SmackDown! confidential - part 1

How do you come up with the new features, and how do you decide which ones are actually created?

TC: Everything starts from watching wrestling. We're pretty hardcore pro wrestling fans, and we watch all the WWE stuff. We've also got a huge library in our office that goes all the way back to way long ago. We have DVDs and videos, and we have a whole library index system of what's on each tape. So people, they will watch something, and say, "Hey, remember when so-and-so did this? That'd be kind of a cool thing to do in the game." And we go dig up some old videos, look through the videos and start thinking up ideas for features, and everyone keeps track of their ideas that at least they thought were cool.

And we keep this big pool of ideas, and when it's time to start on the game for the upcoming year, everyone goes through all the ideas and lists ones they think are best. And then we go through this whole process over the year of, we've got all these eight million things we want to do, and we kind of prioritize and try to figure out how much we're going to get done that year.

We also look at other games for how to - not just the wrestling part, but other games in general, what's fun in a game. For example, looking at Gran Turismo compared to Burnout, they're both driving games that I like. And for a Japanese game-development way of thinking, Gran Turismo makes sense. It's all this super-detailed simulation, and making it more and more real, and making cars look more real, and simulation more real, and so on. And then there's games like Burnout, that don't go that far down the real route, but just get in some funny, crazy kind of fun stuff. So that's something we're constantly thinking about, because it's a wrestling simulation game, in genre.

But just making the models more real, and making the animations more real is good, but you also have to get fun in there. Just simply game kind of fun. So we look at a lot of western games, where we get a lot of ideas from recently... GTA, God of War and Burnout are examples... it's not just being more and more real, or more and more true to some sort of real ideal, but making sure you get fun in there in different ways. We get lots of ideas just from checking out other games.

Mikel Reparaz
After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.