Interview – Paolo Chikiamco – Author of Slammed!

Greetings, wrestling fans! Today, Addicted to Wrestling is proud to welcome Paolo Chikiamco, author of  interactive fiction he has simply entitled “Slammed!” It’s certainly a unique approach to wrestling fans everywhere who want to feel like they are professional wrestlers, and one which, if I may say so, does its job very well. I got the opportunity to try this game out a little early, and I feel that if you’re a wrestling fan, even if you’ve never played any kind of interactive fiction, or choose-your-own-adventure-style game, you should give this game a look, and that’s why we have its author here to talk about it. And so, without further adue, some questions.

ATW: I’m going to start with the basics. Where did the idea for Slammed come from? And to expand upon that, what made you choose this particular medium for it? Slammed could have just been a story you published about a wrestler, but you made it so much more than that.

PC: I was a fan of the Choice of Games line and I wanted to pitch a game to them, a game that I could really be passionate about. But I also wanted to do a type of game that they didn’t already have, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I wanted to do a game about pro wrestling. A while back, I’d read an article on 1up called “Why Videogames Can Never Fully Capture the Wonderful World of Pro Wrestling” and I felt that what your typical, graphically-intense, combat-focused, wrestling video game couldn’t do, was something that a text-based interactive fiction game could: allow me to place players in situations where they could be part of a good narrative, a character arc, where players could have control of important decisions, yet within the context of pacing and climaxes that would be controlled by an over-arching story.

ATW: What made you go with the Choice of Games engine for Slammed? What made that the ideal way to create your story?

PC: Choicescript (the engine for CoG games) was fairly easy to become conversant in (by no means do I claim to have mastered it), and had the necessary heft and flexibility when it came to stats and variables. That and the Choice of Games folk seemed to have a solid infrastructure when it came to releasing, promoting, and supporting their games.

ATW: You’ve given players a lot of choice when it comes to the type of wrestler they want to be over the course of the story. How much work would you say went into making sure each type of wrestler, from powerhouse to mat wrestler, from face to heel, was different and meaningful to the player?

PC: A ton of the work in any interactive fiction game – well, any game that allows the player a chance to take different paths through the story – is spent on making sure that those choices matter, while still maintaining some level of control of the type of story you’re telling.  Yeah, allowing for different types of wrestling styles made the planning the fights and matches very time consuming (especially since favoring a particular style didn’t mean being locked into that style, and because I needed to branch out from the success an failure of each move), and allowing a “heel path” in the main feud of the game required writing a completely different version of the chapter for that route – but, as a player, these were things I’d love to have in the game, so all that effort was worth it.

ATW: You have introduced some absolutely fantastic NPC’s, (nonplayer characters for those who may not know), in Slammed. Was there any sort of special inspiration for any of them?

PC: Most of the characters in the game were inspired by – or a reaction to — elements of other wrestling characters that I’ve seen throughout the years. Sagramore/Lady Sagramore, was inspired by an entire generation of British wrestlers who were prominent in the U.K. In the days before the WWE became a worldwide phenomenon (specifically, inspired by my reading the book “The Wrestling”). Other characters were molded to push specific buttons – one of the main antagonists was created to embody the traits that the many “smarks” detest, for instance. On the other hand, I made Solitary’s homosexuality simply be a fact, as opposed to a part of his gimmick, as a reaction to how sexual orientation has been treated in a wrestling character, at least in the big leagues.

ATW: The things the player must deal with throughout the course of Slammed seems to indicate that you know quite a lot about the wrestling business. Perhaps that’s an illusion, but if so, it’s a very good one. If it’s not, though, are you, or have you been involved in the wrestling business? If you have, and if you can tell us, what kind of involvement did you or do you have?

PC: Total illusion. I’m an avid wrestling fan, but that’s about it – being based in Manila, I’ve never even seen a wrestling show live. (We had a local wrestling promotion here when I was a child, but that was a long, long time ago. R.I.P. Pinoy Wrestling. *sniff*)

The world of Slammed! Isn’t an accurate portrayal of the wrestling world – it’s just a coherent version of it, based on a lot of research (books such as “Drawing Heat the Hard Way” and “The Professional Wrestler In The World Of Sports-Entertainment”, documentaries like “The Wrestling Road Diaries”, as well as a ton of wrestling blogs and youtube videos) and alterations that I put in for the sake of the story (the authorized shoot fights, the prominence of the women’s division). I treated professional wrestling like a secondary world, an alternate universe – because, in many ways, that’s exactly what it is.

ATW: Slammed features a few spectacular plot twists. Was your intention going in to provide the player with memorable moments like that in order to make their characters, and the world of Slammed, feel more alive?

PC: It was exactly my intent, because, for me, professional wrestling is all about great moments. I’ve read others say that as well, and I agree. 90% of pro wrestling, whether in the ring or out of it, is meant to set-up, build-up, and contextualize those turning points for storylines or characters which leave a lasting mark, which send chills up your spine. That 90% is necessary, and the hardest part of the show, but without those moments of… pay-off or payback, catharsis or completion, you can’t say you’ve provided an audience with pro wrestling.

ATW: If it’s possible to answer this without spoiling the plot, is there any particular scene in Slammed that really struck a cord with you for any reason, whether it was supremely awesome to write, or you hated writing it, but knew it had to be done?

PC: There are three possible final opponents in the game, but one of those is only accessible if you’re playing a female character. There’s a way to finish that match which I found to be very, very satisfying. As for a part that I hated writing – in one route, it’s possible to cheat on your romantic interest. That’s not a route I enjoy writing, but it needed to be there.

ATW: Here’s a good one for ya. Based on how well Slammed does, might there maybe, possibly, be a sequel in the future?

PC: As of the moment, no, especially not a direct sequel – it’s nothing to do with sales, but simply a side effect of me wanting to have very different possible endings for the game. I wanted to say a particular set of things about what I love and hate about pro wrestling in this game, and I thin k I got most of them off my chest. That being said, it’s not a door that I’ve closed, and I did leave some dangling threads (nothing related to the main storyline) to resolve. But definitely not until I’ve done a few other games first.

ATW: And lastly, I leave it to you. Is there anything you want to say to the Addicted to Wrestling readers who, hopefully immediately following this interview, might just try out Slammed for the first time?

PC: Pro Wrestling’s a unique form of storytelling, with a unique relation to its audience. No other experience is going to come close to that you get when watching a great wrestling show, but I hope that Slammed! Can replicate parts of the experience that other mediums can’t – or at least give you a way of acting out the advice you shout at your television whenever Antionio Cesaro is losing a match on Monday Night RAW. 🙂 If you want to talk about the game, there’s a spoiler thread at the CoG Forums, and you can try the demo here.

ATW: Thanks again to Paolo Chikiamco for joining us on the Addicted to Wrestling blog, and thanks again for creating this great piece of interactive fiction. For any readers who wish to try out Slammed, links to all the ways this game can be enjoyed are below. Happy wrestling!

 

About Paolo Chikiamco

paoPaolo Chikiamco runs Rocket Kapre (rocketkapre.com), an imprint and blog dedicated to publishing and promoting works of the fantastic by Filipino authors, and the managing editor of Studio Salimbal (salimbalcomics.com). He is co-editor of Kwentillion Magazine and editor of Alternative Alamat. Paolo is a writer of prose, comics, and interactive fiction (“Slammed!” from Choice of Games). His fiction has been published in venues such as Scheherazade’s Façade, Philippine Genre Stories, Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution, Lauriat, and the Philippine Speculative Fiction series. Mythspace, his most recent comic book project, is about re-imagining the monsters of Philippine lower mythology as aliens in a galaxy-spanning space epic.

 

More About Slammed!

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Turn a scripted steel-cage wrestling match into a real fight in this 250,000-word interactive novel!

You’ve always dreamed of becoming pro wrestling’s biggest star…but a wrestler’s world is fraught with hardship and betrayal, in and out of the ring. Become a powerhouse, a technician, a high-flier, or focus on your promo skills. There’s more than one road to success.
But none of those roads will be easy. This is a world where your biggest fans are your harshest critics; where the front office is more dangerous than the squared circle; where friends can become enemies with a single heel turn; where, sometimes, the only way to win is to lose, spectacularly.

This is professional wrestling. And you’re about to change it, forever.
Slammed! is an epic interactive professional-wrestling novel by Paolo Chikiamco, where your choices determine how the story proceeds. The game is entirely text-based–without graphics or sound effects–but driven by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

There’s never been a professional wrestling game like this, a game where the outcome of your final match, your choice of opponent, and your relationships affect the ending. When’s the last time you played a pro-wrestling RPG with a “kayfabe” stat?–or where your trash-talking “promo” ability is as important as your core strength and wrestling technique?

Available Now!

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