Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
you don't. But a number of ideas were seriously discussed with regard to structure
and what progressing really meant. At one stage, the idea was presented that victory
in the story mode meant the choice to fight one last fight: success would mean access
to the on-line world, but failure would mean the permanent death of your charac-
ter. As you'll probably have gathered by the lack of consternation and outrage in the
reviews, this didn't make it into the game.
In fact, as you may already know if you've taken a look at the game, there is more
to progressing than “win a fight, get the next one.” We decided on a “batch structure”
that allowed players the choice of fights from each batch. In early batches, they need
to win two out of four fights to progress. Players can take a look at their potential
opposition, read about them, hear what the promoter has to say about them, then
back out altogether if they want. In the middle batches, players need to win three
out of four fights to progress. In the final fight batches, players need to win all four
fights, but they can still choose the order in which they wish to tackle the fights.
Meshed within this structure were key fights that the player had to win to suc-
ceed, and these key fights were always linked to the story, forming pivotal plot points,
moments of reversal or revelation that helped to drive the story on and helped to
make sure it was still intricately linked to the game itself.
Yet even when the kind of story shape was agreed upon and the structure started
to take shape, there was still a desire within the development team in general, and
from Matthew in particular, to find something special in our approach, to find some
way of opening up some distance between our story and the master of all boxing
rags-to-riches stories: Rocky . This was how the idea of presenting the story in a
documentary form got born, and it was Matthew himself who delivered the solution.
The verisimilitude that would be generated from a documentary format would help
us get players to care about the characters who—given the limited on-screen time
we could give them and the kind of story we were dealing with—were essentially
cast as archetypes with clear story functions. In documentary form, a viewer would
accept that a character wasn't functioning in a usual dramatic context, with his own
story arc and his own complex desires and conflicts. In the script, we were able to
subsume these elements of character within the nature of their relationship to the
central character, a character the player himself gets to create at the start of the game.
The verisimilitude was further reinforced by 2K securing a number of real per-
sonalities from the world of boxing: Don King, Larry Holmes, Ken Norton, Samuel
Peter, Joe Calzaghe, James Toney, Nicolai Valuev, etc. And these people wouldn't
just be CGI likenesses—they would be talking to camera, and not playing parts, but
playing themselves. As writers on the project, Marek and I found ourselves writing
the documentary with the intention that the player never really thought about there
ever having been any writers. We wanted the story to really feel like a documentary,
so we set out to write it in such a way that it looked as if there was just a director with
a film crew, an editing team, and all the people in front of the camera. When it came
to writing the actual script, it became apparent that this was different from dramatic
writing we had handled in the past. Instead of the key events in the story being car-
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