Fans of stunt skateboard titles are in for a treat. Fuel Games, who brought us the simplistic Spinner, will soon be releasing Vans SK8 Pool Service for the iPhone and iPod touch.
Vans SK8 Pool Service is a skateboard game entirely set in a drained pool in an abandoned California back yard that features Vans sponsored riders Bucky Lasek and Omar Hassan.
The setting for the game is an abandoned California backyard with an empty pool that's yours for the taking. The sun is setting, the weather is perfect, no cops in sight! We went over countless rounds of revisions on this element of the game to make sure the mood is just right.
Fuel discusses the thought process that went into implementing the best control system at length in their developer blog.
Last time I wrote about the various ways we let the player move around the pool environment. While that is the most fundamental aspect of playing the game, it's something that should just work without the players having to think about it. In contrast performing tricks should not only work but should "feel" right as you do them, and should be fun to do. Again we tried several different things and ideas, and the screenshot above shows part of what we finalized on.
One of the exciting, and challenging aspects of an iPhone is that there's no buttons available for the player to press. While we could put artificial buttons on the screen that feels artificial. It doesn't make sense for the platform and we feel should be avoided wherever possible.
Without buttons we still have fingers and accelerometer input which we can key off of, thus our first test was the simplest. When the player was in the air you would tap to perform a trick. This actually worked incredibly well, with just one problem: you lose a lot of player control. We could either give the players just one trick to perform (boring) or we could automatically choose a trick based on where they are in the pool or something (also boring). We needed a way to let the player have more control over what move they could do.
Ultimately we settled on a system where the user swipes their finger while in the air to perform a trick. This means our swipes are much simpler than the previous method (simply swipe up, down, left or right to perform a trick) but the system is a lot of fun to play and provides the right balance of immediate gratification for user input. We also still have harder moves that involve swiping two fingers at a time, for instance swiping one finger up while swiping another finger right.
Fans of the genre will be happy to hear that the game support grinds as well.
After we got the air tricks sorted out we tried out grinds, and based on our initial tests with air tricks we found the grinds to be very straightforward. When you want to grind you simply press and hold two fingers on the screen when going up the side of the pool. When you reach the lip you'll start to grind and you'll need to tilt the iPhone left and right to maintain balance and bailing.
See an early developer video to get a feel for the overall gamplay. According to Fuel, the game has evolved notably since this video was taken.
The game is being discussed in a lengthy thread in our forums and most readers who commented are eagerly awaiting the title. Stay tuned for a closer look when the game makes its App Store debut.