This mini interview was conducted with Ralph D'Amato via email in October 2000. Ralph is the Associate Producer of the THPS line of games.
Slateman: We're speaking w/ Ralph D'Amato of Neversoft now, associate producer of the THPS line of games. This past week, THPS2 was #1 on the US game charts, and THPS (psx) was #5, a year after it's release. You knew you had a hit on your hands when creating it but has the success gone to your head?
Neversoft: Nope, not at all, still humble as always.
Slateman: Living large? :) Can you believe that hordes of people are still buying your games? Especially the first THPS!
Neversoft: I still play THPS1 myself so it's not a huge shock that people are still buying the game. We still get a ton of email from kids that just picked up THPS1...I think the greatest hits cover has helped it a bit, along with the price drop. THPS1 is definitely a ton of game play for the dollars you spend on it.
Slateman: Both games had a demo out months prior to the full game's release. How important was the feedback and input of the people playing the demo?
Neversoft: Very important. The feedback we get from those demos is huge. We get to hear the strong and weak points from the people who will eventually buy...or not buy our games.
Slateman: In the demo for THPS2, there were Weak move modifiers. Why were these removed?
Neversoft: This was tested quite a bit and for the non-skaters out there it became somewhat confusing, they didn't really understand the concept of weak moves and thought of it as a completely different trick. It also cluttered up the trick text quite a bit. The scoring is the same we just took out the text to avoid confusion.
Slateman: Similarly, is there anything you feel you've missed in the 2nd game? The first game had some things cut/unfinished due to time constraints. Did the same thing happen this time around?
Neversoft: I think there will always be things that you want to add but just don't have the time to do. It happened in THPS 1 as well as THPS 2. Not to worry though, we seem to have a good track record for making up for things like that.
Slateman: The PC version is about to ship in the US. THPS3 will likely come to the PC as well. With most next generation systems containing net availability, what is your internet strategy?
Neversoft: Can't really talk about any specifics, but I can tell you we recognize the impact the Internet has on the gaming community and are more than up to the challenge it holds.
Slateman: The success of the first game was and still is astonishing. Now, there's been a number of clones, many of which have some good ideas. Street Sk8er was the first to have a park editor, Grind Session essentially used the controls of THPS, and MTV's has some good ideas. In each case however, they all fall far short of the excellence of THPS. What do you think is the main factor for the success of THPS/THPS2, and why haven't any of the other games reached the cult status that THPS has obtained?
Neversoft: I think more than anything we have been able to present the gamer with a control system that is superb in all aspects. It just feels right, we make you feel like you are part of the game. Along with this is the tremendous talent we have in our designers and artists. If it feels good and it looks good it must be good.
Slateman: Obviously BTTs have played a larger role in THPS 2 and adds more depth to the replay value. I'd imagine it makes the designing aspect of the game a little more intensive.
Neversoft: It definitely does. It's one thing to lay down a pipe here and a rail there, it's something entirely different to set up objects is such a way that it poses a challenge to the gamer to try something that may look impossible. There are so many possibilities for BTTs(Blue Text Transfers for the newbies that might be reading...at Neversoft we refer to them simply as "Gaps") the designer has to stay on his toes to make sure the entire level is covered.
Slateman: Can you shed any light on the US/Worldwide differences? First off the name of the game differs (Tony Hawk Skateboarding), and in THPS2, a BTT called Way to Go Gringo was renamed Don't Look Down. These decisions may not have been made by you or your company, but do you have any ideas as to why they were made?
Neversoft: Very subtle differences really. The first game was named Tony Hawk's Skateboarding in Europe in an attempt eliminate confusion. The term "skater" in Europe generally refers to ice skating, not skateboarding, hence the name change. There were a few different songs in the European version of THPS1 as well, that was about it. In THPS2 there was very little changed in the different versions, aside from a few gap names that were changed for a variety of reasons.
Slateman: Do you have any comments on the different ports of THPS? I've actually found that the DC version has some minor differences from the PSX original, and many N64 players complained of small buttons and the editing issues.
Neversoft: The ports are great for the license. It allows the game's influence to be taken to a variety of different platforms and gamers. Personally, I do prefer the PlayStation controllers over all others.
Slateman: Finally, we've got codes galore for THPS2. After the Super code insanity of yesteryear, did you release everything immediately to curb the rumor mill insanity or is there possibly some goodies left to find?
Neversoft: We didn't release anything. Really, we didn't, anything out there on the net got there by the fans digging into the cd. As for codes left to reveal ???????????
Slateman: And how do you get in the gym at the school? :)
Neversoft: Uhhh..mmm...well you see....check out THPS Online, I'm sure you'll find your answer there.
Slateman: I'd like to thank you for your time. Congratulations on all the well deserved success, and many thanks to you and your whole team.