SSX Q&A: Better Shred Than Dead

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SSX Q&A: Better Shred Than Dead

Whether it’s the socially enabled online mode, the deadly new “Survive It” challenges, or the mammoth mountains modeled after NASA satellite maps, the new SSX is hardly short on ambition. During a recent hands-on session, I caught up with art director and series veteran Geoff Coates to discuss how this classic PS2 series is handling the jump to PS3 for the first time.

During our chat, I was able to slip in some questions from the PlayStation.Blog community and squeak out some tantalizing hints of the PS3-exclusive Mt. Fuji level.

PlayStation.Blog: What does the PS3’s technology bring to SSX? What can you do now that you couldn’t do in the PS2 era?
Geoff Coates, Art Director, SSX: I worked on all the previous SSX games, and at the time we had a lot of big ambitions that we couldn’t execute due to technological limitations – whether it was console hardware power or software holding us back. We’ve just caught up now from a technical perspective, so it seems like the best possible time for a new SSX game.

Terrain is a great example of that. Having worked on the previous games, I remember how hard it was for us to create those tracks. Now, on the PS3, we have nine different mountain regions, 27 different peaks and over 100 different runs. That’s something we couldn’t have imagined pulling off on the PS2: those tracks worked more like linear racetracks. Now we model the mountain region in full, then we can drop you on different peaks and you can run them as Race It events, Trick It events, or Survive It events.

The scope is enormous. We have a Google Earth-style interface, and it’s fun to zip around in the UI and check out the global regions. We’ve got Alaska, the Himalayas, Siberia, Patagonia, and on and on.

SSX for PS3: patagonia

PSB: The Survive It element was a bit controversial when it was first revealed, with some players worried it was tampering with a winning formula. What’s your response?
GC: When we initially showed the Survive It challenges when we unveiled the game, we wanted to show what was new. The Race It and Trick It events are still the heart of what SSX is all about; Survive It aspect is just an added component. All the stuff you love about the game – the over-the-top tricks, the terrain, the characters – are coming back. Survive It adds a new twist, and it’s compelling partly due to the danger and partly due to helpful gear like the Wing Suit. It’s super fun to shred down a course and know that if you don’t make a big jump, you’re going to fall into the crevice and die. That’s an experience we’ve never had before.

PSB: As EA announced at E3, Mt. Fuji will be an exclusive bonus for PS3 players. Can you give us a preview of what we can expect?
GC: I was actually just playing Mt. Fuji the other day! I can’t share too much yet, but it will fit into the rest of the SSX world. It does, however, have a very distinct look. It look really cool and I think PS3 fans will be excited once they see it.

PSB: What’s your favorite feature in the new SSX? What grabs you, personally?
GC: I really like all the gear enhancements that the characters have now – the Wing Suit, the ice axe or other survival equipment. It’s something we’ve never had before, and they add these really cool layers to the gameplay. And once you unlock them you can use them anywhere… But we have to be careful with something (as liberating as the Wing Suit) so that we don’t mess up the gameplay. The designers have done a good job with it so far: it’s very fun but it doesn’t break the balance.

SSX for PS3: rockies

PSB: One of the key ingredients of any SSX game lies in the soundtrack. Can you share any details?
GC: You’re right: Music has always been a key element of the SSX experience, and it will continue to be so. We’re looking at a lot of things: letting players use their own music in the game, customize their playlist and that kind of thing. In terms of performers and types of music on the soundtrack, we’ll have more to share once those details are finalized.

PSB: The Rewind feature looks pretty cool — if you screw up a jump, you can just turn the clock back with a button press. How do you balance a feature that allows you to literally undo mistakes?
GC: We’re getting really good feedback for Rewind, and we’ll definitely have it in the game. Its impact on gameplay will depend on gameplay balancing – it’s a cool feature, but it will definitely have to have a cost in terms of time or a Tricky boost. We’ll balance that out as we get closer to final.

PSB: How does online competition work? Will there be any way to post run times or high scores to your friends?
GC: The online component and being able to interact with and race against your friends online is a huge component. You will be able to see your friends’ best scores and they can challenge you to races. We’ve also got RiderNet, which allows you to recommend drops and runs to your friends. There’s a lot of interaction with your friends — online is a big pillar for SSX. When I get a chance to see what the online group is planning, I’m always super stoked.

SSX for PS3: antarcticaSSX for PS3: patagonia

PSB: The control scheme has evolved over the SSX series, moving from the d-pad focus of the first game to a reliance on analog sticks in later titles. What’s your philosophy for this game?
GC: We’re still trying to nail down exactly what the final control scheme will be. We were looking at multiple control configurations, that kind of thing. But one thing our creative director always says is “make awesome easy.” Whatever control config we do end up with, you’ll be able to pick it up and play and bust awesome tricks right away. But there is a layer of depth – it’s easy to pick up, hard to master.

PSB: Race It and Trick It are the stalwarts of the series. What’s evolved there?
GC: Their essence is fully intact. What’s changed is that the design of the world now dictates how you interact with the tracks. The traditional SSX games were highly crafted experiences: it was all about hitting that same jump in a slightly different way to get slightly more air, to earn a few extra points. I watch people playing this game, and they take entirely different paths, different rails, different routes. The tracks are so big and expansive now that you can take many, many routes down the mountain. It’s less about hitting a specific jump perfectly and more about finding a whole new line down the hill.

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8 Author Replies

  • Will this work with the board and the Move?

  • Will there be splitcreen?

  • Will there be a return of Eddy from Tricky?
    He was me and my dad’s fav character.

  • Looks pretty wicked! Hoping to have some of those nice upbeat music tracks like Tricky had! (ie, Song for Dot) =D

    I’ve only watched a few videos but I hope the snowboard leaves some nice carves in the snow trailing behind you, that was something I had always hoped for in the ps2 games. I did like the added particle effects and sparkles that were added in SSX3!

  • “What does the PS3’s technology bring to SSX?”

    Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

    Just another multiplatform game Microsoft bribes sleazy developers/publishers like EA to gimp down to the Xbox 360’s wimpy graphics capabilities. It’s in every contract Microsoft signs with EA for every game.

    But EA’s marketing/PR drone Sid Shuman won’t be bragging about that? Will you Sid?

    The answer to what PS3 tech is EA bringing to SSX? The answer is nothing.

    SSX will be yet another junk multiplatform title developed on EA’s development PCs and then dumped onto the PS3 with the same graphics and assets as the gimped/wimpy Xbox 360. The insane graphical/number crunching power of the PS3’s SPUs and RSX will be completely wasted. And the 25 gigs of next gen storage will be sitting unused.

    So Sid, why don’t you take you gimped gimped and your bribed money from Microsoft and F off.

  • Can’t wait for this game!!!

  • Nice trailer, because if there’s one thing people hate, its actual gameplay footage.

  • I’m starting to wonder if this is one of those games you actually play, or if you just watch cutscenes of someone going over jumps. Kinda like a Heavy Rain, but on the slopes. Heavy Snow?

  • Where’s the billboards and fireworks? And that EPIC announcer from ssx! please put them in at at least SOME levels, they were key design for ssx

    • If you’re referring to the original SSX, that was Rahzel — and I’ve missed him ever since! In this game, the helicopter pilot serves as the announcer, though I was in a loud setting when I played it and I couldn’t hear what he sounded like.

  • @terryVSL Sid works for the Playstation Blog and he has nothing to do with EA…… he is just posting an interview he did with the EA guys…. Honestly Chill out man…..

  • I’m a big SSX fan, but I have to say I’m not too happy with the “rolling earth” effect when landing a big trick.  I hope you can turn that off. Seems more distracting because it interrupts your momentum and takes you out of the moment.

  • omg the earthquakes are sooo annoying and taking out the pace of the gameplay

    hope i can turn them off somehow 

  • Im gonna put all the songs that i liked from SSX3 and On Tour :D WHOS WITH ME Slope down the mountain with me when it comes out :D?

  • Aw man, I can not wait for this game! I could already imagine playing online with friends just exploring and setting up tricks. Would be awesome playing horse!

    • I like how they’re focusing on making a more free-roaming snowboarding game. Until I spoke with Geoff, I didn’t consider how much impact the massive environments would have on the second-to-second experience.

  • I wish EA would bring back Road Rash to Next Gen also!!


    “if it arrives on a Sony platform first or has more content on a Sony platform, Microsoft won’t publish it.”

    60 dollars for some junk game gimped to run with crappy Xbox 360 level graphics and gimped to fit on the Xbox 360 idiotic last gen 6.7 gig DVD format.

  • Can’t wait for the new ssx. I loved ssx 3. I hope they put whatever song that was in the trailer in the game… I was liking that.

  • I can’t wait for this game. The first SSX was my favorite PS2 launch title. I’ve really missed not having an SSX title on my PS3.

  • @5 Lol the 360 is a hindrance to gaming isn’t it?


  • That’s not SSX!

  • @TerryVSL.. I have to agree w/you on that post 100%…

  • @FredPunella…Well said..

  • Although CUSTOM SOUNDTRACKS could make this game a day 1 purchase…this article doesn’t say if Custom Soundtracks are included or not: “Music has always been a key element of the SSX experience, and it will continue to be so. We’re LOOKING AT A LOT OF THINGS: letting players use their own music in the game, customize their playlist and that kind of thing.”

    TRANSLATION: No it does not have custom soundtracks but I’m going to blow smoke up your rear because if that is a feature that gamers want we don’t want gamers to know that that is a feature we’ve overlooked.

  • im not a big fan of snowboarding but the trailer makes me reconsider.

  • @5 and @16,

    You’re quoting information that says 360 games need to have the same amount of CONTENT. CONTENT.

    Graphics DO NOT equal content. Content is having the same amount of assets on the disc. EA can copy the 8GB of SSX data over the 25GB blu-ray disc making load times/pop-ins much better than the 360’s.

    @22, Yes, it’s SSX. Read the GamesRadar preview. It’s someone who REALLY knows SSX well. The only thing missing is the “neon festival” vibe.

  • Nice.’m in!!! 8)

  • @27

    Thanks, but I will trust my own eyes. That “neon festival” vibe IS SSX.

    Looks like they replaced the fun, color, and good vibes with……danger and helicopters. !? oh my.

  • Hi, Sid, I am actually interested in this game, after the E3 coverage. Was it this or last year’s E3? Anyway, it looked fun.

  • All I really want from this game is the personality of the previous SSX games (especially Tricky).

  • @29, Agreed. I’m going to miss the festival vibe. I was reassured from the GamesRadar preview that the same addicting crouch-jump-trick-land gameplay will be in-tact. You’re right though. Even watching the video above and comparing it to SSX3 gameplay, the new SSX looks bland in comparison.

  • Shame its not PS3 only :-/ We would get better snow if it was :D

    + A ‘SSX HD’ PS2 Collection please? ? ? :P :P :P

  • One thing i’m curious about is the custom soundtracks, if you could can you ask about ACC or MP3 file compatibility, because when i tried using songs i downloaded from iTunes won’t work and they’re ACC files. Please help!!!!

  • i’m glade to see this game coming back. cant wait till it comes out

  • i know there’s lots of gear, but what about outfits?

    customizing my characters look was one of my favorite things to do in SSX3, and will tricks be customizable too?

  • only bad thing is sony’s online pass crap :(

  • I’m waiting to pour hours into this game!

  • this game that is trying to pass for SSX is yet another example of a title not being made for its fans.

  • 60 frames per second? I doubt it but my god, I’d buy it now.

  • I’m hoping I’m not the only one that feels like this, but the lack of zany characters/costumes is making it really hard to get excited about this. It’s like reviving NBA Jam without having the announcer, it could be a great game but it’s missing the soul of the series I love.

  • Just wondering, Any word on whether they would incorperate co- operative tricks? just think about it, shedding with a bud online or split screen helping eachother pull off tricks together!

  • Split-screen is the only thing holding me back from making my pre-order.

    Oh! Can you ask if they’re planning on doing a collector’s edition?

  • I’m waiting to pour hours into this game!

  • Will there be a return of Eddy from Tricky?

  • Thanks for your effort Sid. I’m stoked for SSX. Unfortunately European retailers haven’t listed their pre-order bonuses yet, I want the Zoey-pack and i want it from ^^.

    Fuji-san sounds so neat and I’m glad EA are offering such a unique locale to us PS3 gamers.
    EA certainly treat us nice, so I wouldn’t bother with the obvious troll “TerryVSL”.

    There’s yet to come a game developed by EA’s first party to disappoint on PS3.

  • I love the SSx series but what i want to know is is there a custom character creator

  • the “neon festival” vibe is NOT what SSX is. SSX is about doing crazy awesome tricks. I loved SSX 3, but I also love how this one is looking. Just because the look has changed doesn’t mean it’s not the same game. I don’t see how this one looks “bland” at all. Some people find a way to complain about everything

  • IT LIVES?!

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