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Interview: The Story Behind Amped 3
game: Amped 3
posted by: Aaron Stanton
publisher: 2K Sports
developer: Indie Built
date posted: 04:05 AM Wed Nov 16th, 2005
last revision: 12:54 PM Wed Nov 16th, 2005

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Click to read.2K Sports was kind enough to sit down with a number of different gaming sites this morning to talk about some of their upcoming Xbox 360 titles, such as NBA 2K6, NHL 2K6, and Amped 3. We here at GamesFirst had a chance to throw some of our questions to members of each game\'s development team, giving the people involved with the projects one last chance to speak their minds before the games hit the shelves.

Editor\'s Note: This article focuses on Amped 3. Click here to read the NBA 2K6 interview.

Amped 3:

Unlike a number of 2K\'s Xbox 360 titles, Amped 3 has no Xbox or PS2 counter-part; Amped 3 is next generation all the way. For years, Amped and SSX have defined the snowboarding genre, a relationship that looks to continue as the Xbox 360 debuts. But while both SSX and Amped deal with snowboarding, their approach is entirely different, or at least was; SSX has moved steadily towards the realm of arcade style gameplay, and Amped has traditionally staid close to the gameplay elements of a realistic snowboarding simulator. Where you might expect to launch huge aerials and drop hundreds of feet in SSX, Amped and Amped 2 let you take on the realistic challenges of taking down a mountain.

Amped 3 surprised everyone by breaking away from the graphic feel of the previous games in the series and championing a new art style. Aaron Connors, Story Director for Amped 3\'s developer Indie Built, took a moment to answer some questions about 2K Sport\'s 360 launch title.

\"I\'ve been reading forums and online discussions,\" Aaron said in response to a question about Amped\'s new design direction. \"I just wanted to make this very clear: This isn\'t an arcade game. We present the challenges in a better way, but the basics are the same.\"

Underneath the glossy covering and anime influenced artistic direction, Amped 3 attempts to stay true to its roots. Wacky characters may be more prevalent this time through, but don\'t expect this to suddenly have turned into SSX Tricky in disguise.

\"Amped 2 didn\'t have the following that Amped 1 did,\" Aaron comments, explaining why they took steps to separate Amped 3 from its predecessors. \"We wanted to make it more fun, less frustrating.\"

Indie Built set out to add wider appeal to the series by blending new elements with the old, retaining the independent music tracks and more realism-faithful gameplay with a storyline, a park builder, and flashier graphics that show off well on the Xbox 360. As Amped 3\'s story director, Aaron seemed proud of the storyline they\'d put together for the title.

\"The story isn\'t the focus, it\'s just the extra flavor,\" he said. \"It\'s the extra spice. Coming into this, I\'d have actually guessed that 90% of the gamers coming to Amped were not wanting a story. We had to design (the story) for people that didn\'t want it.\"

At the time of the interview, Amped 3 for the Xbox 360 had been reviewed by one outlet, 1up.com. When asked about one of the author\'s complaints - that too much of the game was locked until the player had completed the story mode - Aaron was quick to come to the story\'s defense.

\"Not the focus doesn\'t mean it\'s optional,\" Aaron points out. \"It doesn\'t stand in your way. We wanted it to be accessible.\"

Part of making Amped 3 accessible was allowing players to control and customize their experience. \"It was important to us that the story put player created characters inside the environment,\" said Aaron. The result are cut-scenes between tracks and elements of the story that are delivered using the character you created. You\'re allowed to choose voices, for example, and the dialog changes depending on what you choose.

After you\'ve created your character, the story serves as the game\'s tutorial, teaching you the basics, and progressing you to more and more complicated moves as you play.

\"I\'d guess that (a beginning player) will take about 15 hours to get through the story,\" Aaron said, elaborating on the role of the story mode. \"About 30 percent of the story mode is tutorial.\" After making this comment, Aaron was quick to downplay the concept of what calculates out to a 4 to 5 hour long tutorial.

\"It\'s not that clinical,\" he said.

According to Aaron, the story is there to help facilitate the gameplay, not hold you back from it. Opening levels might have you performing tasks that help you later on, like learning to utilize the trick system. But again, Aaron emphasizes, the story is not Amped 3\'s focus. They never wanted the story to interfere with snowboarding.

\"We wanted you to have your zen moment, if you wanted it,\" said Aaron, explaining why they choose to keep the story elements separate from the actual gameplay. \"We never throw in a cut-scene that interrupts your gameplay, and that was very intentional.\"

It wasn\'t long before another of Amped\'s legendary features came up in the discussion: music. Amped 2 was well known for including a wide selection of independent rock bands in their game soundtrack. Amped 3 aims to do even better.

\"We have over 300 track by unsigned bands,\" Aaron confirmed when asked about Amped 3\'s music. \"I think that\'s 60 to 70 bands with multiple tracks each.\" Coming entirely from unsigned artists, there\'s no way to acquire these songs outside of Amped 3. Despite discussions of releasing an Amped 3 soundtrack, or selling the tracks on Xbox 360\'s Marketplace, there have been no concrete decisions made about how and when the audio might become available outside the game.

Amped 3 wasn\'t the only topic of interest, though. The 360 itself has the gaming industry\'s attention this close to its launch.

\"Games that come out at launch hardly ever take advantage of what the console can do,\" Aaron commented when asked about the hardware. \"They just haven\'t had time. As much as we want people to love these first games, you really don\'t see what a system can do until the second wave of titles.\"

Editor\'s Note: We would like to thank Aaron Connors, Indie Built, and 2K Sports for taking the time to talk to us. Amped 3 was released on November 15th, 2005, the same day as this interview.

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