Rudyard Kipling’s Kim is one of my favourite classic novels, a picaresque set in nineteenth-century India. When the Secret Games Company launched a Kickstarter for a video game adaptation, I was keen to find out more. Read on for my interview with developer Jeremy Hogan:
Hello, and welcome to the site! Please introduce yourself and The Secret Games Company.
Hi, I’m Jeremy Hogan, I’m a game designer from London, where I’ve worked in the games industry for the last 8 years. I founded The Secret Games Company to release two indie projects, board game Dreaming Spires and video game Rise: Battle Lines. A year ago, I left my job to work on indie projects full-time so I could start the development of our latest game, Kim, which has been Greenlit on Steam and is now on Kickstarter.
Please tell us about your adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s Kim. Based on the gameplay trailer, it looks like you’re translating Kim’s adventures into an open-world game reminiscent of Sid Meier’s Pirates or Space Rangers 2. Is this a fair reflection of what players can expect?
Yes those are fair comparisons; it’s a mix of genres so get ready for a long description… An RPG with branching dialogues, simple survival mechanics and light combat and stealth action in pause-able real time. I loved reading Kim and learning about colonial India and when I found out that Kipling’s work was in the public domain, I thought it was a unique opportunity to put such great writing into a game. Our gameplay was inspired by Expeditions Conquistador, FTL and Don’t Starve, another game it has a lot in common with is Sunless Sea.
According to the Kickstarter page, combat and stealth will be ‘more optional’ (reflecting the book, where Kim used wits rather than weapons). Can I ask — why include combat at all?
Kim has basic needs: food, rest, money but he can get these in many different ways. Stealthy thieving and combat are potential solutions as they would have been for a poor young boy from the streets of 1880s Lahore. Kipling has his hero mostly but not entirely avoid these perils but you may have different ideas!
What kind of dialogue challenges will there be in the game? I noticed that in the gameplay trailer, Kim puts on a disguise and fast-talks his way into a European club.
You discover all sorts of places and characters presenting different opportunities, everything from schools, jobs and secret missions to star-crossed lovers and mad Englishmen. It’s up to you how to spend your time and there is no right way to play. We’ve packed the game full of interesting decisions, inside and out of the conversations, for example, each mode of transport has pros and cons and your route around India is important. A lot of the time, outcomes are probabilistic and the levels and events are procedural so you never know how things will turn out.
Will the game have an “overarching” plot (e.g. the lama’s quest for the river, Kim’s search for the red bull – or, to use a game analogy, searching for your family in Pirates)? If so, how will this be handled?
We’ve made the game as non-linear as possible while still allowing the player to loosely follow the story of the book if they wish. There are quest lines with sequential missions and almost every event in the book can occur in the game but they are unlikely to happen in the same order. There are also characters and quests from many of Kipling’s other Indian stories as well as procedural characters with their own offers and requests.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers?
The price on Kickstarter is the lowest we will charge for the game during Early Access and the first year after launch so if you like the sound of it, please buy it now!
Kim is due for an Early Access release in March 2016.