Q&A: Surfs Up
Q) Please give us a short overview on Surf’s Up. What is the story behind it, what kind of game is it…?
A) Surf’s Up the video game is based on Surf’s Up the movie, Sony Pictures Europe (SPE)’s second animated CGI movie. Every year, surfers from all over the world travel to Pen Gu Island to participate in the biggest Surf Competition of all: Reggie Belafonte’s Big Z Memorial Surf-Off.
Surf’s Up the video game takes place during the competition. It is very much an arcade style game designed to easily pick up and play. Based on the Surf’s Up world, we wanted this game to have lots of variety and exciting game play. You don’t have to know much about surfing to enjoy this game because its focus is on fun, speed, variety and performing big tricks and grinds.
Q) Which character will you play as, do you have a choice?
A)We have 10 characters total. You start off with four diverse characters including Cody, Lani, Chicken Joe and Rory. Each character has his or her own personality and surf style based on the movie. For example, Cody is the energetic ambitious character, so his moves are quick and high-flying. On the other hand, Tank is the brash current nine-time surf champ and his moves are more powerful and somewhat vain.
As the player gets better in the game, he/she can unlock the other 6 characters including one surprising and unexpected surfer. The player can also customize each character’s look ranging from head accessories to arm bands. Each surfer starts with 2 boards, but there are plenty of other customizable boards that are waiting to be unlocked and used.
Q)How true to the film will the game be?
A)The game is very true to the movie in terms of characters, environments, and big surf feeling. We wanted to adapt one aspect of the movie into the game that was the most compelling for a video game, the competition. The game takes place during Reggie Belafonte’s Big Z Memorial Surf Off. You choose your character, select your board, and begin surfing!
Q) Is there any collaboration between the development team and the movie team? Please explain us how the typical work between movie and game production looks like
A) When working with a movie license, it is important for the game to remain consistent with the feel of the movie. We had a close relationship with SPE as we went to see them often. Establishing a frequent relationship was a key element to follow the production of the movie and adjust our game with the evolution of the movie themes and characters.
Their feedback helped us on improving our animations, the attitudes of each character, the visuals of each specific location and the look of the wave.
Q) Will the game include content from the film or any extra/bonus content?
A) This game contains lots of unlockable material. For starters, we have movie clips showing great moments from the actual CGI movie. We added plenty of artwork from the movie as well as original cut-scene clips made from our own animation team. We also have a cheat codes section that gives the player access to new boards, specific unlockable characters and advanced maps.
The PS3 game will be the only version to have some extra exclusive content from the movie including an interview with Cody and his family.
Q) What other games has the development team worked on in the past?
A) Since Surf’s Up was developed in the Montreal Studio, the team is made up of people who worked on a variety of projects ranging from the Splinter Cell series, Open Season, TMNT and Prince of Persia. We have a good mix of experienced and newer members in the team.
Q) Who is this game made for?
A) Our primary target is definitely kids. The whole design and production process was done with kids in mind – the arcade style, the easy pick up and play, the unlockable content, the customizable characters and boards, the variety. These are all things we tested with kids and tweaked to make sure they had lots of fun and remained challenged while playing.
That said, this game can also be for anyone who wants to play a fast paced game that has lots of impressive moves, speed and grinds. In addition, the multiplayer feature makes it really entertaining for kids and parents/adults to play together.
Q) Did you get help from a surfing professional adviser?
A) A few members from the development team took a trip to California to meet some of the members from SPE, but they also took some time off to ride the waves. They took some surfing courses to truly understand the meaning of surfing and how they could apply that experience in the game. They weren’t very good at it, but they got the idea!
Q) Why is this movie great for a game?
A) The Surf’s Up license is about extreme sports, competition, tricks and speed. Those ingredients allowed us to create a fast-paced, exciting arcade-style game. There are many successful franchises based on this type of gameplay including SSX and Mario Kart. By adding the characters from the Surf’s Up world, each surfer has a unique style and personality allowing the player to choose his/her favourite surfer.
Q) Gaming and cinema seems to be strong partners: how do both parts/businesses influence each other?
The game production mainly follows the steps of the movie’s production. We meet often to see each other’s progression. Even if it’s mostly the movie that influences the game, we were able to show SPE some animations early on that they were very impressed with.
Q) Are there any special tracks for this game?
A) The game contains several licensed tracks from artists including Simple Plan, Home Grown and Elbow.
Q) Is there anything special about the water?
The water in the game was a major focus because we wanted the player to feel the true experience of big tricks surfing. The water took many months of development to reach the visual quality we wanted. However, our main challenge was the wave, because making a game on a moving and transforming environment is not a situation we encounter often.
The water effects in this game look and react great as the wave passes over obstacles. Also, any movement in the water is shown through the realistic ripple effects.
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