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Post by Steve Farrelly @ 11:01am 22/07/09 | 0 Comments
For the full video interview, click here.

AusGamers: So we're here with Tony Hawk, to talk about Tony Hawk Ride. Tony, thanks for hanging out with us today...

Tony Hawk: Yeah, of course.

AGN: First of all, massive change - you guys have been a bit quiet for a little while, but now there's a new developer on board, new game... tell us a little bit about how all this came about.

Hawk: Sure. I had felt like over the last couple of years we'd gone about as far as we could with button mashing and doing combos; becoming more and more like Mortal Kombat than skating. And I've always wanted to do a skateboard controller-based game but the technology and the public perception of peripherals just wasn't there yet. And then a couple years ago I came to Activision and I said it's time we look into doing this. The technology is coming; people are embracing Guitar Hero controllers and adding other things to their systems, so yeah, I said it sounded like a great idea and we got Robomodo onboard to design the board first and foremost, and then really we've been designing the game around the board.

(Holding peripheral to camera) this thing looks basically like a skateboard which is exactly like we wanted it to, but I didn't realise just how much technology we could pack into it. So it's got the accelerometer which measures all your motions, you know, if you're kicking up or turning, if you're flicking, if you're spinning. And then it has these infrared sensors for coming into grab so it knows if your hands are getting near it and your character does grabs as well. You can also push your feet nearby it for pushing for extra speed.

AGN: So what where the challenges for coming up with that? People are still breaking drum kits and stuff in the lounge room...

Hawk: It's always a big challenge. The challenge was we want to make it fun to play if you don't know how to skateboard, not intimidating, but also fun if you are a skater. And the board has to represent all of that and I didn't want it to be something that didn't look like a skateboard or didn't function like a skateboard just so you can get on the screen and make it look like you're skating. And so a lot of effort went into this. But you see people get on it who have never ridden before and start doing incredible tricks on the screen. I'm not sure if you saw the challenge we had outside earlier but the guy we brought in from Chicago, sweepstakes winner, pretty big guy, has never skated, he beat me on the vert ramp.

AGN: So does that mean you're trying to make the series more accessible? Or is there a deeper learning curve if you want?

Hawk: No, we have a casual mode of play. Turning is probably the most challenging part of it if you don't skate, so on the casual mode we kind of guide you into the obstacles and all you have to do is get the right timing and if you start not flicking it but kicking it up and sort of rotating it, you'll get all of kinds of different tricks going on the screen. And if you get the right timing, you can go from trick to trick, combo to rail and then to manuals and things like that. The kind of things you'd expect from our previous series but it's you there doing it live.

AGN: So in terms of gameplay structure, how different is it to the older games. Is it a more open free world now?

Hawk: We're kind of back to the vibe of Pro Skater series with two minute challenges, you know. I feel this game is more of a social game and it's something you can play at parties or with families; you can take turns doing tricks as opposed to one person sitting there trying to finish all the goals . And that's exciting to me, I think it's really festive and I just think it's a really great way to introduce people to skating as well.

AGN: You've been with Activison so long now and this is a massive change from such a legacy. Are you going to stick with this or are you going to test run this once?

Hawk: When I set out to do this... this is not just a test thing, this is not something I thought we could do and if it didn't work say "oh well". This is really what I think is the heart and soul of what the franchise can be and that we can make sequels with just software beyond this. And you know, this thing, you can use it as a snowboard or surfboard if you want to and make games surrounding those, but right now we're focused on skate only and I'm just so excited that it's here and it's real and I can finally talk about it, you know you said we'd been quiet for the last few years... it's because we've been doing this but we couldn't tell everyone exactly what we were working on.

AGN: Your competitors came out and had something fairly revolutionary, but that was still stuck in your hand and now this entire E3 is clearly about trying to get rid of the controller and put people into the game – was it just a fluke you guys had this to show off this year?

Hawk: No, no it's no fluke, you know we've been doing this for a while and like I said I'd seen the success of all the other active-based controllers like the Wii Remote, Guitar Hero or even the Wii Fit and I thought hey we can do that with a skateboard and make it insane and we actually looked at the camera technology for doing this and found it's not a skating experience – if you're going to make a skateboard game, you have to stand on a board.

AGN: One last question – you mentioned before the demo we're seeing in the background won't have any controller input – it's all from the skateboard. But did you think about ever having that option there for purists or...

Hawk: you know what, the game just doesn't respond in the way you've come to know our games when you're not standing on the peripheral – the way that you ride the board, they you actually navigate through the levels and things – it's a completely different way to play and those actions would seem and feel a little too mundane on a controller. It's hard to explain but it's just not going to respond in the way our old games did because we built this game around the peripheral. But, if you want to do it with your hands, hey put it on your lap and do it with your hands (laughs).

AGN: Thanks heaps Tony...

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