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INTERVIEW: Tom McKay on ‘Becoming Henry’ in Kingdom Come Deliverance

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INTERVIEW: Tom McKay on ‘Becoming Henry’ in Kingdom Come Deliverance

On April 18, Warhorse Studios lifted the lid on Kingdom Come: Deliverance II in the most epic way possible. With a stunning reveal trailer and a lengthy showcase that was equal parts explorative and regal, ‘KCDII’ was uncovered in full, filling fans worldwide with an immense sense of anticipation and excitement. It’s the direct follow-up to 2018’s Kingdom Come: Deliverance, and it has been in development for quite a while.

Recently, I had the pleasure of catching up with and interviewing

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, the instantly recognisable actor and white-hot talent behind Henry of Skalitz, the lead in both Kingdom Come: Deliverance and the sequel, which is due to be released later this year.

This is what I’ve dubbed ‘Becoming Henry’.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a stunning open-world game that’s rooted in realism. There is attention to detail in everything, from the *******-accurate combat mechanics to the survival elements that make the game challenging. It’s even set in a real-world location that was painstakingly researched by what was once a very small team –

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I’ve come to learn that the studio has expanded massively since the first game, and it’s now backed by PLAION. In my chat with Tom McKay, I was eager to rewind and learn how he came across the role in the first place, given that Kingdom Come: Deliverance was the first (and still the only) game franchise McKay has worked on.

McKay:It comes through the same channels as most of your acting work, and more and more in a way that I think is good and exciting, the worlds are kind of blending. Historically, they were very separate beasts, and a lot of TV, film, and theatre actors wouldn’t necessarily move between gaming and vice versa, but that’s happening more and more and there are lots of brilliant, big names doing it.

It was very much the same way that I would audition for any other job, and then I went out to Prague in like 2016 to meet everybody and do essentially a final audition, and that was it. Then they offered me the job. I don’t think anybody at that point, certainly not me, thought we’d be having this conversation eight years later – but the second game is so anticipated and I think that is absolutely brilliant.

I’m biased, but I’m seeing a lot of the work that the guys have done at Warhorse and it is completely mindblowing. It’s not just the kind of next level from the last game, it’s like fifty levels up from there, I think.

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I was interested to learn about the ‘switch’ between Kingdom Come: Deliverance and Kingdom Come: Deliverance II. It’s a different world to the one that existed several years ago when the first game was being pieced together, and that’s something that McKay confirmed as he broke down the intricacies of playing Henry of Skalitz.

McKay: ‘The biggest technical difference was the facial capture. We didn’t do live facial capture for the motion capture the first time around, and this time we did. We had big head cams, which make you look like stag beetles, which are technically challenging in a way – intimate scenes and ****** scenes are more challenging because you can’t get that close to each other. In terms of suits and the studio – we were in a different studio but it felt very similar.

In terms of extracurricular training, there isn’t a tonne. Most of us have done a basic level to get us to a good enough level, but when it becomes stunts, it becomes stunts, like it would on any other production. In terms of weaponry, we’ve got loads of photos and we’ll show them at various points, but the actual weapons are just hilarious, like polystyrene. That’s how they’re supposed to look, that’s how they look in every other motion capture studio, but they don’t look like the kind of beautiful, ornate, intimidating weapons you’ll see.

It was recently revealed that the voice acting portion of the production had wrapped up after a whopping 500 hours of studio time. Not being familiar with how that worked from an acting perspective, I engaged McKay with a question about the process:

McKay: ‘The first chapter of our involvement is the motion capture. We finished about two years ago, and on this occasion, it was two big chunks of roughly about six or seven weeks each. Those were separated by a ******* of maybe about four or five months. That was very much the kind of first brick in the wall from the acting perspective. From a developmental perspective, there’s a huge amount of work and a huge amount of people heavily involved well before any of us actors turn up. That was the same for the first time, it was even more so the case for this game because it’s much *******. We’re relatively late to the party in that respect.

The guys at Warhorse were very considerate about everything, but particularly about sort of ‘vocal stamina’ because there were so many lines for Henry. Anything the player can say in any iteration of the game has to be recorded, which is why it’s such a huge volume of material. I had to do eight-hour sessions, whereas most actors would do four-hour sessions because it’s more manageable vocally, but in terms of just getting through it, we realised that the only way we’d hit the targets and the deadlines was to just do eight-hour days. We started with the more vocally smooth stuff and then if there was any intense barking or anything like that, that was at the end of the day. And actually, the last day was about an hour of just absolute full-on screaming and yelling.’

Naturally, McKay couldn’t reveal any details about the game, but he did mention that the core ‘feel’ of the product is relatively the same as the first title:

McKay: ‘I’m not going to speak too much about that because I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say. I’m very much understood from all the feedback that the realistic element was key and a big part of its USP and it’s what made it ******* but my understanding is that it’s what made it really enjoyable. My understanding is that the very realistic element, the immersive element, is still very much the heart of this game.

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Kingdom Come: Deliverance II is reportedly ‘at least twice the size’ of the first game, both in terms of the map space available and the overall scope of the project. It’s an ambitious undertaking that is much more technically advanced than the first game, which was made evident by the stunning trailer that Warhorse Studios showcased little more than a month ago.

McKay confirmed he’d never played the first game as he ‘isn’t a massive gamer’, but he pledged to give Kingdom Come: Deliverance II a shot:

McKay: ‘Most of the staff I know very well on a personal level now, we’ve become very good friends, because you would never work with a team like this for that length of time at those close quarters in any other game. I see more consistently just by being in the office what’s being ********* day in, and day out, and it’s absolutely mindblowing. Yeah, I will definitely be playing this game. In terms of my technical ability to play it well, that’s another matter.’

It isn’t yet known when Kingdom Come: Deliverance II will be released, but we’ve been given a window of 2024 – so within a few months, we’ll be back and in control of Henry of Skalitz, continuing the vast adventure that was kicked off way back in 2018.

If you want to stay connected with Tom McKay, you can

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. Alternatively, you can check out what
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#INTERVIEW #Tom #McKay #Henry #Kingdom #Deliverance

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