Martial arts film fans received a surprise last year when an action game based on the Ong Bak franchise was officially unveiled. Called Ong Bak Tri, the game is a mix of 2D-platforming and God of War-style action combat, and is scheduled to arrive on PCs first. The upcoming title has also received the blessing of the original film's director, Prachya Pinkaew, and one of its main actors, Tony Jaa.
GameSpot Asia had a chat with a representative from Studio Hive--the Thailand-based studio involved with the project--about how they're trying to get big-screen action into the living room.
What drew your team to work on this project in the first place?
Studio Hive: We started this Ong Bak project about five to six years ago already, way before Studio Hive was founded. The first Ong Bak film was a huge international hit that was made entirely in Thailand and I think it is perfect for a video game. When our studio finally established an internal game development team, we approached the brand owner Sahamongkol Films for their permission.
Based on the official site, Studio Hive is highlighted as an animation and a concept art-creating company. How much of a challenge has it been to make and code video games?
This project is definitely a great challenge for everyone in our team--we are enjoying every day. In this dimension it is a whole new playing field and we are working really hard with the support of the publisher Immanitas Entertainment to make sure our game is worth the wait.
Which game studios have you contributed your artwork to so far, before doing Ong Bak?
Our creative director Skan Srisuwan was the lead character designer for Square-Enix's Front Mission Evolved during his time in Singapore. We worked on World of Warcraft card games. Other notable mentions would be Star Wars: Book of Sith and Starhawk. Lately we have been doing a lot of mobile card games as they require really high quality digital illustrations.
Were there any other game design ideas you thought of before settling for the 2D action genre? If yes, tell us more about them. Also, why weren't they implemented?
There are three main reasons for deciding to make Ong Bak Tri into a 2.5D side-scrolling game. The first reason is the market. This genre has a lot of fans over all platforms, and the feedback we got so far confirms this.
Second: this kind of game is a perfect fit with regards to the strength and capacity of our team. We don't have hundreds of people working on this game so naturally at this point we cannot do an MMORPG or a sandbox action game.
The third reason is that all of us at Studio Hive are old school hardcore gamers. We grew up playing games like Final Fight and Double Dragon. These games were really cool and are still giving us a lot of inspiration and we want to have that also with Ong Bak Tri.
How much did the film's original director and actor contribute to the upcoming game? Could you elaborate on how they worked alongside Studio Hive?
I consider us very lucky to work with two amazing directors on this project: Thossaporn Poonart, the director for Ong Bak Tri and Prachya Pinkaew, the director of the original Ong Bak film. We really appreciate the level of creative freedom they have given us. We've have a lot of meetings with them to guarantee this game will be an authentic addition to the Ong Bak world.
One very important contributor for both this project and the Ong Bak universe is Panna Rittikrai. He is a legendary action choreographer and is often known as the co-creator of Ong Bak. Ajarn Panna is designing action sequences for the game.
Tony Jaa lent us his name and likeness for the game and we will announce more on his involvement later. I am sure that the fans will be delighted with the authentic "Ong Bak" feel in the game.
Like the second and third movie, the game is set in ancient times. Why not a contemporary setting like in the first film?
This game will be a prequel to a new movie from the Ong Bak series that is scheduled for this year. We cannot give out too many details on this upcoming movie, but the license owner Sahamongkol Films will do so soon.
What will this game do differently from other 2D action-platformers like Outland and the Shank series?
We tried to create our combo system in a way that players will have more options to have "fun" with enemies. All Ong Bak films are famous for their awesome action scenes, and this will also be a main element of our game.
Which platforms will this game be released on? Also, when will it be out and how much?
The game is designed for PC, consoles, and mobile platforms. The first release platform will be PC, followed by mobile. We are currently working very hard to get the game ready but we also want to offer the best possible gaming experience. The game is in the final development stages now; we'll announce a release date shortly.