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Behind the scenes of "WWE All Stars" with John Morrison
"Crazy how realistic it is," John Morrison said as he eyeballed an oversized cartoon cutout of his character from the upcoming “WWE All Stars” game in the lobby of THQ’s San Diego headquarters.
Of course, The Shaman of Sexy was being sarcastic. Morrison may have superhuman abilities in the ring, but he’s still only a man. His video game character, on the other hand, is something straight out of a comic book. Sure, there are similarities between the two — the perfect hair, the strong jaw, the tights rendered so precisely that they're exact down to the last rhinestone. But the “WWE All Stars” version of Morrison is hulking and massive — the kind of character who could hold his own against Bowser or Sub-Zero if thrust into a separate sphere of the arcade universe. And that’s exactly the idea.
"'WWE All Stars' was inspired by many fighting games out there," creative director Sal DiVita explained to WWE.com "We wanted something like the old arcade games of the past where you can pick it up and have a good time, but there's still a lot of skill and strategy involved."
Unlike the "WWE SmackDown vs. Raw" series, which aims to realistically simulate WWE action, "WWE All Stars" is all about the impossible. In this game, Superstars fly through the air with no respect for gravity or are bashed out of the ring with a single punch. Historical accuracy is disobeyed just as freely. Kane can lock up with Andre the Giant in "WWE All Stars" or Randy Orton with The Ultimate Warrior.
It's exactly the kind of over-the-top action that appeals to The Prince of Parkour, so Morrison leapt at the chance to get a behind-the-scenes tour of THQ’s studios to find out how the game was made. Visiting the offices in late February mere days after his awe-inspiring performance in the Raw Elimination Chamber Match, the flashy Superstar was feeling the effects of the brutal encounter, but still put on a show for the dozens of animators, programmers and developers hard at work putting the finishing touches on "WWE All Stars."
"A lot of the guys here are giddy like schoolgirls," DiVita said about the Superstar's visit. "We’ve been buzzing all week."
The team may have been pumped to meet the Raw competitor, but it wouldn't be long before Morrison felt the same admiration. Witnessing the step-by-step process of how the in-game Guru of Greatness was made truly wowed the high-flyer. From design to animation to sound effects, it's a complicated process that was more involved than JoMo even imagined.
"I didn't realize how much went into creating a character," Morrison admitted. "While I'm at Starbucks getting my Frappuccino, they're analyzing moves from all the footage of my career and putting the best ones in the game. I was blown away by the attention to detail."
The Shaman of Sexy also had the opportunity to learn about the game's "Fantasy Warfare" mode. Basically a series of dream matches, "WWE All Stars" pits a Superstar of today against a legendary competitor of the past in a rivalry to decide who is the best at what they do. For Morrison's character, it's a battle with "Macho Man" Randy Savage to find out who the most charismatic Superstar of all time is. Morrison picked up a controller to see what would happen, but ultimately lost a match against a THQ designer.
“Come on, that guy’s creating the game! He’s not going to lose,” JoMo said with a laugh. “I’m not satisfied with the outcome, but it still feels like a real honor for me to be in a fantasy matchup versus Macho Man."
Still getting over his loss, Morrison headed over to THQ's performance capture studios to learn about the process in which the movements of actors are translated into a digital form. Slipping into a skintight suit that would make a Diva blush, The Monday Night Delight threw some capoeira kicks for a team of programmers and then watched as his movements were mimicked by a 3-D model.
"No wonder they are the animators and designers and I'm the sports-entertainer, because what they do is so complicated," he humbly said.
It was an interesting end to a busy day for the former Intercontinental Champion, who seemed truly impressed as he made his exit.
"I didn't know what to expect coming down here today, but these guys are all about what they do and they love it," Morrison said. "The Shaman of Sexy approves."
Join John Morrison on his magical mystery tour through THQ's San Diego studios to witness the making of "WWE All Stars," exclusively here on WWE.com.