Interview with Petr Kubicek (1428: Shadows over Silesia, KUBI Games)

Vor einiger Zeit bin ich auf das Videospiel „1428: Shadows over Silesia“ von KUBI Games aufmerksam geworden. Das Spiel wird nämlich auch für Blind und Sehbehinderte Spielende zugänglich sein. Da wollte ich einfach mal mehr zu wissen und habe den Developer um ein Interview gebeten. Also komme ich nun, ohne weiteres Geschwafel, nun zum Gespräch. Ich wünsche viel Spaß.

Hi Petr,
thank you very much for your time. Could you please say a little about yourself
so that the readers know who they are dealing with.

My name is Petr Kubicek and I am the indie developer of 1428: Shadows over Silesia. I’ve wanted to make games since I was a kid, but apart from a few smaller games for phones, this game is my first major project. Before the crowdfunding campaign, which allowed me to devote myself to the game full time, I worked as a programmer in a software company.

You are the developer behind the upcoming video game 1428: Shaoows over Silesia. Please tell us more about the setting.
It is a story-driven fantasy action adventure set in real medieval Europe. On the background of real historical events, the player takes on two antagonistic heroes. The Hussite Hetman Hynek and the Knight Hospitaller Lothar. Over time, their fates become entangled and they are forced to make a fragile truce to confront a much greater evil. The player explores the environment, solves puzzles, fights, but also sometimes has to sneak and pass by enemies undetected.

How did you get the idea?
That’s a longer story. Many years ago, I had a simple idea for a game. The player was to descend from the surface into dungeons, fight monsters there, and go lower and lower into the dungeons until they met and defeated the main villain. With each floor the difficulty was to increase. The player was to choose one of two characters at the start, and to make it more interesting, each character was to belong to a different faction. The factions were at war with each other on the surface, but the evil that came from underground was much more dangerous and threatened to destroy all humans, no matter what color their banner was. The idea had been sitting in a drawer for a long time because something was still missing and it wasn’t right. One day, by chance, I came across Andrzej Sapkowski’s Hussite trilogy. Even while reading it, I was fascinated by his world and thought it would be great as a game. In his books, Hussites and Catholics are at war with each other, and the main character has his own adventures in the background of historical events, fighting against an evil that doesn’t really care about religion. Only power. It clicked together and I thought it might fit beautifully for my game. Although it was a long way from the final concept, it was then that the decision was made that my future project should be set during the Hussite Wars.

How long have you been developing 1428: Shadows over Silesia?
The first work on the game started in the summer of 2019, which means I’ve been working on the game for almost 3 and a half years. I’ve been working on the game full-time since January thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign.

I ultimately became aware of your game because it offers accessibility for visually impaired players. What made you decide to do this?
It was actually a complete accident. I came across a live stream of one of the leading Czech gaming media where Lukáš Hosnedl, the future accessibility advisor for Shadows, was playing The Last Of Us and showing to the players how it works and how great it is to be able to play a big AAA game for the first time. I was impressed with how it worked, but at the same time I saw a lot of flaws that could very easily be improved. I found it to be an interesting programming challenge.

What kind of difficulties did you encounter? Who supported you in solving them?
I don’t think there were many. The next day after stream I contacted Lukáš to see if he could tell me what it would mean to make such accessibility for my game. A day later I sent him the first accessible version. It then took some time to finish all the features and tweak everything, but he and I both had a clear idea of how it should work, thanks in part to the great work Naughty Dog had done on TLOU. All we had to do was take it to the next level.

How is accessibility being received by gamers?
I’ll admit that most of the feedbacks are collected among blind players by Lukas, but from what I know, the accessibility features work very well. Players have more trouble with the game itself, as it’s not easy even for sighted players. So they run into the same problems with puzzles, challenging fights and so on.

Could you please explain how the controls differ between the sighted and the accessible version.
Neither the controls nor the way of playing are any different. Blind gamers have only a few extra buttons that other players don’t need, because they can see the information on the UI. For example, a button to navigate, turn to an item, or report a character’s status.

How nervous are you at the moment, so close to release?
I’m sorry I couldn’t answer the questions sooner, but the release of the game was really challenging. Since I’m the only developer behind the game, I handled everything myself. And as you can imagine, I was very nervous. Not so much about the actual acceptance of the game by the players, but rather getting everything done on time and working as it should.

We look to the near future. What will happen in the next 9-12 months?
There is no simple answer at the moment. I have some plans for possible DLC and I’d also like to get the game on consoles. But it will all depend on the results the game achieves by the end of the year. Unfortunately, they’re well below expectations so far, so it’s not certain that I’ll be able to continue. One has to pay the bills, so I may have to find other ways to pay them if the game doesn’t sell more.

If you want to experience the feeling of 1428: Shadows over Silesia, what books, movies, comics would you recommend?
First and foremost, definitely Andrzej Sapkowski’s Hussite trilogy. Then definitely the books and the Game of Thrones series, or The Witcher. From games I could name the original Fallout, or Broken Sword, but also other classic RPG’s and adventure games from the 90s.

Thank you for your time. the last words are yours
I would encourage players to give the game a try if they haven’t already. There’s a free demo with the entire first chapter, so you’re not taking any chances. If you like it, buy it 🙂 Thank you.

L I N K S

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