A new challenger has entered.
The wrestling video game market was pretty limited just a few years ago. It was WWE or bust. Recently, however, Fire Pro Wrestling and CHIKARA's efforts have added a little bit of competition, but in a much different gameplay format. Virtual Basement is looking to make their impact in a realm more close to that of WWE 2K -- or what 2K used to be before the cancelation.
Virtual Basement is entering the fray, and Fightful was able to obtain some more information. The company spoke with Fightful about some tentative plans for the upcoming title, but don't expect it to be released imminently. They're taking their time.
"We don't have a set target release date in mind yet as this is a passion project and we don't want to rush anything. Which is one of the main reasons why we're doing our best to self fund the project and avoid publishers/investors. We plan on building the game in steps/pieces and potentially launching over time early access," the company told us. "I have been making games professionally now for over 11 years, but before that I have been playing wrestling games for as long as I can remember. From No Mercy to Here Comes The Pain, to Day of Reckoning and it's finally the right time and moment for a new wrestling game that can create opportunity and an alternative."
Many wrestlers have already signed on including Ken Shamrock, Enzo Amore, Matt Taven, Brian Pillman Jr, Alex Riley, JTG, Matt Sydal/Evan Bourne, Jonathan Gresham, Kenny King, Shad Gaspard, Brian Cage, Bull Dempsey, Caprice Coleman, Shaheem Ali, Su Yung, Cheeseburger, Ivelisse, Kylie Rae, Killer Kelly, Rich Swann, Kongo Kong, LSG, O'Shay Edwards, Fallah Bahh, and several other independent wrestlers. As of now, no promotion is specifically tied to the game, and it doesn't look like that's in the cards as of now...but it could be!
"We have not spoke or worked with any of the promotions directly. We're working with independent talent from all walks of life directly. This means past, present, and future professional wrestlers. We have a fantastic roster thus far that we're proud of and a lot of new surprises coming," we were told by VB. "There is a strong possibility down the line to include add-on content with various promotions but as of right now we're focusing on creating our own fictional brand to work within for the game while having options to select various Independent promotions and arenas. As for the roster, we have hand picked everyone thus far and it has been a group effort of everyone involved reaching out to their contacts and friends. That is one of the biggest things we have noticed and love about this project is the genuine excitement of everyone involved."
Connecting with pro wrestlers can be hard at times, as some are still protective of the industry they're in. Fortunately for Virtual Basement, the former Enzo Amore has helped out, with Virtual Basement saying. "We don't have any one consulting on the game, but I do have to give a shout out to Nzo since he has been a huge help thus far in connecting with people and general support behind the scenes."
Enzo has also went on record saying that he recruited several wrestlers to sign up with the game when he toured with Qatar Pro Wrestling. He's also pushing to get former WWF, WCW and TNA writer Vince Russo involved in a story for the game.
If you've taken a glance at WWE's own Community Creations over the last few years, you'd see a lot of player models that ended up looking better than the ones that 2K Sports had scanned into the game. Virtual Basement is taking a note from this, but they don't have a community of hundreds of thousands on their staff.
"Since we're building all our characters from scratch using zbrush and other digital modeling tools, we're not using 3D scan technology it takes us a bit longer, anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks per character depending on complexity," they said.
We're told by wrestlers involved that they provided photos to the Virtual Basement team, and the characters were created from the ground up. Tattoos hadn't been added to the player models as of mid-March, but would be eventually, as the wrestlers were told.
Gameplay and execution has been a major sticking point for a lot of fans in recent years who have become frustrated with WWE's efforts. While the likes of Fire Pro have proven successful, and RetroMania look promising, there isn't a true modern 3D alternative. Virtual Basement looks to provide that, while playing off of proven formulas that wrestling video game fans have loved.
"Honestly, we're taking inspiration from various games and playstyles that we're fans of over the years but we're looking to focus on building a very strong foundation that is fun and polished that can be built and expanded upon as we like. For example we plan on focusing on polishing the movement system first as it should be fun as possible just running around and interacting, and then we will build striking, reversing, grappling systems step by step on top of that core. If we had to give examples of the style of gameplay based on other games, I would have to say it's a mix of No Mercy, Here Comes The Pain, Day Of Reckoning 2, and Smackdown vs. Raw 2011," Virtual Basement added.
When building a game from the ground up, everything has to be created. The moves and characteristics themselves have to be captured. Though some things are decided upon already, Virtual Basement is going to make sure that everything is smooth before your eyes land on it.
"As for motion capture, we plan on doing a hybrid of hand animations and mo-cap depending on the situation. Something like taunts for example it makes sense to do as much motion capture for as possible but for move sets and grappling, we may want to make sure we have that attention of detail and smooth transitions that only hand animation can achieve," we're told.
Fightful will continue to provide you information about this upcoming title, and hopefully speak to the creators more ahead of the release date.