So before I went to sleep last night, I setup my Xbox 360 to do an automatic download of the skate. demo. When I awoke, my powered down 360 indicated the download had finished. I wasted no time in launching the demo straight out of bed, leaving myself in my Spider-Man pyjamas.
Now I had played the demo several times over at work, so I wasn’t really sure what was driving me to play so eagerly at home. Perhaps it was because I simpy could play at home that did it. Anyways, it was a bit surreal, as I had expected, to see the game on my home system. It was work mixing with home life, worlds colliding as George Costanza once said. When I got to the parts of the demo I helped write, I realized that was indeed my code being executed by my 360 at those moments. Weird.
I didn’t have time to finish the demo as I had to get my butt to the studio to see if there were any emergencies. When I rolled in, there were a lot of empty desks. A large part of the team had been at work until the wee hours of morning. Some people were overseeing the demo launch, while others were applying critical fixes to the final game.
I wasn’t needed for anything so, like most of the team, I began forum and web site surfing to find out what people were saying about the demo. My first stop was a site called Planet Tony Hawk. For a web site that caters to the Tony Hawk series of games, I wasn’t expecting a even-handed analysis. I was wrong. In a short article about the demo, here were some interesting bits:
“The SKATE demo did amaze and impress me.”
“I think SKATE does skateboarding simulation very well. The best so far without a doubt.”
“Could [THPG] be the game to challenge SKATE when it lands? We can only hope so because as of this moment…Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground does have a lot to prove.”
Reading that made me feel good about what we were offering gamers. I also checked the official skate. forums on the EA servers. There was a lot of praise there, almost universal. There were a few complaints about the camera but not a lot of negatives. Several times, I read that we exceeded their expectations.
I decided I wanted to read what was being written on a more neutral site, so I headed on over to the skate. forums on Gamespot. Here, there was again lots of positive comments but more people bitching compared to the EA forums. The biggest complaint was that they didn’t like the controls because they couldn’t master them in the first five minutes of gameplay. Of course, posters with those complaints got immediately flamed by others with the general message being “the controls aren’t bad or broken, you just suck at the game.”
Finally, just for fun, I took a look at the Tony Hawk Proving Ground forums on Gamespot to see what Hawk fans thought of our demo. It was there that I encountered an outlandishly fanboy style post. The poster decided right then and there that he would purchase Proving Ground sight unseen because he didn’t like the skate. demo. He didn’t like how you can’t get off the board in skate. and he was absolutely convinced you would get stuck in lots of places in the world because he was the first guy to realize this. He also didn’t like how there’s the possibility you might not do every trick perfectly the first time you attempt it. The game is just too complex for him. He also didn’t like the music (which you can turn off or play your own).
I expect stuff like this but I’m also not blinded to the fact there are a hell of a lot of skate. fanboys too who rag on Proving Ground any chance they get.
Overall, it was a great day for the skate. dev team. People were excited and they really enjoyed the demo. The awesome thing is, we only gave them a small slice of what’s in the full game. There’s so much more they don’t even know about. I don’t want to count my Jennas before they get anorexic but I think we’re gonna do ok. We just need to get the final game out the door smoothly and we’ll be ok.