‘Caliburn’ here again for another update on Kenshi. As with previous posts, I’ll start by recapping a few things going on with the continued support for the first Kenshi. For this blog’s special section, we’re catching up with some of the team at Lo-fi to find out what’s keeping them sane in isolation before finally getting to development news on Kenshi 2.
In the past month we’ve once again been making use of the experimental branch, most notably around an issue users reported with saved games following the latest windows update. Many players had stated they were unable to save, load, or experienced crashing when they tried. In Kenshi’s latest v1.0.50 update saves default to the Windows user directory, fixing any potential issues linked to system permissions. Please keep in mind that if you wish to edit a saved game the new location to check is
Hinted above, after consulting with the forum mods we’ve made some overdue changes to bug reporting flow – namely better collating more widely popular bugs, cleaning up a number of older topics, and providing a more visible response to new ones. This will likely mean pushing for a stricter adherence to the bug reporting format as I work to ensure they can be reproduced and turn them into meaningful notes to the programming team to progress. The end goal here is to keep fixing issues for in Kenshi 1 in a more transparent way, giving users more feedback on if it’s feasibly possible to fix and where we’re at with their reports. For a more worded explanation of the changes check out the pinned topic here.
In past blog posts we’ve mentioned hiring a number of new team members to expand the studio for Kenshi 2. Over the next few updates, since we’re focussed on an important Kenshi 2 subproject (details further down) I’m taking the opportunity to catch up with different team members and share a little bit of who they are, what they’re up to outside of the studio, and how they’re doing working from home.
I’m Guy, a concept designer with a background in graphic design, illustration and advertising. I joined the team in November 2019 and have been working on concepts for the architecture, furniture, and characters that inhabit the world of Kenshi 2.
For my home setup I recently purchased a Wacom Cintiq Pro 24, replacing my Wacom Intous 3. After spending 12 years with the Intuos 3 (which is still going strong) it’s a big upgrade. I initially thought it was going to take a lot of time to get used to the switch but I’m already really enjoying it and using it every day. The Cintiq is connected to my MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015) which works pretty well running things like Photoshop.
I am quite used to working at home and have got into a good routine over the years. I do miss working in the office though, it’s much easier to talk through different areas of the project with everyone in the same room, much less typing!
I have been spending the lockdown back in my hometown near East Yorkshire by the coast. Running and walking are the main things keeping me going. I’m also doing some yoga in the mornings, I’m rubbish at it but enjoying it anyway.
In my free time I’ve been working on several of my own illustrations, such as the album covers for three different electronic artists that I finished recently.
Other freelance projects I’ve worked on that people might recognise include art for mud-and-lasers RPG ‘Lancer’ and a cover for the gritty future comic ‘The Hand Unseen’. Right now, I’m working on some posters based on my favourite Studio Ghibli films which follow on from other personal projects like last year’s Akira poster.
I’m Victor, or Mr4Goosey. I’ve been doing indie-dev on my own projects for over half a decade, and I’ve spent part of that doing it for a living. I got fed up of running my own business and decided to look for a full-time job in the industry, leading me to Lo-Fi. I wanted to combine my love for making pretty things with interests in logic and programming, which is why I’m now a technical artist.
I’m running a custom PC with a Ryzen 7 2700X and a GTX1080. For peripherals, I’ve got a Decus mouse and a Razer Blackwidow (Green switches) both with lovely wrist-rests. Finally, for screens I’m running a 34” LG Ultra-wide which I’m looking to replace with something less bulky and a 27” AOC monitor on the side.
Thanks to past projects I’m used to working from home, so it’s really not that special to me, ironically being in an office will take more getting used to. It’s nice to be in my own place and have access to my stuff, but when everything happens in the same room it’s easy to lose sight of the boundaries between work and life. It can also be hard to get to know the team properly when we’ve not properly met. All in all, I’m looking forward to being in-office; working from home feels less efficient and enjoyable than being together with people, plus it gets lonely and boring.
I’ve started another gamedev project in my spare time, though I’ve been trying to get away from my computer too. Out of my new interests the main one that helps is blacksmithing. Unfortunately, I don’t have a forge yet – that’ll probably have to wait until I’ve moved to the UK, but as I’m mostly focussed on armouring, I can do quite a lot anyway. It’s a steep learning curve, but it’s really cool to produce something like a piece of armour out of nothing.
I’m also just getting into electronics and robotics. It’s something I’ve been putting off for as long as I’ve been doing gamedev, but I’m hoping to get started on it properly now. First steps are reading up on basic electronics (I wouldn’t be able to give you a definition of a “servo”), because that’s the main part I’m lacking. I’m hoping I can get the hang of that then get properly stuck in!
Lastly, I’ve been doing more gamedev. I’ve recently started playing around with Phyronnaz’s Voxel Plugin for UE4, and I’m currently trying to make a small, relaxing game in which you build a low-poly eco dome with cute animals in it. Not sure exactly where it’ll be going, but I’m hoping to release it on Steam for a few bucks at some point in a similar vein to Islanders.
I’m Boodals, the programmer who was hired back in November. Up until now I’ve been working on remaking the GUIs from Kenshi 1 in Unreal Engine, but now that we’ve hired Craig, I can shift my efforts onto less urgent tasks, such as code cleanliness and stability. I won’t go into too much detail, but I’d call it more of a support role, making the other programming jobs easier and faster, and discouraging code which could be unstable.
Since we started working from home, I’ve been using my own PC for most tasks. We do all have laptops to work on, but I don’t have the desk space to fit mine. Using my PC also allows me to test the GUIs I previously spoke about on a 4k screen to make sure everything functions correctly at higher resolutions.
Working from home is pretty great, mainly due to lie-ins and easy access to snacks (ha-ha), but it does come with its downsides. Not being able to quickly speak to other developers or show each other what we’re working on makes it harder to get stuff done. We’re exploring several apps and programs to minimize this, but you can’t beat being in the same room.
Outside of work, the lockdown really hasn’t affected me too much, as I’m one of the lucky ones who isn’t bothered by being locked in. I moved house just before the lockdown started, so I’ve been hanging out with my new housemates and their cat, whom I pay tribute to in the form of pets every time I pass through Her domain (stairs, hallway, kitchen…)
The team have been hugely busy this month working on a ‘vertical slice’ of Kenshi 2, which I have the pleasure of sharing snippets of today.
For those unaware of the terminology, a vertical slice is a portion of near-finished quality game which then allows a studio to visualise some of what they’re up to. It’s traditionally distinct from a prototype in that the quality is much higher leaving less room for flexibility but for us we’re blurring that line a bit and using it primarily as a tangible design tool. Internally nicknamed ‘Concrete Neon’, it’s about having a space to test and iterate on some of Kenshi 2’s ideas by taking them away from a design document and experiencing how they might actually be played.
Sharing some thoughts on our first major milestone, Chris compares Concrete Neon to founding Kenshi’s Holy Nation and his hands on approach to game design: “Anyone who played the [Kenshi 1 early access] map in it’s earliest incarnation will remember that only a small area around the holy nation was active, the rest was greyed-out and you couldn’t go there, because it wasn’t finished. This gives us a test bed to get everything working early on so we can play the game and experiment. I’m not a very formal designer, my technique is iterative because my ‘special skill’ is playing a game for a while and then going “hunger needs to be 0.8x slower and strength needs to raise 1.12x faster instead of 1.08x”. It’s also better that way because I can approach the design as a player rather than as a game designer. I don’t like game designers.”
This month’s blog post was intended for last so ran a little late, but we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments – with so many players following different game development projects it’s a great place to reflect. As ever you can join us on Twitter and Facebook where we still have an upcoming creator competition to announce once we’ve worked out the prizes… If you’d like a none-Steam way to keep up with the studio, blogs are available on our website and via our mailing list.
Sam ‘Caliburn’ Hills