“Working From Home” SkaterXL Part

This is a rare and interesting change of pace… A full part filmed entirely in a video game.

For some of you, this is likely going to feel like blasphemy – “Go film some real skateboarding”, “It’s not interesting because it isn’t real”, “This sucks, I’d rather just go skateboarding in real life”. I’m aware of all of the comments from anyone who couldn’t give two shits about a video game, and truth be told my opinion of making a full part in SkaterXL would have been the same a few months back. If the idea of this video isn’t your cup of tea – you have the option to just skip this one and move on. I can assure you that full parts filmed inside a video game will not become the norm on this blog. For the context behind this video part, however, read on.

Why SkaterXL?

I’ve spoken at length about how much I love SkaterXL (despite it’s issues) – it’s a wonderful skateboarding sandbox that gives players an incredible, simulated experience of skateboarding. It’s a fascinating videogame where every trick you see is a nice middle ground between being difficult to perform, but being way easier than the equivalent action in real life.

I often enjoy sharing clips from the Xbox One version on my Twitter account. On the Xbox, however, there was always a distinct lack of options and content that made me start to fall off from it. Out of curiosity, I installed the game on my PC a couple of months back to check out the wealth of mods available for it.

As I mentioned, a while back I didn’t see the appeal of filming a full part in SkaterXL. I’d see many members of the games community posting up Youtube links of nicely edited clips of the game, thrown together to match their real life counterparts. Even as someone who plays the game, I didn’t think, and I still don’t think, that a SkaterXL part is a substitute for a real skate video – in the same way that real skateboarding is way better than anything in a video game.

Exploring the modifications that can be added on PC, I found all manner of cool customisation options that spoke to my sensibilities. On a purely cosmetic level I found more options for visual customisation that allowed my avatar to look more like me, and clothing items that featured brands I loved that were not in SkaterXL – a truckload of Heroin boards, Krooked clothing items, and options for board width and shape are available for download, and all were easy to install.

On top of this, discovering the huge selection of maps players have made gave me plenty of spots to explore. Skate mecca’s such as MACBA and New York, as well as locations I have actually visited such as The Buszy or Concrete Waves, downloadable at the touch of a button. Much like real skateboarding’s scene of DIY creations and bespoke bedroom brands, SkaterXL’s community is out there using incredible artistic skill to feed their own scene with new places to skate, new boards to skate, and new items of clothing to wear.

Rather than thinking of SkaterXL as a replacement for skateboarding, I began to think of it as lovely compliment to it: an alternative skate scene for those who physically cannot skate, those who are timidly curious about skateboarding, or those who do skate, but need to scratch the itch to shred at times when they can’t get out (as a busy Dad of a toddler, this is me).

Over the last 6 months I’ve made several friends through Twitter who also play the game, and we share our clips, talk about tricks and different maps we want to try out – it’s all eerily similar to real skateboarding, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

So, with that in mind – after adjusting my PC build avatar to look like me as close I as could manage, and adding some awesome maps, I realised I was gathering clips of my playstyle, using camera mods that more accurately matched real world lenses, and thought “It would be interesting and fun to just see what kind of full part I could put together in this thing”. It’s just for laughs. I’m not out here looking for a Mountain Dew sponsorship. And if that gets you interested in SkaterXL, or real skateboarding, or just the culture that fuels them both, then that’s awesome.

Mods I Used

I gathered a selection of great mods from mod.io’s SkaterXL page, which houses hundreds of awesome additions for the game. A lot of the cosmetic options and maps I used in the part can be found here. I also futzed with one of the game’s customisation files to swap the “ponytail bun” hairstyle from the female avatar onto the male avatar because none of the other hairstyles in the game look anything like the manbun I’m sporting at the minute.

Gameplay mods

  • The OG Stat Menu – This allowed me to adjust the game’s physics so everything was just a tad more realistic. Default SkaterXL can be a little floaty and people have described it as having “moon physics”. I tweaked the stats to make gravity a little bit more strong, and to make pop height make a bit more sense.
  • DeckFX – This opens up loads of options for how your board looks. The default board shape in SkaterXL is an 8 inch popsicle, which, while a classic, is a little pedestrian for my tastes. I like a wide boy, with a little bit of a shape. DeckFX allows you to change the shape of the board (pool boards, Heroin Egg shape, etc, there’s a lot of shapes in the mod), and adjust the width and concave. It’s all really cool. You can also adjust the colour of your top ply, grip tape design, truck width, wheel size and shape (56mm conicals all the way), and even add rails (which… of course I did).
  • XLGraphics & XLGraphics Camera Presets – This allows you to adjust settings with the camera and lighting in the game. The Camera Presets basically have all manner of video camera inspired options, including VX1000, Sony Handicam, all the way up to IMAX and National Geographic Telephoto lense! I find the default SkaterXL camera just doesn’t get the feel of a fisheye lense correct, and even the long lense look can leave a lot to be desired, so these camera presets really do a great job of giving the part a more realistic look.

Maps

  • Milton Keynes Buszy Alpha V6 – This map isn’t officially on mod.io yet, but it’s an amazing technical feat by Ollie795 (a great SXL modder who has been bringing some UK maps to the game) to recreate a substantial chunk of Milton Keynes, starting with the Buszy, and spreading out to incorporate some of the town’s most famous spots. I had to get it by joining Ollie795’s discord server, and offering a small donation to become a supporter. Early versions of The Beige and that rad stair/rail gap Kris Vile full cab hippy flipped can be found in this map, but by far one of the best bits is the MK Leisure Plaza – a spot that no longer exists, recreated here faithfully. It’s still a little rough around the edges, but if you see how much quality and effort has gone into The Buszy area of the map, there’s no doubt this thing is going to be a firm favourite (and maybe even a contender to get picked up by the devs as an official Console map).
  • Nebraska – This map is a bunch of tight, downhill back alleys, with loads of lovely little gaps and long rails to grind.
  • Bootleg City – A huge map consisting of big, open plazas, as well as dingy, industrial car parks and small, tight back alleys.
  • Berlin Hellersdorf – On the surface this park seems to consist of a single, uninspired, metal skatepark. There’s actually a rad little car park next to it featuring a gap over a bent metal fence.
  • Dockburg – An east cost style map consisting of a nice plaza area next to the sea. Lots of awesome little spots and an industrial car park with some sick DIY obstacles.
  • MACBA – This map needs no introduction.
  • 33 Bralunit Lane – A suburban map featuring some nice, quirky spots.
  • Streets 2 Day – A large, open street map filled with awesome spots. Features some great street transition.
  • Green Block – A NYC inspired spot with a lot of brick banks!
  • Clissold Bowl – A recreation of the London Clissold bowl.
  • Southbank – Needs no introduction.
  • Concrete Waves – Another map from Ollie795, this one’s a perfect recreation of the new(ish) Concrete Waves park in Newquay.

Cosmetic mods

Rather than list all of the various cosmetic mods I got my hands on, I’ll just tell you that I found everything I could related to Heroin, Krooked and Creature, and installed those mods. I also found a rad Deathwish pack, and a bunch of Zero X Misfits items that I installed too. In the in game mod browser (which also exists on console) I downloaded some hesh socks that I use frequently on console, because I love some hesh socks.

Conclusion

I recognise that this video isn’t going to be everyone’s thing. That’s absolutely fine. As I’ve said many times, I love skateboarding, and I love video games, and they both mean so much to me – when skateboarding and video games combine I get a lot of enjoyment from the end result. I still don’t know if I, as someone who skates in real life, still see much long term benefit in making more SkaterXL parts, but to dive in and make something like this for a laugh was really fun. If it’s something that interests you, let’s see some of your clips (or even a full part!).

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