Warhorse Studios’ Dan Vávra recently took some time out of his insane schedule to answer some questions about Kingdom Come: Deliverance, his upcoming open world medieval RPG. Described as “Dungeons without Dragons,” Kingdom Come takes a more realistic approach than Skyrim and The Witcher. Players will not only speak with NPCs and go on quests, they’ll also have to survive the unforgiving world around them; this includes the need to sleep, eat a balanced diet of non rotten food, and be careful of taking difficult to heal damage. Check out our previous coverage of Kingdom Come if you’d like to learn more.
Cliqist : For anyone that hasn’t played a PC game in the last 15 years, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Dan Vávra : I am the creative director at Warhorse Studios a company I started with Martin Klima and Viktor Bocan, both of Operation Flashpoint fame. People may have known the Mafia series; games that I designed and wrote at Illusion Softworks back in the old days.
Cliqist : How has the creation of Kingdom Come differed from your previous projects?
Dan Vávra : Our previous games were also set in open worlds and tried to be very authentic and accurate, which is very similar to Deliverance. This time we only threw more freedom, rpg stats and history in the mix.
Cliqist : Are you surprised at how quickly the Kickstarter campaign took off?
Dan Vávra : I believed that there is an audience for this kind of game and that with all the stuff we have it should be possible to reach our goal. Of course, that my confidence was a little shattered by the refusal from publishers, but if I didn’t believe that they were wrong, we wouldn’t have started the campaign. On the other hand we were not prepared that it would be so quick or for the great response from all different sides.
Cliqist : You’ve mentioned previously that you did a lot of Kickstarter research. What has been the difference between your campaign and the campaigns of other industry veterans who have struggled with getting funded?
Dan Vávra : I think, that the most important thing to do is to have good game and great stuff to show. Those who had problems usually didn’t have that much to show. There are very few campaigns that showed interesting, good looking game and didn’t get funding. Of all the campaigns out there, Chris Roberts did the best job. Period. So when I wasn’t sure how to do something, I looked how he did it.
Cliqist : When I saw your video on launch day and heard that the Kickstarter campaign was essentially a co-funding campaign I was nervous that there would be some backlash. Campaigns that have revealed similar funding plans in the past have been met with complaints and cynicism from people saying that they were only using Kickstarter as marketing and that it defeated the purpose of Kickstarter; but not you. Why is that?
Dan Vávra : I understand that. If I had the money to fund the game on my personal account I wouldn’t dare to go to Kickstarter. Or at least I would clearly state, that I will finance an extensive part of the budget from my own sources. Nobody likes greedy people who don’t want to take risks. You go to Kickstarter when there is no other way and it was exactly our case. If the Kickstarter wasn’t successful, the game would not happen. We have a strong investor, but after all the rejections from publishers, he really wasn’t throwing money in our direction. His money is not our money and we had to prove to him that the game is worth investing in and the only way we could come up with more was to go to gamers directly. The way it works also doesn’t mean, that the more money we raise, the less he will invest. Every penny we raise on top of our goal goes into the development as a bonus over our original budget, so we will be able to make the game better.
Cliqist : As I read peoples’ comments about Kingdom Come it seems that many are already forging a strong connection with the game. Given how hopes can quickly turn to expectations, how do you go about balancing what people want with what’s feasible?
Dan Vávra : Some fans are really very passionate and it’s going to be hard not to disappoint so many expectations and hopes. The only thing we can do about it is to do our best and be brutally honest; which is what we’ve done so far in our blogs and campaign. If there is something that people want and it’s not possible for some reason, or we think it shouldn’t be in the game, I am always ready to explain why or stand my ground to fight for my vision. I believe most people will understand honest reasoning.
Cliqist : You’re promising a lot with Kingdom Come. Non-linear story, huge open world, crafting, huge battles, sieges, it all sounds too good to be true. Is it?
Dan Vávra : You can hardly achieve anything big when you set your goals too low. But on the other hand, we try to stay down to earth. I saw lot of overly ambitious people fail. We worked on big projects before and we know what problems it could bring. On top of that, the Act I we are developing right now is smaller game than big boys like Skyrim or Witcher 3. We would like to concentrate on quality rather on quantity. Most of the features we showed are already implemented and working and we know which features are going to be challenging and will allocate as many resources on them as possible. I hope that we learned from our previous mistakes. When I was working on Mafia it was one of the most ambitious games of its time, I was 23 with zero experience and surrounded by people just like me. Nowadays we are much more experienced, so there is a chance that we will deliver.
Cliqist : Where do you see yourself in 5 years; next project, or a continued evolution for Kingdom Come?
Dan Vávra : I have lot of ideas for other games, but the story of Deliverance leads to very interesting historic events, so I would love to continue with it and maybe have some side projects. But most importantly I hope that we will build a strong independent studio. The industry is changing these days, the business model is changing, and it’s a big opportunity.
Cliqist : No stretch goal for you and the rest of the office to shave their beards?
Dan Vávra : I don’t think it would be a change for the better.
Cliqist : Can you close out the interview with a Kingdom Come inspired haiku for us?
Dan Vávra : Well, I am not good in Japanese poetry but let me share my personal motto with you:
“Blessed are those who break the rules!”
Thanks to Dan for taking the time to answer our questions!
Head over to the Kingdom Come: Deliverance Kickstarter page to learn more, see some gameplay footage, and possibly donate to the campaign.