This month’s anticipated game, Sleeping Dogs, is being released today for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms. We speak with Feargus Carroll, Senior Producer for United Front Games latest game.
Carroll tells us what the title actually means, the concept of “face” as utilised in the game, as well as his experience working with the game’s cast of A-list stars: Emma Stone, Tom Wilkinson, Lucy Liu, and more.
— At one point, the game was entitled “True Crime: Hong Kong”, but that has since changed after Activision chose to axe the game, and Square Enix took over publishing duties.
When it came time to decide on a new name, were there any other serious contenders for the title? Where did the name “Sleeping Dogs” come from, and how is it tied to the world of Hong Kong triads as depicted in the game?
There were many names thrown around, and to be honest Sleeping Dogs caused quite a mixed reaction at the start.
But [the name] it’s taken from the saying ‘Let sleeping dogs lie’, which means don’t go causing trouble if a situation is peaceful.
That fitted really well with our hero’s journey, although perhaps he should have taken that advice!
— “Face” or “面子” is a concept that’s a facet of East Asian societies in general, and we hear that it’s a major element that comes into play in Sleeping Dogs. How does it come into play, and how different is “face” from the Western notion of “respect”?
The whole concept of face runs though the core of our game and is referenced frequently, both in dialogue and in gameplay – if you don’t have sufficient “face” you cannot access certain stories and sidequests.
You need to complete favours for characters throughout the city to increase your face – an early example is when you smash up the sports car of a street racer who cheated one of your friends. This sends a message to other street racers, and increases your reputation, or face, as a triad enforcer.
I think “face” is close to the Western notion of respect, but from my experience it’s a much stronger and more prevalent concept in East Asia.
— It’s said that Sleeping Dogs’ fighting system was inspired by this particular staircase scene in Tony Jaa’s movie The Protector.
How much of the fighting in Sleeping Dogs is improvisional (i.e. using objects in the environment), and how much of it is pure hand-to-hand martial arts? What else did you look at for inspiration on the combat mechanics?
You’re well informed! Tony Jaa’s fighting style was a huge influence our combat system and the combination of highly skilled hand-to-hand moves and the use of improvised weapons is a permanent blend.
At any time you can use furniture and props or rely purely on your skills to defeat enemies, nothing is scripted.
We also tried to keep more to Tony Jaa’s ability to quickly beat an enemy and move on – we didn’t want prolonged bouts of one on one fighting, or the highly choreographed, albeit very skilful, fights of Jackie Chan.
— Sleeping Dogs is very much inspired by Hong Kong action cinema. But is it just the plot and setting, or were you inspired by the cinematography (or anything that might be considered under mise en scene, for the film buffs out there), post-editing effects and other elements as well? Are there any homages or references?
We tried to capture the essence of Hong Kong crime cinema and that includes not only plot and setting but cinematography, lighting, framing and pacing.
There is one small homage, but I’ll leave it to players to see if they spot it.
— How was it like working with Edison Chen, Emma Stone, Will Yun Lee, and the rest of the cast members for this game? You have an international ensemble with big names from both the US, UK and Hong Kong TV and movie industries; how was the casting process like?
Casting an ensemble cast is always difficult but that’s more to do with their busy diaries and travel schedules than any “prima donna” issues. The whole cast were great, easy to work with, came back to do extra lines and pick-ups.
We think the combination of UK heavyweights like Tom Wilkinson and US “A-list” stars like Emma Stone alongside the greats of Asian cinema is an awesome combination and that really shows in their combined performance.
Sleeping Dogs for the PS3 and X360 is out now, released today (August 14, 2012), available from all good video games retailers.