The lights are on
When EA debuted its new SSX game at the Spike Video Game awards, fans
began to fear that the series was straying from its roots – that it was
taking on a more realistic, darker edge. In truth, developer EA Canada
is taking everything that made the original SSX snowboarding titles
great and shaping it into something that will be relevant in today’s
market. SSX (now the game’s official title) features a global playing
field of at least 70 mountains for players to race down, and will boast
significant upgrades to the series’ trick and upgrade systems. We talked
with creative director, Todd Batty, who melted away any fears we might
have had regarding the franchise’s long-awaited return.
It seems like SSX has been on the shelf of awhile, and the last
few titles didn’t perform as expected. Why bring the series back now?
SSX is a franchise that fans have been calling out for, for years and
years now. I can’t think of a press announcement where EA has talked
about announcing a new game that doesn’t have hundreds of posts under it
going, “OMG, I hope it’s SSX.” We’ve always thought that the series had
a fanbase out there that still had affinity with the franchise and
we’ve always thought that it was a really strong, wholly owned IP by EA
Sports. There have been attempts to revive SSX over the years; different
teams have put together different pitches for what a new SSX could be,
but it just never felt like any of these proposals knew how to reboot
SSX and make it relevant to today’s market.
When you guys debuted the SSX trailer at the Spike Video Game
Awards it seemed like you might be moving away from the bright colors
and crazy arcade feel of the early titles in favor of a more realistic
tone. Is this true?
No, absolutely not. Our core statement from day one has been,
“survive it, race it, trick it.” And in that, we have designed three
major types of gameplay. One being Deadly Descent, which is all about
survival gameplay. It’s a new addition to the franchise. But I’ve always
thought racing was the core of SSX, and we didn’t want to go away from
that, so we’re going to have Speed Descent events, and of course we’ll
have tricks in our Tricky Descent events. We wanted to make sure we hit
the over-the-top arcadey gameplay in all of these different gameplay
modes. We decided to lead with the new Deadly Descent gameplay in that
trailer, but all of the classic SSX style will be there, too.
Can you go into a little more depth about how the Deadly Descent mode will work?
We thought SSX had two types of racing before: racing and trick
events. We wanted to expand on the universe of SSX. We wanted to look at
how we could bring the mountain alive in a way that the mountain was
putting forth a challenge for the player. If you look at past SSXs you
had huge chasms that you could jump, but we wanted to do other things
like that. SSX 3 kind of had an avalanche, but we thought we could do
that a thousand times better with the new systems. We have an amazing
avalanche design. So we’ll have more things like avalanches and
rockslides, and falling stalactites. In Deadly Descent the challenge will
be just making it to the bottom alive.
It sounds like you guys are branching out and covering more
mountain ranges than SSX titles of the past. How big is the game going
If you look at past SSX titles, the tracks you ride down are far from
realistic runs. We manipulate them and pile cities on top of them to
make them over the top and arcadey, and we absolutely wanted to stick to
that principle, but we wanted to give people the amount of content that
mega hits like Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto deliver. So in
the early days we started sourcing topography data for the entire planet
earth. Our main menu is a 3D model of the planet with 18 different
mountain ranges highlighted across the globe: everything from Alaska, to
Antarctica, to Siberia, The Calanques Mountains, the Andes, The Alps,
Kilimanjaro, Mount Fuji. We’re taking you all over the planet.
We’re a little challenged with how many levels we can put on the
disc, honestly, but we’re thinking it will be somewhere in the vicinity
of 70 mountains. By comparison, SSX 3 had one. The hub works kind of
like Google Earth. You can spin the globe around and pick a mountain
range you like then zoom in on that and pick a mountain you like from
there, then you get to race down the crazy arcade courses that we’ve
built on top of real-life mountains. You could stand on the summit of
Mount Everest and look around 4,000 miles in any direction. You can see
the view from the rooftop of the world. So imagine if a slopestyle team
had a billion dollars to concoct a giant SSX style track experience on
top of the largest mountain in the world. That’s what we’ve done in the
game, but we’ve done it all over the world.
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70? 70 mountains?! Wow, it's already my favorite SSX game and I haven't even played it yet.
BRING "BIG" MAC AND MOBY BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
OH AND AWESOME READ YOU ROCK BEN!!! WHY AM I YELLING?