I tell Dolph Ziggler about the new story creator in "WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010," how I can have him compete for a championship or blow up his rental car, and a huge grin crosses his face. "I never get the insurance, so that would backfire on me," he tells me. "But I have a story I want you to create. You can have a Diva lottery where they all line up for the chance to become my valet. Whoever wins, after they break down in tears and are revived with smelling salts, they can accompany me to the ring. Make it happen."
Ziggler, who is one of the fastest rising stars in WWE, just seems to have that charisma, that "it" factor both in and out of the ring. And his ability to mimic other people's moves made him the perfect candidate to help THQ with the motion-capture for their wrestling series. "When you see Triple H's pedigree or Shawn Michael's entrance in the game, that was me," he says. "It's one of the reasons I can't wait for the game to come out. I love to see how all that time in the spandex suit paid off and see how those moves look in the new 'Smackdown.' And now hearing about that story creator, this is definitely something I'll want to play."
To find out more about the new Smackdown game, I left Ziggler and sat down with the game's creative manager, Bryan Williams, to find out all of the dirt on THQ's upcoming wrestler, including new info on that story creator Ziggler already has such big plans for.
ESPN: Not only can you create your own finisher in the new game, but you can create finishing moves off the top rope. What are some of the crazier moves you have seen so far?
Bryan Williams: A double shooting star press is pretty crazy. But I've also done some other stuff, like a shooting star press into a frog splash or a 450 into a Macho Man elbow drop. Just like the create-a-finisher last year, you can have up to ten animations to the moves to the top rope dives. And you can not only do them on an opponent who is down, you can have dive moves on opponents who are standing as well. It's a little harder to hit in the game, but it's nice to have that option as well. And since they work like any other dive move off of the turnbuckle, you can even hit it on opponents who are outside the ring. So yeah, you can hit that double shooting star on someone lying outside the ring. No restrictions.
ESPN: With the fanaticism of wrestling fans out there, how intense do you think people will get with the whole story creator in the game?
Bryan Williams: I think it's going to go over huge with the fans. I can't wait for the game to be released just so I can go online and see what stories people have created and see what's available for download. One thing that I know about our fans, and our hardcore fans especially, is that they're a creative bunch. We give them the tools for the created wrestlers and the entrances, and I've seen time and time again how they've taken those tools to create masterpieces. With the story designer and how it combines text and how you can insert cut-scenes, and change the cut-scenes around by adding emotion or moving the camera angle around or changing the cast of characters … there are going to be some really compelling storylines to play through. Heck, I'm working on a script right now so I can create and upload my story to the masses.
ESPN: Is there a limit to the amount of created storylines that you can download?
Bryan Williams: You can have up to ten stories saved on your hard drive. That accounts for everything from the ones you create to the ones you download. But ten is a lot, especially when you factor in just how big some of these stories can be. Each story you can insert up to 500 moments/scenes/events … whatever you want to call it. Or if you want, you can create a story that is told only through matches and not even have any cut-scenes. Or vice-versa, if you want to have it like a movie, and do all cut-scenes instead of matches, you can do that too. And 500 is a lot. If you think about that, if you divided it evenly, that's 250 cut-scenes and 250 matches. That's 250 played matches in one story.
And being able to cast in your created characters into these stories is also huge for us. So if you want, you can have your created guy hitting on Mickie James as using the people you've created, that's half the thrill. There's going to be some unique and crazy stories online.
ESPN: So I've seen cars blow up and a car run down John Cena. What other crazy stuff is possible in these cut-scenes?
Bryan Williams: There's one on the stage entrance where there is one superstar walking out and this other superstar jumps from the top of the stage down onto the guy coming out for a surprise attack. That's a cool one. There's the one where John Cena gets hit by a car, but there's also another one where he just avoids the car in time that I like. There's all kinds of crazy stuff like beatdowns, gangland-style attacks in the ring that show that stable warfare … there's too many to name.
ESPN: You've also added the ability to change the clothing color of the WWE superstars for the first time. I can finally have a pink Undertaker! How is that going to work?
Bryan Williams: It's our new Superstar Threads mode and it's really cool because we're all big wrestling fans on the team, and when we look at a guy like Rey Mysterio, his mask and pants might be the same, but he always has different color variations. And you see this with a lot of superstars, so we thought it would be great to give fans the ability to make these edits on their own. So if you watch Rey and you see him come out in the silver and black, or even if you're just a Raiders fan and you want him in your colors, you can do that. And every superstar is unique, so you can go in and edit every piece. Rey Mysterio has a lot of parts to his costume, so we enable gamers to go in and edit the individual pieces of his mask, pants, and gloves. His character has a lot of customization possibilities. But then you look at a guy like Triple H, and he just has trunks, pads, and boots, so that is all you'll be able to change for him. It all depends on the superstar you are working with. But being able to create three attire variants per superstar really adds a lot.
ESPN: Turning to gameplay, what's the biggest fix you made to this year's game that really bugged you about "SVR09?"
Bryan Williams: We did a lot of small gameplay changes and improvements. The biggest thing that we did was add the ability to manually go on the apron and perform moves. Guys like CM Punk and Rey Mysterio will go on the apron and perform moves like the springboard to go inside the ring, outside the ring. So the apron is an all-new attack position this year. We also changed up the grapple moves you do on the ground. Last year, the grapples were all split up, upper body/lower body with three moves on each side. This year we've added side grapples as well as the upper and lower grapples. We've also changed them so you have a different set of moves when an opponent is on their stomach as opposed to being on their back. So we've doubled the moves for that situation.
Struggle submissions have also been improved because now you can actually trigger submissions at will. One of the things that really bugged me about last year's game is that sometimes you could inadvertently trigger a submission when you didn't really want to do one. So this year, you call it. If you have your guy in a grapple hold and you click the right stick, that's what triggers the struggle submission. So you do that on your own now and there's no longer the possibility of having the flow of your match interrupted by triggering a submission that you didn't want to have happen. It's all at your discretion.