The ‘EA UFC 3’ Director Talks The New Career Mode And The Future Of MMA Games

Entertainment Editor

The sport of Mixed Martial Arts is one of the most challenging to adapt to a digital realm. In an MMA fight, there’s the ground game, the stand up wars, and everything in-between, from clinching to cage work. Over the last five years, EA’s Vancouver studio has delivered one of the prettiest and smoothest MMA game experiences, but with UFC 3, they’re tearing down the previous foundation to its core.

Now, they’ve rebuilt, stronger and better. The latest iteration from the MMA sim from some of the team that brought us Fight Night, is innovating in ways that would seemingly take years in a relatively quick turnaround. The beta from last year showed that this game is leaps and bounds beyond any striking system before it, and a Career Mode that sends you around the world of the UFC accompanies it.

There’s a lot to look forward to with UFC 3, so we discussed the challenges of scrapping years of work with game director Brian Hayes, who belives the best is yet to come.

This is the third game in about four or five years. How do you feel? You’re in crunch time I’m sure.

We’re actually just sort of came out of crunch time when the holidays started. Just basically the timeline. We’re working on some, sort of, you know, initial updates of the game, just based on the beta feedback, but basically we managed to sort of lock things down just over the holidays so the team could have just some peace of mind, some peace and quiet, as opposed to you know, pulling their hair out over the holiday.

So we’re kind of through, that which is pretty nice, but in terms of how we’re feeling? Me myself personally, this is the most fun I’ve had playing the game for the longest period of time during development. Certainly on any UFC game, and quite possibly on, any game I’ve worked on. When we integrated the new Real Player Motion tech and got the updated gameplay features working, we were having so much fun right away. So its been a blast to basically be playing UFC 3 for several months now, and sharpening my skills to a level that I think, you know, maybe I’ll be able to win a few fights for at least two weeks once it goes live.

Its certainly different. It’s kind of risky as well. The players that are accustomed to playing a lot of UFC 2, you generally don’t see this level of change to the core game play from one generation to the next, you know? But, we were really, really quite confident that it was the right decision based on everything that you could do, to sort of just bring a lot of strategic depth to the gameplay overall. So yeah, certainly it can be, the first day or two can be a little bit of a rude awakening if you have a lot of deeply ingrained habits from extensive UFC 2 or UFC 1 experience but overall the game is much better for it.

When did you guys decide to pull the trigger? Because I’ve been following (Gameplay Designer) Geoff Harrower’s blogs and I spoke to him quite a bit during the beta, but when did you decide to scrap what you had going over the first two iterations of the game?

It was pretty early on, once we sort of got a chance to prototype the RPM tech and really just get our first sort of, handle on what it was going to provide to the gameplay, what’s it going to feel like when you know players get their hands on it. That initial hands on experience that we had internally, we saw the potential and decided to go for it.

But it was pretty risky. We knew that. It was risky in terms of, okay are we going to be able to get all this work done in the time that we have and get it to the level of quality that it needs to be? Thankfully we have been able to do that, but also, there’s still just a risk of it being a big change, and some people are going to have a little trouble picking it up. Especially if they’re previous UFC 2 players, but the only thing I can say is that its so worth it. It is a much better, much cheaper, and much more exciting fun game than its ever been.

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