Pro Wrestling Tuga Interview


~ June 2013 ~
My international following has always meant a lot to me, so I found time to field
some questions from my Portuguese fans over at Pro Wrestling Tuga:

In the year of 2000 you started developing some of your first pro wrestling projects in video gaming based, of course, on the Attitude Era. You created some 2D games like Big Bumps and Hardy Boyz Stunt Challenge. You claim that Fire Pro was one of your inspirations, which are some of the others you have?
Yes, my brother and I were very excited to discover Fire Pro Ė even though it meant having to decipher Japanese! It was more in keeping with the things I value Ė such as a wide range of characters and realistic matches with lots of moves. My games were literally based on Fire Pro at first because I used those sprites! Another inspiration was THQís N64 series, which again had that Japanese attention to detail with sophisticated gameplay. I remember being in awe of the animations as well, so Iíve always aspired to that handmade style rather than motion capture. But as much as I respect the past, Iím also of the opinion that those games havenít aged very well so I think itís time to set a new benchmark. Not just in my own games, but in all new wrestling sims. Dave Hornís ďAction Arcade Wrestling 2Ē already features better animations, Dave Wishnowskiís ďPro Wrestling XĒ already features better modeling/texturing, and Dan Hinkleís ď5 Star WrestlingĒ already features more sophisticated gameplay. Itís time to look forward instead of backwards.

Big BumpZ, published in January 2003 was your very first 3D wrestling game and your first independent project, as you created it and published it by yourself. Do you think that if your publishers had accept to publish it your career would have been more or less successful?
I wouldnít cite Big BumpZ as my first ďpublishedĒ game because it ended up as freeware. I had just started to get my games published professionally in 2002 and I assumed Big BumpZ would follow suit, but they didnít want to take a chance on my more unusual wrestling concepts. I consider ďFederation BookerĒ to be my first self-published game, because I actually started manufacturing and selling that disc myself. I still remember the first day the finished product came through my letterbox! In answer to your question, I do believe I achieved more that way. I was selling more copies on my own and I was keeping a larger percentage of the profits. Itís tough not having somebody to help make things happen, but any progress you do make is all the more worthwhile.

One year later, your first 3D wrestling simulator, the sequel to Wrestling Federation, Wrestling Mpire, you said on your website that was your most successful release ever. Have you ever thought that it could be a success as big as it was in reality?
Wrestling MPire was ďrelativelyĒ successful in that it was consistently my most popular release, and each entry in the series went on to be downloaded over 200,000 times. But objectively, it always fell short of what I envisaged for myself and my work. I got into this business to entertain millions of people instead of thousands, so anything short of that has always felt like mediocrity. Wrestling Revolution is the only project that has ever exceeded my expectations. In its first 6 months, the mobile app was downloaded more times than the PC game had been in 6 years! I never envisaged that for a retro 2D game, but I figure itís poetic justice for how hard I worked in the past.

At the end of 2005 Wrestling Encore made it to the internet, a new wrestling game following Mpire. You needed a great reception to the game and you had it. If the reception was really worst, would your career be dead?
Yes, there were a few years there where I felt as though each year was going to be my last. Outside of wrestling, the public werenít enjoying playing the games as much as I was enjoying making them. It simply wasnít a viable business and I couldnít justify sacrificing my life to it (which is what this work demands). Thatís why my guy walks back through the curtain in the Wrestling Encore intro, or switches off the light in Booking Encore. I was done. But Wrestling Encore was just popular enough for me to keep the lights on, and the following year in 2007 I stepped up the quality of my work with projects like Reach. Itís amazing how a career is made up of lots of little moments! I canít tell you how many times Iíve come close to losing it all. Even now with the mobile apps, things could have been very different...

July 2006, it was the end of the World Cup in Germany and you made Grass Roots, a soccer game that was in your words a bit disappointing because it wasn't quite a success. What's the main reason of the gameís lack of success?
At the time, I joked that failing to get people excited about a football game during the World Cup was like failing to sell water in the desert! I suppose I thought it was a sure thing Ė to take what I did with wrestling and apply it to the worldís most popular sport. But sports games are notoriously difficult to get right, and it usually only happens through evolution. My wrestling games only got good because I essentially made the same game 10 times! By comparison, Grass Roots was my one and only shot at an even tougher nut to crack. It wasnít a complete failure. Some people got a lot out of it and they still play it today. But gameplay-wise, it was never going to be compared favourably to the mainstream console games.

In 2007 your game Hardtime was the 'Indie Pick of the Month' of February of the Games for Windows magazine. The critic considered the game was worth buying after criticizing it. You think it helped on your publicity as a videogame maker?
Media appearances like that have neither the power to make a developer nor break them. Niche magazines and newspapers are only ever read by a few thousand people, so their influence is less than it appears. It has more to do with what they represent. Seeing your name in print is simply a nice seal of approval, and itís a trophy that you can wave around to help legitimize your work in the eyes of others. Only the major websites and distributors have any real influence. Being listed on is what gave my PC games a 6-figure audience, and being on Google Play or the App Store is all that matters on mobiles. Anything less than that is just me being passionate about what I do.

Finally, your last Wrestling Mpire came in 2008. The physics and the graphics were better than the last version of the game. In the same year, you decided to retire full time. You think that with all your legacy you have became an inspiration for any youngster who wants to be a video game developer?
All I can say is that every day of my career Iíve been asked for advice by someone or other who wants to follow in my footsteps, and Iíve always been happy to impart any advice I have. I get a lot of heat for my ďinspiration for the interactive generationĒ tagline, but thatís a day-to-day reality for me. Itís not something I stated and then made true Ė itís something that was true which I then stated. My fans tend to be very creative themselves and Iím proud to have contributed to that in any way. Whether itís the people who edit my games and make videos about them, or the people who have nothing to do with games at all. Iíve seen my fans grow up to be filmmakers like Rick Dawson, MMA fighters like DayTroy Lyons-Lee, musicians like Sick Logic, journalists, artists, wrestlers, etc. Thereís something about my work that attracts positive, pro-active people who want to achieve. I donít know whether theyíre here because of me or Iím here because of them, but Iím glad the relationship exists. We recently celebrated 10,000 likes over at the Facebook page, and all of the contributors have maintained a positive vibe there.

But, after your retirement you have published three big projects: Wrestling Revolution being the biggest one and having huge success for Android, iPhone and iPad. The downloads of the game leads you into thinking that this platforms are better to bet it than computers?
After 2008 I was done with making PC games for a dwindling audience. Either the way I made games had to change or I had to stop doing it altogether. I always had one eye on the mobile platform, and by 2011 it was something I definitely wanted to be a part of. By the turn of 2012 I bought my first smart phone, developed my first mobile apps, and the rest is history. Itís definitely a better match for my brand of game development. When I made larger PC games, all people ever did was make unreasonable comparisons to mainstream console games. People have fewer preconceptions about a mobile app, so itís the only instance in which I can actually EXCEED their expectations! Those players tend to be more enthusiastic and less cynical too, so itís a pleasure to develop for them. Mobile games take the industry back to what I and many others liked about it in the first place. I stopped playing games when they all became interactive movies with no real charm. I saw a whole shelf full of console games in a store the other day and I honestly couldnít tell them apart! They were all exactly the same concept but with a different star character. Mobiles games are the kind I like to play and therefore the kind I like to make. I canít believe my luck that Iíve got a chance to relive my career all over again from the beginning, and this is indeed the most fun Iíve had with games since I first started. Some may say that Iím going round in circles, but I prefer to think of it as spiraling upwards Ė touching on the past while still being a level above it.

Concluding this part of the interview, can you tell us if there will be any other release soon?
Iím in a transitional period at the moment where I have to start thinking about wrapping up Wrestling Revolution and beginning work on the next concept. But at the same time, thereís lots of new technology on the horizon that Wrestling Revolution will be a part of Ė so we havenít seen the last of it yet! Iím looking forward to bringing it to TV with gamepad support on devices like OUYA. Wrestling Revolution broke new ground when it first arrived and I want to keep that spirit going by making it the leading wrestling game on any platform it has access to. Wherever wrestling fans are being neglected and fed a poor diet, I tend to show up!

You are, as we know, a huge fan of wrestling so... who do you think that deserves a big break in the roster of WWE?
As a Brit, Iím keeping on eye on my fellow countrymen like Wade Barrett. Iíd like to see him step up into the World title picture as a no-nonsense loner. Itís good that he and WWE have embraced his northern Englishness. Oftentimes, theyíre reduced to stereotypes like Steven Regal or find themselves imitating an American accent. Barrett seems comfortable in his own skin and can help to change perceptions.

And in the indies, you see anyone capable of making it in the big leagues sooner or later?
Again, Iím anxious to see British wrestlers like PAC (ďAdrian NevilleĒ) and Britani Knight (ďPaigeĒ) come up out of developmental. Hopefully by the time Daniel Bryan has finished re-educating the WWE audience, PAC will be well placed to follow in his footsteps as a formidable talent from the indies. Watching his matches is like watching a live-action version of Wrestling Revolution!

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