Hello, my name is Garrett Bittner and I am one of the Associate Producers for Don King Boxing. I have had the pleasure to work with the talented people at 2K China to bring a realistic and immersive boxing experience to the Nintendo Wii. We’ve focused heavily on designing the controls for Don King Boxing so that they are accurate, responsive and easy to pick up and learn. I would like to take some time to tell you about the work we’ve done with Nintendo and with 2K China to establish and refine the controls in our game.
When we began working on our game we knew that we wanted to provide not only the best Boxing game on the Nintendo Wii but also a new and exciting experience for players. With this in mind we’ve provided what is, without a doubt, the most realistic and immersive boxing experience on the Wii. We decided that you should have all the tools you need to perform like a real boxer would in the ring. In our game, you can use jabs, straights, hooks and uppercuts. You also have a powerful arsenal of special punches that can inflict large amounts of damage to your opponent. In addition to throwing left and right punches you can also choose between punches to the opponent’s head and body, giving you the full range of options that every boxer needs. But there is more to boxing than just attacking so we’ve focused just as much on defense. To keep yourself off the canvas, you can block, dodge, and dash away from your opponent. The strength of the Wii is the degree to which you can be involved in the game, feeling each and every punch you throw and seeing the gratifying results when those punches hit their mark. We’ve taken advantage of this strength both by providing responsive controls and giving you a visually impressive game in which each punch landed or taken looks and feels real. When you play the game we hope you’ll feel like you really are in the ring trading punches with past and present champions of the sport.
The Wii Balance Board has given us another tool to increase the immersion of our game. The great thing about making a boxing game for the Wii is that players can really be a part of the game as they move their arms and hands to punch and defend. The balance board ups the ante for this since the player can now involve their whole body in the game. Leaning, ducking, dodging and weaving become more than just button presses and actually become real motions that the player can perform. Shift your weight on the board and you’ll see your boxer lean from side to side as you do. The balance board also allows us to expand the controls and provide an additional level of depth to our boxing game that, at the same time, feels completely natural. While using the balance board, the player can lean and throw punches at the same time, something that is not possible using just the Wii Remote and Nunchuck. This gives you a real advantage over your opponent and provides an additional weapon in your boxing arsenal. While creating this game, we paid special attention to the community’s comments, concerns, and feelings on previous boxing games. With Don King Boxing we saw an opportunity, not just to provide a new boxing experience on the Wii, but also to learn from previous games and provide an enhanced and more enjoyable boxing experience. We learned that the community wanted responsive, realistic and immersive controls for their boxing game. We’ve focused on providing this continuously throughout development. To provide realism we incorporated the motions boxers use to throw punches to create a set of controls that accurately reflect real punches. For instance, when you throw and hook in our game, as in real life, you start with your fist perpendicular to the ground and at shoulder level and then extend it outward toward your opponent, finishing with a snap of the wrist toward your body. To make the game as responsive as possible we analyzed the motions of a wide variety of people throwing punches and included those motions in our detection system. To make the game responsive, we decided that, even if you make a mistake and throw a punch incorrectly, you will still get a response from the game and be rewarded for your effort. However, the most effective players will still be those players that can master the skill of throwing punches correctly and string together combos of jabs, straights, hooks, and uppercuts.
During development we did encounter a number of challenges with our control system that needed to be overcome with a variety of refinements. One of the first things we noted is that everyone throws punches differently. Some people use short, quick motions while others put their whole bodies into a punch and it was initially challenging to recognize these motions with the Wii. During the first implementations of our control system a lot of players had difficulties throwing the punches they wanted to throw. We started analyzing the wide array of different motions that people use to throw a punch and implemented as many of these motions into our game as we could. We were happy to see, in the end, that players could regularly throw the punch they wanted to throw. We also noticed that while players could perform punches accurately while practicing, when fighting an opponent it became difficult to throw punches accurately in the small windows afforded by our aggressive AI boxers. While we wanted to keep our AI boxers aggressive, we enhanced their attack patterns so that players would have ample opportunity to recognize and attack after their opponent had completed a combination. This not only improved the ability of players to throw the punches they wanted to but also made the game much more balanced and strategic. Finally, we noticed that, while people could pick up the game and start playing easily and had fun doing so, they were much more effective after using our tutorial. As a result, we put a lot of effort into providing a tutorial that was easily accessible and provided all the tools the user needed to fight effectively. We also made sure that players could revisit the tutorial at anytime and practice the particular skills they wanted to be more effective with.
We’ve also worked directly with Nintendo to help us refine our controls. On a number of occasions, both early and late during our development, we sent builds to Nintendo for evaluation and feedback. This was a great asset and helped us identify several areas in which we could improve our controls and greatly increase the game accessibility. Features such as allowing players to throw body punches with both the Z and B buttons and increased punch responsiveness were made possible by comments we received from Nintendo and other usability testing. We were also able to increase the reward for dodging punches by making opponents slightly more vulnerable after a successful dodge.
We’ve put a lot of work into making Don King Boxing the most realistic boxing experience on the Wii. The amount of control that we’ve given players allows you not just to play the game, but to actually feel like you are boxing against the sport’s legendary heroes and current greats. When you get a chance to play our game in March, we hope that you’ll appreciate the effort we’ve put into making our boxing experience responsive, accurate, fluid and, most importantly, fun.