Q&A: Neversoft talks Tony Hawk's Proving Ground

Neversoft Project Director Chad Findley on wrapping up Tony Hawk's Proving Ground, making videos within the game, and striking a balance between realism and fun in a skating sim.

Neversoft's latest stab at its long-running Tony Hawk franchise, Tony Hawk's Proving Ground, is just weeks away from release. GameSpot AU caught up with Neversoft project director Chad Findley at Activision's Activate Asia conference earlier this week to quiz him about the new features being introduced in Proving Ground and much more.

GameSpot AU: How's development going on the game?

Chad Findley: We're wrapping it up. It's been a year and a half--the longest we've ever been on one of the Tony Hawks. That's one of the coolest things about this one--it all really came together. The big thing is all about being who you want to be and being able to skate the way you want within the game, and be able to do that with videos and cameras and films, and to have all the stories come together, and it all really works together.

GS AU: What's that extra time allowed you to do?

CF: The reason we were able to start working on this one so early is I was working on Gun as project director. Brian Bright was working as project director on Tony Hawk Project 8. I finished halfway through Project 8, so I got an early start on this one. And with that early start, that's why we chose to do such a big game, because we knew we had the extra time and therefore we did this thing with choice. Now we have over 300 goals, and 83 cutscenes, and a video editor finally--all these things that we never had a chance to do before, now we could finally do.

GS AU: Project 8 introduced nail the trick, and in Proving Ground you're expanding that to include nail the manual and nail the grab. Why did you decide to add those two?

CF: I just really wanted to do it. I wasn't working on Project 8 and I saw them do nail the trick, and I thought that was one of the coolest things I've seen. You got to control your board in any way, and there was a lot of gameplay in it too. We had these three different career paths going, and we thought it would make perfect sense to do [add nail the grab and nail the manual]. The addition of the two new elements really allowed you to control in a whole different way that you could never do before.

GS AU: Another major addition this year are video editing tools. Why did you add it?

CF: Now that we finally have hard drive space in consoles, we were able to add this video editor. This is a huge thing because video is a huge part of a skater's life, whether they're a hardcore, rigger, or whatever type of skater. We wanted to give players the ability to record your skating while you're playing. So you can just skate along, and as soon as you do something cool you can save your edit. You can do this as many times as you want, filling up your hard drive with as many edits as you want. Then you can create new edits with all these clips you've saved, and you can increase the length of them, you can trim them, you can change the camera angle. Then you can add effects and overlays on the top of them.

And then we've got this challenge within the game which asks you to do the best videos in our three different cities--Philly, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. The game will judge it for you depending on how you skate it. We've also beat mapped our songs so it can see if you've done tricks in time with the songs, and if you've edited to the beat. If it's good enough and it beats enough people's scores, it'll make it onto the Xbox Live leaderboards, and others can download them and check them out.

GS AU: How important is building a dedicated gaming community to a game like Tony Hawk?

CF: It was really important for us, particularly for this game as it was about who you are and how you want to skate and how you choose to build your career. We wanted to let you show that off to other people, and there's no better way than to do it online, really. That's why we added this video editor--to show how you skate and how you direct your videos.

GS AU: What are your plans for downloadable content?

CF: There's nothing that I can speak of right now. Our goal for this one--because we wanted you to really feel that you had the choice to play the game the way you want--we really wanted to put everything in the box we could to make this feel like a worthwhile game to you.

GS AU: You've got some competition this year in the form of EA's Skate, which seems to be going for a more realistic experience. Overall, would you say Proving Ground is more realistic than previous Tony Hawk games, or even more fantastical?

CF: There are two parts to that. One is that you can play the game in a sim mode, where you can record your video and make it look like a real skate video. Also at the end of the day we want to make a great game. It's fun for people who skate and people who don't skate. We always walk that line--it's a game, but it's about skating. We want to make sure that the skating audience and skate culture is adhered to, but also is a lot of fun.

GS AU: Chad Findley, thanks for your time.

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RandolphRam

Randolph Ramsay

Randolph is the managing editor of GameSpot, and needs more time to play games.
Tony Hawk's Proving Ground

Tony Hawk's Proving Ground

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31 comments
neal_douglas
neal_douglas

Has anyone heard how many of the cool features of Proving Ground are in the Wii version?

chaos-is-me
chaos-is-me

played the demo. it seems worse than project 8 in almost everyway. it feels clucky and horrible. i have played the skate demo to death and i have to say i'm most excited about that, but i might pick up proving ground to, just to check out the new ideas.

Jedilink109
Jedilink109

Yeah I was playing the demo for this last night AND the demo for "Skate". Skate is ok but the camera angle is annoying. I can't move it to a more...productive place meaning that I can't aim my character very well what with the camera always being off to the side and so close to the ground. Plus it seems like it would be REALLY hard to just go back and forth and skate in a pool as opposed to Tony Hawk which is highly intuitive. "Skate" has a LOT of realism and the animations are extremely good. VERY VERY good animation. However it's just harder to control my guy and to easily pull of combos or just single tricks in general. I'll probably give it a chance (and maybe there's a different...as in HIGHER camera angle option in the final game) though. I think it looks fun but Tony Hawk has always been very intuitive and simple. It's not realistic by any means, but it's more arcady and the sensationalism adds to the fun I'd say. I'd pick Tony Hawk over Skate any day, but that doesn't mean I think Skate is a bad game. They're just different. Tony Hawk is just much easier to pick up and play for longer periods is all.

pacerfan1231
pacerfan1231

I pick this over SKATE anyday. I just finished playing TH and the gameplay is much better than SKATE!

Cody13_2012
Cody13_2012

This game looks awesome but SKATE looks better, but i will get this game for sure because SKATE is not going to come out for PS2, PSP, or PC that I have heard of.

Cody13_2012
Cody13_2012

This game looks awesome but SKATE looks better, but i will get this game for sure because SKATE is not going to come out for PS2, PSP, or PC that I have heard of.

Saluu
Saluu

i didn't care too much for Project 8 because they took out auto-kick. everything else was pretty good, character models, nail the tricks, i could even deal with the random goals AGAIN... but ive always tried to stick with as much 'realism' as i could. when they took out auto-kick i was like, man.. i can't play this crap. look, he keeps pushing and pushing, you can't even control it.

boobush
boobush

Tony Hawk series are dying. They need more games like the Underground ones, because they were funner to play.

Ghost0240
Ghost0240

I played the demo, i think its ok. I dont like how u can barely get speed. I hate the haggard push. Because if u mess up then u lose yur speed and cant do any thing. But i like the build skill, its cool. I'll rent it, but i pre-orded SKATE. Thats my main thing.

judge__judy
judge__judy

Ok so does anyone favour tony hawk over skate?

yencanwasu
yencanwasu

i played the demo same old crap they need to change it up ill be getting skate.

Sp1tfire88
Sp1tfire88

I played the demo and its not bad, not as good as THUG but nail the grab/manual is really cool, animations are kinda bad unless you are in nail mode. I like SKATE. better but its probably because I skate in real life.. I can see why someone that doesnt skate would prefer to play THPS. Itd be nice if people would stop fighting over some games :P Both have strong and weak point.

popplayer22
popplayer22

I'll be picking up Skate this year instead of Tony Hawk. Tony had a good run. But frankly I haven't liked a Tony Hawk game since THUG. In my opinion Skate is much more fun that PG. So I'll be picking up Skate.

Pete5506
Pete5506

I didnt find the demo to fun

ElHypno
ElHypno

The PG demo was wack, it was worse than Project 8 which I loved. It just doesnt feel right. It was like they tried to make it more realistic by making it feel clunky and awkward. Hopefully the deck selection is better than P8. All of the Powell decks were these cheap completes they sell that nobody other than your five year old brother would ever be caught dead skating. I have enough tony hawk games. I don't wanna talk about the competetion on here but I will only be buying one Skateboard game this year and it wont be PG.

lamprey263
lamprey263

I just got the demo downloaded, now I just need time to try it though, I'm worried that it won't be as good as Project 8 as that's what many have been saying

andrewhateme
andrewhateme

Chad this is Chad. Tony Hawk is a bad ass, but the games you make with his name on it are anything but that.

Kidtuf
Kidtuf

The game is plain ugly and it adheres to the culture of skateboarding about as well as Hour Of Victory adheres to WW2. Out with the old and tired, and finally in with a game that respects the culture and art of skateboarding. I'm talking of course about Skate.

StonyShred420
StonyShred420

jbaird1981, Go back to EA fanboy, no one cares about your rude comments about saying TH sucks and blah blah blah. If Tony Hawk sucks, then why has there been so many Tony Hawk games out there and why do people keep buying them, oh wait, because most of them are good (Down Hill Jame did suck). I hope TH Proving Grounds end up being better than Skate, honestly...EA are a bunch of money grubbing, marketing whores. They used to release good games, but now they release a lot of crap, and here and there, they stick in a good game. EA is not what it used to be.

jbaird1981
jbaird1981

this game sucks. same as every other Tony Hawk game. go for SKATE.

effthat
effthat

I'm excited about this. Particularly the video editting. Unfortunately, I own a Wii and unless they find a way to over come the space issue, I'm out of luck.

Generic_Dude
Generic_Dude

I really liked the Proving Grounds demo and see it as a big improvement over the previous few entries in the THPS series. I like the fact that they brought that arcade-style back into it... I'd rather be able to do ridiculous lines and fly off buildings doing 900s than go for realism. Real skating isn't that great... oh look, I made a kicker out of a piece of plywood and did a 180 ollie off of it. Big deal. Meanwhile, I'm grinding around the Capitol rotunda. Secondly, the graphics are really sharp (not ground-breaking, but better than P8) and the frame rate is really smooth. Of course, Baltimore's a much more interesting town than the place P8 was set in as well... though I do miss the "go from level to level" thing that they did all the way through the THUG series. As much as people like to bash THUG, I really liked getting the opportunity to skate in Boston a bit, then skate in New Orleans a bit, then do some classic levels like Airport and School. As much as they've already beat those levels into the ground, I'd be much more inclined to pick up a Tony Hawk game that included them in addition to the one big city thing they've been doing (or three in this case). They should really do a TH Anthology thing where they have all the levels remade from THPS 1-3 and just do it arcade style or whatever. I'd pay twice the price I'd pay for THPG for that one.

I_AM_AROD______
I_AM_AROD______

"CF: We want to make sure that the skating audience and skate culture is adhered to, but also is has to be a lot of fun." Exactly, from what I've seen, Skate doesn't even look fun (unless maybe if you are a real skater). The same with all sports games: I prefer NBA Street over NBA Live, NFL Blitz/NFL Street over Madden. It's just the way it is, sims are boring unless you want an amazingly realistic experience, in which case maybe you should just play the real sport.

Ryo_Kensen
Ryo_Kensen

I'm going to be getting skate and Tony Hawk's Proving Ground. Both games are great, and I love the demos for both of them. I'll be picking up Proving Ground first, then skate I'll ask for for my birthday. I guess what I have to say is, it's all about personal opinion on which game is better. Proving Ground fans will like it because of being able to do big lines and have a big score. skate fans will like it because it's realistic. It's all about personal opinion here, so stop arguing about which game is better.

j1m1b
j1m1b

THUG 2 destroyed my trust in the THPS series, american wasteland distanced me even further from it, however Project 8 brought me right back into it again with loving arms. That said skate. has really grabbed me, its a game which makes difficult moves feel really rewarding. I love competition between two brands, let the skate-off begin. Fight for my love!

StSk8ter29
StSk8ter29

I'm going to give skate a buy most likely, but I still feel a connection to the tony hawk series. Plus if "EA trax" gets into skate I am going to stab somebody.

dQuarters
dQuarters

I think it's odd and idiotic for these games to come out at the same time. Especially for TH's side of it. Regardless, there's plenty of market for these games. P8 was fun, Skate seems pretty good, too. More boarding for everybody!

vass86
vass86

skate has it's awesome controls and a really good feel going for it. i also think it's more fun in general but tony hawks seems to loads of different game modes, especially online. i think competition is much needed in this genre

ryo_strife24
ryo_strife24

With EA's track record, I'll pick up skate. in the used games section of Gamecrazy.

ibanezdropd
ibanezdropd

i seriously don't know. tony hawk has been fun, but it's time for something new

sc065
sc065

I really think that this will be a turning point for me as far as my skating video games go. As Skate and Proving grounds are being released closely together, I definitely see myself leaning towards one game. I've always loved THPS games, but I fear that the series might have overstayed its welcome by now. That combined with the fact that skate. is extremely enjoyable and unique, will definitely test my interest. If Neversoft could being back the magic that THPS 3 brought for me though.... That'd be just dandy :)