Universal Interactive's upcoming game for the Xbox, Bruce Lee: Quest of the Dragon, offers a unique use of the Bruce Lee license. The game draws upon Lee's movies, philosophies, and martial art, jeet kune do, and mixes it with 3D side-scrolling elements. The end result is a unique game that should offer a unique experience on the Xbox. We caught up with production assistant Justin Lees to find out how the game came into being and where it's going.
GameSpot: How long has the game been in development?
Justin Lees: It's been in development for about two years.
GS: How large is the team working on it?
JL: At any given time, the team has been as large as 50 people. There have been many people who have contributed to this game.
GS: What is the team's background? What are previous games they've worked on?
JL: Ronin is located in Novato, California. The team consists of artists from Industrial Light and Magic and designers from LucasArts. They've worked on the Star Wars series on Super Nintendo, X-Wing Tie Fighter, and Indiana Jones Last Crusade.
GS: What do you feel are the keys to a great fighting system?
JL: Features would include an in-depth fighting system with moves that are intuitively executed. The system should allow players the freedom of attacking whatever opponents they want while displaying compelling animations indicative of awesome fighting tactics and techniques.
GS: What kind of added pressure is there in developing a Bruce Lee game, knowing he has such a strong following?
JL: Given the renown of such an acknowledged fighter like Bruce Lee, gamers, especially fighting game enthusiasts, are going to want this game to be the best fighting game ever. In light of expectations this high, we were keen on adding essential elements to the game that convey an accurate representation of Bruce Lee. In addition to preserving his authentic style of jeet kune do, we've added many of his profound philosophical sayings throughout the dialogue so that Bruce Lee is truly recaptured in the game.
GS: What fighters did you look to for inspiration?
JL: Well, obviously, we looked to Bruce himself. In addition to motion-capturing his last student, our animators worked closely with Lee's films, frame by frame, so that Bruce's unique moves could be translated precisely.
GS: Is the animation motion captured?
JL: Yes. We also had a martial arts consultant help fine-tune some of the hand animations.
GS: How important is motion capture for a game like this? Have you been able to transfer Bruce Lee's jeet kune do style to the screen?
JL: In order to preserve the authenticity of Bruce Lee's style, motion capture was essential. Although we could've used another jeet kune do martial artist, we felt that using a student of the master himself would be crucial.
GS: How many fighting styles are in the game?
JL: The game consists of three main fighting styles with dozens of variations in enemy AI techniques.
GS: About the graphics engine, how many polygons is it moving? What is the target frame rate? And what kinds of special effects are you using? Are you using HDTV support?
JL: The characters are over 4000 polygons, while Bruce is closer to 8000. The frame rate is never below 30, and we are really pushing the Xbox on special effects. We have things like dynamic lighting, real-time shadows, real-time reflections, weather effects, and tons of great particle effects all at once while even making sure the game works on an HDTV.
GS: How many arenas will there be in the game?
JL: There are 12 arena fights.
GS: Are the levels in the game accurately modeled after their real-world locations, or are they just basic representations?
JL: They are certainly representative of the real-world locations in look and feel but are not exact replicas. The artists at Ronin did a great job of making the environments look very realistic.
GS: Can you explain how the lock-on system works?
JL: The lock-on system essentially allows players the option of engaging in combat with multiple enemies or individual enemies. When players initially strike an opponent, the lock-on system engages. This allows Bruce to focus most of his attacks on that opponent. The right analog stick can be used to execute nonorienting attacks to any of the surrounding enemies. Players have the option of unlocking (R trigger) in order to engage with other opponents or to simply change the opponent onto which they're locked (L trigger). Once cycled onto another enemy, Bruce will engage in fighting with that opponent.
GS: What is the gameplay structure going to be like? It's been noted that players can upgrade their moves by collecting tokens, but what do these move upgrades actually do? Can you buy entirely new moves as well?
JL: Bruce must fight multiple enemies at the same time as well as individual opponents and bosses in arena-style combat. The enemy AI will be dynamic in that certain opponents can only be defeated with special combos. The difficulty of the enemies will be dependent on their method of combat and their style of martial arts. Throughout the course of the game, players must collect coins from defeated opponents that are later used to acquire new moves to be used in combos. Performing more-challenging combos results in players collecting more coins and points. Coins are also used to acquire greater health and rank. Another objective is to collect dragon tokens that allow the player to put Bruce "on fire." In this state, Bruce's hands and feet become aflame during combat, and he inflicts maximum damage while being invulnerable to attacks. During certain fights, Bruce is armed with nunchucks and rains damage on all who attempt assault. Equally impressive is Bruce "on fire" with nunchucks.
GS: Are the controls in the game similar to most fighting games, or have they been kept relatively simple?
JL: We've effectively implemented a fighting system that caters to fighting enthusiasts and general gamers. Although players can perform some pretty flashy moves using fairly simple button combinations, there are more-intricate combos performed using the D pad in conjunction with timed button sequences as seen in DOA3, Soul Caliber, and Tekken.
GS: Since enemies have the ability to launch ambushes, is stealth an important part of the game?
JL: Although this game wasn't designed to implement stealth tactics, players will have to devise strategic tactics when fighting multiple opponents. As an action adventure game that follows a cinematic story chock-full of fast-paced fighting, one of our goals was to re-create Bruce Lee in all his glory and deliver an action fighting game that delivered the style and flair indicative of a legendary martial arts icon.
GS: Will the game support Dolby 5.1?
JL: Not this one, but quite possibly the next.
GS: Thanks for your time.