Last summer, skateboarding legend Tony Hawk made use of Twitter to call upon fans of his videogame series to vote in their top 10 favorite maps from the series. Fans happily obliged, but Hawk was dismayed when his own fave, Downhill Jam, failed to make the cut. One of the advantages of being Tony Hawk, however, is that people tend to listen when you talk. Since the titular skater is such a mega-fan of the stage, Josh Tsui, co-founder of developer Robomodo, says the team decided to toss it into Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD despite it not cracking into the fan list.
Speaking at San Francisco’s Game Developers Conference, Tsui said that Hawk has remained “very involved” in the development process of the game. He’s also remains a big fan of his own games, and was seen playing the newest title while fielding questions during yesterday’s press event. It wasn’t just for sure either, as he appeared to be one of the best players of the day. Basically, the man has no shortage of clout when it comes to his licensed video game franchise.
As for the game itself, Hawk’s favorite map will join Warehouse, Mall, the Hanger, School II, Venice Beach and Marseilles as the stages in the HD remix, Tsui told you GDC man on the scene, John Laster. In addition, Joystiq has reported that Pro Skater HD could potentially receive some maps from the third and fourth games in the series as DLC. “The dream of doing this is we can throw levels from 3 and 4 and make them downloadable in this,” Hawk told them.
A dream is all it is at this point, though. Activision told Joystiq that the publisher “will see how THPS HD does and go from there.” Still, Activision confirmed that it is indeed a distinct possibility. Specific maps were not discussed.
In any case, the levels that are in the XBLA title are looking fantastic compared to the originals. A decision was made early on to run the game on Unreal Engine so that the development studio wouldn’t need to waste time building an engine of their own. Unreal’s capabilities have allowed the crew at Robomodo to add in new weather effects, such as a rain storm in Marseilles and a sunset at Venice Beach. They have also achieved a much higher level of realism when it comes to the game’s characters, with cloth physics and physical reactions now bringing them to life.
Robomodo has been striving to keep the game’s original vibe intact and keep it a pick-up-and-play experience despite the massive overhaul they have given it. They realize that the population that grew up playing the original Hawk games is now older and probably has less time to kill gaming. That’s why the felt the digital space was the correct medium for delivering the remake.
Robomodo isn’t blind to the fact that online competition and interactions have obviously made huge strides forward since the early releases in the series from which the remake’s levels are pulled made their debuts. In that spirit, they have integrated something Tsui refers to as a “call out” system that will have some sort of social media component. The final product could also include leaderboards of some sort, but the team is still toying around with how exactly such a feature would be implemented.
As for Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD‘s release, Tsui says that the developer would love for it to come out as part of this year’s Summer of Arcade. The team stated that Microsoft has been receptive of the idea, but isn’t yet ready to make any final decisions on what games will be a part of the promotion.
Stay tuned to XBLA Fans for our upcoming preview of the game, which will be going live sometime shortly after GDC concludes.