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How difficult is it for you to come up with a final roster for the game, given that it changes all the time?
Colin Mack (SmackDown! project manager, THQ): I'll tell you the whole way this works. We negotiate with the WWE with regard to who's going to be on the roster.
This is a constant battle with [SmackDown! producer] Hiromi, who's always yelling at THQ because we want to keep the roster flexible until as late as possible. If some new star comes out in March or April, we want to have him in the game because if he's not in the game, seven months later when it ships, it looks old.
From Yuke's point of view, when you're making the game, it takes a full year, and usually you've got to make 80 character models for the game, so the team can't wait to start until April. So in January we say, "Probably these five people will be on there." We'll start with Triple H, Angle and Cena, then a few weeks later Hiromi will say, "We need more, we need more," and we're like, "No, wait, wait, wait."
So then we give Yuke's five more and then it starts getting scary around March or so because we've kinda told them all the easy ones. We generally finish off the roster in about April.
Above: The rosters for each game in the series have to be finalised in April - seven months before SmackDown! hits shelves
Another thing about the roster and the costumes is that every model has to be approved by the WWE. The characters have to look like they want them to look. So we do the characters and, say we want the guy to look like this, but the WWE will tell us, "No, it's got to be like that. This is the costume he uses."
TC: The models and roster changes are a big issue but we have another big issue this year and that is that the commentary teams have changed. We have this commentary system in the game and it's based around two guys on each show but now they've changed to three guys. Now we're really not sure how the whole commentary system's going to line up so that's a big issue.