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Date Posted: 03:38:56 12/04/03 Thu
Author: Scapiron Bryan
Author Host/IP: p164-188.as1.lmk.limerick.eircom.net / 22.214.171.124
Subject: Warrior's Acclaim Announcement: Revealed!!!
Hey all. You all remember the excitement afew weeks back when Warrior announced his return to wrestling. You all surely remember the disappointment you felt when it transpired that he would be retuning in a game rather than to one of the major promotions.
Well I fount this interview on PWTorch.com that gives some inight into why it was done that way.
As each new generation of wrestling video games emerge, developers jockey to be the first to develop new features, innovative gameplay and more lifelike renderings of real-life superstars. More powerful technology and online networking mean wrestling fans are closer now to running their very own dream wrestling promotion than ever before.
One company that has been in the virtual wrestling business longer and releasing titles more consistently than any other video game publisher is Acclaim. Way back in 1989, Acclaim released the very first WWE-licensed game for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System. Although time and processor speeds haven't exactly been kind to that original effort, the first home console appearances of Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior and Andre the Giant set the stages for years of digital addiction.
In spring of 2004, fifteen years of Acclaim wrestling experience will culminate with the release of Legends Of Wrestling: Showdown, the latest and most anticipated of a series of games that includes a roster of the greatest wrestling superstars of all time. Justin Withers, the Lead Designer of Showdown, recently took time out to answer some question about the development of this game.
Peter Zed: How different is the development of the Legends of Wrestling series of games compared to previous WWE and ECW attempts by Acclaim? What are some of the lessons learned by past titles that we might see incorporated in Legends Of Wrestling: Showdown?
Justin Withers: First of all, on behalf of the team, I'd like to say thanks for coming to us with these questions. We're always looking for ways to get the word out about Showdown. As for the differences between Legends and the previous Acclaim titles, I can only speak about Showdown. I became Lead on Showdown when the development of the game was moved to our Austin Studio earlier this year.
What I can tell you is that we have an entirely new team that is working furiously to make this a title that people are really going to gravitate to. One of our earliest goals with this project was to bring these wrestlers to life and make every aspect of the game as authentic as possible; including the new art style of the wrestlers, their entrances, their move sets, as well as the stadiums. The team here in Austin has really rallied to create an entirely new feel for the Legends franchise that will be evident from the first time players pick up the controller.
Peter Zed: Clearly the appeal of legendary wrestlers has influenced other wrestling game developers. Is THQ "cutting your grass" by including classic wrestlers in their latest title?
Justin Withers: They say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. We know that we created an amazing concept that appeals to true fans of professional wrestling and have a great franchise here that no one else can create. Our game is the ultimate supercard. We’ve assembled an incredible, exclusive roster of talent and are letting gamers relive some of the greatest feuds of all time.
Peter Zed: The Fire Pro series of Japanese wrestling games by Spike has always been a favorite among die-hard wrestling gamers. One reason might be because the game is unrestricted by copyright rules and regulations that protect the likenesses of U.S. wrestlers. Do copyright regulations prevent the ultimate American-style wrestling game from being made?
Justin Withers: Absolutely, it is difficult to make this game exactly as we'd like. Certain wrestlers, gimmicks, names, and terminology are trademarked and that stuff will never become available to anyone outside of a certain organization. I think one of the ways we get around this problem is the fact that we have a fan base that understands some of these restrictions. They just want the wrestlers and they want great gameplay.
Peter Zed: Despite the depth of your digital roster, I can think of quite a few names that haven't been included in the Legends series. How does Acclaim go about choosing which legends will be featured in the game?
Justin Withers: This was actually one of the first discussions we ever had about Showdown. Obviously, new talent is one of our biggest selling points. The process basically begins with a roundtable discussion between the design team here in Austin and our Brand department in New York. Both crews have their wrestling experts and through these discussions we decide who to go after and which talent will be best for our game.
Peter Zed: Has there been any memorable responses from some of the Legends when they first get a glimpse of their digital personas?
Justin Withers: About a month ago, Ivan Putski paid a visit to the studio and met the development team. He spent half a day just looking at the game, his model and other Legends. When we first started up a match and asked him who he'd like to wrestle against, he wasn't sure. We chose Andre the Giant. The Polish Hammer's response? "Bring him on, I'll wrestle anyone!" Seriously though, he was really impressed with his model and actually made the comment, "That's my move!" while watching the gameplay. Hearing a legend confirm the hard work and research we've done to nail down their move sets made everyone here feel like we're really doing something special. Also, having him comment on how realistic he looks as a character in the game says a lot about our art team. They're doing an incredible job. If you've seen any of the early screenshots, you already know how great this game is looking.
Peter Zed: The Create-A-Wrestler component of many wrestling games is usually hit or miss. Occasionally developers hit the nail on the head, but most of the time CAW seems like an afterthought. What makes a good CAW feature in today's wrestling games?
Justin Withers: I think one of the first things fans want to do with the CAW's in wrestling games, just as in any sports game, is create people that are missing. As soon as games are on the shelves, websites pop up with wrestling formulas for stars not on the roster. We truly believe our roster is rock solid and rather than needing to create missing Legends, fans of our game can edit them to their liking. What makes a good CAW is exactly what I mentioned – provide users with the freedom to create any superstar they want, edit any existing star, create their buddies, or create some real freaks of nature.
Peter Zed: Multiplayer Online Wrestling Games (MOWG). When and who?
Justin Withers: I believe you will see a wrestling game with online head to head down the road. If there was ever a genre tailor-made for online gameplay and talking smack with a friend, it is wrestling!
Peter Zed: The Ultimate Warrior announced his return to wrestling a few weeks back. A few days after the announcement, we found out his return would be for Showdown and not to an actual physical ring. Whose idea was it to work the wrestling media in such a creative manner and why do you think it worked so well?
Justin Withers: As I mentioned earlier, we are fortunate to have some serious wrestling fans on the Legends development team and in our Brand and Marketing departments. Our philosophy on introducing talent is the same as when they join a real-life promotion. Remember the exciting feeling several years ago on a Monday night when you’d be flipping channels and not knowing who was coming or going? Our goal is to make this game as wrestling-authentic as possible...so what's wrong with bringing the same level of excitement? The Ultimate Warrior has always had a huge following. Even today, his website gets thousands of hits a day. I think the announcement worked well because people are curious about what their favorite wrestlers are up to and there will be many more where that came from!
Peter Zed: After working with all those past wrestling greats, you must have been privy to some inside information or gossip about the business. What's the craziest thing you've ever heard?
Justin Withers: Well, I can't tell you guys anything we've been told in confidence, but I can tell you that each one of these guys take their careers and legacies very seriously. They expect to see the best representation of themselves in the game. We have the utmost respect for the sport and the men who built it. A lot of these wrestlers are so excited to be a part of Showdown that they actually email us digital pictures so we can make their face textures that much more realistic.
Peter Zed: We've had a rough few years and lost quite a few legends. Mr. Perfect, Hawk, Brian Pillman, a couple of the ECW guys and the sad case of Miss Elizabeth. Did they live too fast? Are some guys just incapable of life out of the spotlight?
Justin Withers: Certainly, losing people who have entertained us so much over the years is very hard. Sadly, we may never know the true stories of what happened, however that should not minimize their legacies. Wrestling probably tends to attract more of a "no fear" crowd because, basically, you have to take a beating every day and are often in a lot of pain. Regardless of the situations, these people will be missed and remembered for a long time.
Peter Zed: As far as a regular television show, do you think the future of wrestling might one day see an all-digital (i.e. CG) wrestling program? Something that removes the live component of wrestling but still includes all the glitz, drama and athletic combat of sports entertainment?
Justin Withers: One of the reasons wrestling has stayed so successful has been the personal connection these wrestlers make with the fans. Their skills allow them to perform incredible feats of strength, display amazing speed and agility, and put on some matches so entertaining; people watch them over and over. Their personalities are what really captivates audiences and makes them bigger than life. Without the real-life aspect of these matches and personas, I don't really see a CG wrestling world working.
Peter Zed: If Justin Withers was going to play Legends of Wrestling: Showdown, which legend would he play as and why?
Justin Withers: No question, Terry Funk. We're both from Texas and he's tough as they come. The other designers and I throw in a certain Terry Funk vs. Sabu barbed wire match every once in a while, because it's the kind of match that will make any non-believer believe just how real wrestling is.
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