Newsletter 30

Hello and welcome to the WGU newsletter #30!

In this issue
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1) State of the Union
2) Meet the new crew members
3) The PW-X gameplay
4) Online capabilities

1) State of the Union
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One thing I've learned about investors lately is that once one of them feels he/she has found a hot young company like ours word spreads and before you know it people are offering you money left right and center. "So Dave", you ask. "Why the hell aren't you guys in production yet?" Good question. Here's the deal. Any business person will tell you it's easier to deal with one investor than a dozen. It's in the WGU's best interest to seek the most amount of financing from the least amount of people while sacrificing as little of the company's shares as possible. The list of potential investors is growing (Thank you, Superman!) but so is the level of professionalism we must demonstrate or risk losing them all.

What I mean by that is that I've been working like a madman getting the WGU organized to put our selves in a position to work with these investors and offer them an intelligent and focused business plan. I've been meeting with the crew over the last few weeks to determine the budget required to develop, publish, and ship PW-X. The art and animation was easy to budget for but the programming aspect of the project has presented us with some interesting challenges and opportunities. For example, we are in the process of licensing a 3D engine that would cut at least six months from the development schedule and save us at least six months of labor costs. The catch? We could be looking at a $50,000 price tag for the privilege. The crew agrees this is the way to go and that's why I'm busting my ass to aquire this engine.

But don't be confused about the term "engine". I'm not looking to aquire a "game engine". It's not like I'm buying the rights to Fire Pro or something like that. A 3D engine is to game development what Photoshop is to picture editing. Coding PW-X from scratch without the benefit of a good 3D engine would be the same as editing a picture pixel by pixel without Photoshop. See what I mean? It could be done, but why? Well, there are arguments for coding our own engine. For one, no 3D engine we've looked at yet is totally optimized for a wrestling game. But the fact remains that even with a moderately suitable 3D engine we would save a lot of money and cut down the development time by at least six months.

Speaking of development time. One of our new programmers, Ash, suggested we approach the investors to fund a one month development run which would result in a working demo of PW-X's key features as well as various promo materials. At the end of this month we would have a solid understanding of the task before us as well as the amount of time it would take our programming team to complete it. The programmers helped me to understand that until they can all work together for a few weeks with whatever 3D engine we choose they can't honestly estimate a timeline. A big thanks to Ash for this idea. Before I even had a chance to run it by my most serious investors another one approached me and asked to possibly fund the demo. See what I mean? People are starting to realize a good thing when they see it.

We shall see, my friends...

2) Meet the new crew members
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Thanks to Mike and Ono the WGU has two new crew members eager and willing to tackle the unenviable task of coding PW-X.

Ash was referred to me by Mike who simply described him as a "really smart guy." Ash will be focusing his talents on the input and audio features of PW-X.

Marla joins the WGU crew as a hard working graphics oriented programmer. She's already been invaluable to the project working on her own time researching 3D engines and constantly updating me on her findings.

Both Marla and Ash bring much appreciated talented and enthusiasm to the WGU crew and I welcome them open arms and cookies. Check out their pics and learn more about them on the crew page.

3) The PW-X gameplay
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Ahh the big question. Will PW-X play like the Aki engine or the Fire Pro engine. The answer is, both. But more than being No Mercy v2.0 we plan to go beyond the scope of what the AKI and Fire Pro engines offered gamers. Essentially what we're developing is a grapple based system like both AKI and Fire Pro- first you grapple and then you execute a move. PW-X will not be "bump and grapple" like Fire Pro. Instead players will initiate a grapple by either tapping, holding, or pressing the dpad towards your opponent and holding the grapple button. PW-X will not have weak and strong grapple moves like the AKI engine but will employ a three level system not unlike Fire Pro.

Pacing. We're after a game speed that's slightly faster than No Mercy and with luck will be adjustable allowing for slower old school type matches or lighting fast Lucha meltdowns. Not a promise but we're working on it.

Meters. Every game uses them whether you see them on screen or not. How do you think the program knows when you can be pinned? Fire Pro didn't show it's meters on screen but they manifested themselves in the form of wrestler fatigue reversal rate. PW-X plans to also visually represent wrestler fatigue via different ready move animations but will also offer a meter display which you can choose to switch on or off. The meter will represent overall wrestler "energy" for lack of a better term. A low meter means you're more likely to be pinned and less likely to pull of a reversal or strong move. The higher your meter the greater you chance of pulling off the big moves and reversals. "Finishing" moves can be attempted at any time but only stand a good chance of execution when the meters are nearly full. The details of the fighting system are still in the early planning stages so things may still change based on fan demand and technical limitations but so far it's looking to take the shape I described.

But I can't stress enough that we aren't looking to simply recreate AKI or Fire Pro. We know most of our fans can beat those engines on the hardest setting with one hand. But when you set out to create a great wrestling game you learn from the mistakes and accomplishments of those that went before you. Figure out what they did wrong and don't do it. Figure out what they did right and do it better. But most of all, when the vast majority of fans tell you what they like, you listen.

4) Online capabilities
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One of the biggest issues faced by our programmers is how PW-X can effectively utilize the online power of the PC. First, the programmers all agreed that allowing players to create and trade their own creations over the net is simple. Well, maybe not simple, but far from impossible to say the least. Same goes for downloading new move files from our website. Many fans stated this was their biggest hope for PW-X and I'm happy to say the feature looks completely viable.

As for online multiplayer it looks to be contingent on current technology's ability to keep up with what we demand for PW-X. The problem with an online wrestling game is the nature of the "twitch" gameplay. You throw a strike and your opponent on the other side of the globe hit's the block button. That info has to be processed pronto by the game engine and if it has to wait for old dial up modems and bogged down servers (because PW-X will have millions and millions of players, right?) that presents a big problem for smooth gameplay. Not only for casual gamers but imagine the frustration of serious e-feders when a championship match is botched because a player teleports across the ring due to a bad connection? It's because of our commitment to giving fans a solid game experience that we may go the route of Diablo 2 and offer direct connection via LAN to gamers. This means you could bypass a slow server and directly connect to your opponents PC. If you both had solid connections it's our belief the gameplay would suffer little to none.

An unforeseen side benefit to this option is because players who live closer to each other geographically would experience the best connections it's quite possible that e-feds would also generally be regional in nature. Just like in real life, e-feds would pop up and challenge each other for regional superiority until one or two remained as the most popular. Just like running a real fed. I'm personally looking forward to being the Pacific Northwest Undisputed Champion :)

Of course, if this is just for the immediate future. As modem technology becomes faster PW-X plans to take full advantage of it. Who isn't looking forward to the day when the champions from each major e-fed around the world meet each other in a battle royal unification match?

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

Dave Wishnowski