United Front Snapped Over 35,000 Photos Of Hong Kong For Sleeping Dogs

By Ishaan . July 1, 2012 . 1:30pm

Speaking with the PlayStation Blog for Asia, Sleeping Dogs executive producer, Stephen van der Mescht, discusses how United Front went about gathering reference material for re-creating Hong Kong in their game.


“We took 35,000 to 40,000 reference photos and hour upon hour of video footage, but it’s not a street for street depiction,” van der Mescht says. “It was important for us to capture the essence of city. Lots of the landmarks are there, many of the names are similar yet, first and foremost, we wanted to make that space fun to navigate around.”


In an interview with Siliconera earlier this year, the game’s senior producer, Jeff O’Connell, told us that United Front also spoke with members of the Hong Kong police force, as well as Triad members, who were a valuable source of information for the game’s story and setting. “There is a lot of stuff we learned from talking to those guys that made its way into the game in some interesting ways,”O’Connell shared.


He elaborated: “It was not like we showed up to Hong Kong and said, is there Triad here? Is there anyone we can talk to? And a bunch of guys raised their hands. It was a long process to talk to a couple of these guys and they would only speak directly with our writer. That was all done through a contact we had in the entertainment industry there who had friends who were in the Triad or had previously been in the Triad. It took many weeks and months for them just to meet our writer.”

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  • Solomon_Kano

    Impressive. I’ve never been to Hong Kong, but there’s something to be said for how authentic this game’s world looks versus, say, Saint’s Row’s Steelport. It’s still cool to me that they actually talked to Triads in the process of writing the game. To see developers delve into that kind of research always interests me.

    Definitely my most anticipated game this year.

    • M’iau M’iaut

      I really want to see how this one all turns out in the end. As you have noted, the development time has been shall we say, extensive. Do like that much of the original flavor has been kept even throughout the years.

  • neocatzon

    Just a bit more, United Front. With your dedication I only need a demo then I’m sold.

    With that many resources gathered, how accurate the town essence captured? I hope we have Hong Kong readers here.

    • Aoshi00

      Seems pretty authentic to me, even down to the writing on the neon signs (like the above one says Night Club), etc. I’ve lived in Hong Kong until I was 14 but there were many places I hadn’t been to (as I was still young).. I’m sure Sleeping Dogs is at least much more accurate than Shenmue 2’s Wan Chai or Resident Evil’s 6’s fictional Chinese city based on HK..  and the game has native spoken Cantonese and English, so..

      BTW, it’s a pretty big day for HK yesterday (7/1) due to the 15th anniversary of handover to China and new Chief Executive just took office.. I don’t pay that much attention to HK news or politics though..

      • neocatzon

        Interesting story and good news if this will be as accurate as possible. They really made a good choice to add Cantonese and accented English. This way, English speakers won’t feel too unfamiliar.

      • s07195

        ‘Twas a big day alright, with fireworks at night over the Victoria Harbour! Because the No. 8 typhoon blew away all the fog over the city on Friday, it was really beautiful. And we’re having today off as the government expected most people to stay up late (I did for the Italy vs Spain match).

        Not sure about the new Chief Executive though… -.-

        • Aoshi00

          That’s cool..  must be a lot of rain lately right, I forgot if people still need to go to school or work w/ No. 8 typhoon or no 10..  yeah, I remember everyone stays up late to watch soccer games.. well, I hope Leung Chun-ying would do a good job :)  Nice everyone got HK$ 6000, my ID is still the old one and I haven’t been back in ages *.*..

  • I’m sorry but my games have to have over 45,000 pictures before I buy them.


    • neocatzon

      they have hours of footage too :D

    • Guest


  • SirRichard

    I love hearing about the amount of effort some devs will put into their games, just to get that authentic feeling to them. Not the first Square Enix-backed one either, I remember hearing about the amount of research into the science between Deus Ex’s augs that Eidos Montreal put in.

    Definitely looking forward to it!

  • That’s crazy. If a picture’s really worth a thousand words, that’s over thirty five thousand words. :3

    Either way, they really did their work. I really hope that this effort wasn’t in vain and that the resulting game pulls off the HK atmosphere flawlessly.

  • That’s a lot of photos.  Take THAT Google Street View! :p

  • Göran Isacson

    Hoping this one takes off. I have so much respect for all the research put into this that I hope the development team did the same for the actual game-play part. Having this turn out to be a lesser GTA or Saint’s Row after all this hype would be quite a let-down…

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