EA’s first UFC title is looking mighty impressive. Built from the ground-up for next-gen, it’s still early days, but the tech that the team is putting in place shows a huge amount of promise. The character models are particularly impressive, and not just because they’re so detailed. It’s the subtle touches that make the difference here. Tech like full body deformation ensures the fighters’ bodies contort as they come into contact (or when fist comes into contact with face), while exertion actually has an impact, making veins pop and faces go red.
We recently caught up with Brian Hayes, the game’s Creative Director, to find out a little more about what UFC fans have in store. Here are some of the most interesting tidbits.
Brian Hayes: We’ve got guys that have worked on EA Sports FIFA, guys that have worked on NHL, guys that have worked on SSX, and there’s a lot of people that worked on Fight Night 3 through Fight Night Champion. I originally started working as a designer on Fight Night 2004. Our lead gameplay designer was the lead gameplay designer on Fight Night Round 3. I worked in that role on Fight Night Round 4 and Fight Night Champion.
Brian Hayes: There’s a lot more variety in terms of the strikes you can perform in a game like UFC, especially with some of the fighters doing the things that they’re doing now - like the cage-based strikes that Anthony “Showtime” Pettis does - so we never had to worry about a guy running and jumping off the side of the cage and doing a roundhouse kick against his opponent in Fight Night, but it’s a great challenge to have now that we’re working on EA Sports UFC, and there’s certainly some things we’ve learnt, just about how we should approach stamina in a fighting game like this, and how should we approach health and damage, stun states and different mechanics like that. There’s a wealth of knowledge on the gameplay team to help us start with a leg up in that regard.
Brian Hayes: The thing about Fight Night Champion, to put things in perspective, the Fight Night series went through Fight Night 2004, Round 2, Round 3, Round 4 and then we had Fight Night Champion. It took us a while to lock everything down, just from the core gameplay and features and modes standpoint, before we could try something really different, like Champion mode. So right now we’re heavily focused on locking down the core gameplay features and modes for EA Sports UFC. Whether or not we do a narrative-based cinematic experience in EA Sports UFC is TBD for the future.
I think there’s some things that we did in Champion mode that can carry over into a more traditional career mode experience and a great example is – for any Fight Night Champion fans out there I’ll speak specifically – we had the Keyshawn Hayes fight, where we told you ‘hey, this guy’s got a devastating left hook – you’ve got to watch out for that left hook’ and then you went into that fight and almost without fail in the first 30-40 seconds of that fight he would put you on your butt with a left hook. So we made that connection mentally for the player. ‘Okay yes, this guy’s left hook is devastating, I need to really be on the look-out for it’.
Similarly, we can have that in our game. Say you’re fighting Dan Henderson. Well guess what? His overhand right is a nuclear bomb. You need to watch out for that overhand right. We can do those same sort of scenario-based challenges to bring a story about that particular fight to life in a career mode experience without having to send your character to prison and be assaulted by, y’know, Aryan gangs, or whatever.
Brian Hayes: We have a long term partnership with the UFC so we have the opportunity to expand and grow the library of fighting styles that are included in the game, but to start with we’re really focusing on nailing the primary, core martial arts disciplines that make up the preponderance of techniques that are used, so obviously there’s wrestling, jiu jitsu, judo, muay thai, boxing, kickboxing, karate, and that’s already a lot. There’s those and then sprinkling some spice from a few other unique fighting styles, like, say, capoeira or whatever. You can expect to see a lot of different things in there.
Brian Hayes: With the limited amount of hands-on grappling experience that I have, one of the first things that you realise is that Brazilian jiu jitsu is a sport that you could do blindfolded. And a lot of guys will if they’re just practising rolling around on the ground. They’ll keep their eyes closed, because really, the sport itself is about feeling your opponent’s weight, leverage, and where their body is in space, and you don’t need to have your eyes open to know that ‘hey, he’s holding my wrist’ or ‘his hand’s on my knee’ or what have you. So that’s really an interesting challenge when we have a video game where the only information we can present to you is through your eyeballs, and you have a sport that you can play with your eyes closed…
When you go to the ground it’s not just button mashing
When we looked at all the previous, existing mixed martial arts games, one of the things that they all seemed to do without fail was that you would have a submission attempt button or input and then once you hit that you pretty much go right into a fully executed submission position, whether it be a fully locked on rear naked choke or a fully extended arm bar, and then there’d be some form of battle between two players to see whether this submission will get ‘finished’. But what really happens in Brazilian jiu jitsu and the UFC is that there’s actually a battle between the offensive and defensive fighter to get to that final stage of a choke being fully locked on or the arm actually being fully extended. If you’re in an arm bar and your arm is extended, the fight is over. The fight is to stop the guy from getting your arm out away from your body.
We want to bring that fight to life… the strategy in terms of the battle – how are you going to defend yourself, how am I going to attack you? And keep it… alive in each moment of the submission… one of the really cool things about our submission system and the way it’s working right now is that as we’re going through the different stages. If you – say – escape at a middle stage of the submission that might mean you escape and you get out to side control as opposed to just staying in my guard. So there may be a strategic decision on your part where you’re not actually going to defend the first two advancements. You’re going to let me get into the submission and think I’m doing really well, and then you’re going to go for the escape because actually you’re going to try to get out to a more dominant position on the ground because you know that opening is there.
We’re trying to bring some of that stuff to life with our ground game, that hopefully just makes it more interesting and more compelling overall. When you go to the ground it’s not just ‘oh great, we get to have a button mashing fight against each other’. No, it’s actually ‘I have a game-plan and I’m going to try and do something unique here, throw some misdirection your way’ and hopefully that’ll be a lot more interesting for our players.
Source : ign[dot]com