PSLS Presents – Howard Lehr, TikGames and Scott Hyman, Creat Studios

Wakeboarding HD, a fast-paced arcade extreme sports game, which debuted exclusively on the PlayStation Network this Thursday on the European PlayStation Store, and will release next week on the US store, is an over-the-top Wakeboarding game from the developers of hit PlayStation Network titles such as Smash Cars and Cuboid. To learn more about the game, about the studio’s future titles, and their thoughts on PlayStation Move, PlayStation LifeStyle interviewed Howard Lehr, the Director of Game Design for TikGames, the developer of the game and Scott Hyman, Director of Business Development for Creat Studios, their partner and publisher of the title.

PlayStation LifeStyle: Who are you, and what is your position at Creat Studios and TikGames?

HL: My name is Howard Lehr and I’m the Director of Game Design for TikGames.  I oversee all TikGames’ prospective titles from a game design standpoint and also produce some of our titles from cradle to grave.  This includes the work we do with Creat studios.

SH: I’m Scott Hyman, Director of Business Development for Creat Studios.  It’s just a fancy way of saying that I work with publishers, partners and our development teams to decide what we want to make.

PSLS: Could you tell us about Wakeboarding HD, what kinds of features will be available, and how many levels will there be?

HL: Wakeboarding HD is a wild arcade action title.  It’s got simulation elements like really detailed water physics and a robust trick system, but there’s a lot more to this game than simulation.  It’s full of super-real level elements like monster jumps, breakable houses, boats to smash, tourists to harass and lots more.  A wide variety of level goals always keeps you stretching your skills and keeps the action fresh.  There are 20 levels in the game.

SH: The game also features local split-screen multiplayer for every one of those 20 levels.

PSLS: Wakeboarding HD will be Creat’s 8th title for the PSN, why have you decided to give the PlayStation platform such support?

HL: PSN is a great environment to publish games.  The users are savvy and open-minded and the technology is top-of-the-line.  A better question is “Why wouldn’t we decide to give the PlayStation platform such support?”

SH: Howard nailed it.  The players know their stuff, and Sony has been an amazing partner.  We couldn’t dream of not making PSN games.

PSLS: How has making the titles exclusive to the PS3 influenced the quality of the game?

HL: It hasn’t.  TikGames and Creat Studios are sticklers for game quality and will not release anything that doesn’t pass muster 100%.  Going exclusive influences schedules but we would never let quality slip on any platform because of a non-exclusive development cycle.

SH: If anything, it’s just pushed us all to make a great game, because we know that is what PS3 players expect.

PSLS: What are your views on the PlayStation Move, and are there any plans for Tik/Creat to support it?

HL: The PlayStation Move is extremely cool.  The demos we’ve been treated to have been inspiring to say the least.  Yes, we have plans to support it but it is too early in the process for me to provide details.

SH: Everyone at Creat and Tik are very excited about what new options Move will bring.  Once we can say more, we will.

PSLS: The Official PlayStation Blog’s have been abuzz with requests for a demo for Wakeboarding HD, are there any plans to provide one in the future?

HL: We appreciate all the requests, and we’re discussing it now.

PSLS: The number of extreme sports titles has decreased this generation, why do you believe this to be so?

HL: Extreme Sports titles are very expensive and difficult to create compared to titles in other genres.  Many publishers probably decided they could find easier ways to make money.  TikGames and Creat had a passion for this title and didn’t let the business challenges stop us.

SH: Game genres go in cycles, like any other type of entertainment.  Extreme sports titles are too fun to fade away.

PSLS: Wakeboarding HD seems to have a very retro feel, with similarities to classic PS1 and N64 titles, would you say this comparison is fair?

HL: If you look at the graphics in Wakeboarding HD and say that, you should immediately have someone drive you to the eye doctors and get a new prescription for your glasses.  Granted, some of the “arcade” elements in Wakeboarding HD harken back to older titles that were more about action than simulation, but there’s where the “retro-ness” of the title ends.  This is a very modern game that does stuff you couldn’t dream of doing on an older console.  The precision in the collision system, the huge number of animations, the massive number of breakable and interactive elements in the world… all that stuff is possible only because of the power of the PS3.

SH: In terms of visual quality, Wakeboarding HD is obviously leaps and bounds beyond the PS1 and N64.  But there is a throwback aspect to the old arcade games of the 90’s like OutRun, and the over-the-top excitement of SSX.  Both were certainly influences as we developed the game.

PSLS: This isn’t the first game made by Tik Games for Creat Studios, could you describe the relationship between the two studios?

HL: TikGames partners with many companies on projects for many platforms.  Creat Studios is one of our favorite partners.  To clear the air, TikGames didn’t “make the game for Creat Studios,” we partnered with them to publish the game.

SH: Tik and Creat have partnered on PSN for a while now (Wakeboarding HD is our sixth title together), and they’re exactly what a partner should be.  They bring ideas to us, we bring ideas to them.  The debate and free-flowing creativity between the two companies has brought out the best in us both.  And, as Howard described, we partnered together on Wakeboarding HD in every aspect.

PSLS: Will you be offering post release support for Wakeboarding HD?

HL: DLC packages and a demo are being discussed now.  We have other plans but I need to keep those to myself for the time being.

SH: Every cool game on PSN deserves DLC support, and Wakeboarding HD is really, really cool… so it has always been on the table.

PSLS :Are there any plans to bring post release content to Creat/Tik’s other PSN titles, such as Smash Cars?

HL: Yes.  That’s all I can say for now, but more news is on the way.

SH: Awww… did you really think that we would tell you everything?  Stay tuned, there’s more on the way.

PSLS: Can you give us any hints to your upcoming titles for the PlayStation Network?

HL: OK, OK, these are weak hints but it’s what I can say at the moment.  PSP, Go, rodents and 3 types of spherical objects.

SH: Well, that would depend whether you prefer to travel by air, land or sea…

PlayStation LifeStyle would like to thank Howard Lehr and Scott Hyman for taking the time to hold the interview. Stay tuned to PSLS for more PlayStation news, reviews and interviews.

PlayStation LifeStyle would like to thank Philip Oliver and Blitz Games Studios for taking the time to hold the interview. Stay tuned to PSLS for more coverage on the UK Games Industry and all round PlayStation news, reviews and interviews.