SPoT on THuG Article at Skatepark of Tampa

SPoT on THuG

Posted on Thursday, November 6, 2003 by Afro-Jim

SPoT on THuG
By Afro-Jim

When the opportunity arose to once again be a part of the Tony Hawk Video Game Empire in the newly released game, Tony Hawk’s Underground (THUG), SPoT General Manager, Ryan Clements, gladly accepted the invitation. It wasn’t a tough decision since SPoT had already been a featured level in the 2001 release, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2x, exclusively for XBOX. Soon after the initial business was handled, programmers from Neversoft were in Tampa. Their mission: Capture not only the Skatepark of Tampa to make a level in the game, but the entire Tampa skate scene.

While at SPoT, the programmers must have taken over 1,000 photos. They were so concerned with detail that they took pictures that covered the entirety of Skatepark - from the Moat to the Bowl and all in between. Here’s a short list of the detailed items that you’ve never paid attention to before at Skatepark, but are now immortalized in THUG:
  • A/C unit with white picket fence around it in the outside ramp area
  • Red fire sprinkler pipe in the front parking lot
  • Speaker boxes hanging in the Street Course have same number of speakers
  • Numerous black and yellow stripped poles around Street Course
  • Red die-cut logo on the front door of the Shop
  • Cracks and yellow stripes on the ground on Street Course
  • Many of the red DVS benches are laying around except the DVS logo was snaked by an Adio cover-up
After taking 360-degree photos of some of the staff, the programmers asked us where they should go and what they should put in the Tampa level so that when kids are playing the game, they can recognize the entire city. There were the usual answers for downtown spots like Blue 10, Marble Manor, Bro Bowl, etc. But Big Dave Pleshaw stepped up with the one spot no one thought of: Chapin Gap. That especially turned out great in THUG, not to mention the fact that Andrew Reynolds is calling out the tricks at that spot.

Another place we suggested they should try to throw in the level is a strip club. Any strip club would do since guests of SPoT frequent them all. Their rendition of 2001 Odyssey on Dale Mabry leaves nothing to the imagination. You can even crash the VIP party in the space ship. Once you leave the building, a quote pops up that seems like one of the many infamous lines of SPoT owner, Brian Schaefer, “Four hours and four hundred dollars later…”

As many of you may remember, Schaefer’s German Shepard, Conge, was in THPS2x. When Conge recently passed in June, everyone at Skatepark was struck with immense grief. He was a symbol of Skatepark in so many ways. As Ryan Clements puts it, “He got more coverage than any of us.” I asked Rob Meronek if it would be a good idea to request that the programmers at Neversoft put some sort of low-key memorial in the game. We discussed it, and with little time to spare before the game was completed, they put an excellent picture of Conge on the movie screen in the Bowl Warehouse with a Skatepark logo in the background. Thanks guys. R.I.P. Conge.

Ryan Clements and myself were lucky enough to be used in the game as characters to give out missions. And even though pretty much every aspect of our characters is cheesy as hell, it’s still pretty cool to see yourself in there. And once I found out that SPoT’s role in the game was the Tampa Am Contest, I thought of a way to incorporate all the employees of SPoT. I asked if the employees’ names could be the ones listed on the results screen. Neversoft agreed and now you are competing against our staff. When I played the level, here’s how the staff faired:
  • Street:
    • 1st Place - Kornelius Stone (Now can I get on Ipath, pleeeeeeease)
    • 2nd Place - Pee Wee Kirks (Get this kid a shoe sponsor)
    • 3rd Place - Scotty Conley (Shaqueefah comin’ up fo’ sho’!)
  • Vert:
    • 1st Place - Jen-E Kostelnik (No girl-only event?)
    • 2nd Place - Ricky Burns (The Deal...)
    • 3rd Place - John Paul Grebe (Boardslides on all terrain)
  • Best Trick:
    • 1st Place - Dave Pleshaw (Most-improved skater)
    • 2nd Place - Ryan Rapp (Finally not DFL! Word.)
    • 3rd Place - Brian Schaefer (Probably a kickflip indy on the vert wall)
Thanks to all the guys at Neversoft and Activision (Ralph, Alan, Gary, Kevin, etc.) for doing SPoT right. And of course big ups to Birdman for making it happen game after game. For those of you who don’t have the game, BUY IT! For those of you without the bling to buy it, check back soon because we’re going to give away some copies on the site.


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