THQ San Diego’s Dave Friedland talks WWE All-Stars

WWE All-Stars

THQ San Diego’s Senior Designer David Friedland took some time last week to sit down with News Director Mike Murphy to talk WWE All-Stars. Friedland discusses the stylized gameplay and visuals, his favorite wrestlers to use in the game, how WWE Superstars and Legends made the cut, and more.


Mike Murphy, GamerNode: This is Mike Murphy of and I’m here with Dave Friedland, [Senior Designer for THQ’s WWE All-Stars].

Dave Friedland: Hey, how’s it going?

GN: Good. How are you doing?

DF: Just great.

GN: Alright. So the first question I wanted to ask you is: How and when did THQ decide to do this idea of an arcade-style wrestling game with WWE All-Stars?

DF: Well, it’s interesting. It was a perfect opportunity about a year-and-a-half ago. Our team became available. We have a lot of veterans on our team that were formerly with Midway San Diego that have a lot of experience with doing these style of games. Our creative director, Sal Divita, worked on NBA Jam, NFL Blitz… we worked on the TNA Impact game. I’ve worked on a couple of games along those lines as well… So we’ve got all these people who are really experienced in sort of over-the-top action sports games. And THQ wanted to expand the WWE franchise.

Now we’ve got a perfectly fantastic WWE simulator in Smackdown! vs. RAW. So we wanted to go in an opposite direction with another game. We wanted to make something that was really different. Something that can compliment it without being too similar to it. And we happened to become available at around the same time they were thinking about this. We joined THQ and became THQ San Diego and we went to work. We wanted to make something that was larger than life, that was over-the-top. Something that was inherently intuitive, quick to pick up and play. But at the same time had enough depth in it that people who are fans of hardcore fighting games would find something to enjoy.

GN: So as of right now there is only one arena shown in the demo and just one-on-one exhibition. How many game modes and arenas are there going to be in the final version of the game?

DF: Well I can’t tell you the exact numbers but I can say that a lot of the match types that you would expect from a WWE game will be in the game. We have…different arenas. Some of those from the shows, some of those from famous pay-per-views. We have a number of different game modes.

One of the ones you may or may not have heard of is Fantasy Warfare. This is going to be one where we take our Legends and Superstars and pair them up. People who have similar wrestling styles, similar personalities. Basically people who represented certain qualities in their generation from the past and present who may have never actually met in real WWE and let them go at it. You can play as a Legend. You can play as the Superstar side. Special custom-made video packages from the WWE for each one of these matchups. And it’s a lot of fun. You can find out who’s the best at every category you can imagine.

GN: Awesome. So how exactly did…How much input regarding which Superstars and Legends actually got into the game, how much of that input had to go with THQ? How much, if any, had to go with WWE? How did you guys figure out who made the cut?

DF: Well it’s funny. We’ve got a lot of wrestling — my flirtation with the WWE goes back to the Captain Lou Albano days. So I know all these Legends by heart and all the current Superstars. So we really came up with a list of what we thought were the best Superstars of the current day and the best legends of the past. We split the roster 50/50 and we approached WWE with their opinions on it. Honestly, we were pretty much in synch with most of it. There were a few guys, a few tweaks here and there. None of them [were] ones that we really had much in the way of arguments about. I’m a huge Ricky Steamboat fan so I made it clear from the beginning, “He’s in the game or we’re gonna have a fight.”

GN: *Laughs*

DF: But I’m really happy with the roster. We have more guys we’re going to add through DLC. I wish I could say every Superstar that we like and every Legend that we like is in here. They’re not. It’s a very expansive roster, but I could probably name a hundred guys deserving of being in a game like this. But we feel the ones we grabbed do represent the best of the past, the best of the present.

GN: I believe it was last year or two years ago THQ tried to expand the WWE franchise with Legends of Wrestlemania. And now this year they’re coming out with All-Stars. Would you happen to know at all if THQ is still going to try and expand the WWE brand within games? Are they going to come out with more titles? Or if All-Stars is successful enough do you at least hope there will be an All-Stars 2?

DF: Oh, I can’t imagine that if it’s successful enough it wouldn’t be. I mean that’s the nature of any franchise. You want to expand it, you want to come up with new ideas. Obviously Smackdown! vs. RAW continues to improve. I know they’ve got big things in store for that. All-Stars right now we’re just totally focused on polishing [it]. We’re not even thinking about All-Stars 2 yet. We’ve got this one to finish. We’re getting close. We’ve got downloadable content to do for it. But certainly if the public demands it we’re gonna make it.

GN: And just lastly. You mentioned that you love Rick Steamboat. Aside from him is there any personal favorites amongst those that have already been revealed that you like to play in the game?

DF: There’s a bunch. Obviously, we have different classes in the game. We have brawlers, big men, acrobats, and grapplers. They’re all unique and within each class the character is fairly unique. Steamboat’s one of my favorites. I’m a big Sheamus fan. He’s [in the] last year-and-a-half been a real force in the WWE. He’s kind of unique from a brawler standpoint in that he has the ability to actually chain his combos directly into his signature moves if you know what you’re doing. Takes some pretty good timing. He can even do charge up moves directly from his combos. He’s a real brute. I’m a big fan of Andre [the Giant] as well. If you watch him play just when Andre reaches down, grabs you and just starts biting your head. I mean that’s old school WWF.

We really went all out on move sets for these characters. Unlike SvR, which is an annual franchise for the most part, which is set in the here and now, we pretty much made a game that isn’t in a set point in time. So when we looked at what moves we wanted for these guys we looked at their entire careers and said, “What’s their coolest moves now? What’s the coolest things they’ve done ever?” And those are the things that made it into the game.

GN: Ah. Well thank you very much for your time.

DF: Yeah, it’s been a pleasure.


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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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