Interviewed via Xbox Community Network.
Why did you decide to change the control system?
We really wanted to make a game that used music and authentic hip hop elements to drive our core gameplay mechanics. This is significantly different than the previous wrestling based gameplay formula and required a complete re-working of the controls.
What happens if you fight to some classical music?
That is the great thing about DEF JAM: ICON, you can fight to any kind of music you like. If you put in a classical track, the environments animate and bump to classical songs just as well as hip hop ones. With the My Soundtrack feature, every type of music is fun to play to.
Are you trying to keep the light-hearted feel of the game, in the aspects of being able to create completely random and crazy looking characters? Have you taken this customization to the next level?
Customization and expressing your own style is such a huge part of hip hop culture and we have really blown it out in ICON. Not only can you create any type of character you want to play with, there are over 1000 different types of clothing, kicks, glasses, and jewellery you can deck your character out in.
Will there be plenty of ridiculous special moves to keep us entertained?
Each of the rappers have their own fighting style with a ton of different moves. On top of all the typical fighting moves, each rappers can also pull in our special DJ controls which allow you to control the music during a fight much like a DJ.
How much variation is there in the multiplayer?
There are a bunch of different multiplayer modes plus, ICON is the first of the Def Jam games to include online play. So for the first time, not only can you enjoy all our offline multiplayer games, but you have the endless replay ability of fighting people online.
Is there an online mode? If so is there a ranking system?
Heck yes!!! Again, this is the first Def Jam game that has online play. And of course, there are a plenty of online achievements and leader boards.
Can you explain the reason behind the name – Icon?
In our 1player story mode, you are actually able to build your own record label by signing artists, releasing their songs, and increasing your status in the hip hop industry. The goal of the game is to become a hip hop ”ICON”, much like the rappers do in real life. Hence the name of the game.
What music tracks/artists are lined up for the game?
With music playing such an instrumental role in the fighting, we had to get songs and artists with a wide variety of beats. We got songs from all the different areas where hip hop is going off – east coast, west coast, and down south. Just some of the artists we have in the game are Ludacris, The Game, T.I., Big Boi, Ghostface, Young Jeezy, and Paul Wall.
Which special features did you only include in the Xbox 360 Version?
The biggest unique feature on the XBOX360 is our ”My Soundtrack” mode. This allows you to play any song you want through the 360, and have it actually animate the entire environment and drive our core fighting mechanics. In Def Jam: ICON, the music defines the fight and with ”My Soundtrack”, you can fight to any and all different types of songs.
We had cuts and swellings in FNR3. Injuries which could be dealt with. What can you tell us about how damage is implemented in Def Jam Icon and what consequences it has for the player (model) and the game play in general ?
We use a similar hud-less gameplay system as you saw in the Fight Night series. On top of the cuts, bruising, and swelling you see on the characters – we also have a real-time clothing system where you will see you clothes get torn and tattered as the fight progresses. These are the real indicators in game of your characters health.
Coming from the successful Fight Night Round 3 (on multiple platforms) how did you (want to) evolve your knowledge on fighting engines in general and on Def Jam Icon in particular?
The biggest step forward has been reaching what I like to call the next generation of next gen art. So many developers are still shooting for photorealism like we did in FNRd3. While the characters in ICON are photoreal, we have totally stylized the environments to make the game much more like you are playing a hip hop video. Maintaining the photoreal look of the characters while being able to stylize and animate the entire environment meant a huge upgrade was necessary in our technology.