THQ has had great success with its UFC franchise, riding the wave of popularity as the Ultimate Fighting Championship has knocked out boxing to become the top fighting game in town. The game maker has focused on delivering a much bigger experience for its third game. And they’ve spent the additional development time allotted to them to ensure that the new-and-improved career mode delivers a deep and robust experience. Neven Dravinski, producer of UFC Undisputed 3, talks about what’s new in the game’s popular career mode in this exclusive interview.

What were your goals heading into the new Career mode?
Career mode went through a huge redesign this year. I think one of the biggest things that we’re really focusing on is in-game education; explaining what you do in a certain situation, not only in-game, but I think what’s also very important is, in-menu. We recorded a lot of footage with (announcer) Mike Goldberg, and a lot of audio. You’ll see text pop-ups that come up with VO (voice over) associated with it.

How important was it to cater to the new audience that the Fox UFC broadcasts are bringing in?
We’re really handholding you through the career. I think it makes for a much better career mode experience. You understand what you’re doing. There’s a nice ramp-up of explaining each of the menu items. It gives you a chance to fight, come back, and try out different things.

How are you integrating the actual UFC experience into the game?
One of the things that I think is really cool that we were able to change this year is, we got rid of all the CG (computer-generated) cut scenes. There are no more in-engine cut scenes of your fighter shaking hands with Dana White. We’ve actually replaced all that with live footage from the UFC’s vault, from all the countdown shows and various broadcast elements. What’s really cool is, because of our great working relationship with UFC, we actually got them to edit these movies so all the beats in your career are told by what we call Career Live Movies, which is actual video footage or exclusive interviews that we’ve done over the past year and a half of UFC fighters.

Can you give us an example of how Career Live Movies play out?
Sure. The first time you go into a championship fight, you’ll hear an interview from a UFC fighter talking about what their head was like when they were going into that fight. I think it’s a really cool way of immersing you in the experience of what these guys got to experience themselves while you’re playing it in the video game.

How are you expanding those 150 UFC fighters that are in the game into the Career mode?
One of the other great features that we’ve allowed for this year is in Career, you can actually take a roster fighter through Career. You can take Chuck Liddell, for example, and turn him into the greatest Jujitsu fighter. That’s something new for UFC Undisputed 3, that ability to take a roster fighter through a Career mode.

How important was it to keep people busy fighting and focusing on fights in the Career mode?
Very. The focus was on having less time to do more things. There are training games this year. They are actually going to be mimicking the controller inputs that you would do in an actual fight. For example, we have a tire flip drill. In real life training for UFC fights, people train flipping a tire to help their explosiveness and takedowns. In the video game, they’ll use the same dynamics and controller inputs to practice your takedown inputs, for example, in the tire flip training game.