We’ve been fortunate to have great opportunities to talk with different indie developers lately. This week, we were able to talk with Chris Hunt, the designer of the indie game Kenshi. Chris took some time to tell us a bit about Kenshi. The game is still in an unfinished state but has the potential of becoming a pretty cool SRPG.
Chris Hunt: i was just sort of born to like it, ever since i was a kid playing on the amiga ive been designing games
Josh Knowles: Outside of Kenshi, what has been your favorite creation?
Chris Hunt: ah, i said designing games, not making them, this is the furthest I’ve ever gotten to finishing a game. i never started out with simple projects to learn the ropes, i always prefered to start out epic and fail
Josh Knowles: Alright, well Kenshi certainly seems to have an interesting blend of genres. How would you describe the game to someone who hasn’t heard about it?
Chris Hunt: generally i struggle to do that. If its a seasoned gamer I would say a cross between X-Com Apocalypse and Oblivion. If its a non-gamer I give up and say “its a sword fighting game!”
Josh Knowles: The game seems to jump genres at the drop of a hat. I’ve gone from feeling like I’m playing a Samurai Spaghetti Western game to a RTS. Where did you come up with such an interesting idea?
Chris Hunt: Most my ideas come when I’m playing games. For example I might be playing fallout and think how cool it would be if you had a fort, or I might play Stronghold and wish all my archers could earn experience and get stronger. I’ve played so many games over my life the ideas just sort of all build up and merge together by themselves.
Chris Hunt: In fact the design for kenshi started out as an RTS, but I wanted the characters to be deeper like in an RPG. I’ve always hated RTS games where you magically spawn identical nameless soldiers out of a building. They get killed all the time and you dont care because you can clone 20 more in 2 minutes, and they dont get stronger from experience, so they have no real value to you. Any unit or character in any game needs to have value to the player in order to make meaningful gameplay.
Chris Hunt: The opposite tends to be true in RPGs, your characters have high value to you but often they cant even die because they are a part of the plot or whatever. I wanted something in between where you have a lot of characters that you care about but also fear for their safety a little.
Chris Hunt: It uses Ogre, and PhysX for the physics and the rest is cobbled together from plugins and libraries
Josh Knowles: Now, Kenshi is still in development, with new features being added? What sort of new features do you hope to add in the future?
Chris Hunt: A lot, the current game is only a shadow of what I want it to be. I need to implement the whole RTS side still- building forts, mining, farming, crafting. Ranged combat, lots of factions, siege warfare… And a lot of AI additions, like capture mechanics so that the players characters can get arrested, or captured by slavers and cannibals.
Chris Hunt: And blood. And sound of course.
Josh Knowles: Do you have an estimated ETA of when 1.0 will be released?
Chris Hunt: It will be a good few years until its 100% complete yet, but I’d expect it to reach a good solid fun state about a year from now. The speed will ultimately depend on how well sales do.
Josh Knowles: Now, I know that you are currently working with Desura. How has that experience been so far?
Chris Hunt: They’re good guys, sales are going steady and I have no complaints
Josh Knowles: Great! Are you going to try to have a steam release down the road as well?
Chris Hunt: I’d love to, it’s the indie developer equivalent of striking oil. At the moment though I doubt they will accept Kenshi in such an unfinished state. Only a small number of indie-friendly stores are willing to sell it. By which I mean 2 so far.
Josh Knowles: What other distributer do you use?
Chris Hunt: Gamersgate, they’ve been very good to me too. Still have me up on the front page alongside assassins creed and mass effect 3.
Josh Knowles: That is some good company to be listed with!
Chris Hunt: indeed, more than I hoped for at early release
Josh Knowles: Any future plans to see Kenshi one day on the consoles as well?
Chris Hunt: I don’t think so. Its enough hassle programming for one platform. And I don’t think it would be easy to play with a control pad
Josh Knowles: So, with the initial buzz of Kenshi, have you had the opportunity to meet any of the industry pros?
Chris Hunt: Nope!
Josh Knowles: Have you had a chance to get into any of the current releases as of late? If so, what have you been playing?
Chris Hunt: I’ve been carefully avoiding skyrim, because I can’t spare the free time to play it. I got into assassins creed for a bit, couldn’t run Deus Ex on my system, and got a bit addicted to Space Pirates and Zombies. Oh and Limbo. Limbo is a masterpiece.
Josh Knowles: Limbo is pretty awesome, have you been looking forward to any future releases?
Chris Hunt: Mass effect 3, and a skeptical hope aimed at the new Jagged Alliance. JA2 was another of my big inspirations.
Josh Knowles: What sort of advice do you have for budding indie devs?
Chris Hunt: You need to be relentlessly obsessed with the game you are making, you need to love it more than anything else, and you need to aim a little lower than I did. Don’t make a MMORPG, and avoid making a large seamless world. And don’t expect to be able to hold together a team of volunteers for very long, you are better off if you team up with close friends.
Josh Knowles: That is great advice! Any thanks you would like to throw out to anyone out there?
Chris Hunt: I’d like to thank all the people who have tried to help or contribute, and Alex from the Towns devteam for helping me out with PR stuff.
Josh Knowles: Great! Well, we would like to thank you for taking the time to talk with us today Chris!
Chris Hunt: Thank you my man, peace on you and your families beards