UPDATE – Wrestling Revolution 3D is out!
The game was finally released and is available in Google Play and Ouya. With more than 5MÂ downloads and over 70,000 5-star reviews!
Wrestling Revolution 3D is coming soon to iOS.
In the world of video games, with so many genres out there,Â we come across with Wrestling Revolution,Â an ambitious project by creator Mat Dickie. Â He amazes us with its original and challenging ongoing project using Flare3D.
We recently interviewed him and he was very kind in answering our questions covering the subjects:Â Flare3D, Workflow optimization Wrestling games, Mobile devices, Ouya console,Â and shared a whole bunch of additional Â information about the creative processÂ that you should not miss!
Mat, would you share with us a bit about yourself, where are you based, do you have a team working along with you or are you just by yourself?
MD: Iâ€™ve always worked alone, which is more productive than it sounds because I donâ€™t have to compromise or rely on others. Flying solo also means I get to travel a lot. Although Iâ€™m English, Iâ€™ve made games in the US and Iâ€™m currently based in China. I spent my first 10 years in the business making PC games exclusively, but now Iâ€™ve reinvented myself as a mobile developer for the next decade.
What inspired you to develop and why a wrestling game? Are you by any chance an amateur wrestler?
MD: Whether itâ€™s wrestling or any other genre, my dissatisfaction with existing products has always been my motivation to do things differently. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself! WWE currently has a monopoly on wrestling â€“ both inside the ring and outside of it â€“ but a whole movement has risen up around the need to make the games more playable. Thatâ€™s why my series is called â€œWrestling REVOLUTIONâ€, and plenty of other developers are also working on their own sims. What I like about wrestling is that itâ€™s such a unique spectacle. Itâ€™s choreographed and theatrical, but the athleticism is real â€“ and so are the politics behind the scenes. Thereâ€™s a lot there for a game to explore, and Iâ€™ve only just scratched the surface myself. Stepping into the ring for real is one childhood dream that Iâ€™ve yet to fulfill, but I do work out like a wrestler in case the two worlds ever collide!
What were the determining factors in choosing Flare3D against other technologies available on the market?
MD: My priority was to find something compatible with my preferred way of animating 3D models, which involves linked limbs instead of skin over bones. All of the other solutions were assuming bones instead of making it a mere option, but Flare3D was easy-going enough to work with whatever I gave it. I felt I was controlling the engine instead of the engine controlling me! I could have gone with bones if I had to, and learnt how to do it just in case, but inheriting my existing assets allowed me to hit the ground running. Plus limbs were best for my needs anyway, so resorting to bones would have hurt the project. These wrestling games require thousands upon thousands of animations, so I have to be comfortable with that aspect of it. Iâ€™ve found Flare3Dâ€™s resource management in general to be superior. Files are lighter and easier to work with. It really is a perfect match for the way I make games, so I feel lucky to have found it. If you told me at the beginning of 2014 that Iâ€™d be this far into a 3D project by May, I wouldnâ€™t have believed you!
How is Flare3D contributing to the development phase of the game?
MD: Flare3Dâ€™s ability to â€œblendâ€ animations is the backbone of this project. I donâ€™t even do the actual animations in 3D Studio MAX anymore. I simply bookmark a few key frames and then trust Flare3D to get from A to B â€“ or else I fill in the gaps myself with raw mathematics. The opportunity to project real shadows also complements the animations nicely â€“ although itâ€™s a shame that mobiles canâ€™t handle it. Since Iâ€™m targeting a wide range of platforms with this release, Iâ€™ve been making good use of the â€œresizeâ€ option to fill the screen of any device I test the game on â€“ from mobiles to TVs. The 2D games were stretched, but Flare keeps 3D in proportion at any scale.
Check out this preview of the ongoing development of the game that Mat published Facebook and notice the smoothÂ transitions between animations. Isn’t it awesome?
You already have a 2D version that was quite successful, in a few words; can you share with us the difference in the workflow process on the 3D version?
MD: I have to pay a lot more attention to the models and textures that I feed into a 3D game, whereas in 2D anything I have an image of would be in the game within 30 seconds! I have to sit there making sure every little finger is in the right position and at the right angle. Iâ€™ve always felt that the difference between 2D and 3D is like the difference between animating a cartoon or directing actors. There are some things you canâ€™t ask your actors to do, but the things they do well carry more weight.
What are the toughest issues up until now that you may have come across while you develop the game? Are you able to resolve them as you evolve the developing process?
MD: The first issue I encountered, which Iâ€™m still wrestling with, was that performance on iOS was a fraction of what it would have been on the Android equivalent. Itâ€™s worrying because iOS makes up a good 60% of my business, so Iâ€™ve got this platform thatâ€™s bad for me creatively but essential to me financially! I was able to deduce that iOS has an issue with how many different entities are on the scene (even within the same model), so I made huge gains by creating â€œsolidifiedâ€ versions of models that were otherwise segmented. For instance, thereâ€™s a character model that has solid fists instead of independent fingers â€“ which immediately halved the number of limbs on the scene. I have a similar option for the ring ropes if people want to sacrifice things like that. Through various combinations of the display options, itâ€™s now possible to have up to 10 wrestlers on screen â€“ which still ensures this will be the biggest 3D fighting game on the platform. Another issue I had recently was that I needed to make real-time changes to the face textures to portray expressions, but I found that â€œbuildingâ€ the material each time was too slow. The only solution I could come up with was to compile every possible combination of facial expression in advance and then apply those in real-time. Itâ€™s not very elegant but it does at least work. If I want to move on to adding a whole other lay of scarring then I need to come up with something more efficient.
Â For all those indie games developers, based on your experience, what are the things you must never forget and which are the things you must never do?
MD: Iâ€™ve learnt how important it is to take your time and do things properly the first time to avoid doing it all over again later. When I made wrestling games in the past, I would program 100 moves and then when I introduced a new feature I would have to go back and modify every single one of them! Now Iâ€™ve got one move in each category and I wonâ€™t expand on it until itâ€™s serving every single purpose I need it to serve. This time I also took a good look at the ring and made it all different shapes and sizes (including 2 rings side by side!) before I programmed any interaction with it. That would have been out of the question if I decided to do it halfway through the production, but anything is possible if you lay the foundations early enough. Tying into that, I also have a philosophy of tackling the most difficult thing first. Whether weâ€™re talking about the span of one day or one project, itâ€™s helpful to get the heavy-lifting out of the way while you have the energy and then wind down with the easier tasks later. I never do any programming in the evening. By then Iâ€™m more likely to be doing art work. Organization or self-discipline of some kind is essential if youâ€™re self-employed!
Â There are videos on the facebook page that show the game on mobileâ€¦how difficult was to make the porting to Ouya? Is the Ouya version the same that runs on a mobile device?Â
MD: Iâ€™ve never understood the reservations some people have about OUYAâ€™s performance, because it has always met or surpassed my needs. Even with this 3D game, weâ€™re looking at up to 30 wrestlers on screen â€“ which makes it the largest scale 3D fighting game on any console. The OUYA version is usually the best version of my mobile apps that exists. Itâ€™s just a shame the audiences donâ€™t reflect that. Thereâ€™s no good reason not to port from Flash to it either, because Adobe have a nice â€œGameInputâ€ class that targets their controller perfectly. The only issue I ever had was with OUYAâ€™s approval process, which was frustratingly petty at first. They insisted that I offset a lot of the visuals to stay within the confines of a TV of any size. I was looking at a version that looked fine on my TV and I had to imagine what it looked like on somebody elseâ€™s!
What are your expectations for the Ouya and its feasibility to reach new markets and improve the monetization for indie developers?
MD: It excites me creatively to see my games on a big screen played with a controller. As I said, itâ€™s the best experience on offer. However, Iâ€™d be lying if I said it factored into my business plans. The mobile apps literally generate more revenue in a day than both the PC and OUYA versions combined in a month. In OUYAâ€™s case, the conversion rate is actually pretty high â€“ itâ€™s just that itâ€™s a large percentage of a tiny audience. On PC youâ€™ve got a large number of people who donâ€™t pay for games, so itâ€™s the opposite problem.
Â What are the details that make this game unique from other wrestling games?
MD: Itâ€™s usually the sheer number of characters and the RPG elements that set my games apart, but this time the quality is catching up to the quantity. The new animation system feels very special, and I believe it will redefine what people expect from a wrestling game. Most game animations are set in stone so itâ€™s like triggering a movie clip every few seconds, but this one feels alive because of the unpredictability of it all. I just implemented wrestling holds that can sway in any one of 4 different directions and itâ€™s one of those little things that makes a big difference. I can never say my games â€œlookâ€ realistic because those arenâ€™t the visuals Iâ€™m shooting for, but this one certainly â€œfeelsâ€ real. It feels like youâ€™re controlling every muscle in the guyâ€™s body, and wrestling fans have been pining for that level of interaction.
What is your estimation time for launching the game and will it be available for multiple platforms?
MD: I only started a couple of months ago, so as well as things are going thereâ€™s still a long way to go yet. I expect to have something playable by the end of the summer, with the RPG elements being fleshed out by the end of the year. It will debut as an Android app on Google Play before hitting iOS, OUYA, and PC shortly thereafter.
If you would like to contact Mat:
His website:Â Â www.MDickie.com