Bruce Lee - Ronin Interview
XboxAddict.com interviews Ronin Entertainment, the creators of Xbox's upcoming smash hit Bruce Lee: Quest of the Dragon.
Q: Thanks for taking the time to answer a few of our questions regarding Bruce Lee: Quest of the dragon. I guess we’ll start off with the ever popular who are you and in what specific area have you contributed to the design of the game?
A: I’m Justin Lees and I’ve been the production coordinator on the game for the past 7 months. I’ve assisted the animators on making some of the martial arts moves look more realistic by offering a technical perspective. I’ve inspired changes in the lock-on system to make it feel more fluid. I’ve also facilitated making sure that everything required in the development process runs smoothly.
Q: What’s the story behind Ronin Entertainment?
A: Ronin, located in Novato, California, is composed of a team of artists from Industrial Light and Magic and designers from Lucas Arts. Some of their proudest work includes the Star Wars series on Super Nintendo, X-Wing Tie Fighter, and Indiana Jones Last Crusade.
Q: To take on the development of game based on someone as legendary as Bruce Lee must have been both daunting and exciting. How many people are involved in the development team and how long has the title been in the works?
A: The game has been in development for a total of just over two years and at any given time, the team has been as big as 50 people. There have been many people who have contributed to this game.
Q: What type of research has gone into making the game?
A: Well, obviously, we did extensive research into his films. Also, in order to preserve the authenticity of Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do, we motion captured one of his students. In addition to being such an unparalleled fighter, Bruce Lee was a philosopher, and included throughout the game are philosophies that have never before been released.
Q: Can you give us a rundown of the story behind BL:QOTD?
A: A ruthless militia called the Black Lotus has kidnapped Bruce Lee’s father. His monastery has been desecrated and the ancient relic has been stolen. Bruce sets out on a mission to rescue his father, retrieve the ancient relic and bring the Black Lotus to justice. The story has elements of humor, intrigue and adventure sharply characteristic of Lee’s films.
Q: What types of changes have been made, if any, since Bruce Lee’s announcement at last years E3?
A: Almost every aspect of the game has had some sort of improvement, from the combo system to the fighting system to the enemy AI. We’ve focused solely on making this an adventure/fighting game as opposed to an arena style title.
Q: In our quest, what different types of locations will we find ourselves kicking ass and taking names?
A: The adventure takes Bruce to various locals such as London, San Francisco and Hong Kong set in various environments like back alleys, caves, ancient temples, and rooftops, just to name a few.
Q: How interactive will these locations be? Will there be modeled cities to venture around in?
A: The level designs tout art that is stylistically representative of the locations after which they are modeled. Although there is some interaction with certain items in the environment such as box crates, trash cans, chairs and tables, we steered more on course to focus on the fighting elements and the lock-on fighting system.
Q: Being both action as well as adventure based, has the game play been balanced with equal parts of each genre? Or would you say that the game is more about fighting with a bit of story behind it?
A: When people think of Bruce Lee, they think of what an awesome fighting machine he was. When asked what people would think about a Bruce Lee game, the response was almost unanimous – it would have to be a fighting game. Given the obvious, we also wanted to incorporate an adventure with a sense of cinema indicative of his films. Our emphasis was to create an adventure fighting game that had a breadth of combos for players to do, but wasn’t an arena style, one-on-one. Bruce Lee was all about balance.
Q: Will there be different levels of difficulty for the enemy AI? Do the enemies get harder as the game progresses or just the amount of enemies we’ll have to fight at any one time?
A: The difficulty of enemy AI does ramp up as the adventure proceeds. This creates the need for players to stock up health, power and of course, to purchase moves. Different enemies have different styles of attacks, and this also contributes to variation in the AI that players will have to adjust to. It will be important for players to strategically utilize the lock-on fighting system (which also indicates the difficulty of the enemy) while in combat.
Q: In keeping with the feel of Bruce Lee and his style of fighting, what kind of sounds can we expect to hear when we fight? Will we hear Bruce do his well-known yells and the punching sounds from the old martial arts films?
A: You bet. We searched high and low for the right voice over talent and we’re very satisfied with what we found.
Q: Can you explain the fighting system and how it plays out on the Xbox controller?
A: 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 on his attacks of that opponent. The right analog stick can be used to execute non-orienting 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 now engage in fighting with that opponent. An arrow indicator above the opponent tells the player onto which opponent they’re locked. Different colors indicate different levels of difficulty.
Q: How many moves basically will we start off with and how many can be acquired throughout the game?
A: There are over 100 moves in the game differing in how difficult they are to execute. Of those, about 20 (the coolest) moves must be purchased. These include throws, counters and special kicks/punches.
Q: Can you explain the coin system and how we acquire new moves?
A: Coins are dropped by defeated opponents. Players can acquire more coins by doing flashier, more difficult combos, which is important because those coins are used later to purchase attributes such as health, power, rank and moves. The move purchase menu lists all the moves that the player can afford and shows the price of the moves they can’t afford.
Q: Besides Jeet Kune Do, what other fighting styles will we have to master?
A: Since players play only as Bruce Lee, Jeet Kune Do is what playesr will have to master, however players will encounter opponents that are trained in various forms of martial arts such as Tae Kwon Do, Kick Boxing, Shaolin Dragon, Shaolin Tiger, Shaolin Crane and Kenpo.
Q: How big of a learning curve is involved with the fighting system? Will the novice gamer be able to pick up a controller and start dishing it out or will DOA3/Tekken players be salivating at the massive combos available?
A: Our goal was to implement a fighting system that was easy to use, a challenge to master and catered to both general gamers and fighting game enthusiasts. In additions to being able to pull off some pretty flashy moves with a few button commands, there are also more difficult combos that require use of the D-pad in conjunction with well-timed button sequences.
Q: What different types of game modes will be available in both single player and multiplayer? Any plans for online support?
A: This game features only a single player mode and no online support is available now.
Q: We noticed quite a few clothing variations in the screenshots, are these just skins or does your clothing reflect timelined events in Bruce’s career? How many different costumes will be available?
A: The different outfits merely reflect that Bruce too needs to change his clothes from time to time. There’s really no real timeline relativity to what he wears in the game. You’ll see Bruce Lee dressed in four different get-ups.
Q: How well are you guys pushing the power of the Xbox? What sort of graphical effects are being implemented?
A: The characters are over 4000 polygons while Bruce is closer to 8000. The framerate 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.
Q: What ESRB rating are you guys shooting for?
Q: What is your all time favorite Bruce Lee movie?
A: Enter the Dragon . . . Whaataah!!
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us.