Video Games Interview: EA Canada’s Brian Hayes talks UFC 2‘s post-launch plans, Bruce Lee and more

With EA Sports UFC 2 now unleashed upon the masses of fans eager to live out their fantasies of personally stepping into the octagon, we got the opportunity to chat to the game’s creative director Brian Hayes via email.

The Iris Gaming: How does the MMA nature of UFC affect the way you approach designing a game like UFC 2? With so many fighting styles in use, is there ever a concern you’ve got too much to work with in that regard?

Brian Hayes: We try to distil it into an experience that is both successful and strategic in rewarding as many people as possible, we don’t sit around the office focusing on the impossibly daunting task of creating a UFC video game, others have done it before, it’s just about figuring out how to make it better and better.

TIG: The controls have been one of the most interesting aspects of the game for me so far, reminding me a bit of EA’s Fight Night in the way offensive and defensive moves are accomplished. How did the control scheme come about, and did it evolve during development?

BH: Yea, everything we do evolves during development, the concepts you have which you write down on paper early on in development very seldom end up coming out exactly that way in the final product. There is always a lot of iterations and evolutions during the course of the development, as you sort of find out what actually works in real life, as opposed to in your head or on a design document.

TIG: The introduction of fighters like Mike Tyson and Bruce Lee must have been a treat for the team to implement. What was it like to recreate a style as unique as Bruce Lee’s jeet kune do for use the game? (I was able to sell my video game skeptic/wild Bruce Lee fanatic friends on the game based solely on his inclusion, so thank you for that)

BH: It was an honour and a blast to recreate Bruce Lee’s unique style, obviously not so much for me first hand as the creative director, the re-creation of his style falls more on the character artists and modelers who created his likeness, the animators that created his moves, everyone played an integral part in getting the job done and it is a blast to play with Bruce Lee in the game, it’s certainly one of the coolest things I’ve been associated with. Being on a video game that has Bruce Lee in it is definitely a bucket list type thing for sure.

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TIG: Were there any facets of the original UFC title that you set out to improve upon with UFC 2? How did you go about that?

BH: Every facet of the original UFC title we set out to improve upon, whether that’s the visuals, character likenesses, the graphics of the game, we didn’t want to rest on our laurels there even though we delivered a universally accepted stand out in graphics showcase. We still took the time to improve there as much as we possible could and then we made drastic improvements to the stand-up fighting gameplay down to the ground fighting gameplay and added a tone of new content and game modes as well. There’s very few areas of the game that weren’t touched in some way. Virtually every facet of the game saw a significant improvement.

TIG: Do you have a personal favourite UFC fighter either in-game or IRL? Given the huge in-game roster, are there any UFC fighters you would still like to include in the series?

BH: My favourite UFC fighter in real life is a challenging question because there are so many great fighters out there to like. Someone I miss a great deal is the ‘Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung Jung who was one of my favourites and still is and I look forward to his return to the UFC. Frankie Edgar is also up there, obviously I’m also still a huge Conor McGregor and I’m also a Nate Diaz fan, to be honest I could just keep naming names. But in game, that’s also a tricky one, I definitely like playing with Bruce Lee and Mike Tyson but for real UFC fighters in the game, I like using Carlos Condit, I just like his range, I don’t like playing with the heavyweights too much and I like the welterweight fighters right there in the middle so I’ll just pick him. I could change in 5 minutes but there you go.

As far as other fighters missing, there are still UFC fighters who are not in our game and it remains to be seen which one of those will make a big splash in the division and move up the rankings, those are the guys that will be the obvious additions and we will try to solve it as soon as we can.

TIG: What are your plans for the UFC2 post-launch?

BH: We plan to continue supporting UFC 2 for a significant period post launch but as to what that specifically means in terms of content or updates we will need to make those decisions based on feedback after the game has launched. There is nothing we’ve announced yet as to if or what we are doing but we have the capacity and we have plans to support UFC 2 after launch.

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We’d like to extend a huge thanks to Brian for taking the time to speak with us, and to the team at EA Australia for helping to set our chat up.

EA Sports UFC 2 is out now on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One via digital download and at retailers nationwide.

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David Smith

David Smith is the games and technology editor at The AU Review. He has previously written for PC World Australia. You can find him on Twitter at @RhunWords.

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