With international recognition for its comic book illustrations and mechanical design, Studio Hive is stepping up to its next challenge with Ong Bak Tri, an action game based on the hit Thai martial arts film.
Studio Hive was founded in 2010 by Skan Srisuwan and Kan Supabanpot, who started out designing artworks and made their names as comic book illustrators. Their major success so far has been creating the visuals _ scenes, action, characters _ for the Romeo And Juliet: The War comic series produced by Stan Lee. The book was launched in January last year, and made the No.7 spot on The New York Times best-seller list.
The Thai studio is now expanding into gaming, having approached Sahamongkol Films, which produced the film starring Tony Jaa in 2003, for permission create a 2D Ong Bak game. The film was a big hit here and remains arguably the best-known Thai film internationally.
Kan, the general manager of Studio Hive, said that when he watched Ong Bak he realised the art of fighting shown in the movie could make an impact in the global market.
"I have always been thinking about Ong Bak. So when we set up the gaming department, we officially went to Sahamongkol Films," he said.
The trailer for Ong Bak Tri attracted more than 100,000 views within a week of it being launched online. Ong Bak Tri is a Thai game because of its name, its origin, and the Thai development team. But Studio Hive thinks big: it isn't targeting the local market but instead has its eyes on the vast overseas audiences.
"The behaviour of Thai consumers is not so favourable," said Kan. "They buy less, and prefer unlicensed games. They like to compare games and complain.
"Meanwhile we think that foreign players may already be bored with the scenes of palaces and knights that they have usually seen in other games.
"Ours offers something more exotic, with new scenery, and characters such as sua-saming [the tiger-man] are what they may feel are new."
The project has also been undertaken as part of Studio Hive's philosophy of creative balance, as they are wary of doing too much outsourced work for foreign firms.
The official Ong Bak Tri game for PC, consoles and mobile phones will be a prequel to a new animation movie in the Ong Bak series which is scheduled to be launched by the end of this year. The game will be finished in June and will be published worldwide by Immanitas Entertainment.
Digital illustration is one of the company's strengths, as shown in the work on Star Wars: Book Of Sith and Starhawk. The team has also been working on Top Cow's Wanted comic book series.
"I would like to put in this way _ compare the gaming companies as though we are cake makers. Everyone can do cake, but only Hive does cake and also offers the topping decorations. Compared to others, I don't know if their cake is delicious or not, but ours is stunning," said Kan.
Skan Srisuwan is an industry veteran who has spent years mastering his craft as an illustrator, designer, art director and recently was a lead character and mechanical designer for Square-Enix's Front Mission Evolved.
He founded Studio Hive to fill a digital void in the Thai entertainment sector. With the addition of Kan Supabanpot, a major player in the local video game industry, the studio has attracted a number of major projects in no time.
The two long-time friends created the studio with the vision to seek out the best artists to match with world-class projects that would thrill everyone.
Skan started his iconic career as freelance artist in Thailand at 17 years old when he was still studying at the College of Fine Arts. He pursued his career as an art director and lecturer in Singapore for four years before returning to Thailand in 2010 to join forces with Kan.
Kan spent 10 years studying science, business, technology and entertainment in Australia. He returned to Thailand to start his company, Thai Gamer Network, to help improve the Thai video game industry.
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