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New Tricks: Scott Blackwood Talks Skate And Skate 2
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New Tricks: Scott Blackwood Talks Skate And Skate 2

October 17, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 6 Next

How much of your audience do you think is going to appreciate the framerate jump? Whenever you're picking features to put into a game, it seems to me that sometimes -- and I'm not suggesting that you have -- there's an extent to which developers can lose sight of what actually has an impact on the broad audience of a game.

SB: When you're bombing downhill at 60 miles an hour and it's silky-smooth 60 [FPS], I think a lot of people will appreciate that it's 60, whether or not they really know why. The savvy gamers will know. They're going to look at that and go, "Wicked. That's 60 frames a second."

It's an interesting consideration. When you're sitting there and going to the whiteboard or whatever and talking about the targets that you want to hit for the game, prioritizing something like that becomes... you have to really want it and work hard to make that happen.

SB: Yeah. I didn't tell my team this, but I was always willing to concede 60 FPS if the cost ever became too high. But drawing that line in the sand rallied these guys, and they still figured it out. And the 60 is amazing, and I think it was worth it. I don't know what we would buy back that would be worth more than that 60 frames per second, to be quite honest.

And especially in a game where... we built up a mountain, and you're bombing [down] hills at crazy speeds. It's not a lot different from a racing game, and you're doing tricks. You're not just driving a car. That's cool and you're going fast, but now you're doing crazy tricks and stunts while you're going that fast. You appreciate that more at 60 hertz.

Honestly, I think that's probably a differentiator. Like I said with the fighting game comparison, when you're doing precise, fast movements, that's probably just as much as the visual appeal of it.

SB: Oh, for sure. Fighting games are quick, and you need to capture all the nuances of what's going on. You're not necessarily going to get that same feel at 30.

What physics solution did you use for the game?

SB: It's actually a RenderWare-based physics solution. We did look at a lot of different physics packages... and now I'm going back over two years. Actually, at that time, RenderWare had a really cool physics package that one guy developed, and they were called Drives. Essentially what Drives were, was a hinge. It's a neat way to make an intensive thing like a saloon door.

Our guys took these Drives and turned them into all the joints in your body. So now with Drives, we can create a full, physically accurate replica of the human body and all the joints, and you can even... say, take your right knee, and we can weaken it by 50 percent, and your guy would walk differently, based on that. So we use Drives as the foundation for everything that we do in physics, even your skateboard. Your trucks are Drives, and your wheels and hinges. Everything's Drives.

In fact, the way you're popping your board off the ground, it's not animation-driven. It's actually real forces on that board popping off the ground. We'd never have been able to get the same feel without our team [taking the] foundation of Drives and [building] a lot on top of it. We did mocap, and we have all that animation in the game, but animation is a target.

With Drives, I can say that I want to be 100 percent of that target, with every joint and limb, or I can be zero, which would be ragdoll -- I would be limp. But you have everything in between. I could even take my right arm and say, "Well, that's going to be 10 percent, so it's super-limp, but my other one's 100." It's amazing the amount of flexibility it gave us, and it is the foundation of the whole game and what gives it that great feel.

Have you considered a feature with injuries, or something like that?

SB: Absolutely. We have the Hall of Meat in Skate, and we liked it and know a lot of other people who liked it. We sort of just dipped our toes into the water with what we could've done with that feature.

We're not going into too much detail with what we're doing in Skate 2 with Hall of Meat, but I can tell you we're doing more, and we're having a hell of a lot of fun with it because the physics gives us so much to play with and have fun with.

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