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AusGamers UFC Undisputed 3 Developer Interview
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 03:56pm 22/11/11 | Comments
AusGamers had a chance to check out UFC Undisputed 3 in Vegas this during UFC 137. We spoke to the game's producer, Nevin Dravinski, about their latest installment in the series...

Watch the full video interview embedded above, or click here to catch it in HD.

AusGamers: Hi guys, welcome back to AusGamers, you’re here once again with Stephen Farrelly. I’m out at the UFC training centre, in Vegas again, and I’m here with Nevin, who is Producer on UFC Undisputed 3. I had a bit of a chance to play it last night and I will profess to not having...

Nevin Dravinski: So you weren’t just there for the trip to Vegas and the booze and what not? You were actually playing? [laughs]

AusGamers: Of course not! Who do you think I am! [laughs]. No, I did win some money last night though!

Nevin: Awesome, awesome. That’s great.

AusGamers: I will profess to not having played too much of the first two games, but I did jump into UFC 3 and I loved it. And I’m not just saying that because I’m talking to you, it actually really spoke it me; it was really easy to get to grips with.

Nevin: Did you use pro or amateur?

AusGamers: I started amateur then I went to pro and the transition was really good, so it seems like you guys have really nailed that entry level now, which I guess was really important. So let’s start there.

Nevin: Sure, well the amateur controls that we put in -- and for those of you who don’t know, it’s a new control system for transitions, where the quarter-circle turns on the right stick are replaced by simple flick up and flick down. Not to say that you have an advantage with that control scheme, it’s really meant for new users to get in and have fun.

We did development a lot differently this year. We had more time for development in UFC 3; we broke from the annual cycle and we found that we have a very deep and technical fighting game, but there is an element of education that people really need to understand what they’re doing in the game and that barrier of entry was a little steep for some.

Unless you’re really dedicated -- and even people that play videogames consistently, a lot of them said to us “look, it’s just too difficult for me to know what the difference between a major and a minor transition is” and we recognised that, so this amateur control scheme we introduced is really to get more people playing the game.

Because the game is fun when you’re in there playing, having fun and being competitive. Certainly, a lot of the executives at UFC always tell me “my kid beats me up; it’s no fun”, but this year I’m able to tell them “trust me, you’ll be more competitive”.

So again, we know we have a deep technical fighting game here and the point is to get more people playing. Because it is fun when you know how to play so let’s lessen that barrier of entry to playing and get more people in.

AusGamers: Obviously you get a lot of the fighters to come in and test the game -- to play with themselves [giggles] -- have you noticed too many of them jumping straight into amateur or are they going for the more technical side?

Nevin: Well, you know, a lot of these guys play a lot of games. A lot of the fighters obviously played the UFC Undisputed series -- they want to see themselves; everyone’s like “uhh, I don’t have enough of a tan, or my abs aren’t ripped enough” etcetera, etcetera. Certain guys like Quin - Rampage Jackson -- I mean, that guy’s a gamer -- he plays every game.

So when I’m talking to him about transitions, he’s like “Oh ok, cool. Yeah, I got that”, but certain other guys, maybe they’re not “gamers” -- so they’re not into playing games -- but they all like to see themselves and play against other people. We’ve had fighters talk about how they prepare for fights by playing the game -- they look at themselves beating up somebody else and visualise that and use that as inspiration.

So it’s actually really cool for us. Because of the fidelity of our models -- it’s unreal how many details come across in the game. Like, a guy’s tattoos -- new tattoos are our nemesis, because we’ll watch a fight and it’s like “wait, where did you get that sleeve from? That wasn’t there six months ago!”. We try and keep that as accurate as possible, so it usually involves “ok, send an art intern out to get some photographs of tattoos”.

But the fighters are great to work with, they love seeing themselves in the game and I think we’re just trying to do right by them and make them look as real as it gets.

AusGamers: And that’s another point is the signature component which is: everybody has their favourite fighters; people play these games to dabble in the different styles. But I want to know -- from a systems point of view -- you’re creating a technical game and you’ve got all these technical fighters and you’ve got all these technical sports -- so how do you guys build animation trees and the hit detection and all of that sort of stuff? It seems overly complex.

Nevin: Oh it gives me heart attacks and grey hairs. It is, and I think that what we do is some of the hardest stuff in the industry -- specifically the ground animations. When you think of two guys, independent, without clipping, then going into a paired animation, rolling on the ground, doing a transition; breaking away from that; being able to punch and branch from there.

Technically speaking, when we first started doing this, my animation director was just throwing his hands up in the air saying “This is crazy; you guys are nuts!”, but everyone -- I think -- on the team, realise that this is a challenge that we needed to rise up to meet and I think the results speak for themselves. I think the things that you see in the game -- the details; the minutia of these animations and how they branch and when you can break out of them -- it’s really impressive and I think that every time I play the game, I always see something new.

Even though I play it every day, there’s always something like “Wow, we got that in? That’s awesome”. So for me, it is certainly a challenge; and I think I can speak for the whole team: it’s definitely a labour of love. We’re all very proud of where this series has gone and what we’ve been able to achieve and quite frankly, a lot of these guys understand that we’re setting bars in the industry as a whole. There’s a lot of people that look at what we do in Undisputed and ask questions like “Can we get to that level?”, so for us, that’s the ultimate compliment.

AusGamers: So let’s talk about getting Pride into the game, because that seems to be the genesis for all of this. Can you run us through the process of getting that in the game?

Nevin: Absolutely. Pride Championships was something we wanted to include since UFC 2009. UFC bought out the organisation from Japan, really to bring their fighters into the UFC and now it’s defunct, but was still owned by Zuffa -- the parent company of UFC. It really made sense and the hardcore fans have been asking for it forever and now that we were able to break from the annualised cycle, it made sense for this third iteration to bring that in.

What’s really cool -- for me, I think -- is the gameplay mechanics that are available. A lot of these current fighters in the UFC made their marks in Pride. A lot of the most iconic fights that these fighters have had, were fights that occurred in Pride. Rampage’s power-slam that he did or Wanderlei Silva, the Axe Murderer, really put himself on the map in a lot of his Pride fights.

Not to say that they didn’t have amazing fights in the UFC, but I think everyone would agree that Pride Fighting Championships was a great organisation and really built a lot of these guys up. So getting them in the game was actually pretty straight-forward. We approached UFC and said “look, we’d like to include Pride in the game; it makes sense; new gameplay opportunities”.

It’s no longer live obviously; you’re not having shows anymore, but I think the rule-sets and the pageantry of Pride and everything that it represents, and having that actual license -- the real license -- with the Japanese rule-set, just made sense to put in the game. And they were on board with it -- the first time I showed it to Dana [White, UFC President], he was like “This is awesome! This is so cool! You can kick in the face? You got that in?” and I’m like “Of course, of course”.

What’s cool too is that you can bring UFC guys into Pride; Pride guys into UFC. So literally, you could play the Undisputed 3 game the entire time, only playing in Pride style rules and you’d have fun. So I’m excited for people to get a chance to play it. I think the gameplay opportunities are tremendous and it’s just fun to stomp people in the face.

AusGamers: Now, you guys are out in February -- on the home stretch. It’s a bit of a throwaway question, but what’s the future for you guys? Obviously, this is an iterative series -- you’re probably talking about taking player feedback and working out what you can do with the next one or DLC; that sort of thing -- but I did talk with Danny Bilson [THQ VP of Core Games] last night about how it would be great to see a UFC-style Allstars kind of arcade game, with a bouncy ring or something like that.

Nevin: Absolutely. Well, I think the future... the sky’s the limit really, right? We did development on UFC Undisputed 3 a little differently this year -- we started focus-testing from the get go. We recognise that people had some concerns and issues with the previous two games and really, our marching cry for this third one was “ok, well fine, let’s address all the complaints; let’s look at all the things that people were concerned about -- for better or worse -- and let’s do something about it.”, “Let’s keep what’s good -- we know we have a great, deep base here -- but let’s make it better; let’s get to a point where there really are not complaints.”.

And I really think -- from a team perspective -- we’ve never felt better about the game. We’re our own worst critics, but I think we’re all -- at this point with UFC Undisputed 3 -- like, “ok wow”. You can really see the evolution. If you were to look at footage from 2009, then 2010 and now see what we’re doing now, it’s tremendous. And as far as the future goes, I think a lot of it will really be dependant on how this third iteration is received; the mechanics as those are explored and what people gravitate towards.

And we read all the feedback; we’re our own worst critics; we take the feedback, good and bad and we listen to the community -- we involve people; as mentioned, we bring in people from the get-go to help us achieve that vision. So after this third iteration comes out, we’ll take the feedback again and keep trying to make the best MMA game -- the best videogame -- possible.

AusGamers: Ok, awesome. Well, we’ll leave it there Nevin. Hopefully I get to have a beer with you later on and maybe a bit of a gamble or something like that.

Nevin: Absolutely!

AusGamers: But the game looks great. As a person that’s coming into it pretty much for the first time, you guys have pretty much nailed it.

Nevin: I very much appreciate that and I have the chest pains and grey hairs to prove it, but thank you very much, that’s great.

AusGamers: Alright, awesome. Thank you very much. Cheers.

Nevin: Cheers.
Read more about UFC Undisputed 3 on the game page - we've got the latest news, screenshots, videos, and more!

Latest Comments
Posted 04:21pm 22/11/11
nice interview and jealous as hell you went to see 137 =(

Really enjoy these games, can bash mates for hrs apon hrs haha
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