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Adam Ryland Interview

By: Russ
29 November 2004

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On the day before Wrestling Spirit is released in trial version, Wrestling 101ís Russ caught up with Adam Ryland to discuss a variety of topics. Hereís how things went down.

Successful. Revolutionary. The very best at what he does. But enough about me, Iím talking to Adam Ryland today, programmer extraordinaire today. Adam, how's tricks?

Tricks are good, bordering on great. How are yours?

I'll be honest, I'm excited. 24 hours from now, I'll hopefully have my hands on WreSpi's trial. I've got to ask you the big question that's on everyone's lips: What did you have for lunch today?

That is the million dollar question isn't it? I had an egg sandwich while watching a DVD of SummerSlam 1988.

Stunning news, I'm sure everyone will agree. So is this your way of relaxing after you've gotten Wrestling Spirit out of the way?

Is there anything more relaxing than watching Ken Patera vs Bad News Brown? I think not.

I think you'll have no arguments there. So, let's talk a bit more about Wrestling Spirit. It looks like it's going to be out in a matter of days, are you totally happy with the finished product?

Yes, I'm very pleased with how it turned out. I learnt a lot from making TEW earlier in the year, and I think that experience shows in Wrestling Spirit - it's an overall cleaner, more structured game, and the new graphics guys that worked on this project did an awesome job in making it look fabulous.

I think that WreSpi, hopefully you won't mind me saying this, slipped under the radar a bit. I'm the Wrestling101 Video Games Guru for goodness sake, and I wasn't aware of it until a short time ago. Was this a deliberate ploy, after the ridiculous amount of hype that TEW was faced with?

Yes, definitely. We decided to go with caution this time around. We've purposely released a demo first, so that any last minute tweaks and bugs can be ironed out before the product goes on sale, and then we'll start getting the word out through reviews and message boards. The amount of hype for TEW - most of it generated by the fans themselves, not the company - got to silly proportions, and that certainly caused a stressful first week after release for me.

Well, we all know what happened with TEW and the numerous patches that came out in such a short time. Are you confident that WreSpi will be playable out of the metaphorical box?

Touch wood, yes, it should be much more stable. The main issue with TEW was that I made the mistake of making the full game first, then sending it out for testing and fixing everything then. This meant that flaws that had slipped in early in the process slipped under the radar. With WreSpi, the game has been tested throughout, even as far back as when it was just a design document, so it would be very hard for flaws to get through like they did with TEW.

The "finished" product has been in testing since early October, so it's had almost two months of testing on it, which I think has gotten rid of most of the bugs. I'd be surprised if there aren't one or two minor ones that have slipped through - that's simply inevitable, there's always going to be a spelling error that gets through, or something like that - but I'm quietly confident that nothing more than that will have gotten past the testing process.

You mentioned a bit about the graphical talents you were working with this time around. Is that what encouraged you to bring out WreSpi? Was there an element of "been there, done that" with sims along the lines of TEW?

The graphics weren't really a big part of it - in fact, the game was already being coded by the time I got the graphics team assembled. The main motivation was more to do with the genre being pretty weak. There are a few wrestling career games out there already, but none of them are particularly good in my view. So, seeing I already have a fan base who want wrestling games, it seemed like the natural thing to do was to go to that genre and see if I could make something that was better than the existing games.

That's interesting to hear. Are there any other genres out there at the minute that you think that you could add something to?

There's a couple of other that I intend to visit at some point. But I'm 99% certain that my next game will be a sequel to TEW2004, as I still feel there's a lot to do in that genre. With the benefit of hindsight, and all the feedback I've got on the original, I have a pretty clear picture in my head of what I want to do with the next game, and I'm confident that the end result will be pretty spectacular.

Let's move onto talk about the next TEW game. One of the things that must have taken the longest time to do with the game is the roster you had to make. What was that like? I imagine that it would be hard work, but I guess it could also be a lot of fun as you're practically playing God with how the wrestling industry could look one day.

That was one of my favourite things to do, as I loved coming up with my own little universe - I think that shows in the level of detail and thought that went into it, and that seems to be reflected in how well received it has been. Wrestling Spirit takes the same universe, but it set a year later, and I had a blast adding new characters, moving people around, fleshing out some of the lesser known guys, etc.

Who are some of your favourite guys in the Cornell-verse, as it's known in some circles?

Lobster Warrior is by far my favourite, just because he is such a ridiculous character, but could have existing quite happily in 1980's WWF, sending heel's cowering with his over-sized novelty plastic claws. I think that was enhanced by the picture of him that was made (which comes with Wrestling Spirit by the way). I also have a soft spot for the UK workers, as that was the first area I did, and a lot of their names are in-jokes.

I think that everyone and their dog knows about my undying love for Joe Sexy, he truly is the greatest.

He's still around, nowadays he's teaming with Angry Gilmore as Sexual Aggression, one of my favourite tag teams in WreSpi.

Youíve just sold yourself one more copy of the game then. Anyway, the new TEW game, is that being worked on just now, or is it just an idea floating around in that pretty little head of yours?

At the moment I have a very clear picture in my mind of what direction I'll be taking the game, but nothing is written down yet, so I still need to sit down and make a design to work out all the details. Some of the features of Wrestling Spirit came out much better than I expected, and I'll be using them in the next TEW game for sure. The current plan is to start designing it after Christmas.

So from now until Christmas, you get a chance to chill out?

That and deal with any Wrestling Spirit stuff that comes up, yes.

That should give you lots of time to finish watching some more Ken Patera matches then. But seriously, who are the wrestlers that you like to watch? Do you still keep up to date with all the big promotions, or does is seem like work now that you're basing games on the industry?

I don't have access to any wrestling at the moment, other than occasional WWE PPVs, so I keep in touch with what is going on via web sites, mainly so that I can incorporate what's going on in reality into my games. I've just bought a bunch of classic WWF DVDs from the late 1980s, early 1990's, which was my favourite era, so that's what Iím watching right now.

What about other wrestling games, do you play these? Do you welcome the competition?

I play most of the wrestling games on the PS2, like the Smackdown! and Def Jam series' of games. There aren't really any PC games that are competition to my products at the moment, as the simulator scene has been pretty cold for two or three years now. There's usually rumblings of some new game coming out every six months or so, but they always seem to fizzle out before they actually get released, which is a shame. I'd like to see some good wrestling sims get made, as competition always make everyone work harder. Pretty much the only reason that I continued the original EWR series of games was because I had competition from a game called Promotion Wars, so it'd be nice to see someone else start making waves.

When you heard the news that PW2 was to be no more, how did you react? Was it really a case of "Oh, what a shame" or did you have a little laugh to yourself? And be honest now, the Wrestling101 readers are smart enough to tell if you're lying

It was 50\50. I felt bad for the creator of the game, as he seemed like a genuinely nice guy, and having some competition did drive me to improve my games. On the other hand, there was a small group of hardcore fans of his game who were incredibly obnoxious, and kept popping up on my message board to tell me how I was going to be "put out of business" by PW (despite the fact that at the time I was making freeware, and so wasn't in "business"), so there was a certain amount of satisfaction in metaphorically giving them the finger by winning a "war" that only existed in their minds.

That's refreshingly honest. I'm well known for asking the controversial questions, just like the one about your lunch earlier, so here comes the big one. You sold out. Yay or nay?

Well, like all deep questions, that can be answered by Mick Foley's first book. There's a section where he talked about the "sell out" chants from ECW fans, and he answered with 3 points, which were something like "1. I like to wrestle. 2. I like to do it in front of large audiences 3. I like to get paid well to do it." and he pointed out that that's exactly what he was doing by moving to the WWF. I can paraphrase that as "1. I like to make wrestling games. 2. I like to have lots of people play it. 3. I like to get paid well to do it." I can achieve 1 and 2 by making freeware games, but I can only achieve all three by doing this professionally. That Foley's a smart dude, huh?

Well, I had a feeling you'd answer with a quote from Foley, but I thought you'd take the answer from another quote in Have A Nice Day. "That's right, I sold out. I sold out New Jersey, I sold out Philly, I sold out every damn arena I worked in!". Anyway, how did you put up with gamers and annoying interviewers who kept going on about it? Surely it must have gotten on your nerves.

Yes, it did, especially as people seemed to instantly forget that I'd been providing games for free for almost eight years prior to turning professional. As I said then, writing games took up too much of my time, so it was a clear-cut choice - stop doing them and concentrate on my real job, or keep doing them AS my real job. The end result is that anyone who refused to buy my game isn't "losing" anything, as even if I hadn't turned professional, there wouldn't have been any more free games from me anyway.

Of course, this was all provoked by you joining up with .400 Software Studios. Now, of course, you're under the Grey Dog Software banner. Can you shed any light on that whole situation, excuse the pun but it seems to be a bit of a Grey area to some people

Basically some of the management at .400 wanted to go in one direction with the company, and some wanted to go in another. The end result is that .400 exists and is doing their thing, while the other managers and most of the developers decided to leave and go in a different direction, as Grey Dog Software. Essentially GDS is the same group of people, just sans some of the .400 management.

This interview was no secret, and your fans have been trying their best to fill my email account with questions for you. Let's take a look at the first one, from F2K Fletcher, who writes "After his previous experience with wrestling management sims, is WreSpi not a bit of an experiment considering its unique and originative style of play?"

It's an experiment in terms of it being the first time I've written a pure game (as oppose to a simulator), but the previous games in the genre have always been well received, despite their shortcomings, so it's not that much of a gamble - I know that there is an audience out there for this game, hopefully they'll enjoy it.

Next up is Jayden "When he decided to create TEW, the first game he was charging for, did he approach it with a certain amount of fear knowing that he would have to use a game world full of created wrestlers and promotions?"

Not really. I knew some fans wouldn't be able to see past the fact that it didn't feature real stars, but to be honest, people who thought like that probably weren't going to enjoy a true simulator anyway, so weren't my target audience. My experience of fans who love the true simulation aspect of games is that they generally really like created fantasy worlds, so I was confident that I could make a world that they'd enjoy playing within.

The next question is from Chris2K, making that the 2nd person out of 3 to have 2K in his name "Were you pleased with the sales of TEW, and were they higher or lower than you expected?"

Well, I don't want to go into exact figures, but I think the fact I've done a second game for the same group of people, and have a sequel to TEW in the pipeline, should tell you that it definitely didn't bomb!

BRM asks "What do your friends and family think about you sitting around making wrestling games?"

They like to point, laugh, and throw things. I've taken to programming behind a Perspex security window to deflect the missiles, so it's all good.

Mattitude is wondering "How do you feel now that you will forever be linked with Extreme Warfare Revenge, no matter what other great achievements you may accomplish?"

I don't think that's true, I won't "forever" be linked with it - I'm sure within a decade or two I'll have sunk into complete obscurity and nobody will remember who the heck I am!

And finally, a question from someone called Ssur "I'm a huge fan of Russ and the W101 Video Games Section. Adam, it's probably too late to do it for WreSpi, but will you put Russ in the game as Joe Sexy's manager/tag partner/lover?"

Sadly the game has already been sent for uploading, so it's too late to add it...but hey, there's always the editor, so you're free to give Russ and Joe whatever "relationship" you see fit.

I am delÖSorry, "Ssur" will be delighted to hear that. What can I say? Adam, you've been a true star and a joy to talk to. I can't wait to get my hands on Wrestling Spirit, and I'll give the last word to you. Plug away!

I don't need asking twice. My first game, TEW2004 is still on sale at www.400softwarestudios.com. The demo of my new game Wrestling Spirit will be out by the time this is published, and is at www.WrestlingSpirit.com. The retail version will be out on the 30th November. Makes an excellent Christmas present, and will help put my kids through college. Won't someone think of the children?

Well, there you go folks. Adam Ryland was a top guy to talk with, and I appreciate his time. Iíd also like to thank Tara Clover and all of the Grey Dog Software staff, who were extremely helpful and friendly. Keep your eyes peeled for a review of Wrestling Spirit here at Wrestling 101, and all thatís left to say is thanks to everyone who sent in questions.




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