Tony Hawk's Project 8 Q&A
We check in with Neversoft senior producer Clive Burdon on the PS3 debut for Tony Hawk.
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In some ways Tony Hawk's Project 8 is a return to earlier games in the long-running skate series. Instead of following a more story-driven format featured in the more recent Tony Hawk games, Project 8 will return to a more open-ended approach that should take advantage of both the tweaked trick system and the impressive processing power of the PlayStation 3. Recently we got a chance to talk about Project 8 with Clive Burdon, senior producer with Neversoft, to see how the game is coming along on the Sony hardware.
GameSpot: How long has the game been in development? (When did it start in relation to the other versions of THP8?)
Clive Burdon: Planning for the PS3 version started alongside the Xbox 360 version. We started work on the engine when we received the first dev kits, and the team has been cranking ever since.
GS: How big is the team that's working on it? What entries in the series have they worked on before?
CB: When we started out by planning what we'd be doing for Project 8, we always had PS3 in mind, so I guess you could say the whole team has been working on it. We've got a lot of experienced Tony Hawk team members; many have been here since the original Pro Skater, while others have been on board for the last two or three. It's great to have that variety of experience to draw from in expanding the series.
GS: Can you walk us through the modes it's going to have? (Are you adding anything new or PS3-exclusive to it?)
CB: We have a redesigned career mode, which is set in a huge, open, streaming world filled with more challenges than in any previous Hawk game. Two-player mode returns with all your favorite Tony Hawk game types; there's free skate, create a skater, and the "pro trick viewer," which is brand new for this year. It's a feature that allows players to watch the actual tricks that the pro skaters motion-captured this year for the game. You can watch in slow motion and move the camera in 3D space to study how real skaters perform each trick.
GS: How are you handling control with the PS3 controller? (Are you taking advantage of the tilt functionality?)
CB: The controller has undergone many changes for PS3 and we've tuned the game accordingly. We have been working on the analog stick control, so new and old fans of the franchise can get the best game experience. We all grew up using the D pad back on [the original] PS, but newer players almost exclusively use analog control. We've got special plans for the tilt controller, but it's too early to talk about them...
GS: How are the graphics taking advantage of the PS3? (Will the game run at 60fps? What HD res will it support? 720p? 1080p?)
CB: We created a totally new engine to power Tony Hawk's Project 8. We have complex shaders, bloom, depth of field, and a complex lighting system, to name just a few features.
GS: How has it been working with the hardware? What are the things you're able to do with it that you haven't with other consoles?
CB: The PS3 has a lot of power; it's allowed us to do a lot of very CPU-intensive work under the hood that wasn't possible before. If you look at how the skater animates in Project 8, you can see how fluid they look. In the past we had to rely on one animation per trick or movement and blend between them. On [the] PS3 we're blending 20-plus animations for many of the tricks and movements you'll see in the game. Even working on the game this long, we still see nuances in the animations as we skate around.
GS: Is the Blu-ray format offering any benefits to you now? If not, do you see it as something that will pay off later on down the line?
CB: 25GB to 50GB of space is an amazing and scary amount of space to have available.
GS: What's been the most surprising thing about working with the hardware?
CB: The most surprising thing has been how quickly we've made progress in the last few months. We have some amazing talent here at Neversoft and it's something they should all be proud of. We're tapping into more and more of the PS3's power every day; it's exciting to see so much progress from week to week.
GS: What aspect of the game is turning out to be better than you expected on the hardware?
CB: It's difficult to pick out one thing--we've rebuilt every area of the game and added in lots more game than before. Having so much power available than we've had before is exciting, and this is only the beginning.
GS: How does this experience stack up to your work on previous launch titles?
CB: Getting a title ready for launch is always a challenge; we're always waiting for something to be ready yesterday, and there's always another task that needs to be done. It's a little easier this year than last, when we had two different launch titles and the last generation to ship at the same time. This year, with the engine and gameplay rebuilt from scratch, we are focusing intently on the PS3.
GS: Thanks for your time, Clive.