I recently had the opportunity to interview Rick Lagnese, US Community Manager for Warhorse Studios, about their upcoming medieval story-driven RPG, Kingdom Come: Deliverance. We delved into the importance of historical accuracy, and an RPG without fantasy.
So to start, tell us a bit about Kingdom Come: Deliverance.
Rick Lagnese: Kingdom Come Deliverance is a game by Dan Vavra, who was also the creative director for Mafia 1 and 2. Kingdom Come takes place in Bohemia 1403, now know as the modern day Czech Republic. It’s an open world story-driven RPG, and it’s really based on Dan’s heritage and history. There are a lot of things that really did happen in history in the game, but how you get to these events in up to you.
You play as Henry, son of a blacksmith. He’s fictional, but you’ll see plenty of NPCs who are real people. There’s only one ending to the game, but how you get there is really up to you.
How did you end up working for Warhorse?
Rick: One day I was on Twitter, and IGN posted a clip of Dan travelling around the Czech Republic where he was talking about this medieval game with no dragons or magic, but realistic fighting and martial arts. I always wanted a game without fantasy and stuff, so I was really interested in this game. I was going to E3, and I really wanted to learn more about this game.
Warhorse made a post saying they needed help setting up a fan community-event party at E3, and I jumped on it immediately. I started talking with them, they followed me on Twitter, and we started Skyping. It was a great party, then they got in touch with me afterwards and they had me come to GDC San Francisco to show off the game, then shortly after they asked me to be the US Community Manager.
That’s awesome! So what has been you biggest challenge in promoting Kingdom Come so far?
Rick: There are always challenges with promoting a game, as there should be. You always want to try to keep it real so you don’t disappoint fans. You’ve got to know how to take criticism, but you also don’t want to disappoint fans. It’s all about finding a balance between being a fan of the game, and working for the game itself.
Yeah, you’ve got to find that perfect balance of personal and professional.
Rick: Yeah exactly! People will say “oh we want this!”, and I’ll be like “oh I want that too!”, but you can’t do everything or the game would never come out. It’s like you said, it’s about finding that perfect balance.
What’s the most satisfying or rewarding takeaway of working on this sort of game?
Rick: When someone says “I’ve been waiting for this for a very long time”. I can relate to this since I’ve waited a long time for a game like this too. It’s really that simple, it feels rewarding because I genuinely love the game, and I’m really happy that others love the game too. Obviously you want the game to sell well as well from a business standpoint, but you want to put a lot of work into showing the game off because seeing fan reactions is so great.
Sounds like it’s constantly really rewarding.
It is, definitely.
Traveling on media tours and speaking with developers, media, and fans, what’s the most memorable thing you recall that people said of Kingdom Come?
Rick: It’s hard to compare this game to others since it’s based on historical accuracy, but it was really cool to watch and to see feedback from journalists and fans. There was one video on a Playstation YouTube channel where they released a video showing off Kingdom Come and our presentation. Even though a lot of people didn’t know about it, they said it was the most passionate presentation they’d ever seen. It’s so cool to hear that, since you can always sell someone on a game, but you really have to believe in my opinion.
When you travel, it’s exhausting. You’re running around to different presentations, you’re thirsty, you need to use the bathroom, stuff like that, but I really got energy from how excited I was to present the game. It’s very exciting, and don’t get me wrong, at the end of the day it’s relieving to be done since you’re tired. But, man, you still want to know what people are thinking, so you’re still looking at YouTube comments and Reddit responses and stuff. It’s amazing.
Always on the clock, haha!
What was the inspiration behind making the equipment and settings period-accurate, rather than more fantastical?
Rick: Being that the game is based on history, we wanted to make it historically accurate on every front. We have a full time historian on the team, she, uh keeps us in “Czech”, get it? Haha! Feel free to cut that, haha.
I’m definitely keeping that in.
Rick: Oh geez haha! Anyway, we also have painters and sculptors, fencers, mocap workers, everything. It’s definitely not just a medieval simulator, but we want to cover everything historically. There’s so much attention to detail that even people who aren’t huge game fans have shown appreciation for the game, especially in the Czech Republic.
When I was at GDC, someone from the Czech Republic saw the game and said “oh those are our trees! That’s our grass!”. We used our own engine with the CryENGINE to make it really unique, and it’s even 16 km squared. You can find places where historical events happened, and the stories and side-quests tend to lean more towards history.
So what interested you about the medieval setting?
Rick: So some of my favorite movies are Braveheart, The Last Samurai, really anything history-related. When I can find a game that’s more realistic than fantasy, it can really draw me in. I love historical European martial arts, which is why that video drew me into the game. History itself is so fascinating to me, because I was never a history buff in school. This stuff got me interested, and I’m a very spiritual guy too, so I really love these kinds of things. So it was really the interesting history and setting that did it.
And Dan Vavra won’t compromise on the game. When you have a developer who really sticks to his vision, it really draws you to the game. He wants to make a game according to history, and that’s it, and I love it.
What message would you give gamers who are looking at picking the game up?
Rick: The beta is actually available right now on our website! We’ve gotten a lot of good feedback, and there are lots of people on the fence. I appreciate that, and I say keep an eye out for updates and look forward to the game. It’s not just a history game, it’s also a game you can have a lot of fun in. We appreciate all of you guys, so stick with us, and we’re always happy to communicate with people!
Thanks for your time Rick!
Rick: For sure, anytime!
Kingdom Come Deliverance releases on February 13th for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC. For more information, check out Warhorse’s Twitter and stay tuned to MonsterVine.