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80s Mania Wrestling Interview

Indy Mayhem Show 83

Guest: 80s Mania Wrestling

Original Air Date: 08/19/2015

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Mike:  So, let’s get 80’s.  Let’s get neon.  Let’s throw back a little here, Rizz.  We have with us on the phone line, Chris Osk of 80’s Mania Wrestling, you can find at 80sManiaWrestling.com or the app on iPhone and Android stores.  How are you doing today Chris?

Chris: I’m doing great, guys.  How are you doing?

Mike: That is not a picture of him if you’re on the video.  Or, is this?  Is this an artist’s rendition of what you look like?

Chris: I’m not seeing it, but the chances are, if it’s a big muscular man, yes, that’s me.

Mike: Oh.  Okay.  The blonde one?  I believe the name is Brother Dude of that character?

Chris: Oh.  Dude Brohan.  

Rizz: Dude Brohan!

Chris: Yeah.  Yeah.  No.  That’s not me.  That’s a mishmash of a couple of my favorite 80’s culture icons.

Mike: That’s awesome.  So, let’s get started.  First of all, if you’re doing this, if you’re doing a game on 80’s wrestling and you guys have to be super – I think I know half the answers to this right off the bat, but we like to kind of get into, if you’re doing the thing that we have you on the show for, you have to be a wrestling fan.  For you, what was kind of your introduction to pro wrestling?  What was the thing that you said, “Oooh.  This is the thing for me.”

Chris: You know.  I mean, it goes back to childhood of course.  And, I can’t remember the specific thing that I saw first, but I do remember just being exposed to stuff on MTV.  I remember the WWF music video on MTV.  I remember the Rock n’ Wrestling cartoon show.  Strangely enough, it wasn’t wrestling per se that introduced me to wrestling, but mentions of wrestling on other 80’s programming, I guess you’d say.  And, then a simple connecting the dots kind of led me to, you know, those Saturday and Sunday morning, I guess it was around noon maybe, those shows.  You know, sandwiched by Saturday morning cartoons.  That was probably it.

Mike: That’s awesome.  So, you’re – and, I forget.  Remind me again, what is your position here with 80’s Mania Wrestling here?

Chris: Essentially Creator/Producer of the app.  You know, the writing and conceptual stuff essentially comes from me.  You know, I had a team of, oh boy, a bunch of people who really helped out along the way with the, you know, the development of the app, and the art, and some of the game design stuff.  But, essentially, just concepts and whatnot came from me.  

Mike: Awesome.  So, for those uninitiated and maybe not seeing some of the imagery going on if you’re on the audio version here of the Indy Mayhem Show, and I’ve got a video of your ad kind of playing here.  What is, what are we expecting?  What do you get when you download 80’s Mania Wrestling on your device?  

Chris: Yeah, so essentially what you’re getting is a booker sim – a business sim based in the pro wrestling worlds.  And, the presentation we were going for is retro.  It’s old NES.  So, you’re going to kind of have that pixelated feel, you know, that kind of chipped tuney soundtrack, and basic graphics.  But, at the heart of it, it’s a strategy game and it’s a collectible card game.  And, what you’re basically doing is collecting cards, and running your own wrestling promotion set in the 80’s.  And, then just totally jam-packed with all sorts of pop culture references and gags, and little “wink-wink, nod-nod” type stuff.  You’ll recognize, I assume if you’re a fan of wrestling and 80’s pop culture, you’ll recognize a lot of the stuff that’s in there.  We try to do it all in fun.  It’s a parody of that influential stuff from back then.  

Rizz: I mean, the first thing I see, right off the bat, is the Red Pirate Rogers, which is the homage to Princess Bride, which is probably one of my favorite movies.  I was like, “Oh, this is awesome, because it’s 80’s right now.”

Chris: Yeah!  Oh, right on.

Rizz: Even though he’s not really that good right now for me, but I’m just giving it time.  

Chris: And, that’s the stuff, with the characters.  That’s what we were going for was, not only grabbing the obvious, not only going for the Hulk Hogans and Macho Mans and stuff like that, but just kind of taking those movies, like you mentioned The Princess Bride.  That was a favorite of mine as well.  And we started thinking, “Okay.  What could we do with that?”  And, then there was the Dread Pirate Roberts, and we thought, “Well.  We can’t use that, but spin it a little bit and give him kind of a wrestling gimmick.  But, make it recognizable enough that fans of that movie, or fans again of that era, are able to recognize it and kind of get a good laugh out of it.”  

Mike: It’s been really fun.  So, I’m not a person that gets into manager sims.  I’ve tried some in the past, and just, I’m not an RPG guy.  I feel like there’s a little bit of a connection there.  But, again, artwork I’m loving.  The theme really kind of hooks me.  And I think as a long-time wrestling fan I think that’s what’s really going to make a lot of people hop on here.  So, versus sometimes when others do like, “Well, this is kind of like that wrestler you know,” and it just seems like a weird facsimile of it.  It fits with this.  Like we said, with the Red Pirate Roberts, which I determined automatically when he popped up, I’m like “Oh.  This is going to be my champion.”  Like you say, there’s a lot of nods to something like this.  So, getting into it, we talk about on here how hard it is to get into pro wrestling or whatever other aspects our guests are getting into.  First of all, is this your first app on the platform?

Chris: This is.  I’ve actually been in the gaming industry for a few years, but this is our first app.  And, this is the first project that was launched independently by myself, by my company.  Yep.

Mike: Awesome.  It’s really clean as far as that goes.  But, I guess there’s not really much for animations and such on there, so that has to make it a little bit easier, right?

Chris: Oh, for sure.  You know, and that was kind of one of the benefits to doing something that had that retro presentation.  And, actually going into it, also sort of realizing, “Okay.  We’re not making an action game.  We’re not setting out to make a game in which you’re having two guys wrestle in the ring.”  Knowingly going into this looking to make a collectible card game, a wrestling booker business sim, and laying on top of that the fact that it was purposely retro looking, yeah, it made sense.  And, it was a little bit easier to develop, especially for the first app.

Mike: And, Rizz, you’ve spent a little bit of time on this, right?

Rizz: I have.

Mike: What are your takeaways from this game over the bits you’ve had with it?

Rizz: It’s very – I like it.  But, it is very in depth to get your attention on there.  You can’t just go, “Okay, I’m going to put these wrestlers over here and have them fight.”  You have to make sure their attributes match, or you’ll get a bad rating, no money going through.  And, you can’t improve yourself unless you have that money going through there, which is really good when your guys are like, “There isn’t a chance.”  And, a tennis pro which you want to make sure is the bottom curtain jerker, but other than that I enjoy this tremendously, man.  This is an awesome game to play.  This isn’t just a time waster.

Chris: Thanks, man.  And just to add on to what you were mentioning, that was another intent, and I’m glad to see that you mentioned it.  And, that people I’ve talked to, that play the game and have liked the game have mentioned, the strategy aspect of it.  There are plenty of booking sims out there, where you essentially have an entire roster at your disposal, and it allows you to just kind of book Guy A versus Guy B, and quick simulate and get a result.  We tried to go a little bit further with it and set up a strategy aspect to it.  So, as you mentioned, there are only so many segment slots on a show, and your wrestler card, or any of your cards for that matter, you can only play once per show.  And, like you mentioned, certain wrestlers perform better in certain segment types so you’ve got to be aware of what wrestler you’re assigning to what type of show.  For example, one guy might be a better wrestler, where another guy might be better at mic spots, and another guy might be better at skits.  So, like you mentioned, you have to make the right choices in order to earn the most game cash, because you only have a limited amount of opportunities.  Only so many segments per show, and of course only so many shows per month, and so on, and so on.  So, I’m glad that the strategy aspect is noticed, and people like it.

Rizz: That’s the thing.  It’s challenging.  And, that’s one of the things that I like about the game is you get challenged when other games out there of the same wake are just, “Throw this card out there.  Do this.  Do that.  Do that.”  This one actually makes you think.  I think Sorg mentioned, the graphics are amazing in this, too.  Even though they’re a little minute, like just the pictures, the cards are pretty cool.  So, yeah, great job, man.  

Chris: Well, thanks.  And, a lot of credit, and I want to give a lot of credit to the artists.  There’s two guys in particular that did the wrestler art.  Werner Muck and Nathan Tremualt.  These guys are just really, really talented, and the best part about working with guys, artists like that, is they’re just very easy to direct, and they understand what we’re going for.  They know how to make it a little cartoony, and they make the bad guys look a little scary, and still kind of silly, and they just hit all the notes, and I just really appreciate all the work that the artists did on this game.  Because, I think they brought it all together.

Mike: So, what is your favorite character that you guys came up with in the process?

Chris: Oh wow.  That is a tough one.  I mean, I really have an extra place in my heart for all these guys.

Mike: I was just going to say, yeah.

Chris: I mean, the big iconic ones are fun.  Then there are ones that I didn’t know exactly what to expect, and then when the art came back, I was like, “Wow.  I love this guy now,” because the art is just, I love it.  For example, there’s a character called Laser.  And, he’s kind of Sting influenced I guess you’d say.  Now, I’m talking blonde hair, neon, Sting of course.  

Rizz: Yeah, 80’s Sting.  

Chris: Yeah, 80’s Sting.  Right.  The real Sting.  But, that’s just one guy that I thought, “Well, okay, this is a fun name, and he should be fun when he comes back.”  And, then when I first saw the art I said, “Yes.  I love this guy.  He’s going to be on a lot of the promo pieces and stuff, just because I’m a fan of how he came out.”  But, I like the lower card guys.  I like some of the curtain jerkers, too.  I like a guy like Tennis Pro, who has a fantastic audio clip, by the way.  And, that’s another thing I wanted to mention is a buddy of mine, Grant Pechoko, a really talented guy out west in the California area, he did the majority of the voices.  You know, when you tap on these digital cards and they flip over, you hear a little snippet of sound.  Most of the time, it’s a little piece of dialogue from the character.  And, my buddy Grant did just an amazing job.  So, I want to give him thanks, too.  

Mike: That was a surprise.  Because, again, my audio’s typically off because of the way and where I play.  But, I happened to have my headphones on when I kicked it on on the train, and I was like, “Oh.  Hello.”  And, again, it adds a whole other layer to it.  It’s a whole other 8-bit to it, a whole other fun to it.  It’s really good.  And, I also want to mention for those wondering, this is a free app on both platforms, available now.  But, you guys are doing a freemium model, and I know, Rizz, we just had a big conversation about Angry Birds 2 and whether the freemium is “too” freemium on this.  Can you talk a little bit about the strategy there?  If I get into this, what am I actually going to pay for when I get in it and when I kind of expand my deck?

Chris: It’s actually – so it’s free to play as you mentioned.  And, what you’re going to do when you start playing for free, is you’re going to get led through the tutorial.  And, that’s not only going to teach you the basics of playing, but it’s going to leave you with enough cards in your collection to be able to proceed at your own pace.  What is for sale in the game, the in-app purchases that we offer are pretty simple and basic, really.  We offer tokens.  So, a token can be traded in for $100,000.00 game cash.  And, what that equates to is, one token buys you one main event wrestler.  So, the interesting thing is though, if you play long enough, and if you play well enough – strategically speaking, you can earn enough game cash to essentially purchase everything but main eventers.  So, you’ll be gaining at a steady-enough rate to purchase all the other stuff besides the main event wrestlers, and then every game year – so for example, you start in January of 1980, when you get to January of 1981, you get a free token.  So, you legitimately can play through it and acquire tokens annually in the game, without ever purchasing.  Now, a lot of people start playing.  They love it, and they see a main event guy available in the shop that they must have, they must add to their collection, they must give the world championship title to, and they say, “You know, I don’t want to wait a game year.  Let me buy that token.”  So, we’re seeing a lot of that too.

Mike: That’s interesting.  And, the kind of randomized shop idea, I don’t think I’ve seen in a freemium game.  Not that I really dive into a lot of freemium games, it’s really just kind of Angry Birds and everything WWE puts out right now.  But, that’s an interesting concept with that.  Have you gotten really good reaction out of the freemium side of it?

Chris: We have as a matter of fact.  The overall response has really exceeded expectations, and I mean, just based on the feedback I get through social media, and then of course there’s the ratings and the review process at the App Store and at the Google Play Store.  

Mike: Yeah.  You guys are off the charts over on the Google Play Store right now, I’m seeing.

Chris: Yeah.  The ratings are really, really – we’re super pleased with the reaction.  People are genuinely excited about it.  And, I mean, you’re seeing stuff like, “This is the most fun thing.”  And, we’re saying, “Wow.  We didn’t expect that.”  It’s really, really cool and humbling to hear that kind of stuff.  And, this initial feedback – so we launched only about two weeks ago, so this initial feedback has really kind of motivated us to get our first big update happening, sooner rather than later.  

Mike: Awesome.  

Rizz: So, honestly, I just want to ask one question.  Are there any particular 80’s style characters that aren’t in the game that you would have liked in the game?

Chris: Yeah.  I mean, the short answer is yes.  So, if you were to pull up a long list of iconic 80’s wrestlers from the WWF and NWA and all that.  I mean, if you go down and check off, name-by-name, there’s lots of names of guys that we don’t have a direct influenced character featured.

Rizz: I mean, is there a name that you want in that game, that you would like in that game soon?

Chris: Let’s put it this way, I’ve got a list of concepts that we came up with after launch, or when it was a little too late to stick them into the launched version of the game and we thought, “Aww, this guy’s got to be in it.  We didn’t put this tag team in there, we need to have it.”  So yeah, I’ll just put it this way, there’s a good 15 or 20 concepts – now by “concepts” I mean wrestlers, managers, tag teams and feuds that just kind of missed the bus this time that will get in in the first update.  

Mike: Nice.  So, it’s going to be the best of the best, right?

Chris: Yeah, man.  You know, when you think about it, that’s what’s fantastic – pulling from this huge pool called 80’s pop culture.  I mean, there’s just so much stuff, from the wrestlers, to the movie characters, to cartoon characters, and TV shows, and music, and toys, and all sorts of stuff that we love.  Lots and lots of fun concepts to be influenced by.  

Mike: Awesome.  So, we’re going to again adapt some of our regular questions.  We usually have indy wrestlers on here.  So tell me, well first of all, this still applies.  You’ve got to be watching wrestling now in some vein.  So, what are you watching?  What are you keeping up with in pro wrestling today?  I know none of it is probably as great as the 80’s to you, but.

Chris: You know what’s funny?  Truthfully, I don’t watch it.  I really don’t.  But, truth be told, I was in Cleveland this weekend for the Wrestling Geekfest convention.  So, I saw plenty of indy wrestling.  

Mike: Did you get roped into Joe Dombrowski’s emporium of craziness?

Chris: There was so much crazy stuff going on.  I was kind of peeking my head into every little last thing I saw.  I saw a ton of stuff going on there from Joe Gagne’s video arcade.  He had video games set up.  To some of these indy promotions from the Ohio area that I wasn’t really familiar with, that were really fun.  And, I wanted to mention, there was one in particular that I thought was really cool, and that was Old Wrestling Extravaganza.  Do you guys know about them?

Mike: Yes.  We are very aware of them.  We had Pedro on here talking about them.  We’ve had a few people that are involved with that.  Jock Sampson in particular, Gregory Iron.  We actually had the Bearded Woman on here a few weeks ago as well from there.

Chris: Excellent!  So, I got to meet Marion Fontaine, who I guess he does a lot of the stuff behind the scenes for them.  Great guy.  And the match they put on, they put on a really fun 6-man tag match, and I was blown away.  I mean, it’s a small indy show, but these guys I could tell that it was so well thought out, I mean just the little intricate things they were doing during the match – it was a riot.  It was funny.  It was well thought out.  And, I just want to applaud those guys.  

Mike: I just actually found an image from there that’s video game style, which really kind of fits our theme for the day doesn’t it?  I noticed all the graphics for Geekfest were very WWF Superstars Arcade Game style whenever I find them.  Here’s one, if you guys are on video, of Fontaine, Gregory Iron, and Judge Hugo Black.  I’m not familiar with that one there.  Oh no, I know who that is.  That looks like Ricky Shane Paige now that I’m thinking about it.

Chris: That’s who it is.  Yeah.  That Judge character, they were prohibitionists.  So, they had some long, elaborate team name, the Anti-Something-Or-Other, but it’s a couple of politicians and a Southern Baptist Judge, I guess is what he’s playing.  They’re hilarious.

Mike: I absolutely love that.  They’re able to stretch and do a different character and have fun with that.  That’s amazing.  That’s great.  We talked about it before, but check out Olde Wrestling.  Google it.  You’ll find stuff there without getting much into it.  Anything else?  Or are you just good for all the old stuff?

Chris: That’s really it.  When it comes to sitting down watching stuff, I’m stuck with the 80’s.  And, you know what though, I was big in the mid 90’s.  I’m born and raised in New Jersey, so every Saturday night we got ECW straight out of Philly.  So, mid 90’s it was all about ECW.  And, that was about the last time I watched regularly.  

Mike: Awesome.  So, tell me, coming into this project – seeing it out there, what is the best and the worst thing about indy app game development.

Chris: That’s a great question.  The best thing, I’d say is anyone can do it.  No, really, it’s really accessible these days.  There’s apps everywhere for everything and almost everyone’s got one.  So, it’s sort of easy to get into.  But, we take pride in the fact that what we did is original and fun, and a lot of hard work went into it.  And, then the worst part about it is, I guess that since we’ve launched, now there’s just this big old responsibility to keep it going, and answer people’s questions, and keep on providing content.  So, now that it’s out there we are married to this puppy forever.  No, that’s not a bad thing.  

Rizz: It’s time to adult, right?

Chris: Yes.

Mike: So, go check it out, 80’s Mania Wrestling on Android and IOS platforms.  Is it iPad compatible, or are we stretching that for the time being?

Chris: No.  It actually sure is.  It’s available for the iPad as well.

Mike: I’ll have to load that on there as well then.  Go check all of that out, and anything else?  Can you give us a little preview of what’s coming up on that first update?  Can you give us any exclusives here on the show, maybe?

Chris: What I will say is this, is that we are definitely planning on, like I mentioned before, continuously adding new wrestlers, tag teams, feuds, that kind of good stuff.  A little bit further down the line, what we want to do is add a couple of new mechanics to the show process.  So, as you noticed now, when you play, you’ve got a few different show types.  You’ve got your weekly shows, and then you’ve got your pay-for-view.  The pay-for-views are, you know, your super cards – your super shows, and there’s a lot of title matches on them, and whatnot.  But, what we want to do in one of these upcoming updates is we’ve got one in November called Survival of the Fittest.  What we want to do is really kind of make that Survivor Series-ish – you know, break the mold of just being able to do singles matches and tag-team matches.  We’re looking to do 6-man and 8-man tag matches, and along with that maybe have a new type of card called the stable card?  So, instead of just unlocking tag-teams, maybe if you pair the right 3 guys or the right 4 guys together you’ll unlock their stable card, or something like that.  So, there’s a little preview of what might be coming up.

Mike: Cool.  Go check it out.  We’re having a lot of fun with it.

Rizz: Is there a podcast area going to be in there somehow?

Mike: In the 80’s?

Chris: A podcast?  Yeah.  What was the equivalent of a podcast in the 80’s?

Mike: College radio?

Rizz: Yeah.

Chris: Well, you know, actually, we were thinking about what kind of thing – so, we’ve got this thing called mic spots, and we’ve got these things called skits.  We thought, “Well, what are some fun ones we missed?”  And we thought, for skits we can do a kind of a PeeWee’s Playhouse kind of thing.  We can get PeeWee in there.  And for mic spots, we thought, “Who was a big Mr. Mic guy in the 80’s?” And, we thought we could get a Howard Stern type guy in there, so we’ll have like a radio show and a kid’s variety show in there.  So, yeah, maybe there’s room to get some kind of podcastesque kind of thing going on.

Rizz: Podcast-type in the 80’s.

Chris: I’m sure we can come up with something.

Mike: Or, a Tuesday Night Titans or something, too.

Chris: Yeah.  Something like that.

Mike: Awesome.  Go check it out.  Thanks, Chris, for joining us.  And, let us know what you think about the app as well.  Of course, hit them up on social media, and let us know if you’re checking the game out as well @MayhemShow on the twitter.  We’re going to look into some Vicious Outcast Wrestling with Dudders joining us here on the couch in the studio, but first, let us take a look back at last week in Sorgatron Media shows.