Gameplanet: How long have you been a fan of Professional Wrestling?
Cory Ledesma: Wow, I’ve been a fan my entire life. I grew up watching the ‘Golden Era’, the '80s. I watched ‘The Macho Man’ Randy Savage, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, Hulk Hogan. I used to beg my mom to order the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, my friends and I used to watch all the time. I continued to watch it in my High School years, through the Attitude Era. I watched it in my college years, so I definitely have been in and out of it my entire life. I’m just a huge fan, so I guess you could put it that way.
Gameplanet: You can’t tell me you’ve never created yourself on the game's Create A Superstar mode: what finisher and whose intro music did you use?
Ledesma: Haha! No I actually don’t think I’ve ever created myself.
Gameplanet: C’mon! Liar!
Ledesma: No serious! I think I’ve always wanted to be someone cooler than I am. I consider myself very boring. I’ve always created fantasy characters. I don’t create characters that are well known, like a Super Hero. I don’t do that, I just create myself as cool as I can possibly be and it usually involves me wearing a mask. For a finisher I’m a big fan of the RKO or the F5, those are kinda quicker to pull-off moves, so I usually stack my finisher with those two moves.
As for my intro music, that’s a good question. I’m pretty partial to the old DX entrance theme ‘Break It Down’, I love that theme. I love the Evolution theme, I like Jericho’s theme, so depending on the vibe of the fantasy character I’m creating, I’ll use one of those. But DX is definitely at the top of the list. I guess I kinda like the old school tracks better, they’ve got a more classic vibe, a cheesy vibe. They have a lot more personality.
Gameplanet: On the subject of music, do you get to work with Jim Johnston (Composer for WWE Music) at all?
Ledesma: Our team does work with Jim Johnston, getting the tracks for the Superstar entrances. I am not 100% on whether Jim Johnston himself is working on the custom tracks they make for us, but we do have custom tracks for some of the situations in the game, where it relates to the story mode. I know he is a busy man, working on tracks for the WWE Superstars. I am a big fan as he has released so many fantastic tracks over the years that really fit the personality of the Superstar he has created them for. So I think he is an underrated musician, kind of a genius in some regards, so I am a big fan of his.
Gameplanet: Agreed. Now, onto the game itself. You’ve been involved with the series for quite a while now, do you think the success of the series comes from the constant evolution of the game itself or the WWE Programming?
Ledesma: It’s definitely a combination of both. I think it’s important that we continue to evolve the game and continue to offer fresh new ideas each year, that’s a must. We’re not just gonna rely on the roster updating each year and pumping out a game. What makes the WWE such a fantastic license in an entertainment medium is the fact that they come out with new content all the time. They don’t have an off season. They’re just constantly coming up with new characters or new match types, new pay-per-view concepts, new storylines. Whatever it is they just keep coming up with new content.
It makes it easier for us and keeps the game fresh every time it comes out because they almost overhaul the entire show each year. I mean they have a brand new RAW set now, they have a bunch of new graphics, new Superstars are coming up from the developmental league all the time, so I think it’s a good collaboration of both. We have the onus on ourselves to keep the gameplay and game modes fresh and we have to give the users new modes to interact with. So I think it’s really a two way street, in that we’re both heavily involved in making the product fresh each year.
Gameplanet: So the roster for WWE 13 this year, is it the biggest roster to date?
Ledesma: It’s a very large roster. It would have be one of the largest we’ve ever had to have in a game. I’m not a big numbers guy and some fan out there might count every single Superstar in another WWE product and prove me wrong, but it’s definitely up there near the very top of the list of biggest rosters to date. The main reason behind that is that we’ve introduced the Attitude Era into the singleplayer campaign. In order to make that as authentic as possible we’ve added a large roster of Attitude Superstars. At the same time we certainly don’t want to neglect the current day roster. So now that we have those two eras, to make it as authentic as possible, it has created a very large roster.
It’s also very exciting as we have some of the Superstars who have been with the company for so long that we have multiple iterations of them. Superstars like Triple H, The Undertaker, Mark Henry, a lot of them have multiple in-ring gimmicks and we’ve been able to recreate those in the game. You’ll be able to play as DX Triple H from back in 1998 – 99 versus Hunter Hurst Helmsley from when he was first getting involved in the WWE, or you can play the current day COO Triple H. So it’s cool that you will be able to play against those characters. You’ll be able to create fantasy match ups and find out who was the best Triple H, or would the old Undertaker be able to beat the new Undertaker, that kind of fantasy set up. So that does make for a really large roster.
We also have some exciting new Superstars that haven’t been on the roster for some time like Ken Shamrock and the Godfather. We also have some cool DLC coming up with the likes of AJ, she’s never been on the roster before. Damien Sandow, who’s a personal favourite of mine, he’ll be in the DLC. So it’s a super diverse and large roster. It’s got a lot of new talent, it’s got a lot of talent from the Attitude era as well as a today’s talent, including Dolph Ziggler, CM Punk, Chris Jericho, and they’re all represented in WWE 13 as well.
Gameplanet: While we are on the subject of the Attitude Era, was revisiting it something that the creative team wanted to do, or did it come from from the fan pressure?
Ledesma: What we did was take a look at the Road to WrestleMania format from the last couple of years and we decided that we needed a new direction and maybe it was getting a little bit stale. We wanted to try something a little bit different from original fiction. We worked with the WWE to create original fiction and it’s very cool and all, but we thought ‘If we were going to relive an era which one would you want to relive and what if we were going to go a more historical route with the singleplayer campaign?’ Well, the Attitude era was the first thing that pops into our mind.
What’s great about that is, well it kinda felt like a perfect storm with CM Punk being our Superstar cover athlete. He embodies that era, in a sense, in the current day. He started his own revolution in the reality era with his ‘Pipebomb’ last year. He’s an edgier character and he’s got a certain attitude and vibe about him, which is reminiscent of some of the Superstars from back then. So Punk, coupled with the new, historic, single player Attitude Era campaign, makes perfect sense. It’s also an era that we haven’t covered in a game in a very long time. It brings back fond memories for die-hard WWE fans as well as ‘lapsed’ fans who haven't been paying attention to current WWE brand. It was such a popular time back then and they know the Attitude Era and what those storylines are all about. It just felt like the perfect time to revisit that and freshen up the storyline mode.
Gameplanet: With regards to the cover star for WWE 13, was it a tough choice who to choose, or was CM Punk your first candidate? I think it’s the best cover since WWE Smackdown vs Raw with Vince McMahon on the cover with his blue and red eyes.