Postmortem: Making kung fu right in Sleeping Dogs

We had a quick chat with Sleeping Dogs senior producer Feargus Carroll from United Front Games about the ups and downs of the development cycle,

With Sleeping Dogs out recently, gamers can expect to wreak some triad-style havoc in a virtual version of Hong Kong. GameSpot Asia managed to have a quick word with United Front Games senior producer Feargus Carroll about the development process and the influences on the game's fighting mechanic.

As the game is already out, what do you believe went right during the development cycle of the game?

We feel we have the tightest and best melee combat of any open-world game, and maybe of any third-person action adventure. However, that was an extremely difficult development that took the entire project to get right. We were tuning and tweaking it well past beta and almost up to gold master, just to ensure it was as good as it could possibly be.

Of course that's one of the main elements of the game--there are many more we are proud of--the missions are compelling and way beyond what you might expect in open world; the city itself looks amazing; shooting, driving, the characters and activities you meet and get involved with by just exploring.

To be a little more specific, open-world games are the hardest games to make, no question. And on top of that we aimed for class leading melee combat, gunplay, free-running, driving, racing, story, and compelling narrative-based missions. Any one of those elements on its own could make a game.

Conversely, what are the things you wished you could change during the development process of the game, given the game's shaky history with Activision and the fact that the True Crimes line of games weren't considered good?

Ideally, you don't change publisher just around alpha! That would be good. I don't know what we would or could change--open-world games are the hardest things to make and they only really come together right at the very end.

Until that time comes, which could mean months or even years, you have to keep the faith and be confident in your decisions until you can see them actually playing in the game.

Which schools of kung fu did the team have to research for Wei-Shen's moveset, or even every other triad member he has to fight?

Tony Jaa's fighting style was a huge influence on 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 skillful) fights of Jackie Chan.

Tell us about the score and soundtrack of the game.

There are two parts to this. First, we have an awesome score composed by Jeff Tymoshcuk that was written specifically for the game and features a lot of traditional instruments mixed in with modern percussion for that triad story vibe.

Second, we have lots of radio stations. Each of them play their own style of music, including licensed canto-pop as well as the more regular rock , pop, and soul.

With the many activities in the game, some players may draw comparisons to this game with Sega's Yakuza series. What are your thoughts on that sentiment?

Every game has elements that remind players of other games; it's the same with movies, books, music, and any creative endeavor. Sleeping Dogs is in and of itself its own game--it features melee combat, empowering gunplay, and driving mixed in with strong narrative. It's that combination of crafted components that makes it unique.

What made the team pick Will Yun Lee, a Korean American actor, to voice Wei-Shen, a Chinese cop from Hong Kong?

Our main aim for the project was to hire Asian actors for our Asian characters. The goal was to also figure out who could capture the right tone and intonation with what we imagined them to be.

After much thought, we felt that Will Yun Lee nailed it with Wei in delivering someone believable in Sleeping Dogs' environment and narrative.

What's the future of Sleeping Dogs, now that the game is out?

There's nothing that I can comment upon right now, although there will be DLC packs available.

Sleeping Dogs is out right now in stores. Check out GameSpot's review here.

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even though I am not very good with the fighting , especially in the karoke bar ? I find this game one of the most exciting games I have even attempted ! I keep going to the gym and trying out the fighting techniques over and over and I still can't get them right , it seems that I use the same moves again and again unless they go so quick I just can't see the difference ? anyway great job to all involved in the design concept and all for this game ! I need some mercy , but , these dirty rotten thugs don't show any ! get some more (in-game) DLC out this way ! Thanks !!!!