One of the biggest benefits of all that power in the hardware is giving developers the ability to make games that are Xbox Series X|S Optimized. This means that they’ve taken full advantage of the unique capabilities of Xbox Series X|S, both for new titles built natively using the Xbox Series X|S development environment, as well as previously released titles that have been rebuilt specifically for the console. In our Inside Xbox Series X Optimized series, producers will share their behind-the-scenes accounts of how they’re optimizing titles for Xbox Series X|S and what that means for the future of gaming. Today, we’ll be chatting with Activision Producer Jason Coker about optimizing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 for Xbox Series X|S.
Q: “What excites you most about developing and bringing THPS 1+2 to life on next-generation hardware?”
A: We have a really solid remaster in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, and the power of Xbox Series X|S allows us to take something great and make it even better than we’d imagined. From frame rates to improved visual effects to the pure speed in performance, it’s essentially like supercharging a supercar.
Q: In addition to benefiting from the power and performance of Xbox Series X|S for quicker load times etc., what Xbox Series X|S features were you most excited to explore leveraging in the development of THPS 1+2?
A: The raw horsepower of the new Xbox gave us the ability to push visuals even further, which is a huge win for us. We leveraged the faster GPU to offer higher native resolutions (Note: The Xbox Series X version of the game will run native 4K at 60 FPS, while the Xbox Series S version will render at 1440P and upscale to 4K. You will need a 4K compatible display for 4K resolution.), and to improve the game’s visuals through better quality shadows and atmospherics (bloom, lens flare, reflections). We also increased the texture quality used on the in-game skaters.
Quick resume is also a wonderful feature. While we’d love it if players were always on THPS, they’ll have to shut down their Xboxes and sleep sometimes, and they might even play other games here and there. With Quick resume players can jump right back into THPS mid-grind without missing a beat, and the speedy hard drive makes the experience much smoother.
It was also easy to support cross-generation save files on Xbox for players who go from playing THPS on Xbox One to Xbox Series X|S. It’s a very smooth and seamless experience for the players, and it was straightforward to implement.
Q: How will these enhancements impact a player’s experience with THPS 1+2?
A: The additional graphical horsepower allowed us to do a deeper dive into making the game more visually immersive. The lighting, HDR, atmospheric effects, improved framerates – it looks so amazing that it’s sometimes just a fun to watch someone play as it is to be at the controls because you have more opportunity to soak in the full whole screen and really appreciate the upgraded visuals. Likewise, the smooth framerates make everything feel silky smooth. A lot of work went into ensuring that this remaster was true to the feel of the original two games, and while we certainly tweaked the original controls for an improved experience, playing on next gen is just such an overall leap forward in the look and feel of the game that I think players are going to be blown away.
Q: Why did your development team choose to focus on [4K@60 on Series X; 1440p @60 on Series S, cross progression support, spatialized audio, high fidelity atmospherics, etc.] as enhancement areas for THPS 1+2?
A: Playing at 60fps with 4K makes everything look at feel really fluid, and we felt like that was a very special and important feature for players. A lot of players of the original games will have that ol’ THPS muscle memory once they get their hands on the controls, and the improvements we made to the controls are that much better with a consistent, higher frame rate. Add in the fact that it looks absolutely gorgeous at 60fps, and it was kind of a no-brainer once we knew it was possible with the power of Series X|S.
Q: How do you expect fans of THPS 1+2 will respond to playing it on Xbox Series X|S with these enhancements?
A: I’m certain that they’ll love it. Even beyond the next gen enhancements, there are tons of improvements and new features to the game that make it a new experience even for old school fans. The extensive Challenge system, robust Create-a-Park with the ability to share and remix parks, Create-a-Skater, 8 player online multiplayer, improved controls, and additional moves that weren’t in the first games are just a few. It’s also super friendly to newer players, so we expect to see a whole new generation of THPS lovers. Add all of those with the power of next gen, and it’s a recipe for a perfect remaster.
Q: What is it like developing on Xbox Series X|S?
A: The faster hardware made the whole development experience go smoother. For example, you can iterate so much more quickly with the fast load times because of the new hard drive performance. This allowed us to spend more time focusing on making the best game possible.
Q: Which enhancement were you most excited about to explore leveraging for THPS 1+2 on Xbox Series X|S?
A: Performance improvements in new hardware are always exciting. Tony Hawk is all about twitch gameplay, so the chance to offer 120 FPS at 1080p was super compelling. Also, we felt that the game’s photorealistic art style and highly detailed environments made it a perfect candidate for leaning into increased lighting, shadow, and effects quality.
Q: What does Xbox Series X|S development enable in current or future projects that you could not have achieved with the previous generation of consoles?”
A: The SSD is an absolute game changer. Open world games will be that much better on XSX|S, and for games with more traditional loading, creative developers can hide their loading transitions to give players a more fluid and immersive experience by keeping players in the moment. It’s a way to keep the narrative moving and to keep players engrossed in what’s happening in-game. There’s also that level of visual fidelity that wasn’t possible before, and that only gets better over time as developers learn new ways to leverage the hardware.
Tony Hawk's™ Pro Skater™ 1 + 2 – Xbox Series X|S
Activision Publishing Inc.