Kenshi Free Camera Mode, “Unreal” Kenshi 2 news & Q&A, plus a brand new screenshot

April Tools

It’s 1st April again. Fancy some Kenshi hashish? Wanna find the Hive Queen a date? Kenshi Team Racing anyone? 

This year we’re changing things up and giving you something real: how do you feel about a cheeky little Free Camera Mode Kenshi update? How about some Kenshi 2 news, a new screenshot and a Lo-Fi Q&A? We got you fam.

First up:

Kenshi 2 when?

Well, we’re not saying just yet. 

I once read that it’s bad practice from a marketing perspective to say “it’s ready when it’s ready”, but honestly, that kinda sums it up. Anything else until we’ve a release window for you is just sugar-coating, and we’d rather not do that. Besides, when have we behaved how devs are supposed to do?

We reckons that “it’s ready when it’s ready” is the best approach. So bear with us because the wait will be worth it. 

Why so little news?

It’s been a long while since we updated you on Kenshi 2. We had a bit of a change of tack and switched focus to getting all our ducks in a row for the betterment of Kenshi 2’s development rather than constantly drip-feeding you content, bit-by-bit.

The reality is that every time we put something out on Kenshi 2 it requires a lot of back and forth, double checking, and long, cross-departmental discussions on whether to reveal it or not. 

We need to ensure we’re not spoiling too much, that the reveals fit in with our long term plan, and that the content looks as close to the end product as possible so people know we’re giving this prequel the love that it deserves. This is hard when you’re working with a team of perfectionists consistently improving their work. It pulls us away from development and it can ultimately risk ruining our best reveals before they’re ready. 

Discovery will play a huge part of the Kenshi 2 experience, and while it’s a lot of fun for us to show off new stuff, it kills the joy of finding it in-game. We put a lotta love into our creations and we ain’t gonna ruin it for clicks. So we’re gonna keep schtum on the majority of Kenshi 2’s content until we have a lot more mega-polished stuff to show you.

Having said all that, we’ll still be sharing a few teases and updates as we go…

So where are we at?

Since your last major Kenshi 2 update we’ve hired a Producer. We’ve hired Korean, Polish, Turkish and Italian translators. We’ve hired a Community Manager, and very recently we hired an Executive Assistant (which means Chris and Nat have much more time to work on the game). 

We have come a long way: 33 people are currently working on Kenshi 2 at a consistent, solid pace. We’re making some massive leaps into territory previously unknown to us and building a whole load of new systems that take time to perfect.

While we’ve grown the company, we’ve tried to only hire in areas where we feel it will benefit the thing that matters most: making the best game we possibly can. It’s also rather important that we stay afloat; it’s a tough old world out there right now, and overhiring risks being a short term solution that creates difficult and not-insignificant long term problems. We’re trying to keep it sensible. 

To recap: we’ve already shown you river raptors, sexy customisable gates, environment shots with lovely new building models, the modder-friendly district divider tool, our new approach to localisation, and an early version of just one of Kenshi 2’s Hiver models (every Hiver sub-race will have its own model). Oh and let’s not forget the hit video Kenshi 2: Furniture Alignment Mode (woo).

As some of you already know, we’ve made some major changes to our still-evolving FCS dev tool, some of which we’ve released to Kenshi 1 players to use, though many upcoming functions will only work with features exclusive to Kenshi 2.

Kenshi 2 is being made in Unreal Engine 5

We’ve already revealed that Kenshi 2 is being made in Unreal Engine, but what we haven’t told you is that we’re actually making it in the all-singing, all-dancing video game makey machine that is Unreal Engine 5. 

We shifted to UE5 just over a year ago, which…to put it mildly…was a big job in itself, but you’re probably best hearing that from some of the others…

Q&A with Craig, Nat and Mohamad

Who are you? Why are you on my monitor?

CT: I’m Craig, I lead the programming team here at Lo-Fi.

NM: I’m Nat. I wear multiple hats running business direction and leading the narrative design and writing.

MR: I’m Mohamad, lead artist for Kenshi2 planning and supervising asset creation and assisting Chris with art direction.

What have the last couple of years entailed? 

CT: In short, a lot! There’s been significant efforts in our department to help make production easier for everyone else as well as improving/reworking existing systems and of course the big one, [REDACTED].

Without diving into the nitty gritty, the switch from Ogre to Unreal has forced us to revisit most of the systems from the game and configure them for a whole new GUI and asset pipeline. We’ve taken this as an opportunity to improve on what we already have, make it easier to configure, fix some really fundamental issues and add entirely new features that just weren’t possible in the first game.

To give one example, in Kenshi 1 we scattered the world with natural resources that the player could mine. We had a set number of resources that could be mined, you could reduce the amount of copper in a region to none or add some iron where there was no iron before but that’s really the limit, just playing with the numbers. Since revisiting this system not only have we made all our code more modular and easier to maintain but we’ve also made it possible for modders to create their own types of resources – so you can add things like gold mining, work that into some new crafting recipes, add new items like gold bars, make gangs of NPCs target you if you’re carrying large amounts across the map, tonnes of possibilities!

At the same time we’ve made this feature much easier to quickly iterate on and configure for artists. Instead of faffing with some numbers in FCS, reloading the game, checking the results and going back to FCS you can now fiddle with the numbers to your heart’s content right in the editor and see changes in real time.

We don’t want to spoil everything for you, but hopefully this gives you an idea of the attitude we’ve been taking to development and what kind of changes you can expect to the existing systems from Kenshi 1.

NM: Narrative is becoming easier and easier as the years go by. The most difficult part was over with years ago – that’s the foundations; world building, fleshing, map, general plans for content, working structure. That part is super hard and horrible, makes me want to vomit. The last couple of years have been refining, refining, refining. Content’s been flowing easy now. This is the most fun part of narrative design where the game starts to make itself and everything comes together. We’ve also had a few new features added for us over the years which means our toolkit lends us all the more creativity to push boundaries with. 

MR: Kenshi is a massive game with a wide range of assets from buildings to characters, different biomes and environments, furniture… the list goes on. Unlike most sequels or prequels where assets can be reused, we had to start almost everything from scratch. This was firstly because lore dictated certain changes (Kenshi 2 is set 1000 years before Kenshi), and secondly due to our change of engine; UE uses different shading and rendering technology (PBR), which means textures work in an entirely different manner.

The past couple of years have been largely spent creating a huge amount of assets so Chris can focus on game design, which really is the most important part of the project. As is standard practice in the industry, we began with creating basic untextured blockouts and placing them around the world, filling it out and making it into something rich and believable. After several rounds of feedback and amends we went on to begin fully texturing the assets.

In general we have a good balance of progress across all asset categories and we now have something that’s actually playable. Some assets, such as furniture, are mostly made as blockout at this point as they’re needed for building layouts, whereas our buildings get fully modelled and textured as we progress from one region to another.

What is Unreal Engine 5 doing for Kenshi 2 exactly?

MR: A significant part of our decision to move to Unreal Engine 5 was for future-proofing; we didn’t want to be building Kenshi 2 in an engine that might see less support in the future. That being said, there are a few new features exclusive to UE5 that we can use to enhance visuals and performance. 

A lot of UE5’s features are actually still in their experimental phase right now, some of which we’ve already begun to use whereas others we’re keeping an eye on for later stages of development.

We’re using UE5’s World Partition system to help with the performance and scalability of Kenshi 2’s massive open world. We’re planning to use the much-hyped Nanite to enable us to have a higher polycount with improved performance where needed, Lumen which gives us dynamic illumination and realistic reflections, and UE5’s Machine Learning Cloth Simulation to bring parts of our characters’ clothes to life.

UE5 has something called GPU Lightmass Global Illumination, which will allow us to dynamically bake shadows in real-time. This is particularly useful for the much-improved base building elements where we don’t know where people will place their assets.

What were the biggest challenges of the last two years?

CT: The switch from UE4 to 5 was a big leap for us which also necessitated a change in physics engine. We’re now using Epic’s new Chaos physics engine. With any big change in tech there’ll always be teething issues and this was no different.

Thankfully we’re over this migration hurdle, I can’t see us having to do anything like this in the future that’ll cause as much disruption.

NM: Team expansion. We’ve gone from 4 people – not really thinking about much other than making a cool game – to 33. There’s been big changes – business-wise – to how we work as a company and it’s required a lot of adapting and growing.

What have been the biggest successes? What are you most proud of so far?

CT: I think I’m most proud of all the improvements we’ve made for the other teams. Looking at how development practices have developed since the first game is really eye opening.

For instance the dialogue condition system in the first game, there was no way of editing existing conditions, having different kinds of logic or any way of duplicating existing setups. Now we’ve got templates, nested And/Or logic and it’s easier than ever to do bulk operations to refactor existing work. It means we can write more curated and reactive encounters for players and quicker iterate on what they’ve already put together.

Everything is easier now, writing dialogue, creating new types of buildings, incorporating new systems, the whole development pipeline flows so much faster than it did before.

Our team isn’t only responsible for sculpting the guts of the software which you’ll be playing but also helping all our colleagues do what they do best and create this immense world for you to dive into. We can build the most intricate generative systems in the world but it’d all be nothing if that artist core wasn’t there to hold it all together.

NM: I’m really proud of the world and unique societies we’ve created and how they’ve slotted together in balance. I’ve learned a lot since Kenshi 1 and I feel like Kenshi 2 is way more fleshed out from those lessons learned. Colton has also been a huge asset in how some of those ideas have evolved together and it’s great to have talented brains to bounce ideas.

MR: I’m proud of what we’ve achieved for such a small studio with relatively limited resources. A game as big as Kenshi needs a lot of assets, which can obviously be quite challenging with a very small team, so we tried to come up with clever pipelines and sets of assets that can be reused in different ways but ultimately end up with a significantly different final look.

What are you currently working on? 

CT: Personally I’m currently working on some backend tools to help our localisation team manage commonly used terminology as well as reworking our deployment pipeline to be more configurable and cross platform.

The latter is very much us limbering up for making the Kenshi 2 update cycle more robust and help free up our own machines for other development work. Instead of me needing to build the game on my own computer and stop whatever else I might’ve been doing, we’ll be able to offload the heavy lifting onto some server and crack on with something important and not staring at a progress bar.

NM: We’ve created a really cool narrative system which I won’t spoil, but I will say that at any chance I get, I will talk my friends’ ears off about this genius creation that is super cool and they have no idea what I’m talking about but you’re gonna love I hope. Our QA, Chris, has helped hugely in testing out this monstrosity and I feel like myself and Colton have entered some kind of FCS matrix where we have finally become one with the dialogue system. The most fun part of my job is where I get to really challenge my technical brain to bend our software and push it to its fullest potential. I love finding hacks and cheats within it.

MR: Aside from day-to-day asset creation, in a broader context we are trying to finalise some of the asset creation workflow in order to speed up the asset creation process, this will allow us to streamline our work and have the remaining assets to be made in a more productive way. Not only does it allow us to have a better understanding of what assets and to what limit we can develop, we can also have more assets added with our limited resources.

What’s your next big task?

CT: As much as I do enjoy making the other teams run as smoothly as they can I’m itching to get back into adding some new features to the game itself. I’ve had some concept art come through as some modular bridges that Mohamad’s team is currently putting together and I’m really excited to get to work on the tools that’ll make all those separate models a fully modular set of reusable bridges that we can quickly plonk down anywhere in the world.

What are you most looking forward to in Kenshi 2?

CT: Gotta be exploring our new world and [REDACTED] without a doubt.

As a programmer I don’t get a full view of things like narrative or new places in their full in depth context, so playing the final game in full and getting to meet all the new characters and visit all the strange new places is going to be a real treat.

We get feature requests through every so often related to some of these like “we’d like to a dialogue condition to check if a character is wearing shoes” or “check if a character has a particular item” which are simple enough for us to add but open up so many new possibilities for sort of specific interactive narratives that the writers are able to craft. I’ve just done a quick count and we’ve just about doubled the amount of conditions and effects that the dialogue system is capable of!

And this is just dialogue, the amount of things that just were not possible in Kenshi 1 is growing bigger every day. You think those overhaul mods are big? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

I’m equally if not more excited what the community will cook up with all our new features. We’re bound by our budgets and lore considerations, I want to see what you mad lads will do with it all!

NM: I can’t wait to see people playing our stuff, talking about it, getting pissed off by it, just enjoying it. It’s also a little frightening as sharing your writing makes you feel really quite vulnerable, but seeing people immerse themselves and escape to our world that we’re so proud of will be amazing.

MR:What I like about Kenshi is customisation. Being able to customise and make our own world is the best experience I can personally expect from a game. With that in mind and knowing all the planned assets, I’m very excited to have unlimited ways of making things for my own playthrough. People who played the first game understand my point, however, I think the experience and scale of what we as players can experience in Kenshi 2 will be significantly different and unique.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell the fans about?

CT: So much, but I wouldn’t want to ruin Dan’s marketing plan by spilling all our beans now.

All good things come to those who wait 😉

A sneaky peek at Kenshi 2

Okay that was a lot of text. How about something a bit more visual? Here’s a screenshot…as a treat.

Please note – this is not representative of final quality and is prior to us adding UE5’s Lumen lighting features. We have brightened this night-time shot a little just to bring out the detail in the rocks. That’s the only edit.

Out now – Kenshi Free Camera Mode

We know that sometimes it can be a pain trying to get a perfect angle when recording videos or taking a screenshot in Kenshi. Clipping can drive you mad, character close-ups are near impossible and the camera sticking to the ground can be a right faff. And what if you just want to move the camera vertically? 

Well we’ve a small update to address the above problems that also adds a handy lil rule of thirds overlay grid for getting those perfect shots.

We’d like to set some expectations here: this isn’t an all-singing AAA photo mode with a ton of filters, facial expression controls or time-of-day changes. As we’ve said many times before – we’re spending our time pretty much exclusively on Kenshi 2 right now. But these little additions and fixes helped our internal team creating Kenshi content, so we thought we’d pass them on to the community. 

If you’re wanting to go a little further with your shots and add some depth-of-field et al, you could always (at your own risk) give the impressive post-processing injector ReShade a go. Just be aware that any performance issues experienced using ReShade fall outside our remit.

If you experience any issues after the update, please read this post on how to report crashes or bugs and make a post in the Lo-Fi Games forum, ensuring that you’re nice to our lovely moderators.

Free Camera Mode Content

We asked a few Kenshi content creators to give an early version of the Free Camera Mode a go and they were kind enough to oblige. While we had some pretty high expectations for the content we were blown away by what they delivered in such a short amount of time. Check it out below:

Warning: Some spoiler content in videos

Slippin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DjInXsvKIM

Twisted Logic Gaming https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW6Xn5OmGbg

Hero In His Head https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6s_kTNUTnM

Maximal Freak https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8C0qXVW17Ow

ニコニコマン – ニコニコ動画 ▶ https://youtube.com/watch?v=aLXjYUugLH8 

オヤッサンのゆっくり動画ch ▶ https://youtu.be/ux0etKfaJ9g

しろいろ- ニコニコ動画 ▶ https://youtu.be/NGtHMvsfk14

先生(せんせい) ▶https://youtu.be/uI3MaPOQo_8

Ou’s role play ▶https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EhTdACpz2A

 
 
 

 

#KenshiFreeCam Contest

To celebrate the release of the Free Camera Mode, we’re holding a screenshot competition. Three lucky winners will each win one of our lovely Beak Thing Hoodies.

Screenshots must be unmodded, fit into one of the below categories, and be submitted before the 21st April. Winners will be announced on 29th April on our social media.

Categories

Landscape – Whether you’re setting off on a new adventure or heading to a familiar place, go ahead and capture the amazing landscapes that you go through to get to your destination. 

Action – From swords, bows and martial arts, we want to see your squad in action. This category is a great opportunity to try out the ‘camera rotate’ feature, as adding a tilt to your photos can help create a sense of motion.

Character – It’s time to show off your best character. For this category, you should showcase one character. They can be stealing, training, drinking, etc. but your main character needs to be the focus of the photo.

To enter your screenshots, share them on X (Twitter), Instagram, Threads, 哔哩哔哩账号 or in our Discord and please state in your post what category you’re submitting to, along with the hashtag #KenshiFreeCam. Feel free to tag our accounts, especially if you’re submitting photos on Instagram as this will make it easier for us to find your submissions.

Winners will be hand-picked by the Lo-Fi team, whose judgement will hinge on creativity and category suitability.

All submissions must adhere to our competition terms and conditions and the Official Kenshi Discord Server rules found in the “📏rules-and-faq📏” channel.

Midweek Deal – Kenshi is 67% off

One last thing – Kenshi is 67% off on Steam until April 8, so if you’ve not yet bagged yourself a copy, or if you have a friend you’ve been trying to get on the Kenshi train, now’s a good time to give them a poke. 

Thanks for reading and as always – a big thank you to our community. That’s all for now. Be sure to come and say hello in our Discord, follow us on the socials 以及 sign up to our newsletter.

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