UFC Undisputed 2010 faster, more realistic, says UFC project manager Neven Dravinski
“UFC Undisputed 2010″ comes to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 this week, and Neven Dravinski, UFC Project Manager, answered some questions for Nerdage about the hard-hitting sequel.
Nerdage: Can you tell me about the development of moves for the UFC Undisputed game?
Neven Dravinski: The Moves in the Undisputed series of games has always been about conveying the realism of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. Our team watches a TON of footage, we have guys training in MMA, and we work with actual MMA coaches to really help convey the realism of the sport in the game. Marc Laimon (who also appears as the player’s Career Mode Coach) is one of the top Brazilian Jiu Jitsu coaches in the business but also a huge gamer. We worked with Marc on the 2009 and now 2010 game and it’s really great to have someone that understands the dynamic of video games helping you convey the nuance of the sport of MMA. Creating moves for a fighting game, especially one so complex as a fighting game that represents Mixed Martial Arts is extremely difficult and requires a lot of conversations between the Art, Animation, Programming and Design departments. Something that may happen in the blink of an eye for a player might be the result of weeks of discussions and agreements between all parties.
For example let’s look at a simple transition animation from say Open Guard to Half Guard. The designer indicates how many frames of animation the move should last from start to finish. The animator creates the move to that specification and make sure it is visually pleasing. Then there are points within the animation where the animation itself can be interrupted or branched. Then animator, programmer and designer have to work together to make sure all the nuances and permutations of the move and the moves that can come out of that move look and feel correct. A programmer has to take into account the physics and collision system, mapping the animation to the controller input etc. etc. When you look at the process from a 10,000 ft. view it’s incredibly complex.
UFC Undisputed 2010 plays a lot faster than the 2009 product. We didn’t just globally speed up all the animations but rather analyzed the game from a system level. In the 2009 game we had a lot of animated reactions (animations that play when the player gets hit). With a purely animated reaction control is taken away from the player receiving the damage. Even though it may be a second it still causes a feeling of unresponsiveness. In the 2010 game we moved a lot of those reactions to the physics system; which makes for a much smoother gameplay experience as the player is in control of their character for longer and you get great sequences of players hitting while being hit, all while running at 60 frames a second.
Nerdage: Tell me about the concept behind the virtual submissions.
Neven Dravinski: Our concept for the submission system in UFC Undisputed 2010 was to create something a little more elegant and analog that would effectively communicate struggle. In 2009 the game had very static states for the submissions. There would be an initiation animation, a mid-struggle and animation and then either a success or failure. The problem this creates is that there is no way to effectively communicate struggle. Visually the Undisputed series doesn’t use any graphical elements on screen (with the exception of the optional Stamina/Energy bar) as we try and mimic the broadcast look and feel.
In the 2010 game we created what we feel is a more analog system for submission. Once the submission is initiated (via clicking in on the right stick) you will see a more “educational” display of the submission. In an Armbar for example, you will see the arm bending back into the submission position as a player inputs more and more concentric circles on the rights stick (or the “shine” as we call it). As the other character fights against the submission you will see the arm try to curl back to safety. We use the camera as well to zoom in when a submission is closer to happening and zoom out on failure. This ends up being a much more descriptive way to convey struggle and really allows players to see who’s winning or losing a submission at an instant.
Nerdage: What is it that makes the UFC have so much appeal, both as a video game and as a sport?
Neven Dravinski: I think the thing that makes the UFC the brand and UFC the video game so popular is the realism. Fighting is something that is universal; there’s no cultural lines, it’s truly a global sport. The UFC’s mantra has always been “As Real As It Gets” and that certainly carries over into the development of the game. The strength of the UFC isn’t just one man but rather its arsenal of the best athletes in the world fighting against each other at the highest level of competition. The UFC puts on fights people want to see, they don’t put on cupcake fights to pad records, or protect their champions; I think they really put on very compelling matchups to give the fans what they want.
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