Shaun Palmer's Pro Snowboarder Designer Diary

Find out about Activision's upcoming snowboarding game.

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Shaun Palmer's Pro Snowboarder
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Entry #1 - 10/26/01

By Trey Watkins
Game Designer, Dearsoft

The man in full.
The man in full.

Since the success of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Activision has gained a solid reputation for successfully grooming genres you wouldn't expect to see in a video game for the gaming masses. The latest genre to be tapped is snowboarding. With the upcoming Shaun Palmer's Pro Snowboarder for the PlayStation 2, the developer is aiming to blend accessible gameplay with tight graphics into a package that will appeal to gamers. We got game designer Trey Watkins to slide us his thoughts on the game's development. In the first installment of his designer diary, he fills us in on the game's namesake and how he influenced the game's development. Shaun Palmer's Pro Snowboarder ships this November.

Flying high is possible in the world of Shaun Palmer.
Flying high is possible in the world of Shaun Palmer.

Welcome. I am Trey Watkins, the game designer for Activision's first snowboarding title, Shaun Palmer's Pro Snowboarder. In the coming weeks, a few of us on the team will be writing about our thoughts and experiences creating the thumb-cramping beast we now call Palmer.

This first installment in the behind-the-scenes look at SPPS will focus on the man himself and how we've chosen to capture his unique spirit in the game you will be seeing this holiday season. Some call him cocky, although I think he would feel he's just being honest. Six-time X Games gold medallist Shaun Palmer's style is best reflected in his own words: "Don't be afraid of the fact that I'm the greatest athlete in the world." After reading all the press on his accomplishments in snowboarding, mountain biking, snowmobiling, racecar driving, and motocross, as well as several interview's exuding the type of attitude shown in the quote above, I was expecting to meet some megalomaniac who'd had a few too many spoonfuls of sugar on his cereal.

It all must be done in style, of course.
It all must be done in style, of course.

Our first meeting was quite a surprise. At first Shaun wasn't brash or boastful at all; he was laid-back and pretty mellow. It wasn't until we started talking about the sport that the sick grin came across his face, and you could tell he was about to dish it out. Story after story of mayhem on and off the slopes followed, always accompanied by "...and that is how I broke this" or "...and that is how I was banned from there." The man has definitely lived.

Going forward we knew that we needed to capture the over-the-top lifestyle Palmer so personified. We started brainstorming on the best way to use the font of his belly tattoo or how we were going to work in his favorite Cadillac. I don't know what else to say about his thing for Cadillacs other than that the man is covered in Cadillac tattoos. You will see this type of personal stuff throughout the game. The interface has the Palmer feel, right down to the flame-paint-job-styled loading bar on the splash screen. We carried this same approach through to the game itself, asking Palmer what his favorite places to board were. The first level in the game is Donner Ski Ranch where Palmer spent his early years perfecting his art. Many of you will notice that a large number of the levels are located in or around Lake Tahoe. Well that is due in large part to Palmer's attachment to that area. He even has his own parking space at Heavenly (check it out next time you go). Anyway I'm starting to talk about the gameplay, and I think I'm supposed to save that until the next entry, so stay safe, and I'm out.

I've included Shaun's brief bio below for those who want the dirt.

Shaun Palmer
Home base: Lake Tahoe, California
Birth date: November 24, 1968
Started snowboarding: 1982
Turned pro: 1985

Snowboarding and Skiing Accomplishments:

World Champion 1985 (Halfpipe, Downhill, Slalom)
World Champion 1989 (Halfpipe)
World Champion 1990 (Halfpipe)
World Champion 1997 (Mountain Bike)
World Champion 1998 (Boardercross)
Swatch Boardercross Champion 1996
Swatch Boardercross Champion 1997
Swatch Boardercross Champion 1998
Winter X Gold Medal 1997 Boardercross
Winter X Gold Medal 1997 Downhill
Winter X Gold Medal 1998 Boardercross
Winter X Gold Medal 1999 Boardercross
Winter X Gold Medal 2000 Skiercross
Gravity Games Gold Medal 2000 Skiercross
Winter X Gold Medal 2001 Ultracross

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