Martial Arts Demo? Kung Fu Superstar Kickstarter

By John Walker on November 7th, 2012 at 8:00 pm.

Kung Fu Superstar has in-game footage that shows something pretty interesting. A combat-focused martial arts game, where the control method you use can be dynamic. Although primarily designed for PC, it’ll let you use controllers, Kinect, and so on, switching on the fly as you see fit. And of course it’s tied up in a Kickstarter, and of course it’s a confusing one. Very confusing. Too confusing.

The game itself professes that it will teach proper actual kung fu kicks, punches and hiiii-ya!s, as you play a young actor – Danny Cheng – trying to make it big in movies. You’ll play through various movie scripts as levels, all the while learning more complicated martial arts moves and techniques. Take a look:

Which all looks pretty promising (using the Unreal engine, in case you wondered). Things get confusing when you scour their 89 billion word Kickstarter front page, and eventually discover that the hefty £200,000 they want isn’t going to fund a full version of the game. With the exception of Defence Grid 2, that did some last minute about-facing to fix it, I don’t think there’s any Kickstarter that’s been confusing about this that’s been successfully funded.

It’s the work of a bunch of industry vets who’ve formed the team to work on this project, and a year of working from their own savings, they’re now after funding. But for what? Very, very ambiguously mentioned in the main wall of text is “Kung Fu Superstar: Origin”, which is called “the Kickstarter game”. This is not Kung Fu Superstar itself, as the Kickstarter page is titled. And this is bloody stupid.

Origin is a limited version of the game, given to Kickstarter backers in the reward levels. Hidden down in the FAQ is what this actually means – it’s the first chapter of the game. This is something mentioned in their original pitch video, which they’ve now swapped for the video above. The original is embedded as a Youtube video on the page, and certainly not flagged as containing such information. And even then, it’s not until six and a half minutes in before it’s revealed that it’s only for the “first part of the game”. Then ten seconds later gets back to talking about the game as a whole. They explain this with this statement:

“With the kind of money we’re asking for [the full game] would be unrealistic. However to ask for more would also be unrealistic (and unfair) as we don’t want our backers to bankroll a AAA project, we don’t think that’s what Kickstarter is for.”

It’s something that’s been seen on Kickstarter a few times, and it hasn’t often gone down well. In this case, they seem to imply that after they’ve created what seems to be a large demo, they’ll then go to publishers for the rest of the cash. Well, that’s my interpretation of:

“The way we’re approaching it is, we made sure we ask for just enough to complete developing our innovative technology and build the exciting beginning of the saga with it in the form of Kung Fu Superstar: Origin. Once that step is successfully completed, we’ll build upon that success and using our vast network of industry relationships we will move on to even more content rich versions of the experience available on even more platforms.”

It’s a perfectly legitimate use of Kickstarter. Developers can raise money for whatever the want, and use it however they say they will. But I think there is FAR too little emphasis on what’s been funded here, especially with its absence from the main title, and the real details only being mentioned in the hidden text in the FAQ at the bottom – words only added yesterday, when the project was already a few days old. The fact is only mentioned once in the 2,200 words preceding it, muddled into descriptions of the top tier reward categories (despite lower tiers only referring to offering a copy of “the game”).

And that seems a massive shame, since the project looks great. I’m not sure I’d personally want to back a £200,000 project to make a demo that allows a developer to get a publishing deal, but others may. I just wish they’d been quite literally up front about it.

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45 Comments »

  1. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    By Jove, a PC Kinect fighting game! I’ve always WANTED to kick a hole in my monitor accidentally.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Well there are other control methods. Presumably including mouse+keyboard, but definitely including controllers. It was in one of the videos.

  2. Persus-9 says:

    Last time I looked at it it also seemed to be very much trying to hide the fact it was a PC game. Presumably because they know Kinect is a pretty rare controller on PC and without Kinect they lose their gimmick.

  3. kikito says:

    I must be missing something. How is this not a long series of Quick Time Events?

    • x1501 says:

      Didn’t he specifically say that you can turn the visual hints off and do your own combinations of moves?

      EDIT: “In the Director’s cut mode the fight choreography script is fixed, so Danny has to make sure he sticks to it. In the Improv mode things are a bit more freeform (and challenging) as Danny gets to choose how to approach each situation to achieve maximum combat efficiency and drama.”

    • Rise / Run says:

      QTE suck, but the reason why is half because they’re either jarringly added to cutscenes or because there’s no freedom at all. Half of all games (even the good ones) are just QTEs with a couple options of what button you can hit, if you want to look at it that way. There’s a fuzzy line where it becomes not fun anymore. The Arkham combat is a perfect example of something that works (for me, at least). If this edges towards that spirit, I’d be stoked.

      • NothingFunny says:

        QTE is when the normal control scheme suddenly stops to work and you are told to perform some bs actions. Fighting games are not QTEs.

    • NothingFunny says:

      Because its a universal consistent control scheme with the choice of actions, just with hints?
      Like if you get punched you can either block or dodge or counter…
      (or maybe I’m wrong and you have to perform the exact move the game tells you to… then its a waste)

  4. Alextended says:

    QTE: The Game.

    Lol.

    No thank you.

    And that’s BEFORE considering their scammy ways.

    Double no thank you!

  5. wodin says:

    I’m not that keen on this fund us to make an alpha or demo to show someone who has got all the money we need..they have got all this money just waiting..promise..

    Another is we have a publisher\investors all lined up. They want us to crowdfund lots first though to show there is interest in the game, then they will give us what we really need. Yeah right, but stupid me still put money down on Star Citizen because like many I was brainwashed by that trailer..

    • Tim says:

      The difference between this and Star Citizen is that Star Citizen gets you the full game with your pledge, whereas this gets you the first chapter only.

  6. Ich Will says:

    Anyone who believes they can learn martial arts from this is going to be sorely disappointed. I made a living in my youth from martial arts and there is no way this is even valuable as a supplement to a great teacher. It’s Wii Fit with a martial arts theme.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      That said, the top pic is a pretty good rendering of tan sau / straight punch from Wing Chun, so it will be good to see how much of each art they can model.

      • Ich Will says:

        The problem is, when performing – and wing chun was one of my disciplines – it is difficult for a person to see the subtle differences between the perfect punch they are copying and what they are really doing. You probably know yourself, a 5 degree twist at the hips, a 5mm curve of the spine, a slight hunch of the shoulders and all power in that punch is lost, but it takes a teacher to watch, adjust you, watch again, etc etc.

        • SuperNashwanPower says:

          I have always had dreadful mirroring abilities and spatial awarenes,s and tended to struggle without a mirror and someone adjusting me, so yes I know that well :)

        • buzzmong says:

          To be fair though, it does look like they’re paying a lot of attention to the martial arts.

          Although as fellow practitioner of Wing Chun I do agree with you regarding just how important bodily control is; this game is at most only going to show you roughly what the shapes are, how they could be used in conjunction with attacks and counter attacks and the names of the shapes. It certainly can’t give you important details like how your arm/shoulder should feel when force is applied to your bong sau.

          Saying that, if you’re actively learning the martial arts that are represented in the game, it might have a use as a practice aid if you use Kinect or similar.

          • Axess Denyd says:

            …and good luck with chi sau and other sensitivity traiining.

            I still think it looks awesome though. And now I want to train lung tu against, probably Wing Chin. I did a small amount of some family style WC before and it suited me.

      • Oozo says:

        As another Wing Chun-student here, I do agree that this game might be, at best, for martial art-practice what Guitar Hero is to learning to play the instrument. (Which does in no way mean that it can’t be decent game, of course.)
        Still, I think it’s already impressive to see that the developers at least looked profoundly at some of the movements characteristic of the style, and how they do interact with each other.

        …which then begs the question: Do you know of any other games in which the style is more or less identifiable? If I remember correctly, some of the fighters in Tekken were supposed to by Wing Chun-adepts, but it certainly didn’t look too like it…

        • rustybroomhandle says:

          I was also going to hop in with an ‘as a student of Wing Chun’ comment, but it would appear that includes most of RPS.

          • Oozo says:

            Well, the anything-but-modest EWTO used to boast that it’s the most popular martial arts-style today, so no real surprise there.

            However, we should totally all join arms for a supercircle of chi sau at the next RPS meet n’ greet. (Bodyparts tend to get sticky if the night is long enough in British pubs anyway, or at leat that’s what I’ve been told.)

            This, or hope for a massively multiplayer mode for Kung Fu Superstar – I always wanted to play a Bud Spenceresque bar brawl with motion controls.

    • ukpanik says:

      Its a game you weirdo, not a martial arts class. Nobody is going to use this to learn martial arts.

      • SuperNashwanPower says:

        To be fair, the kickstarter page is itself claiming it will teach you martial arts, so its not beyond belief that some people might take them at their word.

        Also, you don’t need to be a dick about it.

  7. 2late2die says:

    Hmmmm, I’m sensing a lot of bias in regards to UK based Kickstarter project these last few days or so. I call shenanigans!

    Seriously though, the fighting looks extremely cool but they definitely need to make it more clear what it is that you’re actually gonna be funding.

    • Ich Will says:

      It’s just because a bunch of amazing projects (And some robot hunt game*) couldn’t get on kickstarter before last week and they’ve come in a deluge when KS opened up to the UK.

      * I’m a backer and I was teasing, it does also look amazing!

  8. jmexio says:

    Thanks RPS, I actually wrote earlier mentioning this game, that I think deserves coverage.

    Regarding their “confusing” kickstarter, I think there are two separate issues.

    First, maybe they should make more clear the fact that they’re delivering sort of a demo (first levels) instead of the full game. I think that’s a fair point, communication is lacking.

    But the deeper issue I think is more interesting… Is KS just preordering? I mean, it used to be the case where you would back something because you wanted it to succeed, and not because of what they gave you in return. I am not against giving the full game as a reward, but I think maybe it shouldn’t be the only choice. Of course, it will make your KS less attractive, but it should really be about kickstarting (!!) an idea, and not about getting a reward… Maybe :)

    • chuckles73 says:

      That’s why John made it clear that this is a fine thing for a kickstarter to do, except that they seem to obscure the fact that you aren’t getting the full game.

  9. The Random One says:

    You should add a tag that says every tag on this entry starts with K.

  10. kwyjibo says:

    I saw this a while back, and I don’t think I was mislead. The pledge levels had “Origin” in them, and I assumed that it was an episodic project.

    I believe the reason it hasn’t had the traction given its fairly decent coverage, is that no one trusts Kinect. If it can’t handle Fable: The Journey, it’s not going to be able to accurately model your split second punches at any kind of acceptable level.

    They then claim that they’re not going for 1:1, but that’s the only thing people want from a Kinect fighting game.

  11. thecat17 says:

    Don’t know what everybody else is going on about. I, for one, think this game looks eeeeeeeeen creeeeeeeeeeeedddddddd iiiiiiiiii bullllllllll!

  12. Shooop says:

    I was skeptical of this when I heard about it just because martial arts beyond children’s karate is not something that’s very easy to do.

    Now it’s just off-putting. People want a finished product when they pledge. Even if the product they get is not to their liking, at least they get a product. This… This is basically a tech demo. A really impressive one if it works, but still just a demo.

    I’ll be really surprised if this goes anywhere.

    • kwyjibo says:

      I don’t think people care about getting an episode if its a worthwhile experience.

      It’s not going to go anywhere because it’s Kinect.

  13. bit.bat says:

    haha! Is Peter’s Take a regular Kickstarter feature?

  14. buzzmong says:

    I do like all the people saying it’s QTE hell, as it doesn’t look like it’s going to be that way from the video.

    I want to say something about Shenmue 2′s combat, but it’s been so long since I’ve played it I’ve forgotten if it was a QTE fest or if you had freedom or not.

    • Alextended says:

      Shenmue 1 and 2 had combat similar to Virtua Fighter, though not nearly as well done sadly (but still not too bad). That is you didn’t just have the choice of a single (or a few) right moves to counter a given attack, you always had all your moves and dodge and standard moving controls available at a button (or combination of buttons) press that wasn’t context sensitive outside actual counter moves of course. But both games also had tons of QTEs, often in combat-like situations. I’m not sure which you remember atm.

      But yeah, this game looks like QTEs even if you have a choice of a few different “right” actions rather than just one and can turn off the visual indications and slow mo, then it just becomes even more twitch based QTE. Whether the actions are by button presses, stick moving, or body movements that somewhat resemble what you want your character to perform what seems like seconds later.

      Well, I guess we could call it Punch-Out!!-like to be kinder. I love Punch-Out!! but can see how some could consider it too QTE-like. But this doesn’t seem as fun or promising for now. Maybe I’ll like it too once/if it releases however. And even Punch-Out!! isn’t purely context sensitive like this seems to be, you can always do your moves, you just, of course, should think before doing them.

  15. socrate says:

    Another crap from peter molyneux?

    • herschel says:

      That moment the Holy Moly popped up, I lost interest.

    • wu wei says:

      I’d rather the crap Molyneux actively produces to the shit that comes out of the mouths of lazy gamers.

  16. Kefren says:

    What seems a bit unreal is the way so much effort goes into fluid motion, but then when the enemies receive a punch or two they collapse and don’t move. Very few would be unconscious or dead from those blows – most might crawl away nursing bruises, or eventually get up and make a choice between running or coming back for more.

    • SocraticIrony says:

      Its supposed to be filming an action movie. In which case if the hero sneezes one of them should fall over permanently.

  17. kifourin says:

    This post is uninformed and meaninglessly mean. This is exactly what Kickstarter is meant to be used for. Kickstarting. Instead, users think it’s a marketplace, and project owners think it’s a place to re-sell oldies. We should be backing more innovative projects like this, not just “nostalgic” ones.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Uninformed? Mean? He basically says it sounds rather impressive but isn’t as clear about what the project means for people who pledge than it could be.

      How is it mean to ask for clarity towards the people who you’re asking to fund your project?