The Hive mind behind the Ong Bak video game

We speak to Thai-based developer Studio Hive about its upcoming game based on the Thai martial arts action series.

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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.

Discussion

36 comments
terminus
terminus

I like that they went 2d, can't stand 3d games anymore, old school 4 life!

Ps, reminds me of Rayman with Martial Arts.

amdreallyfast
amdreallyfast

I fear that the develops may try too hard to make it awesome end up making a pretty and awesome but shallow game.  I cross my fingers and hope for the best!

k_h_a_n
k_h_a_n

looks good...perhaps more fluidity in character movement animations will benefit the game especially 0:47 not very good.....fight from 1:25 with the long horned bull was awesome

dalua360
dalua360

Awesome! Tony Jaa is the true Muay Thai warrior!

westside27
westside27

plz help me to download this game to my pc


lavalarbo
lavalarbo

I love the movies, but this looks like a side scrolling Devil May Cry. Not impressed. Will wait for GameSpot's review, won't risk my time trying it.

brxricano
brxricano

It looks.....unmovingly adequate. :|

kishen95
kishen95

Nice to see Thailand making games now but uh, looks a little mediocre, good for the locals I guess.

jark888
jark888

My attention is at the new MOVIE!!!

hibikino
hibikino

Being a Thai myself, I have seen so many mediocre games made by Thai gaming industry. I must say that Ong Bak Tri is a huge leapt forward for the industry. So even if this game may not be a commercial success. I'm still very happy to see that the Thai developers are still striving forward and hopefully, create better games in the future.

Guzthon
Guzthon

Interesting. I wish that the Ong Bak game releases a 3d version for the home consoles (PS3 and XBOX360) and a 2D version for the portable consoles (NDS, PS Vita and N3DS) with combat elements ofBatman Arkham series and the Amazing Spiderman.

komil
komil

Hmmm, prince of persia meets god of war in thai style... well...

I like the idea but they should make games for k1 or muay thai boxing inside rings like ufc instead of games for 5 yr old kids...

I am still waiting for muay thai simulation games...

desauce
desauce

@pal_080 Koch Media = Parent company to Deep Silver, Think ZeniMax to Obsidian.  

CommanderShiro
CommanderShiro

I think its pretty cool that a Thai based developer is making the game. You don't hear much about game developers in Southeast Asia. 

Marsh87
Marsh87

Tony Jaa for the win


SKULLguy
SKULLguy

It's gonna be BOOORING  . "Mark my words "

O-Fear
O-Fear

They need to polish the animation..
0:47 he looks like he just now learned how to run

chidane23
chidane23

At least it looks better then the tom-yum-goom game lol


Adenosine
Adenosine

I wish he was fighting HUMANS instead of monsters...

danny_dm_moore
danny_dm_moore

@PlasmaBeam44 really? Ong Bak 2? I thought it was rubbish compared to the other two and Warrior King! To each their own though! lol

Its good to see a license come out that's a bit different, but still, I can't imagine this will live up to the action in the movie. We shall see though...

kiramasaki
kiramasaki

There is a theorem about infinite monkeys typing on typewriters for an infinitie period of time and there is a chance for them to write Shakespeare. Apparently Ong Bak's producers borrowed one monkey and give it five minutes to write the scripts for ong bak and ong bak 2, and for good measure the protector. Tony Jaa to watch as a martial artist is right up there with Bruce Lee and Jet Li, but his films are crap. And now they want to make a game out of it.

N4o7A
N4o7A

Mmmmm... cool see ong bak being made into the a video game but it looks like meh to me :/ I'm a big fan of Tony Jaa's work though so I'd def keep an eye on this...

PlasmaBeam44
PlasmaBeam44

Ong Bak 2 probably has the best fight scenes of any movie ever, and as soon as it was over I was just thinking how awesome an Ong Bak game would be. This game looks terrible. Why 2D? Why does it looks like a terrible generic fantasy game? 

Why not make a 3D action game, and give it the crowd based counter combat that Batman and Sleeping Dogs did, except make it way more brutal so it could match the films. 

snakefantasy10
snakefantasy10

ah just make it fun to play and I might pick it up

nate1222
nate1222

A PC version. Steam? Word.

famekiller
famekiller

@westside27   its not released yet. And when it is, go buy it, put the CD into your CD drive and it should install itself. That's how the rest of us (honest) people do it.

Rie_BooM
Rie_BooM

@kiramasaki That's a bit harsh. Ok, fair play, The Bodyguard was crap but the fighting in Ong-Bak was sublime and who cares about storyline in martial arts films? I just want to see some excellent kung fu. For instance, Expendables has far too much storyline and not enough violence. 

But anyway, this isn't about the film, doesn't matter if the film was good, it was popular so of course someone's going to cash in and make a game on it. 

And I completely agree - this game is going to be S#!T.