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Project Spotlight: Project Genesis World Overhaul


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Today we are talking to Atlasroar, Swishos, and GregAmazingNinja from the Project Genesis World Overhaul - a massive, all-encompassing overhaul mod for Kenshi - a squad-based RPG based in a desolate, post-apocalyptic world that infamously does not care about you.


BigBizkit: Could you guys give us a little bit of an introduction as to what your roles are on the project?


Atlasroar: Of course! Hey all, I'm Atlas! I'm the community/server manager for the Genesis Modding Guild. I provide backend support for the server and finalize all posts made to ensure they are fun and easy to read :). I started off this journey just trying to make load orders work better for everyone. After doing a lot of research and realizing no one had any idea of what they were talking about when it comes to load orders, I decided it was time to sit down and finally try something I had 0 idea of what to do. After making a post that I was using LOOT as the basis for the idea, Greg found me on Reddit and invited me. After a month or so of pretty fast growth in Swishos' super-secret Discord, we decided to "move out". I made some recommendations on how to set things up, improve security and posts and Greg said: "You're hired".


Swishos: Hey guys I'm Sam! Or as I'm better known, Swishos. After playing Kenshi for some time I quickly began looking for mods that added to the current world. Something I always noticed was how empty a lot of the areas are, some areas of the map clearly got more love than others. Oddly enough it was Ninja Greg's Avalon Isles mod that inspired me to start modding myself. It was one of the few mods I had found that added new factions to the map but also utilized a previously empty part of the map. I had previous experience with JavaScript and HTML5 but knew nothing about Kenshi modding going in. But with how the “Forgotten Construction Set” is set up I was able to self teach myself in a week or so through trial and error ^^. 


GregAmazingNinja: Hi I'm Greg, I'm one of the leads for the Genesis team and I do most of the level data edits. I also have one of the most essential jobs which is maintaining the server that allows everyone to access the overhaul files so our team can all work on it simultaneously all across the globe. I also do the tedious job of merging all the mod files into the overhaul.


What would you say are the main features of Project Genesis World Overhaul and what was your inspiration?


GregAmazingNinja: The overhaul's main features include the complete restructure of every location with an improved version of it (larger, more decorated towns), the addition of hundreds of new locations, factions, quests, and the ability to lay siege to cities.


As for what inspired me personally, it's all my past gaming experiences that influenced our vision for the overhaul. I poured over 2000 plus hours into Skyrim during junior high school and I loved being able to go anywhere I wanted and finding something unique and receiving a quest to adventure further. I also poured countless hours into Mount and Blade Warband which had a lot of army management, politics, and fielding armies or sieging cities. With the implementation of the siege mechanics to Kenshi, I feel like we're just now scratching the surface as to what's possible with regards to how intricate and complex this game can become.



To those who are only now hearing about Project Genesis for the first time, how would you describe what it is?


Swishos: The first thing I would say is that the “Project Genesis World Overhaul” and the “Project Genesis Modding Guild” are two very different things. The overhaul itself as you can imagine from the name is our planned project to fill out and expand upon the entire world of Kenshi, while keeping true to the game's lore. This includes new factions, cities, quests, dialogue and a lot more. All the new content we always try to link back to some of the vanilla lore so it feels like it was always meant to be part of the Kenshi world.


Now for the Modding Guild itself, we wanted it to be a place where any and every modder could come to share their work, help others complete their work or get the help they require. One location where we could focus all of the modding talent Kenshi has to offer in one place. Since initial conception though we have already incorporated a Mount & Blade modding community and are looking at expanding to other games in the future. Another feature of our guild is that we are happy to support any of our members whenever possible, this can come in the form of promoting their mods on release or even supporting their Youtube/Twitch accounts through our Discord server ^^ 


In the future, we are also going to be looking at a shared community account for Nexus Mods, as we have noticed a serious lack of mods being released to the Nexus which means for members/players who don't play through Steam they miss out on a lot of mods. So looking forward we plan on using this community account to upload members mods to the Nexus (with permission of course) this way it's no extra work for them but everyone gains access to all the mods coming out of our guild.



Project Genesis will be touching on many aspects of the base game. One addition that stands out is city sieges - massive battles between rival factions. Could you explain how exactly sieges will work in your overhaul?




GregAmazingNinja: Before we delve into sieges we need to understand how the base game handles town overrides. So when a player kills/captures a leader of a faction, the player leaves the area and when they next return the city is taken over by a rival faction. We’ve completely done away with that and replaced it with a linear progression of these massive city battles that the player needs to take part in in order for the rival faction to take over. To get technical, it is an intricate tree of yes and no statements that determine how and when sieges occur. As we continue to add more sieges it will only get more complex in structuring the world states and dialogue for it. We actually have a developer diary going into great detail as to how they work. 



Is there a particular new feature or mechanic that you are most proud of?


GregAmazingNinja: Well we're still technically in the alpha phase. But as of now, It’s the city sieges. That’s literally the crowning achievement of our overhaul, as no one’s done it before. When it comes to other games it might be a small achievement but in the Kenshi base game you take out a leader, leave the area and another faction "takes over". And we thought "Huh… that's it?". We took that idea and ran with it. If you want to take out any leader in a movie or video game you always gotta go through some enemies right? So that's what we did. We plan to expand this system to almost every town and faction. So just that alone is a huge achievement to the overhaul itself.



How did you form as a team and decide to put a massive project like this into action? 


Swishos: When I released my first popular mod The Hook Expansion back in April and it caught the eye of Greg. Soon after, I got a message from him asking about concerns of compatibility of our mods. We eventually came to the conclusion that by combining our mods together it would allow us to focus all our time on a single project and not have the issue of updating/patching multiple smaller mods.


As this idea expanded we began to think why not look at other modders with similar mindsets to us? Originally using the Steam community we quickly found a lot of interest in the project which led us to creating the Project Genesis Steam group so we had somewhere to organise everything, plus a Google Drive for the team. It was at this stage Greg and I decided it would be possible for us to do a complete game overhaul with the support we were already getting.


Not even a month after this and our project had grown beyond what we had ever imagined, the demands for a Discord could no longer be ignored. However, we wanted more than just a place to talk about our mod, with so many people interested not just in the project but modding, in general, it was decided to create a modding guild. A place where anyone could come to learn how to mod, help others where needed or receive the help you need to finish your own mod. Within two months of having the Discord server we were partnered with the Official Kenshi Discord and now have 700+ members and are still growing. ^^



Your overhaul is a combination of many impressive Kenshi mods, but it is also far more than just the sum of its parts. What was the process of putting all the pieces together like?

GregAmazingNinja: The addition of other mods was an afterthought at first. We began this project with the intent of creating an overhaul that adds hundreds of new locations and quests. What posed as an obstacle was the Functioning market stalls mod. It would have taken a tremendous amount of time to create a patch for a mod like that, so I just reached out to the author of that mod and asked if he wanted his mod to be in our base overhaul. He said yes, and so did every other mod author we asked. We’ve merged a large amount of mods that we deemed “lore friendly” only in the sense that it didn’t break existing lore. Because of the massive list of merged mods, our overhaul now served a second purpose, and that was to shrink load orders. As for the process of merging mods, it’s incredibly tedious and can only be done by someone who has direct access to the main overhaul file. If the mod that I’m merging has assets like textures and meshes and tons of weapons and armor, it will take me hours to sort through everything and rewrite all the file directories.




(Image by 5518 Studios)


To those who have yet to play it: can you explain what makes Kenshi as a game unique and especially appealing to modders?


Atlasroar: Yes, yes I can. Chris (the creator of the game) did a wonderful job of creating this world that just doesn't care about you. As a squad-based open-world game this game just really doesn't care about you. Your starting faction name is "nameless". Yeah, you're not the hero, or the chosen one. You are literally no one. With that said, you can write any story you put into your head. You can be anyone. A mercenary, a slaver, an anti-slaver, a farmer, a miner, an explorer, you can build your own city and grow your faction. Even at "end game" the game still just doesn't care about you. You'll get sold into slavery and beaten, you'll have the wrong guy (or girl) talk to the wrong person and just like that. You're a filthy heathen and now you're a slave, or maybe you're starving and poor, get sent to jail, or maybe you're starving and poor and dying, someone might help you and give you food. Until you learn how the world works, the world will try to relentlessly kill you. When you finally do know how the world works, well that's when it really tries to kill you. When it comes to modding. The system is a mess and can be hard to work with until you really get into it and bare your knuckles. But, the people of the Kenshi community are what make this game thrive.


If you play Kenshi you earn your support and your place. That's our gatekeeper. Is this game “Dark Souls” hard? No, but this game is so stupidly unforgiving, funny, and frustrating at times that it pretty much builds your character as a person. Yet, that is what makes modding here so rewarding. You'll have random people drop by and say "hey you forgot to set up this or this",  you'll see modders sit down in one of the Discords and blow up chat for 10 hours straight as they work out how to make a custom building. It's the community as a whole that makes modding worth it for this game.



What tools did you guys use to create your mods?


GregAmazingNinja: The greatest tool we have is the Forgotten Construction Set, it’s a program that comes with every copy of Kenshi and we have the developers of Kenshi to thank for that. The second most important tool we use is an SVN server. I understand that the technology for SVN servers is a bit antiquated and that everyone uses Github now, but for the purposes of our overhaul, it’s been pretty straightforward. I run a server with the main overhaul folder and everyone on the team is able to access it directly. From there, our team members create sub mods with the overhaul enabled, which in turn get sent to me so I can manually merge it into the overhaul.



How did you learn how to mod the game (or other games)? Do you have any tips for budding mod authors?


GregAmazingNinja: For the longest time I’ve been obsessed with the idea of taking some of the ancient ruins you clear out as the player and turning it into a player home. Unfortunately, that wasn’t included in the base game; when I walked into a city with all these ruined buildings, I was a bit baffled as to why I couldn’t buy and repair some of them. From there I decided to try my hand at learning how to use the construction set included with the game. If there are any tips I could give new modders is to simply take what’s written in the base game already and rip it apart to understand how everything works. Dissecting and trial and error was the only way I learned. Anytime I got stuck, I’d look it up online, but for the most part, it’s experience and curiosity that’ll drive you to learn more about modding this game.


Atlasroar: My modding experience started right here on the Nexus. I haven't published anything on any account but some pictures but man have I sunk some hours into the mods I've made. When it comes to Kenshi or any game really - realistically start small. Add a unique character or learn how to create a unique asset. Once you have stuff like that down you can very easily get help expanding into different categories. Just like with any community that has mods, you'll find many people out there who really want to pass on their own knowledge. 


It might be competitive out here in the modding world but at the end of the day no one wants to see anyone fail. Even if you're just making "stuff" bounce (LOOKING AT YOU BETHESDA COMMUNITY). As for tips, the biggest tip I can give to new modders for any community is this: www.nexusmods.com. You're welcome. To the user who is reading this, you already have 100% free access to the greatest modding community of all time. With guides upon guides upon guides of how to use almost any tool under the sun here for your specific game. 


But on a more serious note. Mod because you love the game you play. Mod because you want to change something. Mod because it's fun. You think Guardly, the author of Really useful dragons mod was trying to become popular? No of course not.  It was fun! Modding doesn't have to be about views. It has to be about passion and fun. If it isn't fun and you are struggling to keep going then it's time to take a break. The whole point of mods is to add what you find fun and then they add it to the game for others.


How can people help you guys out or even join the project?


Atlasroar: While realistically we aren't actively looking for anyone, this doesn't mean we can't use more people. If anyone wants to stop by and help us out, feel free to do so by using our Discord link.  


While we do require you to have some knowledge of what you want to add to the game, it's pretty open-ended when it comes to joining the team. But even there at that point, what it really comes down to is we want to see that you have a passion to contribute to the team and the mod itself. 


We just recently took on someone who wanted to provide funnier dialogue and stories. They just want to provide the dialogue. They don't even want to actually put it into the game. This is a passion project, and with that said we just want to do this right. We want to really put time and effort into this to create something mindblowing for the Kenshi community to play with and hopefully set a precedent on how to mod Kenshi from here on out. We have many in our group who are constantly checking back in on older files just to make sure they are up to there own standards. As people learn and grow more in the team we have people who will resubmit mods and just say "this is a better version use this". It's stuff like that that makes the Genesis team really grow as a whole. Everyone here wants to help each other and support each other. That's what we're looking for when it comes to team members.


A big thank you to the team from Project Genesis World Overhaul for taking the time to respond to our questions. As always, if there are any mod authors or mod projects you'd like to hear about, don't hesitate to send a message to Pickysaurus and BigBizkit.

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Being in the Bethesda modding community, I'm deeply jealous of how cool the Kenshi modding community is to newcomers and shared projects. I haven't played Kenshi yet, but I want to. Especially since I've sent a couple mods art assets to use! :p


You guys are doing great, keep it up!

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Hmmm... very interesting. You sound like a great group of guys and Kenshi sounds interesting too. If it's as awesome of a free roam game as Skyrim then it may find a slot in my life. My interest is peeked for sure. I wish you all the best of luck in your venture and thank you for the insight.
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