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Interview: WWE 2K14 Senior Game Designer Bryan Williams

by on October 14, 2013
 

Having sat down the latest game in WWE’s popular grapple-em-up, we spoke to Senior Games Designer at 2K Sports Bryan Williams about next gen, the match he wished was in the new 30 Years of Wrestlemania mode and who he wishes was on the roster.

What improvement to the core mechanics do you think is most significant?

Maybe two, we’ve improved navigation which is something we try to make adjustments to every year. Obviously because it’s a wrestling game and movement is a large part of that, so we made some tweaks. We’re always on the lookout trying to get rid of the robotic, locomotive motion that the wrestlers used to have. So that’s one of the improvements we looked to make this year.

Changes we made to the reversal system, insofar as the chain grapples are concerned, is another key improvement that we made. One of the criticisms of last year’s game was that when two opponents, especially skilled opponents, would engage in a lock-up, the reversals were so easy that it would go on forever – this never-ending loop where neither play gets to actually pull off a wrestling move. So this year we made a slight change so reversals actually lead into counter-grapples, so not only are you breaking free of the hold but you’re doing a move as part of the reversal.

Why is there no next gen version this year?

Those kinds of decisions are made above me. I’m a game designer so I design for whatever system is put in front of me, so you’ll have to speak to my bosses boss [laughs].

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Presumably there will be a next gen version next year, can we expect an overhaul of the engine?

Yeah, that’s one thing I would hope. I can’t really get into specifics for what we have planned for next gen but thinking about it, yeah, that seems one of the most obvious routes to take.

How have Take Two affected development since taking over the license?

By them stepping in and picking the license up they kept the series going so that’s useful for us obviously [laughs], and for fans of the franchise. This is a relationship that’s still in its infancy so we’re constantly both kind of getting our bearings because this year was a unique situation for both parties due to what went down with my former employer [THQ].

Really it was just about getting the team back together, getting back on the horse and pushing through to get the game done. The future is bright for the franchise with having this license with 2K, so I think we’ll see more involvement and collaboration in the future.

Do you think a PC version is possible under 2K?

Back when I was at THQ there was constant underpinnings of whether we should do a PC version – yay, nay – but they never seemed to actually pull the trigger. I definitely know there’s a want for it out there but really I’m not sure,  I haven’t heard anything about it but as you say PC gaming definitely on the up and there’s definitely that demand. So while I’m not sure I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if it happened.

Uploading matches to YouTube is popular among fans of the series, would you ever consider a feature to make this easier within the game?

I would love that. I remember a couple of years back on the PS3 we allowed players to upload highlight reels of their matches straight to YouTube. I thought that was cool but it would be really cool to do that, maybe that’s something to consider with next gen on the horizon. I just beat Undertaker in The Streak mode, and I really want to show that off, to prove it, and I think it’s a great idea particularly at a time when people want to share everything – it seems like the next logical step.

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After the success of last year’s Attitude Era mode and this year’s Wrestlemania mode, is there any chance of an ECW or WCW mode in the future?

There’s always a chance. We’ve got Ultimate Warrior in the game, so there’s always a chance [laughs]. We have a ton of wrestling fans on the team of course and ECW is near and dear to a lot of people’s hearts. I think after the Attitude era it seemed to be where most people thought we would go, so far as our next single player campaign, so you can never say never because it is popular and WWE own all the libraries.

Which Wrestlemania matches were hardest to cut from the new mode?

Everyone has their own match that they wanted but which didn’t make the cut. For me… you know we have Wrestlemania 26 – Undertaker Vs Shawn Michaels II, but I really wanted to have the first one in there.

At the same time I think that the matches that are included, 98% of the ones we wanted are in there, particularly the marquee events that you think of when you think of Wrestlemania. Hulk Hogan Vs Andre the Giant, Bret Hart Vs Shawn Michaels Iron Man match, a lot of the keystone matches that are held in the highest regard – they’re all in there.

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Which wrestler absent from the game– past or present – do you wish was on the roster?

This may not be the sexy answer, but Tyson Kidd. I love Tyson Kidd, I think he’s awesome. He got injured and was out for pretty much a year, but he was in one of our games before, I think two games ago, but I’d like to see him back. I love his style, the cruiserweight style of wrestling and I think he’s one of the best.

You’ve got Ultimate Warrior, and last year Randy Savage was in the game. Obviously whether Owen Hart is ever in the game is beyond your control, but is that something you would want and do you think it’s possible?

Oh yeah, absolutely I’d love that. Speaking as a fan, and what I’ve heard from fans, I hear a lot of people saying they want Owen. The thing is say is never say never. You can never tell which way the wind might sway or what might happen within the WWE but for now we’re unable to use him.

However when I first got on the franchise back in 2005 I was told we’d never get Ultimate Warrior in the game, and here we are now hyping WWE 2K14 and he’s our pre-order exclusive. That right there proves that things are never set in stone.

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