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Interview: Ricci Rukavina, Director of Supremacy MMA

A new challenger approaches

Developer Kung Fu Factory and publisher 505 Games are hoping to break into the MMA market with their upcoming title MMA Supremacy. With two established frachises, THQ's UFC: Undisputed and EA's EA Sports MMA, we asked director Ricci Rukavina how they will be positioning the game and what they think their chances are.

Are you positioning this as something for more casual gamers to pick up easily, or a deeper fighting experience? Is there anything you're doing to appeal to both?

Supremacy MMA will appeal to both casual gamers and fighting fans alike. We're positioning it as something you can have fun with immediately whether you know very much about fighting or Martial Arts games or not. If you're a serious Martial Arts fan - this is the game for you. We want to push boundaries - so although it may look like a photo-realistic simulation, we avoid many aspects of simulating the sport that aren't fun and should really be left out of a game. For example, who wants to sit through a tedious and boring tutorial just to learn how to play? I can tell you that no one at Kung Fu Factory does.

Similarly, we don't see how television broadcast-style activities like a walkout or a weigh-in are anything but dull and the opposite of fun. This is a game, so we are leaving the boring bits where they belong - on TV. Conversely, there's plenty of depth in our move sets, and even a few new systems to help new players get in there and have fun right away, but you don't have to master it to jump in and do some serious damage.

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How are you splitting the controls between the standing game and the ground game? The transition between the two stances can be confusing; are you bringing any new innovations to this?

Our core focus is on standing gameplay because it's the most fun and accessible. That being said, we have spent considerable time streamlining the clinch and ground game so that the transition and mechanics are fun, fast and easy to play. We've really made it a point to get rid of anything that doesn't feel good or fun.

EA has brought its muscle (no pun intended) to bear on the genre with EA MMA, which wasn't a massive seller. Do you think you'll do better?

More muscle isn't always what's needed to be successful. Sometimes being leaner and more flexible allows you to get into a better position to win.

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Where other games have aimed to reproduce a television broadcast with simulation-based gameplay, Supremacy MMA goes in the opposite direction, focusing on the underground of MMA. The gameplay is faster and closer in speed and style to Tekken and Virtua Fighter compared to typically slower-paced MMA gameplay. It's also way more brutal, and has a distinct art style that's pretty dark. Because our game is so different, we don't really pay attention to what the other guys are doing except to avoid things that we think aren't fun. We know what we like and we're making the game we want to play as MMA fans ourselves.

Are you prepared for a long slog to market dominance?

Absolutely. But it's a slog that many of the team have been working towards for close to a decade starting with the very first UFC game on Dreamcast.

We have a lot of hopes and aspirations for how Supremacy MMA will grow over the years to come. Our greatest success will be to foster an ongoing dialogue with our fans and get them really involved in what we're doing so that this becomes a community driven game. We will be communicating quite regularly with the Supremacy MMA players. It's an advantage that smaller companies like us have. We really care and take time to respond to everyone who emails us, Facebooks us, Twitters us, and will continue to do so no matter how large the community grows.

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