In January, we were given the chance to get some hands-on time with a near-final version of UFC Undisputed 3. At the same time, we had the opportunity to speak with Senior Designer Wes Bunn. We talked with him about the reasoning behind the break from an annual sports cycle, the future of the franchise, and what it's like working with an organization like the UFC.
Cheat Code Central: The biggest question with UFC Undisputed 3 is, you broke with the annual cycle, I want to know how that decision affected development and what options it gave you that you didn't have while in that rigid, annual sports cycle.
Wes Bunn: It's very, very hard—and I'm sure the other guys that are doing the annual sports titles will tell you the same thing—it's really hard to get all the things that you want to get in in that short dev cycle. Basically, when we finished 2009 we went—not even when we finished 2009, a couple months before—we already were rolling off onto 2010 because we had such a limited amount of time to get the things in that we wanted to get in. I think we got a lot of stuff into 2010, a lot of modes and new features, but our combat system didn't really change a lot. We added some things to combat, but not as much as we wanted. So, when people played 2010, they thought it was the same game—it felt the same.
CCC: I remember that you actually took something out. Wasn't there, I think in 2009, both a stick and a button mashing mechanic for escaping submissions that was reduced to just the stick, I think, in 2010?
WB: Yeah, we didn't like the way that the button mashing would work. So you had a guy like Brock Lesnar who could button mash his way out of a submission and basically be an expert at submission defense just by button mashing out.
CCC: Just brute force, right?
WB: Yeah, basically, that was what we called it in 2009, was the brute force escape. We didn't like the way that that worked, so we removed that for 2010, so you can't just strike your way out of submissions all the time.
CCC: So, you also said that you were working on 2010 almost as soon as 2009 was out the door. Was it the same thing with Undisputed 3?
WB: Yeah, it was still the same thing. We still wanted to roll off onto UFC 3 as 2010 was wrapping up, but since we had that extra time, we were able to go back and refine a lot of our combat systems, which is one of the things that needed some more attention.
CCC: And it does feel a lot faster.
WB: It feels faster. That was the first thing that we wanted to do was make it feel a little bit more responsive and faster.
CCC: Are the animations faster?
WB: We did adjust some of the timings and we did introduce some new animations as well.
CCC: The sways in particular feel sharp.
WB: That's the best way to put it. When you pick it up, it feels crisp, it feels sharp, it feels responsive in your hands, as opposed to previous games.
CCC: I really like that.
WB: [Laughs] So do I.
CCC: So, since you started development right after 2010, was this a decision after 2010 was out to switch over to a two-year cycle?
WB: Yeah, the other reason we wanted to do that was just to give us more time and market space. When 2010 came out people were like, "Wow, really? The game's already out? I didn't play the last one that much yet!" [laughs]. I think with this extra time… other people have kind of come out with some MMA games as well, and when ours comes out, people will be able to see what we did with that extra time once they start playing it.
CCC: So the competition was a factor in switching over to a two-year cycle?
WB: That also kind of contributed to it a little bit. There were several factors, to be honest, several factors that contributed to it. I mean, there were just a bunch of things that we wanted to do, just from a product placement standpoint, we wanted to have more time with 2010 out there and, UFC 3, with a two-year cycle, it just gave us a lot of time to do things that we wanted to do.