Eventually, our gracious hosts encouraged us to start competing. At this point, one of the teams will start a team challenge of their choice, and another team can join. For our small groups on the isolated network, we simply used the matchmaking quickplay function to jump in. It was really nice to be able to transition straight from Freeskate into a team challenge, so that no time was wasted on menus. We tried Deathrace, which is a returning mode with teams added; On The Lot, which throws random objectives at each team and scores them based on who nails them first; Domination, which is basically a king-of-the-hill mode where you pop tricks to get the highest score at each designated spot; and finally my favorite: 1up, a team-based variation of Horse from Skate 2. We understand that more challenge modes will be added before release.
The entire premise of Skate 3 in a word is: franchise. The scoring system is literally based around selling custom skateboards. Boards can be sold by completing challenges, winning matches online, and even by posting popular videos or screenshots to the Skate.reel hosting site. Pretty much everything you do adds a value to your franchise, which remains persistent throughout multiplayer and the single player career. Your team of players can be managed via the game's menus, or the Skate 3 web portal. Every player's stats are collected and a profile is made based on their persistent character; when recruiting for your team, you can view a filtered list of potential team members based on the profile type that you're looking for. Producer Chris Parry called this the player's "recipe", and it will also serve as an AI template so that your team members can be imported as behavioral likenesses into your offline career.
All in all, we had a great time seeing new and familiar faces, and while the game is still a quite few months out, it was very much playable and just plain fun. Where games like NHL 10 and Madden 10 are bringing control from the team level down to the individual player, Skate 3 is expanding upward and giving players the option to continue skating alone...or unite as a team.
Check back this weekend for Jason's interview!
Don't bother me. I'm skating for my franchise.