Monday, October 11, 2010

Class in Session: Our Modeling Process

Hey everyone,

I have seen numerous posts throughout the world wide web questioning our motives for choosing specific WWE Superstars and Legends for our SvR franchise. I wanted to take a moment to break down exactly what we do, so that all of us are clear on our process. It's cool if you don't like our process, but understand it as fact please -- because it is the truth.

Firstly, like all things, our superstar list comes down to budget and timing. At the beginning of pre-production, we have a list (based on the features we want to do), of guys we want to have in our game. In development, there is creative and project management. Creative handles exactly that, the creative (that's me). Project Management handles the timing and budget for our game (that's not me). Where was I? Oh yeah, once we have a list of superstars we want in game (which is usually like everyone), we submit it to our Project Management team so that they can scope it. What that means is that they take our list, and then breakdown how much each superstar would cost (in real money) to model. Once that is done, they get back to us with a high-level estimate of how much it will cost to create each model, and how much time it will take.

We then take a look at those estimates, and of course we're way over scope (time and money), so we have to make cuts. There's not back and forth here, we make an annual title, and our numbers (budget and time) have to be met. So, in order to cut we're told that we can have (for example) 105 models in the game. Here's the thing though, alternate attires, referees, WWE Security, Non playable characters (Stephanie, Tiffany, etc.) and WWE Legends all count as models. Every alternate attire we have, counts as one model each. For instance, if Cena were to start wearing a NEXUS shirt, and we were able to do it in time, that would be an entirely new model, not just switching out his shirt. Is it an ideal process? No -- and we're working on solutions to fix this.

"But I can change stuff in Superstar Threads, it should be easy for you"

When you change things in Superstar Threads, you're just adding layers on TOP of existing layers (hence the name layers). These assets that we build the models with are "baked in," and are given the same lighting treatment that we give the skin on our models. Tricky, eh? :)

Now, concerning WWE Legends. The WWE has a Legends roster that includes a list of superstars that we're allowed to use at no extra cost. A lot of the guys are on it, but there are a certain amount (and you can probably guess which ones) that aren't -- therefore we have to go out and sign them. This is like any other licensed sports game as well. How did NBA 2K11 get all of those legends in? They had the legends license, and guys who didn't fall under it, they had to sign. Sounds great if you have the money, but in some cases -- in some years, we just don't.

We redid our models this year for SvR '11. EVERY model. Just because you've seen a model in a previous game, and it looks like the same model, it doesn't mean that is is the same. When we change the lighting, we have to change the model, when we upgrade visually (like we did this year), we have to change the model. Some were saying we used Jake Roberts from our LoWM game, but that isn't true. We created his model (it may look the same, but the work was still done). Work is work, guys -- and it CAN replicate previous work. We have muscle flexing in the game, that is a HUGE modeling task, and required all of our models to get redone as well. Not blowing smoke guys, just saying facts here.

I hope this was a little bit of an education for you guys. I always like to teach you guys about our development process, so thanks for being so interested!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Up in the Air

I’m pretty inspired right now to write while I’m in the air at 35,000 feet (probably above Utah). I spent a majority of the day flying (8 hours), for just two hours of business – fair trade, right? I went to Game Informer in Minnesota for a press tour. “What’s a press tour,” you ask? That’s just lingo the games industry uses to make it sound a lot more glamorous than it is. Anyway, I sat with a writer at Game Informer (now “GI” for the rest of this update) for two hours taking him through the highlights of the game. This is a very important thing for us to do, because these magazines and websites have to review the game. Since GI didn’t go to our latest press event in Dallas (at the HIAC PPV), they had seen about as much of the game as you all have. The only difference is that they have to review it…

So I took the GI writer through our game, and everything that’s new. We started with gameplay. From the change to our grapple system, to directional grapple throws, to our much talked about physics engine, this was all new to these guys and it was quite refreshing to see some genuine excitement for a bit.

While away, I followed my Twitter account on my Blackberry (I’m anti-iPhone until they go to Verizon). I found out that we revealed some of our legends in our game – and I knew which ones. I’m pretty stoked about Jake Roberts. He’s one of my favorite wrestlers of all time, and although he’s been in the SvR series before (by way of the PSP), in my book he’s a welcome addition. Funk? That’s an AWESOME one, and a personal favorite of game designer Jon Durr’s. My favorite for this year is yet to be announced, but that didn’t stop some from voicing their displeasure on my Twitter account. Newsflash guys, the roster will never make anyone happy. Every year, get ready for ups and downs with the roster because we can’t have everyone, and the process to get someone in is much more difficult than you think. Unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to discuss this in more detail, although I wish I could.

I just started reading “Countdown to Lockdown” by Mick Foley, beginning on the first leg of my trip to Minnesota. I must say, I’m about a quarter of the way through it, and I can’t quite figure out if I like it or not. Don’t get me wrong, Mick’s the man, but in my opinion, he seems rather long-winded in this one. I will say that it IS interesting getting his take on his current time with TNA.

There’s a lot of confusion out there, and I’m feeling very confused in my head as well. I really thought all of your questions would be answered this week, and I think the news that came out just made you guys as more. The good news is that you guys are getting so incredibly detailed in your questioning that it is certainly a good sign for us that you’re talking details instead of blatant distaste for high-level features.

Working in this industry is unlike anything else I think I’ll ever do in my life. I’m still trying to tell myself that 8 hours of flying for a 2 hour meeting, in the era of video conference no less, was a good use of my time. It’s no knock on the decision makers to do it, I don’t blame them – that’s how everyone does it. I just question whether it’s the best use of time (only at this very moment as I write this).

I’d like to send a shout out to “Tank” for getting married next week. (just wanted to throw that in there)

I know I’m rambling guys, just enjoying writing right now. I apologize for not being on any podcasts for a bit, it’s just that I’ve been extremely busy lately working on that game you all know will be coming out at this same time next year, but we can’t officially talk about it yet. We’re in pre-production right now going back and forth with Yuke’s. We finished our high-level creative briefs, and are now in the process of getting estimates on how much it will cost, and how long it will take from an engineering perspective to code.

As a designer, you can’t fall in love with your ideas. It’s great to be passionate about them, but don’t get attached because you’ll find out that your grand idea usually gets cut down to 25% of what you wanted in the first place. That’s the annual title biz, folks – it’s definitely something that challenges us to think in two ways (quality and cost). While I was at EA SPORTS, it was customary to adopt things from the other sports franchises for cost effectiveness reasons. At THQ, we are starting to get that luxury with UFC being developed.

Like I said on my Twitter account – I can’t talk about the “Axxess” stuff until probably Tuesday of next week. Very unfortunate that you guys are seeing the stuff on XBL and PSN, with no explanation yet, but I can’t risk getting in trouble, guys. Let me just say that you guys are over-analyzing it by 100 times over. It will make sense soon, I promise.

I’m really honored and blessed to be working on such a great franchise that knows where it wants to be, surrounded by passionate wrestling fans. Every single day, we’re looking at the dirt sheets, talking about every detail that’s happened – it’s like high school again.

I’m even more grateful for the fantastic support you guys, the community, has given us this year. I think you’re starting to believe that we know what we’re doing, and with your help – we’ll get to where we BOTH want to be. So THANKS!
Playing NBA 2K11 nonstop lately, and am very proud of my good buddy Mike Wang’s work (as well as the rest of the 2K team). What a fantastic basketball simulation.

Trust me, we’ve taken note. THAT is what “great” (not good) looks like.
Well, that’s it for now. Thanks for reading, everyone – I really do appreciate your interest in what I have to say. It’s not getting to my head, I can assure you. If anything, it’s adding pressure to write informative blogs for you guys. But your passion keeps me feeling challenged, both as a communicator and a designer.
I’m still in the air, but feeling a bit at ease since I got to write this.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


That was the key word for last night's RAW -- "EMOTION." I haven't seen that kind of emotion on a WWE programming in ages. That's the kind of emotion I want to draw out of all of you when you play our game. And it's not there yet, I know. What do you guys think we could do to get that kind of reaction out of you guys? I see it when people play NBA 2K, or even MADDEN -- definitely FIFA. I mentioned in my first interview when leaving EA to come to THQ, a few things that I would like to add to our presentation to make matches feel BIGGER.

I'm on the SFX-360 Podcast tonight. TANK will be joining me, so that should be pretty fun.

Quick blog update today, but just want to throw that question out to you guys.

"What would you do to the SvR franchise, to draw emotion out of YOU?"

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hell in a Cubicle

I hope all of you had a great weekend. What did you guys think of the Hell in a Cell PPV? I thought the way they did the Cena joining NEXUS bit was very well done. I can't wait to watch RAW tonight. Cena in a NEXUS shirt? Wow. I know everyone loves Daniel Bryan, but I can't get over that silly smirk he has.

The message boards were on FIRE this weekend, and some of that heat was directed towards me. It's funny how much you guys take my words, interpret them the way you want to, and then broadcast out to the rest of the community your version of my words. Wouldn't a simple copy and paste do the trick? Anyway, there are a lot of opinions out there as to how we should have handled our roster reveal, and to be honest, if you guys weren't happy with it this year -- then I'm on board for finding another way as well. But when I say that I had nothing to do with it, I mean it. It was a PR thing for the reveal to happen with Gamespot, and then our web team took over the rest of the reveal. I know you guys want to know the roster in full -- but this just came across my desk, and I wanted to share it with you guys.

This is the day for the website on the next roster reveal, BUT if that day changes, please don't go insane and start freaking out. Just trying to show you guys that there is a plan, but like all plans -- sometimes they can change. So please be careful with how you react to this:

Oct. 7th

There you have it. Once again if this day changes, please just try to keep it in perspective. For example, if the guy who has to physically put these up on the site is sick one of these days, we obviously wait until the next day.

Take care, everyone!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Our Relationship with Yuke's

I hope your weekend was well. I spent the weekend with visiting friends. We hung out in Venice, and then went to Anaheim to see the Angels play the White Sox. PLUS my Cowboys won, so I'm having a great Monday.

I wanted to give you guys a little information about Yuke's, our external developer. It's an interesting dynamic, and one that I wasn't used to at EA SPORTS.

As a development team, you have your Producers / Designers and Engineers. Producers / Designers come up with the vision for the game, and the Engineers physically build the game. (they understand code).

Since our developer, Yuke's, is external (and Japanese nonetheless), we have a MUCH different process. We, the production team are here at THQ. We come up with the vision for the game. We paint the picture for our engineers. So for the case of this blog, let's use WWE Universe, specifically cashing in the MITB briefcase in Universe mode as an example.

THQ: I would like to let the user in WWE Universe cash in the MITB briefcase if they won the MITB match at WrestleMania.


Yuke's: (Japanese)


Yuke's (Translated): Ok, that seems doable. Submit your design.

THQ: (Super detailed design from the colors and buttons in the menu you see, to the cutscene direction) We would like to have a cutscene for when the user chooses to cash in their MITB briefcase. Here is the design document.

TRANSLATION (Full design document is translated)

Yuke's: (Japanese)


Yuke's (Translated): Ok, this feature will take 14 days (14 engineering days if ONE engineer were working on this) to make because of new animations and art

That's a hint into our process, guys. It's designing through translation. It's a very rewarding experience, but it's also requires an insane attention to detail.

Now, I'm going to leave you with this thought:

Think about this process for EVERYTHING you see in the game. Consider how much time we have to make a game every year, and now how does this sound?

On most dev teams, we can't get to everything -- but in this case, we definitely can't get to everything.

Working with Yuke's is absolutely fantastic -- they are such hard workers. And I'm grateful to have this experience for my career. I just wanted you to get a little insight.

Not excuses, just facts.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Weekend!

I heard the GamingRing GR8 podcast went very well last night. What did you think of it? I should be on next Thursday, and will have the game in front of me to answer some detailed questions.

I'm seeing the great impressions for the WWE Universe video we released yesterday. I really can't say enough about that mode -- it's a beauty!

This will be a pretty short blog today, but I did want to touch on something...

On Twitter, a guy tweeted that we had "piss poor marketing" this year. I'm a human being, and got offended and fired back at him. He then posted this response on his pretty awesome pro-wrestling site. Now, I didn't say exactly what he said in that podcast, but I understood that I rubbed him the wrong way. For that, I apologize not only to you but to everyone who clicked on that podcast and heard it.

I was so upset about it, that I offered to talk to the gentlemen right then on the phone. A few minutes later, I was having a real conversation with a very passionate fan of our game. It was a great conversation. It was much easier to convey my thoughts on the phone versus the 56 (exaggeration) characters I get on Twitter. He seemed pleased by my responses to his questions, and we ended on the right foot.

I guess the moral of the story is that I'll always be honest with you guys. Although I'll most certainly make mistakes, I'll always own up to them. I maintain that I'll talk to you the exact same way that you talk to me. I'm not trying to "sell" anything to you guys, and just want your help in making this game. Why would I just sit at my desk and try to think of all the ideas, if there are already thousands out there by you guys? That's my approach with the community engagement.

Anyway, do have a great weekend. Be safe, and enjoy yourselves!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Anything Can Happen in WWE Universe!

So I think we're releasing a video featuring Dan Ryan and WWE Universe later today. And if I were a betting man, I'd say you could probably find it on

WWE Universe is my favorite mode in the game this year. I was playing it all day yesterday, and while I was Sheamus vs Evan Bourne, The Miz came down to ringside and did commentary. I was skeptical, because I didn't know what was going to happen but sure enough, The Miz helped me get the win against an out of his mind Bourne. After the match, The Miz came in to celebrate with me and a new alliance was formed.

Just by chance, I played the next week on RAW and it was Sheamus and The Miz vs the Hart Dynasty. Guess who came and interfered? Yep, Bourne.

That's just a taste of what you're going to get in WWE Universe this year. Just when you think you know what's going to happen, the AI changes completely and tosses you into a storyline that you didn't expect to get into. The world revolves around the choices you make, and if you don't make any choices, that world smacks you upside the head and turns around on you. Let me know what you think of the video, everyone -- I'm really excited to see your reactions.

I saw alot of comments in my blog yesterday about not letting guys get to me. No worries guys, I've been around for quite sometime and understand how it works. When I respond to what you guys might say is "negativity," I'm just responding to it. I don't let it phase me, I'm just sending it right back to everyone because the facts are that you don't know what you're talking about. That's not a slight at all, it's just a fact. You aren't here to see what goes on, therefore you have no idea. And like I've said since I got here, my goal is to GET you guys to know what you're talking about, then we'll have very productive conversations. I see I've failed at that thus far, but we have some things planned with our fellow Community Leaders to help start the process of getting everyone informed on what we're doing, and how we do it.

But egos need to be dropped. I'm here to make the best wrestling game in the world, and I won't stop until it's done. We need your help, and we would be stupid not to ask for your help. So please take advantage of this -- we'll really appreciate it.

Enjoy today's video, everyone.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


So I've seen a few threads, and tweets on my page, that we aren't doing a good job of releasing information this year.



I'm starting to wonder about you guys, really wonder...

Here are the beats of information releases so far this year:

- SummerSlam (released a TON of information)
- Multiple podcasts
- Gameplay Video
- Roster Reveal (both on Gamespot, and our website every week)
- Community Event

We have the best roster section in the history of video games (on our website), and members from THQ have been out talking with all of you.

So Really?

If you haven't done your research on all of the information that we've released so far, that's your go do some research. Because if you truly feel this way, you're not only wrong, but you haven't done your homework.

I had my first "next year" meeting with Yuke's last night. For those of you who don't know, Yuke's is our external Japanese developer for the SvR franchise. The meeting went well, and we went over what we can do to strengthen online for the future. I'll pose that question to you. What do YOU all want to see with online next year?

I'm hearing that we MAY be doing something during the weekend of WWE "Hell in a Cell" PPV. Could we possibly go over Online, RtWM, and Story Designer there? It seems like it's a possibility -- stay tuned.

I DO know that a WWE Universe video should hit the world wide web tomorrow. Dan Ryan at his very best!

My wife and I are getting visitors today. Some of our friends from Vancouver are going to stay with us, and one of them is a good friend of mine who is a Producer on NBA Elite 11. He designed the "Become Legendary" mode for the game. I think it's going to be a pretty fun weekend.

I'll be on the GR8 podcast tomorrow night. I've seen the agenda for tomorrow night's show, and I can't wait. Just know that "community" isn't a one way street. And it's not all about you guys getting information. I told you I was going to teach you the development process of our game, so that you would better understand what we're up against every year, and make educated suggestions to us. If this is not something you want to do, and only want information out of me, that's fine. Just don't complain to me, because there are some who are invested in this community, and want to see it flourish.

I hope you guys are getting amped up for SvR '11, I can't believe it's just around the corner. And I've said it about 1,000 times already, but I'll do it again.


That was meant as a newspaper headline. I'm not "shouting."

Cena joining NEXUS? Oh, the possibilities!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Night of Confusion?

So what's with Jericho? Is he gone, or is he staying? Very weird how the WWE played that one out. I have a feeling we'll see him back soon, though. And speaking of awkward, Kane beating The Undertaker? I hope Kane has Undertaker's urn, and that Paul Bearer is involved in some way. What did you guys think of "Night of Champions?"

I got to play a ton of SvR '11 over the weekend, and I had a lot of fun! (sorry for the tease)

What did you guys think of the full match gameplay video? I've seen some comments like; "If Legend difficulty is so hard, why was Bryan able to beat the CPU?" Really guys, really? You do know this is a game, and that the better you are, the easier the game is, right?

Do you say that when you play Madden on "All-Madden?" Or NBA 2K on "Superstar?" Not a sports fan? Ok, how about GTA on "Hard?" The point I'm making is that there are "experts" at every game, and I'm glad we have one working on our gameplay. Think you're great? Say that when the game comes out. Play on "Legend" difficulty with reversal indicators set to "off."

I had a great time on the podcast on Friday. I love doing that stuff, and hope that you guys aren't just looking for info and would like to dig deeper into the development process of the game. I was happy to speak so candidly on the show, and I think Mike, Brad, Matt, and Seiryuga for their questions.

Pretty short blog this week, but I'm having a conference call tomorrow with Yuke's, and I'll let you know how that goes. We're already ramping up to that game we can't say is coming out, but you all know is coming out.

Friday, September 17, 2010

*UPDATE* To "Lesson for Next Year = Focus on Divas"

Hey everyone, some things are being blown out of proportion. I said that we should give Divas more of a focus next year. For example: 6-women Divas matches, etc.. I did not say that next year would be 100% Divas, or we would just focus on Divas. C'mon... you guys know we have a team working on this game, and that we all work on different parts of the game (old or new).

Lesson for Next Year = Focus on Divas

Hey everyone, I know the information that's coming out from all of the different outlets is extremely difficult to decipher, and I apologize for that. The thing with me is that when I came here, it was pretty (actually very)late in the process. I was overseeing a mode of the game this year, but it was pretty complete by the time I got on board. Because of that, I didn't design the game during it's inception and I wasn't able to follow along with all of the mode's progress to get a 100% great feel for everything that is in our game this year. THIS is the single biggest reason why it is hard for me to answer the really detailed stuff, and why I often second-guess myself. Because the game doesn't feel like second-nature to me.

I'm very much excited to be on's GR8 podcast tonight. I'll have the game right in front of me, so as long as you can wait while I'm searching, be prepared to get a lot of your questions answered.

Divas...what can I say? You guys clearly want our game to have a bigger Divas influence. I've expressed this to our team, and we'll see where it comes out in the future. Thanks for your interest in this subject matter, that's what the power of community can do for the development process of a game. You guys shouted from the rooftops about Divas, so it's going to force us to take a look and see what we can do.

It's a bit concerning me that some of you think I'm just a mouthpiece for THQ. Now, I've been around the block and know the tactics that are used to bait people, but c'mon -- it's getting a bit ridiculous. If I haven't proven to you that I'm doing this off my own time, then you'll never learn and it's a waste of my time to talk to you personally because you'll believe anything you want yourself to believe.

I hope everyone has a great weekend -- and enjoy the podcast tonight!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"No Comment..."

I really enjoyed being on the podcast last night. For those of you who missed it, you can listen to it here.

I must say, I often found myself distracted during the podcast because I was always looking at the live chat that hosted during the show. I kept losing my train of thought because of it. Next time, I won't look at the chat :)

I felt pretty awful last night because I know you guys want a ton of new info, and I couldn't say anything. Let me just clear up why...

We, as designers, are responsible for one thing only -- designing the game. What I'm doing now, and last night (podcast) is not in my job description. I choose to do it because I love it, and believe that it will only lead to good things (the game we all want). Now, I know that by me putting myself out there to you, I'm expected to know everything. I truly apologize that I don't, and constantly have to double-check. The thing is, I'm fairly certain of things when I'm asked, but because I know that news spreads like wildfire with this game, I second-guess everything that I say. Please be patient with me. We will release every detail that you guys want to know, but it will take time.

We have a PR department. If you guys don't know what that is, they come up with our messaging to the press, and our "reveal strategy" for the game. We, as a company, MUST follow this timeline. So when I say "no comment," it's because I'm not saying no, or yes...I'm saying that you'll find out soon. I'm not here to piss you guys off, if I am, let me know.

In order for me to do this, it HAS to be a two way street. I will not talk at you, and I expect you guys not to talk AT me. If we all have the same goal in mind (to make the best wrestling game), then the discussions can continue. I know you want information, but frankly, tough -- you'll get it soon, and honestly, we're just talking a matter of days here so be patient please.

Gone are the days of no one from THQ talking with you guys. We don't have to do it, but we are and I'm loving it. When we say "no comment" take that as your answer and wait...we're not doing "PR speak," we're not "brushing your question aside," we're just doing our job. I really don't know how to say this any other way -- if you still can't understand, then oh well I guess.

I'm on the GR8 podcast this week, and we have more Superstars to reveal on our website (this week). I hope you guys are liking what you're seeing, and thanks for all of the "little detail" suggestions yesterday. I know it's become a cliche when I say "I'll write it down," and I did "write them down." Would you rather I didn't write anything down? ;)

The sooner you guys realize that we're making a game every year and things fall off because of time or budget (which are the ONLY two reasons things get cut), the better the communication will be for everyone who is interested in helping us make great wrestling games.

*steps off soap box*

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's the Little Things...

I was watching RAW last night (btw, it was a great show IMO), and I'm not saying that I never notice these details, but they were glaringly apparent to me for some reason. I think it's because of our game, and our constant desire to mimic TV. The little details are what makes a game GREAT, not good. I know for WWE SmackDown vs RAW 2011, we got alot of these little details in (WWEHD logo, WWEHD logo on barriers, minitrons, etc.), but not everything.

I want our game to be considered one that has uncanny attention to detail. MLB: The Show, and the NBA 2K series do this very well. Their ability to put the little details into their games just makes the overall experience better, and most of the time we take it for granted.

So my question to you guys, is what are the "little things" that we need to focus on? I know the entrance attires, but there are budgetary reasons for that. I know we need ALL trons, not just minitrons. And I know our movesets need some love. But what else? I'm making sure that we don't miss some of this stuff, and I've been writing up a list ever since I started taking questions on Twitter and our official message boards.

I'm going to a sweet independent video game store to pick up my all-time favorite wrestling game: WWF Royal Rumble for the Sega Genesis. They're also going to sell me WWF RAW, so that will be cool. Are you any of you buying HALO: Reach today? If you guys get it, I may pick it up to play online with all of you, just let me know.

Yesterday's post mentioned that we need your critiques of SvR '11 when it comes out. I saw some posts asking who they need to give these to so that they get in front of our team. The answer? Community Leaders.

If you didn't know, we have Community Leaders for our WWE games. If you are a member of a website, their administrator is usually our Community Leader for you. Get those wishlists, and talking points to them so that they can collect it and send it off to us. Make sense? If you still have questions, then contact our Community Manager THQ_TANK who is on our message boards, and he'll point you in the right direction.

That's all for today guys -- Up next:

- Podcast tonight
- GamingRing GR8 Podcast on Thursday
- More roster reveal on our official website

Take care.

Monday, September 13, 2010

We Want YOU to Get Involved

I hope your weekend went well, it was a fantastic Saturday for me (Buckeyes won), but a very sad end to Sunday night (Cowboys lost). Oh well, I'm at least glad that football season is back.

How are you enjoying Friday Night SmackDown as of late? I just love Alberto Del Rio, and wish he were in our game this year. For him alone, I can't WAIT until next year...."but you already knew that."

I'm not quite sure what to think of NXT Season 3 yet. I think Kaitlyn is great though ;)

Now, to the main reason for today's blog. We are already starting on that game I can't talk about, but you know is coming out around this time next year. With that said, the MINUTE you get WWE SmackDown vs RAW 2011, start beginning to look at the game with a very critical eye. Once you've done that, please get all of your likes, concerns, questions, and suggestions into us ASAP so that we can take action for that game you know is all coming out, but I can't talk about. We really want all of you actively involved, and that is the main reason why I have taken an active role in the community speaking to all of you.

I want what you want, but it is up to you guys to tell us what you want. I promise it will not fall on deaf ears, and as long as you understand what we go through on a year to year basis, then I think expectations will be in check and we'll make a fantastic game. Make sense? I hope so.

Now that the main subject for this blog is out of the way, I wanted to send a thank you to Ringside Collectibles for their excellent work in carrying the tradition of Pro Wrestling figures. I was / am still a huge collector, and am currently obsessed with my Mattel Legends Series 2 "Ravishing" Rick Rude figure.

That's all for today, but I've been reading all of the boards (and comments on my blog). My Twitter account is blowing up with questions, so I'm really doing my best -- please be patient if I can't answer you.

Tuesday, I'll be on the podcast (I actually will this time). I apologize for the frantic work schedule last week, and it was my fault that I wasn't on theirs and the GamingRing podcast. I'll be on both this week, thanks again for your patience.

Enjoy RAW tonight.

Friday, September 10, 2010

More Roster Talk? Nope

1.) I can't discuss when things will be released. I'm a Producer / Designer, not PR or Marketing. That is there job to make these communication roll outs, I won't disturb that. (Educating you on this industry)

2.) More along the lines of the first point, but I can't tell you who will be revealed on our official website, because that would be ME revealing it, and not our website...

3.) This is the most up to date roster we've ever had, think I'm wrong? Please tell me...

4.) My Twitter account is being flooded with the same questions over and over again. I've been repeating myself for about a week now with similar questions asked in different ways. I don't mind doing it at all, I love talking with all of you -- but now I actually have to get back to work, and I won't be able to repeat myself all of the time. Please don't take offense if I don't answer you, and just do a little research on your question, and I'm sure you'll find the answer.

The main reason why I bring all of these points up, is to remind you that we build a game every single year. We plan DLC for the game, but at some point, the reality of the situation is that we have to stop. Every annual title in this industry has the same problems that we do. But we welcome them, because there is a huge appetite for our title being released every year.

If something isn't in this year, or next year, don't lose hope -- voice your concerns collectively and we'll hear you. I leave that (the collective voice) up to your fellow Community Leaders who were present at the first Community Event during SummerSlam weekend. We truly want everything that you do, please trust us in that. This is all part of the relationship that our team is now trying to build with each and every one of you. We hear your concerns, and will do our best (under the circumstances) to meet those wants.

At the end of the day, it's your 60 dollars and I will never tell you, or recommend how you spend it. I just ask that you take a look at our offering this year, and if it satisfies you, awesome. If it doesn't, help us in creating the game that you want.

I hope this stuff makes sense. You guys are all awesome, and easily the most passionate community that I've ever dealt with -- and this will only help us!

Have a great weekend everyone, I'll see you guys back here on Monday!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Concerning the Roster...

I would first like to thank all of you for making our WWE SmackDown vs RAW 2011 Roster Reveal event, a true web EVENT! The hype felt like it was at an all-time high, and in my opinion, the roster didn't disappoint. Why is that, you ask? Well, if the worst thing that you guys could say about our roster was that we didn't have Superstars who were released by the WWE in it, then I would see we are off to one heck of a start!

Now, a few things:

1.) Nexus - Did you think that the Superstars in Season 1 would form a rebel group, and become the biggest thing in Sports Entertainment in the past 5 years? No, and neither did we - that's what made it WORK.

2.) Released WWE Superstars - We did not announce these guys at the Roster Reveal, because they weren't a part of the WWE anymore. We do have some of the Superstars, so please stay tuned via our official website for more information.

3.) Batista - he's in the game, and he has his "spotlight entrance."

4.) Tiffany - she's in the game, but as a non-playable character

5.) Assumptions - It is totally our fault for not communicating to you guys that we had more Superstars to reveal at a later date. I apologize for that, because I did not know until that day. But please don't assume that "your guy" is not on our roster until we reveal everyone. There is no reason at all to see the threads: "THQ Failed again," or "Roster Sucks." That's pretty premature, and I can assure you that our roster is one of the most up to date we've ever had.

6.) Shad's Alternate Attire (ACTUAL ATTIRE) - I constantly hear from you guys, that you want our game to be as up to date as possible. So JTG and SHAD split, and SHAD comes out with his new white attire. We've already created Shad, we didn't know they were going to split, so instead of keeping him in his CT attire, we make him in his whites. Obviously this was past our deadline, and that's why we decided to put him in DLC. I see some people say that other superstars should get alternate attire before SHAD. I would completely agree if Shad were up to date to begin with, but he wasn't.

Now that the Roster Reveal talk is over, I wanted to let you guys know that I'll be on the podcast later tonight, and then tomorrow -- on the GR8 podcast. I'll try to have the game pulled up, so I can answer questions in much greater detail.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages. THQ and Gamespot, proudly bring to you, the WWE SmackDown vs RAW 2011 ROSTER REVEAL!

I do miss the New Age Outlaws...

Is it wrong that I'm more excited for the roster reveal, because I know that I won't get asked "when is the roster reveal?" anymore? Anyway, Gamespot is going to webstream the event LIVE at around 3-3:30 PST. Don't miss it guys, you're in for a treat :)

I have some work to do today for that game I can't talk about, but everyone knows is coming out at around this time next year. It's more of a brainstorming task, but that's usually when I can get really creative about things.

I'm just reminding you guys, because I'm seeing it on the boards a lot lately, never assume anything is "easy" to put in the game. There's a TON of legacy code (old code) in the game that we replace with new stuff (new engine), and it's a very slow process, so that we don't make mistakes. In the business of annual titles, you can't afford mistakes, or more importantly, time wasted in the production cycle.

After we all finish our creative briefs for what we want in that game I can't talk about, I think a Japan trip will be happening -- looking forward to going again.

What did you guys think of the NXT Season 3 premier last night? I thought it was very interesting to see programming centered around Divas. I must admit though, if I did not work on a wrestling game, I don't know how long it would hold my interest after the first installment. I'll keep watching though, but I really did Kaitlyn for some reason...

Quick one today, guys, but the real news is coming today at 3/3:30 PST. Lots to talk about in tomorrow's blog!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Work Week Should Start on Tuesday

You know that feeling you get when you walk into work on Monday? When was the last time that you actually felt GOOD about being at work on a Monday (no matter where it is)? I'll bet though, that you feel great when you have had a Monday off, and your work week starts on Tuesday. I love vacation as much as the next person, but at the end of the day I like to keep busy as well. Three to four days off is just fine for me, and I'm up and perfectly happy to be where I'm at (THQ) this morning. All because of one day.

I'm looking forward to this week. Tomorrow, you will all finally see our SvR '11 roster reveal. We have some big surprises for you, and throughout the webcast I know you will all be thinking; "What could possibly happen NXT?"

I'm going out with my wife and a few friends for dinner tomorrow night. The special guest of the evening though, will be none other than Austin Aries from ROH. One of my friends is best friends with Austin, and is going to bring him along -- should be a dope time.

Over the past weekend, I've seen a lot of people disappointed with some of the answers that Jon Durr, and myself have been giving. They are small details, but I agree, and welcome the disappointment. We want all of this too, and it's important that the community collectively voices their opinions on the subjects they see as detrimental to the game, so that we have all the backup we need to enforce change. I believe what separates good games from great games is the small details (See MLB 10: The Show). We'll get there guys, it just takes time.

Thanks for the replies to the HCTP post, and the answers to the thread on the official SvR boards. I agree that the move sets were untouchable, and that we need to get back to that level of authenticity.

I just got asked to do the podcast this Thursday, so that makes it two back to back podcasts on consecutive days. I'll of course be doing the GR8 podcast on Friday.

Sorry for the lack of news in today's blog entry, but I imagine we'll have plenty to talk about soon ;)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Quick Update (And then I'm Out!)

If you're looking for a good read, make sure you pick up "Rumble Road." It was written by Jon Robinson, of videogames fame (and former IGN Sports Editor). It has a great flow to it, and it will take you no time at all to get through. It is one of the few WWE books where all you see is the "other side."

Interesting story about Jon. Before I got into this industry, I was a sophomore in college, and was a big Madden fan. I would read every day, and saw Jon's articles in the sports section. At that time, I was a journalism major, and thought that a job in video game journalism would be pretty sweet. I sent Jon a message out of the blue off one of those "contact us" e-mail links. I asked, immaturely I might add, how you get into this kind of work (among other things)? Jon was gracious enough to not only e-mail me, but ask me to call him.

I remember every word of that conversation. I was nervous, because I had just put myself out there, and I had no idea what he was going to say to me. He had some great advice, and I haven't forgotten it to this day (that's for me to know). The point is, this is a small world, and an even smaller industry. It was awesome to see Jon at our SummerSlam press event, both of us knowing the conversation we had some 8 - 9 years ago. If you're reading this, THANKS JON!

I had a great time on the GR8 Podcast last night. Next week I hope to have the game pulled up, and can answer some of the more detailed questions. Thanks to all of you for being so interested in our game this year -- we hope to do you proud this year, and for years to come!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Here Comes the Pain (For Me)

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I was having a conversation with fellow designer Dan Ryan, and the subject of HCTP came up. I remember buying HCTP, but IMO (don't judge me), I couldn't really remember what separated it from other past SvR games. He was working in QA (tester) at the time and remembers testing it. I told him that I would pose the question to you guys here. I have my own opinions of HCTP (and will keep them to myself), but I want to know what YOU loved about it so much. Now, remove the nostalgia you had for the game, and if you would like to, please compare SvR '10 to HCTP in all areas.

This is just my opportunity to talk to you directly about HCTP, when I see it name-dropped at every forum on the planet.

I have the UncleGamer radio show to record today, and then I think I'm headed to GamingRing to be on their podcast as well. I love doing that stuff, I hope you appreciate the SvR "informed" community efforts with stuff like this.

September 8th is upon us -- are you ready? I can't wait for it, but mostly because I'm tired of repeating "Sept. 8th" to people asking about the roster. I want to tell you guys!

What are you guys up to this Labor Day weekend? It's my 6 year wedding anniversary, so my wife and I will be going out to dinner, and enjoying Venice Beach. I'm very proud of my wife. She is a poet , and she writes one every single day. That's quite an accomplishment. She has written 500+ poems now. I can't even count to 500 without getting bored... A CA Winery called her yesterday, and asked to put her poem up at their building because it was titled "Cork," and a wine Facebook group found it and loved it. Crazy what the internet can do for you....

I'll be watching the TNA PPV as well this Sunday, looking forward to it. I'm truly loving my life right now. I'm talking to all of you, designing (for that game you all know is coming out next year, but I can't say it's coming out yet, but it has a 1 and a 2 in the title), and enjoying where we live.

I'm having a blast on our official forums, and I'm trying to answer as many questions as I can. Please understand that I cannot do this at every hour, of every day. I do have to work on my core job (designing).

I saw this question in a forum yesterday, and I'll ask you as well. "Who is your favorite WWE wrestler of all time?" I want to know who your top 5 are, though -- here's mine:

1.) Hulk Hogan
2.) HBK
3.) Mr. Perfect
4.) The Rock
5.) Rick Rude

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Clarifications and Misunderstandings...

The days are going by like a blur, and I can't seem to figure out what day it is most of the time. Is it bad to coordinate your days around wrestling and TV shows? For example, I know today is Thursday because Jersey Shore is on. I guess anyway you can keep a personal calendar in your head, it's a good thing.

I had a pretty late night yesterday finishing up a "Creative Brief" for an exciting feature in "that game you all know is coming out with a 1 and a 2 in the title, but we can't announce yet." For those who don't understand what a creative brief is, it is a high-level design. At the beginning of a production cycle, designers start with a creative brief of a feature they would like to put in the game, in order to get estimates from the engineering team (the guys who physically CODE the game). Estimates are how many "days" a feature will take them to complete. This is a very difficult process because you usually start from a "pie in the sky" feature, and it gets scaled down more and more because of time, money, and capacity.

As if that isn't bad enough for a designer, we sometimes tend to get attached to what we're doing, and it is usually very difficult to let go of things you think are necessary for the feature, but in reality, you could actually live without. Designers suffer from having "blinders" on most of the time. Regardless, this is the MOST exciting time for me because I get to use all of my creative energy in putting together something from scratch.

Jon Durr (fellow SvR designer) had his first day on the official SvR message boards yesterday. I think he did an excellent job, as he's been extremely eager to talk to the fans this entire year. I'm grateful for getting to work for a company that lets us be us.

I made a mistake yesterday. I'm getting about 3274903217490371098 questions a minute about the game (keep them coming), but a lot of them are the same questions, asked in completely different ways. I do get confused sometimes, and I did yesterday. I was asked if WWE Universe had co-op. To me, "co-op" is an online feature, and "multiplayer" is a home console feature. I misunderstood, and said "nope." This caused a little bit of an uproar in the community, because they all thought that you couldn't play with more than one player, on the same console, in WWE Universe. Rest assured, you can, there just isn't an online co-op for WWE Universe. Again, apologies for the mistake.

I'm now getting a lot of very detailed questions. I'm not having to pull up the game and check to make sure things are in / not in, so it may take a big longer to get to your questions than previously. Just feel free to keep reminding me, I won't mind. Please know that I may mess up again, so I apologize in advance for that.

Let me clarify my statement about "Legend" difficulty with reversal indicators off. This year, the A.I. does attack you. I was playing a match against Big Show the other day, and he had me on the ground, taunted, picked me up for a choke slam, different taunt, and as I got up (he decided to wait -- which I thought was cool), he knocked me out (finishing punch), and my jaw dropped. Big Show worked me, and I couldn't do anything about it. Reversals do happen at a much more frequent rate than they would on lower difficulties, but it is extremely important to vary your tactics. If you have a grounded superstar, don't go to the top rope all of the time. Stay grounded, and vary your strikes and grapples, using the corners, irish whips, and out of the ring to your advantage. If you spam the strike buttons, they'll reverse you after a while. If you are repeatedly using ground grapples (submissions), and the same grapples over again, they'll start to get what you're doing, and reverse you.

I repeat, the A.I. is very aggressive, and you have to adapt to what they're doing to you this year. But reversals are a big part of it, so make sure you're capitalizing on this, and the match will really flow in a realistic way. This is a way to make our game competitive (combined with aggressive A.I.). Obviously, we know that a real-life match is predetermined, so you see key spots (moves), 3 minute beatdown, reverse, three minute beatdown in a given match. Would that make sense for a video game? In my opinion, I don't think so. We don't know the outcome of a match, and if you're expecting to win all of the time, play on easy. With that said, if you want to beat your opponent down mercifully for 3 minutes, than you should expect to get the same punishment from the A.I. Would that be much fun? I personally don't think so.

I'll be on the UncleGamer Radio show tomorrow (recording I think), so make sure to check that one out. I thank all of you for your continued support in what we're doing. This time YOU are making an actual difference, and I hope you all start to realize that this is a journey, not a one year thing. That's what the annual title business is all about. Hope on board guys!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy...

Hey everyone,

Life has been pretty busy for me over the past few weeks. But it has been the "good" busy. After our post-SummerSlam hangover, we're starting to shift our creative attention to that game that everyone knows is coming, but we can't announce. We were looking at things we could do online yesterday, and WWE Universe came up. So my question is to you guys, what would you want out of online and WWE Universe (as you know it so far)?

My first day on our official message boards was pretty good, but it does frustrate me to repeat the same answer about our roster questions over and over again. I do get the excitement (I was one of you), but please do a little research before you ask, because I don't want to:

1.) Be a prick and not answer
2.) Risk other questions not being answered for repeating an answer to a previous question

I'm really excited, because Jon Durr (another one of our designers) will be coming on to the official SvR boards very soon, and will help share the questions load.

Now, to end with a pet peeve of mine. I promise that I won't sound so negative in all of my blog posts in the future. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, don't try and bait me. What is a bait you ask? Well, here's an example:

"Is blah blah blah in the game? Did you actually listen to the fans this year and put blah blah blah in the game? If not, you guys just want to make money, and don't care about us." (I'm fuming just writing this -- haha)

That my friends, is a "bait." Just a little fyi, it won't work. I've been around the block, and know every trick in the book. Here's the result of what will happen if you try and bait me:

1.) Will first call you out on it
2.) Will then not respond

I said that I'll always answer you honestly, but please don't give me an ultimatum -- if I didn't care about the fans, I wouldn't be here -- end of story. It isn't in our job description to post on Twitter, write your own blog, or post on message boards. We're designers / producers, and that's what we get paid to do. I truly believe that communicating with all of you helps US make a better game -- don't prove me wrong, please.

I lied....

I said I would end with that last comment, but I'm actually going to end with some common misconceptions:

1.) "You guys are all money grubbing evil empire people" -- Actually, if we were in it for the money, we wouldn't be very happy. I don't drive a porsche, I drive a Volkswagen Jetta (nice life, I know)

2.) "You guys do things just to spite us" -- No, we have timelines, and make an annual title. If we could get everything you want in the game, we would certainly do that. We make the game for YOU.

3.) "Cory Ledesma is a monster" -- Cory has a very tough job, and has to call the shots -- everyone who does this is commonly looked at as a "monster," but if you were in his position, you would have to make tough calls too.

4.) "SvR is the same game every year" -- That's laughable. Please go back and play the games, and you'll see that's not the case.

You guys are all great, and we couldn't do it without you! I'm really excited about SvR '11, and can't wait for the future with all of YOU on board helping make our games that much more special.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Apologies for my Hiatus...

Wow, it has truly been a very long time since I have updated. (blog rule #567 -- if it has been a long time, never start off your first blog update back talking about your absence) Where do I begin? Well, we're pretty much finished with SvR '11, only there are still a few touch ups that need to take place. We're very excited about the game to come out, but I'm already beginning designs on a project that you guys know, we just can't officially announce, because someone at our company doesn't know that we release a game every year....

I've seen recently, posts saying "is "Legend" difficulty going to be that reversal-fest, like last year?" My answer to you is that the CPU will reverse things, often -- that is if you're not thinking while you're playing. In SvR '11, you need to think about a few things:

1.) Who is my opponent? What are his / her ratings? Who am I using? What is my plan of attack going in?
2.) Mixture up strikes and grapples, and understand that the A.I. is smart, just like you are :)
3.) This is a game, and not a predetermined match, so if you're expecting to beat down your opponent for 3 minutes, then you should expect your opponent to beat you down for 3 minutes with no reversals (doesn't sound fun does it?)
4.) It's ok to lose, and not call it cheating -- just get 'em next time!

Anyway, this will be a short one for today, but I wanted to give you guys my Twitter account , and let you know that I will now be exclusively talking on our official SvR message boards.

I'll leave you guys with this:

1.) Roster Reveal is September 8th, on
2.) Until we officially announce news, understand that I can't answer questions about news we haven't announced yet
3.) Play this SvR '11 this year on "Legend" difficulty, with reversal indicators "OFF"

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Over the Lag / Limit

I'm extremely in to what Jack Swagger is doing on WWE programming as of late -- he's truly a refreshing heel that the fans consistently boo. I do wonder however, what his match will be like with Big Show on Sunday's "Over the Limit" PPV... Speaking of the PPV, have we seen the last of Batista? Only time will tell. I bet the match of the night will be CM Punk vs Rey Mysterio though -- watch!

This week was a rough one. I've never been off of this continent before, so I really didn't know how my trip to Japan last week would truly effect me. Well, I found out, and I'm just NOW feeling normal again (says the guy who is up at 1AM...). The game is really starting to come together. Working with an external developer is unlike any experience I've ever had, so it was important for me to go over to Japan to see the other side of things as I get acclimated to this new environment. I figured out the THQ side of things, but I really didn't get everything as a whole until I went over to Yuke's. Now I'm pretty happy with the knowledge I received while I was out there.

I know a lot of you want to know information about SvR '11, but please be patient. In this business, there are such things as timelines. We, the dev team, have no control over this. We're a public company, that has a ton of stakeholders, it's a much bigger thing than myself, so I'm never at liberty to spill the beans on things until I'm allowed. What I can do is take suggestions, and you guys have really given us a TON this year -- thanks for that.

We got our E3 schedule today, and I'm going to refrain from doing interviews this year. I'm happy with this, considering I came on late in the project, and the rest of the team would do the game more justice. I will be at E3 though, and I'm very serious about that community meetup. We just hired our new Community Manager, and I'm EXTREMELY excited about him coming on board. He's incredibly experienced, and shares the same passion for community engagement like I do. BTW -- I'm watching Smackdown (recorded) at the moment, and Kelly Kelly has really stepped it up a notch in the wrestling department (don't laugh at me).

Before I stop this random, late night post, I wanted to address something that I'm seeing pop up in the community a lot. Expectations. I can't say this enough, but apparently some out there are still not under the impression that we make a game every single year. I'm not saying this as an excuse, so please don't ASSUME that. What I'm saying is do the math. Your suggestions are ALL valid, we have a limited time from one game to the next to do things. Take a look at SvR '10 for instance. Before I got here I was AMAZED at the amount of "stuff" they were able to fit in the game. My experience with annual sports titles is pretty vast, and I can say that annual titles NEVER get as much in as SvR '10 did. But seriously, manage your expectations. Help us make a great game from year to year by giving us constructive suggestions, and understand what we can and can't do. We want to do EVERYTHING, but it will just take longer than a lot of you would expect -- no worries, we'll get there! I can't say enough how talented our design team is. We all share a huge passion for the wrestling genre, and strive to make nothing but ultimate wrestling game every single year.

Guys, I'm being open and honest to all of you. Don't take my words and scramble them please. The only reason why I say that is because I've seen it happen on boards.

I'm pretty excited for this weekend. I've got Red Dead Redemption to play (it's so dope guys), UEFA Champions League final, then a night out with my wife on Saturday night, then a LA Galaxy game on Sunday followed by the recording of "Over the Limit".

Enjoy your weekend everyone, and let me know what you think of "Over the Limit"!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Land of the Rising Sun

I was up until about 5 AM last night -- haven't done that in YEARS! Why is that? It's because I spent the last week in Tokyo, Japan. Yuke's, our external developer is headquartered there, and this was my first experience there. I didn't really know what to expect, as this was my first trip off the continent. I made sure to take my wife because of this, because you only get one first time...

We arrived in Japan, and after a 11 hour flight, we had to get on a bus from the airport to the hotel which took two hours. Needless to say, we were beat! The next morning was work time, as we boarded a subway train to Yokohama Station where Yuke's is located. I must say, if cars are not necessary in Tokyo -- the subway system is AMAZING!

Since we're getting pretty close to completion on SvR '11, we needed to review with the dev team (engineers), what was currently in the latest build, and give our detailed feedback on what exactly we'd like to see. The Yuke's office was cool, because it was my first experience at a Japanese studio, I didn't quite know what to expect. The office is rather small, but you definitely get a sense of what the studio has accomplished over the years (with SvR, UFC, Japanese wrestling games, etc.). We quickly got into it though, with the Yuke's 3 representatives from the game team watching us as we go through a build calling out our feedback (through a translator of course), while listening to their reasoning.

I'm not familiar with this process, because at EA, our dev team was right there with us. But, I quite enjoyed this part, as it's something different, and provides a challenge. The build is coming along nicely... We have alot of work to do, but we'll get there.

Tuesday was my birthday, and towards the end of the day, I heard a faint singing, and then the door busted open, and in came a herd of Japanese guys and girls, with a cake singing their rendition of Happy Birthday. I was overwhelmed, completely overwhelmed. They put a party hat and sash on me. They also gave me a hand drawing they did (picture above), and gave me a copy of Wrestle Kingdom 2 signed by the game's director. They hardly knew me, yet they treated me like they've known me for years -- this was a common feeling I got in Japan. I was humbled for sure.

By the time we left Japan, I didn't want to go to be honest. I loved my experience there, and can't wait to go back!

Next stop -- E3. Will you be there? How about that meetup!

Will Update Later Today

It's 4AM, and I'm still not quite caught up on the Japan / US timing.

I know a lot of people are anticipating an entry, so I'll update everyone on my trip to Japan last week tomorrow... (today?)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Can't Talk About SvR '11 -- Here's Why (An Education)

What's up everyone? What did you think of the WWE Draft? Some exciting stuff there, particularly how it effects SvR '11 is what kept all of us at the office here interested. I did an interview with on Tuesday night, which you can listen to here.

I'm getting alot of questions about whether or not I can talk about SvR '11. The quick answer -- no. Why you ask? Every single game in this industry has timelines on when they talk about things. There's a strategic element to it, that people smarter than I have jobs for. We (THQ) are a public company, and there's an order to how things are done. Therefore, I can't even answer the smallest question about SvR '11 though -- it wouldn't be fair to the franchise. I know, I know "But wouldn't telling us stuff early lead to more excitement?" Sure, but that's not my call guys. The people who read this are the guys I'm trying to educate about PROCESS. This, is part of the process. Then there are the assumptions (remember -- never assume ;) ). "If you can't say anything, you're holding something back!" That's never how it is done. This is a BIG industry with ALOT of games in it. When we release information, is an idea that is thought about constantly.

Hope this sheds some light on things guys.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Getting Prepared for Japan

Been a few days since I updated, but that's because we're knee deep in work at the moment. Our Japan trip is coming up soon (May 10th), and builds keep coming in from Yukes for us to look over. I went to the Yukes LA office this week to check out a latest build, and was encouraged to see alot of changes this time around. It's quite a different experience than what I'm used to, working with a Japanese developer. I'm enjoying it thus far though, because the culture is so different, and the respect that Yukes has for us is flattering, but the feeling is mutual on our end too!

I'm getting excited to start talking about SvR '11 with all of you. I know there's a lot of skepticism, excitement, and general wonder about what will be included -- you'll just have to wait and see though.

My attention lately has shifted towards you guys, the community. What can you guys do to help us out more? Right now the community is pretty fragmented, does that make sense? You have a bunch of different sites talking SvR, but no acknowledgment of one another. In my opinion, it would be more helpful for us to get one clear message from you hardcore fans. The Gaming Rings, the IGN boards, OS,, and even Firepro's boards all have the same kinds of issues, but they're said in different ways. I'm wondering if maybe we could do some sort of weekly conference call with the "heads of the families," in a "Godfather"-like fashion, where we discuss the issues you guys are seeing on your sites. Also, maybe time booked at E3 would be good too so people could meet like-minded people face to face...

Just thoughts guys, tell me what you think...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Think Annually...

Happy Monday everyone! If you didn't watch last night's TNA Lockdown PPV, you missed an EPIC, MOTY candidate, showdown between Kurt Angle and Mr. Anderson. It's moments like these that make you appreciate watching legends in the now.

Anyway, I won't make this long, but I've been reading TONS of wish lists lately, and I must say thanks first of all for welcoming me into your communities. Now, as you write an idea down (or a complaint / demand ;) ), keep in mind that we make this game annually. This isn't a secret. Put SvR in the SAME realm as simulation sports games. Now that you've done that, does your wish list change? Do your complaints lessen? If not, let me know!

Friday, April 16, 2010


So I spent alot of time on message boards yesterday, and I noticed alot of negative things said about some of my team members at THQ. This should stop guys. You have every right to complain about things that you buy, but when it comes to personal insults, that's just not necessary. Here's a newsflash -- WE ALL WANT THE SAME THINGS YOU GUYS DO!

Some think they know what goes on, but unless you've been there, you have no idea... It's just a fact guys. BUT, I think that we can help with that moving forward. Bring you guys in on what's going on, get you involved in these conversations.

Now, enjoy the weekend everyone! Come back fresh, insult free, and ready to rock on Monday!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

YOU Tell ME...

I've heard it about 2741073980174380173498021783490 times -- "Why can't you just make SvR like No Mercy combined with HCTP?"

I, like all of you, loved the AKI wrestling games, but is "No Mercy," and "WrestleMania 2000" what you really want? Let's discuss...

I see constantly on boards that you guys want a simulation game, and then you turn around and say "I miss the AKI games." Well, I'm just going to say it...the AKI games weren't sim wrestling games. Were they an absolute blast to play? Absolutely. But were they sim? Nope.

I won't go into why I think so, but if you really take a step back and judge those games based on what you think is a true representation of the WWE, then I think you'll know right away that they weren't sim. I think we often blur the lines between fun and sim, and alot of good sports games are like that now (NHL, FIFA). Also, and it's natural, but everyone thinks of the "heyday" as the better time. I'm not starting a SvR vs AKI argument, I'm just saying that it's important for us to separate our feelings from our desires. We all feel that we loved the AKI games, but we all want a sim wrestling game as well.

If you want a sim wrestling game, then the AKI games are not it.

Now, I realize I opened myself up to this, so I'm fully prepared to be wrong with this. I'd love it if you guys could tell me exactly what you loved about the AKI games, and what you'd like to see implemented into the SvR series from what the AKI games did. If you're one of those "I want a sim wrestling game" guys, then tell me what you liked from the AKI games from that perspective. If you're one of those guys that doesn't say that, tell me generally what you liked from the AKI games.

I want to make one thing clear though, this does not mean that what you write down, we'll build because that's just not how things work. I'm always looking for ideas, and I'd be a fool not to tap into a community of passionate fans. But look at this blog as a sounding board to get your ideas and points across.

Here we go...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Back to Work and Ready to Kick the Flu's A**!

I'm back to work after a few days with the flu. It's still not completely gone, but I'll survive. While sick, I was thinking about what my workout schedule would be like once I got back. At EA, I worked out religiously because there was a gym in the office. There is NOT a gym at THQ (that needs to change), so instead, I'm going to get a membership at the OG of gyms -- Gold's Gym in Venice Beach. After I get started back up at the gym, I'm going to begin exploring pro wrestling training. One of the guys on the team trains in Anaheim with Disco Inferno, so I might try my hand at that. I'm not looking to do shows, but rather just get the experience training since I've always wanted to.

I really enjoyed both shows last night (WWE and TNA) for different reasons. I'll spare you guys why...

I'm currently at my desk fleshing out a high-level design for the FUTURE (said in sci-fi narrator voice)!!

I wanted to address something, and I couldn't have picked a better time...

I'm seeing alot of negativity towards SvR as of late on some of the various boards around the world wide web. I knew what I was getting into coming in, so I expected that. We have some extremely hardcore fans of this business, and more importantly, our game. I'd say this is a plus for us, BUT it's very important that your expectations are in check. We make a game annually, so while wishlists are important, start to think about what we've done in the past, and how realistic it is to get to something in the next installment. Once you're thinking on those terms, I think we'll see a lot more progress in the wishlists that are provided. My goal here is to teach everyone about the development process of their favorite game, and in turn, you'll become more educated (in a good way) so that our two way communication is productive for everyone! I won't ever speak for our entire team, but In my time with these guys, there's no doubt that they know what they're doing. With that said, here are a quick FYI's for all of you as we move forward:

1.) Never assume - This is one of the first things you learn in game development, and I thought it would be an ideal place for all of you as well. Never assume how things are done, unless we tell you, you don't know. It's not me standing on my soap box declaring it, it's just a fact. With that said, I'll always be honest with you, even if the answer you get isn't something you want to hear. Honesty never hurts anyone :)

2.) Constructive Criticism - I love to hear what all of you have to say about SvR, so for the sake of time (for both of us), if you have a complaint about the game, be precise in what you're talking about and offer up a solution on what you would do if you were in one of our shoes. Everyone can complain or praise, but it takes some effort to explain why.

3.) We're human - We don't sit in a death star with storm trooper helmets on, we're real people that enjoy doing this for a living. You would right? I personally read pretty much everything that's said about our game... if you've written it, I've probably seen it.

4.) Time is limited - A new game comes out every year, and I'm doing my day job. As I put myself out there, understand that I can't answer or talk with everyone. I'll do my best, but if I don't answer, don't take offense -- it's nothing personal at all! Also, please take note of what's previously been said before. If 10 people have already said that something is wrong, it's just a waste of time to read about the 11th person saying it. In the end, it benefits all of you to know what's been said already.

That's it for now, but I'll add more when I think of any. I hope this doesn't come off as snobby or cocky. I love interacting with all of you -- it's my background, and I believe that it is necessary in order to have a game that satisfies everyone.

If you have any questions at anytime, please feel free to Tweet me, or PM me on the message board you go to. My name on messageboards is always "stephensonmc"

Monday, April 12, 2010

Day 2 of the Flu...

Three days in our new place, and I have the flu...

A couple of the guys on our SvR team invited me to the PWG show on Saturday (Pro Wrestling Guerilla), but I didn't feel so hot. It's a shame because I really wanted to go...

RAW and Impact tonight. I anticipate Mondays so much, because the show's happenings serve as our team's discussion topics for the rest of the week. It makes you feel pretty lucky to work on a passion of yours.

I've really been enjoying NXT lately. I think I just love seeing the new blood out there. Which reminds me, I'm JUST asking, but how would YOU implement NXT into SvR? I know a "career mode" is the obvious thought, but how would you go outside of the box with it? Please don't jump to conclusions, I just wanted to ask...

What's your NXT rookie order? Mine:

1.) Bryan
2.) Heath Slater
3.) Gabriel
4.) Wade Barrett
5.) David Otunga
6.) Skip Sheffield
7.) Darren Young
8.) Tarver

I'm seeing alot of wishlists in the various communities across internet land -- keep them coming. If I can't answer something guys, please don't take offense. I'm here to have discussions with you guys, but for obvious reasons, there's really no way I can answer everything.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

"Hart and Soul"

Have any of you seen this yet? I've been meaning to pick it up, and add it to THQ's WWE video library of goodness!

Let me know what you guys think of this!

Long Time, I Know!

I know it's been far too long since I've posted here, so let me take you through the last three weeks of my life...

THQ has been fantastic so far. My first day was about three weeks ago, and the team has accepted me with open arms. They're really passionate about what they do, and are complete wrestling fanatics (which should really make alot of you feel good)!

The first couple of days at the office were like run together for me. There was the getting to and from, which equals traffic, and to avoid it, I found myself leaving at around 7 AM every day, and leaving at 6:30 -- which made the driving pretty tolerable.

I've been thrown right into it at THQ -- and I'm also trying to impact other parts of the company as well, in particular, their community efforts. As most of you know, THQ has a co-developer, Yukes working on the SvR franchise. Working with them has been quite a learning experience, but a welcome one. I love the respect the Japanese developer shows, and their knowledge and passion for a 10+ year franchise is pretty clear.

My wife and I are LOVING the food here. We're vegetarians, and LA really offers us alot of options. Abbots pizza, Mao's Chinese Kitchen, Seed, and the traditional Chipotle have been recent stops for us.

We also found a place, and are now living in Venice, CA which is our type of neighborhood. We really dig the laid back vibe here.

The cable company came, and hooked up our TV -- FINALLY I get my TV again, which I've missed since we've been in temporary housing. I was disappointed that our new place didn't allow DirecTV, because I really wanted the NFL Sunday Ticket so I could watch my Dallas Cowboys. Instead, I have the MLB Extra Innings package, and have my first DVR -- what an experience.

I'm finding myself really getting in to the Dodgers here. I'm a huge baseball fan, and I don't feel like I'm cheating on my Indians since the Dodgers are a NL team.

What do you guys thing of wrestling on the tube so far? I loved the way HBK retired, and will remember it forever. I'm glad NXT is getting around to telling us, the viewers, how the competition plays out, and Smackdown continues to have excellent matches! TNA had a great ladder match last week between Angle and Anderson, and Orlando Jordan has been one of the most confusing characters I've ever seen in wrestling.

I can't comment too much on the game at this point, but we're taking a trip to Japan in May to spend some quality time with Yukes. This will be my first trip out off of the continent, but my wife is going with me, so it makes me feel good about it.

Are any of you going to E3? I keep forgetting it's in my backyard now, so I hope to see alot of you there -- we have some good stuff to show!

Anyway, I'll be posting more often, because we got a brand new laptop -- our first Mac!

Thanks for the patience, and you should see me on the different boards very soon!

Friday, March 19, 2010


Ladies and gentlemen, Marcus Stephenson is BACK in the United States! After a long, slightly hectic, day we're comfortably in our temporary housing in Marina Del Rey, California (a little outside of Santa Monica -- were we want to live). I start work at THQ on Monday, but I'm going through the traditional orientation that this industry loves to run us through.

If it's anything like EA's, I'll actually start on Tuesday :)

I'm looking forward to meeting the people who I've been in contact with via e-mail at THQ. They all seem like smart, passionate people that I'm excited to share ideas, and create a fantastic WWE product!

Short post today, I know -- but I'll be sure to update all of you on my first official day at THQ soon.

Until then, bye for now...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday Nights are BACK!

3 days left in Vancouver...

Can you just feel it in the air? During a major portion of my life as a fan of professional wrestling, Monday nights were a staple in my household. I feel it again... I feel the anticipation each Monday night again.

Tonight, RAW gave me that nostalgic feeling with Stone Cold and Bret Hart out there. How surreal was it seeing SCSA and Cena in the same ring? Who works the crowd like that anymore? I think the Miz does in a way...

We're quickly wrapping things up in Vancouver as the moving truck comes Wednesday. Today we threw a bunch of stuff away, and I cemented plans to have a goodbye lunch with Sean O'Brien from the NBA LIVE team tomorrow -- he's always a fun guy to be around. We'll talk hoops for sure, which I'm looking forward to.

I thought of a few ideas for SvR today, and I can't wait to get into the studio to share them with the team.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's LOST -- this season has been pretty good so far. John Locke is the MAN!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Last Few Days in Vancouver...

It's a pretty surreal feeling in our place right now. Having friends over one last time, sitting on the couch watching TV knowing that you can't ultimately be comfortable due to the fact that you'll be gone soon -- in temporary housing no less.

Still, there's a certain degree of excitement as well. I see you guys, the faithful wrestling games crowd, talking about my arrival to THQ. It gives me confidence going into a new world, where there are already pre-existing passionate fans in place.

I'm trying to figure out currently how I'm going to watch WrestleMania when I'm in LA... The moving company will have picked up our stuff, and we'll be in temporary housing. I hope the housing has PPV, but if it doesn't, any ideas from you guys on where to watch it in LA would be much appreciated.

Well, that's all for now...

Back to getting rid of things before the move...

On This Day in Wrestling History...

March 14th, 1984 -- The Iron Sheik defeated Chief Jay Strongbow

Speaking of the Iron Sheik, apparently, he had some problems on a recent flight...

From JR’s blog:
“Small world….an old friend of mine was on a flight from Vegas to Atlanta this week and was seated on the same row, row 10, with a reportedly rowdy Iron Sheik. My friend, who is not in the wrestling biz, sent me a few text messages describing the scene which apparently was a little wild. It’s hard to believe that when I first met the Iron Sheik that he was quiet, weighed about 195 pounds or so, had hair, and was then a regular traveling partier with Danny Hodge.”

This famous camel clutch against Bob Backlund is the first image that pops into my head when I think of the Iron Sheik:

Saturday is Before Sunday

First off, what did you guys think of Smackdown on Friday night? I loved CM Punk's promo!

I went for my usual run this morning, but I already miss the gym at EA. I'll have to get a membership to a gym in LA -- I doubt I can just roll up on muscle beach and hit the weights...

"WWE Vintage Collection" was on today, and they dedicated the entire show to WrestleMania XII's 60 minute Iron Man Match between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. I remember when I was younger and watching this, I was amazed by HBK's entrance. The funny thing though is that I don't know whether that image is something I remember experiencing, or the WWE showing that video so much, that I just took the thought from that...

I'm writing late because we just got back from our going away party, I'll definitely miss the folks here in Vancouver, but I know I'll still see them -- this industry is smaller than one would think.

All for tonight (it's 1:09 AM)

Friday, March 12, 2010

On this Day in Wrestling History...

WWE - March 12, 1984 - Paul Orndorff aka "Mr. Wonderful" defeated Salvatore Bellomo in Staten Island, NY

I remember having this very old wrestling book -- one with HUGE pages, and there was this picture of Orndorff with this Rolls-Royce. I thought he was sooooo cool!

And so it Begins....

Today, announced that I've left EA to go to THQ to work on the WWE Smackdown vs Raw series.

I must say, this is a change that I'm extremely excited for, but life in this industry, on a corporate level, has been all EA SPORTS for me since I started -- so that will be a different feeling for sure. When I first got to EA, people knew me from my days and thought I was "in bed" with EA. Egg on your faces now right? ;)

Anyway, my wife and I are still in Vancouver, BC until March 19th, but I've been talking with the team at THQ about designs for WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011, while coordinating the move to LA.

With all of this time off though (I put my two weeks in at EA two weeks ago), It's been a wrestlefest (no pun intended) of video games, dirt sheets, and DVDs that I own.

Two going away parties for us this weekend, but I must say that I'm ready to leave. Alot of it is because of the new job that awaits me, but the most important thing to me is moving to a new city with my wife -- it feels like an adventure!

I'm going to really sink my teeth into this role at THQ. If you're a fan of the series, let's take this thing to another level! If you're not a fan, get on board.