United Front Games, the developer behind the recent Sleeping Dogs title, has revealed that a lot of the game’s big mechanics appeared at the end of its development, noting that, with the help of publisher Square Enix, it was able to improve on many features and add new ones.
Sleeping Dogs came out earlier this month and impressed a lot of people with its polished open world, the melee-heavy combat, and the great story focused on undercover cop Wei Shen and his adventure with the Hong Kong Triads.
The game, however, was initially codenamed Black Lotus, but it was quickly turned into True Crime: Hong Kong
, when UFG signed a publishing deal with Activision.
That contract was soon terminated by Activision, who believed that the title wouldn’t recoup its investment, but Square Enix swooped in and renamed the title Sleeping Dogs.
According to the game’s producer, Dan Sochan, the change in publishers happened as the game went into alpha stage.
“Working with Square Enix on the title, it's been fantastic, it's really given us extra time and we were close to alpha at that point,” he said about the publisher switch to CVG
“Open world games, they're massive and they're all reliant on a series of systems. It's not like you play level one and you get to dump all of that and start level two fresh. Everything has to be running all the time, so a lot of it comes together closer to beta and with the additional year we were able to polish the game and make everything feel a lot tighter.”
The change happened last year and Sleeping Dogs came out earlier this month, so the studio had plenty of time to polish the game and even add some crucial features.
“We had the longest period of beta that I've ever had in 13+ years in the industry so that was great, but we also added in new features like the upgrade system which kind of feels akin to RPGs where at the end of each mission you get a score based on how well you played as a cop or Triad,” Sochan said.
The comprehensive online challenge system was also a last minute feature and, according to the producer, it really helps turn the single-player experience into a more social one.
“The online challenge system [means] at the end of each mission you get the score, you can then upload that to the server so you can compete with your friends or anyone online globally. Because it's an open world game we track tons of stats: longest jump, longest wheelie, longest cop chase, most consecutive crotch shots. They'll all be shared online and you can also challenge a friend, so you can say 'hey I just did a 40 meter jump' and I can issue that challenge to you. So it's great, without having a full multiplayer component, we've still tried to have a real community feel.”
Sleeping Dogs is continuing to sell well
, so it looks like Square Enix made the right call when it acquired the game’s publishing rights.