[Interview] Kingdom Come's realistic, historical combat: "We have a full-time historian in our team"
We had the pleasure of interviewing Warhorse Studios PR Manager Tobias Stolz-Zwilling. He gave me a few insider scoops about their upcoming game Kingdom Come: Deliverance, a realistic combat game Kickstarter project that has already greatly exceeded the initial funding goals. In this interview, I address some of the questions and concerns that players have had about the game.
There have been many Kickstarters that have seemed promising in the past. The abandoned Kickstarter project CLANG was never finished because its director Neal Stephenson decided that although it was realistic, it was not very fun. What separates Kingdom Come: Deliverance from projects like that?
Obviously that we are going to finish it (fingers crossed). Comparing projects is always very difficult and not really fair. Every project is unique in its very own way. CLANG had its magic but unfortunately decisions were made to stop the project. That’s sad on one hand, but on the other hand you can learn from it. It just shows that the factor FUN is nothing to oversee.
With Kingdom Come: Deliverance we want to do a realistic historical RPG, but we know that we are doing “just a game." So compromises are unavoidable. Actually, this is our everyday struggle – to find the right balance between Realism and fun gameplay.
HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) practitioners study medieval manuscripts and images to discover how people fought in the middle ages.
Did anyone on your team study HEMA when developing Kingdom Come's combat system?
After so many months of development, most of us are at least fans of HEMA. But we are heavily relying on professionals here. We talked to many people about various aspects of medieval combat. We trained with them, we visited and participated in some battle reconstructions. We still talk to them and let them play the game and we have really positive feedback, which is awesome. They are happy that they can see actual medieval techniques in a video game. Some of them even complain a little about “gamey” stuff. For example, telegraphing the strike is quite too obvious, strikes themselves are slower than they would be in reality etc. But we need those tweaks obviously so the game isn’t too hard.
There are also RPG systems involved: as you level up, your strikes are faster (and those of enemies slower because you perceive them so and you read your opponents more easily). We recently released a video that explains a lot of these concepts. [Video below]
Games these days often struggle to have high graphical fidelity and satisfying gameplay, but Kingdom Come looks like it balances the beauty of Crysis with gameplay even better than Mount & Blade or Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. How did you achieve this?
With a great (and real) story and stunning graphics. Immersion is the biggest thing we want to achieve. We actually want to player to believe that he is really standing in a Bohemian forest. We want him to taste blood in his mouth with every hit he gets to the face. To achieve that our Artists are not only visiting castles, churches and ruins which are still existing today. They also visit forests, vegetation and fields to transfer the real world into a video game.
Of course you always have to adjust parts, but that’s why we have a full-time historian in our team. So again it’s a question of effort and love we put into this project to create something outstanding that wasn’t seen in this way before!
Although swings may be telegraphed more than they would be in real life, Kingdom Come's gameplay is impressive and challenging nonetheless
How important will role-playing be in Kingdom Come? We are aware that it takes place during real events, but how big of an impact will your decisions have?
Since this game is an open world RPG, the RPG-System plays a huge role of course. So the more you use a weapon, for example, the better you’ll get with it. But still the is the realism part in our game, so it’s not just about levels, but we also demand a high skill level forces the player to analyze every battle he is going into. Simple button mashing will most likely get you killed. So it’s about tactics, reactions, stamina management and many more. A very common feedback we get from players is: “I never hold a sword in my hand, but I believe it feels like this”!
In general we want every action of the player to have a proper reaction. These reactions can either have a local or even global impacts. But it’s very important to understand that you’ll not be able to change history, but you will tell your personal story inside the historical, real story. So it’s up to you how you behave, how you shape your character. Are you the negotiating type, or do you solve problems with your swords? There are many more choices you’ll need to deal with.
Although it seems like suicide in a game such as Kingdom Come, will there be an option for unarmed combat?
Of course… we are actually already working on fist fights… so prepare for a pub fight!
With each new bit of information we get on Kingdom Come, it is looking better and better. Kingdom Come: Deliverance is set for a 2016 release, and although it has left Kickstarter behind, players can still back the project now on Kingdom Come's website. The game currently has near 50,000 backers who have raised $2.5 million. We look forward to hearing about its release date sometime in the future.