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Interviews

Looking Back... Jade Empire

Jon Blyth talks Chinese mythology, fanboys and taking photographs of bricks...

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OPEN PALM, SLAPPED FACE
Diarmid Clarke: There's a mixture of karate, kung fu and around five different real-world martial arts styles included in the game, and we used motion capture to make sure it was accurate. When we wanted to add different moves, we borrowed from other sources. Things like the transformation styles - we borrowed some stuff from Chinese mythology, things like the cat demons. Then we added things we thought fitted in - that weren't taken from the mythology, but fitted in with what we were doing. Also, we were able to develop the Iron Palm style a little bit further and put it into the PC version.

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The first style I ever played in the game was the Leaping Tiger style. Just for that reason, that's probably my favourite style, because it's the first one I ever used. Although I love the transformation stuff too - getting the Jade Golem and kicking the crap out of everything was probably one of the best feelings for me in the game. I'm rubbish at Drunken Master, though.

HENPECKED HOU
Diarmid Clarke: What we wanted to do is tell stories through character, so you want to build up a varied cast with their own histories, who relate well to each other. If you look at BioWare games, there's always one there for light relief - that's Henpecked Hou. He gets pretty much all of the best lines, he's absolutely the character I'd use, just to listen to him. He's absolutely useless in combat, but I'll use him, just to hear what he says next. My wife's not so keen on him, because he's constantly complaining about his own wife. He's definitely a man's character, and Henpecked Hou is a well-known character from China.

JOHN CLEESE
Diarmid Clarke: The Outlander is a composite of different European explorers. His helmet is Spanish, his breastplate is German and he's obviously very English - he's an amalgamation of the European explorers who wandered over to China. Getting John Cleese was just one of those fortuitous moments. We were recording in Los Angeles, John Cleese was there, his agent was there and he was really open to the idea. We asked him if he had time, he said yes and it was all done in an afternoon. You'd expect something like that to take months, but it couldn't have been more simple.

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MOUSE AND KEYBOARD
Diarmid Clarke: Actually, I'm probably proudest of the PC interpretation of the control system in the whole project. From the outset, we were adamant that the game had to play well on keyboard and mouse, otherwise there's no point in making the game. We threw a dummy control system in at the outset of making the game, so we had the whole development process to perfect the controls. Personally, I think it plays better on keyboard and mouse, because your ability to jump between styles is a lot more fluid than it was on the Xbox.

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