In the salad days of gaming, only a modicum of developers were ambitious enough to try their hand at the open-world format, due to the restrictions of either budgets or hardware. But thanks to the advanced technology found in today’s consoles and PCs it is a format that has become ubiquitous with modern game development, and talented developers the world over have crafted complete worlds for the hapless gamer to inhabit. Titles such as Grand Theft Auto V, The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt and Skyrim are all recent examples of games with incredible staying power due to the integrity of the worlds they feature.
Modern hardware has allowed developers to embrace their creativity and craft worlds and stories that capture a gamer’s imagination, and one of the first games this year hoping to captivate the hearts and minds of gamers is Kingdom Come: Deliverance, a realistic open-world role-playing game set during the Kingdom of Bohemia in 1403 and the debut game from Czech development team Warhorse Studios. The game was first announced as a Kickstarter title back in 2014 and generated almost $2 million dollars (AUD) in pledges.
So after fours years in development, including multiple delays and signing a co-publishing agreement with Deep Silver, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is set for release on February 13 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One. We caught up Warhorse Studios’ PR manager Tobias Stolz-Zwilling to chat about the game ahead of its release.
DYEGB: Kingdom Come: Deliverance started out as a Kickstarter title back in 2014, how much has the project changed since its crowdfunding days?
TSZ: The vision remained the same – we wanted to create a realistic RPG that immerses you into the medieval ages as much as possible. Of course, throughout the development you had to scratch something here, add something there, and rethink stuff. I guess this is not unusual for any creative product. I met a journalist recently who played Kingdom Come: Deliverance at a preview event. Full of joy, he told me that this is almost exactly the game he imagined when he backed the game in 2014.
DYEGB: I regrettably didn’t back KCD during its Kickstarter campaign due to scepticism with the platform. Do you feel that it is important for independent devs that gamers embrace crowdfunding platforms despite the risks?
TSZ: Despite all pros and cons, these kinds of platforms surely give a big opportunity for mid-size and smaller-size studios to create a game that they really want to make. You get in contact with the people and gather/create a community that can give you valuable feedback. But then again, it depends a lot on the scope of your project. For us, the Kickstarter really just “kickstarted” the project. For others, it might mean a fully-funded project. Either way, both will have a huge obligation and responsibility.
DYEGB: Has Deep Silver’s involvement in the publishing allowed Warhorse to achieve its vision for KCD?
TSZ: We are very happy to have Deep Silver as a Co-Publishing partner. With their great expertise we are able to get the game to the people around the world while we keep all creative rights. So yes, Deep Silver gives valuable input and we have a flourishing cooperation.
Lead character Henry enjoying a cheeky flagon at the local tavern
DYEGB: The game has seen a couple delays from its initial 2015 release window. How supportive and understanding have Kickstarter backers and fans been?
TSZ: Very supportive and very understanding. From day 1, we have been in communication with our backers and fans, as they have with us. With various posts and dev diaries, we keep the people up to date – talking about all wins and losses. It feels great to get all the love from the fans, even when we had bad news, like postponing the game.
DYEGB: I read that you hired a full-time historian to ensure KCD was as historically accurate as possible. How important was it for KCD to be as authentic as possible? How hard was it to find the right balance between realism and ensuring the game is fun to play?
TSZ: In the beginning, we thought that we’d need her only for some background research to assist with the development, but we quickly realised that she is essential for the entire development – the story, item selection, or working with languages and translations today. Realism and historical accuracy are two huge pillars of the game but are never forced on you in a way that you need to learn some history lessons or so. It’s rather implemented into the overall gaming experience to support and create “fun-gameplay” of course.
DYEGB: What are some of the game’s features you’re most proud of and excited for players to use?
TSZ: The combat system for sure. Even though Kingdom Come: Deliverance is not a fighting game, you can use combat to solve most of your problems. We put a lot of effort into this, as we invited professional swordsmen to the studio and recreated 15th-century fencing. Of course, we had some technical limitations but the result we created is the closest thing you can get to being a medieval fencer. We released a very detailed video about this (you can watch it below).
DYEGB: The combat system you’ve utilised is very unique. What made you go for this type of system opposed to a traditional first-person system (Skyrim etc.)?
TSZ: Mainly it’s about the physical collision. Our swords slide over each other, bounce-off of armor plates, and do not magically slide through your opponent. It’s a very complex system that effects even other features, like the armor system for example. Since we know exactly where you got hit, with which type of martial/armor part, we can calculate the exact amount of damage that is dealt to you or to the opponent. This is why it’s is important to customize your armor, try different armor types, layer different fabrics over each other, and create your own set(s). And it works like a stone-paper-scissors-systems, as different weapons are strong/weak against different types of armor.
DYEGB: The name of the game has heavy religious connotations. Can you tell us the role that religion played in the time period and how this translates to the player experience?
TSZ: Of course, a major one, but we decided that we are focusing more on the civil war that raged in Central Europe (Holy Roman Empire). Religion is a topic in the game, but just a minor one. However, you can enrol as a monk in a Monastery in Kingdom Come: Deliverance… but not to get closer to god ;).
DYEGB: How long approximately will it take to complete everything in KCD?
TSZ: This is hard to say for an RPG as it heavily depends on your playstyle. However, if you want to try all the quests and activities, it might easily get you to 100 hours.
DYEGB: The great part about utilising historical settings is that there are so many interesting periods at your disposal. What made the team choose Bohemia in the 1400s?
TSZ: To be honest, the story we talk about is small enough and local enough to be covered in one game, with a clear start and finish. That qualified this part of the story to become the story of Kingdom Come: Deliverance. PS: You can also easily continue from that point 😉
DYEGB: Can we expect any enhancements for the console versions when playing on either an Xbox One X or PS4 Pro?
TSZ: Of course it will look a little nicer and run a little faster on the next next (yes… I used two nexts) gen consoles. Then again – we are trying to utilize the power of each platform.
Medieval battles have never been more realistic
DYEGB: Will KCD feature any microtransactions or loot boxes?
TSZ: No, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a single player experience.
DYEGB: Can we expect any content post-launch?
TSZ: Yes, together with Deep Silver, we are thinking of a DLC plan. The exact content will be announced at a later date.
DYEGB: The team at Warhorse is quite small given the size of the project. How was the team’s morale during development? Were there ever any heated moments or was everyone on the same page?
TSZ: I think everyone loves each other here…. and hates each other at the same time. I mean… we are 110 creative minds sitting in the same boat. Of course, you have loud arguments once in a while, but that’s what adds spice to the game. Warhorse Studios has a great mixture of veterans and young guns. Only about 40 people have ever worked on a video game before, the others are completely new to the industry. While the veterans share their expertise, the young ones add a huge amount of motivation to the project. We have a very nice mixture of people here and everyone is extremely looking forward to (and are nervous for) the release on February 13th.
DYEGB: KCD seems like a real labour of love for Warhorse. How relieved are you now that the game is almost finished and in gamer’s hands?
TSZ: Wait what… a little over 3 weeks to go…??? Ahhhhhh……..
DYEGB: Aside from KCD, what other games are you keen to play this year?
TSZ: I am looking forward to the new Anno 1800… I love these types of games. But to be honest, I have a ton of games, but almost have no time to play them. So the pile of sealed games gets bigger and bigger.
DYEGB: Could you ever imagine developing a game set in Australia?
TSZ: That’s like spending potentially millions of dollars before winning the lottery. We are currently just focusing on Kingdom Come: Deliverance. And then… well… we’ll see.
DYEGB: Best of luck for the upcoming launch. We can’t wait to play KCD.
TSZ: Thank you very much!!! Can’t wait to show the world what we’ve been cooking – enjoy!
Kingdom Come: Deliverance releases for PC, PS4 and Xbox One on February 13, 2018.