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Interviews/Ralph D'Amato/May 2001

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Interview by Noe Valladolid

We sent a number of questions to Noe prior to the show to ask the designers. Answers provided by Ralph D'Amato (RD) on Friday May 18, 2001 and Chris Rauch on Thursday the 17th.

Chris Rauch explains some of the new features:

"Before you'd take a combo to the ramp and that would be it. But now we've got a new thing that can connect everything else, we've got the revert. Now off a vert combo a quick tap tap (R2 or L2 activated the revert and you can manual while turning the revert) you've got a revert and you can keep the whole thing going.

Basically the controls are all the same as before we've just added more to it. Lip tricks, now you can balance individual lip tricks and flip in and out of them, revert those go back into manuals, keep your combos going all the same way."

NV: I would really like to know about the individual mo-cap rumors also if they are planning on adding any other mini games..if so..any hints as to what they are

RD: Mo-cap rumors...we're not using any motion capture we're using all our hand animation right now. Who knows what will happen in the future but right now everything is hand animated.

And as far as mini games, um, we want to keep you guys suprised. And I know that's going to be an answer for a lot of the questions that you have. But there's somethings I cannot talk about.

NV: I would be interested on their approach to keeping game play fresh you know how they changed the goals and stuff totally from 1 to 2 I'm wondering if they are going to similar for 3.

RD: We're going to have some new goals that haven't been seen, different types of goals, but we're also going to stick to some of the same things that people are comfortable with like finding SKATE. There will be some changes like pro specific types of goals. So if you enter a level with a certain pro you might have to use his abilities in whatever way performing his special trick as opposed to a different pro in that same level might have a different type of goal. So it will definately be a lot more fresh on a skater to skater basis. The goals are going to be more in depth.

NV: Can we flip into and out of lip tricks this time around?

RD: Yeah, I mean we want to be able to do pretty much whatever you could do in the real world and skaters flip into tricks and out of tricks. So that's a goal of ours as well, just to capture lip tricks and mini tricks as much as possible

NV: Will the levels be populated with other skaters, pedestrians and vehicles etc.... can you turn this feature off?

RD: At this point it's undetermined but why would you want to?

NV: Maybe somebody wants to Free Skate with nothing in the way.

NV: Whats the multiplier range?

RD: Unlimited, unlimited. With the reverts that we added multipliers are going to get higher and higher. You can combo out of big air tricks which is a nice thing.

NV: How have you combated DAO in this game?

RD: Completely different engine, completely different system.

NV: From the ground up?

RD: [Nods]

NV: Will there be more puzzles like the gym in school2?

RD: Yeah, you guys don't like that, right?

NV: No.

RD: You hate that right?

NV: Absolutely. This is a skateboard game, not a puzzle game.

RD: No, none of that, none of that. It will take you three months to learn your ollie. And then two months after that to get your first kickflip.

NV: Like a real skateboard.

RD: No, it's a videogame. [Laughs]

NV: Any major new additions equal to that of manuals in thps2?

RD: Player controled reverts and also the new things in lip tricks that we'll have.

NV: Just wondering if 2 players (or more???) will be able to compete in a competition with the 0.0 - 99.9 scoring range

RD: Tha't something that we're aiming at currently in this build you don't see it but we're going to surprise some people i think.

Ralph2

Ralph D'Amato at E3

NV: Are going to include a seperate highscore board for combos?

RD: We've actually discussed that. That will probably be a feature that's added. It has been discussed I know it's something that the people enjoy doing because they track their combo scores that's what a lot of the contests on the web were based on. So I'm pretty sure we're going to be implementing that type of feature.

NV: Will there be any new additions to replay mode?

RD: Yes. [Laughs]

NV: Will there be a camera editor like Driver or something similar?

RD: You know Driver had a great camera editor and I think that was a great feature in that game i don't know if we'll be able to encompass something like that but I know we're going to be enhancing our replay mode tremendously.

NV: Is the skatepark editor still in the discussion stages right now?

RD: It's one of those things that we want to have and everyone want to have so we're going to do what it takes to have it

NV: Will there be any more 'open' or 'downhill' type levels? or maybe ask if there will be any mixtures of the two?

RD: Our approach thus far since even the first one was more of the open area levels but I wouldn't be suprised if we had some throwbacks to the old Jam and stuff. With our game, personally in my opinion, I like the open levels I like the ability to go from one side to the other side really easily.

That's, again, my own personal opinion. I think a lot of people hold that same thought.

NV: Instead of being forced into a perpetual downhill?

RD: We're not a racing game, we never wanted to be a racing game.

NV: Trick animations? What have you done to improve the actual board animations?

RD: With 60 frames per second just the ability to display the nuances like you can see when a skater is grinding now. As opposed to before you just had a kind of static lean over now you actually have the skater moving his arms, when he's manualing instead of having just rocking back and forth we've got him moving his torso moving his arms. So we've been able to take a lot of advantage of that along with the memory ability. The ability that we have to store all those animations in memory versus the Playstation One which we did a lot with. But we're just going to have more and more of that stuff.

NV: What are you most proud of in this title?

RD: What I'm most proud of is making the people, the gamers, out there happy. Getting the e-mails from people and the tons of e-mails that we get who are just ecstatic about what we've created. That means a lot to me when I can walk down the street and I've got my next door neighbors little kid and he'll come up to me with his little friends like; "Hey this is the guy that made Tony Hawk's Pro Skater" and they all know it. And it's a fun game, it's fun for all levels and ages and everything. I think we captured the sport well and all those things together. That's not one thing but i know that's all those things together is really what I'm proud of. But I think bottom line what I'm really the most proud of is our team. We've got an incredible team of people.

NV: You have two teams, they [Neversoft] was cut in half when they did Spider-Man and THPS2 at the same time.

RD: Yeah, our team, our animators, our designers, our artists, programmers, production side, everything is top notch. i don't think you're going to find a better team out there. You've got some people that are dedicated and that's what it takes to put a game out like this.

NV: What were you able to do with the PS2 that was unacheivable with the PS1?

RD: Network. Right off the bat. We've got the network capabilities and that's huge. But just the ability to sit there with you buddies and camp out in front of a really popular rail or combo spot. You can just move your camera around, lock it down, more the angle wherever you want and just hang out and watch them do tricks and then you take your turn.

NV: Will you be handling the conversion for the XBox?

RD: Right now we're just focused on the Playstation 2 and that's our main gear right now. But all of the announcements as to who's going to do what port haven't really been made at this point. But we're just bearing down on this guy and getting it ready for you guys.

NV: Will there be a PC version?

RD: Kind of the same question you know. Ask me about our Playstation 2 stuff and I'll give you as much info as I possibly get.

Noeandbucky2

Noe Villadolid and Bucky Lasek

NV: Any chance of players being able to create or import custom graphics for decks and shirts?

RD: That, undecided at this point. Well I guess with the internet capabilities.

NV: Or the XBox were you can store it on the hard drive.

RD: But that's more of a popular thing on the PC.

NV: The Bob Burnquist question and Kareem missing from the lineup. What about suggestions for old school people like Natas Kaupas and e-mail petitions?

RD: Yeah you know we read every single e-mail we get. And there are things that spur us on or ideas that we already have that get comfirmed through e-mail. As far as what skaters to add and who to add our lineup is still open we have not eliminated anyone from being in the lineup. So the final lineup that you see in the end is still up in the air. We've got the opportunity to pick from some of the best skaters and i think that's really what it takes. You've got to be a good skater, you've got to be stand your own with the other guys in the game. So anything is possible. Any old school, new school, we brought in Rodney from 1 to 2. More of an older school skater, godfather of street skating and most of the street tricks. One of the greatest guys in the world personally just in talking to. We don't have problems in reaching in the past to grab some names that did their part to make skateboarding better.

NV: So the final lineup is not yet jelled?

RD: Nope.

NV: The Neversoft team obviously includes some gifted level designers, but did you ever consider consulting with any well known skatepark designers such as Tim Paine?

RD: We consult with probably some of the best guys at telling you what's a good and bad skatepark. And all of our skaters have come in, taken a look at the game, played the game, they may not be a skate designer in nature but they're the guys that are skating it.

NV: They know what's good.

RD: Yeah they're also the guys giving us ideas on different funbox designs or different ramp designs and things like that. We've got a guy like Tony Hawk who's pretty much skated everything. He's got a library in his head of what's going to be a good thing to build and what might not be so good. I'm not going to play down our designers. We've got a couple of designers that are also skaters themselves.

NV: And some of them who fall a lot.

RD: Yeah if you stick around and video at 3:30 to 4:30 you'll see them falling on that ramp.

NV: How about alley-oops?

RD: Alley-oop, yeah it's a cool move, you haven't seen it in the game, the majority of the tricks aren't in the game yet, some of them are done we're just waiting to get things in. But I'm sure that's a popular one.

NV: Has the lip trick (as in stationary lip tricks.. inverts, rocks, etc) system been expanded or improved at all? The last time around, the trick choices were few and far between, and players were limited to 4 each, are you looking at 8?

RD: Yeah, as many as time will permit. We want to encompass all of your major things like your blunts all of your major liptricks. But as soon as we do that someone comes out with, you know, somebody's doing something new. So we're definitely going to be expanding every category of our tricks, not just lip tricks.

NV:Will you be able to combine lip or grind/slide tricks without having to ollie out of them first (i.e. 5-0 to tailslide / noseblunt-pivot)?

RD: Yeah, we are going to do that not have to ollie out. One of the other things that you can do that you couldn't do before which is preload a manual while you're grinding. So if you're grinding and you up down your manual while you're grinding and when you get to the end of the rail as opposed to having to ollie and then manualit will go right in to the manual right out of the rail.

NV: With the massive success of the previous titles, has the budget for THPS 3 been greatly increased? If so, where did the additional funding go?

Let's talk about your yacht.

RD: [Laughs] I got this big fat check. As the project increases in scope obviously the budget increases as well and where it goes is the bottom line whatever it takes to make it better. If we need to spend more in R&D on engine, if we need to hire an artist. Anywhere it's really necessary. It's not one specific area over another, wherever there are holes to be filled.

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