Interview with Slang Director Federico Beyer

Lucha Libre

With their upcoming title Lucha Libre AAA: Heroes del Ring set to release in just under a week, Mexican developer Slang’s first party liaison and director Federico Beyer joined news director Mike Murphy for an interview to provide information on the title. Beyer discussed the game, what it means for Latin American game development, and the current state of the Latin American game development industry.

Mike Murphy, GamerNode: This is Mike Murphy, News Director at And I am here with Federico Beyer, the first-party liaison and director at Slang, who is making Lucha Libre AAA: Heroes del Ring. Federico, it’s good to have you.

Federico Beyer: Hi Mike. It’s great to be here and thank you very much for this opportunity.

GN: Thank you. Thank you for the time for the interview. So first off I wanted to ask: According to the press release I received about the interview, Lucha Libre AAA: Heroes del Ring is the first officially licensed game for the AAA (Asistencia Asesoría y Administraciónis) wrestling promotion and it’s also the first game both developed and published by a Mexican developer for mass consumption. For you, how does it feel to be a part of those firsts?

FB: Well it’s a great honor to be involved in this first ever video game to be developed and published in Latin America and to be fully certified by Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft. It’s a great experience overall. One of the key things here is that we’re sharing something Hispanic, which is fun and culturally relevant for the video game. And the fact that we’re sharing that with the rest of the world is pretty amazing. I am a deep believer of our Latino creativity and what we can share with the rest of the world and I’m proud to be an ambassador of that.

GN: As we know with the release of AAA: Heroes del Ring, the Latin American game development community is currently on the rise and, well, developing. How do you feel the release of the game will impact that rise and development?

FB: I think that the Latin American community is at that moment of explosion or expansion. In this particular moment a lot of companies in Latin America have been developing video games for… casual games, mobile phones, that sort of thing. And with this effort we are trying to communicate to all the students in Latin America that this is doable. This is an opportunity for them to think big and start producing for publishers out there, which can eventually help make this a bigger deal than what they currently have at hand. So it’s a call for all the talent out there in Latin America to start working and start producing good video games with high quality and start sharing with the rest of the world what we have to share.

GN: So you believe that this will be an opportunity to allow Latin American game development to grow and, I think a term that you used was explode. So with that in mind where do you see Latin American game development heading in the near future?

FB: Well right now I think that a lot of publishers will start working with students in Latin America. I think that… you will see more developers in events such as Games Connection and the games developer conferences everywhere. That a lot of Hispanic IPs will be out there and that a lot of people will start looking in this direction when it comes to videogame production. I have heard, for example, that Guillermo Del Torro is now working with a videogame publisher, which is obviously something that is very exciting for the community. And not only that, but I think that the fact that we can start doing this is a big step itself. This entire reality of Latin America doing video games is a good statement. A big statement.

GN: Moving on to the game. For those who don’t know, can you explain a little about the AAA wrestling organization and what exact kind of energy, style, and character they bring to the world of professional wrestling?

FB: Of course. The AAA league has been basically the biggest lucha league in Mexico. It’s the most popular league by far. It’s got a lot more exposure than other wrestling leagues here in Mexico. It has the most popular luchadores here, according to our market research studies. AAA [has] been familiar in the past with some Latino communities in the US and right now with some shows that are spinning off out of AAA such as MTV2’s “Masked Warriors.” I would say that this is the year in which lucha libre is going mainstream somehow. This, plus a video game, plus the talent that we have in AAA: Classic luchadores such as La Parka, Konnan, Psicosis, some of which have wrestled in the US in other leagues.

Lucha in essence is a very different sport. It’s taken very seriously. We have the masks. The masks are a sacred element in lucha libre. All the wrestlers that do have a mask, they’re pretty much transformed into somebody else when they’re wearing those. And when they take off their masks, in the street they’re average Joes. So it’s kind of like a Spider-Man story on a different level, right? And this has been a reality for masked luchadores for the past century. El Santo, one of our biggest lucha legends here in Mexico, was buried with his mask on. He revealed himself at one point in a network news show at night and that was very highly rated in Mexico. And he wore his mask everywhere when he was on the street.

So I guess that there are many elements in lucha libre that have translated into wrestling and somehow it’s safe to say that… lucha libre is actually an ancestor of [pro] wrestling. [Pro] wrestling has been around for probably a half-century while lucha libre has been around for probably a century. So there are many items and elements that have translated from lucha libre to wrestling and that’s a pretty big thing.

GN: With so much of the United States wrestling market being dominated by the World Wrestling Entertainment, video games included, how do you go about setting yourself apart from the Smackdown! vs. RAW franchise that the WWE has and put yourselves in a position to compete with them? How do you plan to persuade Smackdown! vs. RAW fans to play your game?

FB: First of all I think that this title is a lucha libre game rather than a wrestling game. What I mean by this is that all of the moves in our game are lucha libre. The game elements are faster paced. I think it somewhat appeals to a fighting segment, as well as a wrestling segment. But this is something that stands upon itself. Lucha has a lot of elements. It’s kitsch. It’s funny. It’s comedic. It’s high-flying acrobatics. It’s…many grapple holds and things that haven’t appeared in wrestling shows in the US.

If you grab a certain luchador, pick up a certain luchador in our title, you will do la hurricanrana, el columpio, la de a caballo. You will do that sort of lucha libre moves. You will wrestle in venues such as the Teotihuacan Pyramids. You will wrestle in the gym called El Panamericano, which is in Mexico City in Pepito. You will wrestle obviously in the arenas in which the big shows are held. This considers an extra element of lucha libre flavor, of lucha libre essence. And in that sense there are many, many elements involved in our title. It is something that we’re proud to share with the rest of the world and hoping it appeals as it does in Latin America.

GN: The pre-order bonus for the game is a choice of one of four luchador masks. Reports say that for most places you can mail it in, for GameStop you’re going to be able to get it in-store. Since AAA is all about lucha libre wrestling, was this choice for a pre-order bonus a no-brainer?

FB: I think the lucha masks are a great element to start sharing the lucha libre experience. The lucha mask is sacred for Mexican luchadores as I was mentioning earlier. We originally intended to have this lucha libre mask as a pre-sale gift with purchase in our title. Unfortunately that cannot be done due to some compliance reasons in the US. But we’re planning to compensate the gamer with another element. It’s terrible news that we won’t be able to use those masks in the US. But that unfortunately happened and we will certainly compensate the gamers in another way, which we are evaluating now.

GN: You mentioned that obviously it’s a lucha libre game with AAA and you want to emanate that style of wrestling with the gameplay. Did you find it to be a difficult challenge to show off that kind of fast-paced, high-energy lucha libre style?

FB: The developers [seem] to have done a great job in terms of designing a game all itself that is fast paced. It’s arcadey at some points. It feels [like] a fighting game sometimes. It’s a fighting game with tremendous grapple holds and acrobatic moves… and all I can say is that the studio did a tremendous job in making this happen. When they delivered the game at first, it was love at first sight because they considered a lot of elements that a lot of traditional games don’t have.

I would say, for example, that our game basically relies on the popularity meter, which has five stars. And these five stars will evolve as you taunt your opponent, taunt the audience, do certain attacks and grapple holds to your opponent. And that will eventually evolve your ray of moment until you get to a point where you can unleash a signature move from each particular wrestler that will drain your opponents popularity. So as this is happening, the audience is supporting your character as a wrestler. So if you pick up La Parka and La Parka has four stars of popularity you will clearly know that the audience is cheering for La Parka. And here and there you will hear incidental audio on which you [hear] people genuinely cheering for La Parka. So these are many elements or uniqueness that our title has.

I think a really important thing to add here is, one that I consider a killer app in our title, is the fact that you have a very, very, very robust lucha editor, which consists of you building your own luchador. Designing his mask is a very profound process. Our market research indicates that you will spend somewhere between 30 to 45 minutes of your time in [creating] a luchador. And it’s pretty safe to say that you won’t be able to make the same mask twice.

You customize all [of your luchador’s] movements. And you use your luchador, your particular luchador, to go through your storylines, where there are two campaigns. You have the Rudos campaign and the Tecnico campaign, which is the bad guys and the good guys. There’s also an online feature — that is the Mask vs. Hair challenge. And this means, following lucha libre tradition, that you wager your mask and if you lose that match, you will lose that mask for good. It’s a tremendous, very fun experience and it will be very competitive to core gamers out there and fighting and wrestling fans out there. Not to mention the fact that the Mexican luchadores were behind us making sure that we nailed their personality, their particular moves and everything, through their mo-caps or through their keyframing moves. It’s a lucha libre game, not a wrestling game. So in that sense it’s pretty unique.

GN: You mentioned the Hair vs. Mask match. Exactly how many match types are there going to be in the game? Are you going to be including match types like no-disqualification, submissions only, or other match types that are perhaps exclusive to lucha libre style wrestling or AAA wrestling in general?

FB: There are many game modes and there are many rules which you can follow. There is disqualification, there are submission holds, there are grapple holds, everybody against everybody, two against one. And there are different rules if you are Rudo and if you are Tecnico somehow. There is an importance on peak elements in our game, that is, as you are playing along, take for example: If your teammate is pinned down to the count of two out of three, if you punch the referee the counter resets. You can only do that once. So there are very various elements around, but if you do it twice you get disqualified. So we do have the rules based on the lucha libre experience itself and separate game modes outside of the storyline, exhibition mode, online mode, championship tournament mode, and that sort of thing that gamers will enjoy in their home.

GN: You mention mo-cap and you have the likenesses of the entire roster and the referees in the game. How much motion and voice capture was used or was involved with the game for the wrestlers and all the other talent?

FB: Oh, tremendous. I’d say that we have a bank of maybe 25,000 to 30,000 different audio files. The keyframing and the actual mo-capping… I think that studio is probably the best reference to answer that question. But to my own world view, I can see that mo-capping was probably 20 percent of the game and the other 80 percent was just framing. Just for the mere fact that the mo-capping technology has some limitations when it comes to somebody obstructing those knots. At the end of the day what it all adds up to is that the game is fun to play, exciting, fast-paced, and something that will cater to gamers out there.

GN: OK. Lucha Libre AAA: Heroes del Ring releases on October 12, 2010. This has been Federico Beyer, first-party liaison and director of Slang. Thank you very much for your time.

FB: Thank you very much Mike. Yes, October 12 is our release date. Coming out on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and on other platforms like the Wii, PSP, and DSiWare. We’re very excited to be sharing this, the first video game from Latin America to the rest of the world to be fully certified by Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft. And we’ve got the support of Konami for the title distribution in the US, Canada, and South American regions. We’re super excited to have you gamers out there play this so let us know what you think. I’m pretty sure that you’ll like it.


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Author: Mike Murphy View all posts by
Mike has been playing games for over two decades. His earliest memories are of shooting ducks and stomping goombas on NES, and over the years, the hobby became one of his biggest passions. Mike has worked with GamerNode as a writer and editor since 2009, giving you news, reviews, previews, a voice on the VS Node Podcast, and much more.

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