Media Consumption: EA Montreal's Eric Chartrand (SSX Blur)
The fifth iteration in the trick-focused snowboarding series, the game was released at the end of February in the U.S., and in mid-March for PAL territories. SSX Blur uses the Wii’s nunchuck to control movement, and allows players to perform tricks by drawing specific shapes with the remote, a control method that Chartrand notes has been polarizing with reviewers.
“The reaction to the game was very... how can I say that... interesting,” he admits candidly. “We got very, very good reviews and very, very bad ones. Some said they thought we provided the best of the control scheme currently on the Wii, while others thought it was the worst. I think it is mostly the same for all Wii games: the public, the game industry and the reviewers are not at all aligned with each other. So those kind of extreme reactions are to be expected. All in all, I think we delivered a damn fine game.”
Right now, Chartrand continues, the team is taking a break before returning to the studio, though he is expectedly cagey about exactly what EA Montreal’s next project is – especially on the subject of whether the series will make it to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 any time soon. “The future holds many surprises and surprises being what they are, I cannot let them out until it is time for them to shine,” he grins.
We spoke to Chartrand recently, and asked him about the Eskimo Pies in his media diet of late.
Sounds: "My iPod carries tons of different music and styles, from Brahms' string quartet to Thom Yorke's The Eraser to the FF XII OST. So I think my music listening is pretty eclectic. What's important for me in music is that it needs soul, I need to see a drive behind it, there has to be a reason for it to exist and I need to feel that reason. Soul is not exclusive to any music type but related to its creator, so I'm open to everything. Right now I listen to Sinead O'Connor’s Throw Down Your Arms, Gorillaz and the Metal Gear Solid 3 OST.
What is exiting right now? The mixing up of cultures and styles reaching uncharted territories of music outside of worldbeat."
Moving Pictures: "This is a tough one since there are so many of them in many styles and directions. One of my favorites is 28 Days Later for the message, the low budget and the bleak vision which we need to listen to today.
The 12 hour long version of The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a total masterpiece - how did Jackson manage to keep the pace for such a long feature? Andrei Tarkovsky's films; all 6 or 7 of them. Also Blade Runner, Alien or The Duelists from Ridley Scott. The list would go on and on.
Finishing SSX Blur was a very intense period; I didn't get much time to go to the movies. So on my list right now is 300, Pan's Labyrinth, The Lives of Others and Grindhouse."
Words: "I know I must sound like I repeat myself, but I must say my choices in books are also pretty eclectic. At the moment my preferences go to sci-fi: Frank Herbert's Dune, Orson Scott Card's Ender series, Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, Tad Williams' 2000 page Otherland series, Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber series, and the list could go on and on…
Right now I'm reading The Lord of the Rings. The fact that I'm playing the beta of the upcoming MMO The Lord of the Rings: The Shadow of Angmar might be the reason."
Games: "As a game designer, you need to play anything new and different or at least try it. I was lucky enough to work on very different types of games, from platformer, to first person shooter, to hockey and just now, snowboarding. So, as part of my job, I had to play many games.
Right now I really enjoy Guitar Hero II, because it is totally different from what I do and I can play co-op with my girlfriend. The worst part is that she is actually better than me at the game! I'm also participating in the closed beta of The Lord of the Rings and I'm having a lot of fun. It is very similar to WoW, but with some new and interesting twists like deeds, titles and achievements. The fact that it takes place in Tolkien's universe is a big plus.
I also love racing games, and my recent discovery is called netKar PRO - it’s an ultra-realistic racing sim for online racing."