Even though the fine folks at Robomodo are attempting to recapture the spark that made the original Tony Hawk titles great, they’re still looking for ways to improve upon that formula. We’ve already heard about Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5’s 20-person multiplayer gameplay and Robomodo’s brand new “slam” mechanic, but they’re also resurrecting a mode that Hawk fans haven’t seen for over a decade: Create-a-Park. Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 will give players the ability to craft their very own skate parks, using the same ramps, rails, and curbs that Robomodo created for their own in-game parks. And with an arsenal of more than 250 usable objects, aspiring skate park architects (parkitects?) should have plenty of idea fodder.
Before you can start designing your park, you’ll need to select a location. The parks come in five different flavors: beach, skatepark, school, warehouse, and a super-secret locale that I’m not allowed to talk about yet. You simply select the size of your park (small, medium, or large. It’s like selecting a pizza), and you’re ready to build. The creation process is simple, and if your childhood was spent fabricating buildings from colorful, interlocking bricks, you’ll have a definite advantage. You’ll start by scrolling through the library of objects, using the on-screen cursor to set them in place. Everything can be rotated and raised or lowered, allowing you to design structures that would have significant structural integrity issues in real life.
Before I started designing my own parks, I spoke with Patrick Dwyer, the Design Director at Robomodo, about what it takes to create a successful Tony Hawk map. “First, you need to have an idea about the overall gameplay and style that you want to achieve,” he told me. “Do you want to create a plaza level that emphasizes grinds or a racing level that focuses on big air? Level design in THPS is all about flow. So, you make a tight gameplay loop, and then another tight gameplay loop. Then you make a line that brings those two gameplay loops together. You keep doing this process until someone can seamlessly flow from one trick line to another.”
And Dwyer was right. Designing a Tony Hawk level is tricky. Building a park that has perfect, skatable lines with enough variability that skaters are forced to be creative is difficult, but THPS5 allows players to seamlessly switch between skate-mode and editing mode. So, as I created my own park, I would repeatedly pause construction to skate and reskate the new lines, adjusting them slightly to increase or decrease their difficulty. And I was surprised by how quickly my park came together. However, as I was composing my skatepark opus, I realized that perfection wasn’t always necessary. In fact, after getting my feet wet with the mode, I quickly found myself asking a question that philosophers and theologians have been pondering for centuries: what’s the funniest way to endanger a virtual skater?
It didn’t take long before I was crafting skateparks that were horrifically dangerous. There were ramps stacked on top of other ramps, which were guaranteed to cause significant harm to any skater foolish enough to dive in. I was catapulting skaters 80 feet into the air over pits of inflatable beach balls and launching them like a patriotically dressed stuntman over fields of patio furniture.
But as I learned the logistics of deathtrap design, my create-a-park inventions turned into fantastical, yet skatable, playgrounds. It was no longer my goal to watch the skaters ragdoll into the cement. I wanted them to survive, but only if survival seemed completely impossible.
And this is when I realized that Robomodo really had captured what made the original Tony Hawk titles great. And when the community gets its hands on THPS5, we’ll definitely see a hearty mixture of legitimate parks and deathtraps.
Once the parks are finished, players can upload their creations to the cloud, allowing other Hawk fans to check them out at their leisure.
“The community is super important to us and we are excited about that aspect of the create-a-park feature,” said Josh Tsui, one of Robomodo’s founders. “Going global with your level can be intoxicating, and we see this really blowing up, with people praising each others’ creations and simultaneously attempting to outdo them.”
And if you’re ready to preorder your very own copy, check out the Tony Hawk Games website.