Why did Virtual Air Guitar decide to try something so ambitious with its first game, rather than go for something more traditional?
Our background is in university research where we were working on things like virtual reality interfaces, so that’s our interest as well as our expertise and we wanted to bring some of that to the gaming market. We believe that we can use our research to bring new experiences to games, which is why we set up the company.
What are the biggest challenges in producing a camera-based game like Kung Fu Live?
First of all, it’s really difficult to get the technology side so perfect that you’re confident of it working in people’s living rooms. We are doing skeleton tracking which involves lots of algorithms and really is even more difficult than it sounds.
Are there any limits to who can play the game, in terms of physical size and proportion?
Not really, you can sort of ‘control’ your size by adjusting your distance from the camera, so kids only need to be about 1.5 metres away whereas you or I might need to be 2.5 metres away. We’ve had people at gamescom playing the game wearing all kinds of cosplay costumes with wings and crazy headwear and it worked fine.
How would you describe the art style and who came up with that?
We’re inspired by the kung fu comics of the 70s and 80s and we wanted to go for a stylised take on those. There’s a story mode that has 11 chapters and ten different levels.
How varied are the levels – do they have different themes?
The story starts with you as a comic book shop assistant and then you get sucked into a comic and end up in an adventure. There’s caves filled with lava, Chinese-themed levels and quite a few more.
What kind of moves will you be able to perform?
You’re free to fight however you like as all quick body movements can deal damage to your enemies – you can even do somersaults and axle kicks of you’re athletic enough. The game empowers you by exaggerating your movements, so you only need to jump maybe 30cm in real life to soar three metres in the game.
What of you are holding some kind of weapon, will the game pick that up too?
Sure, you can take a rubber chicken or some other household item, but please be careful! The game is designed for unarmed combat but we have tried it with items and it seems to work fine.
How does the multiplayer work?
The multiplayer is kind of like a party mode with one person in front of the camera and up to four people controlling enemies using a DUALSHOCK 3 Wireless Controller. We couldn’t really have two people playing on camera safely – even if you’re fighting back to back then you could swing back and hit each other in the head or something.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen taking this game around the world?
We had a guy in a wheelchair once that was looking a little sad so I asked him what was wrong and he said that, more and more, he is seeing these types of games that he cannot play. So I asked him to give it a try – it’s not something we had tested but it worked really nicely. It was really fun to see him zooming around the screen running all of the enemies down and he had a great time.
What do you want people to feel when they play Kung Fu Live?
I really enjoy seeing the smiles on people’s faces and it makes me happy that we’re bringing a fun new experience to PlayStation. Also, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that there’s an exercise element and we’re getting kids off their couches and helping them to improve co-ordination in an entertaining way.
Hello there, fellow ninjas and warriors! This is Teemu Maki-Patola from Virtual Air Guitar Company finally returning with the big news many of you have been asking me since we first came to the PlayStation Blog earlier this year: When is Kung-Fu LIVE coming out? Well, after months of demo events across the world from gamescom in Germany to PAX Prime in Seattle, combined with THOUSANDS of cumulative man-hours for our small independent team in Finland, burning the midnight oil and sweating like crazy play-testing our game, we’re FINALLY ready to break the news right back here where we started. What better way to do that than with an all-new trailer? Have a peek at the clip below to see what people have being saying all year, and get the leg up on exactly when you too can literally step into the world of Kung-Fu LIVE and lay the smack down in your living room!
That’s right! If you’re in Europe, then you can download your way into the action on 8th December. We know it’s been a long time coming, and we’ve always wanted to get this game to you before the last of the leaves hit the ground in 2010. So, as soon as it’s officially too cold to practice your kung-fu moves outside, you’ll get an indoor option that will also transport you to a far off land of street thugs, ninja assassins, and four story-tall giants looking to bash your brains in.
So, with the launch of Kung-Fu LIVE now just a few weeks away, we wanted to brief you on a few simple things to keep in mind before you get ready to play. First off, remember, you’re going to need the PlayStation Eye camera in order to play Kung-Fu LIVE. You will also need a SIXAXIS or DUALSHOCK 3 Wireless Controller for some menu selection, and you can use up to four controllers to get your friends in on the five player multiplayer that pits one brave on-screen fighter against the rest of the players in the room.
The other thing you’ll need is a little bit of space. Remember, Kung-Fu LIVE is unlike any other game to come before it on a home gaming system. You’ll need about 7×9 ft or 2.5/3m of space to play comfortably if you’re more of an extreme fighter. Think of it like setting up a virtual ninja fighting amusement park ride in your house! Our FreeMotion technology will need to track your entire body in plain view, so you’ll also want to turn on those lights to get ready for action. That and, oh yes, you’ll want to stretch before playing to prevent aching muscles afterwards. This will truly be a workout unlike anything you’ve experienced, and will DEFINITELY be a great place to start shedding those holiday pounds. Our lean and mean QA testing team can certainly attest to that!
Thanks again to all of our friends here at the PlayStation.Blog for giving us the chance to bring you these updates, and thanks again to all of YOU who’ve been showing your support over the last few months. This project represents years of independent computer vision research and technology from our team here at Virtual Air Guitar Company, and your enthusiasm to see us finish our crazy idea for the ultimate full body motion fighting game was just what we needed to help get this game completed.
Look for Kung-Fu LIVE on PlayStation Network this December and please be sure to ‘Like’ us on our Facebook page. And before I forget, I wanted to mention our unique image export feature. You can take pictures of yourself inside the kung-fu comic book world can be export them as images straight to your PlayStation 3 photo folder, and then used anywhere you like! We’d love to see you in our game, so please feel free to post those to our Facebook page as well! Remember, our company’s motto has always been: “Serious fun for people who don’t take themselves too seriously.” When you finally get a chance to leap into the world of Kung-Fu LIVE this December, we hope you get a better idea of exactly what we mean. Have fun, play safe, and remember, “Sweep the leg!”
Hello everyone! As promised, we’ve returned right here to the PlayStation.blog after weeks of preparation in Finland and we’re finally ready to show off the latest trailer for Kung-Fu LIVE. Thankfully, this comes just before we head to not one, but two of the biggest fan-friendly gaming events on both sides of the Atlantic. The video gives PlayStation owners a taste of the epic multiplayer opportunities for gamers to pick up a controller and fight a player on-screen. The clip also adds a little more insight into just how far you can take your own costume ideas when kicking some serious ass on-screen. Check it out!
We’ve announced that players will have the chance to go body-on with the game at gamescom in Cologne, Germany, August 19th – 22nd in Hall 6 – Open Booth C-033. What we didn’t get to tell you was that Kung-Fu LIVE will also be playable at PAX Prime 2010 in Seattle, WA, September 3rd – 5th in booth #3654. By popular demand, this gives fans in Europe and the US a chance to see more of what we’ve been working on.
As for the shows, we’ll be revealing new enemies, new levels, boss battles, and giving the crowd a taste of multiplayer for the first time at both gamescom and PAX. We can’t wait for you to hop into the game for yourselves, and attendees at both shows have the chance to walk away with some exclusive Kung-Fu LIVE gear. We don’t want to spoil the surprise, but we promise it will help you get in the mood to show off your fighting skills. Costumes will be completely optional, but are definitely encouraged to help intimidate your enemies.
Thanks again for checking out the trailer, and we can’t wait to see you at these shows in the coming weeks as we rapidly approach our launch on PlayStation Store.
This is Teemu from the Virtual Air Guitar Company. I hope you are all having a great summer. For once, it’s burning hot, even in Finland, but nevertheless we are working hard on our new game Kung-Fu LIVE. It’s coming to PlayStation Store later this year, making it possible for all of you with some Bruce Lee spirit to engage in kicking ass in a whole new way.
Kung-Fu LIVE is a unique fighting adventure that uses the PlayStation Eye camera and our patented Freemotion technology to create a totally new playing experience. With accurate tracking and background removal, you are scanned into the game where your actual punches and kicks become part of the gameplay. Super human powers boost your performance so you can jump flips without actually making them, do epic jump kicks, shoot lightning from your hands and so on. You can even slow down time, Matrix style, and kick your opponents’ butts in slow motion. Yet, no pre-acquired martial arts skills are needed, but it IS a fun form of exercise as well.
The style of the game is a mix between realism and cartoons and is inspired by the Kung-Fu comics of the 70’s and 80’s. The story of the game takes you (yes, literally YOU – stay tuned for more on how this is done..) on a journey spanning from the real modern world to an ancient realm and back. You will be fighting against advanced and reactive AI ranging from small to gigantic enemies. Simply flailing about is not a winning strategy in this game.
You can also play single fights with up to five people at a time, where up to four people can control characters with gamepads and fight against the one in the game. It’s something we can’t wait to show off, and while this is still more of a unique hardcore fighter at heart, this is one of the features that really elevate its ‘party-game’ potential.
The player is integrated with the physics of the game world. He can therefore wreak havoc with boxes, rocks, trashcans and other objects by hurling them on top of his enemies. We also have some neat solutions that make it possible to move around inside the game world even though the game is played by staying within the camera’s view. Small movements in front of the camera will move you much further in the game world and you have several assisting powers that can be used for quickly covering longer distances. The game will contain platforming and larger levels as well.
We first announced the game in May with a playable sneak preview in New York. At E3 we demoed it to media and journalists. The reception from both gamers and journalists has been heart-warmingly awesome! You can check some of the highlights here, here, here and here.
So before the end of this year, I invite you to toss away the gamepad for a change and experience what it’s like to be Jackie Chan: punch, kick, jump and pummel your enemies into oblivion using your body as your only weapon.
I can’t wait to show you more of the stuff we are working on. If you are coming to Gamescom in Cologne, be sure to come by and try the game out in Hall 6 – open booth C-033. We’ll be there all day, every day. Costumed gamers are especially welcome! Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more news and updates. And if you like the game, please give us a boost by liking us on Facebook!
Feel free to post questions about the game here. I’ll try to answer them as best I can.
P.S: Freemotion technology can make you extremely fit – just by playing a videogame. Any resulting six packs are unintentional.