A model of the new EA Canada offices
Co-Optimus: You and Brian mentioned this before as well, but there are other benefits to completing challenges cooperatively, right?
Cuz: Absolutely. I know on our team we looked at that and we just don’t want [players] to have that feeling like, “I wasted my time, doing a challenge on-line and not getting credit for it.” You know, sure, playing some single player campaigns in some games in and of itself it’s fun, but for games that have a strong single player and a strong on-line portion, which I think we do, [some games leave you wondering] “why don’t I get credited in both worlds?” [Ed. Note: Fable 2 was mentioned earlier in the day as an example.] For Skate 3, you know, it’s like… I own a spot and do the progression, but then I go on-line and I do a spot battle at the same place, and it’s like, “why can’t I get credit for that?” Give me something for it! So it’s kinda like … It’s a little like Bill Murray when he was talking in “Caddyshack”, “How ‘bout a little sumthin’ for th’ effort?” You know, he was talking to the Dali Lama and he was like, “Hey, how ‘bout a little sumthin’ for th’ effort?” I always think of that. [laughs] In Skate we’re trying to give you that credit, ‘cause you did the work.
Co-Optimus: What’s the one new feature with Skate 3 that you’re most excited about?
Cuz: The one I’m most excited about is Object Dropper. The one that I think I’ll be most excited about come May 11 when the game is out will be Skate.park, which is our create-a-park feature. Right now I’m excited about Object Dropper because I use it, and it’s a way you can really edit the world and make it as fun as you like. I just saw Josh Kline [Skate 3 community manager] put a dumpster down, drop like 30 beach balls into the dumpster, then jump off of a building into the dumpster and land in the beach balls. It was hilarious … the balls are flying out and I’m just like, “Really? I didn’t even think to do that! I would have skated the dumpster.” And so like, he looked at it and he had that approach, so for me, [the object dropper feature] is one that [lends itself to] all the fun and creativity. As long as you have an intrinsic creativity, you’re good. But I think the one that I’ll be most excited about once the game comes out is Skate.park because I know our community is so smart, so intelligent, and just creative that the stuff that they build we’ll be able to skate for years.
Co-Optimus: What’s a co-op experience you’ve had, either in the freeskate mode or in the co-op challenges, that you didn’t have just playing the game by yourself?
The Black Box development studios come complete with a DJ table (Bobby Kotick plastic DJ turntable not included)
Cuz: Part of co-op is seeing how other people approach the same challenge. [If you’re stuck] and if you invite somebody in who’s better than you at skating, [they can help you] figure out what how to complete it. So that’s a, you know, tangible, like, “hey, that helps me.” But beyond that it’s really sort of the antics that people do. Again, going back to the photo challenges, I’ve seen some really funny stuff. And, the cool thing about it is I am also seeing, because we have the Skate.feed feature, the results of other people’s challenges are actually coming through on my load screen. I’m actually seeing their covers. And I’m, like, “wow, they’ve got three guys and everybody’s doing something crazy in it,” and then it inspired me to think maybe I should play co-op with my friends and do something crazy like that! And then another thing that’s really cool is when your friends, people off your friends list, skate through the world as AI skaters. That’s really cool. Like, I skate with my homies on Thursday night; like, we get together and we session together each and every Thursday night and I know what their avatars look like… So when I’m playing off-line, and they’re not on-line, and they just go skating by in the world as AI skater? That’s cool. Is it super-special? I don’t know, but to me, it made my world feel like my world. It felt more real than some random skater in capris and a pink shirt.
Co-Optimus: Speaking of the “buddy AIs,” back in November you were talking a little bit about how the system tracks what your friend does, so if they tend to do a lot of grinds or hippie jumps, then it’s reflected in how they skate in the world. Were you able to get that working?
Cuz: We couldn’t get that far into like actually tracking the number of, like if they did this kind of grind or this kind of trick, but at least we got the recipe in, and that was something that we were shooting for. Part of it the subtlety would have been lost, and part of it was that our AI system in tracking, it was hard. So we didn’t get that one. Who knows what the future brings, but right now, it’s not in the game.