We Chatted To The Vicarious Visions Studio Head About The Return Of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 And 2
After many years, it’s finally been confirmed that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2 are being remastered in stunning 4K on HDR for PS4, Xbox One and PC.
Ahead of the reveal, we got to chat to Studio Head at Vicarious Visions, Jen Oneal about the process about bringing the games back, what’s included, what’s missing and what’s been added to bring the game to modern times.
Why was now the right time to bring back Tony Hawk?
Jen Oneal: We’ve seen some success with some of our other remasters and we’re seeing that there’s a hunger for that nostalgia. People want to play the game that they remember and they love and Tony Hawk in particular is one that we get asked all the time to bring back as one of the franchises that people are really excited about coming back and Tony himself has said that people have approached him multiple times asking him about bringing the game back, so it just seemed like the right time and the right thing to do.
What has Tony’s involvement been in the game? Has he been consulted along the way and how is he feeling about the comeback?
Jen Oneal: He’s really excited and he has been consulted along the way from the get go, we worked with him on what our plans are. He gets regular builds of the game and gives us feedback and what’s pretty cool about Tony it’s his name on it, he wants to make sure that there’s the right level of authenticity to the sport, but he’s also a great player, so we think of him as kind of like our hardcore player, that is able to play the game and give us feedback so it’s been a really great experience working with him. There’s nothing more gratifying than when we gave him one of our milestone builds, and he got his hands on it and he was like, this is it, this is exactly right, this is how I remember it, so it’s definitely big morale boost to the team to have him get his seal of approval on the game.
Has it been harder to get that look and feel right in comparison to some of the recent remasters?
Jen Oneal: Well, there’s certainly different challenges right so our last game that we remastered with Crash Bandicoot N. sane trilogy, obviously a very different style game visually. Here we are, we’re dealing with real people, we’re dealing with real environments where these real people are doing kind of unbelievable things. Yet you still have to make it feel plausible and so there is, there is a good level of effort that goes into making sure everything has a sense of plausible reality but it still plays well and makes you feel like you’re a skateboarding superhero.
How long has the game been in development? Did it start as soon as N. Sane Trilogy finished?
Jen Oneal: Well, we took as long as we needed to make a great remaster, it’s really important for us to get it right. For this one in particular, it’s near and dear to all of our hearts and we’ve been a part of the franchise, for many years, for some of us this was kind of like the start of our careers. So, to give all the love and extra care that we needed that was key. We want to make sure that we’re giving it our all and we’re totally excited to get it into the hands of players around the world.
When you started development was it always clear that you’d include one and two, or was it discussed that you’d look at other games in the series?
Jen Oneal: We talked about that but those two are really so incredibly iconic. When you’ve gone that long, it felt like the right thing to do to go back to the core, the original game focused on the skating. That’s what we wanted to do, that was our decision to go back to those and do them faithfully and lovingly and so every single level from from those original two games is included, including all the secret levels. There’s a good bit that goes into making sure that the levels are modernised and look incredible to today’s standards, but still play as fun as they used to.
The first two games did put extreme skateboarding on the map. Is it ever talked in the studio about how much these games did for the sport?
Jen Oneal: We just love these two games and you’ve got to realise this was such an interesting moment in time, right when THPS1 released Tony nailed the 900. It was just such an iconic moment in time and even Tony has talked about how he knows of Pro Skaters today that spent time playing the game and trying to replicate tricks and do these crazy stunts that they thought from the game, so I think in many ways the game, kind of helped evolve the sport in some ways. Of course I’m not a Pro Skater myself, you’d have to talk to them but obviously for us it’s really cool to be able to breathe new life into the classic games and like I said our goal is to retain those elements that make it so iconic, while also making it feels very modern.
Something that interested us is the fact that the revert is in this collection despite the fact that it didn’t debut until the Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3. Why was this decision made?
Jen Oneal: That’s a really great question. When I think about doing remasters, one of the things with such an iconic franchise as the Pro Skater series where we think about, well what do people remember about it, and we asked people and for them it’s that they want to be a skateboarding superhero. It’s not struggling to learn how to ollie, its being able to do these crazy endless lines and so what we found is just your muscle memory kicks in as soon as you hit the bottom of the ramp, or the quarter pipe your right finger wants to hit that trigger and do that revert and without it there It felt like something was missing and we felt like we should expand the trick library in the first two games and let people do what they’re going to do naturally. Personally I like doing and seeing people pull off those zillion point combos.
I know that the first thing people ask about is going to be the soundtrack? Are all the songs there or were some cut due to licensing?
Jen Oneal: Well your instinct is good there. We wanted every single song in the game, believe me we definitely did. There’s only a small handful that didn’t make it for licensing reasons, but we did our best to track everybody down, but 21 years and some of these tracks are like underground punk rock, tracking down some of these licenses can be a little bit of a challenge, but we did what we can and I think some of your favorites are going to be their Rage are going to be, Bad Religion, Gold Finger, Superman, and so many more iconic tracks.
And all levels are there? I know the sheet referenced a blend of the best levels from the games?
Jen Oneal: It’s all of the levels including the secret levels from the first two games. We didn’t want to leave anything out.
I’m interested to know more about the process of Pro Skaters being in a game now versus 20 years ago. How is the mocapping process different to what would have been done modeling wise?
Jen Oneal: We got them in, they sure did. They came in for new scans and they were super fun, like I don’t know if you’ll remember Chad Muska. He brought bags of clothes because he was a fashion icon and he has multiple outfits that he wears. It was pretty funny to have him come in and with all his different outfits. We got a cool opportunity to rescan them all.
What kind of extras can we see? Can we expect to see the snippets of Rodney Mullen being a wizard and those kind of things?
Jen Oneal: Well we’re gonna have all kinds of nods to be original. Unfortunately, what we’re talking about today is just what we’ve revealed.
Obviously, Spider-Man and other fun characters were a big part of the original games? Will they be here?
Jen Oneal: Well, I can’t comment on that, but stay tuned because there are more surprises in store, but nothing I can say about Spider-Man at the moment.