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After being unable to find a publisher, the folks at Warhorse have been able to find a private investor for their ambitious title, but before they can secure this investment, they'll have to raise £300,000 through Kickstarter to prove Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a financially viable title despite the publishers' skepticism. On top of that, the game has been split into three acts that will be released separately.
First of all, here are the relevant bits from the Kickstarter page:
A first-person, open world, realistic RPG that will take you to Medieval Europe in a time of great upheaval and strife. A humble, young blacksmith loses everything to war. As he tries to fulfill the dying wish of his father, Fate drags him into the thick of a conspiracy to save a kidnapped king and stop a bloody conflict. You will wander the world, fighting as a knight, lurking in the shadows as a rogue, or using the bard's charm to persuade people to your cause. You will dive deep into a sweeping, epic, nonlinear story from Daniel VÃ¡vra, an award-winning designer from the Mafia series. Our unique, first-person combat system lets you wield sword or bow in both one-on-one skirmishes and large-scale battles. All of this - and more - brought to life beautifully with next-gen visuals delivered via CryEngine 3.
We want to bring you a strong story rooted in the height of the Middle Ages, brought to life in all its glory. So what is Kingdom Come: Deliverance? Think of it as Braveheart: The Game. Majestic castles, armored knights, large, open field battles, and political intrigue set in a vast, emergent world. We want to make the experience as authentic as possible real-world locations, real castles that don't look like something from Disneyland, period-accurate armors and costumes, combat and fencing systems designed in collaboration with the most knowledgeable, skillful swordsmen around, and a story based on actual, historic events.
All this, on a foundation built capably upon the solid game mechanics of a true, hardcore RPG nonlinear quests with multiple solutions, branching dialogue choices with points of no return, several roles to play (warrior, bard, thief), a mountain of different stats, skills, perks, and ultimate character customization details (including 4 layers of clothing and armor in 16 equippable slots!), as well as alchemy and crafting professions, the need to sleep and eat to stay healthy.even food that goes bad if it sits in your inventory for too long!
We're mixing the freedom and mechanics of Skyrim, the setting of Mount and Blade, the storytelling styles of The Witcher and Red Dead Redemption, and the tough combat dynamics of Dark Souls into a single, gorgeous package. You could say we'd like to give ArmA (a franchise many of us worked on) an RPG makeover, streamlining the systems and controls and polishing the overarching world while keeping the unique, genuine feeling of its action and environments. Interested?
After seeing our trailer, you might ask: (why are we here? This is a big, expensive game that's sure to cost a lot of money, right? Does no major publisher want it? This sounds suspicious.) The answer to those questions might surprise you.
Warhorse is a comparatively small studio. We now have about thirty people, and it took us more than eighteen months to develop what you've just seen. All this time, we've been funded by a private investor, to the tune of almost 1.5 million dollars in total. We hope the product you've seen reflects that.
Our plan was to develop a prototype, pitch it to publishers, and finish development with the subsequent money. We tried to do it that way (and you can read about our experiences on our blog), but in essence, even though everybody we met commended our work, praised our game's visuals, and believed in our ability to deliver, negotiations would inevitably hit a dead end at the point where the publishers' marketing departments got involved. Why?
"Your game is too niche. There's no magic. People want wizards and dragons."
We beg to differ. The response from players has always been great. We think gamers like history look at the success of Total War, Assassin's Creed, Mount and Blade, and Red Dead Redemption. There is no medieval first-person RPG out there, but it does not necessarily follow that nobody wants one - only that there is no easy box for marketing to pigeonhole it in.
Our investor is strong and capable of funding the complete development of our project. But he does not follow the game industry very closely, and needs proof that publishers and marketers are wrong about our game - that you are indeed interested in a mature, medieval RPG that emphasizes freedom and authenticity. And so we stand, as a studio, at a crossroads. Either those naysayers are right, and there truly is no desire for the game we are making, or we are right. Either way, we think Kickstarter is a great way to find out.
The sum we are asking for is about ten percent of our total budget; for our investor, however, it is proof that there is real demand for the game, and that there is a point to keeping it funded. Every extra dollar will allow us to make the final product that much better because it means more money for development and more support from our investor.
Should our Kickstarter campaign fail, it will mean that we were wrong, that there is no interest to play a game with the atmosphere of Braveheart, and that we will have to start considering working on some mobile MMO, because that's where the money is these days (or so everybody tells us). We are, however, positive that our instincts are right.
So help us to make our vision a reality. Help us to make not the 176th free-to-play mobile RPG MMO Elven village-builder with DIAMONDSâ„¢, but to make the kind of unique, engaging experience we think you'd like to play
RPS: How is that approach going to change the course of development, if at all? Are you going to do a backer alpha, Early Access, and all the other stuff basically everybody does in the year 2014?
VÃ¡vra: That's why we're announcing the game so early in development. We still have nearly two years ahead of us to go. But we're going to do it like Chris Roberts on Star Citizen. We're going to release smaller chunks of gameplay as soon as possible so people can test them. Modules, as he calls them [laughs]. We'll update this build and then when we're ready we'll release [a more cohesive] Early Access beta. We've split the game which was originally going to be 100 hours, as big as Skyrim basically, into three chapters that will be released sooner than usual after each other. Like, eight months apart. So not two years or something.
RPS: Yikes. That sounds like it could really hack up a big, cohesive story like the one you're trying to tell. Same with the world. I could see this ending really badly if not handled well. Why'd you decide to take this route?
VÃ¡vra: The good thing is that the story was written from the beginning as three chapters, so it makes sense to do it this way. Every chapter is placed on a new map, but if you're on a quest in chapter two, you can come back and do quests in the chapter one location. But otherwise the new story takes place on a new map. So we decided this was ideal.
The first chapter still has nine square kilometers [of map size] and 30 hours of gameplay, so it's not a small game. We will lower the price accordingly, though. It's not going to be $60 per episode, but rather $35 or something. That's our plan.
And one from the latter:
Cut-scenes will be reserved for climactic moments, with most scenes playing out in-engine, which is good enough. The characters aren't quite up to the quality of the surrounding environments yet, but there's plenty of time and already the lips move convincingly in sync. You'll be able to put pressure on people and intimidate them, but be warned that "you cannot take what you say back". Even "bitching" has its purpose, and may show courage to the right person. There's the potential of romance in the game, too.
"There is a response for everything the player can do, basically," Vavra goes on, and those responses should feel as authentic as the rest of the world. There are punishments for doing bad things in the world, punishments that should stop you doing the inevitable, which is killing everyone in an area and seeing what happens. "In every open world this is a big problem," he grins, and he hopes his "very strong crime system" will keep you in check.
Vavra doesn't, however, want to force you to behave in a certain way. He knows that much of the allure of an open-world can be simply in the messing with it. "We try to do [our world] as bullet-proof as possible; we would like the player to be able to mess with people's lives." Killing a bartender will cause a local drinker to sound the Sheriff's alarm and then go find another pub. He won't run around in a circle until he dies. People in the world will think, engage in activities and routines. "This allows players to experiment with the world, to see what happens if they do something."