Senior Programmer Michal Bartoň is one of the experienced Warhorse Studios veterans, who is beeing a member of the team from the early beginning of the project. He was born in Nový Jičín, a middle size city near Ostrava in the Czech republic.
Now he is one of the developers who is responsible for the console port onto PS4.
Do you have any questions to Michal Bartoň or his work? Please ask here.
You can find a Spanish translation of this interview here.
1) Where can we usually find you lurking in the holy halls of Warhorse?
This may be a bit tricky to answer. You’d expect to find me in a programmer’s room but if you tried to find me there, you would probably be disappointed. Most of the day I’m usually lurking next to someone else’s desk, helping to solve their troubles. When I come back there are often several people looking for me already so I have to sneak around to the kitchen or toilet if I need to get one more minute of peace.
2) How did you hear about Warhorse?
It was like 5-and-a-half years ago (“wow, is it really 5 years already?”). I was working with Dan Vavra and several others on Mafia II. After we finished some DLC’s and started working on Mafia III, there were some rumors going around that Dan was about to start a new project and he happens to be looking for programmers. I didn’t hesitate too long. I went to see Martin Klima in our old offices and everything looked so cool that I quit my job the same month and spent my whole underspent vacation working for Warhorse. Then we had to choose the engine we were going to use for Kingdom Come: Deliverance, which was a really challenging job.
3) Did you ever worked on Videogames before?
As previously mentioned, I worked with 2K Czech on Mafia II and many others before Warhorse. I joined the team in the middle of the Mafia II project when they needed someone to help with 3DMax export tools. Then I moved into the core tech team and helped with port to PS3 and Xbox 360. After I finished MII we were working in small teams on DLC called “Jimmy’s Vendeta,” while others were helping with Top Spin 3.
4) What is your favorite team activity?
I enjoy team yachting on a near reservoir called Orlík. There is only one rule: what happens on the boat stays on the boat”.
5) What are you currently working on?
Lately we’re all working hard on getting the game to be released It involves mostly code optimizations and bugs fixing. Besides that, I take care of the PlayStation 4 console build. For those of you who don’t know, there is a big list of technical requirements (we call them TCR’s) from Sony. As soon as we think we have our game ready to be released, we send it to Sony first, they test each TCR (every one of them), and only if we pass, they’ll approve our game and we can start making Blu-Ray Disks.
Some of them are really easy to accomplish and we do those things anyway for the PC version as well. Some others are still easy but PS4 specific so additional work is required. For example, there is one I never noticed when I played a game on PS4 before but there aren’t any PS4 games that have a “quit” menu option, which is normal for all PC games. So we had to remove all exit menus.
The last group of TCR’s are the worst. They are completely PS4 specific and they’re very hard to implement into the final game if you haven’t designed the game for it. Like, there is a requirement which lets you play the game for at least one hour before you finish installing the game. It means there has to be some game content available before all data are installed or even downloaded into the console. This was really tricky for our game with an open world where we don’t restrict the player to stay in one specific location. We have almost created another small game, which you would have to play before we let you into the open world. Anything else related to this is classified so I cannot go into much detail here and you’ll have to wait and see for yourself.
6) What are some of your notable accomplishments?
One of my first tasks for Warhorse was to create a dialog module for the game. As you might have already seen in some other posts or in Dan Vavra’s talks, we have a pretty complicated dialog writing tool in place. There are thousands of dialogs written with several thousand lines. We have a living world with NPC’s doing theirs daily routines and everybody can talk to you about something. It would be impossible to write dialogs for each NPC separately, since there are a number of topics that almost everybody can talk with you about. We did extensive research among other open world games and we have concluded that the one used in Skyrim had a really good approach but it was too complicated for us. So we started from scratch and built our own dialog system based on principles from Skyrim. This means that when designer writes a new dialog he writes it for a specific role in the game. A role can be totally generic like a female NPC to a completely specific role like Henry, for example. Then we assign roles to NPC’s dynamically as the game goes on. For example, a guy working in the shop knows how to sell things just by getting assigned a salesman role, as he will inherit this behavior. This allows us to create an immersive living environment.
7) How, when and with what platform or game did you first get acquainted with videogames?
I was fascinated by videogames from the beginning. It means I’m too old because I remember the oldest videogames. Unfortunately, our family wasn’t rich enough to buy me a computer or any gaming device so we had to play on our friend’s computer right after school or occasionally, we went to the arcades. One of my favorite arcade games was Mortal Kombat. I mastered that really quickly and I even remember most of the fatalities!
8) Which class, gender, or type do you usually pick?
I always try to pick the most overpowered ones. I hate losing so anything that is good for my team. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tank or a healer, as long it leads our team to victory
9) Are there any videogames you repeat playing over and over again?
I’m a multiplayer guy only so there is not many single player games I’m returning to. But every time I see Transport Tycoon somewhere I cannot resist to make some good old virtual dollars. Now it’s even easier when one can play this super game on mobile as well.
10) How do you relax after a hard day at work?
Relax? What is that? Our work on Kingdom Come is not done so we are not allowed to relax. We have a strong commitment to our backers and the game is not going to finish itself. But I like to relax with a cup of good coffee between compilations.
11) Your travel tip?
Yeah, I love to travel. I hope we finish the game soon so I can travel again. I love scuba diving, so I really recommend Thailand or other Asian islands like Bali. Maldives are also beautiful. I’ve also been around Europe and I love Northern Europe such as Scandinavia – it’s very beautiful.
12) What’s your guilty pleasure?
It has always been a chocolate!
13) What will be your famous last words?
“This bugfix does not break anything!”
14) Is it possible to buy you with candy?
Nah, not really. I don’t like sweet stuff but you can buy me with good meat.
15) How do you like living in the Czech Republic?
Currently, I think Czech Republic is best place to live in Europe. We are in the middle so it is close to everywhere north as well as south. Prices here are still reasonable in comparison with western Europe, so we are still capable of buying and owning houses. People here are friendly and the weather is always in good balance, which means we have the same number of cold days and warm days. And of course, we have a really nice nature here.
16) Imagine you are a cake, what kind of cake are you and why?
I’m always on the latest version of cake so currently, I’m Nougat.
17) Which is your favorite historic event?
I guess my date of birth is my favorite. I celebrate this event every year and a lot of people are coming to visit the place where this historical moment happened.
18) If you could say something to the fans of Kingdom Come: Deliverance, what would it be?
I don’t want to spoil anything here but sometimes I get to play parts of the game to track a bug or reproduce strange behavior and I catch myself really enjoying it. Often I lose track of what my first intention was and I start exploring the city or the surroundings. What we have created here is a unique medieval experience and I hope that the wait will be worth it.
Do you want to know more about Michal Bartoň?Just ask here.