Ong-Bak: The First Interview

Last week, Thai developer Studio HIVE and film studio Sahamongkol Film International announced that the popular muay Thai martial arts movie series Ong-Bak would be adapted into a game. To find out more about the title, we held an exclusive first interview with Kan Supabanpot, General Manager at Studio HIVE, about Tony Jaa’s involvement, the game’s background and which type of genre it will be.

When did development on the game begin?

Initial discussion about this project started in 2010 but actual game development began around 6 months ago.

Is the game based on the first Ong-Bak, which was based in the contemporary world, or will it be based on the sequels, which were set in the 15th Century? Or is it something else entirely?

It is based on the project that has yet to be announced so that’s why it’s still a bit of a secret and no screenshots to go along with our initial announcement.

What type of genre will the game actually be? A fighting game, a third person action game?

It will be a 3D side-scrolling action game.

Will you be playing as Ting, Tien or someone else?

We can’t say specific details but you will be playing as a character portrayed by Tony Jaa.

Approximately how many fighting moves will your character have?

We have around 20-30 moves though we’re not finished with the combat system. We are trying our best to include all fan favorite moves in here.

Will you be able to use the environment as a weapon?

No. It does not really fit in our gameplay design we have.

Is Tony Jaa [star of Ong-Bak], or any other muay Thai expert, involved in the game?

Yes. Tony Jaa himself is involved in this game and it is equally important to tell you that master Panna Rittikrai [Ed: Thai martial arts action choreographer, Tony Jaa’s mentor, Ong-Bak director and screenwriter] and his stunt team are heavily involved as he is designing action sequences and fighting moves for this game.

How much creative control was Studio HIVE given over what is an existing IP?

The team at Sahamongkol Film International is very supportive and they allow us to pitch ideas not only concerning gameplay but also visual and story elements as well.

Ong-Bak has several very dark themes – drug abuse, overdoses and murder. Is this something we should expect to see in the game?

There will be a lot of brutal violence, but not with a dark theme like drugs or murder.

There’s also a focus on Buddhist philosophy in the films – especially in Ong-Bak 3 – will that influence the game?

We want to make sure that the purpose of this game is to make sure it is enjoyable for players and additionally giving fans of the series more in-depth experience. There will be some elements of Buddhism, but it will not be our primary focus.

The PS Vita already has a slew of fighting games, and portables are historically very popular in Asian territories. Will you be developing for the Vita?

We cannot give comments regarding release platforms right now as it will be officially announced at a later stage.

In 2008, Thailand banned several violent video games like Hitman and Killer Seven – do concerns about being banned affect the content of the Ong-Bak game?

We are developing this game with our target audience being overseas fans so the violent video game ban in Thailand does not affect us.

When are you planning to release the game?

We are targeting late 2012 for our release.

Stay tuned to PlayStation LifeStyle for more exclusive interviews soon.