest, it hasn’t aged well. There are lots of reasons why, but one thing that particularly stands out as being extra terrible is how the players have to choose a play.

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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: Creating a Golfer is a Little Weird

Tiger Woods PGA Tour logoAs of this writing, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 is the only version of the classic golf sim to make it to iOS (iTunes link) and Android (Google Play link) platforms. For some reason golf is one of those genres of games that are way more fun than I expect them to be. Of course, this being a game produced by EA in 2013, the in-app purchase nagging is a little bit annoying, but this is still an entertaining diversion.

However, it doesn’t start out on a great foot. Creating your own custom golfer has been a staple of the series since way back in 2004, and it’s a fun part of the Tiger Woods Golf experience. It’s the first thing the game drops you into here, and it’s a little bit clunky for a variety of reasons. Let’s walk through this process.

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