Session - Skateboarding simulation game by crea-ture Studios Embrace skateboarding like never before with our unique dual stick controls and video creation tools. Skate, film, share and repeat!
The last time we spoke with the team at creā-ture Studios, they'd recently started full-time work on Session, having finally secured the funds for their hotly-anticipated, Kickstarter-driven skate game. This was excellent news to those of us keeping tabs on the game since its phenomenal (and phenomenally successful) teaser trailer, launched in 2015. With a dearth of skating games available on next-gen consoles, Session carries a lot of hope for those with a hankering for half-pipe.
Thankfully, the wait for Session is almost over, with its Canadian developers showcasing the game at E3 2018 to a rapturous reception. We spoke with Marc-André Houde, creative director and co-founder of creā-ture Studios, to find out how they’ve been fine-tuning Session in the build-up to release: “With development, things are doing great. We've now implemented the first iteration of the missing key features: the Filmer mode and the manual catch mechanic. Both total game changers!”
The team have also brought a new partner and art director on board, in the experienced Sebastien Primeau, but we wanted to find out more about the newly-introduced Filmer mode, which offers players the chance to follow their friends, as they perform stunts, filming and sharing the performance. With presets like auto-follow, auto target and optimal angles, the goal is to make players feel like a professional camera person, shooting a skate performance. So what was the inspiration for this?“My main inspirations are my roots as a skater,” Houde explains. “I was a maniac for 411VM back in the day and also a big gamer, so my life was: get up, fire a 411VM cassette to get pumped before going to skate, go skate, come back, play games, watch skate videos and dream about how gnarly it would be to play a game that looks exactly like a skate video.” “That's pretty much how this Filmer mode got started,” he adds. “The way it works right now is a kind of first person mode, where the second player can take control of the game camera, where we give a set of tools like zoom-in, FOV, follow the player, dolly/cranes, different lens types and more. This lets players freely and easily follow the skater and take some realistic shots that are pretty similar to an actual skate movie. This mode is still in early development but it’s so much fun already.”
In fact, the footage presented in Session’s E3 teaser was taken during Filmer mode, according to Houde: “We were constantly drifting away from actual work to just roam around making videos, instead of actually working on the video! To us, it's alway a good sign when you lose focus and just have fun playing your own game instead of only working on it.”The E3 demo struck a chord, both with followers of the game, eager to see more, and to fans of the skating game genre. As for creā-ture Studios, the experience was a good one: “E3 was sick! it was the first ever E3 for the three of us and it was for our own game, which is rad! It looks like the reception was great – there were very few negative comments, and none of them that we can’t fix.”
Their appearance at the event was part of the Microsoft’s Xbox presentation, with news following that the game would first hit Xbox One and Steam in 2019. So how closely are the developers working with Microsoft? Houde explains:“At the moment we have a timed exclusive console launch with Microsoft of three months. So far, they've been extremely supportive, regardless of the fact this game is really niche and targeted to a pretty hardcore gamer! We feel they really want this game to succeed and are helping out promoting it too. We think an invitation to be a part of their E3 briefing is proof they like the game, so we're really stoked about that!”He adds, “On the development side, it's not a publishing deal. We still have 100 percent creative control of the project and they’re giving tech support regarding the integration on their platform.”So does this mean that we’ll see Session on other consoles, including Switch? Houde says, “Yes, the game will be exclusive on Xbox One console for the first three months, but also available on PC via Steam. After that, we'll be looking at porting it to PS4 and Switch!” As for the game itself, Houde previously told us about Session’s innovative control system, in which each analogue stick controls a foot of your skater. Now, he tells us about the locations on offer during the game:“Right now we're working on making a small-to-medium sized hybrid of a 1-to-1 scale of the most iconic spots in NYC, with a fictional open world-type level. Attached to that, we'll start implementing specific and maybe more real-life isolated spots you can access by a hub city map.”He adds, “Then, we'll make the community vote for the next location, so it could be Vancouver, Philly, San Francisco, L.A., or Barcelona – you name it.”
Indeed, community feedback has played a huge part in the game’s development so far, and is something Houde and the team are maintaining until launch:“Recently we gave the community what we call a ''dev build,' which is basically a functional version of a feature in development to get feedback as soon as possible, before going too deep into detail. People gave tons of feedback regarding how it felt, but most importantly, they shared tons of videos showing how they used the feature. We could then see it was making sense and that people were able to use it and enjoy it.”As for additional modes, Houde touches upon how the game’s features will be fleshed out as time goes on. He says, “There’s no Story mode at the moment. Since the game is on a fairly tight budget, we felt it was more important to come up with the best skate experience we can have and from there, add stuff to it.”“At the moment we’re focussed on the skating and will add some challenges, party games and custom events along the way to keep that interest alive. We'd love to come up with a story later on, and there’s room to tell a great story around skateboarding, but we'd love to go for a more biopic-style mashup of a couple of pros – something more authentic, less soap.”And now that we finally have news of a release for Session, we wonder how the team will be spending these final months. Houde explains, “Right now we’re talking about having the Early access version ready for Q4 2018 and final version Q4 2019. We'll spend a full year expanding, polishing and tweaking the game with a wider audience than the Kickstarter, until v1.0 comes out!”So, while we'll have to wait a while longer to get our hands on it, the appetite for Session, and skating games in general, seems to be strong. Could Session be the start of a renaissance for the skating genre? Houde says:“I personally hope so! We're a small team and we want to make sure we do something great and focused for that target audience and not get lost in bland content, dumbing down features to appeal to a mass market in order to make more money. We respect our community by treating them as they should be treated: intelligent human beings that can handle challenges in games. I really hope this will kickstart others to do the same!”Session is coming to Xbox One and PC in 2019.
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