Warhorse Studios Weekly Torch


#146

Here are Ricks answers to your community questions:

Hey Waldkauz! It’s always a great experience going to events as we get all kinds of feedback. I find that “casual” gamers really like the fact that our game is not necessarily a fighting game. They can enjoy the landscape, the environment, the towns, castles, etc, and make decisions that can potentially lead to being a more merciful and peaceful Henry.

The “hardcore” gamer has shown appreciation for this as well, and they are very excited to see the challenges that they’ll face in Kingdom Come: Deliverance. We’re not going to hold their hand in the game, which gives the player more freedom to take on challenges that others may want to avoid. Now we know that some of the events in the game are unavoidable, but even those events will lead to some big moments in the game. The combat in our game intrigues many, as it can be quite challenging and very rewarding.

I really love it when we hear people say that they have been waiting for a game like this for a very long time. And then when I explain to them all the choices that they can make in the game, they are overwhelmed in the most pleasant way possible.

It’s also equally as interesting when we have gamers who have never heard of our game, and they love to try and compare it to other types of games, such as The Witcher, Skyrim, Oblivion, etc. The more I try and demonstrate to them and show them that the game has hints of these three games (as well as others), they quickly find that our game is still quite different in its own right.

Obviously, we have many who gamers who are very skeptical and I completely understand and respect that. Whenever you try to tell someone that our game is not a fighting game and they are already skeptical about the game, sometimes they tend to think, what kind of game can you actually make without it focusing on the combat? There are so many choices in the game, can your game be broken? How is it going to compete with all the AAA games out there?

February 13th is just around the corner and soon, I believe that our game will influence many others and more importantly, give gamers a video game that we’ve all been waiting for, for a very long time.


#147


Quality Assurance Tester Jan “Detective” Rücker earned his nickname because he likes to look a bit more into the details for the causes of bugs. Like a profiler, he wants to understand the deeper meaning of the bug, why is it there and why does it do what it does. He needs to become the bug to think like a bug, which sounds a bit kafkaesque of course…
He was born in the city of Trutnov, near the mountains on the northern border of the Czech Republic.
Do you have any question for Jan “Detective” Rücker? Please ask here.
:es: You can find a Spanish translation of this interview here.

How did you hear about Warhorse?
I heard about Warhorse right after it was announced that the studio was founded. After some time, I saw their very successful Kickstarter campaign and even though I didn´t participate, I started to follow them. After that I was checking the updates that were released over time, but I wouldn´t describe myself as a hardcore fan.
I started working for Warhorse at the beginning of April 2017. How did this happen? It´s funny actually, because I was looking for work that I could do, while finishing my bachelor’s degree at the same time. I was a student of the University of Economics in Prague (and I still am), so I was looking for something close to my field. After a few weeks and a few interviews in tax consulting companies, I came across an article (mid-March) saying that Warhorse is looking for new QA testers. I told myself, ‘What the hell, why not try that?’ I always wanted to be part of the game development. After a few days of checking my email, I got through the practical test, then the interview and out of nowhere, it I started at the beginning of April and I was sitting at a computer in the studio. I couldn’t believe that I was able to get in :slight_smile:

Describe your position. What is it about being a tester?
Even though a Quality Assurance tester is an entry-level job, it´s still very important for the team. In reality, QA testers are the ones that can see the game as a whole for most of the time. For example, you see a character walking past a player waving and saying hello. This simple situation is a connection with many features: player movement (programmers), character is waving (animations), character is reacting to the presence of the player by waving at him, while doing something from the day cycle (script), somebody decided that the character should do this (design) and the character is moving through the city (graphic department and concept artists), plus the character is saying something (sound and a voice actor). That´s a lot of people participating on the one stupid character waving at the player. So where is the tester? What is he doing?
He’s telling all these people that it looks horrible and it sucks or that it doesn´t work at all. (in a more constructive way of course)
Without that feedback, all this people wouldn´t know what is wrong, and there would be no room for improvement.

Describe your usual day at the studio?
I have two types of mornings: The first type is when I arrive to the office around 6:40 am with my coffee and nobody is in yet. I can go through all the work that needs my attention before the rest of the people arrive at the office. It´s great, because I can do a lot of work in the morning, sometimes more than the rest of the day. The second type is when I arrive just before my first meeting around 10 am (because I was arriving at the studio very early in the morning from the previous day). The rest is usually the same - meetings, bugs, more bugs, lunch and even more bugs.

What are some of your notable accomplishments?
I work on the PS4 version a lot and I’m really proud that we were able to bring the game onto consoles and it’s in a very good shape, even though there is still a lot of work that could make the experience on the console even better. The biggest challenge was the technical requirements that are demanded by Sony. It was a long and complicated process, but with a huge amount of work being done by the programmers and few other people from QA, we were able to pull it off. I also created basic guidelines on how to work with the PS4, which are now helping other people who have the console and are not familiar with it that much. I believe it will be useful in the future for many more people as well.
I´m also proud of my work on various quests that were in bad shape in the beginning. However, with a huge team effort we were able to fix, change, and sometimes even redesign them a little. Those quests are now in a good shape and look better than ever before. This happened mostly with quests that have large battles in them and I can´t wait for feedback from the players. It was truly a great experience to be a part of this and it´s really great to see the outcome at the end, especially when you can say to yourself, this is my idea and it was added to the game.

How, when and with what platform or game did you first get acquainted with videogames?
I started to play games on my friend’s computer when I was 6 or 7 years old. We played various games like UGH, Commander KEEN, the Czech classic Vlak, or Stunts. When I was in the 4th grade, I got a new computer from my parents and I was introduced to games like Max Payne, Warcraft, Starcraft, and most importantly Ultima Online. We spent hundreds of hours playing UO with my friends. I honestly think that this game influenced me the most from all the games I have ever played. We used to play on an unofficial custom shard, which was set in the middle earth after the third LotR book.

Are there any videogames you repeat playing over and over again?
For the last few years I have not been able to play all the new games, but there is still a bunch I play repeatedly from time-to-time. For example, Warcraft 3, The Witcher series, the first Mirror´s Edge, Machinarium, Bioshock, Mass Effect, or Max Payne.

What was your most touching video game moment?
I´m going to choose a game that I played not too long ago. I think that during Life is Strange, you can feel all of these moments in one playthrough. If you played the game, you know what I am talking about. If you didn’t, well now you know that it’s time to get playing this game asap.

What game have you been really looking forward to but turned out to be a total disappointment?
Mirror´s Edge: Catalyst. Don´t get me wrong, the game wasn’t a complete disaster, but it was mediocre at best. I really like the first one and I was excited about the rumors that there is going to be another game and it got rebooted? Why? They even changed the voice actress of Faith? Big mistake :confused: At least the soundtrack from Solar Fields was good again.

How do you relax after a hard day at work?
I watch a lot of films and sometimes I am able to find a few hours to play some games, read a book, or listen to music. I´m trying at least once a week to get together with my friends from outside the company and enjoy a beer or two. But when I get truly relaxed is, when I am able to do something together with my girlfriend - she is able to fill me with positive energy every time I feel down or tired :slight_smile:

Your favorite music or Spotify playlist?
I´m listening to music all the time - on my way to work, while working, on my way from work, literally all the time. I think that my average listening per day is around 8 hours of music, so yeah, Spotify is worth every penny. I don´t care about genres, therefore my playlists are mostly crazy compilations of everything. I can listen to some old school rap and the next song can be by Amy Winehouse, followed by Kasabian. But when I need to work and relax at the same time I listen to smooth jazz.
I create some new playlists every 2-3 months, it’s enough time to add around 120 new songs in there, which is too much for a single playlist. So, I create a new playlist - I take the last 20 songs I added to the old one and continue my music journey. I have at least 4-5 playlists for every year, plus the genre exclusive playlists when I am in the mood for some rap or some indie rock session.
It´s almost impossible to decide about my TOP 3 artists, but if I had to choose I would say Daft Punk, Gorillaz, and The Kooks. Those are my all-time favorites. Currently, I am listening to a lot of MF Doom (album MM…FOOD is particularly good), the new Gorillaz album, or Portugal. The Man. I also recently started to listen to some Lo-Fi vaporwave crazy tracks… well that´s something new for me.

Your favorite movie or book?
Like I mentioned before, I like films a lot. My all-time favorites are Lord of the Rings and Christopher Nolan films, especially Inception. I also prefer movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Only Lovers Left Alive by Jarmusch. On the other hand, I don’t read that much. I’m trying to catch up on that, but I am failing. I really like Harry Potter books, Lord of the Rings, and right now I’m trying to finish the Witcher books by Andrzej Sapkowski. I’m in the middle of the third book and it’s really great so far.

What’s your guilty pleasure?
Sweets or ice cream and junk food, preferably eaten in bed while watching Netflix. I know, it´s sad… :smiley:

If you could say something to the fans of Kingdom Come: Deliverance, what would it be?
I really want to thank all the people that supported us in our journey to make the best game possible. We are working really hard to fix all the bugs and make the game even better and we are really close, so bear with us a little longer because the wait is almost over!

Do you have any question for Jan “Detective” Rücker? Please ask here.


Weekly Torch - the barrel of questions
#148

Here are Jan Rückers answers:

Hey Kakyou, thank you for the interesting questions.
1.1 How do you classify a bug?
There is a lot of variables and it depends on the bug itself and also on the feature/quest that is bugged. That basically means bugs for main quests are more important than side quests, but not every time. It´s something that you need to learn by experience and if I have to speak for myself at least at the beginning it was a problem for me how to correctly classify it and it´s still sometimes. But we of course have a set of rules, that are helping us to classify the bugs. There are 5 priorities that we assign to the bugs – minor, normal, major, critical and show-stopper. The boundaries of the categories were changed few times how the development went on. Basically Show-stopper is the biggest priority, these bugs are game breaking, and it needs to be fixed ASAP. Critical bugs are bugs that needs to be fixed for sure, but they are not breaking the whole game. Major bugs are often critical bugs with low reproduction rate or bugs which are negatively affecting the experience from the game. Normal bugs are those that u don´t like, but you can live with. Minors are tiny details that player can notice but they don´t break anything. These are mostly graphical bugs. After all this it´s about pragmatic decisions. How does it affect players? Do we have time to change it? Sadly, there is no way how to fix everything, that´s just how it is.
1.2 How would you classify these immersion breaking things:
I will try to answer in short comments and assign the priorities I mentioned before.
• breaking things like glued bows to the back
o Between major and normal, it doesn´t look good but…
• scabbards without suspensions
o Between minor or normal, it´s nice to have, but… :wink:
• Shields without carrying straps
o Same as scabbards
• Magically lighting torches
o This is minor bug
• Torches that does not react to rain
o Minor
• Disappearing objects (knives, Swords and unfortunately scabbards…)
o This is major bug that we are talking about a lot, BUT we need to think about performance vs. benefit, there is a still huge chance that this will be changed somehow
1:3 Are those things on your bug/improvement board as task already recorded?
Yes, because I just added the the bug about torches in rain to our tracking system, great idea by the way :blush:
1:4: Are there any strange but not really reproduceable bugs, which are funny, and could you share them?
Yes, I guess I can share this one. In the whole world all spawn points were spawning a few pigs a second until the game crashed.

image1

You lose some you get some. Our graphics did a very good job in scaling, so there was no need for downgrade due to the release of the game on consoles. But there were of course few things that were cut out from the game e.g. volumetric fog, mostly because overall technical issues they caused.
But in the end on thing is certain: we will do the maximum possible for all platforms individually. In general, whatever optimization for any given platform gives benefits for others as well.


#149

Viktor Bocan is one of the founders of Warhorse Studios and well known for his other game Operation Flashpoint which he developed together with his team at Bohemia Interactive. Afterwards he worked at 2K together with Daniel Vávra, and now he is working as the Design Lead on Kingdom Come: Deliverance with a team of Scripters to combine the different elements of the game to one organic unit. Viktor was born in Prague, here in Czech Republic.
If you have any questions for him, feel free to ask here in the barrel of questions.
:es: You can find a Spanish translation of this interview here.

1) Where can we usually find you lurking in the holy halls of Warhorse?
Generally anywhere. Most of the time in the last year I discussed with people, attended in meetings, played a game, fighted in my proprietary combat level and answered questions like “hey, we came up with this system four years ago, why the hell did we do it this way?”

2) How did you join Warhorse Studios?
I am one of the founding members. I worked with Dan Vávra before at 2K and when he started to think about founding his own gaming studio. I just answered “yes” to a question whether I’d like to join. We shaped the project a bit, then he and Martin Klíma started to look for the funding and when they succeeded I just answered “yes” to a question whether I can come to the new office tomorrow.

3) Describe your position. What is it about being a Lead Designer?
I am mostly thinking about things. I was writing the general game mechanics at the beginning together with Dan, then he focused on story and quests with his team and I took care of the open world, helped to develop the scripting systems and how it all fits together. Now I have a team of scripters and technical designers that do their best to make sure the game is playable, the world is full of people and events and quests are working. They do an awesome job and there is a huge pressure on them now because they are at the end of a chain: programmers make game mechanics, artists do their great models, designers write quests and when it all is done, the scripters finally get it to connect all those things together, ideally due yesterday. So, I also support them with cookies and a kind word.

4) You were also the Lead Designer of Operation Flashpoint from 2001. How much of the Operation Flashpoint spirit will we find in Kingdom Come: Deliverance?
A lot. Not only because they are both realistic games (or games set in the real world). I really believe that when you make a game, you should do it in the way that it will be fun for you to play it in the end. I don’t believe (too much) in focus groups, user testing and questioners, I think developers should make the best game possible and you cannot do a good game for some illusionary “16 years old Joe from Idaho” because you have no clue who he is. You make a great game for yourself and believe there is enough people who will like it too. With this in mind we were working at Bohemia Interactive on Flashpoint and I feel the same approach here at Warhorse.

5) You have developed the Combat System of Kingdom Come: Deliverance. What was the most difficult part in transforming real medieval combat into a game?
First of all, it wasn’t just me, so if you won’t like it, also blame the others.
Interestingly enough, the most difficult part was to find out how medieval combat really looked. Because it’s quite a lost art nowadays, or it was for a long time. Now many people all around the world are working hard to rediscover it, but there is still a long way ahead for them. So, we took what they know now and tried to make a game from it. It was a lot of fun, to be honest.

6) What makes the combat system of Kingdom Come: Deliverance so unique?
Definitely authenticity.
People have a tendency to confuse the authenticity with realism. It’s not the same, especially not in combat. You will never have a real combat experience in a game until you get some awesome virtual reality system with perfect haptic feedback. What you CAN get is something that has a similar feeling.
You can feel the danger. You can feel a weight of the sword in your hand. You can get timing and positioning right and then you can fight in the game like you would in real world.
The other part of authenticity is, what I was talking about just before. We tried to reconstruct old combat techniques and make them viable for the game. Which is quite unique, too.

7) Please describe Warhorse Studios:
It’s awesome place with awesome people. As every crowded area, it’s sometimes difficult to have an agreement on something but what is awesome here is the will to think about things. And listen.

8) Describe your usual day at the studio.
Coming late as usual, opening an e-mail and a bug tracker, being surprised what new problems appeared, then walking through offices and trying to solve them. Then I play a lot and leave home late as usual.

9) What are you currently working on?
Fine-tuning the combat RPG so it’s a bit more accessible. We did well in the “hard to master” part, now “easy to learn” is something we should focus on.

10) What are some of your notable accomplishments?
I believe one thing that really works is how we connected the quite action-oriented combat with the quite static RPG elements. It’s not just that your strikes are stronger when you gain more strength. It’s the system that changes core concepts of the combat when approaching different enemies. Like this bandit over there is lightning fast, but you level-up and he becomes much slower because your character (Henry) is now good at fighting and PERCIEVE him being slower. Or he has this special technique and he cannot perform it on you because Henry is too good to fall on that trick.
That also means that if you are really good in action games, you can win duels with much stronger opponents. If you don’t want to do that, gain some levels and beat them with RPG. Both approaches work which is something I’m really proud of.

11) What is the most important characteristic a Lead Designer must have?
An open mind and to know something about everything while not excelling in any area particularly. For example, I’m quite a bad programmer so even when I can easily write tools that help me to design and tune something, I have no urge to look at the source code of our game (too much) or to tell the real programmers how to do what they do.

12) What do you like the most about Kingdom Come: Deliverance?
The combat and a beautiful environment. Also combat in beautiful environment. And looking at the beautiful environment when dying in combat.

13) How, when and with what platform or game did you first get acquainted with videogames?
Long time ago in a galaxy not too far away. I was quite a small boy yet, it was in the eighties and we went to some computer center with a school. There was a lot of boring stuff and a game, which was actually a clone of Tetris. With a glitch though, the game was able to speed up only two times and the third speed was final, the computer wasn’t able to run the game faster. It wasn’t a really good strategic plan from a teacher to tell us that at the end we can play one game each and leave once we lose. I accepted the challenge and felt it as serious injustice when I was thrown out after some three hours of consistent play, nowhere close to defeat. I managed to make my mother to buy me an 8-bit Atari some time later and I made my first game (a text adventure) in 1989. There was a revolution in Czechoslovakia, so I didn’t need go to school, I was on a demonstration at morning and made games in the afternoon. Good times.

14) What was your most touching video game moment?
Too many of them. It would be very unfair to mention just one.
But I will be unfair and mention one. In Demon’s Souls you kill bosses for souls and there is one named Maiden Astrea. She was a saint originally and pilgrim but when dealing with evil, she became corrupted from the inside and became a sort of demon herself. She has a bodyguard, a noble knight, who once swore to protect her with his life. And he does just that. You approach her, and her knight is there in a “you shall not pass” mood. He knows she’s a demon, but he swore so he is standing here guarding her. You kill him in furious fight (without using the glitch that is available there, come on!), go to her, she looks at you and tell you that if you were able to defeat her knight and if you killed him, you are too strong for her – and she has nothing left anyway. And then she dies and you get her soul for free. If you call that free…

15) Which class, gender, or type do you usually pick?
Tank. Always a tank. I let others do the dirty job while guarding them. In MMOs on the other hand I usually grab a healer. I let the others do the dirty job and heal them. In World of Warcraft I have a druid and he is healer AND tank. Also, I’m really bad at DPS there.

16) Which videogame character are you?
Sir Auron. Silent, permanently surprised, somewhat cynical and not really there at the end.

17) Are there any videogames you repeat playing over and over again?
Many. I enjoy repetition, I watch the same movies all over again, read the same books, play the same games. When the piece is good, you always learn something new when you play it for the second or the third time. To name a few, most of the time in my gaming life I probably spent in Civilization (all incarnations), Souls games (all of them) and in the last few years I played Factorio too much.

18) What would a perfect game according to your wishes look like?
It would be very similar to Dark Souls.

19) How do you relax after a hard day at work?
I either play games, make them or write about them for a local magazine. When I am too tired from playing games on my computer, I turn on my Playstation 4. Or Nintendo Switch. Or Xbox. Or another game on a computer.

20) Your favorite music playlist
I listen to lyrics. So, the music I listen should either have awesome lyrics (so it’s poetry) or no lyrics at all. Or it should be in a language I don’t understand at all, it works too.

21) Your favorite movie or book?
For books: Hyperion, all of it. With movies, it’s more complicated. I love Studio Ghibli movies but otherwise I haven’t many long-time favorites. I liked Watchmen a lot and I believe people do not understand how good the storyteller Zack Snyder is (I am one of those who think Sucker Punch is actually brilliant, and people just didn’t get it). Ah, I almost forgot Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

22) What species is your spirit animal?
The hidden dragon.

23) Your travel tip?
Crete. It’s a perfect world with a warm sea at your feet and high mountains behind you. You need that, apples, electricity and internet, nothing more.

24) Sport is…?
Out there?

25) What was your greatest mistake?
Too many to count. Also boring to mention.

26) Do you have a Bucket List?
Nah, not planning to die any time soon.

27) What will be your famous last words?
“Interesting!”

28) Is it possible to buy you with candy?
I buy others.

29) What is your kryptonite?
Chocolate and Factorio. It’s very dangerous for me to start this game in late evening, it means I will go to sleep at 4 am.

30) Knights or Samurai?
Ninja.

31) What was your favorite subject and your most hated one at school?
I love languages, especially the Czech language. I kinda failed in history but I like it in the end.

32) If you could say something to the fans of Kingdom Come: Deliverance, what would it be?
Be kind to our game. In certain aspects it’s something never done before, not because we are good but because we are arrogant and crazy. Also, don’t let your expectations sky-rocket, remember that this is still our first game. We do our best and at the end I really believe that Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a good game, but we already know what to do even better next time. And we will.

If you have any questions for Viktor Bocan, please ask here.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from the Warhorse Studios Team.


Weekly Torch - the barrel of questions
Weekly Torch - the barrel of questions
#150

Viktor Bocan will answer your question later, after the holiday season.


#151

Jan “Honza” Valta is our Music Composer for Kingdom Come: Delivernacce and works closely together with our Adaptive Music Designer Adam Sporka to create our unique adaptive music system, which reacts on your gameplay.
Do you have any questions to Jan “Honza” Valta? Please ask here.
:es: You can find a Spanish translation of this interview here.

1) How did you hear about Warhorse?
I have been writing music for Warhorse since August 2014 (music for Alpha Teaser was the very first piece I composed for Kingdom Come).
But there’s a bit complicated story behind it. From the beginning, besides for me it also involved my colleague Adam Sporka.

In January 2014, we both spotted this game’s success at the Kickstarter. We checked the game, we said “wow!”. and we started working on a demo which we wanted to send to Warhorse, offering our services (me as a composer, Adam as an adaptive music designer).
This preliminary stage took 6 months. During that time, I collected all available information about Kingdom Come and - I totally fell in love with it. I was like: if there is one game in this universe I would love to score, it’s this one.

In July 2014, Adam’s friend who worked in Warhorse told us Daniel already has one particular composer in mind. That meant there isn’t any chance for us. Well… for me, it was just a dream - but yet, I was quite disappointed.
You may not believe in God or destiny, but here it is: literally THE NEXT DAY I got mail from Daniel Vávra, asking whether I would be interested in scoring his upcoming game called Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Dream come true!

If you ask how that is possible:
In 2007, I’ve done some of the orchestral arrangements for a Czech death metal band called Arakain. I guess you noticed this already (t-shirts?): Daniel is a big fan of death metal, so he found it somewhere, he liked it and he remembered it.

In 2011, during my family holiday I accidentaly met a nice young lady (well, accidentaly: there was only one pub in that village) who saw me working on some music on my laptop there (holiday, uhm). She said her boyfriend makes videogames, and she offered she can pass some demo of my work onto him. So, I gave her a CD with my symphony called “Fulcanelli”, saying - who knows?
That boyfriend of that nice young lady was Daniel Vávra.
That’s it - based on these two things, I’ve got that job offer. Thanks God for nice young ladies. :slight_smile:

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2) Ever worked on videogames before?
Kingdom Come is the very first game I’m scoring. But I am typing notes into scores since 2005. Originally, I am a violinist (studied at the Teplice Conservatory and Prague Academy, played in Czech Philharmonic for two seasons, proud member of the Herold Quartet since it was founded in 1998) but I never studied composition, instrumentation, orchestration etc.

There were two schools for me:
1. Listening to great works of the classic masters (Dvořák, Ravel etc.) and watching their music in the score (if you want to do the same - five letters: IMSLP). That gave me quite a lot of understanding how music works (and also, how to type it down - basic notation is easy but complex scores for a full orchestra do have many rules which you should obey - because they’re good).
2. Drinking beer with my fellows, Prague musicians. Many of my friends are excellent instrumentalists (winds, brass, strings, keyboards, percussion… you name it) and to have a couple of kegs with them gave me the opportunity to ask questions such as: when I write this, would it be comfortable to play on your instrument?, and if not, how shoud I write it then?, what’s the spot where you blow up to the upper register?, is it comfortable to play in the lowest register in pianissimo? etc.

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3) So much for theory lessons. Now the real experience:
Before I started working on KC:D, I’ve done quite a lot of orchestral music, chamber music, songs, I scored two TV shows… And - I’ve done tons of arrangements. Really many of them (surely over a thousand, don’t know the exact figure), various genres, various line-ups…
I would say it’s a great thing to start with, if you want to be a composer: as an arranger, you don’t actually compose but you’re working with the music of someone else (usually someone good, otherwise people wouldn’t be willing to pay for a new arrangement of it). And you are asked to re-shape it, re-orchestrate it, fill-in some emptier sections… That can’t be done if you don’t understand that particular piece first. It’s a great training.

And once you start working with music and scores, it never stops: you go to cinema, you watch the film but 20% of your brain analyses the music (why this, why that way, why now, why here yes and there no); you play a piece of music yourself and you watch the combinations of instruments they create that wonderful color, you think about why that composer didn’t use the french horn here and put the bassoon intstead… You’re doomed forever! :slight_smile:

So, as a game composer I was a virgin, but I had quite a lot of music experience before I joined Warhorse.

4) Please describe one of your colleagues or your department:
Our Music Department is very small, there’s only two of us. That gives me the chance to answer this question without hurting anyone’s feelings. :slight_smile: So, I present to you: Adam Sporka, our adaptive music designer and additional music composer. He designed many features of our adaptive music system, he wrote the Sequence Music Engine which rules our music in the game and he also composed some of the tracks (i.e. that Gregorian Chant you’re gonna hear in the monastery and music for armed combat).

First, I’ll copy/paste what I have written about him elsewhere already (because it’s 100% true):
“There are gifted programmers and gifted musicians. And then, there is Adam Sporka. He is both, in one person. Creating adaptive game music is a highly challenging task, and I am very grateful I could collaborate with Adam on the soundtrack for Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Provided with 10 minutes and pen & paper, Adam is able to find the most suitable and effective solution for a complex technological problem. But even as a composer, he is able to deliver a catchy tune or an enchanting atmosphere, both fitting the situation perfectly. Such a combination of technological and artistic abilities is extremely rare. To me, it makes Adam one of a kind.”

And, as we’re among friends here on this community forum, I can add: Adam is always willing to work harder if that may raise the quality for even 0.00001%, has a wonderful sense of humour, he writes fantastic chiptunes, he drinks coffe with milk… And after working with me for 3+ years, he became quite a skilled beer drunkar :slight_smile:
(I mustn’t forget: Adam and I are cousins. He was born just 2 days after me. Obviously, our family is a good family. )

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5) What are some of your notable accomplishments?
Our seamless transitions solution for the exploration music. If you’re interested, you can:
-briefly see it working in our video update (Bohemian Symphony), around time 2:55:


-watch it in complexity in one Adam’s lectures, around time 35:40:

6.1) Why we did what we did?
Kingdom Come is an epic story and it might as well be a fantastic Hollywood blockbuster. So we decided it deserves a soundtrack which would sound like a really good film music. But - it’s not film (so far) :wink: and being a game, it needs an adaptive soundtrack, too.

Nowadays music in almost every game changes when you move from one area to another - it helps the overall atmosphere of the location, it brings additional emotions… And when you come back from a wild adventure and the music for your village starts to play, you even feel like: so good to be home again.

In order to do this, you need to have a system which lets you switch from one track into another. In games, it is usually done through one of the following ways:

1. with just play / play something else (track A plays until its very end; track B starts after that)
2. with fade-out (track A fades out; when that happens, track B starts)
3. through crossfade (track A fades out whilst track B fades in - there is a short period of time where you hear both tracks playing together)
4. through an abrupt change (track A plays; track B starts playing abruptly, accompained with some loud hit on drum / cymbal to cover it).

These solutions are legal (everyone uses them, no one being arrested so far) and they are relatively easy to produce. But when you look at their descriptions in brackets whilst listening to our exploration music, you will see why we couldn’t use any of these:

1. means our music would react very slow (actually so slow that it would look as if it doesn’t react at all)
2. kills the natural flow of the music (it would kill the “film-like” feeling of our music in the game - and also, it’s way too cheap for something like KC:D)
3. would sound crap in our soundtrack (which is based of themes, melodies, quite complex chords etc. - simply, two tracks at the same time would quarrel each other badly)
4. would sound crap everwhere (with one exception which is Gothic 3, since it was scored by Kai Rosenkranz and I love that soundtrack!)

So - what to do?

6.2) Our big plan to rule the universe:
for every 10 seconds of every music track, there is a place for which we composed & produced an extra tiny little piece of music (usually 1 bar). That piece starts in 100% unison with the currently played part of the track, but it immediately starts to “cool down” the current music (finishing the phrase etc.), and within 5 seconds, it leads all its voices into one of the 3 exactly pre-defined chords (C, E, Ab - all of them with thirds omitted). These tiny little pieces are called BRANCHES.

for every track, we also composed & produced 3 openings (usually 2-4 bars). Each of these 3 openings starts with one of those 3 chords (C, E, Ab) - again, in the same exactly pre-defined shape -, but it immediately goes on with the overall mood of that track. And at its end, it lands into the “real” beginning of that track. (Same as BRANCHES start in unison with their track, these openings end in unison with their track). These openings are called INTROS.

Now, how the description of our transition from track A to track B would look like:
- track A plays, until it is valid. When the change is needed (i.e. you left one area and you entered another etc.), our music engine knows that.
- within those 10 seconds, we leave the (now non-valid) track A and we play the closest BRANCH available - just like taking the closest exit on a highway. Through it we cool the music down and we lead it into one of those 3 chords (C, E, Ab)
- when BRANCH ends (within 5 seconds), we play one of the 3 INTROS (yeah, the one, the end of that previous BRANCH was leading to)
- when INTRO ends, we finally start playing track B (but for most of the tracks, you will not notice where that is) :wink:

That means: for every transition you’re gonna hear in the game, we use two transtional tracks. This way, we are able to change the mood within 15 seconds latest - and completely seamlessly.

Not a rocket science, but - well, it wasn’t as easy either :wink: Considering the amount of INTROS and - particularly - BRANCHES needed for every single track in the exploration music, it was around 1.000 tiny little pieces of music which we had to compose, produce, export, index, implement into the music engine, test, tweak, re-export, send for mastering, control, and finally implement into the game.

Also, we had to do all this manually: anything else except a PERFECT unison wouldn’t sound seamless at all (you would hear a bump, or some of the voices ending abruptly / acting strangely etc.); anything else than a nicely composed transition would sound odd.
(1.000 pieces… it was hell :slight_smile: But from the very beginning our main rule was: nothing is too good for Kingdom Come!)

6.3) OK, and what’s the benefit of such a complicated solution?

When we switch from one track to another, you feel the change of the mood in music, but you can’t say when exactly that transition happened - because it sounds as if it was composed and produced exactly that way. Exactly for you, for your way of playing our game, all the way through.

And that leads to the point: in a good film music, there certainly are musical transitions between different moods, too. But they sound logical, nice, flowing… Seamless.

Simply put, they are not just some dumb joints. They’re music themselves, too. And that’s the right way how to do it.

7) How, when and with what platform or game did you first get acquainted with videogames?

First were the handhelds: I remember Sea Ranger (damn, those sharks and coconuts!) and particularly Sub Attack (that one even had a solar panel, no need of batteries). Then Atari 800XL - I played many fanastic games on it (perhaps Rescue on Fractalus was the most memorable). Later Commodore (one word: Turrican). After that, there was a gap until the first PC (I started with Duke Nukem, Magic Carpet, Quake…).

For quite a couple of years, I don’t play anymore - no time. Last game I finished was Gothic 3, and that’s years ago. But now, I ended up in the industry where I have to play the game in order to fulfill my professional duties. Now that’s cool.

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8) What was your most touching video game moment?
I must say it. It’s one particular cutscene from Kingdom Come. As it is almost at the very end of the story, I can’t tell you more (when you gonna play it, remember: it’s a dream). I had tears in my eyes already when reading the script, then during the composing, then during the recording with the orchestra and finally when I saw it all put together in the game. My, it’s so strong!, and so much true!
(But in order to not mislead you: same as there are many really strong, moving moments in our game, there are also sooo many moments I was LOL! Wonderful script, epic lines. Really hope it’s gonna be a classic.)

9) Most hilarious bug you have ever encountered or worst video game experience?
Years ago. An RPG called Stonekeep. In one of the floors (75% of the game process done already) you could enter a fairy realm (those of you who laugh now: that’s just because you didn’t play it!) :wink: You could enter it through a portal, but I decided to go down into to the next floor first. And that was it: once you did that, you couldn’t enter that bloody fairy realm anymore and you couldn’t finish the game at all.
It was a major bug, many players complained and later I even downloaded some saves (prior this decision) on the Internet - but they weren’t my saves, it weren’t my magic wands, my carefully levelled character… For me, it pretty much spoiled everything.

10) Are there any videogames you repeat playing over and over again?
Downwell. I crashed 3 smartphones over last 2 years (certainly not because of that game - and certainly NOT because of our game!), and everytime, it was one of the first things I downloaded into my new phone. Simple at first glance, surprisingly complex when you know better what it is about. And that joke at the very end… Really love it.

11) How do you relax after a hard day at work?
I have the best wife I could ever have, I have fantastic daughter (10) and two incredible sons (2) - twins. And I truly love them all. Being with them is the best relax I know. (Even when both boys at the same time are crushing their metal toys against my aching head.)

Wanna hear something more adventurous, like free climbing, rafting or driving an F1 car, huh? OK, here it goes:

I love cooking (definitely my mother’s DNA), eating, even shopping groceries (which is weird, as I totally hate any other shopping) and even washing the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen. Anything around food makes me highly interested. I’m not a good cook, as that would need time which I don’t have, so I would say I am a bad cook but with a huge portion of a passion on the top of it.
Another passion? Spanish red wine - there’s nothing like a glass of Rioja (save for a glass of Cardenal Mendoza brandy, of course).
Beer - come on, we’re Czechs!, when one drinks beer here, we don’t even talk about it.

Certainly books, films, TV shows - see below. Besides for that… I’m interested in everything about the universe, actually. Speed of light, event horizon, correlation between energy and matter… (Don’t understand 1% of it, but that doesn’t bother me at all.)

Might sound strange but - I listen to music (outside my working hours) only rarely. But when that happens and I can listen & watch the score, I really enjoy it (probably I’m happy someone else did all the work and composed that already) :wink:

12) Your favorite music playlist
My family background is a bit classical, I would say (dad = conductor, mom = piano, sister = harpsichord; me = violin since the age of 5; no, we never played together on the same stage). So I love those really BIG composers (such as Dvořák, Brahms, Ravel, Debussy, Janáček, Martinů, but even some more contemporary ones - in case it makes sense to my senses).
Hard to say what’s the best: I love Mahler’s FIfth (it was the very first symphony I played in Czech Philharmonic, but I don’t think that’s the only reason) and I can’t tell whether Dvořák’s Eight is better than that.
(But it probably is.)

If one work only: Antonín Dvořák - Stabat Mater (no one can never, ever do it better)
If one more: John Williams - E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial OST (no one can never, ever do it better)
If one extra more: Alan Silvestri: Predator OST (this is just so cool!, love every second of this fantastic soundtrack)

(Btw., I am absolutely sure Williams, Goldsmith, Silvestri or Morricone already are true classics, fully comparable with those BIG composers I wrote about.)

Besides the classics? Beatles, Queen, Billy Joel, - fantastic tunes! Sometimes I’m sad, I feel as if no one composes such great melodies anymore. How did that happen? You might say I’m old, but - my taste in music didn’t change too much, over the years. (That means I was born old already.) :slight_smile:

13) Your favorite movie or book?
I love everything Spielberg has done (though Artificial Intelligence: AI was so sad I’ll never watch it again; great film, though). Also, with my wife we are crazy fans of the MAS*H TV show - we’ve seen all 251 episodes about 20 times already - but we want it again and again. I am a passionate lover of House of Cards - purchased Netflix because of it, couldn’t stop watching it. (I want Kevin Spacey back!) And then there are some Czech films which I totally adore but I am afraid it wouldn’t make sense to name them here (save for one: Kolya - it even won the Academy Award, and it totally deserved it).

If one film only: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (again) - to me it’s the very essence of what a film should look like. Not just in music, in everything.

Books? I love most of Umberto Eco’s novels, same for Márquez. Really not against a perfect thriller - Forsyth rules (everone knows The Day of the Jackal which is phenomenal but you should try i.e. The Negotiator - that is fantastic, too). Some years ago I fell in love with Jo Nesbo’s books about Harry Hole (I think I read them all - and then I went to bed, finally).

If one book only: Alejo Carpentier: Lost Steps. Quite hard to read, but absolutely impossible to forget. Strongest ending of all books I read.

14) Your travel tip?
Besides for Prague, you mean? Because honestly: I used to travel a lot whilst making my living as a freelance violinist, and I have seen some truly magnificent cities… but Prague is still the most beautiful place I know.
If not Prague, then Rio de Janeiro - an incredible city, in many ways.

15) Do you believe in Aliens?
Sure!, as universe is f*cking large. One of the sad things about my mortality: when someone finally breaks Einstein’s laws and humans will eventually reach for the other stars, I’ll be loooong dead to see it.

16) If you could say something to the fans of Kingdom Come: Deliverance, what would it be?
That I feel the utmost gratitude to them. Because without them, there would be no game at all.
To me personally, working on the soundtrack for Kingdom Come: Deliverance was undoubtedly the most difficult & challenging task I’ve ever done. (Century ago I would say that the most difficult thing in music is to compose an opera. No, it isn’t.) But also, it was the most beautiful, thrilling and exciting experience I ever had in my professional life. Also, I am extremely proud I became a part of the Warhorse team which is full of incredibly gifted professionals they give everything they can.
And all this wouldn’t happen without all the people they supported us (Kickstarter, our own community funding, but even on discussion forums or by posting under our Video Updates…). Over those years, it meant much more than you think, for all of us in Warhorse. Thank you for all this!
As I said, I loved the game from the very beginning. The end approaches and I love it even more. I hope you will have the same feeling about it. Thanks!

Do you have any questions to Jan “Honza” Valta? Please ask here.


Weekly Torch - the barrel of questions
#152

Jan Valta will come back to you later


#153


Henrieta Vajsabelova moved together with her Boyfriend from England to Prague and works as an Environment Artist for Warhorse Studios for around 2 Years now, she enjoys sci-fi movies and travelling and was born in Bratislava in Slovakia.
Do you have any questions for Henrieta Vajsabelova? Please ask here!
:es: You can find a Spanish translation of this interview here.

1) How did you hear about Warhorse?
I previously worked in England, where I met my boyfriend David. When he finished his school, he started looking for a job. He was interested in working for Warhorse Studios, which was when I first heard about them. When he got the job, we both moved to Czech Republic, Prague. I started learning 3D at home and one day, when we got tickets to a graphics conference called SPLASH, I met some of David’s colleagues and I had mentioned that I work on 3D. At the time, they were looking for some environmental artists, so I asked if could do a test. I successfully passed the test, so they gave me an opportunity to work here and I was so happy :blush:. I’ve been here for 2 years now.

2) Describe your position. What is it about being a Environment Artist?
I am a Junior 3D Environmental Artist. In my position, I need to have solid aesthetic sensibility, a bunch of artistic knowledge, and also a good degree of technical skill. The main part of my job is to create and place 3D assets according to the real historical world. I use 3D’s Max and ZBrush a lot and also a variety of other tools to create textures and materials. Once I am ready to export my work to Cryengine, it can usually get quite interesting. I have to iterate a lot and make sure the assets pass through my own internal critic. My favorite responsibility involves creating natural environments in the Editor. We only use our own assets in order to fill the world of Bohemia. We are pretty lucky to have a great Art Director who leads a talented group of concept artists who help us by providing references to specific places in our world. When I first started to work here, I used to work on various castle furniture, props, small rocks, creating an environment around Rataje castle and riversides. I was also tasked with making points of interest in our world and fixed too many bugs to remember. Some parts of the work are really fun and creative and some parts are more technical and a little boring (like making levels of details for objects).

3) Did you ever worked on Videogames before?
I did not work in the game industry before I joined Warhorse. I actually studied molecular biology, but I have eight years of primary art school and art, in general, attracted me more than anything else. After graduating from university, I worked in the Slovak TV/Film Industry by attending various shoots as an extra.

4) What are you currently working on?
I am working on big rock formations right now. Together with some artists, we took photos of real rocks for photogrammetry purposes. I love art, photography, and nature, so this is the ideal combination of activities for me. Also, the releasing of KCD is coming soon, so I had to focus on polishing, cleaning and fixing the last graphic-bugs. For example, today I was setting up reflex lights which shine through windows of houses. They cast beautiful shadows in the interiors on our new Ultra High graphics setting. I am really glad we could manage this for people who enjoy playing visually believable games.

5) How, when and with what platform or game did you first get acquainted with videogames?
I grew up with games. My first gaming experiences were with Super Mario, then Barbie on SEGA. I spent too much time with Tamagotchi and Snakes on a toilet seat. When my brother and I got a PS1, we were pretty much addicted to it. My brother was addicted to Tekken and I was obsessed with Crash Bandicoot. In Slovakia, there was this one special TV show I watched a lot in which children called in by phone and played Crash by pressing dial buttons. I remember that every week my classmate called there and once she even won a jumping ball. I was so jealous of her :smiley:

6) Which class, gender, or type do you usually pick?
I really enjoy creating characters, especially mad ones. I like to play with face sliders, making a good makeup, hair, and outfit :smiley: So I usually pick women.

7) Are there any videogames you repeat playing over and over again?
My favorite game ever is The Sims. I started to play it on my cousin’s computer because we didn’t have one at home. I used to play long nights and when she tried to pull me away, I was pretty angry at her for doing so. I spent countless hours downloading new furniture and clothes for the game and sometimes I even downloaded some viruses as an extra :smiley:

8) What would a perfect game according to your wishes look like?
I can imagine a pretty cool VR game with visuals that are inseparable from real life and you control it with your senses - my dream game!

9) Most hilarious bug you have ever encountered or worst video game experience?
During development, I stumbled upon a pretty funny collection of amazing bugs. My favorite involved our Alpha build in which a woman who was meant to sweep the floor started riding her broom and floated above ground. Another was produced intentionally by an animator (a fan of The Thing) who pulled Henry’s head so far out that his neck stretched like a giraffe while talking about his date.

10) How do you relax after a hard day at work?
I don’t have much time during a crunch. If I find some, I like to watch good movies, read a book, cook specialties, go to the sauna or go for a swim. I also enjoy photography and when I get to capture a new batch of my moments on my travels, I like to edit them to my liking.

11) Your favorite music playlist
My favorite is electronic music, drum bass, chill out, and trip-hop. My favorite group(s) from my childhood are Linkin Park, Bjork, and Hans Zimmer.

12) Your favorite movie or book?
I love mystery, sci-fi movies and TV shows. One of my favorite shows is Black Mirror and it just came out again! I am also a fan of Ancient Aliens. My favorite films are Eat Pray Love, Butterfly Effect, Ex Machina, and Blade Runner. I really enjoy films from Tim Burton.
movies

I like to read about travel and Chinese medicine. I am currently reading a book from a Czech nomad Ladislav Zibura and Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah McDonald.

13) Your travel tip?
My travel tip is Thailand. It was my dream to get there a few years ago and this year, I finally managed to go and it was amazing. I love their art and culture. Buddhas and oriental temples on every step, exotic fruits, and just fantastic street food everywhere. You can meet a two-meter-long lizard by the sidewalk too. Bathing with elephants and fighting crazy monkeys who try to steal your bag full of groceries were pretty cool highlights :smiley:

14) If you could say something to the fans of Kingdom Come: Deliverance, what would it be?
I hope you will enjoy the game. Look out for surroundings of Rataje city and hidden points of interest :blush: Easter eggs too!

Do you have any questions for Henrieta Vajsabelova? Please ask here!


Weekly Torch - the barrel of questions
#154

And here are Henrieta´s answers to your community questions

Our colleague Vojta is our sound designer. He recorded all atmospheres and random ambient sounds in the Czech forests, meadows, near lakes etc. He and Asia (our historian) did a bit of research into the medieval fauna. They selected animals and birds which reside or could have resided in the nature back then. According to Vojta, he recorded owls, crickets, buzzards, hornets, jackdaws, swallows, woodpeckers and many more. These sounds can be heard at places you’d expect to hear them… Hopefully :wink:
He tried to create a believable environment which sounds different from any game we know. In case you were wondering, no records of medieval music or songs were preserved, so we recorded some of our own!

Some of the textures we use come from our photo database, but some of them are generic. When it was possible we traveled to various locations which can be found in the game, to take pictures and study the textures. They inspired us during texturing if we used other sources too. Most of these locations don’t look the same as in the medieval times. We tried to recreate them according to how they could have looked during that time.
We used the generic textures, for example of wood, for houses from open air museums. Of course, we had to remember that models in museum have glass windows, which were impossible to see in medieval times. Medieval wooden remains, if preserved, were not always the best reference because the wood got too old. In medieval times it was much brighter because structures were often rebuilt.

Taking the photo references:

We used reference photos, sometimes from old documents, to build our furniture asset library. There are certain requirements we had to consider when modelling these. Our animations had to be compatible with all kinds of chairs or tables.
Furniture: Left: references, Right: in game

When comes to environments, our concept artists inspire us with illustrations, which keeps every scene visually interesting and consistent with reality.
Environments; left - concept, right - game

There are many factors to consider, such as the number and style of houses constructed at the time. Roads were obviously not made from asphalt. Sometimes we could not use as many assets as we liked to as well. For example, to optimize, we had to tone down density of rocks placed in rivers.
Today’s environment:


Our main source were blueprints of castles from historical documents, books and our photo references. Some of the interiors were burned down in fire, so there are no sources about how they looked. We only have interpretations from various sources. In some cases, we used the data from preserved documents, pictures of the exact era and consulted with historians and experts who work in museums.

Ground plan of the Pirkstein castle in Rattay based on plans made by T. Tomíček


Cross section of the Pirkstein castle in Rattay made by our concept artists

Flying objects, stretched roads, cleaning places where Henry can get stuck, fixed slots for picking/placing items

There is always something to improve or fix. We are currently working on a Day 1 update as well as some near-future updates.
The number of bugs is secret :slight_smile:

yes

If critical animations, effects or textures are missing, we do our best to make sure they are in the build you will play.

yes

yes

yes

yes

Yes. In ultra specs, for example, all the windows cast shadows.

yes

There were not too many shiny things at that time, but if they were, we will have them in the game. For example, church floor or armour.

Recently I have been adding detail maps to materials of roads. They were often blurry and the detail maps give them a more realistic and sharper look. Another improvement I worked on was adding little shimmer spots onto stones due to the faded look of their material.

We created these for the shops and they should be interactive in the game.

No, we won’t have Easter Eggs like that in the final game :smiley:

I do not program shaders or do much with the presets we use. Of course, I work with materials, and in order to enable reflections of metal or glass, I need to set the light probes properly.

Yes, the Czech forests are wonderful! I hope that in the future, when we are not so limited by optimization, they can look even nicer.

I think the character artists think that Henry looks sexier with boobs! :smiley: No, seriously, I am afraid that there is no story twist about that. It is just that animators sometimes use Henry’s face on female bodies in order to animate.

Both :slight_smile:


Combat concerns
#155


Martin Strnad is one of our Designers here at Warhorse Studios and with around 10years of experience in the gaming industry he is almost a veteran in his field. He also is the drummer of our Warhorse Band.
Do you have more questions for Martin Strnad? Please ask here.
:es: You can find a Spanish translation of this interview here.

1) Where can we usually find you lurking in the holy halls of Warhorse?
In-between my headphones :wink:

2) How did you hear about Warhorse?
Being that I’ve worked in the videogame industry for the last 10 years, I knew about Warhorse’s existence and I was aware of some of the plans that Dan Vávra had for his next game. In fact, even before Warhorse was a thing, I sent in my CV.
I did the interview and the test assignment and I got accepted, but since Warhorse was still looking for a publisher and funding in general, and the fact that I was in-between jobs and without money, I decided to choose a more, let’s say stable company to work for: Bohemia Interactive. Their DayZ Standalone project is where I stayed for almost 2 years until I got burnt-out a bit, so I took a break by travelling the globe for almost 1 year. Once I came back, I knew that the KCD development was in full swing, so I contacted the studio and was accepted without much hesitation to help with finishing and polishing the game.

3) Describe your position. What is it about being an open world game designer?
I make sure lots of small details in the game-world fit together. I make sure that people have a chest with clothes in their bedroom(s), chests, baskets and shelves with food in their storage room, properly locked doors, AI functioning correctly – going to work on time, shop-keepers putting their goods properly on display, what people are carrying around in their pockets, or even the resources you can acquire while hunting (trust me, I’ve re-learned lots of stuff I never thought I’ll need to know in terms of biology :D).
It is all these things that seem obvious to be there, but someone has to make sure they are there and that they make sense. It’s a tedious systematic work with lots of data and metadata, but it suits my way of thinking, so I quite enjoy doing it.

4) You said you worked on Videogames before, can you tell us something about your experience?
As I mentioned above, I’ve worked on games for 10 years (it’s actually my anniversary of being a game dev :blush:). I worked for Disney Mobile at the time, started with a solitaire game for Java phones, and managed to design and produce games based on Disney brands, like Hanna Montana, and after they bought Marvel, I even worked on Thor.
I did some other phone games later with a startup and other, more or less, mobile/social f2p games like bubble companies, where I’ve made some simple word games and mobile puzzle games. Previously, I got contacted by a person from Bohemia Interactive, when a DayZ mod was the one thing I spent most of my time with, so it was quite the natural choice for me to go for that and so I finally got to work on some proper AAA games and tech. Honestly, before game development, I was already doing some gaming journalism, I did lots of reviews for Nintendo DS games and also worked as a film journalist where I enjoyed press screenings at 10am and explaining how to work with google calendar to some thick humanities students and such.
Then some small jobs here and there on some web sites and during my yearlong travels I’ve made some good food money by busking, playing on my small steel drum in the streets around China and ended up teaching English in Taiwan which was quite the experience both for me and the kids, because I couldn’t stop myself from gamifying every single class I had, much to the surprise of both local teachers and kids with good results both in their marks but also in their loudness.

5) What is your favorite team activity?
When our office band meets to play music together after work. It’s a great way to relax, with lots of silly jokes and the awesome vibes that it brings while rehearsing our setlist or just jamming. I really enjoy that.

6) Describe your usual day at the studio?
I show up, (sometimes even on time), annoy everyone by eating a smelly soup for breakfast, while going through the issues reported to me to see if I need to lower the number of bugs I need to fix, or if I can work on a longer task I started previously, and then proceed with the given task at hand.
In the meantime, I drink some coffee, eat some more food, drop some jokes, share some ridiculous bugs I find, or discuss what I played last night. It’s office life, like most people know it, just with an office full of gamers, which makes it very enjoyable for me.

7) What are you currently working on?
To be honest, right now it’s fixing bugs, tweaking and balancing, which sounds quite boring and truth-be-told, it is boring, but as our northern neighbors would say, nothing works well without a proper dose of polish. :blush:

8) What are some of your notable accomplishments?
Well, I managed to fill all chests, bags, pockets, baskets, graves and pretty much all containers you can open in the game with relevant items, which was a huge chore, but the point of satisfaction came after understanding the whole system and utilizing that for bigger tasks like setting up shops and tweaking the games economy. I’d say most of my work stays a bit in the background but also makes the whole game-world feel more consistent. One of the many small things I did that I enjoyed would be the funkier stuff - putting weird combinations of items around some secret places, or hiding treasures around the game-world, or just having fun with putting some spicy puns into the merchant-shouts they use to attract customers, so pay attention to what especially the vegetable and butcher merchants scream in the marketplace :wink:
Also, between me and the reader, there are some pretty lucrative, let’s say differently balanced dice hidden around the game, so look for every nook and cranny for those, you may end up getting filthy rich if you can find them…

9) What do you think it’s the most important part or thing in the game?
Immersion.

10) What do you like the most about Kingdom Come: Deliverance?
I am and always was a sucker for both immersive sim games and stealth games, so I’m quite proud of how Kingdom Come has elements of both - the game world reacts to you and it works quite well even without players input, so it’s good to see how every action a player does is reflected in how the NPCs react, which makes one get into the so-called flow, which is the ultimate goal of every game designer, I think. Kingdom Come has the unique combination of doing this both by mechanics and by the very personal story.

11) How, when and with what platform or game did you first get acquainted with videogames?
My first and very faint memory is from the late 80s, when I was a small kid and my neighbor’s grandson somehow got his hands on a NES. I saw him play and then I tried to play (in a very uncoordinated way) one of the early Mario games, some 3D Tetris clone, and possibly even Zelda, but it was so long ago. I may start remembering which specific games I played when I’m old enough to enter second childhood, I guess :blush:

12) What was your most touching video game moment?
Saddest was probably when Agro, the horse from Shadow of Colossus (spoiler alert here) died before the last colossus, especially since there are no other friendly living creatures in the world wehre one makes a connection with him. Agro was also a super helpful sidekick to defeat some very dangerous giants.
A touching or maybe most jaw-dropping moment was the end of Walking Dead Season 1, when in short time Lee gets to meet with the consequences of his previous actions that Clementine must deal with Lee. Also, the “would you kindly” moment from the first Bioshock was amazing, even though as a fan of Thief and System Shock, I was expecting some twist like that. I didn’t expect it to be so 4th wall breaking though, no one did.
I’m trying to remember the happiest moment, which is not easy with all the dark games that I play, so I’d say lots of the narrated points of Thomas Was Alone made me pretty happy. The ending of Journey was another.

13) Which videogame character or figure is the best?
Vaas Montenegro from Far Cry 3 … what a perfectly crazy psycho. Seriously, why don’t they make a prequel with Vaas as the main character? I’m looking at you, Ubisoft!

14) Are there any videogames you repeat playing over and over again?
Journey. I finished that game like 30 times or more but we all have ever-shining stars, so when the time is right, I always go back to Transport Tycoon Deluxe (or the open source version of it). From the more recent games (and I actually just peeked at my steam statistics) I go back to Left 4 Dead 2 a lot, because I enjoy co-op games with friends, oh, and also Castle Crashers, and I just realized I replayed the first Bioshock or the HD version of it more than 6 times by now, which means it took the place of the first Deus Ex - I’m just a fan of the whole objectivistic, antiutopian Rapture setting and pretty much all Ken Levine fictional worlds and the settings of the games.

15) Most hilarious bug you have ever encountered or worst video game experience?
When I started working at Warhorse, most of the more hilarious bugs were pretty much solved, but I had a good laugh when I saw a bug report back in my DayZ days stating, “the bull has eyes on his ass.” The attached screenshot proved the tester right with the eye balls somehow moving on the X-axis back to the behind of the bull model and peeking out of its ass cheeks. Worst video game experience? I try to avoid those, as I have no pleasure in playing bad games …however… I was a guest on a gaming radio show I HAD to play through the Wolfenstein New Colossus - the dialogues, story cut-scenes, and the whole script was pretty much an insult to anyone’s common sense. I mean, even if I tried really hard to use some sort of suspense of disbelief, it felt like quite a waste of manhours of otherwise a waste of a talented team for that story and characters, because the rest of the game was quite good.

16) What game have you been really looking forward to but turned out to be a total disappointment?
The fourth Thief game. I was disappointed by how they “streamlined it” (yes, that’s sarcasm), how anticlimactic it was, and how they just got rid of so many good elements proven time-and-time again by other good games, such as Dishonored. At the very least, it led to Dishonored taking the throne, even though I’m not such a big fan of an overpowered player that’s just ploughing through enemies.

17) How do you relax after a hard day at work?
Drumming, then a good, loud-head-cleansing gig, successful hunt and good sleep, exactly in that order :wink:

18) Your favorite music playlist
I listen to psychedelic rock, post rock, shoegaze, triphop, nujazz, and all sorts of instrumental music with good gradation. I always prefer tracks with spot-on or complex drums.

19) Your favorite movie or book?
I like weird movies. In recent years I can recall: 7 psychopaths, Frank, Gentlemen Broncos, and Ah-ga-ssi (Handmaiden)
A book everyone should read: Virtues of Selfishness by Ayn Rand.

20) Your travel tip?
Don’t travel like a tourist or in groups, or not even as a couple. I travel alone with as little luggage as possible, meet new people, try new things, break your own boundaries, get yourself into some crazy situations, and don’t hold yourself back because it doesn’t really matter where you go, just GO. You’ll understand only after you try that.

21) What’s your guilty pleasure?
That’s unpublishable :smiley:

22) Do you have a Bucket List?
Only one thing on my bucket list: explore all the extremes you can and then enjoy the wide horizons.

23) What will be your famous last words?
It was worth it.

24) Is it possible to buy you with candy?
Depends on … well … what I consumed before :smiley:

25) How do you like living in the Czech Republic?
Well, I was born here, and I’ve lived here most of my life. After seeing lots of the world, I have to say it’s always worth returning to the small club music scene, the lively art scene in general, and for the relaxed vibes and safety in the city. I’d recommend it to everyone to at least pay a long enough visit.

26) What is your weakest trait?
Very little tolerance to hypocrisy.

27) Imagine you are a cake, what kind of cake are you and why?
I’m not a cake, I’m more like a Snickers bar - sweet with hard nuts and can make one happy anywhere :smiley:

28) Who is your favorite historic character?
I personally took lots of inspiration from Jan Amos Komensky, in how he described learning as playing.

29) Knights or Samurai?
This would be one of the cases where I really prefer an Asian take on things.

30) What is your favorite historic event?
Velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia in 1989 is my favourite historical event, because it dispelled illusions in local society and helped me have much enjoyable and generally better life.

31) What was your favorite subject and your most hated one at school?
I was that kid that always had problems with artificial authority, so I only really liked the subjects where the teacher assumed his authority in a natural way, without much screaming or punishing, so it always shifted depending on the teacher.
And in terms of history … well, I didn’t like it so much when I was younger because most of the historical books and syllabuses were just being rewritten and updated due to the regime change, just before I went to school (trust me it did confuse lots of kids at that time, especially those that didn’t pay much attention in class and then ended up memorizing lots of made up information from the old books about the Soviet Union and the eastern Block). But then during my university studies, the school rector, Petr Čornej, was the Czech historical expert on pre-Hussite and Hussite period. He had natural authority while entertaining everyone in the class with, weird small details he chose to teach us. He then asked about them during exams, so he earned lots of my respect, which turned out to be a very lucky thing, as apparently, he was helping Warhorse at the beginning as a historical advisor and he also helped me to get all the necessary knowledge of the day-to-day history of 15th century.

31) If you could say something to the fans of Kingdom Come: Deliverance, what would it be?
Stay tuned, there’s more stuff that suits the good-old Interplay logo line, “By gamers. For gamers,” coming from us.

Do you have more questions for our designer Martin Strnad? Please ask here.


Weekly Torch - the barrel of questions
#156

Hello, Martin has seen your questions already and is working on their answers.


#157


Ondřej Stuchl is one of our testers, and as we are already in the production of all the disks for the physical version, he is working on the Day1 patch right now to fix as many bugs before the release as possible.
As for now, for the whole development of the game, we fixed 31387 Bugs so far, but of course, sometimes fixing one bug, brings up another one, and most of them are minor ones.
Do you have more questions for our tester Ondřej Stuchl? Please ask here.
:es: You can find a Spanish translation of this interview here.

How did you hear about Warhorse?
A few years ago I quite often read Dan Vavra’s blogs where he wrote about Warhorse‘s beginnings and his opinions on game design. I considered them to be great articles and I really liked it. When Kingdom Come Deliverence appeared on Kickstarer I was a first day backer. At the time I did not think that I‘d be at this company 4 years later.

Describe your position. What is it about being a quality assurance?
It’s like a dream job. I just play the game all of the time and then tap some scripter’s shoulder saying “Hey, your NPC does some crazy sh*t, when it definitely shouldn’t. Repair it!”… but seriously, in reality, I have to do some not so fun stuff too. Like test some situations that happen once in every 50 tries and record the NPC’s actions for the scripters.

Did you ever worked on Videogames before?
I never worked on Videogames before. My previous jobs were webdesign, coding websites or graphics (mostly prints). Since I was 14 I have always been trying to make some small games in my free time. I used Game maker before and now I’m trying to learn hot to code with Unity.

Please describe your department:
I’m really enjoying working in our Quality Assurance team. We can endlessly offend each other, but at the end of the day everybody knows it’s only a joke, I think, but I can’t be sure in every case :smiley:
We’re also the first in office at breakfast with the AI/sound team, because ham is the first to disappear from table because everybody wants ham!

Describe your usual day at the studio?
I get in to the office mostly around 8 am. A few testers and of course Detective (Jan Rücker) will already be here, so we greet each other and then the ham competition starts (breakfast). Then I spend the whole day verifying fixed bugs, (if they really are fixed or if a scripter / programmer is just testing my attention to detail :D) or I find some new ones.

What are you currently working on?
We’re now in phase where we should be playing the game from the beginning to the end and try to find the latest bugs that show only in continuous playthroughs. But first I still need to verify or retest the older bugs. Right now I’m the tester on longest quest in the game, so it takes a quite a long time.

What do you like the most about Kingdom Come: Deliverance?
That unique feeling you get when you are playing it. It’s really different in good way. As a tester I’m digging through bugs and not seeing the game all of the time, but then sometimes we’re playing it from the beginning and I’m like: “Holy sh*t, it’s actually really great and I love to play it!”

Which videogame character or figure is the best?
Sulik! He’s not very smart but the way in which he uses a hammer to break the enemy‘s heads is lovely.

Which class, gender, or type do you usually pick?
I usually pick the class that other people don’t play often. I don’t know why, I’m probably trying to play it differently than the ordinary playthrough.

Are there any videogames you repeat playing over and over again?
Fallout and Fallout 2. It’s a masterpiece.

What game have you been really looking forward to but turned out to be a total disappointment?
Honestly almost every mmorpg in the last 10 years. Last time I played Guild Wars 2 and didn’t like it that much. Why all of these games are trying to be the same is a mystery for me.

How do you relax after a hard day at work?
I’m trying to be effective with my free time, so I‘m usually learning to code (c#) with Unity or playing on some musical instrument. I can play the piano, guitar and a little bit of drums. I also have a double bass at home, but it works more like a room filler than something that I actually use.
Besides that I really like to go running, but honestly, sometimes I just sit and watch dumb youtube videos or tv shows.

Your favorite music?
I mostly listen to hardcore, metalcore, progressive, djent music, but not in the office. When I am listening to this music I cannot concentrate on work. So in the office I usually play some soundtracks or some electronics, like drum’n bass. I also like playing in a melodic-hardcore band. We recently released a new single with a music video. You can watch it on youtube, just search “Uprise From The Ashes - Heartless Promise”. Please check it out! We need views! :smiley:

Sport is?
Football, I mean the football with a round ball. I really love it. I’m at almost every home match for my favourite club Sparta Prague. I also play for a small local team. Well, most of the time I’m injured so I’m not playing that much. I actually have a sprained ankle.

Is it possible to buy you with candy?
No, everything with sugar is pure evil! But still, walking past Tobi shop is sometimes really hard.

Knights or Samurai?
Knights! The knights in Kingdom Come especially.

If you could say something to the fans of Kingdom Come: Deliverance, what would it be?
Thanks for your support. Please buy at least 3 copies of our game for everyone in your family!

Do you have more questions for our tester Ondřej Stuchl? Please ask here.


Weekly Torch - the barrel of questions
Weekly Torch - the barrel of questions
#158

We are very busy to prepare the release right now, so we are short in answers from the community questions. But we will come back to them.


#159


Josef Vachek is more of quiet and inconspicuous person in our team, but his position as a Scripter is very important for our game. He joined the team around a year ago, in april 2017, and was born in Prague, here in Czech Republic.
Do you have any questions for Josef Vachek? Please ask here!
:es: You can find a Spanish translation of this interview here.

1) How did you hear about Warhorse?
I heard about the kickstarter and did my first pledge ever there. I wanted to support a Czech gaming studio and the videos were awesome. I joined only last year in April.

2) Describe your position. What is it about being a scripter?
We find out why something doesn’t work the way we want and fix it. Then test it a month later and fix it again because something changed in the code/animation or some cool new feature broke it. But in the end, you can see it all coming together and it feels good.

3) What is your favorite team activity?
Brainstorming about what is good and bad about the game. Even in one team, there is a lot of diversity in opinions.

4) Describe your usual day at the studio?
At the start I got to script the whole quest from the start but now it’s mainly fixing bugs again and again.

5) What do you like the most about Kingdom Come: Deliverance?
A lot of things but mainly the RPG part. There are a lot of decisions for you and you can choose your own playstyle.

6) How, when and with what platform or game did you first get acquainted with videogames?
Some of the videogames for TV but it really started after my parents bought a PC for my sister and brother. We all played Atomic Bomberman, NFS2 or Mortal Combat.

7) What was your most touching video game moment?
I wouldn’t say the most touching but one of the saddest ones was the ending of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (I even played it with my girlfriend who is not a gamer and she liked it, which says a lot).

8) Which class, gender, or type do you usually pick?
I started with Paladins but Mages are slowly overtaking them.

9) Are there any videogames you repeat playing over and over again?
Diablo II was a game that I played over and over when I was little. I watched or played with my cousin because we had only one PC. (Now it’s mainly Dota2)

10) What would a perfect game according to your wishes look like?
It’s really hard to say but I feel that we need a good coop game with story and long endgame.

11) Most hilarious bug you have ever encountered or worst video game experience?
I kind of chuckled when I saw Geralt crouching weirdly in Witcher III (look for “witcher 3 geralt crouch bug”).

12) How do you relax after a hard day at work?
Playing some games, watch TV shows or anime.

13) Your favorite movie or book?
I really like Discworld series from Terry Pratchett but any good fantasy or sci-fi really.

14) Your travel tip?
I liked Spain a lot.

15) What will be your famous last words?
This absolutely cannot be an Atomic blast.

16) Is it possible to buy you with candy?
Sure, I recently found (my girlfriend actually did) 0 sugar mint-milk sweets from south Korea and they are perfect.

17) You have to fight in medieval times… who are you?
I’d be a part of the secret team to assassinate a noble man, having only a hidden string to strangle him.

18) If you could say something to the fans of Kingdom Come: Deliverance, what would it be?
I hope you have a lot of fun!

Do you have any questions for Josef Vachek? Please ask here!


Weekly Torch - the barrel of questions
#160

Placeholder for the answers of the community questions


#161


Ondřej Štorek is one of our programmers, he worked on Mafia 2 and joined to Warhorse Studios on 2014 to became an important part of our team. He was born here in Prague and he has been living here his entire life so he’s 100% a city boy
Do you have any questions for Ondřej Štorek? Please ask here!
:es: You can find a Spanish translation of this interview here.

1) How did you hear about Warhorse?
I know most of the guys that started at Warhorse from the old times at 2K Games where we were working together on Mafia 2, so basically it was no surprise. But after finishing Mafia 2 I was focused on other things and businesses and actually, during KCD kickstarter campaign, I was staying in South East Asia. Quite literally laying on the beach a skyping with PMan telling him that I’ve just supported them on kickstarter and maybe I will come help them ‘polish’ the game, when I’m back. That was in 2014. Since then we are polishing … :slight_smile:

2) Describe your usual day at the studio?
I usually came late … right when we have our daily programmers stand-up meeting. Then sometimes I go on an ‘anti-hacking’ mission in the scripters’ stand-up meetings. It’s better to be safe than sorry and to make features that work for them before they find some nasty workarounds. :slight_smile: After that, I sort my daily portion of bugs and start coding. Also, don’t forget our fruitful meetings, which can sometimes take hours. But hey, the game has to be perfect!!

3) What are some of your notable accomplishments?
We’ve managed to optimize engine to run the game quite nicely, with basically little outside support. If you compare KCD beta version with current build you can immediately notice huge performance improvements in all areas. Beta barely used 2 CPU cores while current version runs animation, physics, entities update, RPG logic and AI logic all in parallel. Given the fact that it wasn’t there from the start it works quite well. Another thing that was also added was instance and layer streaming. Otherwise our huge level simply wouldn’t fit in memory. Apart from that I’m also responsible for quest system, parts of rpg, inventory and some other game play mechanics, but I won’t tell which to prevent Mr. Lynch :slight_smile:

4) What is the most important characteristic a Programmer must have?
Be calm and tweak features / fix bugs when all the info you have is: ‘It looks like shit!!’

5) How, when and with what platform or game did you first get acquainted with videogames?
I’m younger so my first computer was Intel 80286, I can’t remember any specific game back then but I can vividly remember hours and hours of copying the onto floppy discs just to find out that disc no.19/20 was corrupted.

6) Which class, gender, or type do you usually pick?
Mage, fire-mage.

7) Are there any videogames you repeat playing over and over again?
Dungeon Master 2, Arx fatalis, Dark Messiah Of Might And Magic, all of them features intense first-person action. Love spell casting system in Arx, using mouse to draw spells and kicking your enemies down in Dark Messiah, just pure bliss.

8) What would a perfect game according to your wishes look like?
Fantasy RPG MMO with a strong survival element/crafting and a truly dynamic environment.

9) How do you relax after a hard day at work?
I love electronics, anything about renewable energy and upgrading my cottage to a zombie apocalypse hideout. Sewing outdoor clothes, jungle survival and bushcraft. None of that I have been doing much lately as we are quite busy. But once game is out …


KCD Asian office, dinner served - rice mouse

10) What species is your spirit animal?
Definitely lion or at least some other big cat.

11) Your travel tip?
South east asia, anyplace far from big city hubs, mountains or jungles.

12) Is it possible to buy you with candy?
I love sweet things, but I prefer bitcoins: 1EWEE4X1T1cyYGExZGMcRFWoxbC2JYZd5k
Don’t worry I will donate it all for Mr. Vavra’s future presidency campaign.

13) If you could say something to the fans of Kingdom Come: Deliverance, what would it be?
It’s coming soon so I hope you will really enjoy it, play it over again and again and continue to support us so we can make even better future games.

Do you have any questions for Ondřej Štorek? Please ask here!


Weekly Torch - the barrel of questions
Weekly Torch - the barrel of questions
#162

Placeholder for community questions


#163


Tomáš “Woody” Blaho basically has two jobs in our company, he takes care about programming the rendering in Kingdom Come: Deliverance and he is our lead Programmer. And as such, he has a lot to tell about the development of Kingdom Come: Deliverance.
He was born in Krnov, a small town in the east of the Czech Republic and he joined Warhorse Studios quite early, long before the Kickstarter Campaign in early 2012.
Do you have any questions for Tomáš “Woody” Blaho? Please ask here!

1. Woody…hmmm Woody what? How did you get that nickname?
Decades ago, when local multiplayer games were popular at gaming houses, everybody was using a cool nickname like “Terminator”, “Predator” or “MegaKiller”. I wanted something that was quite the opposite. My skill in English was poor, my vocabulary slight and I remembered Heywood “Woody” Allen, so I chose “Woody” because of how it sounded.

2. Did you ever worked on Videogames before?
I was working on a couple of games with my friends before 1999, but never finished a single one of them. At that time, Petr Vochozka, the founder of Illusion Softworks, was looking for new programmers for the first Mafia game. He saw my work and invited me to the Prague branch of Illusion Softworks where I started on my very first “professional” 3D engine together with Radek Sevcik, my lead programmer at that time. After we finished the “LS3D” engine for Mafia, we accommodated it for a couple of other IS games (Hidden&Dangerous 2, Chameleon, Circus Grande) and developed the Wings of War game. Once 2K Games acquired Illusion Softworks, we continued with many other people on the Mafia 2 engine and helped to finish Top Spin 4. Then I left 2K Czech and joined Playground Games to work on the Forza Horizon engine for almost a year. 18years later, I’m working with Radek again on KCD. My main domain is still rendering although I’m also the lead programmer part time :wink:

3. What was more difficult for you: programming or Bug-Hunting. What gave you more gray hair?
For me the Bug-Hunting is definitely the one that is more difficult. I like debugging as it could be very rewarding if you are successful. But debugging a foreign code, developed for years by many programmers from all around the world could be too much for anyone. Especially when many of them never used comments and the documentation is … ehm … sparse.

4. What are some of your notable accomplishments?
As some kind of a workaholic I’m fueled by the success from anything I have finished. Even if it takes an enormous amount of time. But when I look back, nothing looks so special. I did single-handedly most of rendering improvements, optimizations and bug fixing on all our supported platforms. The hardest for me was to fix a couple of nasty problems with the coverage buffer culling system where a CryEngine programmer used a lot of SIMD intrinsics and no comments whatsoever. That took me two weeks of days and nights. It’s no surprise my family hates my job. I owe them a lot for all these years.

5. What is the most important characteristic a Lead Programmer must have?
Game development was never the same for me. I have to keep learning every day. If I don’t know or understand something, I must keep working until I figure it out. So probably a sense of diligence and persistence.

6. After spending so much time and energy in KCD, would you like to play it again, or do you need some space before?
To be honest, I have never properly played the games I’ve worked on. Once I know exactly what is going on inside and how many problems it used to have, it loses its appeal. Something similar to people that became vegetarians after they undertake an excursion to a slaughter house.

7. What was your most touching video game moment?
I’m pretty sure I had all these moments in World of Warcraft that I was addicted to for a couple of years. Of course, I was able to stop playing it any moment if I wanted to wink wink

8. Which videogame character or figure is the best? Why?
The Night elf priestess in WoW. My was named “Altie”. She was my very …second WoW character. We went to so many quests, battles and raids! sigh She was the sexiest hundred of triangles I’ve ever known, always ready to save lives while others were killing dragons. If only I remember where I left the Blizzard Authenticator…

9. How do you relax after a hard day at work?
Without good sleep I can’t function again. I need at least 6 hours, but 7.5h is optimal. Sadly, my little son (2) doesn’t care, so I’m usually waking up at 5am. He is lucky he’s cute!

10. What’s your guilty pleasure?
Chocolate. But I’m going through withdrawal now.

11. Is it possible to buy you with candy?
Of course not! Unless it’s a Lindt Lindor Chocolate Truffle…. yum

12. If you could say something to the fans of Kingdom Come: Deliverance, what would it be?
If you can play KCD at 4K, 60 fps at High details or more on your PC, please let me know your spec. People are constantly asking for that info and we have no clue. Damn Bitcoin miners prevent us to get a good GPU or even pair of GPUs to test it :wink:

Do you have any questions for Tomáš “Woody” Blaho? Please ask here!


Weekly Torch - the barrel of questions
#164

Placeholder for community questions


#165


Martin Klíma is the Executive Producer here at Warhorse Studios. He works closely with team leads and other producers in order to make Kingdom Come: Deliverance a fine piece of art. He was born in Bristol, UK, his parents were from Czechoslovakia, they were on the run from the Russian invasion. They returned to Prague shortly after his first birthday.
Today, we will answer the last call of the Weekly Torch for you.
You still can ask questions to him, and there are also other still pending answers to your community questions, they will be available later.

1. It is finally done, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is released now. Born of a little idea at the beer table, the game will be available worldwide since 13.02.2018. If you look back on this, what can you say about the development process?

This is a really difficult question, because of course my perception of it – as someone who set it up and was responsible for its execution – is going to be along the lines of: ‘We had some problems, but overall it went well, and we created the game; the proof of the pudding is in the eating or – in this case – in the cooking.’

So, I will try to be very honest, but I can’t really step outside my experience, and if you want an honest assessment, you’d have to ask somebody in the team who was on the receiving side of the process.

The development was neither straightforward nor simple. We went through various phases, from developing a vertical slice prototype with a team of some 30+ people to the full-fledged production with more than a hundred people. We used different tools, different levels of formalness and control.

The team includes experienced veterans as well as junior people straight out of school. Our challenge was to turn them into a well-jelled team. There is a lot of books and theory about software project management, but at the end of the day, this is very much a soft skill, not a hard one. People – developers – are not like some interchangeable cogs you can place in a huge intricate clockwork, oil it regularly and let it hum away. So of course, you try not to re-discover the wheel and you build on the body of theory and past experiences, but every team is different – because every developer is different – and you have to tailor the process to their needs, not the other way around.

We – I – certainly did my share of poor decisions and blunders. We have wasted time and energy on things that we eventually had to abandon. We had to crunch a lot this last year. However, I believe that we did some things right, too. We had a remarkably low team turnover – only about thirty developers have left over the six years of development, so I presume that people, if they not actually like working for Warhorse, at least put up with it. We created an open and friendly environment where everyone can speak up their mind.

And in the end, we managed to cook the pudding, and that’s something, isn’t it?

2. After all that has happened in the last few years, would you take the risk again and start a studio?

Would I want to start a new studio today, from a scratch? Probably not. I am six years older and in a different situation.

Do I think it was a good decision at the time? You bet! I don’t regret it for a minute.

Seriously, there were times when I was exhausted, frustrated, when the project was not going well. There were times when I really had to force myself to go to work in the morning. But I was never sorry that I made that decision. It was – and still is – an amazing experience, truly, an experience of a lifetime.

3. Describe your position. What is it about being an Executive Producer?

Production in video games is about organizing various parts of the development – code, art, animations, script, sound and music, etc., making sure that everybody is working to the same goal and that as little work as possible is wasted.

For me, this means removing obstacles. Programmers, artists, animators, scripters, sound engineers, etc. understand their trade much better than I do, and I don’t presume to tell them how to do their jobs. However, they usually focus on the problem at hand and can lose the sense of the greater picture. It’s my job to have this bigger picture in mind and make sure every department contributes to it. If they can’t – because they are dependent on some other department, some other technology, or whatever – it’s my job to make sure they get everything they need to work.

Of course, I am not doing all of it myself. I work closely with team leads and other producers in Warhorse. As the studio grows, we are going to need more producers, too – wink, wink.

To put it another way, Executive Producer is responsible for realizing the vision of the game. I had some small creative input into the design of our game, but my main task was working with the production team to determine what parts of this vision will be produced. This involves making unpopular decisions about things to be left out. If there is no dog companion in our game, it’s because I said that we couldn’t do it in the time we had. So now you know who is to blame!

Seriously though, saying No is the most important part of your job as a producer.

4. Describe your usual day at the studio?

I arrive to work between nine and ten, usually leave about 8pm. On Friday morning we have Production Team meeting where I sit together with other producers and discuss our situation. Currently it means progress of work on the next patch, progress of certification of the previous patch, progress of work on DLCs and so on. On other days I try to go to a morning standup of either QA, code or script department to get some sense of their current issues.

After that I go through my Inbox, check the current bug counter and check the new bugs. In this stage of development, I am going through all new high-priority bugs and deciding if we are going to try to fix them in the current patch or in the next one (or possible, not going to fix some of them at all).

In the afternoon, I usually have some more meetings; my role there mostly consists of saying “Do you know what date it is today? Do you know when we release?”

Throughout the day, people are coming into my office with various issues they might have – some are very simple, some look simple, but are actually signs of a more serious trouble ahead.
In the evening the office gets mercifully emptier and I can finally focus on tasks that require longer attention span.

5. What do you like the most about Kingdom Come: Deliverance?

One thing about the game I like unreservedly is the melee combat. I had some small creative input into it, but by and large, it’s the brain child of Viktor Bocan. I think it works really, really well and I enjoy it a lot.

Another thing I sort of like about the game – and this might surprise even some people in Warhorse – is the peculiar story twist of the game. Henry really is nobody, an ultimate everyman. He is not a Dragonborn, he does not carry a Mark of Dragon, he is not a last scion of an exiled ruling family. The beginning of the game inverts traditional video game progression: you are first beaten by Kunesh, then by Deutsch, then almost killed by Cumans, then cravenly and stupidly slip from Talmberg, only to be beaten by Runt… In most other RPGs you have to fulfil a prophecy or live up to expectations. There are no expectations in KCD – it’s only up to you where you take Henry.

6. In some press comments, the game is seen as an AAA title. Do you see the game that way?

I don’t see KCD as competing with the likes of Assassin’s Creed or Shadow of War. We simply don’t have resources to create a game like that. I don’t view us as an indie game either, though. The trend I see in ‘real’ AAA games, like the ones I mentioned above, is toward making games more and more forgiving, better suited to the most casual and absent-minded players; they are games that in effect are ‘playing themselves’. So, you have all those different markers, prompts and handy hints that you never have to think about what to do next.

This is not entirely wrong. I can see why the companies that make these games take this approach and obviously there is a demand for it, as evidenced by the sales of these games.

On the other hand, we see a trend among indie games that are both more original and less forgiving, but because of limited budgets they have to go for a format that is somewhat simpler to develop for, e.g. many of them are 2D platformers or top-down scrollers.

KCD is an attempt of bridging the two: it is an indie game at heart – more hardcore, more demanding, more fierce – but with the visuals and production values of AAA game.

I freely admit though that I wish we had more time to polish the game before the release, that’s what AAA game deserves.

7. How, when and with what (platform, game) did you first get acquainted with videogames?

It was on my granddad’s HP-67 programmable calculator. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HP-67/-97) That was a really neat piece of hardware (I still have it stashed up somewhere) that could read tiny magnetic strips with programs of up to 224 bytes (yes, bytes). And one of these strips had a game Lunar Lander wherein you control a descent of a lunar module to the moon’s surface: you are flashed a number – altitude – then a second number – speed – then third number – fuel remaining – and then you must enter the amount of fuel to burn. Hours of fun!

8. What was your most touching video game moment?

The memories make everything better, but I fondly remember playing Loom, published in 1990 by LucasArts. I really liked the beautiful simplicity of their game design and the overall atmosphere.

The game I remember most is the original Sid Meier’s Civilization. It was the first – and probably last – game I played 24 hours straight, and I still return to it – or its sequels – from time to time. I could keep praising this game for several paragraphs, but everybody already knows Civilization games, don’t they?

More recently, I have played Prey by Arkane Studios and it was just amazing: for me this is the best game I have played since, I don’t know, Portal 2. I loved how all game mechanics worked neatly together, how cleverly and economically it was done. It was perfectly suited to the technology they were using, unlike some other games I could mention. It may be a professional deformation, but all the time I was playing it, I kept saying to myself, this is such a clever production. If by any chance anyone of the Arkane team is reading this, you guys are my heroes.

9. What would a perfect game according to your wishes looked like?

I think there are two things that videogames are doing really poorly, one is concept of sacrifice and the other is emotional intelligence.

Let me start with the latter: there are countless strategy, sim and tycoon games that allow you to notionally control other people, while actually doing all their decisions for them. So, if you have e.g. sim of battle of Austerlitz, you will place all your units, control their facing, equipment, etc., and then move them, turn by turn, select their targets, what weapons to use and so on.

But this is absolutely not what Napoleon was doing, is it? As a real commander, you would come up with the general plan of the battle, try to explain it to your lieutenants and make sure they understand it, and then you would stand on a hill, wait for messengers to arrive and at a critical moment dispatch a messenger of your own to marshal Soult: “One sharp blow and the war is over!” This is not to diminish Napoleon’s tactical brilliance, but to point out that large part of a success of a real-life commander is his ability to choose right people and inspire loyalty in them. This is where computer games are lacking. L.A. Noir was an attempt to create a game where you make decisions based on your emotional response, unfortunately it was marred by a completely bungled plot. It is a big problem in RPGs too, as we cannot simulate actual, real-life conversation, and therefore we must make very obvious ‘tells’: this is a shifty character, he is probably lying. This is an evil character, help him if you want to be evil too. This is a virtuous character, etc., etc. It is all very unsubtle and again favours rational intelligence over the emotional one.

The concept of sacrifice is also poorly understood. Any good game – any game at all – is about making choices: what move to take? what weapon I choose? what dialogue option? In a good game these decisions are meaningful, i.e. they have different consequences and it is not immediately obvious which decision is better; maybe it also depends on your perspective. Every decision should have some cost associated with it and it should not be possible to avoid a sacrifice when making them.

In most games, however, this is an illusion. In an RPG you cannot make a meaningful continuation of every dialogue option (KCD tries to do this more than most games, but it still has to take many shortcuts). Even in strategy games – probably the fairest genre in this regard – certain tactics generally work better. The result is that most games in fact behave like a puzzle game: instead of making your decisions, you are second-guessing the designers and trying to find their idea of playing the game. I believe enduring attractivity of purely abstract games – like chess – is also because they get this bit right, these are the kind of games that allow you to make real sacrifices.

One game that took this concept in the right direction was Call of Cthulhu (I only played the desktop version though). The extra twist in this RPG is that you sacrifice your Sanity for Power. So, you can be either dumb as a brick and completely impervious to Eldritch Horrors, or you can be a powerful sorcerer whose brain will turn to jelly if he so much as glimpses Nyarlathotep’s slippers. The result is that you just can’t have it all, you can’t have your cake and eat it.

So, this is what I would like to see most: game where I can actually relate to the people and where my decisions involve actually forfeiting something.

10. Your favorite music playlist

While writing these answers I was listening to random songs by Pink Floyd, as selected by YouTube. The weird thing about it is, that if you play a song by another artist – say Johnny Cash – in YouTube, it will suggest and choose other artists and eventually drift to playing Hotel California, where it loops indefinitely. When playing Pink Floyd, only suggestions are other Pink Floyd songs.

Another artist I like to listen to is Leonard Cohen, especially his later songs. So long Marianne, Suzanne and Hallelujah, are of course lovely tunes, but I like Who by Fire, The Future, Take this Waltz or even No More a-Roving better. But actually, I really like them all.

And finally, I’d like to mention Czech singer Karel Kryl, who is unfortunately not well known outside my country, probably because large part of the appeal of his songs are insanely intricate lyrics with insanely complicated rhyming patterns. A very rough approximation is to say that he is like Czech Jacques Brel or – you guessed it – Leonard Cohen.

Unlike these singers however, Karel Kryl was born in communist Czechoslovakia, and forced to move out of the country after he published his first album, Close the gate, my brother. He spent most of his remaining life in exile, where he published all but one of his remaining albums. Find him on YouTube and listen to his songs, even if you do not understand the lyrics, they are beautiful.

11. Your favourite movie or book?

There are many books I like, some I read over and over. If I had to pick up a few…

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Many people do not realize – especially on the first reading – that the basic point of the book is that in 1930’s Moscow, the Devil is the most humane character. At first, I didn’t get it too, and it’s not why I love the book. It’s really about triumph of hope over despair, about life and love flourishing in any circumstances – and it’s about all these things without any obvious pathos, with very understated narrative that reads – especially on the first reading – as a kind of a humorous novel.

Dream of the Read Chamber by Cao Xueqin and Jin Ping Mei by an unknown author of classical China. The classical Chinese novels have a unique ability – for me – to offer a glimpse of a completely different civilization; it’s fascinating to see certain patterns we know from our own history to appear there as well, while some other, even the ones we would consider universal and indispensable, are simply missing. I am an avid reader for SF literature, from Clarke to Chiang, Bradbury to Baciogalupi, but in a way, Dream of the Read Chamber is like an ultimate snapshot of an alternative universe.

Jin Ping Mei (The Plum in a Golden Vase), on the other hand, is like a polar opposite of the Red Chamber. The latter shows the world of perfect self-control, an absolutely timeless society that existed like that since forever and will go on like this forever, where people gather and bury the fallen petals of apple blossoms; the former shows the same society from a perspective of an ambitious parvenu that has to kill, steal and bribe to preserve his status. Yet it is still thrilling (besides small and dated amount of pornography) by repeating and omitting certain well-known patterns from societies I am better acquainted with. I assume that this is not how Chinese read these novels – I would imagine e.g. Don Quixote could play the same role there – and for a moment I don’t want to diminish their artistic accomplishment. Each book runs into few thousand pages and you wouldn’t read them were you not swept in the current of the story. They are amazing books on their own, this aspect of stealing a glimpse into otherwise unknown world is just a part of their appeal to me.

Mycelium by Vilma Kadlečková. Vilma is my long-suffering wife of 25 years. She is also perhaps the most accomplished science-fiction writer in Czech Republic. Her latest novel – or series of novels – Mycelium explores a relationship between religion and society, power and responsibility, drugs and mushrooms. Picking up the thread about sacrifice I mentioned earlier, Vilma’s books capture this concept perfectly: in her typical story everyone tries to do the best thing they can, they succeed, and everybody dies as a result.

12. If you could say something to the fans of Kingdom Come: Deliverance, what would it be?

Hi! You guys are the best fans a game could wish for. Without your support on Kickstarter and beyond, there would be no game. Truly, our game belongs to you.

I interacted with many communities over the years, and seldom did I see such mature, reasonable and supportive community. That does not mean that the community would forgive everything and put up with anything. On the contrary, you are usually well informed and clear about what you want. Above all, though, you are rational, and we can have rational discussion about the game, your expectations and our capabilities.

Thank you for this.


Weekly Torch - the barrel of questions
Entwickler hätte sich mehr Zeit für Feinschliff gewünscht
Entwickler hätte sich mehr Zeit für Feinschliff gewünscht