**UPDATE 12-2012: As a start-up venture, Kostas Zarifis and his team fought the good fight to get Kung Fu Superstar funded and developed; for the benefit of all Wing Chun, Kung Fu, and martial arts fans. They sacrificed their lives for over a year and most likely their personal savings. They held a Kickstarter campaign to raise the capital needed to get Kung Fu Superstar on the market and into our hands. But the funding didn't come through, and so, this dream has come to a full stop. In a recent email Kostas wrote, "We tried our best but we seem to have lost this battle...let's see if we can win the war..."
Hats off to all entrepreneurs: the risk takers, innovators, and producers of this world. And remember, this includes your sifu, the vendors you trust for your gear, the developers behind websites like Wing Chun Life, writers and producers of Wing Chun books and videos, craftspeople who create dummies, and swords, and brew dit da jow... There's no guarantee of success, but someone's got to get their hands dirty and make a go of it. Much prosperity to you in 2013 and beyond.**
As you can see from the video above, Kung Fu Superstar is going to be one hot motion control, role playing game (RPG). And it promises to "teach" you Wing Chun!
Just hours after returning from this year’s E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo, the annual computer and video game trade fair), game developer and Kinesthetic Games co-founder Kostas Zarifis was gracious enough to grant Wing Chun Life an interview about the new developments for their new Wing Chun video game.
Wing Chun Life: Do you or others in the office study Wing Chun, Kung Fu, or other martial arts?
Kostas: Absolutely! I started practicing Taekwondo at a really young age. Since I was a kid I had a deep interest in martial arts. I love the drama and the spectacle of it all.
More recently I fell in love with Wing Chun, which I have been practicing for about 5 years now. I've also messed around with Aikido, Jeet Kune Do, BJJ, Tai Chi and a few others, but Wing Chun is definitely my main thing. Anish is an avid kick boxer currently although he's also practiced various styles of Kung Fu too in the past.
Wing Chun Life: What gave you the idea for Kung Fu superstar? Where did the inspiration come from?
Kostas: Very simple really, I love martial arts and I love games. When motion control gaming came about it was obvious that I had to look into somehow bringing the two together. I was also lucky enough to have both the martial arts experience as well as the games development experience. And also the passion and motivation to get this to happen.
So I had all the tools I needed to take the whole concept to a point where I could show something playable to someone and they would instantly get how it could be developed into a super awesome, fun, educational, and fitness building game.
I also love action movies. I love the drama and spectacle of fight choreography and I really admire stunt artists for their focus and determination in becoming the best at what they do. All those amazing people like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, etc. They entertain us with their movies, inspire us with their commitment in becoming the best.
Those are all the concepts that inspired Kung Fu Superstar. Basically, we want to provide people with a super fun way to familiarize themselves with the world of martial arts, and for those who want to take that extra step, we want to inspire them to become better physically and mentally, which to me is what martial arts is about.
Wing Chun Life: Why the Wing Chun angle?
Kostas: It's one of the more popular Kung Fu styles. It's also fairly less demanding compared to other styles in terms of fitness levels. So the entry requirements are not very intimidating.
It also happens to be my favorite style so I was being a bit selfish there. That being said Wing Chun is just one of the multitude of styles that the game will teach you.
Let me put it this way, Kung Fu Superstar is like the ultimate martial arts RPG. You are going to have all the usual elements from traditional RPGs: Character development, acquiring skills, unlocking ability trees, etc.
Only difference is, when you level up in the game you don't just level up an imaginary avatar in a fake world. You're actually leveling up yourself.
As an example, when Danny (the hero in the game) acquires a new set of skills and advances to "Kung Fu Level X" it's because YOU, the player, have leveled up your own skills in Wing Chun Kung Fu.
This to me is a really exciting concept and I believe it is where the real opportunity with motion control gaming lies. Give people the means to self-improvement while having the time of their lives. Self-improvement happens at an almost subconscious level.
Wing Chun Life: What are some of the challenges getting this produced and into the market?
Kostas: One of the biggest challenges is the image motion control gaming currently has with the gaming crowd. When it first came about, it was fresh and cool and full of potential.
Due to some not-so-great motion control games and a multitude of party, dance, and simplistic family games, motion controlled gaming has sort of pigeon holed itself and (justifiably) acquired a bit of a bad rep with most "traditional" gamers.
Because of this, we have to make a bit of an extra effort to clarify that, ”we are nothing like those games,” (which is completely obvious to anyone who has played Kung Fu Superstar in its current state).
I think the most important step we've taken towards trying to deal with that is our completely innovative approach to motion control gaming, which we've dubbed "integrated motion control/controller gameplay".
We're going to talk more about this in the coming months, but suffice it to say we're very excited about it and we're certain gamers of all backgrounds are going to love it!
I am sorry, I know this is still fairly vague and cryptic, but we really want to show you this rather than just talk about it. Stay tuned!
Wing Chun Life: Do you have any interesting stories readers would like to know about?
Kostas: Hmm... We only have funny and interesting stories here at Kinesthetic. Just trying to think which ones are appropriate for public consumption…?
I guess it would be how Kung Fu Superstar came about. It started off as a project for an old company I worked at. They hold a week long annual event called Creative Day, where all employees are free to work on absolutely anything they like during that week, and at the end, everyone gets together in a big auditorium and demonstrates their work to the rest of the company.
I demoed Kung Fu Superstar at the first Creative Day. It was quite funny because the company invited some industry media to the event, and after the demo they came up to ask when the game was going to be released!
Needless to say, I was extremely surprised and I had to explain that it was just a conceptual prototype and not under production. They couldn't believe something of that quality and playability wasn't actually in production.
To be fair, this was only because of the amazing people who helped put those prototypes together. In any case, it was very encouraging to me as it was the first time someone from "the outside world" had any sort of contact with the project and the reaction was positive beyond my wildest expectations.
Wing Chun Life: Before we wrap up here I have to ask you the really important questions. What's your favorite: Kung fu movie? Kung fu actor? And kung fu move?
Kostas: Kung Fu Movie: The Matrix
Kung Fu Actor: Donnie Yen
Kung Fu Move: Bong Sao
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