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Realistic single-player RPG set in the medieval Europe. Open-world sandbox with period accurate melee combat. Dungeons & no Dragons.
35,384 backers pledged £1,106,371 to help bring this project to life.

Little history

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In this update we would like to share some background about how and why we turned to Kickstarter. This is the latest installment of Dan's blog that regular feature of our web:

Sometime in early summer, when negotiations with the publishers were starting to look a bit suspect, our investor's representative, Martin, arrived at the conclusion that until he had a contract in hand, he would come to no conclusive opinion on the quality of our game based on their remarks, because like us he was pretty skeptical about the foresight and pioneering qualities of the majority of publishers.

So he came up with the idea that we should do a survey of gamers. At first it seemed to me like a waste of money and a pretty big leak risk, but all praise to Martin for the idea. If it hadn’t been for him, we might well not be here any longer.

I’d never done anything like it and it meant quite a lot of extra work for us, but it paid off. We had to prepare the resources for selecting the focus group, a questionnaire, a video and a basic feature list very similar to the one that will (hopefully) one day appear on the back of the box our game comes in. Then we met with some very earnest looking gentlemen from the international agency that was to organize the whole circus.

I won’t bother you with the details. Quite simply we decided to conduct our investigation in the USA and Germany, which are two of the most interesting markets for us with quite a big sample of people. The whole business will be conducted for a relatively long time and thoroughly. First a small sample of respondents will answer tricky questions and, on the basis of their responses, a second, much more massive, but also more impersonal campaign will be prepared.

In the meantime, we had Gamescom and the negotiations with publishers happening. Most of the big ones told us it still wasn't quite what they wanted and they hadn't made up their minds yet. One of the smaller publishers showed great interest, though, and even arranged their own survey. It was really starting to look very promising, even though for us it seemed like do or die. If these guys were to reject us too, we were up the creek.

Well, just at the moment when things were getting tough, I got back the first results from the quality section of the research. The people who saw the video and read the description of the game responded to the questions and their responses...

…their responses looked like I might have written them myself! I had hoped people would like our game, but I would never have dared to hope they would like it so much! But it could still be an anomaly and when it came to the quantitative and much more anonymous part of the survey, it might be a lot worse.

It wasn’t.

The reactions of the majority of respondents were really almost incredibly positive - 80% of them regarded the historical background and the absence of magic as very attractive and original. A huge number of them would buy the game for sure. Only about 4% minded the absence of fantasy elements. And this, by the way, was not some narrow group of RPG fans - we had selected the target group on the widest possible basis - regular console and PC players. Maybe we will eventually publish the whole survey - it makes very interesting reading, because we didn't ask only about our own game.

So things were looking very promising according to the research. Gamers are evidently interested in the kind of game we’re making. Naturally, we immediately sent the results to all the publishers. In practice, we had saved them work and money and given them a pretty solid basis for deciding whether our game was commercially viable.

So the publishers had now seen a playable demo (a big part of which you have also seen), a video demonstrating the game’s epic passages, the design documentation, the plan and a very decent budget with much lower costs than on the other side of the Atlantic. They had a co-investor willing to share in financing the game, an experienced team with some big games under their belts and now, to top it off, a big, expensive market survey, which concluded that the game had massive commercial potential. What do you think they told us? Was that enough for them?

Tough decisions

No way. All the big publishers who were still in the running told us they were worried that the game in its current state wasn’t entertaining enough and they weren’t able to judge whether it ever would be. We should come and see them again after we had the finalized combat system and quests.

It somehow slipped their minds that when we had the finalized combat system and quests, the game would be done and we wouldn’t need them anymore. Certainly not to share our profit with them when they hadn’t carried the slightest share of the risk during development. I cannot grasp how a publisher who refuses to finance game development imagines their role in today’s world and what kind of economic model that is supposed to be, exactly.

Even the small publisher whom we had most put our hopes in decided in the end to drop the game. To their credit, though, I should say that at least they informed us very sincerely and in depth why they had reached that decision, which I truly appreciate. They liked our game, but the budget – risk ratio ultimately came out to our disadvantage.

So what now? Endgame? The coffers were running dry. Our investor was somewhere on the other side of the world dealing with much more pressing issues than some game. Our people were starting to ask about their futures.

We started acutely dealing with Plans B and Plan C. Plan B is of course Work for Hire, for which we had gotten an offer at E3. I immediately started writing a design for the movie tie-in that had been discussed and was still open. And Plan C was to look into the possibility of crowd-funding, which I personally found the most appealing as well as the most risky. It’s great if people like what you’re doing; you can dump the ivory-tower suits and make a game according to your own imagination and that of your fans. If you’re unlucky enough not to make a splash, though, then you’re finished – although even that might be better than the endlessly prolonged negotiations resulting in nothing but an even greater waste of time. So I started examining other campaigns, especially the successful ones, and trying to get the hang of how it’s done.

In the meantime, we tried to set up a meeting with the investor to decide what would come next, which was nowhere near as simple as it might seem. We told our people everything up front and waited for the exodus…

Which never happened. And I was seriously close to tears when several people told me they were happier with us than they had ever been before, so they would hang in there as long as possible. (Sorry for the violins, but that’s really how it was).

In the end we flew to Amsterdam to meet our investor in a building full of businessmen handling billion-dollar trades on a daily basis. I was kitted out in the best shirt and sweater I could find at home. I’d spent the whole evening polishing my shoes and wondering whether to shave or not. And Martin and I really were not feeling too easy, because we didn’t have much in the way of aces up our sleeves, apart from the research.

Before I spill the beans about how it worked out, let me digress for a minute. Our meeting with the investor took place 13 days before the launch of PS4. What has that got to do with us? A lot, because I had deduced one interesting, almost shocking revelation from our negotiations: one of the main reasons why nobody had signed for our game was the fear, I would say almost horror, of the established big publishers that the new consoles would be a washout, that they weren’t powerful enough and that people today wanted nothing but free-to-play MMOs for iPad. So they were all preparing a few guaranteed mega-titles and waiting to see what happened with regard to everything else, which sent a few studios to the wall and might also result in a big drought for good console games in 2015, because I get the feeling from behind-the-scenes talk and indications that most publishers have nothing prepared for that year, because they didn’t want to plan that far ahead in such an uncertain climate and now they can hardly come up with something epic in less than two years. (But I might be wrong. Feel free to put me right if you know more than I do, which is entirely possible.)

D-Day

So we appeared at our late-evening meeting very anxious. We showed the investor the latest video from the game and told him up front about our situation: “In our research, potential customers have shown great interest, the publishers are paralyzed by fear of the future and won’t give us money and our account has run dry. So the options are: shut it down, find a co-investor – which we haven’t been able to do so far – pay for the whole thing and hope we place it somewhere in the end...” Even though we could see that our benefactor liked our game and didn't think we were talking total BS, it was practically out of the question that in such a situation he would cough up the several million dollars we need to finish the game.

So then we told him about this amazing thing called crowd-funding.

We explained to him how the whole thing works and the atmosphere in the room visibly lightened. In the end we got a promise of funding for preparing the campaign and, if we reached the agreed goal, for the remainder of development too. At the same time, this funding would be significantly bigger than the amount we are trying to raise on Kickstarter.

Our investor has shown us enormous patience. In comparison to the original plan to finance the prototype and sell the game to a publisher, he has invested much more and kept our heads above water even at times when most people would have left us to rot. The fact alone that funding the prototype had turned into covering practically the whole budget, at a time when the majority of analysts were recommending investing in games for iPad, was something quite exceptional.

Time to take destiny in our hands

So here we are. We stand here before you and ask for your support, without which our game really can’t get done. Someone told us that Kickstarter is the last, desperate step and if it didn’t work out we're really screwed and nobody would give us the time of day. That’s obviously true. But, if it works out, it's probably the best, most appealing way to develop the game – directly for the fans themselves, without secrecy, lies and censorship, in collaboration with them and without taking orders from people who don’t even play games and don’t understand them.

Had we failed, it would have been a pretty clear signal that you’re not interested in a game like this and we wouldn’t waste more years of further effort. But now it looks more like the publishers made a big mistake and interest in the kind of game we're doing is enormous, for which we are of course extremely grateful.

It's great that in this day and age it’s possible to get something new out there without having to deal with the select few with a monopoly on reason. Only two years ago, Warhorse would most probably not be around any longer in a situation like this, or we would have developed an action adventure and shoe-horned some dragons into it in mid-development. So thank you for your support! Thank you sincerely!

The team is celebrating
The team is celebrating
Oldřich Mládek, George Gale, and 296 more people like this update.

Comments

    1. Creator LuckyLuigi on January 27, 2014

      A great read and I am sure that I am more excited than any American ! :)

    2. Creator Marcel Schoen on January 25, 2014

      Yeah, well.. publishers... For more than a decade, basically, they also decided nobody wanted to play a space simulator ever again. Look how that turned out...

    3. Creator Chris R. on January 25, 2014

      If i were rich i would do the same thing and fund games like Deliverance. I would also buy that stupid research institute and fire those idots... germans sceptical about a medieval setting... tsk

    4. Creator ninjaman999 on January 24, 2014

      Thank you for the detailed story to explain everything. I upgraded my tier and I cannot wait to see the success of the game and its continuation as a successful series ^u^

    5. Creator David Mullen on January 24, 2014

      Just finished reading this story after pledging. You guys have been going through a lot of trouble, but I'm glad that things are going to be looking up now. This is exactly the kind of game I want to play, and I look forward to seeing what you'll create.

    6. Creator DSR on January 24, 2014

      Thanks a lot for this backstory.

      People do not realize how hard is to get the creative and talented people that makes videogames to actually make their videogames without people in suits who've never played a videogame in their lives taking over the lead of a project or entire studio just for a quick buck and run that always ends up in a flop or the same old repetitive type of videogame.

      Thank you for having the balls to pursue your dream. Most of us quit at the slightest sign of adversity.

    7. Creator Theobeau:OOoE\Mad man with a box/Exiled on January 24, 2014

      Great update with fascinating insights about the state of mind of game publishers and the impact of next gem consoles and mobile gaming.

      I had no idea they were that risk adverse!

      Looking forward to thoughts on stretch goals.

      IMHO Here is one of the 20% who would like gender choice for the protagonist!

    8. Creator Michael Menkes on January 24, 2014

      just responding to your last update on voice acting.

      James Earl Jones needs work. Make him your villain and this will be epic.

    9. Creator Goat Yoda on January 24, 2014

      Best wishes, make a great game!

    10. Creator Michael Menkes on January 24, 2014

      Glad to be a small part of the solution. You really made it easy to pledge since this is a game I would have payed full retail for. It feels like a long-term pre-order with perks.

      Your strengths are in appreciate there is a market for excellent melee combat. Magic and Dragons really are secondary to cult hits like Demon's Souls which are founded in both the combat and the consistent and compelling art design and theme of the world it exists in.

    11. Creator Robin Thompson on January 24, 2014

      everytime i read 'games for iPAD', i want to pledge £100 more >_<
      Damn you and your deceptively smart tactics!

    12. Creator Stephen "Stoibs" D on January 24, 2014

      It's reasons like this that I'm such a Kickstarter addict, between this anecdote and Brian Fargo's 2 KS projects it's great to be able to help fund, prove and show that us gamers want innovation and are indeed interested in these types of games, rather than some suited non-gamer CEO dictating that another soulless Modern military shooter or fantasy Rpg with 'phat grafiks' is all that's important.

    13. Creator Arkadiusz on January 24, 2014

      Great work guys. I'm happy to be able to help in this wonderful project. What bothers me is that I couldn't contribute as much as I wanted to. But luckily there is 12k more ppl willing to see this game coming to life :)

    14. Creator Ernest Scribner Weresheep of Sin on January 24, 2014

      It's exactly the game that needs to be made. Now everyone knows. Cheers!

    15. Creator Maudhuit on January 24, 2014

      je reste couak,...Une premiere sur KS.. G l'impression de m'ëtre fait entubé, pas de lien pour DL ce fuck Alpha...

    16. Creator tifik on January 24, 2014

      Seriously, every time I saw "games for iPad" it literally made me lol. People in gaming business honestly believe that "games for iPad" are the future of game development? Maybe trying something else than changing a few textures and 'producing' the same game every year (CoD, NFS) is just too much for behemoth developers to grasp. Which is a great chance for small developers with non-generic ideas like YOU! Rock on guys.

    17. Creator Maudhuit on January 24, 2014

      1 000 excuses, j'investi, 2 pauvres mail, pas une clée... Je reste là, penti, tel un con ...

    18. Creator Bryan Bessette on January 24, 2014

      You guys met your goal in a few days. I predict you are going to raise almost triple your goal amount. Great job, Warhorse! =D

    19. Creator popsicledeath on January 24, 2014

      You guys are awesome. I learned of this project by my interest in another, less organize project, and must say the professionalism, honesty and acumen of Warhorse is amazing. AND the game looks great. Can't wait.

    20. Creator bG_R on January 24, 2014

      It's great to see that it all worked out, and am glad that I was able to be a small part of it, and thank you guys for putting in the effort into making a game you want to make, and I can't wait to see what you guys do with it!

    21. Creator Daniel Harvison on January 24, 2014

      Gotta agree with some other sentiments here. The big AAA publishers are just so terrified of any risks that they just do nothing creative, they only do massive projects that add very little to the shape of gaming and are only done if they guarantee massive returns, since there are massive amounts of money spent on these things. I'm delighted to see indie games and other games from "not the usual suspects" doing things that are at least interesting. All hail the Indies!

    22. Creator Daniel Harvison on January 24, 2014

      Down with publishers! Up with the Indie Devs! For some reason, I feel like throwing an "AAAAARRR!" in there too. Congrats, and I look forward to the finished product in all it's sword-slashing glory.

    23. Creator BoMbY on January 24, 2014

      TL;DR Most analysts are idiots, and don't know what they are talking about.

    24. Creator William E Saunders IV on January 24, 2014

      Congratulations, Warhorse. You guys deserve this. This is the game that I have been dreaming would come for a long time. I hope you all consider multiplayer as a serious stretch goal. You have a complex medieval sword combat system like this, in an arena to test players skill against each other, and I bet this crowd funding will double and triple in its amount and support. Best of luck and looking forward to the stretch goals.

    25. Creator Michael Mc on January 24, 2014

      Sad story, but at last an happy ending !!
      Congratulations !

    26. Creator Runar Jenssen on January 24, 2014

      This is VERY good stuff! I'm glad you're so open about it, and that you clearly think through an idea before you go with it. This is good. Congratulations on the big success so far!

    27. Creator Stephane Bezeau on January 24, 2014

      It is mind boggling how out of touch most Publisher are these days. No wonder why there is almost no interesting games in the last few years and years to come. Hell, most exception are from independant developper!

    28. Creator Šimon Leška on January 24, 2014

      You deserve it! :)

    29. Creator Rickard on January 24, 2014

      Dear studio. Warhorse, Im really happy that I could help. This game are something special, something I want to be a part of. And a simple thing that you guys show your photo makes me smile. The best way to make a game, are the connection with the fans. The players. So I will thank you guys for the hard work with Kingdom.

    30. Creator Thomas Dalban on January 24, 2014

      Congratulation on this first success. I'm sharing your happiness and I cannot wait for more good news.
      It's great that we can still show big names of the industry that they are wrong. But seriously, who could think that the all generation of people who grew up with deep and amazing games could be happy with mmo on iPad. I don't know how they could stop to that conclusion and forget all the geeks who dream to find such a game. Really happy that you proved them they were wrong!

    31. Creator David on January 24, 2014

      Oh cool Mori! I work for them, they are a pretty fun company. The fact that you went this direction partly because of the results makes me feel a little proud to work for them. Big company of course but it's nice being a helpful cog.

    32. Creator Anthony Narde on January 24, 2014

      I am so happy for you guys and so happy that such an awesome game is being made!

    33. Creator MartinCZE on January 24, 2014

      Already congrats you in previous post But again and I can't stress it enough. I beg you:

      Make one of your stretch goals PROFESSIONAL CZECH DUBBING!!!

      I just remember Mafia and its wonderful czech dubbing which helped atmosphere alot. So please do CZECH DUBBING for the game.

    34. Creator Morgan Mueller on January 24, 2014

      Not only am I excited for this game but I'm excited to see what you guys have for us in the future! Ive never been this excited for a game before!

    35. Creator Gerald Heidrich on January 24, 2014

      I'm so optimistic in the effort of this game and so happy that finally someone tries to make a game like this, i would pledge more money if i could relinquish. Wish you all the best and a great final.

    36. Creator godfather on January 24, 2014

      GREAT update, thanks for sharing this info.

    37. Creator Lenny Zimmermann on January 24, 2014

      If you want to talk about drought predictions for 2015 I think that there may be a bit of a backlash against the consoles within the next 2 years. Valve's Steam Machine could begin to push things back towards the PC as gaming king with a more open development and deployment platform, putting more control back into the hands of developers, which in turns mean developers can be more responsive to their customers. Something that's seriously hampered on the console, much the way Android has vastly opened up the phone market. Add in the potential of something like the Oculus Rift and various VR controllers slated to come out this year and next, all of which meet some serious limitations on consoles that they don't have on a PC platform, and there may very well be a very serious threat to the current generation of console gaming. I think the industry may not be wrong in worrying, but I think their focus on pay-to-play on tablets might not be exactly the right market either.

      Congrats on getting the funding and I definitely look forward to seeing this game come to fruition!

      P. S. Who are the folks doing the sword-work for you?

    38. Creator Peter on January 24, 2014

      Excellent update! You guys are great! Here's to hoping Warhorse turns into a Czech CD Projekt.

    39. Creator Naomi on January 24, 2014

      I watched it since it had 3.2k raised. It' been an amazing thing to see it grow so fast, and clearly shows gamers are interested in this sort of thing. Personally it's a dream come true for me, I can't express enough how happy I am with the realistic combat. Nothing is exaggerated and it looks so satisfying.

    40. Creator Bogdan Codescu on January 24, 2014

      Cheers for a great game to come!

    41. Creator Pitchingace88 - YouTube on January 24, 2014

      Impressive how much this has grown and continues to grow, with the addition of additional goals I feel this thing will reach great numbers!

    42. Creator Nekator on January 24, 2014

      Very interesting description, supports my desicion to back you guys at high level :)

    43. Creator Nikolajs Pozdnakovs on January 24, 2014

      I'm happy for YOU! I will be one of the happiest people in the world, if you will make such a huge and beautiful medieval world (by the way video is very similar to what is described in the novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz "Crusaders")

    44. Creator Christian Engelund on January 24, 2014

      It's great to see you have succeeded so fast, and I'm sure you are going to see more support. It means we have put our faith in you, based on merely a video and a few details, which should tell you how much the backers believe in you. There are many ways to let us down, but I personally believe you won't. You have a spirited and dedicated team, a great investor (to whom we the players definitely own a lot of gratitude as well - feel free to bring that on), and a good concept.

      Now begins the hard part - developing and creating a polished experience (don't go Bethesda on us with the bugs, for God's sake), with historical accuracy and previously unseen gameplay mechanics. You face hardship to get the complexities of medieval fighting correct and also controllable (it's no good if you don't feel in control of it), and it's awesome to see you use actual HEMA practitioners for the captures. I hope to see the fighting stances and moves adjust with the weapons, also between the common German and Italian styles of the era. And I hope to see the actual roleplay be the predominant gameplay mechanic :-)

      I for one am thrilled to see you rise above and beyond in short time, and I look forward to seeing the progress, and perhaps add to the community this game will raise before its release.

      Take care, and again, well done!

    45. Creator Helena on January 24, 2014

      Interesting update, and somewhat depressing - though at least it has a happy ending. :-) But please announce stretch goals soon!

    46. Creator Kristoffer Østvang on January 24, 2014

      Skål! from Norway!

    47. Creator Pavel Stangel on January 24, 2014

      EPIC update Dan. I have been reading your blogs since june 2012 and it is riveting read. You should consider releasing them in book form one day. I am really grateful to Zdenek for investing in you guys, and cannot wait for the game. You summed it up perfectly - right now, you are in the best position possible. Even if you sell mere 500 000 copies digitally 40 bucks each, there will be nice 5 million bucks of pure profit. And obviously you will sell a lot more, millions most likely, not to mention retail. Oh man.

    48. Creator Shawn on January 24, 2014

      Usually I only hear about the process of funding and dealing with publishers in a AAR type report. But this was very interesting since its very a recent story. I'm glad you put it in an update, as it helps the new community of backers feel engaged with this project. I'm proud to be a small part of your project, and I'll toast to your funding victory this weekend.

    49. Creator Patrick on January 24, 2014

      Thanks even* My pledge should cover a couple beers for him.