Sleeping Dogs was one of this summer's surprise packages. As the rest of the country went nuts for the Olympics, the gaming release calendar was emptier than a politician's promise and so United Front's resurrected True Crime: Hong Kong hit at just the right moment.
Make no mistake though, it wasn't just about good timing, it's a great game in its own right too, with our Sleeping Dogs review rightly praising it as 'one of the best open world games of recent years.' Now the first wave of Sleeping Dogs DLC has just been announced we caught up with producer Dan Sochan to learn about United Front's plans for future DLC releases.
What are your overall plans for Sleeping Dogs DLC?
We're really excited about working on the DLC for Sleeping Dogs, you know you sort of get to that point where the game was done and here's all the amazing stuff we didn't have time to do, it was just outside of the scope of the project.
The other fun thing about DLC is that in the main game, we try to keep things very true to Hong Kong, with its crime and drama and its gritty, realistic. But with DLC, we kind of think it's okay to go more over the top, to have fun with things a little bit more, even play with some of the stereotypes. So we're looking at that sort of Hong Kong Chop Suey over-the-top martial arts combat, cheesy sound effects, everything else.
We want to play with those missions, so it's not just another driving-shooting mission, another fighting mission. But instead looking at the iconic martial arts films even from 30-40 years ago, some of the classics and thinking 'how can we reinterpret those?' into making some really interesting new areas of the world. It's kind of turning the game upside down on itself in a way.
Will you still play as Wei or are you planning on having different characters?
That's still sort of in the works, we're thinking for the most part you'll probably still be playing as Wei, but we may even vary that up a bit for some of the other missions. What we're thinking for kind of the variety of DLC stuff is some will be smaller packs, for example costume or character outfits and most of those will give you gameplay benefits like combat damage and shooting accuracy, so it's not just aesthetic. Again we'll be looking at Hong Kong cinema influences and trying to bring those in.
Then we're planning on having some new weapons we can incorporate as well, guns as well as melee weapons, then creating some smaller mission packs and even some very large mission packs, themed ones that'll do a pretty global change on the world itself.
The other thing we really want to do is reach out to the fans as well and say 'What kind of stuff would you like to see?' We'd love to know what kind of things excited you. That's what we make games for, not for ourselves but for the fans. So to get their direct feedback would be phenomenal, so we're planning on doing that.
DLC seems to be quite an increasingly important component for developers nowadays?
Yeah I know there's sometimes criticisms that DLC is just a money maker and that could be the case in some games. More often than not though, we just have to ship the game at some point and there's amazing things that we wanted to do, but they were outside the scope or outside of the main theme. But with DLC you're able to offer to people unique elements or unique modes.
So you're not only looking to extend the life of the title but to offer more to players?
Yeah you can really not only extend the game and make more missions to extend the storyline, but as I said, have fun with it and do some really unique things that - in the main game - it wouldn't make sense to have. For example all of a sudden have one mission where there's ghouls and ghosts and goblins or whatever, it wouldn't work in the main game, but if it's a DLC pack that sort of thing can fit.
It's interesting to base your DLC on fan feedback
As developers we love to get that feedback, that's why I love doing expansion packs and why I'm doing a lot more of the fan facing events to get people's direct feedback on the game. We do a lot of user testing in the studio. We got people from all walks of life to play the game from beginning to end which was a pretty big time commitment and getting their feedback on what was too easy, what was too hard.
It's amazing for us, we'll sit back and watch and just be in awe at some of the things, some of the subtleties that people loved and some of the other things that we thought were really obvious that people struggled to pick up on. So bringing that all together it's what games are all about, it's for the mass public, not just a select few game developers.