Last Thursday (08/08/19) we held an ‘Ask Me Anything’ on Reddit, Chris and Nat answered a number of community questions about Kenshi and the development of Kenshi 2. In light of the requests elsewhere on the forums, I’ve put together most of the questions and their answers below. You can read the full topic here which may be easier due to the formatting differences.
What is an AMA?
An AMA (Ask Me Anything) is an event during which a person will answer questions directly from reddit’s community members.
Wait, answers on Kenshi 2?
As Kenshi 2 is still in early stages of development, please keep in mind any answers given about it are not yet entirely guaranteed to make it into the final product.
Did you make the Beak Things? DID YOU MAKE THE F****** BEAK THINGS YOU A******!?
Just for that, double beak things in Kenshi 2
Ok ok. But is it twice as many beak things or double-beak things?
Because I’m OK with it either way, but I fear for Beep…
Twice as many double-beak things
What made you choose the ogre engine when you started making the game?
It is the year 2000. UE4 and Unity don’t exist yet. Quake III is the best engine around, and probably costs 1 million dollars to use. It’s a choice between Torque3D and Ogre. I went with some other engine that began with “C” I think. It died. I switched to Ogre: Open source, raw C++ and as future-proof as you can get. That we managed to stretch it to 2018 is proof of that, even if it doesn’t run that good no more.
Is Kenshi 2 supposed to be way before the 1st? What can we expect to see? As in world state, cars, giant robots, bigger cities, etc
It’s something like 1000 years before the first game. The content is secret.
I saw that Kenshi may get moved to the newer engine. Is that true and is there an ETA? Will the new game have landscape and object LOD?
We are working on a new (secret) engine for Kenshi 2, and hoping to be able to port Kenshi 1 as well. The Kenshi 1 port is a lot of extra work though.
Will you allow modding to go further than Forgotten Construction Set and let us do insane mods like Skyrim, Fallout 4?
It depends on the engine moddability. Because most of the game code is in C++ it can’t be modded, but that’s the only way we can get a seamless world with 800 characters running around at a time.
My main concern was feeling like I hadn’t done enough in the game before buying Kenshi 2, say like a game where you can import/export characters, would this be possible? I know there’s a lot that would need to be removed, but could you port characters in?
I’ll probably add an import option, but it would reset all your stats and gear
And you’d loose your robot limbs too. Hee hee
Kenshi is an awesome game, but after a while there’s a breaking point where base defence gets a bit monotonous, you only get patrols of infantrymen trying to bring down a gate covered by a lot of turrets. Are there plans for introducing different types of defences like traps or siege weapons to spice up that aspect?
It’s a plan, but as usual, not guaranteed.
But it would be good to have something tactically forcing you to leave the base.
Were you expecting the game to spawn such a huge modding community?
Also can we expect more hairstyles/faces for character creation in Kenshi 2? Or possibly more races?
Yes. It will look a lot better, we have a new character artist who worked before for Ubisoft. We also have the famed concept artist Callum Alexander Watt, who has worked on Star Wars.
Was it surprising to you how popular the game got?
I don’t know. I expected it really, because I knew the game would be great, so failure would be technically impossible. But I think the recent popularity explosion since release and a couple big YouTubers was a bit surprising.
I kind of had faith that it would do well at release actually. Dealing with the PR and marketing at the time, I admit I was scared of exiting our safe little early access cocoon and how it would be accepted in the wider world. Part of me did also worry that people might be bored hearing about it after being in development so long but…I tried to turn the long development time into a positive when talking to media. I mean, it took a hell of a lot of love and determination, and 12 years development shows that.
As we know from some others this question does get asked a few times. Is Kenshi a moon, or a planet?
Well, as it’s you…
It’s a tidal-locked moon
Do you have plans to expand the Forgotten Construction Set’s options beyond the scope of what you need for implementation in either Kenshi 2 or even 1? You’ve made some additions and think you asked what more could be added on steam but it still lacks little things that modders have wanted for a long time – TAKING items away during dialogue, arbitrary world states to trigger through dialogue alone, spawning NPCs on the spot, and so on. It would help a lot to even expand existing functions to other items – like full skill bonuses for all types of equipment, some conditional checks, even those animation overrides could be added to equipment or triggered through dialogue or attached to an AI package.
And thank you for the amazing game.
We will add a few things. I just pasted your post into my notes text file for future reference.
1. Our assumption of this game currently is that it will be like the last days before the collapse of the (Roman) empire, as opposed to a century or millennia later in its fallout. How will the advanced technology of the past affect weapons and combat in the new Kenshi? More ranged combat focus? Power armour? Whatever This thing is?
2. The main factions in Kenshi 1 are famed for their lack of holding the moral high ground. You intended for players to be the Robin Hoods, but a highly requested feature was for players to be more like Fallout New Vegas’ Caesar’s Legion and do the same things. Will players have more control over whether to be lawful evil?
3. Player cities? Please?
1. Ranged weapons will likely be more dominant than in Kenshi 1, technology level is generally a little higher
2. I’ll think about it
3. I’d prefer to spend the time focusing on other features, being a Mayor is a whole rabbit hole of features and bugs to go down.
1. I don’t like shoehorning the player into one role, so it’s definitely something I’ll try and be more mindful off. Though, I’d love to hear more opinions and feedback on the evils you’d like to commit!
Can I ask if you have considered branching off the current world Kenshi is set on perhaps after Kenshi 2 or will you stick with the same world? Was Kenshi 2 being set 1000 years in the past your first choice or did you consider other possibilities too?
Thanks! I have a whole bunch of games planned, it’s a big timeline to work with…
Have you seen Sseth’s video about Kenshi? Cause I bought the game thanks to him and I’d really like to know what you thought about it
I loved it, watched it twice
First, thank you so much for bringing Kenshi into this world.
To both Chris and Nat: Is there an area or bit of lore that you are exceptionally proud of?
I’m proud of the Skeletons. I also like all the places that torment the player, especially the Fog Islands
Off the top of my head, I’ll always love the Shek Kingdom and the Hivers. But also, surprisingly for me, maybe the skin bandits. When I first saw the skin suit models I was like damn I have no idea how to make this work. But actually I’m quite proud of how creepy they turned out. I also, when I was still quite new to writing Kenshi, got a bit carried away and wrote way too much ‘shoo from shop’ reactions that last really long and have loads of variations. But most players probably will never even see it.
Kenshi was inspired by stories of travelling ronin, according to Wikipedia. Can you give us a few specific examples of books and stories that acted as an inspiration?
7 Samurai, kung-fu films, Mad-max.
I love the Malazan books, the sheer depth of history and world-building is astounding.
Dark-souls for the way it embeds history, lore and a sense of wonder into the world using barely any words.
Tried reading Malazan two times. This time I quit in book 9. There are some great books in there, but the casts changes so much it’s hard to come to like, know or even remember the who the hell everyone is in the later books.
With the very limited reading time I have in my life now, Malazan just isn’t worth it.
Yeah, I started 15 years ago…
Will Kenshi 2 have a job manager, akin to Dwarf Therapist or the one built into Rimworld? It’d be nice to mass toggle e.g. “Jobs” on and off. Similarly it’d be nice to assign “roles” to party members with pre-defined weapon/armour (like Dwarf Fortress uniforms) and even minimum food and medical kit levels that they could pickup from storage when free to do so. Getting your guys ready for an expedition only for them to dump their food and med-kits is annoying. (I know you can toggle ditch – I want GRANULAR control.)
Also, I love this game so much.
Can’t say for sure at this point, but I won’t rule out taking a look at possible improvements
Will there be a stronger focus on making sure the world works on a logistical level? i.e. all factions having a visible and discoverable chain of supplies, showing how they feed their people, supply their armies, and so on (within a realistic frame, similar to how we as players have to grow food, and mine and process ore)
Probably not, I see the benefits but it’s an enormous amount of work for a relatively small pay-off. Possibly could manage some sort of hybrid semi-dynamic system
I think a lot of the complexity can be removed if you abstract it from a top-down approach, you don’t have to simulate every little thing but have a simplified system that trickles down the details to the loaded area and be affected by it in broad strokes, almost like how world states function.
Yeah that’s true, it’s the sort of thing I meant, not a bad idea actually the more I think about it
Dude, I’ve followed this game since like 2012. I’m so happy for all your success. I guess I need to ask a question. Here so forgive me if it’s already been asked but with Kenshi how long do you plan to support it with updates when the second comes out? Also has anyone major approached you about bolstering your resources in exchange for more control over your IP?
If Kenshi 1 gets the new engine too, then it will keep getting support fixes, as they will be sharing the same code base.
Lots of random dudes have tried to get in on my business before now. Even back in the early days when I was broke, but I always turned all of them down. It’s my game, my IP.
Though I would consider selling movie rights or something like that…
Hey bud! Big fan of Kenshi, I bought it and played it religiously for around a year back when it launched in preview on steam.
However I now move around a lot for work and cant afford to lug a big gaming pc or anything like that around but I do lug a Xbox around, any chance for Kenshi to come out on consoles? Or any plans for the second to release on consoles?
The main problem is getting it to work on controllers. While I do love controllers, I just can’t come up with a viable control system for them without changing the game significantly.
Sorry to interrupt, but… I love Kenshi but can you imagine it going through Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo’s quality control?
I agree, it would never make it
Where do Hivers come from?
From the Queen’s dispenser unit
Will there be a terrain/height map editor for custom maps and/or map changes?
Unsure at this point
Are there any things that you wanted to implement in K1 that you didn’t have time for/the ability to implement that you are now carrying forward into K2?
That’s what making Kenshi 2 is all about
With the talk of Kenshi 2, will it be the exact same land mass but before the empire fall or will there be more areas to explore?
It’s the same land mass, but changed, and also hopefully expanded by 50%
I’m taking it as you are referring to lower ocean levels?
And there is this interesting mod i saw once about implementing a cave system. Have you thought about using a negative floor system like the positive floor system for buildings?
Going under the terrain has a lot of technical issues, mainly with the camera. You’ll see what I mean if you go in any of the Dome buildings in the Ashlands.
Yep i see your point with the Dome buildings.
What was the inspiration for Beep?
It started just as an idea for an NPC that would be really easy to write, because most of his dialogue events could just be “beep”. Then for some reason he just started to come to life in my head and I just kept coming up with more ideas.
I wrote most of his stuff in one day, quietly chuckling to myself the whole time.
First off. I dig Kenshi, I love it to bits. It’s actually quickly becoming my latest comfort game. It’s honestly one of the best games I’ve played in a damn long time.
Anyway, it seems the issue has problems with loading new areas (such as characters going into no-clip as a new area is loading) is there any work being done to rectify this problem? And will it persist into Kenshi 2?
The new engine will change things up. Past problems will be irrelevant, we will have new different problems instead.
This is the most painfully real developer response ever. Thanks for the chuckle.
I am experienced. Everything starts off as “this new system will fix all our problems”
Big fan of Kenshi, been playing since alpha.
How much of the world and lore was planed since the alpha release? Was it all planed, including the different biomes, or was it originally a big desert?
It all evolved over the course of development. This time we are taking a longer view, planning ahead to future games, to the point that we are writing and concepting the original civilization before the apocalypse
Will Kenshi 2 reveal more details about the Hive’s origin? This is one of the things which I think we know least about regarding lore, so I’d love to know.
There will be more revealed about the lore and past history, including the hives
Would you ever consider making a comic based on Kenshi to expand the lore and give us a feel for how the world interacts with itself?
I’d love to, but don’t really feel like I have time
Was Beep the 1% of the writing that Nat didn’t do?
Basically, yeah. I’m not sore about it at all.
I also wrote the crab tournament, but that didn’t seem to take off.
1. Is there any consideration to add more survival aspects to Kenshi 2- specifically along the lines of heat and water? It seemed semi unrealistic that we can wander through the scorching desert surviving off of bone dry sandwiches 🙂
2. Secondly, will the stage of Kenshi 2 being set 1000 years before the current game take away from the derelict and ruined aesthetic of the game that we all love?
3. I’m sure you get this a lot, but will the next version of the engine/Kenshi 2 allow for more extensive modding? Modding will turn these games truly immortal in my opinion, think TES and Fallout.
4. One more thing; do both of you play Kenshi at all in your free time? If so, what play style/race is your favourite?
1. I tried to make the hunger system as un-obtrusive as possible. When you have a lot of characters you have to avoid micro-management. That’s why they eat automatically, and infrequently (but at great cost), to allow you to forget about it as much as possible. Adding more aspects means more micro-management. I could add water, but how would it be different to the hunger? (The idea is that water is abstracted within the hunger system). I could add heat/cold, but do you really want to carry around spare clothes and have to dress 30 characters every time the weather changes?
2. If anything, it will increase
3. Unknown at this point
4. Yes, I have played Kenshi quite a bit. I like playing with smaller squads and a mix of races. I like Hives because they are like playing Hard-mode. The only downside is that I know where everything is, so I can’t explore or be surprised by things.
I actually don’t play Kenshi at all outside of work. I get too exhausted from thinking of Kenshi stuff all day and need to reset my brain. I’ve gotten pretty sucked into it during testing a lot though, I mainly like getting wrapped up in escaping cannibal camps. It can go a bit off tangent during testing.
Who was the Whistler? Will she make an appearance in Kenshi 2 or is she scrapped forever?
The whistler model was included by accident and I never noticed, it’s not canon
Will we see more options with dialogue regarding the Forgotten Construction Set features? Such as giving NPC’s the ability to take items from the player through dialogue, it would open up a lot more options when it came to making quests for mods. ^^ also love the game
I answered this to someone else as well, but I have a few requests I’m hoping will be possible for the programmers to add to the Forgotten Construction Set. Hopefully it will be a little more flexible.
How many new gameplay mechanics are you planning on adding into Kenshi 2?
There will be one big huge feature that will change things up a lot. Not sure when to announce it. Not sure why I’m not announcing it yet either.
IMO The best and the worst thing about Kenshi is that you can steal without restrictions because it’s so damn fun but kinda spoils the game. Will you do something about it in Kenshi2 or leave it as is?
Stealing in games unbalance the gameplay by nature, that’s what makes it so fun. It’s fun because you feel like you are cheating and playing the game the wrong way, it’s fun because you sometimes get caught, and sometimes strike it rich.
Artificial restrictions won’t work, it would have to be balanced more by difficulty and repercussions. But then that can be bypassed by save-scumming. One technique I used to balance this was permanent item tagging, like the STOLEN (so you can’t sell so easily) and UNIFORM (so factions can attack you) statuses. Not sure what else I could do here, other than adding Iron man mode to prevent save-scumming.
Will Kenshi 2 be more advanced?
Kenshi’s all fine and all, but the world isn’t “alive” so to speak. There’s no dynamic economy, no global politics no dynamic population, just a bunch of npc’s in their sand castles. Plus what the player can actually do, is very limited. Your faction doesn’t matter, you can’t set up a thriving city, own a TRUE faction of your own, take over other cities, open trade routes. So again, will Kenshi 2 expand on all or at least some of that, or will it be rather similar to the old one?
The more dynamic a game gets, the more unstable it becomes. The game world is already pretty unstable, like when hordes of spiders wipe out towns. Dynamic economies are a nightmare to balance.
Imagine playing for a few in-game weeks and finding out that United Cities now own every town. Cool at first, then exploration becomes boring, maybe you never got a chance to visit any of the other factions.
Mount & Blade for example apparently had an artificial limit in place to stop any faction from being defeated or taking over the world, if one started winning/losing too much then the tide of the war would change.
It’s also a matter of the game focus. I never intended the game to be a city manager, it’s supposed to be about your squad and their adventures, having a safe fortress to retreat to but not being a mayor.
That said, I DO want to take a look at making faction warfare more dynamic in the next game.
As far as the town management obsession a lot of people come into Kenshi with, it seems to be in vogue. The player base of Kenshi seems to overlap a lot with those of Dwarf Fortress, Rimworld, and even Factorio, and those games’ main focus is on base building, so it’s not really surprising a lot of people see “yet another town manager” while getting into it.
That said, Kenshi is a superb wandering squad RPG as it is, despite it’s faults and occasional instability, and maybe the best anarcho-communist simulator ever made (I really dig that vibe). From that perspective, it seems to me like bases were intended to be just that, not towns or trade hubs, but a refuelling station and a way to go “off the grid” for your group. If either of you see this, would you say that’s accurate?
You nailed it
I had a very close friend named Chris Hunt growing up, and we did casual game dev together growing up. We grew apart during college, and I lost contact. Are you him?
No, I couldn’t figure out how to make games until I was about 18. I could program, but how the hell to display graphics? Nothing would tell me.
Are you aware that your name is how my mother pronounces “croissant”?
I am now, thank you
What are the plans regarding modding for the sequel, in general? I am especially interested in getting at sounds.
The audio system uses Wwise, which unfortunately packs everything up so they can’t be modded. It might be possible to add overrides in the new engine
Will there be new continents with their own lore/factions to explore or will it be the same continent as in the first Kenshi?
Will you be updating the engine to the latest 64bit version of ogre and will you be updating Kenshi 1 to it as well?
The game has been 64-bit for years. All that does is un-cap the RAM limit of 4gb
Hi Chris, what is your favourite flavour of milk shake?
Chocolate, the one true flavour
First, I wanted to thank you for creating such an amazing game that kept me and my best friend busy over our holidays. My friend and I argue about whether it’s ethical to save-scum in a game like this. I argue that we should only reload if you wanted to test something out but he reloads almost any time something bad happens. What is your opinion on this? Thanks again for the great game and I can’t wait for Kenshi 2.
You should play it as self-enforced iron Man, otherwise you miss out on a lot of the experience. Unless beep dies of course.
Hi Chris and Nat, thanks for doing the AMA. my questions regarding Kenshi 2:
Will there be more meaningful interactions with the world other than just fighting?
Will there be a deeper diplomacy system?
What about a (dynamic) economy?
Meaningful interactions: I’m not sure yet, both me and Chris prefer a more passive style of storytelling (i.e. I love dialogue barks) and it’s not really intended as a dialogue heavy game. Also, since ultimately it’s a sandbox, we can’t really control how characters spawn. For example, in a more linear game, you could approach, say, an injured guy who’d just been attacked by bandits. But because Kenshi’s more procedural, there’s no way of making unique events like that, because spawns in Kenshi should be living their lives and carrying on regardless of the player. Not waiting around injured for the player to talk to them. I’m still seeing what I can do to improve on it my side though, I may find a way yet.
How much progress did you make in the first 6 years? Aside from the end where you were able to secure funding to build a team, what was a high and a low of your time working solo?
It was a fun game by then: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cXcuZV77UJY
What drove you to make the game so challenging? Not that I’m complaining, I love CBT, but I was curious.
Number 1 rule of storytelling. Character wants something, character faces obstacles and challenges preventing him from attaining it. The job of the storyteller is to torment and obstruct the character. More torment = More story. Solution: maximum torment
Will the visual design aesthetic of Kenshi 2 differ in any significant way, especially in regard to the look of the world?
Kenshi is very good at relaying the feeling of traversing a vast desolate wasteland, so I’m wondering if the world in Kenshi 2 will feel more “civilized”, considering that it’s 1000 years in the past, presumably before the collapse of the more advanced civilizations.
It will be similar in aesthetic, but higher quality
1. What is your priority with the next Kenshi game; what is the one thing you really want to include in the game?
2. I, and I am sure many others too, are full of ideas for Kenshi, where is the best place for us to relay our ideas to you?
1. The big feature, the big amazing secret one. There were lots of small features I missed. I wanted animals to poo everywhere. And mate in the wild. And people’s hair to grow (might get that in the sequel)
2. I have so many features that will never make it already. The thing that is useful, is detailed, specific, reasoned feedback based on your play experience. Thing you were lacking or felt out of balance, and why.
What kind of games do you play in your free time? Any that serve as inspiration for Kenshi ideas, or just for having fun?
Not inspiration, but a lifetime of playing games is my education as a game designer. I like open world single player games. At the moment I’m playing Starsector. I’m a fan of Empyrion, Space Engineers, Rimworld, Factorio
The best part about Kenshi is exploring the world. But what makes that so much better is having unique recruits and at least 1 skeleton with you. As you go along you both get to hear comments about the different biomes as you enter them, and also conversations between the crew. This is something that made the game feel so much more alive. So I spent some time doing research on what people to recruit to not miss out on any dialogue. I just never can get get enough of this amazing feature and wish there was more of it!
Question 1: Do you plan to recreate these features in K2 and will it be any different?
If I could choose I’d much rather have at least 20 unique recruits packed with dialogue spread around the world than hundreds of recruits of which you’d have to find out who has the most dialogue.
Fame and renown, these are things that makes the game even better! either you bring in a bounty, or you defeat someone strong and NPC’s will remember you did that and comment on it. Or you have a bounty and people will recognise you/fear you.
Question 2: Is it possible to make this more of a thing in K2? It kinda makes you feel special in a world like Kenshi.
I’m doing a solo run right now and have almost reached 70 in general fighting stats. And it would be nice to get more recognized across the world as someone strong.
1. Yes! These are some of my favourite things to work on and I agree that it was a little spread thin because of the limitless characters and combinations the player can have. I really want to improve on it for K2. These events were great because they felt quite subtle and personalised without overloading the player.
2. Yes again! Also one of my favourite things, recognition is such a nice way of rewarding the player. I’m thinking that perhaps combining this with a reputation system might improve it but I need to look into it more and experiment, see what technical things Chris and Sam can add to support it.