Okay I will admit that a snowboarding game might not be my cup of tea but the idea that EA is going to be utilizing NASA data to create some crazy “over the top” course using real mountains for around our planet is kind of cool.
This is because of a little know project between NASA and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry back in 2009 that saw the release of a detailed topographical model of the Earth’s surface. Of course one can safely assume that they didn’t envision their project data being used by a video game company but players of SSX will be glad one EA did.
As EA Sports producer and creative director Todd Batty retells it
EA Sports producer and creative director Todd Batty still remembers the first time one of his creative directors pulled him into the office to show him just how easily the ASTER topography data (named after the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer that collected it) could be used to make playable, virtual mountains.
“He was like ‘Name any mountain on Earth,’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know, Mount Everest.’ So he goes on Wikipedia, gets the latitude and longitude coordinates… and in about 28 seconds, delivered a 3D model of Mount Everest and all the surrounding mountains in that grid from the data. He’s like, ‘If you give me a couple of days we can take it for a ride…'”
via Ars Technica
While they still needed to do some cleaning up and adding of things like trees and other details Batty said the ASTER data gave them a huge head start.
As for the courses Batty says that the real world in many cases provided more over the top and ridiculous snowboarding courses than even their course designers could come up with, they just had to dress them up.
If this proves to be successful I wonder how many other company, as well as EA, will start using this freely available data as a start point for their games in the future.