Join us as we talk with Tameem Antionades from Just Add Monsters about their new Xbox-exclusive party brawler, Kung Fu Chaos. KFC is set to take the party genre to new heights, offering a full cast of eight wacky characters, dynamic movie sets, and over-the-top action coupled with loads of witty humor. We drill Tameem on the game's combat system, Xbox Live compatibility, and a whole lot more. Take a look.
Gaming Target (GT):
Tameem, you are the design director for Kung Fu Chaos. Give us a brief overview of your involvement in the game's production. Tameem Antionades (TA): Sure. I initially developed the concept along with Nina Kristensen (Producer) and Mike Ball (Technical Director) when we founded JAM. I took that up to a full design spec covering everything from level designs to combat mechanics and even wrote the initial level exporters in order to help get a prototype running. Then we signed up with Microsoft Games Studio with whom I worked closely to make sure that all the pieces of the puzzle such as combat, camera and gameplay was working well. Now I mostly do Q&A's and stare at blank walls (not really..ha..ha)!
GT: The Xbox party-game scene, especially the party-brawler scene, has already got some pretty heavy contention with games like Fuzion Frenzy and Whacked!. What is it that you think makes Kung Fu Chaos stand out from the rest?
TA: I think the two games mentioned there take on the party-brawler thing from different angles. Fuzion is totally based on mini games, Whacked! is more deathmatch-on-steroids, whereas Kung Fu Chaos is fighting-based. I don't think there are nearly enough games out there that you can play with friends, and this is something we are out to set right on the Xbox!
There is so much to Kung Fu Chaos that is unique! No one has tried to capture the fun and mayhem of Kung Fu movies for a start! The action set pieces are absolutely crazy and the taunt-based combat system is a great way to mix combat with humiliation! Then there's the mini games, game options, 70s style movie-replays and so on. Ultimately it's all crammed in there for one reason: So that you and your friends can humiliate each other in the most intense and competitive gaming experiences since Super Bomberman!
GT: The simplicity of the combat system and controls would suggest that your intention is to create a game that's easily accessible to all audiences. At the same time, serious players demand deep, sophisticated gameplay to keep them coming back to a game. What steps have been taken to strike a balance between the two in regards to KFC's fighting system?
TA: We discarded the idea that memorizing combos and mastering awkward pad sequences is what makes a fighting game fun and instead concentrated on the play mechanics of combat. So what we have is a system that has about 40 combos per character consisting of attacks, counters, blocks, unblockable attacks, trips, multi-opponent moves as well as object interaction and the totally unique taunting system. It's been developed over a long period of time and has gone through many test sessions with both casual players and hardcore fighting fans until everyone was happy!
GT: We know that every character has their own special move, and that they are somehow connected with the game's ?taunt' mechanism. Could you elaborate on this for us?
TA: When you knock out an enemy, you can tag on a badly-translated taunt if you hold down the left trigger. Expletives fly out and add further damage to your opponent, which gives you more time to kick them off the film set or throw them into traps. The down side is that you are left vulnerable to attacks while you are taunting, so better make sure you do knock them down! A successful taunt gives you a glowing orb over your head. Get three of these to power up and pull off the devastating Super Attacks, unique to each character. However, it is not that easy to power up as opponents can steal the orbs off you by taunting you instead! It adds a completely new layer of strategic combat!
GT: What role, if any, does the film's director play in the game?
TA: The director Shao Ting is a manic megalomaniac and a bit of a mad man. He guides you through the scenes shouting instructions, berating your performance when you do badly and taking credit when you do well! He is prepared to put his actors through hell on the rickety film sets and has no sense of safety! He is a menace to filmmaking and should be locked up in an asylum! But to his credit, he does keep things lively and will add his own commentary during the movie replays.
GT: What level of interaction can we expect from the stages? Are there context-sensitive objects (maybe levers or buttons) that can be used against your opponents?
TA: Every stage is different but there are lots of traps and triggers and objects that can be interacted with as well as the big action set pieces that tear apart the film sets! As a player you are constantly under pressure from the environment (monsters, dinosaurs, U.F.O.'s etc) and have to change your strategy according to what's going on. This is what makes Kung Fu Chaos so different from your traditional arena-based fighting game.
GT: How do the mini-games fit into KFC? Are they simply extra challenges thrown in between levels or do they take on a more prominent role?
TA: The split between all-out-fighting and mini-games is pretty even so they do make up a big chunk of the game. Some are multiplayer, some single player challenges; some involve fighting while others do not. Whether you are fighting with your fists or by throwing a spoilt-brat princess at your enemies, they are all important scenes in the movie and add a great deal of gameplay variety to Kung Fu Chaos.
GT: So what's your favorite movie set in the game? Any possibility for Xbox Live content downloads to add new levels or other features in the future?
TA: There's a film set in the Mini Series mode where you have to locate and destroy Predator-like invisible ninjas in a forest. However, they are hard to spot as they creep up on you slowly and silently. I like the set up in that one! I have also been playing the multiplayer "Waterwhirl" set lately where you have to jump over or hit a spinning pole. It a great example of how it is possible to create a strategic and deeply fun game with the most basic control set up!
GT: And lastly, while we're on the matter, why the decision not to make Kung Fu Chaos compatible with Xbox Live?
TA: Fighting games are by far the hardest genre to get working online and so must be designed around online play from the outset. Live was not ready when we started Kung Fu Chaos and so designing a 4-way combat system that would work with Live was not feasible. Instead, we felt that the core of the Kung Fu Chaos multiplayer experience is duking it out with a bunch of friends on the couch (close enough where you can actually give them a 1-2 combo), so we really put a lot of work in to tuning the game to make it fun in that setting. Be assured that we at JAM are true believers in Live but we want to make a big splash when our first Live game arrives and support it with style!
We'd like to extend a special thanks to Mr. Antionades for granting us time out of his oh-so-busy schedule, and also for creating what looks to be one heck of a game. Be sure to look for our review of Kung Fu Chaos when it releases at the end of the month. Until then, don't miss our many screenshots and full preview of the game.