Interview with Dan Sochen Producer for United Front Games & Sleeping Dogs
During E3 2012 I met Dan Sochen, a Producer working for United Front Games who are working on Sleeping dogs . I managed to get an interview with Dan and learnt a lot of new interesting things about Sleeping Dogs. Check out the video above for the interview. For those who wish to read the interview as well, a text version of the interview is also included.
Dan (Push-Start): I’m Dan from Push-Start and I’m with…
Dan Sochen: Dan Sochen producer from United Front Games and on Sleeping Dogs.
Dan (Push-Start): As we noticed from Sleeping Dogs, it’s based in Hong Kong, how have the influences from Hong Kong affected the game?
Dan Sochen: It’s been a huge influence for us and a lot of us are big fans of Hong Kong cinema, so John Woo, you know old school Jet Li, Jackie Chan, and in terms of story-wise we took a lot of inspiration from Infernal Affairs which was remade into the departed so we really like what Hong Kong cinema brings to the table, and it hasn’t been games, there are these very cinematic shootouts and kind of a seamless mix between hand to hand martial arts combat, directly into shooting, driving and shooting, jumping from a motorcycle onto another moving car, really making the player feel like an action hero.
Dan: The character’s an ex-cop, how does that develop through the storyline, because obviously you can make different choices in the game, how do they reflect to the player, can the player have a lot of choices to choose which we he likes to go or is it a set story?
Dan Sochen: The character development in our game was critical and we wanted really to tell the story of what it’s like to be an undercover police officer. So we did research, we met with undercover police officers in Hong Kong, we met with triads as well, and we wanted to talk about not just the risk they put themselves at but kind of the conflicted loyalties that, you’re a cop and you befriend these guys that you’re trying to set up and they also start to question the motives so we were thinking of the turmoil that he goes through, and they’re reflected in the game; nightmare sequences, you can see the mental duress that he goes through as the game progresses.
Dan: As for the vehicles in the game, they’re based on real licensed cars?
Dan Sochen: No, we’ve got over sixty-five different vehicles in the game and we’ve got scooets, mopeds, sports bikes, all sorts of varieties of cars, trucks, chicken coop trucks, and even boats, so there’s a variety of different ways to explore the island of Hong Kong.
Dan: With the ways of killing enemies, how many ways are there?
Dan Sochen: I’ve never been asked that question before, that is an awesome question. I would say, no joke, well over a hundred ways. So we’ve got all the hand to hand martial arts, there’s a lot of finishing moves in there as well, there’s a variety of different melee weapons; cleavers, knives, crowbars, we even have a fish you can use, we don’t have too many silly ones, but there’s a couple here and there. And then we’ve got a variety of different guns in the game and the environmental combat props, where you can grab one of your enemies and put their face into a barbeque grill or take them and throw them into a furnace, or drop them onto a bit of pipe sticking out the ground, so the player really gets to experience the game in a variety of different ways and kill however they want. We do give style points as well at the end of your mission scoring based on how well you dispatched your enemies.
Dan: What is your personal favourite way to kill an enemy?
Dan Sochen: My personal favourite is the ice chipper; I don’t have to say anymore, you can imagine where that’s going.
Dan: Sounds brutal. Another question is how far can players venture off, is it quite open world?
Dan Sochen: It’s an island, and it’s a very big world, to drive from end to end would take ten minutes maybe, it’s quite a large world to explore, and we’ve got on foot free running as well, so some areas you can’t access by vehicles, you can climb you way in and we have some chaes across rooftops as well.
Dan: I noticed as well, I think people from Black Box are working on the driving, is that correct?
Dan Sochen: A lot of us ran Black Box for years and a bunch of guys worked on Need for Speed year after year, so we brought all that driving experience to the game to try and make all the gameplay really fun. In open world games you’ve often seen that the fighting, the shooting, the driving kind of gets sacrificed for the freedom of having this huge world that you can explore, and that’s what we really focused our efforts on , we’ve got lots of illegal street racing as well and the driving has a very fun ‘arcadey’ type feel.
Dan: Along with the story line do the side missions reflect the main story as well? Do they have any connection to the main story?
Dan Sochen: The side missions are great because they really give the player the opportunity to learn about some of the secondary characters, and do some interesting different things as well. So we’ve got cop components so you’re building a case against someone, doing photographing, surveillance, wire taps, all these different things you can build a case against someone and eventually get them arrested. We have the cop component, we have dates you can go on, we’ve got jobs, so boosting cars, collecting money for a loan shark, and all these things together, they’re all tied in to get the flavour of Hong Kong, there’s cock fighting, there’s offshore gambling dens, there’s karaoke, so there’s these different things that you can do. And they kind of all wrap back into the main story without changing necessarily the story.
Dan: One last question is, are there any famous actors or actresses doing the voiceovers?
Dan Sochen: Yes, we’ve got an amazing cast. We’ve got Tom Wilkinson, Lucy Liu, Emma Stone, and for all those Hong Kong cinema fans, Edison Chen, Will Yun Lee, we really tried to bring together an all-star cast.
Dan: Thank you very much for your time, the game looks amazing.