Hong Kong setting sold Square Enix on Sleeping Dogs

By Brenna Hillier
23 February 2012 04:52 GMT

Square Enix took one look at the game now known as Sleeping Dogs and fell head over heels in love, according to United Front Games.

“For Square, that proposition was exciting for them. They said ‘First time in Hong Kong; sounds amazing,'” senior producer Jeff O’Connell told AusGamers.

“There’s not a lot of cop games, so the original in that respect sounds amazing. And the guys that came off Just Cause and Arkham and saw our mechanics, they loved that as well. So for them, there wasn’t a whole lot of need to change elements,” he added, speaking of the Square Enix production team now overseeing of Sleeping Dogs.

Other, unnamed companies which saw the game weren’t so impressed, O’Connell seems to have implied, which comes down to a lack of understanding in how open world games are a mess until quite late in production.

“We’ve worked on a lot of these games – we have very experienced staff and we knew that these games take a long time to come together in the end because they are so complex,” he said.

“They’re system-driven and the system is essentially building a world simulator and that doesn’t really play nicely together until near the end when all the systems are in place. The thing about Square is that they kind of understood that and they understand about how these game come together,” he said.

“A while ago and it looked like one thing; today it looked like an entirely different thing and part of that is just a maturation process of these systems as they get developed.”

Square did understand this, apparently, jumping on board United Front’s dream to “have the game in Hong Kong, be an undercover cop and offer people the deepest mechanics that they’ve seen in an open-world game”.

The team at United Front has worked on Need for Speed, Bully, Skate, Prototype and Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, and as such, knows a bit about open-worlding it up.

“For us, the cornerstone of the game is the fun piece. You can have a great story and you can have a great city, but unless the game is fun, it’s just not great,”O’Connell observed.

“You see people going back and forth between fighting, shooting, vault-shooting, getting on a bike as you saw in the demo and shooting,all of those things don’t seem modal, it seems natural – that ability to seem like a Hong Kong action hero – and have a very, very short learning curve.”

Sleeping Dogs is due in the second half of 2012, for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

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