Newsletter 25

Hello and welcome to the WGU newsletter #25!

In this issue
*************
1) Let the madness begin
2) Mel strikes back
3) Thank you

1)Let the Madness Begin
***********************
Last week's crew meeting produced some interesting bits of news for WGU supporters. I should state right now that the guys were very stoked about all of the fan response and support they've received. They're as excited about making this game as you are about playing it.

Ono said he can start programming the skeleton at any time but we'll need to look into the possibility of hiring someone to focus on the 3D component of the programming. Mike, our other brave programmer, is very excited about the chance to help create the career mode. At this point we are planning to have a career mode that incorporates working your way up through the indie feds and into the larger national federations all the while taking into account injuries, earnings, stable loyalty/disloyalty etc.

While the programming requirements are being dealt with the artists on the crew have begun work on more models, moves, arenas, and promotional trailers for Pro Wrestling X. We are approaching the creation of the trailers with the same intense creative freedom the rest of the project has been given. You won't see just a compilation of moves and models. We plan on delivering something unique and exciting and preliminary reports from our head writer, Alek, are promising to deliver something very special.

Getting back to arenas for a moment. Dan has been putting a lot of time and effort into a swanky new exotic arena. James has also finished a concept sketch for a very original "arena". I'm going to share it with you once James is happy with it.

Funding was a major issue but we've come up with a potential solution involving the indie feds I've been talking to. Naturally, I don't want to speak before I act but there appears to be a way for us to raise most if not all of the money needed while simultaneously getting real indie feds and wrestlers involved. And the beauty of the plan is that all of this can be accomplished without compromising the project's integrity one little bit. I'll keep you informed as things progress.

Fan's of Jessica's character designs will be happy to know that she has been completing piles of them and I'll have one of them for you later today after I update the site.

A new artist has been invited to join the crew based on his talent and love for all forms of pro wrestling. You'll be hearing more about him soon.

It's been a very productive and focused week for the WGU crew as things just keep picking up steam.

2) Mel Strikes Back
*******************
Some of you may remember where the whole WGU movement started many months ago. It was on a then popular message board dedicated to what was promised to be the next installment in the great THQ/Nintendo wrestling game legacy. Where is that message board now? Still at the top of the charts like No Mercy is almost roughly two years after it's release? Nope, it's deader than Metallica's vow to never make a video. Luckily(?) for us, the incomparable Mel Hauser is here to offer his theory of why some things go down the toilet and why some misguided fools willingly follow them down the drain.

----------------------------------------------

Gone In Sixty Days: Looking Back at Six Months in the Life-Mel Hauser

The advent of September and the dying week of August were significant for the lifecycle of the Wrestling Gamer's Union for two major reasons: one, that the reality trigger on a project that over five-thousand lost souls had been investing their hopes in was finally yanked on by head WGU mutt Dave Wishnowski, revealing that the pipe dream was much more than just that. But while these wheels were just grinding rubber to asphalt, another, equally overdue event was taking place a thousand cyber-miles away. It went out with such a shallow whimper, such a fittingly pathetic death-gurgle that many people barely noticed that it had happened.. but for our purposes, we'll eulogize the bastard for its contributions and give it a viking funeral. Because, quite frankly, without it, and the events that summed up its ripshod life and death, none of us would be here. More than anything, the events that transpired in the thankfully brief lifetime of this epic piece of history sum up the best and the worst of the wrestling game community and its activists and addicts.. but in this case, no one is the worser for the passing of one of its own.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is with sad heart and heavy head that I report the venerable GameFAQS Wrestlemania X-8 message board is dead.

A bit more than two months after the release of the flimsy piece of soft-shitware that it was based on, the original forum for the junkie desires of an entire slice of gaming demographica has been dumped off of the Top Ten listing on its parent site. For those of you just tuning in, this is more than mere business cycle. This is an obituary to be remembered. For just sixty-some scant days back on the clock, the board roared over such eternal gaming contemporaries as Zelda, Mario and the Resident Evil freakshow, gnashing its teeth and powered by the high-octane obsessions of the rasslin' fans and players who frequented it.

However, in giving this proud and passed beast its due, it does raise a host of questions regarding the nature of Self in the greater cosmic junk-soup of wrestling games. Specifically, who was to blame for the entire WM X-8 debacle.. who really set the stage for one of the biggest gaming disasters in the history of the medium?

We already know how filthy THQ's hands are in this sort of dirty business. In an industry being picked apart by its journalist class for crass sweatmill production of terrible games in the name of a quick buck, nobody embodies the crude, ugly sloping forehead of a cash-grubbing capitalist pig more than Sanders Keel and his crew of lying backers. If there is a glimmering point of effervescent energy in the video games universe, wherein Nintendo and Sega proudly skip to the lou of Capcom and EA Sports, then THQ represents the inbred backwater polar opposite, only too happy to bear a lamphrey smile at the gamers who made it a software superpower while powdering up the chamber with their latest quick-buck embarassment.

However, what a lot of those who count themselves as fans of both the legacy of sports entertainment and wrestling on a global scale, as well as diehard video game afficianados are unwilling to admit is that they're just as dirty when it comes to the radioactive dust of guilt in this case as the companies forcing the product into their veins.

Indeed, if not more guilty. Nothing sums up this blunted purpose better than a brief glance at the timeline of a small piece of cyber-real estate, the blink of a bandwidth eye in which the WM X-8 board went from Eden to a goat pen. It was ridiculous. It was fascinating. At times, it was the most frustrating fucking backwards sideshow a human brain could ever try to pick apart. But in the end, it didn't really matter--the synaptic popping of the bigger, badder and better urge kicked in and left yesterday's crap floating in the bowl.

The sordid tale of the WM X-8 board begins in large part around this time last year. Hot off of a scorching showing at the Electronic Entertainment Exposition in Los Angeles, Nintendo was riding a wave of blitzkrieg hype right into the marketplace. While its lineup of titles looked impressive, what was really on every wrestling game addict's brain was what the tag team of THQ and AKI would have in store for them on the majestic wide-open plains of the new Gamecube hardware. The high note of WWF No Mercy had helped, with a few other choice titles, to numb the passing of the warhorse Nintendo 64 system--keeping the gaming unit off the yardsale and swapmeet blanket in many cases by virtue of its accomplishments as a title. It seemed, at the announcement that a new WWF game was imminent, that the sky was going to be the limit for Nintendo fans.. where could we go from this point but up?

Strangely enough, THQ did anything but share the elation of its fanbase at its announcement for the impending game. Despite the stready stream of message boards and sites dedicated to a few scant screenshots and news nuggets plucked from mainstream news outlets like IGN and Gamespot, the most basic information--whether or not the game was going to be a sequel to the AKI lineage--somehow eluded every reporter who broke words on the topic. Granted, it seemed like a given at the time. The natural order was simple; Nintendo fans had their Asmik engine, and Playstation fans could keep their fuckin' Yuke's mash-o-festo for all we cared. We were only too happy to debate with any bitch who wanted to mince over things like blood and fatigue, confident that whatever the outcome, we had something we could call our own.

And then, just like that, it was over. The bomb dropped. With the nonchalance of a fat slob ripping off a bench-rattling fart during Sunday mass, THQ calmly let it slip to a handful of gaming sites that it was Yuke's, not AKI, who was handling the coding chores for the Gamecube line of games.

Well aware that the news would hit the Nintendo fanbase with the force of a neutron charge, THQ sent out its most trusted hitman to soothe jangle nerves and reassure consumer confidence. Sanders Keel, a cheap mouthpiece and shit-pimp whose exploits in the field of spin doctoring and hokey propaganda would make Goeble shake his head in shame, was let loose from his cage to work his patent magic on anyone who got within spitting distance. Within weeks, the free market of information on the 'web was rife with soundbytes that would come back to haunt the guts of every sucker who bought into THQ's parade of rhetoric; the same soundbytes that became common currency on the GameFAQS message board dedicated to the impending title.

"We've acquired key members of the AKI team."

"We realize that the taste of Nintendo fans differs from that of Sony's market."

If one is willing to waste the time, then fragmented chunks of this antiquated press heroin can still be found in the ashes of the aforementioned board, along with at least a half a dozen other choice nuke-nuggets. In the short-term, however, our concerns were alleviated.. but it's at this point where the going gets weird.

Because frankly, it's bizarre that we ever trusted THQ in the first place.

A good example of their standard coda of gross mistrust comes in one of the favorite arguments of the Playstation zealots who try to convince the world that any game not released on their system must therefore be inferior, and thrown in a pen with wild dogs or a pungee stick pit--that the No Mercy Great Saving Glitch of 1999 was developer AKI's fault. What seems to escape the basic faculties of these controller apes is that AKI never pressed a single goddamn cartridge. All that charming business was handled at THQ and JAKKS' North American facilities. Despite their role in pumping out a good nigh-million defective cartridges, THQ never saw fit to explain the problem to its customers, volunteer a recall or divulge information on the glitch on its company website. Instead, as with so many other sloppy lies told during the production process (SEE: Smackdown 3, NHL 97'-98, WWF Wrestlemania, WWF No Mercy, and probably Home Alone 2: Lost in New York), they simply steamrolled ahead and didn't blink at the consequences to their sales.

But despite this track record, we, the wrestling-gamer's community, were only too happy to get in line like a bunch of ghetto pigeons for the seed-feeding. Which can be admittedly justified--high hopes burn eternal, especially when the stakes are in something we're so keenly addicted to as rasslin'. Like the girlfriend who throws shitfits in clockwork fashion, slashes your tires, burns your porn collection and bangs your best friend like the ending bell on Wall Street before coming back to apologize, the hope is always there that the compound offenses will sink in, and that person will see the error of their ways.

So, we waited. And talked about how we visualized the game. People would routinely post dreams they'd had about the day they would peel off the shrink-wrap and take that little disc in their excited hands, just like they'd done with No Mercy. Just like they'd done with WWF Wrestlemania 2000. And WCW Revenge. I was right there with the rest of the clutch up until the fateful e3 event for 2002--becoming, in an unfortunate crank of fate, the first member of the WWF Wrestlemania X-8 board to play the goddamn game and be saddled with the chore of breaking the news that everything we'd been praying for was null and void.

I did my duty. With a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. And for the most part, things remained at an even, focused keel.

And then. Again. It all changed. In the blink of a week, or maybe even less than that, the board went from being a place where opinions were let fly without clipped wings and we were willing to agree to disagree to a Krakow holding house for dissidents where rationing one's words were the only guaranteed route of survival.

Full. Blown. Fucking. War.

And why, you ask?

I don't know.

Even right now, as I sit here typing this, reviewing every stupid event that unravelled on that godforsaken board; the mindless defense of THQ, the gruesome denial of the game's flaws, the fury of these people determined to convince everyone that they'd gotten a game they loved, the final, weak gasp of democracy as someone appointed a series of thirteen-year-old retarded Mayor Daley clones like 'blanton86' to squelch any opinion contrary to unabashed licking of THQ's asshole under the stigma of 'trolling for flames' like a bunch of Hitler youth flunkies; I can't figure out how the fuck it all happened. Why these people felt the need to defend such an inferior product. Why they justified it. Why they tried to cling to this lie that was as obvious as a steel-jacketed slug cracking your skull into bone splinters with the furor of modern Crusaders, going as far as to throw around uber-bigot labels like 'hater' in lieu of a pink star on the lapel to point out anyone who was guaranteed to be trouble to the cause.

I mean, was it worth it?

Did it make the game better somehow? Does it somehow make you less of a human being to admit that a game simply blows? Did it convince THQ that we're not a bunch of lemmings, eager to burn our paycheck on kart racing games featuring wrestlers and whatever sequel they've got loaded into the chamber? Did it change a single damn thing?

No.

The answer is no.

The board, just like the game it was based on, had the staying power of a preteen virgin in the backseat of his dad's Camaro. All the loud noise and stomping of feet couldn't cover up a sad create-a-wrestler mode, lacking controls, and the fact that we'd gotten royally fucked from one side of this debacle down the other.. for proof of that raw nut, just look at the contemporaries on the Playstation cut of GameFAQS top-ten listing. Smackdown: Know Your Role, a game almost a year old, still routinely fights its way up the chart to a fourth or fifth spot during slow months. And on the Gamecube side, Eternal Darkness and Resident Evil still enjoy a healthy buzz despite the fact that they haven't got primetime shows based on them. Because all they are is good, solid games made by people who weren't willing to settle.

In order to change your world, it's critical that the catalyst comes from the inside out. In that, the wrestling game fanbase has completely failed; giving in to some sort of hobbyist-slash-socialist fervor and mentality that if we all agree that something is good, it will somehow transcend itself and be just that.. while, at the same time, we still haven't recieved blood, a game that's editable from top to bottom or a title that will stay fresh two, three, ten years down the line by virtue of its solid programming. We're fully deserving of our spot as the carnies of the sports-game demographics--while afficianados of 'real' sports demand variety and crumpled EA Sports' monopoly in favor of competition between NBA and NFL titles, we line up like hamsters for whatever pellets Sanders and his chimps are peddling on an annual basis. And then we defend our decision. In the scheme of consumer smarts, your average WWE fan is apparently on par with a wooden stump.

Do you see behavior like this in any other slice of the democratic-market pie, video gaming or otherwise?

John Q Money hits his local BMW lot, his hard-earned annual bonus check burning a hole in his pocket. He peruses the selection for a few moments before being greeted by one of the lot sellers. After going down a small list of things he's looking for in a car, John is shown this year's model.

"Excuse me," John says. "That car only has one wheel. And no windshield. And.. I might be mistaken, but it looks like the engine is just a fiberglass model of a motor and not the real thing."

"Sure, sure.." the salesman responds. "But wait until next year. We're planning on adding at least another tire, and possibly a stereo."

"Uh.." John responds. "What about the other three tires? And the windows? And when can I actually drive the thing home?"

The salesman laughs, shaking his head.

"You'll have to wait until the new model comes out for that stuff."

The moral of the story is that it's our unalienable-fucking-right to not have to settle for less. As fans, as consumers, as people who made these companies what they are. Regardless of what the eventual outcome of the WGU project is, you should know this much..

.. you've already made history by just coming along for the ride, and showing that you've got a voice and aren't afraid to use it. And if not.. well, then. The next time you drop Sanders a letter with your concerns about the fact that the game you just bought doesn't actually have any heads for the wrestlers in it, just do us a small favor and tell that THQ autoresponder that Dave and the kids send a 'heya'.

-Mel H. (email responses to thecrew@WrestlingGamersUnited.com)

3) Thank you
************
1)The fans- for giving us the encouragement to continue.
2)Mel- for keeping the fans informed and dare I say entertained.
3)Cube and Shi-ru- For running the board and giving the fans a home.
4)Monkboon- A passionate wrestling gamer who gives us his confidence
5)The indie feds- For being open and receptive.
6)The WGU crew- The best there is. Period.

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

Dave Wishnowski