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Modders Create Online Versions of Skate 4 from Early Build Leak

Modders have taken a recently leaked build of the highly anticipated Skate 4 and customized it so players can now play the game’s multiplayer mode together, according to videos and Discord chat logs reviewed by Motherboard.

The leak is unusual both in the incredibly early state of the game that is still actively in development and how modders spread across multiple Skate-enthusiast communities have quickly adapted it for multiplayer. Some members of one Discord server are even making an easy-to-use launcher for the leaked build and a “server browser,” a tool for users to quickly find available servers to then play the leak on with other players.

An admin who goes by the name Justice on one of the Discord servers that is currently working on the leaked Skate 4 multiplayer mode told Motherboard that they initially created the community to help distribute the leak.

“I posted videos of the game and how to get it which started gaining hella traction!” Justice said. “Shortly after this, we managed to discover how to run skate severs using simple process arguments.”

Do you know anything else about where this leak came from? We’d love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, or email joseph.cox@vice.com.

Justice explained that the leaked Skate 4 build has a multiplayer capability that modders are simply enabling, and then allowing other people to play by hosting their own servers.

The Discord server includes multiple voice channels where players are actively exploring the build and playing it together, as well as links to videos with instructions on how to play the leaked Skate 4 multiplayer mode, though those videos have already been removed from YouTube.

Skate 4 is one of the most anticipated sports games in recent years, so much so that publisher EA has even leaned into the lack of news about the latest installment of the series by releasing a trailer last month called “Still Working On It.” That trailer included footage from a very early build of the game. While the fundamentals of the game’s movement mechanics were functional in the build, the character models and environments lacked detailed textures. The trailer half jokingly described the build in the trailer as “pre-pre-pre-alpha.”

Then over the last few days, a playable build of the game leaked online. The exact source of the leak is unclear, but it appears further along in development than the version shown in the “Still Working On It” trailer. EA told Polygon in a statement that the leak people are playing is from a September 2021 build, and that it “was never intended for external use.” 

That leak started a flurry of activity among the passionate Skate community, and members uploaded videos of themselves playing the early build leak to YouTube. Some show the players experimenting with the new parkour system, which lets players wall-run, flip, and slide. 

skateonline-trailer.png

A screenshot of a trailer for skate.online. Image: bblqdes.

Multiple groups of modders then took that build and worked on ways to add multiplayer to it.

Crush, the administrator of one Discord server focused around releasing an online version of the leak called skate.online, told Motherboard that they started the server with their friend known as Crunnie.

“We both have history in the fortnite modding community which is well known for reading server code to make playable servers on older versions of the game,” Crush said. Because the leaked build was one originally for developers, they thought there was “an extremely good chance” they could make a multiplayer version.

They managed to get multiplayer on the leak working, but at first they could only have two players in one match at a time. Then, they found a better way, Crush said.

“To my knowledge me and crunnie were the first people to have a working multiplayer, although there was a server or two (i think) who had fully working servers (the ability to have more than 2 people in one game) before us,” they added. 

The multiplayer add-on is running on the enthusiasts’ own servers, with users in the Discord server providing updates on the servers’ IP addresses and their current status. In the skate.online Discord, Crush shares the IP addresses of the servers that users need to play multiplayer.

In a message posted to their server, Crush said that “also keep in mind at the moment we have no way to moderate chat. until then be aware there will most likely be people saying rlly terrible shit,” referring to the Skate 4 leak’s in-game chat. In the Discord server, one person asked if they could use the n-word.

EA has already taken action against some YouTube videos related to the project and the leak more generally. A release trailer for the skate.online project is now replaced with the message “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by EA.”

Crush said that although EA has made it hard to post screenshots or videos online, “EA has actually been pretty calm with us. We had an EA mod join the server at one point and I talked to him personally but they didn’t seem too bothered.”

EA did not respond directly to questions from Motherboard about the multiplayer add-on. Instead, a spokesperson pointed to the company’s earlier statement about the leak more generally, which said “We’re aware of an earlier version of the game that has been distributed without our authorization. This build is from September 2021 and was never intended for external use. While we understand you’re excited to get into the game, we encourage you to be careful when downloading files from unknown sources (and remind you of the potential consequences of breaking EA’s Terms of Service).”

“We are working on getting a server browser made and adding onto the skate server code,” Justice said. “There is a lot more coming!”

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