INTERVIEW WITH JONATHAN DURR BY GAMEZONE.
We recently had the chance to talk to a few of the Smackdown vs Raw 2011 developers at an event in Dallas, and from them we've learned a ton about the game. We aim to give you the info you're dying for, and we're going to do so by offering a "straight from the developer's mouth" interview feature. This first one is going to focus mostly on the multiplayer features of the game, which includes both online and offline modes.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us what you do on Smackdown vs. Raw 2011?
My name is Jonathan, and I’m a game designer for SvR11. I work in a bunch of different areas: I do the online mode, story designer, commentary, UI, a bunch of different things.
Let’s jump straight into the online mode here if we could. Was the Royal Rumble difficult to implement this year?
The online Royal Rumble was pretty fun because you have this idea of a 30 man match, and you’re one person coming out and trying to beat them all. We’re trying to make an entertaining experience based on that while including some competitive gameplay, so we had to tweak it to be more video game compatible. It had to be good latency wise, and we felt like 2 to 12 people is a pretty good number for that. After that we decided that it’s alright to for a player to go in there, compete once and get kicked out as per the real Royal Rumble rules set. However, if you’ve been waiting a while for your shot and then end up getting eliminated after only a couple seconds, it might not be so fun to sit and watch the rest of the match. We decided to let you come back in and keep reentering the match in turn with everyone else you’re playing against because of this. We also put some points in it and figured out a scoring system, and at the end of the day it’s pretty fun.
So does the point system actually matter then? Or is it still all based on whoever lasts until the end?
Actually the most important thing based on how we skewed it is eliminations rather then lasting until the end of the match. Again, we’re trying to go for a competitive experience, and if you just so happen to be the last entry in the Royal Rumble, then you’d have a big advantage if you just had to be the winner of the match. You do get a big bonus for being the last person in the match, but you get more points for doing things like eliminating multiple opponents with one character, or eliminating consecutive people.
Having played the last couple of games, it seems as though people might not actually fight each other in the Royal Rumble, but rather just go for the take out as soon as possible. Is there anything to prevent this from happening?
Yeah, we’ve actually improved the Royal Rumble specifically in 2010. We worked on some mini games for the eliminations, and then this year we took what we did last year and applied it to our online.
Created content has been a great feature of the game for a couple years now, but what can you create now that you weren’t able to before?
The big thing this year with creation is create a match, and that’s pretty wild because you can take any match that we currently have and tweak it. You can have an ironman match that occurs inside an inferno ring; you can put on all kinds of stipulations really. For example you could make it a 2 out of 3 falls match, or you could turn it into a submission match instead. One of my favourites is actually a finisher match, where every time you hit a finisher you get a point. It just opens up a lot of creativity there, and it’s a lot of fun.
What would be the biggest feature that fans wanted that made it into this game?
Well we’ve made a lot of changes this year: We’ve improved our latency dramatically, which is kind of a must and the fans had been screaming for that. We now allow users to edit downloaded content, so if they download someone else’s work from community creations and want to further edit it for any reason, they can do that. There was a big cry about the story designer to allow more then 10 instances of created superstars, so now we did 15 an unlimited amount of times. They also talked a lot about wanting to do multiplayer within the story designer, and on top of that they wanted a never ending kind of career experience. Both of those issues fans had with the game have been solved with the new WWE Universe mode, which we really feel gives the users that experience.
Is there any rhyme or reason for the match interferences or events? The first match I played actually started with my character the Miz attacking Evan Bourne during his intro, and later in the match another character came to interfere.
Well the Universe throws some unexpected things at you. The Miz is a bad guy, and at the start of the match he decides he wants to get a jump on the opponent, so that’s why he attacks someone at the beginning of the match. You’re not expecting it, so that’s pretty cool. Later on in the match, your rival might come out and throw in a bit of an extra challenge if you’re doing well, or an ally might show up if you need a bit of a hand.
What’s the feature you’re most proud of in this game?
I’m really happy with the way that online came out. All the different areas within that that we have improved like leader boards, to community creations, to the way the game plays and online Royal Rumble. There is so much that we went and put in to that, and I think it came out really well at the end of the day.