Interview With Immersion’s Mateo Rojas on AAA Lucha Libre

After having so many years with only the WWE in town, gamers tend to get quite excited when a pro wrestling title arises that doesn’t carry the license. The newest game in town brings the AAA crowd of lucha libre wrestlers straight from Mexico and onto your home systems with AAA Lucha Libre: Heroes Del Ring. Although lucha libre features many concepts we’re quite familiar with in pro wrestling, it does have its own share of rules, atmosphere and notable wrestlers, but, more importantly, it has its own tradition, philosophies and atmosphere to soak in.

The release will be a landmark one for Mexico as AAA will be the first game ever developed and published by a Mexican-based video game company for mass consumption and it is the first to bare the much-respected AAA license. With the game set to launch on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 on Oct. 12, we were able to have Mateo Rojas from Immersion, the developer of the title on the two aforementioned formats, shed some light on what we can expect from this new grappler.

Diehard GameFAN: In order to introduce people to the game, what kind of features can players expect with Heroes Del Ring? How does the basic gameplay pan out? Is there any DLC planned for the title?

Mateo Rojas: To mention some, I think that the relationship between luchadores and the crowd is a very unique aspect of the game and in real life matches. You have to be constantly performing for your audience, or else you could easily lose their support and the matches. Our popularity meter unlocks each luchador’s signature move. So your popularity will determine how you battle your opponent. There is also a variety of fighting styles in the game. The way you will have to approach different opponents will vary.

Of course, we offer additional gameplay features that are unique to the game and the sport such as Hair vs. Mask where fighters wager their character’s mask or hair and the loser has his or her head shaved or mask torn off. Gamers will also find that the action inside the ring is more aerial in nature. In fact, in order to make our game more like real-life battles, we added an arcade element to it to intensify the matches. Gamers will eventually find also that this game has more dynamism than the other wrestling ones, and we tried to simplify some of the controls as well. But that’s just one side of a six-sided ring as we have tons of more unique advantages for gamers to unlock and explore.

As for the DLC, yes, we have plans to release DLC material in the future.

DHGF: What was it that prompted the decision to release a game based on AAA worldwide? What does the game do in order to introduce unfamiliar players to the culture, rules and wrestlers featured in the game?

MR: Although Mexican Lucha Libre has a lot of potential on its own, we believe AAA has already taken some steps into making the practice international. Some of the AAA luchadores have wrestled in other international leagues, and the luchas (as they are called in México) have elements that other leagues from around the world have adopted. MTV2 has a television show about Lucha Libre.

What we have done is translate all the unique elements found inside and outside the ring, include some educational information about the league and the luchadores in a fun way without seeming like we were trying to educate and make the gameplay easy enough at first for new fans while adding levels of difficulty for hardcore brawlers.

DHGF: In developing the gameplay mechanics for Heroes Del Ring, what would you say the biggest challenge was in accurately capturing the spirit of AAA in a video game?

MR: As Latin developers, we had a lot of local ideas that make us proud of being part of the Latin culture, and that we strongly want to share with the world. One of the biggest challenges was to choose from them the most important and the ones with more potential and translating them into a videogame experience. There were some that we felt were unique to the Mexican culture but wouldn’t translate as well to those outside the culture. Think of family jokes you have that are funny to members in your family, but not to anyone else.

DHGF: How have people been responding to the introduction to the game? Has the game also seen a response from the sport of wrestling and the wrestlers involved with it?

MR: Well, the game has created a lot of expectations from wrestling fans all around the world. From them, as well as from blog comments and forum posts, we have tried to incorporate those ideas and concerns into our game. After E3, based on feedback from attendees and media we decided to spend a little more time on the game from marketing, production and development. In high school my parents always said not to give into peer pressure, but we wanted to hear what our fans had to say and how they felt. So, from commentaries we have heard along the process of creating the game, we have learned and made changes, and even have new ideas that hopefully we could be taking into future titles.

DHGF: When developing an original wrestling game, where does a developer start? The rules, wrestlers and nature of the sport are already laid out, so how does a team approach the creation of a wrestling game from scratch?

MR: There a lot of things that you have to cover. The first thing is once you have an idea it’s important to see if the marketplace will adopt or accept it. Lucha Libre is different from other games in the genre. We felt the genre had gotten a little stale and could use some extra competition. Then we had to gain a first-rate education/knowledge base of Lucha Libre’s universe. We had to understand why fans love it and what we could use to make a game. Finally, and this is just a crash course on what it takes to start, you must be able to cohesively mix these elements into a video game language that stays true to the source material while adding elements that others would enjoy.

DHGF: What prompted the game’s unique mask vs. mask/hair matches? Understandably, the mask is very symbolic in AAA Wrestling and is respected, so what is done to reinforce this belief in the video game?

MR: First of all, we took special care into developing a strong and robust mask editor. I can guarantee that gamers will spend a lot of time developing their unique masks for their characters. They will have thousands of options in which to build their perfect mask. The massive amount of possibilities in that editor assures fans that it will be almost impossible for two gamers to make the exact same mask for their custom luchador.

We wanted to reinforce the Mexican Lucha Libre idea that the masks are not only an accessory, but the real face of the luchadores – a face that represents their personality, their career, their honor and even their personal beliefs. That is why in Mexico masks are so important. The most famous of all matches is the mask vs. hair match. We wanted to represent those matches in the game, both in single player and multiplayer matches. Players will wager their masks. Winner takes the other’s mask as a trophy. Loser has to jump through a few hoops, or rather rings, in order to gain the ability to make a new mask.

DHGF: How does the title differentiate between the different formats? How will the Wii motion controls be worked into the version, will the touch screen come into play on the DS version, will anything be exclusive to a certain format?

MR: I cannot tell you much of the differences as I worked as design leader only for the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game. What I can tell you is that both we and the developer of the Wii version worked separately and from the ground up. We offer completely different gameplay options and single-player storylines. The Wii version is a completely different game compared to the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions.

DHGF: A huge mechanic in the game lies within the battle between the técnicos and rudos. Is this what assisted you in choosing the game’s roster? I know some live Lucha Libre events will even have rudos referees, so how far does Heroes Del Ring take the concept?

MR: Yes, the ongoing struggle between técnicos and rudos is a big part of the game, not only from gameplay elements, but how the single-player storyline develops. The storyline varies depending on what side you play for. Even the referees behave differently toward you depending on what side you play for. In addition, the way each luchador battles inside the ring is dependent upon the team affiliation. You see, in the game you will encounter big differences on how a pair of rudos behave, depending on factors like their speed, resistance, relationship with the crowd, etc.

DHGF: While developing a wrestling game, how did you settle on the moves the various characters use? A lot of wrestling games seem to create a balance of featuring over-the-top moves while still aiming for a hint of realism. How difficult is it to utilize impactful and flashy maneuvers while not straying away from what the portrayed wrestler would actually do in a match?

MR: As mentioned above, we had chosen the luchador roster taking into consideration how they actually behave in real-life matches and how that behavior translates into an actual gaming experience. In some cases, we had to exaggerate certain movements, or include them, in order to balance the roster and give dynamism to the game.

DHGF: Lucha Libre is definitely features a rich culture. What types of features were considered that won’t make it into the first retail title?

MR: As mentioned above, we have taken a lot of feedback both from the people outside and inside the development team. We are also not only in love with the project, but with the real life Lucha Libre as well, so we constantly are getting some new ideas for the game. Hopefully, we will get the chance to include those new ideas in future releases.



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One response to “Interview With Immersion’s Mateo Rojas on AAA Lucha Libre”

  1. J1M Avatar

    I don’t particularily care for wrestling games But these guys seem to be pretty passionate about their work.

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