Kingdom Come: Deliverance: Ambition Meets Innovation
I always have my eyes on the horizon looking for games that have unique qualities and that dare to advance gaming technology. In my lifetime I’ve seen gaming go from the Commodore 64 and Atari 2600 to the modern marvels in full high definition. I even played my part on the development side by building mods and models for Marathon, Neverwinter, Vampire the Masquerade: Redemption, and a little tank game called Bolo.
The evolution of this industry fascinates me because it used to be a taboo source of entertainment that people frowned upon, but has now become a major entertainment industry that touches households worldwide. It has even rivaled other long standing household entertainment sources, such as film and television. Traditional entertainment was based on storytelling, but video games bring a new element into that formula in the form of interactivity and choice. Through the years, we have seen game changers like Marathon (Mouselook), Red Faction (Destructible Terrain), Doom 3 (Rounded Polygons), Meridian 59 (MMORPG), Dark Age of Camelot (RvR), and so many others that have taken the industry on to the next level.
It is because of those who dare to innovate and shape this industry that we have gone from Pong to Dragon Age: Inquisition in just 42 years. Today I sit down with one such company that brings changes to the face of gaming once again.
Warhorse was founded in 2011 by Dan Vávra, creator of Mafia and Mafia 2; and Martin Klíma, formerly of ALTAR (Original War, UFO:* trilogy). They are a new independent crowdfunded game development studio based in Prague, Czech Republic. Their first title is ‘Kingdom Come: Deliverance’ set in medieval Europe during 1403. Along with it’s beautiful and breathtaking living world, it brings a fresh perspective to siege warfare.
I am very excited to get the chance to sit down with Warhorse Studios to discuss their new title.
Thank you for joining us today. First I’d like you to introduce yourself to our readers. Who are you, what have you done in the past, and what is your role at Warhorse Studios?
Ji?í Rýdl: My name is Ji?í Rýdl and I am responsible for marketing and communication at Warhorse Studios. I know Martin Klima from the past, when we worked together in ALTAR interactive on titles such as ‘Fish Fillets’, ‘Original War’ and ‘UFO trilogy’. Then we worked in IDEA games on distribution and marketing titles like ‘ArmA’, ‘Alpha Prime’ or ‘Fish Fillets 2’, you can still buy some of them here: http://bit.ly/1uqsRdG and the first ‘Fish Fillets’ are open source now: http://bit.ly/1yO488Z
Can you tell us a little about your studio and how it came to be?
J.R.: Warhorse Studios was established by Martin Klíma and Dan Vávra in 2011 with the plan to produce AAA title for PC and next generation consoles (nextgen in that time :-)). Dan worked on ‘Mafia’ and wanted to create a game from medieval times in Bohemia, so he went to Martin to help him produce such a title. Martin worked besides the mentioned PC games on ‘Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising’ as a producer and said why not :-] The third important person behind the studio is the financial investor, who agreed to help Dan and Martin with preproduction of the game demo for publishers.
I understand things were pretty rough in the beginning and you were moments away from having to close the studio. What changed, and how were you able to recuperate so suddenly?
J.R.: After 18 months of development in a rather small team, around 20 people, the demo was prepared (what it looked like can be seen in our first live stream: http://bit.ly/1CMffho). The publisher‘s roadshow began – we talked to every big player on the market and the first feedback was pretty good. The only worries were about the lack of fantasy elements and wow moments like fighting the dragon.
We did a market research among PC and console players in the US to ask them if they would like to play such a game and the outcome was highly positive. Publishers liked that, but no one was offering a real deal, so we kept the discussion alive, met them at the conferences etc. After almost a year of polishing the demo for the publishers we decided to stop wasting our time and money and show the game to the public. We went to Kickstarter (http://kck.st/1t9BNsQ)!
Crowdfunding has become quite the latest development trend. Many developers are turning to this over conventional publisher funding. What are some of the advantages and limitations that you have found in crowdfunding?
J.R.: The good thing is that you get real feedback from players. Some of them even pledge for your project, which means they are really eager to see the project alive! But even if they don’t, it’s very nice to read all those comments and emails wishing us the best of luck.
Game developing is a time consuming process and after two years in a “cave“ talking to publishers only, it is a fresh air of ideas and energy coming towards us. I would say there are limitations, you just need to be prepared to answer to all those voices. People who pledged for your game want to know a lot of about it and they will follow you for months or even years of development.
So your first game is Kingdom Come: Deliverance. I read about this a few years ago with a brief mention that it would be a historical game set in medieval Europe, and that it would feature true historical weaponry without the dragons and magic that tend to fill popular medieval themed games. What inspired you to build a more historical based game over following the traditional format?
J.R.: It was Dan’s idea and if you know ‘Mafia’, you already know that he is the kind of “realistic“ game designer. The 15th century were interesting times and Bohemia was one of the important centers of European politics, culture and science, especially thanks to Charles IV. (http://bit.ly/1L5utEq)
After his death there was a dispute over the Czech throne between his sons Wenceslaus IV and Sigismund I, which led to civil war in the end (well it was a little bit more complicated :-]).
Any chance of running into some historical characters from that era like Ján Hus?
J.R.: Well, no comment :-]
One of the things I haven’t seen a lot of right now is story. Can you paint us a picture of what the setting is for Kingdom Come: Deliverance?
J.R.: Henry (Jind?ich in Czech) is a blacksmith caught in the midst of civil war, and the lives of his family are unfortunately lost. Henry swore that he would get his revenge... This is the beginning of a long thorny way, but revenge is never sweet.
Aside from fighting, what types of activities will players experience?
J.R.: Fighting is definitely not the best way to solve problems and as in a real life, it is usually better to choose some other option. For instance you can talk yourself out of the troubles, you can even lie, if you have charisma :-]
You can also craft new stuff if you can find an abandoned smithery and then sell it. Or steal it :-] You can create potions from herbs or shoot the wild boar, set up the fire and cook a good meal. You can get lost in the woods, find a bandit camp and ...
From the alpha test videos I’ve seen, one of your major innovations in this game is the AI and the way it interacts with the world. Can you explain how this works? What does this mean for the player?
J.R.: The world is living and changing according to your actions. For instance – Samopše – the village in the technology alpha (http://bit.ly/189Usvo), people are waking up in the morning, they eat breakfast and go to work – smithery, shop, field, forest ... If you still do nothing, villagers finish what they do and then go after some fun – fishing at the creek, shooting at the shooting range, drinking at the pub. While you are doing nothing, men and women of Samopše go to sleep, the moon raises and you can listen to the howling of a night owl. On the other hand, when you for instance tell the shopper there is some cheap stuff to buy in the other city, he will pack his stuff and go do business there. Fisherman is not able to sell him his fish, so he instead sells them to you. You can exchange them in the pub for a free beer. And meet a stranger there...
What other innovations has the team cooked up for this exciting new title?
J.R.: The combat is completely different from what I know, every cover is important, every blow can be deadly. If you meet an armored opponent with a sword, you should rather run away, if you don’t want any trouble. Of course sometimes the only way out of trouble is to draw your weapon, but killing people has consequences. And there are no swords +10 fire damage :-)
From the tech demos we’ve seen, the world appears to be vast. Just how large can we expect the world to be? Will it be based on medieval Europe’s geography?
J.R.: The map is bigger now, around 12sq km and it will be just a small part of Bohemia. But beware, the map is not small! There will be around 150 places to explore and the traveling is not on the back of a dragon, but by foot or on a horse, it takes time as in a real life. The forest is deep and who knows what is hidden in it?
Will there be a crafting system in ‘Kingdom Come: Deliverance’? If so what types of professions will players be able to learn?
J.R.: You can make weapons, cook food, hunt animals, steal money, shoot the bow, ride the horse and many more. Our RPG system is not about professions, it’s about skills. So you can do whatever you want, but you are not good at everything.
One thing I have not seen yet, but I’m very excited to learn about, is the siege warfare. Are there any details you can share about what players can expect to see in the epic sieges you have planned?
J.R.: Siege is not an everyday event, as in real history, large battles are usually very rare and the time between them can be months, even years. You need to manage and feed the huge army and it is never easy. So don’t expect one battle after another, this is not a strategy :-) But you can look forward something special, I can promise that!
Are there plans for DLC content in the future?
J.R.: Well, yes, there are plans :-) But it is too soon to talk about it, we are still in the middle of development of ‘Kingdom Come: Deliverance – Act I’ and we have already promised a lot of stuff on Kickstarter, so no more stretch goals or DLC content for now :-)
What platforms are you planning to release ‘Kingdom Come: Deliverance’ on?
J.R.: We aim for PC, PS4 and Xbox One, we would like to release Mac and Linux versions also.
Is there an estimated release date for this title?
J.R.: We would like to finish the development this year in December.
Where can players learn more about Kingdom Come: Deliverance?
J.R.: We have a great community of backers on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/kingdomcomerpg), Twitter (https://twitter.com/WarhorseStudios) and YouTube (http://bit.ly/1z1bTtP), but of course there is also an official website and the forums at www.kingdomcomerpg.com.
My final question for you is, which would disappear from your cafeteria first, Horalky or Lentilky?
J.R.: Hmm, tough question ... Probably Horalky, I like a cup of coffee after lunch, and Horalky is the good choice :-)
About the Author
Benjamin "Foghladha" Foley
Benjamin founded the Gaiscioch Social Gaming Community in 2001 and has since been the founder & activities director for this well known community. His role has gone beyond just running the Gaming Community and now includes running the Athletics Program in Portland, Oregon, as well as acting as the Managing Editor of the Gaiscioch Magazine, and is the Lead Producer on the Gaiscioch Livestream Productions. Additionally he networks with game developers to form relationships between Gaiscioch and development studios.
His experience in publishing dates back to helping his Grandparents who operated a printing press for over 40 years. In high school and college Benjamin excelled in journalism and played an active part in the school newspaper. Benjamin currently works full time as the director of technology for a franchise trade publication & education company.