Tony Hawk's Proving Ground - Official Website

In the largest and deepest Tony Hawk game yet, control your skating destiny in Tony Hawk's Proving Ground. Set in the streets of Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., you have the freedom to define your character, story, and style based on the choices you make, the paths you select, and the style of skating you want.

With deeper customization than ever before, including a full-featured video editor to create epic skate videos and a completely customizable online Skate Lounge, skate with friends in the ultimate pad. Skate from single player to online seamlessly. Tony Hawk's Proving Ground also features an arsenal of amazingly detailed Nail the Trick™ moves, and new gameplay mechanics like skateable terrain building and Bowl Carving to deliver the most personalized and immersive skating experience ever.

  • Play your way: You now have unprecedented control of your skating experience. Mold and shape your character however you choose—the choices you make and the paths you travel determine how you evolve as a skater. As you progress, you develop into any combination of three skater classes, acquiring attributes and skills of a contest-winning Career Athlete, a fast and furious Hardcore Skater or a creative maverick Rigger, who alters and modifies the world as a giant skatepark.

  • Create epic skate videos: Capture all of your sickest tricks and bails with Neversoft's new video editor to make your very own skate videos. Command the footage using a full-suite of video editing tools, lens modes, camera angles, and effects to cut clips and combine clips, add a personal soundtrack, and even showcase online to share with others or simply move up the leaderboard rankings.

  • Go from single- to multiplayer: Join online multiplayer action anytime directly from the single player story mode and take all of your character's skills, attributes, and stats online. Create your own personal Skate Lounge, and invite others to view your winnings or join you for an online skate session.

  • Experience unprecedented control: Tony Hawk's Proving Ground introduces eight all new gameplay mechanics empowering you to play the way you want: Expanded Nail-the-Trick™ moves such as Nail-the-Grab and Nail-the Manual, Bowl Carving, Aggro Push, Skate Checking, Climbing/Exploration, Environment Altering and Rig-a-Kit.

  • Create your legacy: As you define your character, learn new tricks and mechanics from your favorite skateboarding stars. Tony Hawk's Proving Ground features a diverse roster of the sport's hottest athletes, including Tony Hawk, Ryan Sheckler, Arto Saari, Jereme Rogers, Daewon Song, Jeff King and more.

  • Customize your game: At any time you want, use the Rig-a-Kit and Environment Altering mechanics to transform any locale into your own personal skate park. Personalize your Skate Lounge with items such as furniture, plasma TVs, and more. Tony Hawk's Proving Ground also delivers a full, ambient world from real-time weather effects to random world events for the most empowered and dynamic experience ever.
Game Chronicles takes a look at this totally awesome new skateboarding "experience" in our featured GCM interview with lead goal designer, John Sahas.

GCM: Thank you for your time! Please get us started by introducing yourself and telling us about the team responsible for Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground.

JS: My name is John Sahas and I'm the lead goal designer on the team, so I lead the team that actually creates the challenges that you do inside the game. The design team is broken up into the level designers that design all the levels you skate in and the goal designer who create the challenges in those levels. We've been working really closely with all the people working on the story and all the people bringing in the different pros to make sure we integrate it all really well with the levels. We wanted it all to feel seamless.

We have a lot of experience on our team; a lot of people have worked on the previous games so we have a lot of really different areas of expertise.

GCM: As the Tony Hawk franchise expands in scope, content, and gameplay how much input does Tony bring to the table?

JS: Tony's still always there. He's always around, he comes in several times per year, he's checking out burns all the time and sending in feedback. He's an amazing resource to have. He's such an iconic figure in skateboarding; he's got so much history and knowledge. He's always talking to us about the different pros that are in the game and commenting on some of the challenges and the different directions the game can go in. That's the sort of insight we love. We have our ideas and he brings other great things to the table.

GCM: Could you give a specific idea of Tony’s that we will see in the final game?

JS: Nothing specifically, it's all more touchy-feely things. He had a lot of comments on Nail-the-Grab. He's an all-around skater but people know he's a vert rider and he rides the giant half-pipes and stuff like that, so he definitely had some comments on the way Nail-the-Trick looks and feels, especially the new Nail-the-Grab stuff because a lot of air tricks off vert ramps involve grabbing.

GCM: Is Proving Ground being built on a new engine or a modified Project 8, and what major differences will we see at a core gameplay level?

JS: Project 8 was all about bringing our stuff into next-gen. We redid our physics and our animation and we introduced Nail-the-Trick. This year was all about 'where can we take that'. We had this amazing base so let's go to town with it and make the best game ever.

Proving Ground was actually started during Project 8. Chad Finley started work on the game earlier with a small strike team, and they designed everything so when we rolled off Project 8 we had a story and plan set in place and we were ready to go.

GCM: What kind of game structure (or lack of structure) can we expect in the gameplay of Proving Ground?

JS: It kinda goes both ways. It all goes back to the ideas of choice and freedom. Part of the core hooks of our game is it is a pick-up-and-play game and there are challenges you can do at any time. Some might take two minutes and others two seconds, but some that only take two seconds can hook you in and two hours later you are still trying to get the highest possible score on it.

This year we are really pushing the depths of our goals and the depths of our story beyond the pick-up-and-play stuff. There are also these interesting stories that we've broken up into episodes. There are three episodes inside each of the three skater styles; career, hardcore, and rigger, where you'll encounter different pros that fit that style of skateboarding. You'll get to meet them and hang out with them and find out what they are all about. We use these pros for specific reasons.

A good example is Mike Vee; he's a really hardcore skater with an aggressive style, pushes really hard and goes really fast. He teaches you how to do the agro-kick, the new mechanism this year where you can time your pushes to go faster. You hang out with him and do a series of goals, go fast, jump huge gaps, and that has its own little story to it.

But none of this is locked. If you do a goal with Mike you aren't stuck. At any given time you can walk away and start another story with one of the other skaters. You could end up having nine stories open in the world and you are progressing them in different ways. Plus, you can just skate around the world and pick up street challenges.

And on top of that we have our arcade machines where we bring in our real old-school like Classic mode. You can jump into any arcade machine scattered around the world, and that's where you get to skate as a pro in Classic mode or High Score Freeskate, and our new mode is Hawkman, which is super-addictive and really suited the arcade machines. There's a bunch of pellets out there in the world and you want to collect them all, but they are all context-sensitive so some of them you have to grind, some you have to manual, and some you have to get air, and they are all laid out in interesting lines so it takes you on this little adventure.

GCM: Proving Ground seems to have adopted a serious RPG underlying element. Is this an attempt to span genres or just a natural progression in game design?

JS: Starting with THUG where we took the focus off of skating as the pro we changed it to now, you're YOU with the create-a-skater. This year we wanted to take that deeper and see how far we could take a concept like that. We really want you to create this skater that develops over the course of the game, much like an RPG. It's a nice layer of depth that will attach you to your skater.

GCM: Just how different are the three game paths, and do you think most gamers will be compelled to play them all or just settle into one that feels most comfortable?

JS: I think that it's going to go in different directions and we're excited to see where people will take it. We do focus tests and it's interesting to see the different directions people go. They always pick up on different things. It's cool that you are never locked into anything, nothing is exclusive and doing some hardcore goals doesn't lock out career. You can always bounce around.

Obviously, to complete the game you don't have to complete all the stories, we wanted it to be about choice, so you can complete the game as a career skater then go back and check out those other stories.

GCM: Can you give us some details about the cities and landmarks that make up the Proving Ground?

JS: We really wanted to go regional this year so we decided to pick the east coast. Skateboarding is a global thing and we've gone global, we've invented cities and we did the west coast in Wasteland. We wanted to pay homage to the scene that is going on in the east coast; it's this gritty scene, it's hardcore in it's own way. It's been around as long as skateboarding.

Some of the areas in Philadelphia is just a giant skate city that people associate with skateboarding, particularly some of the areas like Love Park where people have been skateboarding in the past and it's had its own drama and troubles and you really aren't allowed to skate there anymore. Then having skaters like Stevie Williams who represent that area and having a story where you get to skate with him in Love Park just adds a level of depth and credibility to people who skate and an informative layer to those who might not know that history.

GCM: How many new moves are being added to the vast trick library already established in the series? Any favorites?

JS: There are always a lot of new moves but this year we tried to focus on entire gameplay mechanics. Last year we added Nail-the-Trick, this year we add eight entire new controls along that same level of depth. And each of those comes out along each of the three skater paths, so each story centers around one of those new mechanics.

GCM: Explain a bit about the new photo and video editor and how it will impact gameplay?

JS: The video editor is amazing. At anytime during the game you can turn on the video recorder and it will continually record and at any time you can hit stop and the last 30 seconds of all your moves have been saved. And it's not just a replay system. It's completely non-linear, saving just the data and you can save as many of these as you have space for.

You can then enter the video editor and bring up any of these saved clips. The editor is also non-linear and you can drop up to 50 cuts into any given edit and combine up to 12 unique clips. You can then combine that with all the effects like slow motion and overlays like frames and sponsor watermarks. On the Xbox 360 you'll be able to upload these to the leaderboards and show other people.

The photo is another exciting thing which is different from the video editor. You'll get access to a camera early on in the game that you can access through the rigger menu and place anywhere you want in the game. You can then walk up to it and modify it. There is a visible target, a sphere, and any time you enter that sphere you'll see yourself from the point of view of that camera. You have full control over when you take the picture as well as zooming, panning, and tilt so you can get the perfect shot.

There are some really exciting goals that take advantage of the photo and really do some interesting things where you are actually going to get rated on your shots. Things like how good a trick you do and how close to the center of the frame and some goals. You'll be given sponsor gear and the game will detect how much of that is visible in your shot.

GCM: What do you have in store for the online gaming community with this Proving Ground that we haven't seen before?

JS: This year is really exciting and it's really cool. One of the biggest things is online HORSE. It's something the fans have always wanted and we're really taking it to the next level. We can now take advantage of the rigging system and give the player this menu wheel that allows the players to access all the objects in the world. So now players can select objects in the world and say, 'that's H', and whoever does that line the best wins and whoever does it the worst gets H. Then you move on to the next spot and select a new line or even just a single object.

We also have Nail-the-Trick Spots where instead of selecting objects you have this special ramp you can put anywhere you want and when you jump off the ramp it will put you in Nail-the-Trick, so each person gets to pick where they want to put it and everybody takes a turn on it to see who can get the best score.

GCM: For old fans of the Create-a-Park how does the Skate Lounge compare?

JS: In the game you can place up to 30 objects in each of the three cities, but in your Skate Lounge you can place up to 200 objects. And in the lounge you'll have access to more pieces, so it's not just the normal skate pieces you can build out in the world. In the lounge there is a whole other level of items like a couch and table or different size TV's that will play skate videos or a stereo to play game music.

On top of that you have these cool skate pieces, so as you play through stories you'll be bringing back these mementos from the competitions. The selection just keeps growing as you play the game.

GCM: How about Achievement Points, what is the mix between solo and online objectives and do you have a personal favorite?

JS: It's a pretty even spread across solo and multiplayer. The scoring achievements are the ones we like to watch but we have some pretty hardcore achievements, sort of a medal of honor if you can unlock them. We also have others that aren't exactly 'easy' but ones that you can get. I can't really talk about any specific ones at this time.

GCM: Do you think the Achievement Point system gives the Xbox 360 an unfair advantage over the PS3 since you don't have that public notoriety for completing the same goals?

JS: That's really interesting. We've decided to go above and beyond this year on the PlayStation when we added leaderboards. Leaderboards are common on the Xbox but not so much on the PS3, so we wanted to make sure we had that on the PS3. So even though the achievements aren’t there the leaderboards create this whole new level of replayability, competition, and community building.

GCM: Music is always a big part of the Tony Hawk franchise. About how many tracks will be in the final game and what are some big-name artists being tapped for Proving Ground?

JS: Nothing really we can talk about at this time. Our soundtracks are always something we put a lot of effort into and we have a lot of hardcore music fans who just want to make sure the music kicks ass, literally. The game is really this immersive experience where you can just zone out, and the music really helps this. We tried to make sure we had a good mix of regional bands that represent the east coast scene.

GCM: Explain a bit about the integration of music and synching your tricks to key beats in the music?

JS: That's in the video editor. Part of what we are doing is grading you on the videos you edit and submit to the Xbox 360 leaderboards, because it is a competitive leaderboard. We have an internal scoring system that factors in a whole lot of things like the type of tricks you are doing, the effects you are using, and all of our songs are beat mapped, so we know where the beats are and part of the scoring system is to edit on beat. So if you can do your cuts on beat you're going to get a much better score.

GCM: Thank you again for your time! Do you have any last impressions or thoughts for our readers?

JS: You had lots of good questions and we've covered all the key features. Look for Tony Hawk's Proving Ground later this fall and thanks.