Catch 22. Do you leave a ten year old PS2 franchise as it was and hope it still appeals to modern gamers, risking calls of 'it's barely changed'?
Or take a risk, add some new elements and brave the fan backlash? SSX Creative Director
Todd Batty chose the latter. Why? As old school SSX fans, we quiz him to find out, with welcome results...
SSX is EA's most requested sequel ever. How much pressure do you feel from fans?
We have team members from every SSX game, and so many people at EA have a vested interest in this franchise. Almost every day they say 'where are you going with this?'. They're the SSX police.
It's great, since when you reinvent a franchise, you need to retain what's great about it. You need a constant reminder of all the fan and media feedback. There's been fans for six years going 'When's the next SSX coming out?' It's been that way inside the company as well.
What are your plans for the control system and tricks?
We're not saying yet, but it was eye opening to play old SSX games. I thought they were very accessible, but if you look back they're pretty convoluted. SSX used both analogue sticks and the d-pad at the same time, which is pretty crazy by today's standards.
It's easy when you make a game to get an idea and say 'let's put it on a button', then you get another idea and say 'let's put it on a button'... before you know, you've used all the buttons and people just don't get it.
In the early days of our game, I brought in an Atari 2600 controller. One stick. One button. I told the team, 'Until you've exhausted all those possibilities, we're not putting things on a button'.
Obviously, we've evolved to use some buttons, but our core gameplay, carving, jumping, spinning, axes, switch stand, pre load, pre wind - in old games that took nine inputs, and we've got it down to two. People ask how our game plays. We say 'figure it out' and they do.
What's the benefit of stripping things back? Won't it be less involved?
You need to make the toy fun to play with before you figure out how people will use it. We've spent 18 months building controls and physics to deliver gameplay like you've never seen. One inspiration is Trials HD.
It's like a child's moto X game: 2D, physics based and fun. Could we make a 3D world with similar properties? Land and flip off anything, stay on path or hit a slope and create a constant battle of momentum to stay airborne?
In the past, you'd hit the air and be instantly upright, but here you stay upside down, so you need to battle the physics - but control them, and you can exploit the terrain.
Is this the first time EA have tried to bring SSX back?
A couple of years ago there was a rumour because of the DJ Atomica line in Burnout: Paradise. The DJ said 'there's snow on the slopes', and people said Criterion were remaking SSX - but I think it was just a weird co-incidence.
A few years ago, EA Sports boss Peter Moore said "we used to have things like SSX but we've moved away from that" - what changed?
(Laughs). You'll have to ask Peter Moore. I know he's a huge SSX fan and wants EA Sports to own some of its own IPs. I don't think the intention (to bring back SSX) has been lost at any given time in the company.
I think there's been a few attempts to remake SSX before, a couple of early concepts, but no software pushes until now.
Why was SSX on PS2 so successful?
SSX wasn't about snowboarding, even though it had characters on snowboards. They did a good job of hitting different gamer motivations. It was a racing game, a tricks game... SSX and Tony Hawk were the games that created that controller passing 'I'm going to outdo my friends'. They did a lot right and I don't think that formula is wrong today.