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Total Extreme Wrestling (originally Total Extreme Warfare) 2004 is Adam Ryland's first foray into the realm of commercial gaming after many years of distributing installments of the series as freeware. Leading up to this occurrence were the releases of Extreme Warfare (1995, programmed in QBasic and Turbo Pascal), Extreme Warfare Deluxe (2001), and finally, Extreme Warfare Revenge (2002, programmed in Visual Basic). Ultimately, Ryland came upon the realization that if the game were to expand any further - the endeavor it provided would be exceptionally time consuming, and so the series pivoted from a hobby to a true profession; eventually seeing release under the banner of .400 Software Studios. The game was made acquirable through purchase by an ELicense storefront (a measure taken to secure the game from piracy).
Much like in the past, the player assumes the role of a booker - responsible for the overall creative direction of a wrestling promotion; generally meaning: employment of workers, developing new talent, negotiating sponsorship or broadcasting deals, and scheduling events. Each of these duties vary at core, pending which style one chooses their promotion to follow. For example, if the player selects the sports-entertainment style, he must employ workers whom are not necessarily world-class performers in the ring - but certainly charismatic and able to act, in order to be successful. Conversely, if one chooses the traditional style, mic skills and acting ability will not be of as great a gravity as technically sound in-ring exhibitions. This choice of style fleshes out even more, also affecting where an establishment will be more popular (e.g., a hardcore promotion will attract many fans in the tri-state area, but very few south of the border) and the sponsorship or TV network deals available (e.g., the hardcore promotion would likely be limited to a graveyard slot on a network due to violence, but the traditional promotion would enjoy an hour on a prime-time block).