Phenomenal Fighters Wrestling – The Road to Virtual Sports Entertainment Glory!!

Everyone needs a hobby and as much as I enjoy writing for this website, I needed something else to pass the time and reignite my passion to create.  Now if you’ve been following me on twitter (which if you’re not you can VERY EASILY START DOING) you’ll know that this hobby I came up with was to create a Virtual Wrestling Federation; to create essentially from scratch a roster of fighters and a brand for them to fight on.  The initial fruits of that effort can be viewed above which is the pilot episode Phenomenal Fighters Wrestling: Melee, but hopefully I won’t be stopping there considering just how much work I put into this thing already, but if nothing else I can at least tell the tale of how it all came together.

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IN THE BEGINNING… wait, where do I begin?

The two things I knew right off the bat is that I wanted to use WWE 2K19 and that my system could not handle it at anything above PS2 level graphics settings, so while I saved up some money to finally upgrade my system, I started just writing things down.  I needed some sort of structure to start with, so I bought the World Wide Wrestling RPG books by Nathan D Paoletta just to get an idea of where I needed to begin.  Ultimately I didn’t really end up using them, but the character sheets gave me a starting point; come up with a name, a general outline, and a few wrestling moves.  From there I came up with my initial roster as well as the name of the company.  From there it expanded into an Excel Spreadsheet I’ve called THE BOOK that has like twenty different tabs at this point with all my ideas, all the details I need to keep track of, and so on.  With the groundwork laid, I knew I had to bite the bullet and buy the game.

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SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY, just please don’t crash on me!

I knew after the utter debacle that WWE 2K20 was that I wanted to get the previous year’s edition and silly ol’ me thought it would be at a decent price.  Well apparently 2K is VERY aware of how awful 2K20 is, so while they were offering that game at TWENTY FREAKING DOLLARS, there were no discounts for 2K19 to be seen.  Whatever though, it’s an investment in something bigger, right?  And fortunately for me, I was able to get the game to run.  Not at a level that I could ACTUALLY run and record matches, but enough to start creating my wrestlers, design a few belts, and build a ring.  As annoyed as I was at having to pay FULL PRICE FOR THE FREAKING GAME, I’ve got to say that the sheer depth of features offered is jaw dropping.  I definitely have my nit-picks with the game which we’ll get to soon enough, but considering how much fine tuning you have to customize just about EVERYTHING in the game is what convinced me that I could make this into something of my own.  Still, I wasn’t going to get TOO far with my current hardware, so I upgrade to a GTX 1650 SUPER, I got a new power supply to run it, and I even got a brand new case to house it all in.   I’ve needed to update my system for a REALLY long time, but I probably spent about $350 just on those three items.  Thankfully it worked, though I do need to update my processor too because running the game at good settings AND recording footage can cause frames to drop, which if you look REALLY close in the pilot you can see every so often.

I’m also getting these weird block blocks on the screen, though thankfully they’ve so far been limited to the Move-Set mode and not the actual matches.

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The Real Work Begins!  I’m so tired…

Steam will tell you that I’ve sunk 194 hours into the game, but I’m pretty sure I left it on overnight a few times and there were plenty of sessions where I had it on for HOURS while barely even touching it, so while that number is exaggerated, I wouldn’t be surprised if I genuinely clocked in at least a hundred hours into it.  As great as the customization options are, there’s just SO many of them that creating a single fighter is upwards of eight hours of work; what with creating their look, working out their entrances, poses, and overall personality, and ESPECIALLY the move-sets!  Good lord, did I spend a lot of time just trying to choose what moves each wrestler to fit their style, and even then I ended up redoing a few of them just to try and get it right!  Eventually though, I had enough done that I could see if this wild idea would even work, so that’s when I started putting together a pilot and started to REALLY butt-up against the game’s limitations.

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WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT, 2K!?  NONE OF THIS MAKES SENSE!!

Again, this game has an ENORMOUS amount of features that I’m sure less than five percent of the people who BUY the freaking thing will ever see.  You can create your own shows, do all sorts of branding, and they even have a lot of extraneous generic stuff that you can use if you DON’T want to be tied to the WWE aesthetic! All of that is great, but I ended up not using any of it and inserted my own branding and graphics when editing it all together.  There are certainly some nit-picks about the way that certain systems work (the way entrances are constructed is REALLY blocky and doesn’t mesh disparate parts well), but the BIG thing that drove me up a wall is trying to record footage.  For the life of me I can’t understand WHY you can’t just record a match in its entirety and just play it.  NOT EVEN EXPORT IT!  I can just record the footage as it plays!  No, instead they have the most baffling replay system I’ve ever seen and had to be REALLY creative about getting certain shots.  So the game WILL let you save replays, but only for specific moments in the match that THE GAME somehow deemed was worthy of remembering.  Okay, fair enough.  I mean I can’t get EVERY angle I wanted, but there’s enough variety in the scenes that they choose that I was able to stich something together.  Well THEN you get to the replay mode and it just doesn’t make ANY sense.  You can move the camera around wherever, but you can’t simply PLAY the footage, and you can’t remove the control bar!  WHAT!?  It’s this weird thing where you can only play the footage by depressing the right shoulder button, but depending on how hard you press it the footage will play at different speeds instead of just, you know, HAVING A PLAY BUTTON THAT WILL RUN IT AT NORMAL SPEED! 

THE BANE OF MY EXISTENCE!!

So yeah, I ended up not using the replay feature and had to come up with a few tricks to find a few different angels for replays and to get some B-Roll.  The game gave me ninety percent of EVERYTHING I COULD POSSIBLY NEED to make this work, but getting that last ten percent was brutal.  Eventually though, I got the footage I needed, spent a few days working out graphics and whatnot in Adobe Premiere, and not only do I have a pretty decent pilot to show for it, I have all the little bells and whistles in place so I can more easily put matches together going forward!

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So Where Are We Now!?

As of now I have twelve wrestlers designed.  Ten have full move sets, eight have full entrances/exits, and I’m pretty sure one of them is going to be HEAVILY reworked before I go much further with him.  I also have two arenas created, an opening arc for the show, and a heck of a lot of graphics to make it look as professional as I can muster.  My hope is that with so much of the heavy lifting done that it will be easier to just put out matches, but I’m probably only fooling myself considering how much I micromanage every single FRAME when editing this stuff together.  In any case, the first arc of the show proper is going to be a tournament for the PFW Championship between the eight wrestlers I have FULLY completed.

PLACE YOUR BETS NOW!! Not on who’s going to win, but if I’ll ever actually finish the darn thing…

It’ll be a single elimination tournament consisting of four episodes.  The first two episodes will be the opening rounds of the tournament, the third episode will be the semi-finals, and then for the fourth episode I’ll put it in the bigger arena and give it more of a PPV feel.  The opening match will be a ladder match between three of the wrestlers I still need to finish up and someone from the tournament who didn’t make it to the finals with the winner of THAT match getting the PFW Global Superstar title.  It’ll be more of a mid-card or X-Division style belt, though I’m probably gonna have to beef up my roster if I want to support two different titles.  After that, I have no idea.  I’ve got an angle I want to try and make work for the end of the tournament, but we’ll see how it goes.

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So What’s Next!?

My hope is that I’ve made a quality enough product that it will not only earn a few fans but will also get some other people interested in being part of the promotion.  I’m not a fan of doing commentary, especially when I have to sit there and edit my own voice for hours on end, so hopefully a few people who always wanted to do commentary or even be a ring announcer will reach out and if there’s enough interest we can do like a rotating cast of commentators.  As I said, I don’t have much of an idea on what to do after the tournament, so if anyone DOES have any ideas and would like to write some matches or storylines for the show, reach out and we’ll see what can be done!  In my highest of possible hopes, MAYBE some people out there would be interested in PLAYING these characters and can record themselves doing promos which would do WONDERS for building up storylines and feuds, so I’ll keep my fingers EXTRA crossed for that one!

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At this point, all I can really ask is if you do find this the least bit entertaining that you share it.  If enough people watch the video or give positive feedback on this, it will certainly inspire me to keep going at it, but if I’m just shouting into the void and all this hard work generates nothing but crickets, well I guess there are better things I could be doing with my time.  Still, I saw this ridiculous little idea through and for me that’s enough to feel like I accomplished something!

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