Bring on Skate 2

Before EA skate was on the horizon I started a post about how the THPS series was no longer cutting it, but I never got around to posting it.

While they’ve obviously done something right, THPS has never been about realism and I think there are plenty of players (probably mostly skaters) who’re looking for a more challenging simulation-like experience. The Project 8 trailer gave me some hope (tricks are done at more realistic heights, with more accurate board motion and foot placements), but the interviews seem to confirm that gameplay isn’t going to change much.

It didn’t, nor did THPG.

Grinds/slides should slow you down depending on the materials in contact; board slides on handrails should be quickening, grinds on an unwaxed concrete planter should slow you down quite a bit but still give a satisfying growl.

Landing tough tricks should be harder and depend more on your speed, energy, timing and the environment; rough, uneven, slick or wet surfaces should require more precise moves, and deep sidewalk cracks, metal gratings, handrail kinks should add a little risk of random board-stopping. You should get a real sense of accomplishment even landing a short run.

A spot shouldn’t be a collection of grinds/slides linked one after another for miles. You might have to maneuver around some tight corners while setting up for a handrail. Spots should be laid out naturally, but inspire creative lines instead of spelling them out. School 2 (THPS2) still stands out as a great level in this respect.

EA skate really pulled most of this off. It feels like real skateboarding (enough to give me that fix when you finally land a line after trying for hours) and has spots that look natural environments. After experiencing skate, THPG looks like a cartoon world where every surface was a quarter pipe. As for skate 2, the trailers still look like real skating and it seems they’ve only extended (not screwed with) the gameplay, but the city’s starting to look a little cartoonish.

SketchUp action

Over the weekend I finally gave SketchUp a try and got pretty wrapped up in it. I was up till 3 Tuesday night putting the finishing touches on my first contribution to 3D Warehouse. Of course it’s a skate spot.

Hubba Hideout

A great feature is that you can recreate a scene in 3D using a 2D image, but the problem is that your error goes up quickly as you try to guess angles and distances outside of the origin axis lines. You end up with a model that looks OK at the angle of the photo, but is more noticeably messed up when you shift the view. Most photos of the Hubba ledge aren’t at good angles to accurately map the perspective in SketchUp, so I had to tediously piece together the geometry based on several photos and a some guesswork.

So, when can I skate this?

Desperately Seeking: My Youth

More accurately, Skate Videos!!! G&S’s “Footage” (1990, I might‘ve seen it) and Transworld’s “The Dreams of Children” (1994, don’t remember seeing it) and “Sick Boyz” (1988).

“Sick Boyz” must’ve had some great distribution because our little skate shop in Huntington, WV had it, yes, on Beta. I put good mileage on my tethered remote control and watched slow-mo shots of Natas Kaupas and Julien Stranger doing probably the first ollie boardslides on handrails in Santa Monica, CA.

And this is amazing. Designed by skater Rob Dyrdek, his hometown in Ohio built a skate “plaza”, a more natural concrete/nature park with reproductions of various world famous skate spots. It’s basically a real version of a THPS level with benches, handrails, gaps, planters…