Interview – Supremacy MMA (with Ricci Rukavina)

Posted by on April 20, 2011 at 18:22.
Categories: Features, News

Supremacy MMA is looking to do things differently within the Mixed Martial Arts genre, and that is something a lot of us at XGZ have always applauded. So when we got the opportunity to have a chat with Ricci Rukavina, Founder and CEO of Kung Fu Factory, we didn’t even think twice about picking up notepad and pen to ask some questions.

XGZ: Supremacy MMA appears to represent the more underground and seedy side of Mixed Martial Arts, as opposed to the glitz and glamour that fans get to see on TV. What prompted the decision to go down that alternative route?

Ricci: Well, this is one aspect that does get portrayed in Supremacy MMA which we felt hadn’t really been portrayed in videogames yet and that it made a natural fit.  If you’ve seen one arena, you’ve seen them all and we know from our experience working with fighters, that they’ve come up through some pretty tough venues that don’t get shown on television. The game focuses more on “The Road To Supremacy” which means that a fighter might start out at a Muay Thai Camp in Thailand or an Underground Venue rather than the typical arena where they usually end up.

XGZ: It would be fair to say that Supremacy MMA will be going up directly against EA and THQ with their respective games. How have the team sought to differentiate this game from others on the market?

Ricci: We’ve tried to differentiate in a bunch of ways such as having a faster paced arcade style fighter, adding storylines for many of the fighters, focusing on the style versus style aspect of MMA along with the overall tone.  The team at Kung Fu Factory felt that adding ‘Arcade-flair’ to the game would make a lot of sense, making it feel more like an MMA fight in terms of speed, strategy and adrenaline.  And most importantly we didn’t want to leave out the fun side of MMA, so we felt that modelling some aspects on our favourite arcade fighters would make a lot of sense.

That being said it fits somewhere in between a simulation and a more arcade-y experience, but a huge aspect of the game that differentiates us is ‘strategy’.  You need to find a core style that works for you, which can be a faster paced striker or a more more strategic grappler and experiment with what works for your personal style.  And although the game is really easy to pick up and play, figuring out those style aspects while learning to block, parry, counter, and be strategic with certain moves becomes crucial.   Its also important to repeat that this is not an arcade fighter – it is its own thing; it tries to capture the spirit and intensity of MMA, while being just a fun game in its own right.

What did you call me??!

XGZ: With regards to the previous question, both EA and THQ’s MMA offerings weren’t particularly big hitters in terms of overall sales. Do you think that maybe the simulation style fighting games aren’t particularly what the fans want, and are you confident that your more story driven, arcade fighter approach will be a hit?

Ricci: We are confident that this is a great direction to go and everyone from fighters, to instructors, to promoters, to gamers have responded really well to what we’ve done once they’ve gotten their hands on it.  They think we’ve captured the feeling of MMA which is what we are going for, rather than trying to strictly capture the reality of it.  We think that this style of game really needs to fall somewhere in between.  The simulation aspect is important – and for us what that means is getting the martial arts part of it right and how they go up against each other.  So Muay Thai, Karate, Judo, etc. should look dead on in terms of their moves and their strengths and weaknesses.  But you can’t leave out the fun of an aggressive, fast paced brutal fighter with finishing moves, combos, adrenaline.  Like anything you should be able to get into the game right away – but if you spend a lot of time with it-  youll notice that it goes way beyond a button masher. It has depth and that makes it something that you can continually get better at and notice new things.

XGZ: Can you tell us a little bit about the story mode that will feature in supremacy MMA?

Ricci: Supremacy Stories is a cool mode in the game that we thought could add something extra to the single player experience.  The stories are told in a graphic novel style and we modelled many of the  stories on the real life experiences of the fighters and in many cases, used their actual voices.  Malaipet, one of our fighters has a really unique story set within the world of Muay Thai. The story gives some background on his life and also intertwines it with the rest of the Supremacy MMA world.  The stories are all told in native languages such as Thai, Japanese, Russian, which we thought was cool.  They’re a lot of fun even if you know the real fighters or you don’t.  It’s a great way to learn each of the fighting styles and their different moves so you can begin to get ready for online play or multiplayer beatdowns.

That's for stealing my sandwich at lunchtime!

XGZ: Let’s shift to multiplayer. Lots of fighting games suffer when it comes to the online multiplayer component. You’ve mentioned before that the team have focused hard on this aspect. Can you elaborate on some of the steps that have been taken to make Supremacy’s online experience better than those of, say, EA MMA and/ or UFC Undisputed?

Ricci: Fighting games are typically social games so latency is a real enemy as you want as one-to-one an experience as possible.  We’ve put a lot of hours into making a game that is fun and fast to play online.  One very strong similarity between the MMA sport and fighting games is that they are both magnets for highly competitive, skilled individuals.  Good sportsmanship aside, everyone trains hard because they all want to become the best fighter possible.  We’re giving our players the chance to really prove their superior skill online by adding Revenge Matches into the mix.  Imagine just barely losing a match after making a miraculous comeback in the final minute; of course you would want to go back and rematch that person but doing that is often a chore in other fighting games.  In Supremacy MMA you will be able to challenge others immediately after a heartbreaking loss and run it back. But this time you’ll be going double or nothing for ranking points in our Supremacy Rating system.  This adds an element into our game that we think is pretty new and cool, allowing players to put their pride and rank on the line but keeping them humble if they do so carelessly.

XGZ: With motion gaming having taken off to some incredible initial success, what’s your take on it? (specifically Kinect) Can you see yourself making a motion controlled MMA game in the future, or is that completely out of the question with regards to your development philosophy?

Ricci: We worked with the Kinect very early on before any developers were on board, in particular with the camera technology, so its safe to say not only are we fans of the technology, we’re really familiar with motion tech and what it can and cannot do. We are also at work on a very high profile Motion Tech project – so we definitely see ourselves doing some more motion work in the future as it’s a really cool piece of tech.  As far as an MMA game in the future – its something we’ve been asked before and our answer is never say never!

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XGZ: Would you be able to give us some numbers with regards to roster size, fighting styles represented, game modes and a taste of what we can expect from DLC to come?

Ricci: When it comes to roster, we aren’t really treating this like a traditional sports or simulation game.  We’re treating this more like a fighting game – and a fighter’s style is what we’ve focused on.  So playing one primary fighting style against another feels very different.  At present, we haven’t announced all of our fighting styles but we have 10 styles in game. That’s basically 10 x 10 different types of matchups  – so one hundred matchups gets pretty interesting depending upon what style you are focusing on. It also makes for quite a bit of replay.  We’ve got some great styles represented though – Muay Thai, BJJ, Karate,  Savate – and not just a couple of moves – the entire fighters style is based upon these different martial arts and their techniques. We have got over a 100 cut scenes detailing out many of the fighters stories. Adding to those, we have a Survival Tournament, and our publisher 505 games has some announcements about DLC announcements coming up in the future!

Thank you for your time Ricci.

XboxGameZone would like to thank both 505 Games and Kung Fu Factory for the interview and information. Be sure to check out our Supremacy MMA coverage here.

Supremacy MMA is slated for release June, 2011, on Xbox 360 and all other major platforms.

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Microsoft Xbox MVP, XboxGameZone Deputy Editor and Machinima Partner

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