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.


  1. Thanks for all the hard work, it's appreciated! I love having a vechicle where atleast questions, concerns, and suggestions are heard. I think it is a wonderful way for fans of a franchise to feel more connected to the game and the development of it. Thanks again! Bring on SVR 2011!

  2. Grats to Tank for the marriage. :)

    On Rosters: Being a fighting game enthusiast and currently following the development of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, as well as the update for the Arcade version of Super Street Fighter 4 which, alongside balance changes, already has 2 series vets returning with possibly more coming, the statement that you'll never please everybody with roster selection rings true. I'll admit that I've been one of those that has said "What a waste of space!" to character implementation across many franchises, but I've learned to chillax as my understanding of the development process and industry has grown.

    On Taking ideas from other games: Totally for it. Good ideas should be spread and built upon which leads to more innovation and good ideas and those spreading and etc.

    On "That Game that Cannot Be Named Yet:" My only solid hopes right now are the furthered and completed implementation of women into every reasonable avenue of gameplay (BTW, I am VERY happy to here they can at least somewhat participate in Elimination Chamber via Match Creator!) and Create-A-Belt with ability to set gender/team/stipulation qualifications.

    Can't see it enough that all this community communication is very appreciated. :)

  3. Dude, I appreciate all the info and blog posts...definitely gives me something cool to rake through with my morning coffee :)

  4. Well all I have to say is thanks. There isn't a game yet that has gone to the forums and tried to give the fans exactly what they ask for. Your right you can't make everyone happy but you have done a kick ads job at trying.

  5. Thanks for the continued communications. I'll admit that I was a bit tweaked seeing Steve Austin entering the ring without his signature vest. At the same time, I thought to myself that I'd probably just have him be a surprise entrant for the Royal Rumble, where entrance attire isn't necessary(unless you're #1 or #2, lol).

    Also, I was reading a preview for the game on by Martin Gaston, and he mentioned the engine "showing it's age."

    Your response if you're allowed to respond?

  6. Just want to say thanks Marcus. I am really enjoying the "luxury" of allowing us to communicate directly with the creators, designers, etc... to help make a better game. It is truly a unique thing and I thank you for allowing that to happen. I think it will make a beeter game in the long run. Giving us a little insight into the development process helps us understand just how difficult it is to make a yearly title come together.

    I also agree with exploring ideas from other games to implement in the SvR series. I honestly think this is how the entire gaming industry should work, not just certain companies who share internally.

    On the roster, I am one of those people that say it is what it is. Whoever you guys can get in the game is cool with me. Just having legends in the game is a treat itself.

    Anyways. I just wanted to say thanks again. You guys have filled this game chalk full of great stuff, definitely more than other yearly titles. Also, thanks for keeping an open line of communication, I really appreciate it as a dedicated SvR fan since the first game, and as a gamer in general.

    P.S. Tell Tank I said congrats on his marriage!

  7. Thanks as always Marcus for your candid thoughts and a look into the process that goes on over there at THQ. I can't stress how much it's appreciated.

    I must say, the comments section here on your blog is easily the most intelligent and civil of the SvR community bunch. Seeing some of the things people write to you on other boards or on Twitter really make us all look like mouth-breathing, self-important idiots. It sometimes makes me embarrassed to be excited about this game knowing the company I'm in (hence my user name, ho ho)--but then I read things from other normal, mature people here and it assures me that we're not all petulant thirteen year olds.

  8. Thanks, Marcus. As I think I've stated before in previous comments (but will gladly say again), I think the communication level you've opened up for the fans is unprecedented. In 2010, it's amazing to think that this is really the first case of a developer/publisher being so interested and accessible to its fanbase.

    The information you've provided over the last several weeks has been amazing, and done wonders for keeping a rabid fan of the series like myself in check. But it's also awesome to think that, once the game is finally released, I'll be able to share my thoughts with you first-hand, and that the combined feedback from the community will directly influence the direction of next year's game.

    This is the kind of relationship gamers have wanted with developers for years, and it's great to see you and THQ on the forefront of delivering that to them. Kudos.

  9. Very interesting from a customer point of view that annual titles can sort of borrow tech and other assets from one another. That's reassuring in a sense, as while I'm sure everything is very intricate and specialized, it makes me feel that there must be at least some degree of standardization - if only on the tools side of development - that makes things easier and more efficient for you guys as designers.

    The Fan Axxess thing and other DLC confusion swirling around... I'm going to be honest. (Recent events in my life have taught me the importance - and pain, sadly - of being honest and forthright at all times.) And this isn't intended to reflect on you or anyone else in a negative way, so please don't take it that way. But I do have to say that, at least for me personally as an individual customer and gamer, the ability to edit Superstar attributes being DLC (however affordable) is disappointing and confusing to me.

    There is probably some reality of the situation of which I'm unaware since I'm on the outside looking in. But without that information, and until such time as that information is made available to us, it makes it seem like a relatively minor feature that is as easy to integrate into the game proper as running an executable (when we download the DLC I mean) is being withheld from the game and being offered as paid DLC instead.

    Again, I'm TOTALLY open to that perception being wrong, and I suspect that, as I said, the realities involved aren't known or knowable to us. So I will reserve judgment on that score. I just wanted to go on record and let you know how things like that can look and feel to us, so that in the future, any such ambiguity or poor perceptions can be avoided. It just doesn't look good to people, you know what I mean?

    As always though, keep up the great work, don't get too overworked now that it's the flu season, and make sure you get adequete rest so you don't start having micro-naps and hallucinating like I tend to lol. :P

  10. Marcus I'm glad your enjoying THQ can't wait for that game your talking about too hopefully a LOWM2 with SvR engine can be processed for future release for THQ.

    For SvR 2012 I would love to see SvR get online leagues, better selling, backstage areas, improve RTWM (from what I've heard it will need some), selling moves (staying down and being hurt from gets and missing moves), and I will add more later after I get game.

    Hearing the 2K comment in blog felt great to hear I feel 2K really listens to their community and see THQ doing the same with SvR and UFC and i'm loving Thanks THQ Team.