WWE '13 Interviews
There certainly seems to be a lot of excitement surrounding the launch of WWE Ď13, and the Gamersí Temple was able to sit down with Pro Wrestler AJ Lee and Cory Ledesma, Creative Director for WWE Ď13, to get a closer look at whatís going on behind the scenes of your favorite wrestling game.
GT: How much fun is it to contribute to a game like this, I imagine you got to do some voice acting and motion capture?
AJ: You know they bring in some wrestlers who get to do a lot of of the mocap and I really wish I could have had a chance to do some of it myself, but I just wasnít able to this time around. To me itís really all the more impressive as to how they captured all my moves and my character overall.
GT: Thatís too bad, it sounds like you would have had a lot of fun. Did you get to interact with the developers in other ways and provide any input for your character or anything else?
AJ: Actually, everything was a complete surprise to me. I didnít even know I was going to be in the game until they told me I was going to be DLC, but Iím playing it now and you can just tell that they watch the show and they care a lot about every little detail from the taunts and motions I make, all the way down to the entrances. Everything is so well done and I didnít even have to provide that input.
GT: So youíre seeing the game now and getting a chance to play through, any first impressions?
AJ: I told myself that I wasnít going to play the game until I could play as myself, so when they surprised me and downloaded my character to try out today, I was so impressed. Itís so amazing, Iím tiny, itís so accurate even my hair looks like it does in real life and it really blew me away. You know I played Ď12, and won the [WWE Superstar challenge] tournament, so Iím familiar with the gameplay, itís a little different but so advanced compared to Smackdown vs. RAW and what it used to be. Every little thing, like the crowd and how every person in the crowd is an actual character and not just some cardboard cutout, I really canít wait to sit on my couch at home and play it.
GT: Ok, so besides yourself.. what is your favorite new aspect of Ď13?
AJ: I love that they have the Attitude Era women. I like that thereís a game where we can have matches against not just all the guys but also players like myself, Lita, Trish, and Stephanie.
Having heard what a Superstar had to say about the game, I decided to change gears a bit and ask Cory Ledesma a few questions about development....
GT: You guys have been talking a lot about feedback from fans and things you wanted to address. What were the top 3 items that you wanted have ready to go on launch day?
CL: Thatís a tough one, but I think one of them was definitely changes away from the Road to Wrestlemania from last year and how the matches played out. It was a lot of wear down and beat up your opponent, at the very end press this button and we would take the match from you. We recognized that those werenít very satisfying experiences and we took a lot of that feedback into the Attitude Era mode. We wanted to make sure that although weíre reliving past matches which had their own twists and turns, you have a lot more flexibility to play out the match how you would like to, and those weird outcomes are all historical bonus objectives that you donít have to complete if you donít want to. If you do complete them, we reward you because youíve recreated the way the original match played out. Another big one was the Community Creation Server performance from last year that wasnít ideal. We had some issues at launch that we worked hard to resolve, and it got better and better throughout the year. So even though itís working very well right now, we wanted to make sure that Ď13 didnt have any of those problems out of the gate. And we didnít just want to improve how the servers perform, but also how the software side performs as well. We feel like we were a victim of our own success, we had so much content out there with so many users at the same time trying to access it all that we were overloading everything, so we found ways to improve both sides and avoid those types of issues. Also, our fans care a lot about the authenticity of each character. We put out these videos every week showing off some new finisher and theyíre so passionate about making sure that we get all those animations correct. We spend a lot of time gathering polls about things like: which moves do you want to see, which ones reanimated, and anything else we can fit in. Of course we canít get it all, we do have a roster of over 100 characters, but we spent a lot of time making sure that we got the highest priority moves reanimated so fans will be really excited to play it. We really try to cater to our audience; a lot of times as designers we get caught up in trying to make a game for ourselves but we know that this is their game so itís all about listening to them, getting feedback, and applying the changes that everyone wants to see.
GT: How did you guys come up with the concept for Attitude Era? Was it just the natural progression of the series or something else?
CL: We like to keep things fresh. The last few years weíve been doing original stories that we worked with the WWE on to write and create, and even though these worked, we felt like they were starting to get a little stale. Itís hard to relate to an original story when itís not on TV. The characters werenít acting in the same way people were seeing on screen, and we felt like we were losing a little bit of authenticity. And we really do want this to be a true authentic simulation, so we thought to freshen things up weíd go back to some historic based stuff. We thought it would be great to relive some of these moments, and as soon as we thought of that idea Attitude Era was the first thing we thought of. Itís such a beloved time in WWE history, arguably the most popular time. The story hasnít been told in 15 years or so, it has such a great roster, and itís a little relevant right now because we do have some of these superstars coming back like the Rock. Mick Foley is still on TV, and with CM Punk being our cover athlete he brings this edginess and this attitude thatís really reminiscent of a wrestler that could have survived in the Attitude Era. The whole concept was this perfect storm for us that felt really good and I think thatís how it all came to be. Our hardcore fans are really going to enjoy the nostalgia of it all, and even our newer fans are in for an educational treat about what it was like back then.
GT: Any challenges in implementing the mode?
CL: As far as challenges go, I think the biggest one we ran into was capturing authentic voice acting. A lot of these guys have gotten older and donít really sound the same, and you have to really try to get them back into that moment, so that took a lot of work. We also werenít able to get guys like Mr. McMahon who is a very busy person and doesnít have a ton of free time to sit down in a booth, so in those situations we relied a lot on the audio from WWE shows, which was really big for us in bringing that realism to the game. Another challenge we faced was; itís obvious that the WWE is a PG rated show... the Attitude Era wasnít so PG. It wasnít so bad where we felt we had to dilute the content or avoid certain story lines. The story lines that we use, the main event story lines, they didnít have the raunchiness thatís associated with the Attitude Era. Those were a lot of the side stories going on that maybe took it to another level in regards to language or some other issue like blood, so thatís where we had to find a middle ground. The WWE was very willing to not have us dilute that side of the Attitude Era... it was those stories that made the era after all. So we do have more language than what youíd be used to on WWE programming and we do have a first blood match in the game, but I think we were pretty successful in finding a middle road.
GT: You mentioned the heavier language and first blood match, and you seem concerned with making sure that these parts of the game are experienced by the correct audience. Were you able to incorporate any sort of parental controls to tone the language down further or maybe turn off blood?
CL: For the language we donít have any options to turn anything off. The language is the language and everyone was comfortable with it. For the blood, we do have that option defaulted off at the start of the game and you can adjust that. The only things that will change, besides the blood obviously is, weíll swap out one of the matches for another if you toggle it on, but other than the slight differences in experience you wonít see much change.
GT: DLC seems to be really popular for your franchise. How much content would you estimate is available at launch, and how much do you think will be available in the next 3-6 months?
CL: We have three big packs that weíre planning to drop every 20-30 days. The content that we have planned so far is divided up equally among these three packs and the first pack will be available on day one. Itíll have quite a few superstars as well as other shareable items, and each drop will be equally as big. As of right now we donít plan much content release beyond 60 days, as thereís a noticeable drop off in downloads outside of that window, but thatís always subject to change.
GT: While weíre on the subject of online content, what are the things that can be shared with friends in WWE Ď13?
CL: You can share your characters, finishers, arenas, custom logos, highlight reels, and stories. And itís worth noting that any content you have in those stories, whether itís stock or DLC, will be shared along with everything else.
GT: Very cool. Can you fill me in on the Fan Axxess pack Iíve been hearing about?
CL: Absolutely. The Fan Axxess is an upfront purchase for the entire DLC catalog at a discounted price. We also have some other exclusive features for fans who purchase the pass like sharing with other Fan Axxess holders, special online badges that identify you as a holder, and a couple of other small things.
GT: Thank you both so much for your time today. It sounds like WWE Ď13 is poised to be a very fun and successful release.