WWE 2K18 Interview — Creative Director and Designer Discuss New and Improved Features
DualShockers talks with Visual Concepts' Creative Director, Lynell Jinks, and Game Designer, Ramelle Ballesca, to discuss WWE 2K18
2K Games, Visual Concepts, and Yuke’s are bringing their annual professional wrestling title, WWE 2K18 to a console or PC near you in just a few weeks. With over 170 different WWE Superstars, improved gameplay, and new game modes, it will surely have something for fans to enjoy.
DualShockers had the chance to speak to the game’s Creative Director, Lynell Jinks, and Designer, Ramelle Ballesca, and discuss the development of WWE 2K18 and the new features it has to offer.
Michael: What are the new features you are bringing to WWE 2K18?
Lynell Jinks: The new features I am most excited about are Road to Glory; MyCareer is pretty damn awesome being able to run backstage and see what the life of a WWE Superstar is actually like is pretty cool. Then the new things we added to the creation suite to allow you to #BeLikeNoOne — I’m going to keep saying that. To me, that kind of drove what we wanted to do as far as what we wanted to add for the creation suite this year allowing you guys to customize your guys even further.
For me, one of the big additions was adding the face templates for the males and females. Giving you guys a better starting point that represents different ethnicities, for me, is huge because everyone is different, and using that as is or as a starting point to modify a little further. To me, this helps bring variety in what you see, and then being able to see that online with Road to Glory and seeing these different looking Superstars will help hammer that fact home a little more.
M: You were talking about the new Road to Glory mode. Can you expand on what that is? It still seems to be a mystery.
LJ: Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get it to run inside this building because of the limitations with the internet and having to be online. But, it’s a mode that you basically play on a weekly basis… on a daily basis, actually, that mimics the real-world WWE schedule. So, on Mondays you’ll play on a Raw event; on Tuesdays you’ll play on SmackDown; you’ll play on NXT on certain days. The days that there isn’t a WWE show, what we’ll do is populate it with a retro show like Nitro or something like that. So, you’ll create your MyPlayer and progress through not only MyCareer, but also Road to Glory by enhancing your character’s attributes, his skills, his move-sets, and by unlocking loot crates that will open more boosts that can power your Superstar when playing in these online matches.
Also, create-a-superstar parts and move-sets will be unlocked based on your fighting style. So, when you create your Superstar, you’ll choose your fighting style. So, if you choose a high flyer, certain moves won’t be available to him throughout his career because he is a high flyer. Those moves that get unlocked through the loot crates will be dictated by your fighting style.
“Every year, we try to improve everything and expand on what is already there. Again, if you look at MyCareer and what it is now, it’s completely different than anything we’ve ever done.”
M: With all these modes featured in the game, was there a certain mode you were focusing on to improve for this year or was the goal to improve the overall package?
LJ: Yeah, it’s everything. Every year, we try to improve everything and expand on what is already there. Again, if you look at MyCareer and what it is now, it’s completely different than anything we’ve ever done. With adding a whole new mode with Road to Glory and enhancing certain features like create-a-superstar.
The highlight reel, you can use free-cam and save highlights with an alpha channel or transparency to act as a green screen so you can do overlays on top of or underneath your videos to make your entrances look that much better.
Like I said, adding different heads to the creation suite, new material types like glow and black light and things like that which are more current with the WWE roster – like what Naomi is doing – and just giving you the freedom to have a Superstar that looks so different than anyone else. That is always our goal: to make sure we are giving the users enough tools to have a unique experience. Not only in MyCareer, but now with Road to Glory and the creation suite as well.
M: My personal favorite mode from the WWE 2K franchise is MyCareer. I play hours and hours of it and love it. What I want to know is with the brand split and the new WWE show, 205 Live, will you start back down at NXT — like the last iteration — then move up to 205 Live or the main roster and get drafted to a show like they did recently on TV?
Ramelle Ballesca: Yeah, so you’ll start off in NXT again. Unfortunately, we are not going to get into 205 [Live] this year, but NXT will feel different because we have backstage. So, you’re going to feel like you are at NXT; you are going to be interacting with all those guys you see on NXT, and they’ll give you quests and sidequests; you can brawl with them backstage; you’ll do promos and interviews with them as well.
That is one of the cool things we added. We had the interviews with Renee from last year, but we expanded it so that other Superstars can interrupt those now. Just like what you see on TV, someone will walk up, then all of a sudden you’re in this versus interview or it may turn into a brawl.
“That is always our goal: to make sure we are giving the users enough tools to have a unique experience.”
M: What is the determining factor for what show you’ll be on? Is there a draft or do you appear on both Raw and SmackDown?
RB: No, you’ll be on either Raw or SmackDown. It’s not dictated by a draft per se, but by who you interact with backstage in NXT — not to give away too much of the story.
M: While discussing MyCareer, you mentioned promos and interviews which debuted in last year’s game. I love the idea of that, however, the lack of voice over kind of took me out of the experience because the character was just mouthing words. Will there be voice over for this year’s iteration?
RB: Man, I really want to add that too. We just couldn’t get to it this year.
LJ: It’s a really hard problem to solve. Just with your character having the freedom to talk to anyone backstage now, having to get voice over from every Superstar is a really hard task. Especially this year with the three-man booth and re-recording all of our audio. So, like Ramelle said, we really wanted to get to it, but it just wasn’t realistic. I agree with you, though.
RB: We took some little steps towards getting to that. We do have unique promos where it’s not going to be just two guys talking about fairly generic things all the time. Like in MyCareer for instance, if a story line has a unique event, they’re going to talk about that event. You’ll see people like Bobby Roode talk like Bobby Roode, or Kevin Owens talk like Kevin Owens.
LJ: Not only talk, but we shot unique animations like their own mannerisms and such.
RB: Yeah, that was one of things we were lacking last year as well. You have all these unique characters like the Undertaker and Enzo Amore who move differently in the ring when they’re doing a promo. We wanted to capture that this year. We have a bunch of different animations so all those people feel like themselves when you go against them.
M: You guys just released a video of Shane McMahon doing the motion capture for his character. It seems like a lot, but is every wrestler mo-capped or are there certain Superstars who were captured?
LJ: It’s a select few. These guys are on the road so much, it’s hard to get time with them with their busy schedules. We try to make room for a few guys to come out each year and shoot mo-cap and luckily Shane was one of them. He was really interested in making sure his animations looked like his real-life performance. Like, he was adamant about it. We were more than happy to have him come and do it. We welcome any of that stuff. It’s more dictated by time rather than wanting to get the guys out here to do it.
In years past, we’ve had Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, Cesaro, and even Paul Heyman. We also have a bunch of talented actors that come in and try to mimic their movements, as well as their moves. We also have a bunch of talented animators that help clean that up and take it a step further to make it more like their real life counterparts.
M: So, when can we see all of this on the Nintendo Switch? Do you have a general idea? A month even (laughs)?
LJ: Fall. Fall! (laughs) No, we don’t. You know, we’re pounding on it and trying to get it done. The team is working really hard to try to get it done. We’re excited about it as well. I have a Switch, Ramelle is about to get one. So, we also want to play on the go too.
M: Thank you, guys.
WWE 2K18 will be available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 17, 2017. As stated above, the Nintendo Switch version will be available sometime this Fall.
You can also check out our interviews with WWE Superstars Bobby Roode, Finn Balor, A.J. Styles, Kurt Angle, and SmackDown Live tag team Breezango to see what they think of 2K Games’ newest iteration of the wrestling title.