Interviews// Jay Balmer, Associate Producer, SKATE

We have in total a 130 people on the team

Posted 6 Mar 2007 12:00 by
SPOnG’s finally got our filthy mitts on the latest build of EA’s SKATE this week. We’ll bring you our full thoughts and some more detailed first impressions on the game later today. What you do need to know is that EA’s Black Box studio in Vancouver has successfully created what they set out to do – the most realistic skateboarding videogame ever made. We love it and we’ll stick our necks out and say it could well be good enough to be (whisper it) a Tony Hawks-killer when it comes out later in 2007 on PS3 and 360.

For now though, we managed to catch up with Jay Balmer (pictured) who is in London this week showing off his baby. Jay has just demo’d the game to a packed room of (mainly) skateboarding press – all of whom are now excitedly playing the game behind us. Jay, understandably, has a wide grin on his face.

SPOnG: hi Jay, so what is your job title and
responsibilities on SKATE?

Jay Balmer: hiya, I’m the Associate Producer on SKATE, purely responsible for the gameplay in the game… really focused on teaching the skater how the skateboard moves.

SPOnG: So if your responsibility is gameplay-focused, what other producers have you got on the team – and what are their responsibilities?

Jay Balmer: Well, we have in total a 130 people on the team and I have the pleasure of being ‘the face’ of the game… at least on this trip! Other producers on the team are responsible for progression; the single player experience; the online elements; bringing all the characters and clothing to life – which is a huge job!; building the city; supervising the audio making sure that all comes together and matches the overall vision we have for the game…. Y’know, there’s a lot of areas… It’s a big game!

SPOnG: Could you tell us a bit more about the background to the game – from the initial concept to where you are at with it today? Who first came up with the idea?

Jay Balmer: Well the whole idea of making a skateboarding game isn’t totally new and it’s probably been around EA for a while, yet the Tony Hawk’s series has pretty much dominated the genre for the last eight years. Then next gen provided us the opportunity to really create something entirely new… and EA is in a place this year where it is looking to create new and original games (instead of just pursuing licenses)… and then a small group at EA started very early, around two years ago, working on the concept and ideas to make sure we had something interesting to pursue… that group included myself and Scott Blackwood, the Executive Producer plus quite a mix of producers and designers who came up with the original design ideas for the game, which then had to go through the various channels of reviews, approvals and so on to make sure we were on the right track. And then we entered actual production about a year ago.

However, even though the actual production has been just over a year, it’s been a very efficient year, there’ve been very few ‘missed steps’ and with such a large team working on the game, we’ve accomplished an incredible amount of work in that year.
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