Jakub “Kuba” Holik is the Lead Environment Artist at Warhorse Studios. Born on 12.7.1986 in Czech Republic, he joined the Studio in 2013 and after two years became the head of the department. He and his team are responsible for the 3D visuals of Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Lighting effects, weather effects and the beautiful landscape of Kingdom Come: Deliverance are just few great features already implemented into the game.
Do you have any additional questions regarding him and/or his work? Just ask here!
1) Where can we usually find you lurking in the holy halls of Warhorse?
In its darkest dungeon.
2) How did you hear about Warhorse? How/When did you join?
The year was 2012. Early spring, leaves just started to appear on the trees. I was full of hopes and ideals. I heard about some Czech studio developing a great looking game. At that time I was looking for a better job and was working on my portfolio quite a lot so I felt confident enough to apply. Three weeks after sending the letter I got response and received a test. Did that and waited. After two months I received an answer that they might be able to employ me in another three months. I was already employed elsewhere by then. It was fun.
3) Describe your position. What is it about being a 3D Lead Artist?
I am supposed to be the Lead environment artist and a support/tech artist to some degree.
It’s about the pain of forgetting one’s artistic skills and becoming a (not really) glorified assistant.
4) Ever worked on videogames before?
Soon after school I started my apprenticeship in an outsourcing company near my hometown.
I learned to work efficiently and fast there. Soon after I moved to Craneballs studios. We were working on mobile titles there, though the guys moved to PC titles after I left and are working on Planet Nomad now (something like No man’s sky with an actual game in it ) I haven’t been there long because by the time I got in the long application procedure to Warhorse was already on.
5) Which job would you not want to do?
Probably design. I would have to work with designers. Just kidding, they’re cool.
6) Please describe Warhorse Studios.
The atmosphere is usually pleasant. Humid enough. Occasionally the air conditioning stops working and then it’s bad.
7) Please describe one of your colleagues or your department.
Our department consists purely of humans. However we are the most gender balanced and multiculti team here.
8) What is your favorite team activity?
Is drinking beer considered a team activity?
9) Describe your usual day at the studio.
I have multiple things in progress almost all the time, so in the morning I have things to do from the day before. I delve into it, but usually not for long. Stuff always breaks or is needed so I start running around to find out what exactly and why. If it’s somewhat technical I look into it myself, if it’s too technical it goes to programmers and in case it’s about assets or level and needs to look pretty it goes to artists.
Other than that I’m trying to ensure the team delivers in the end, so it’s a constant battle with designers and their crazy ideas while defending our crazy ideas against the programmers. I also spend some time being desperate, thinking about optimizations. Occasionally I try to do some art as well and am immediately interrupted by issues, though I managed to squeeze something in just recently. And it felt gooood.
10) What are you currently working on?
At the moment we’re finishing a milestone so I’m running around more than usual. A lot of work surfaces at times like this and it needs to be assigned. Also a loads of bugs or problems is being discovered and we need to deal with them. To be specific our bushes had bigger collisions than is needed, reflections on metallic surfaces are washed out from certain angles and cutscene stage in city baths needs some facelift so I’m tackling those at the moment. I’ll be filling some rules to our brand new automatic mapping system (only an internal tool for debug) or taking a look into some distant vistas issues next.
11) What are some of your notable accomplishments?
Well for sure nothing is solely my accomplishment. Game development is a team venture so everything is touched by more than one person. That said one thing I’m really glad we have is a comprehensive and deterministic lighting and weather setup. From when I started working on it till now we’re still using values derived from the real world and it makes the work so much easier. It might be harder to get the first plausible results as there are many factors that contribute to the final image and it’s easy to use something you shouldn’t to get what you want. But, when you get familiar with it and understand the system it becomes very easy to change anything and it’s priceless when you’re doing dynamically changing weather in an open world environment. Cryengine tools are actually great for it.
12) Why do you think it’s the most important part or thing in the game?
Well, the gameplay of course.
13) What do you like the most about Kingdom Come: Deliverance?
Probably the fact that it’s not another “save the world” power fantasy bullshit. Also I’m getting tired of filtering stupidity from many other games with Dadaistic twists and plot holes.
Not so long ago I actually stopped playing a game, because the story was too idiotic. I sincerely hope, that we are going to deliver something better in this regard. I’d much rather watch The Wire than CSI, if you know what I mean.
14) How, when and with what did you first get acquainted with videogames?
The first was probably legendary Russian game “Nu Pagadi!” where you’re catching eggs to a basket using four buttons.
15) What was your best/saddest/happiest, most touching video game moment?
Hmm, I don’t think I have “that moment”. Nothing that got stuck for long, but recently my miner Evanschild the Brave in Rimworld battled the plague for half a year only to get eaten by cougar the day he developed immunity. That was a very sad moment for me and the whole colony.
16) Which class, gender, or type do you usually pick?
Male human rogue.
17) Which videogame character are you?
Male human rogue.
18) Are there any videogames you repeat playing over and over again?
Well I played “Rimworld” and “Path of Exile” many times. Though that’s the point of these games, isn’t it? I’ve never played a story game twice.
19) What would a perfect game according to your wishes look like?
Just now while playing Deus Ex I must say I would really like to see a stealth game that is about stealth. Not about subduing every single NPC in the level. Takedowns kills stealth. The loot as well. I mean my objective is to get somewhere/something and it would make absolute sense not to kill anyone and do it fast, but in reality I’m sweeping the whole level for loot and XPs fromenemies. It’s fun to some degree as well, but it could be much better.
But in general I enjoy deep sandbox games more, though they need to have clear goal.
20) Most hilarious bug you have ever encountered or worst video game experience?
Definitely something in KCD
21) What game have you been really looking forward to but turned out to be a total disappointment?
I have a way of losing my tickets to hype trains.
22) How do you relax after a hard day at work?
Mostly games. But I like to grab a beer with friends a lot or do some sportsy stuff now and then.
23) A personal story? About a brother, sister, partner, single?
Well I think I have to mention our historian is my girlfriend. We met in Poland while I was volunteering there as a party planner. She was finishing her studies of art history and architectural conservation so I kidnapped her to Czech Republic.
Then I started working in Warhorse and the need to employ someone with her skill arose. She is super competent in the field and also speaks about five languages, so I was sure she’s the one for the job, but I didn’t want to encourage nepotism. So she applied through official channels and I had to pretend we didn’t know each other when she came for an interview. Word got out before it was over but still it was fun.
24) Your favorite music/Spotify playlist
I like guitar rock like Wolfmother or Black keys, but also more soothing stuff like Sufjan Stevens. Darwin Deez is also cool and witty. I learned to like Philip Glass. But to be honest I haven’t listened to music much in the past year, dunno why. As a kid my favorite album was death metal symphony in deep c “Yeah! Yeah! Die! Die!” by Waltari. It’s still awesome and everybodyshould check it out. To sum it up I like original or raw stuff.
25) Your favorite movie/book?
The book that will be etched to my mind forever is “1984”. It’s the best book in almost all top 10s and it’s indeed where it belongs. Recently I’m exploring cyberpunk novels. As for movies, there’s a tie between “Fifth element” and “Moulin Rouge”. Both are great, innovative formalistic gems of their time.
26) What species is your spirit animal?
Tarsier, I’m cancer, my stone is heliodor, I drink diamond water for breakfast and keep away from chemtrails. Seriously, what question is this?
27) Your travel tip?
I really liked the mountains of Monte Negro. But everywhere is nice.
28) Sport is…
Anything you can play with your hands in your pockets. Except table football, but you could potentially play that with your feet in your pocket so it’s not such a stretch.
29) What’s your guilty pleasure?
I admitted to liking Moulin Rouge, didn’t I? It’s only guilty if you feel guilty
30) What was your greatest mistake?
To go pee after peeling two sacks of hot peppers during a summer job in a mental hospital’s kitchen.
31) What will be your famous last words?
32) Do you believe in aliens?
Sure, the universe should be big enough for them to exist.
33) How do you like living in the Czech Republic?
Quite a lot.
34) If you could fight 100 duck-sized horses or 1 horse-sized duck, which would you choose?
Depends on my loadout.
35) What was your favorite subject and your most hated one at school?
History was for sure one of my least favorite subjects. Maybe chemistry was the worst. I hate data, I like relations. Though both of these subjects can be taught with emphasis to relations, they weren’t at any school I attended.
36) If you could say something to the fans of Kingdom Come: Deliverance,
what would it be?
If you have any questions for Jakub “Kuba” Holik and/or his work, please ask here.