Newsletter 16

Hello and welcome to the WGU newsletter #16!

In this issue
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1) This thing is out of control
2) Cutting the 'Lie' Out of License- Mel Hauser returns
3) Thank you
4) WGU website

1) This thing is out of control
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I don't think any of us lowly wrestling gamers realized just how much power we had in our hands or how or how much support we would get if we tried to do something of this magnitude. I've been spreading the word about the WGU project every chance I get and so have many of you. As a result, it's become a full time job for me just keeping the hype down! Message boards and web sites have sprung up all over the 'net dedicated to the WGU game and rumors are running wild about almost every aspect it's creation. A lot of you have taken up the cause and are actively recruiting other gamers to put together organized move lists, reversal lists, story mode concepts, marketing ideas, the list goes on and on.

I've also seen plenty of negative reaction. But the next time some pessimistic fanboy tells you we're just dreaming and it'll never happen I want you to tell them about what happened this past tuesday.

I called in some personal favors and was able to get some time with the owner of an upstart marketing firm in my area. I showed her some of the fanatically positive email you sent me. I showed her the massive mailing list. I showed her the message boards and fan sites. I showed her some of the beautiful animations and artwork already completed and told her about the talent that would be involved with the project. I told her about the groundbreaking plans for the new WGU website that will be launched at the end of August. And then I told her about the investor interest all of this has caused. I told her the only thing missing from this plan was a way to get the game into the hands of the hardcore fans around the world who need this game.

I spoke to her later on the phone and she had a proposal for me. Now, please understand that even I find this offer to good too be true but I wanted you guys to know because if nothing else, it validates the efforts of the WGU and all of it's supporters. She told me that, based on the tangible market demand that all of us helped prove existed, she may be able to get a deal with a MAJOR international chain to put our game on the shelves around the world. We're talking about an initial order for enough units to pay for the entire project before one line of code is even written. This kind of attention is because of you. Every little thing you do to support the WGU adds up to one hell of an impressive impression to people like this marketing executive. Every email, message board, and web page that you take the time to send and create strengthens our chances of success.

Obviously, I'm going to look into the validity of her offer more closely when I meet with her again in a few weeks. But if what she says is true, then we have some hard work ahead of us. Not just creating the game itself, but proving to the investors and distributors that there is a large enough demand for this game to guarantee it's success. I'm going to be asking all of you in the coming weeks to help the WGU increase our numbers and visibility. I've already been putting off investors anxious to invest in the project because I know we've only scratched the surface and that there are thousands more gamers like us who don't regularly cruise the message boards and wrestling sites and who don't yet know about the WGU. I want to see the number of newsletter members in the tens of thousands by the end of August and I encourage all of you with the ability to create web sites to start putting up those fan pages for everyone to see. Investors and industry people may be interested now, but I know we can make them beat down our doors for the opportunity to get involved.

If we can get a large enough order of games from just one retail chain it would guarantee our game would get made. And if the people in charge of such decisions see our massive mailing list and hundreds of fan sites all over the internet they'll be much more inclined to make the order.

Let's get ready to move!

2) Cutting the 'Lie' Out of License
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This week I'm very happy to present another beautifully crafted piece of writing from Mel Hauser, one of the WGU's most prolific and talented members. Once again, please do not read any further if strong language offends you. Mel was offered this forum to speak to you free of any censorship, editing, or power tripping message board moderators. If you have any comments you'd like Mel to read email them to me at Dave@WrestlingGamersUnited.com and I'll pass them along to him. Enjoy.

Cutting the 'Lie' Out of License

Before we bust through the crust of another poison dissection on the great mysteries and indelible truths of the lives of wrestling game fans, a brief heads-up of thanks to everyone who took the time to hit our man Dave up with feedback on my last newsletter addition. I was expecting the standard torch-n'-pitchfork response to my commentary, but the contrary resonance of your responses hit me with a welcome chin-check. To you all, I say this: we're on the march. Keep bangin' and believin'.

Today's lesson is in regard to something that we've all come to take for granted over the last decade or so: the nature of the professional wrestling license. Nobody can really say when the first cracks in the bulletproof skin of the belief that a game without license clout isn't worth making, but it was pushed along in tremendous fashion by the increase of import awareness among game players through the nineties. In turn, this expansion was blossomed by the very technology that made this whole ever-lovin' WGU thing possible in the first place.. the internet softwire. The ability of gameplayers to swap ideas and move beyond the mystery of the Famicom created a monster market for game warehouses specializing in the practice of surgical system alterations and Japanese titles, and mingled along with the booming grey market of puroresu and luche libre dubs, allowed a lot of rasslin'-fan heads that had been previously trapped inside a very linear box to explode outward. Culture lines blurred. Global appreciation for the wrestling traditions of other nations spread in viral patterns. The word 'smark' was born.

But strangely enough, despite the cultural wrestling awareness-boom of the nineties, very little of the trailblazing innovation that made its way to these shores by way of Japanese gaming titles like Touken Retsuden managed to trickle into the evolutionary curve of our homespun product. Despite the fact that at least one gaming company, TH*Q, was smart enough to tap these developers to redress their native games with American skin--and made a king-hell killing in the capitalist economy by doing so--the progress of the American wrestling game has actually managed.. somehow.. to retrogress.

Why?

It's a dirty secret. Filthy. Crude. And infinitely depressing.

But it's something that bubbles up amongst the flotsam and jetsam of both the dumb fan contingency that buys a game because the Rock's mug and catchphrase are slapped on the front of the box, as well as the cosmic pro wrestling fan crusade that never fails to chirp the praises of Virtual Pro Wrestling in relation to its American cousins. It's a fact. An ugly fact, but a fact nevertheless.

Our licensing practices are a slipknot on progress.

Uh-hunh. That's what I'm saying. That which attracted us to become fans of both the sport, the sports-entertainment and the games that these genres spawned is exactly that which has led to consumer disappointment, anger and frustration with an almost clockwork precision. The WWE and wCw licenses gave us some great games and some fun times, and I'll be the first to admit that--but it also made software like Nitro, Thunder and Crush Hour possible for the masses. Even worse, it succeeded in cubbyholing the structure of the traditional wrestling title game to such an extent that any chance it had of becoming an experience on par with EA Sports 'real' sports game was progressively squashed by the year.

Sega and Electronic Arts bend over on their fingertips to kill each other in the NBA, NFL, NHL and soccer-slash-fringe-sports gaming genres every year. They are constantly forced to refine features, graphics, and the very boundaries of their programming architecture in order to compete for fan bucks. Their competition has led to innovation after innovation, including the option in games such as NBA Live 2002 to edit any player on any team, as well as carry a franchise of your choice through ten years of competition, complete with retirement, a rookie draft, progressive statistical improvement affected by playing time and injuries, and a comprehensive ability tracking engine.

And only one month ago, we cracked open the shrink-wrap on WWE Wrestlemania X-8.

A game with no injuries. An insulting create-a-wrestler mode. No lateral edit options. No season mode. A gameplay engine loosely cobbled together on that which has been selling on a competing system for years. No blood. No nothing.

And why is that? Because TH*Q's only visible competition in a genre that they brought to respectability in the last decade is themselves. And furthermore, because TH*Q's success in that genre has been entirely constructed on license dependency. A decade ago, EA Sports took the commissioner of the National Hockey League to task on the fact that the federation had crunched them into removing the fighting feature from their 1994 edition of their NHL simulation series. Their sales had taken a hit from licensing problems a year earlier, and customers were angry at the censorship of a feature that happened on ESPN in their living rooms nightly. They responded by refusing to settle for crap product.

EA stood up for its rights, and the NHL capitulated on the argument. Not only because the fans drove down the profit margin by refusing to be collectively dicked, but also because the major sports commission that brings hockey to millions of Canadian and American fans realized that they were pissing off their constituency. And even a few years after that, when EA Sports began to try and gobble up the black tape by releasing annual games with bare-bones improvements over the former editions (Ironically enough, some of which were hocked through TH*Q to store shelves), gamers let them know that they weren't going to be screwed on title depth by turning to Sega's stable of titles. Competition ignited innovation. Today, we are the real winners in the equation--I can edit the starting lineup of the Los Angeles Clippers into reasonable facsimiles of myself, my friends, or the 1972 Celtics and take that ragtag crew through ten seasons.

All because EA Sports realized that it needs my money in order to stay in business. The features of professional sports titles in the modern picture caters entirely to the whims of the player and the buyer, enabling them to modify their title at will. EA and Sega don't take for granted that I'm going to smack down another fifty bucks at the same time next year like a pigeon, so they compete. They make a game that's good for a year, two years, or the rest of my natural friggin' life. Accurate to the sport it replicates, and the license that motivated me to head for their game in the first place. And for that, I'm only too happy to cough up some of my hard-earned coin for the fruit of their labors.

In comparison, the crippled, creaking grossero mentality of the hands gripping the WWE license is enough to make one blow chunks. The player isn't the sum of the equation. The blood money squeezed from faceless sales figures is. It's almost as if TH*Q has gone into some sort of obscene devolution act, forgetting everything that transpired over the span of the last generation of software and hardwire, becoming a gaggle of flinthearted pricks whose sole interest is consolidation of assets and fucking anyone who came to trust them during the 64-bit wars. The license isn't held with pride; it's gripped with white knuckles and used as a prybar to hustle sub-par product to the public. WM X-8 is as blatant and wretched a proof as anybody could ever ask for.. a game obviously designed to tide over players for about a year, until a sequel gets hacked together. And by contradictory admission, Smackdown 4 does look like the quantum leap in comparison; but in that, it only makes TH*Q's corner-carving practices on the Gamecube medium look more criminal. They had four games on the last Nintendo system to get their heads straight. They built a cash-money empire off of those games, and a devoted legion of admirers in the gaming community.

And because they had a license that would sell regardless, they blew it all out of their capitalist asshole and right into our faces. No blood? Thanks, Vince. No CAW? Thanks, Sanders. No story mode, editable wrestler costumes, lacking entrance themes and menu presentation on par with Acclaim's Super Wrestlemania?

Fuck you, TH*Q.

We built you. And this is how you thank us.

It's an unfortunate fact to also consider that the only major competition to the Yuke's smash-n'-bash monopoly is the company that started the licenseholder race, and was responsible for some of the sorriest software mutations on the theme... Acclaim. It's an even more unfortunate fact that TH*Q hasn't learned a thing from their example. When the WWF went into the business of marketing clowns and crocodile hunters in the early nineties, Acclaim bucked its principles of making solid titles for the 16-bit systems and started spewing out monstrosities based entirely on the bogus direction of their WWF license. From WWF Royal Rumble to.. In Your House.

Acclaim bit the rasslin' bullet accordingly when they began using their license as a crutch for bad games, and now finds themselves in the unenviable position of trying to copy the mold of American wrestling games that TH*Q and Yuke's are pimping. A race with no clear winners, based on selling likenesses instead of loosening up their stranglehold on the cash cow and giving the heart of the game back where it belongs.. the players. The customers. The supporters.

Remove the license, and you take the noose off our necks. And between BAM! and the game currently on a slow boil somewhere in Canada, made possible by your interest, the player's field is about to become a very interesting place to be.

As it damn well should be.

-Mel Hauser

3) Thank you
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Response to last week's question regarding your preferred method of implementing special moves and finishers into the game was met with the biggest response I've seen yet to any question regarding gameplay. I want to thank all of you who took the time to write in or catch me on ICQ to share your thoughts on the subject. I also want to thank one WGU member in particular who has been running one of the biggest WGU message threads I've ever seen and regularly sending me fantastic word docs consisting of nicely organized ideas solicited from gamers on the message board. He goes by the nic "Chocoburger" and he's turning out to be a high ranking member of the WGU army. If you see him around thank him for all the hard work he's been doing to make a difference.

4) WGU Website
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The WGU website will not likely be updated again until the end of August when it will be re-launched bigger, badder, and better than ever. When it is, you will find a ton of exciting news about the WGU game project and it's team members as well as a revolutionary new way for gamers to get involved that no other game developer has had the guts to try. Stay tuned...

In the meantime and in between time, that's it. Another edition of Wrestling Gamers United.

Thanks for your time and support,

Dave W.
Dave@WrestlingGamersUnited.com
ICQ# 140047363