RPS Interview: CD Projekt on The Witcher

By Alec Meer on March 26th, 2008 at 12:52 pm.

While our own feelings about The Witcher hover around worthy-but-flawed, other folks felt it was easily last year’s best RPG. And, honestly, that’s more than enough to make it worth talking about here. Especially in light of the upcoming Enhanced Edition, which promises to redress the major complaints about the original.

I’m happily stunned that the new version’s happening, both because it proves that I’m not alone in finding that dialogue akin to chatting with a crack-addled hobo makes it hard to love the game, and because perhaps I’ll enjoy it this time around. It’s rare enough that a game’s most serious failings can be distilled into a key problem; rarer still that a game’s creators hold their hands up to it; impossibly rare that they fix it. Kieron’s take on the EE is that it’s the sort of professional perfectionism that lead to the Star Wars special editions (as in making ‘em slicker, not as in making Greedo shoot first), but I think of it more like some noisy young band taking the hipster scene by storm, then realising they need to learn to play their instruments properly if they want to make it /really/ big.

While we wait to find out what that new sound is like, we had a brief chat with CD Projekt RED’s Michal Medej, the game’s Chief Designer. Read on for his reasoning as to why the original translation fell down, how the Enhanced Edition fixes it, CD Projekt’s future, thoughts on Bioware and Bethesda and, yes, those infamous nudey collector cards.

Congratulations on The Witcher’s success. Did you expect it to prove so popular?

We always believed in it, that’s for sure. You can’t make games if you are not passionate, dedicated and convinced that you are making something extraordinary that will prove to be successful. That’s why I think saying we are “really surprised” would be simply insincere. Every developer silently expects a success and should deeply believe in it – it’s our internal “power source” that keeps us going through hard times. Still we are really happy that most people appreciated the idea behind The Witcher and understood what we wanted to achieve.

Was it daunting, breaking into a genre dominated by Bioware and Bethesda, and threatened somewhat by MMORPGs?

Personally I find it more motivational than daunting. It’s really fair competition and we are not “enemies” on the market, as there are very few good RPGs for players to choose from. Still, we do struggle to get the best reviews, scores and awards. I think we did really well because the genre tycoons grew a little overconfident and stuck to the old clichés. We had to come up with an idea for a new, fresh and modern RPG experience that would still feel familiar to Baldur’s Gate or Elder Scrolls fans. I think we were also a little faster in noticing that to compete with the more and more popular MMOs, you must offer a completely different experience. Many single-player RPGs still contain too many gameplay elements that are simply more exciting in a multiplayer game, like money grinding and random drops. Instead we focused on elements that just don’t play an important role in MMOs – a captivating storyline, meaningful choices, character interactions and emotions.

What caused the significant, let’s say “differences”, between the Polish and English dialogue in the original game?

It was hard lesson to be learned for us – the localization process. At beginning of the development we had to make production estimates for the amount of English text to be recorded, and we based it on our experiences with Polish localizations. The assumption we made was that, as Polish text after translation from English is usually about 20% longer, the reverse translation would be shorter by a similar amount. We just didn’t realize that we were using different measures – number of pages and number of words. Because of how the English language works out, the resulting translation was way too much for recording, which came into play at the very last stage of development. We had a really short time to edit all of the English dialogues, shortening them by 30%. So basically, the original translation was really good; it was just trimmed due to production.



How aware of them were you when the game shipped, and how important do you think it was to the English version of the game?

We were aware that the quality of text was not quite as high as the Polish one, that’s for sure. Still, as I said, it was at the last stage, when there was nothing to be done – we did our best to make English version as good as possible in the limited time that was available. However, it is still extremely important for us to produce an English version of AAA quality, which is part of the reason we are working on the Enhanced Edition right now. One of the main features will be an updated translation into English.

What, exactly, has been done to the dialogue in the Enhanced Edition?

Simply put, this time we are giving much more time to our writers, translators and editors, as they did a really good job, but lacked the time to polish it. Moreover, we now have feedback from players, so we’ve been able to thoroughly examine all dialogues and conversations. If necessary, we’ve translated them once more, then edited them so they don’t lack context, and finally, we recorded new voiceovers.

Why make an Enhanced Edition, rather than spend all that the time and money on an add-on or sequel?

It’s obvious – we want to make only perfect games, and that’s our priority. The Witcher is a great game that was flawed mostly because we didn’t have much production experience. Now we want to make it perfect. It might sound crazy, but we believe gamers will appreciate that. We want to achieve the reputation as one of those few developers that makes excellent and perfect games, even if it means taking more time and money to achieve that goal. I think it’s worth it.

Is The Witcher now as you always hoped it would be?

Hope is not a good word. We are a company with 14 years of experience as a publisher, so we don’t “hope” but rather “plan”. The Witcher was planned to be the cornerstone of our game development efforts – a AAA quality production that would be considered the best RPG of the year. It’s a goal we’ve now achieved. Given infinite money and time, we wouldn’t make more any changes than those already planned for Enhanced Edition. It’s time to move ahead with even more challenging goals in mind.

What element of the game are you most proud of?

There are many elements that, as a team and company, we are proud of. It’s really hard to pick only one of them, as every time I watch the game, I’m personally amazed with every single element – be it the beauty of the landscapes, hard-to-forget NPCs, vivid dialogues, exciting combat or just the charismatic Geralt himself. I think I’m mostly proud of the ending, which gives many answers, leaves some questions and makes you think about the whole story again – judging your own decisions and actions. It’s the kind of reflection not many games can give you.

What was the motive for making sex into a collectable card mini-game? Were alternative ways of including sexual content considered?

Our game is based on Sapkowski’s books, which are full of erotic content and even if there are not many sex scenes, the reader has a strong feeling that passion and lust are probably one of the most powerful driving forces in the world. We did wanted to express the same feeling in the game, and sticking to dialogues didn’t seem like enough – as it’s an RPG, the player should have freedom in his actions. We really tried to make it as subtle as possible, and came up with the idea of generally tasteful artwork that acts as some kind of collectible medieval pin-up girl. Of course the alternative was either to exclude erotic content from the game or show it much more realistically. I think we made the best possible choice.

Did you ever expect the cards to be controversial? And do you think the people who consider them offensive have a point?

It depends on the territory – in some countries we did think it would be controversial, especially in America, but not in Germany, for example. And the people who consider the cards offensive have a freedom of choice; they don’t have to collect them. Actually, those cards express their choices; so if the decided to have sex with a girl in the game, why would they feel offended by her naked breasts? And we really made those cards more into classy artwork than vulgar sex scenes, which I hope is obvious.

How did the need to be faithful to the novels affect what you wanted to do with the game?

Using a good license — because I’m not talking about making games based on some stupid ones — has all possible advantages over creating a universe from scratch, save one: you can’t invent your own IP. You get a well described and established universe that was proven to be commercial success. It helps not only with PR and marketing, but also makes internal communication much faster and precise. Not to mention that it doesn’t require huge amounts of time to prepare some consistent background, characters, names, places, maps, etc. And I don’t agree with some people who find that it limits their imagination – I’m pretty convinced that its limitations actually force you to be more creative.

Would The Witcher would have been very different if made by a Western developer? Or do the fundamental mechanics of a strong roleplaying game outweigh such cultural differences?

Cultural differences definitely have a great impact on the game. The Witcher would certainly have been different, even if it was made by another team in Poland. It might be quite similar if developed by another European company. It’d have been a completely different style of RPG if done by Americans. I can bet I’d never recognize it’s even “witcher-like” if the game had been made by a Japanese developer. I’m not even trying to imagine which would be better… but for sure they would be different.
We didn’t want to make a “Polish game” as we did want to make it universal and accessible for everyone all over the world. But still we encouraged our designers to use our own culture as a base for ideas, as it’s something we understand the best and can use to make The Witcher unique. I think it’s a question that requires a much expansive answer.

What next for CD Projekt RED? Is more Witcher the priority, or will you pursue new IPs and new genres?

Our goal is to establish The Witcher as a strong, worldwide brand and we are just at the beginning of that journey. So, for now, The Witcher is our priority and we have great plans connected with it for the next few years.

Were you guys affected by the passing of Gary Gygax? Would the Witcher have happened if D&D had never been?

I think we were the second cRPG web site that published news about his death, which proves he was really important for most people in the team. I’m completely sure that there wouldn’t be The Witcher without this guy, as even Sapkowski knows and played D&D. Even if you find many of The Witcher elements to be anti-Gygaxian, still we are just mere evolution of what he started.

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47 Comments »

  1. James T says:

    Good on ya, RPS! (Does Kieron seriously think the ‘EE’ is going to do for Witcher what the SW rereleases did to those movies? Eesh!)

    …Although, that said, what’ve they done to Carmen’s texture? I mean, it works since she’s a prostitute, but I hope the rest of the characters don’t end up too much like that…

    “You’ve got it set on ‘whore’!”)

    Good to hear they’re planning on more.

  2. Alex says:

    Loved the game, eventhough the load/save times in the original unpatched game made me want to tear my face off.

    I do hope that Gillen was joking on comparing the EE to the raving lunacy of the Neckless Wonder.

  3. derFeef says:

    I stopped playing this great game after chapter 3. I dont know why tough… Maybe I am going back with the enhanced Version. Btw – the German texts and speeches of The Witcher are the worst I ever heard in a video game.

  4. dhex says:

    the fact that they’re going through with this massive free update for existing customers is enough to inspire some severe brand loyalty here.

    (even though eyes rolled hard at the attachment of “tasteful” to the card are issue.)

    i look forward seeing what they do with the localization. i didn’t think it was as horrible as others did, though it certainly wasn’t the best thing i’ve ever read.

  5. Butler` says:

    They’ve certainly got a lot of bark, but I’m not convinced about their bite.

    Even if all the proposed changes go in successfully, I still think this is an 8/10 game.

  6. Alex says:

    Even if all the proposed changes go in successfully, I still think this is an 8/10 game.

    Eventhough I’m not much of a score junky myself – what’s wrong with 8 out of 10? Surely that’s a fantastic score.

  7. Volrath says:

    8/10 which means EPIC FAIL RIGHT? I loved the game, I love their attitude and I love that this post release content is FREE. They’ve acquired at least one faithfull costumer here.

  8. Mr Wonderstuff says:

    Fab game…atmosphere and environments were beautifully realised.

  9. Ravenger says:

    I loved the game. Like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. it has flaws (mainly poor dialogue and acting), but the entire experience is so good you can overlook them. Certainly the further into the game you get the better it becomes.

    It’s the only game I’ve played where the choices you make are difficult and the outcomes not obvious. Each choice seems equally valid, you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. I liked the way that it showed you the unforseen consequences of your actions, often quite a while after you’d made the original decision. A refreshing difference from the KOTOR style obviously evil/obviously good paths you find in most RPG’s.

    An honorable mention goes to the music – it’s wonderful. And even better it’s in OGG format so you can just lift it from the game folders and listen to it separately.

    I’m in two minds about buying the special edition, or upgrading my current version.

    I recently picked up ‘The Last Wish’ which is the only Witcher book translated into English. It’s a collection of short stories, and it’s pretty good. Funnily enough it too suffers from a slightly poor translation, but the actual stories and characterisations are great. It’s also got the original story of how Geralt fights the Striga which features as the Witcher game intro. It’s also very interesting to see the original material the game was based on, and many of the in-game spells, potions, characters and locations make an appearance.

  10. Butler` says:

    Sorry, I obviously didn’t make my point well enough…

    The game is currently an 8/10 game.

    After all the enchancements, it’ll still be an 8/10 game.

  11. fluffy bunny says:

    Great interview, great game, great devs. It’s stuff like this that makes me happy to be a PC-gamer.

    “An honorable mention goes to the music – it’s wonderful. And even better it’s in OGG format so you can just lift it from the game folders and listen to it separately.”

    Hmm… I’m going to fire up Audiosurf tonight, then :)

  12. Okami says:

    I think I’ve stated my love for The Witcher here time and again. The plot and the whole consequences of your actions thing really made you forget that basically all you were doing was to run from point A to point B twenty times before you unlocked point C. From which you would run twenty times to points A and B and back.

    It also has the best combat system of any pc based action rpg ever. Which isn’t really saying that much because those usually suck. But still…

  13. Chaz says:

    I agree with Ravenger that like Stalker, although it has it’s flaws it’s still one of the best most unique gaming experiences I’ve had recently. I really like that whole post Soviet, Eastern European thing of the grey skies, wilderness and decay.

  14. Tikey says:

    I really want this game, and this is the perfect excuse to buy it, unfortunately here in Thirdworldcountryland is pretty hard to get a hold on good -not pirated- games at a good price. Do you know anything about a online pre-order for the Enhanced Edition?
    And it seems that my country has been banned from the Atari store. :(

  15. Alec Meer says:

    James T: that’s a screen from my review build of the original game. Is she markedly different in the production version?

  16. Zuffox says:

    I can’t equate the tone (the positive nature of it) towards the game to what has been said about the game before ; naturally Kieron doesn’t have the exact same opinion as- … was it Alec Meer? But since the one Witcher “review” at RPS is to be seen as somewhat representative of the whole crew, unless counterargued visibly by the other crew members, I think this is a little inconsistent, even though you of course have to oblige the people who are friendly enough to star in an interview.

    And how is The Witcher the “obvious” choice for best RPG of 2007; it isn’t “a priori” obvious, particularly taking earlier statements about The Witcher into account.
    Has the NWN2 expansion, Mask of the Betrayer, for instance, been considered for best cRPG – or has it been discounted being an expansion – to mention some questions that need be addressed.

    As a side note; could you please – also for future reference – state if the above screens are from the EE or the vanilla version?

    Tikey: Witcher will be available through Steam eventually according to Atari.

    [edit]Alec just posted his[/edit]

  17. Ohle says:

    For now, everything will have been from the core version… we haven’t released any EE content yet!

  18. Alec Meer says:

    I’d recommend carefully re-reading the introduction, sir. Most of your questions are answered there. Again, worthy but flawed (to varying degrees) is essentially what we’ve all said, though unfortunately that’s been misreported or misread in some quarters.

    For the record though, a post on RPS never represents the entire foursome’s opinion, unless it’s credited to ‘RPS’ rather than an individual. You may disagree, but that’s our approach – otherwise we’d be bickering so much that we’d never get anything posted.

    Pics are all from the original version.

  19. Nuyan says:

    I didn’t like the Witcher when I played it for a short while after it was out for a couple of weeks. The dialogue, the cliche experience hunting, the loading times and some serious bugs in my first hour of playing..

    But I think I actually might buy it when this EE comes out. I really liked this interview and the given answers as well.

  20. Zuffox says:

    Worthy but flawed, it is – cool beans. Thanks for clearing up.

  21. Turin Turambar says:

    Apart from Portal, i don’t think there was a “good” game what wasn’t “worthy but flawed”.

    Bioshock, CoD4, Crysis, all of them were more flawed.

  22. Andrew Armstrong says:

    The expanded edition might make me replay the ending, catch all 3 of them. I only finished it after the newer patch which drastically reduced load times to a bareable amount.

    Fun game, I enjoyed the combat in it a lot – throwing monsters around is usually quite fun :)

    Neat interview – although the sex was kinda dismissed, and it was done in a very “silly” way, given you simply ask (or at one point, shockingly, present an item), and there is no men to go with either.

  23. Kadayi says:

    An RPS interview with the Devs of The Witcher….I’ll say nothing. Still good to read, definitely looking forward to this (BTW it’s be a free upgrade patch if you already own the game AFAIK).

    I think Ravenger sums up nicely my particular take on the whole game:-

    “It’s the only game I’ve played where the choices you make are difficult and the outcomes not obvious. Each choice seems equally valid, you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. I liked the way that it showed you the unforseen consequences of your actions, often quite a while after you’d made the original decision. A refreshing difference from the KOTOR style obviously evil/obviously good paths you find in most RPG’s.”

    I also agree with the comparison to Stalker. There is definitely a different mentality at work in terms of what Eastern European developers are up to. Another case in point would be Boiling point by Ukrainian outfit Deep shadows a game that’s broken and flawed but at the same time insanely ambitious.

    With Mass effect out on PC around about the same time I’m looking forward to comparing the two games in terms of how they play. My brief stint on my friends 360 left me ambivalent about ME.

    Be interesting to see whether EDGE reassess it as they dolled out the worse score for it (5/10), although the review itself was pretty mediocre, and off base quite a bit (and EDGE are up their own arses a lot tbh).

  24. Okami says:

    Hmmm… Andrew has a good point there. Why not some hot man-on-man action? Geralt lost his memory, he can’t be sure he’s not gay until he’s given it a try.. If there was an equal number of guy cards to collect, you couldn’t call the game sexist anymore, could you?

    And let’s face it: Siegfried’s hot. The whole manly knightly order thing with the brothers-in-arms attitude. Those long cold nights in the swamps can get lonely, and I’ve never seen any women accompanying Order soldiers..

  25. Stromko says:

    Mass Effect and The Witcher are comparable in some ways, and not others. They both have love-or-hate combat systems (though I enjoyed both), they both give a sense of their unique setting with very high fidelity, they both have annoying loading times.

    Mass Effect is noticably shorter I’d say, it’s definitely not a 60 hour RPG, probably not a 40 hour RPG. I have heard the Witcher clocks in around 80 hours, though I’ve only gotten to chapter 2.

    Mass Effect flows pretty smoothly so long as you don’t take a certain mission too early and get stuck on a really tough fight. The Witcher is pretty damn hard, and I quit in Chapter 2 after getting stuck in an impossible fight in some random person’s basement! That chapter sorta sucked anyway and was strongly plagued by dodgy writing. I feared I was going to get a pin-up card from the detective since Geralt mysteriously wanted to stay over for the night to avoid a fight, a fight that was inevitable anyway. Eh.

    I do hear it got better in the later chapters, but I’m waiting for EE before I take another stab at completing the Witcher.

  26. Benjamin Barker says:

    It’s funny– make sure your units of measure are consistent! True for that lost Mars lander, true for translating video games.

    I agree (every time I read it) with how amazing and rare this Enhanced Edition idea is. I was in Chapter 5 or so, weary of and confused by the bizarre, dimwitted things the characters were saying, when this was announced, and now I can’t play another minute without it. I hope the voice acting is a bit better too.

    I hadn’t gleaned from anything else I’ve read that the company was a publisher first. I went to wikipedia and what did they publish? I find the answer a bit ironic considering how The Witcher in English, and apparently in German, turned out: They published translations. Of Baldur’s Gate and Planescape, by the way, & for the Polish market of course. But considering this EE development, that history makes me like them all the more, both for the association with those games (how much time and effort do you think translating Planescape took?!), and for most likely helping them know the importance of a good translation.

  27. Nick says:

    Good lord, translating PS:T must have been some undertaking.

  28. wcaypahwat says:

    I’m annoyed that they keep releasing these patches and improvements. i bought on release and still am only in the first chapter. if only because i want to play i as it *should* be…. hopefully wont be too long a wait.

  29. James T says:

    James T: that’s a screen from my review build of the original game. Is she markedly different in the production version?

    Oh, maybe my ageing card’s settings bleached her texture out a bit, like it seems to do with a few games (or CDP just changed it between review and final version); she didn’t seem quite so… ‘tarted up’ about the face when I played it. It’s actually quite suitable for a cod-Medieval prozzie, but I wouldn’t want, say, Abigail or Shani looking like that. But that’s all completely moot, because the pic is apparently of an old texture! Stop talking, James!

    (‘Ohle’, are you a CDP person? Good for you, sir!)

    (…give Geralt a jump button though.)

    I also agree with the comparison to Stalker. There is definitely a different mentality at work in terms of what Eastern European developers are up to. Another case in point would be Boiling point by Ukrainian outfit Deep shadows a game that’s broken and flawed but at the same time insanely ambitious.

    There’s also the recent Death to Spies, which in my opinion isn’t quite ready to leave the figurative oven yet, but which shows a lot of promise. So, I wonder, has the Eastern European ‘scene’ only just awoken, or has it always been there, and Western publishers have just started to take a bit more notice?

  30. FableMaster says:

    Witcher sure is not just another 8/10 game no its more like an 9/10 game, minimum 8,5/10.

  31. ELRIC says:

    BUTT-KICKING!!!

  32. Ravenger says:

    The Eastern European scene has been going decades. Hungarian developer Andromeda produced Scarabaeus on the C64 back in the eighties, and that was a quirky, flawed game, but with some great graphics and technology, and very atmospheric audio. And of course they were partly responsible for the introduction of Tetris to the west.

  33. Pwnan the Lolbarian says:

    Keep on doin’ these industry interviews, the intarwub loves ‘em. I’ve thought about buying The Witcher on several occasions but now I’ll definitely buy the EE.

  34. David says:

    The “We really tried to make it as subtle as possible” caption over the Chesty McGiantboobs screen was hilarious.

  35. Thiefsie says:

    I’ll be buying the EE. I’ve bought very few games lately (yes I am naughty) but this action alone of fixing it makes it worthwhile, let alone I believe the game would be worth it.

  36. Olhera says:

    10/10 why? Game is brilliant (but i’m from Poland) and I love this game!!!

  37. Krupo says:

    Can’t wait for EE to come out.

    LMFAHS @ the ‘Chesty McGiantboobs’ observation.

    Well, at least they’re covering the ‘key’ part.

  38. James T says:

    Well, at least they’re covering the ‘key’ part.

    I wish they’d stop toying with us right-shoulder fetishists.

  39. Baksheesh says:

    I really liked the conquest card game. It was nice to see sex in an RPG. It may not be super-mature, but I think it is as mature as RPGs’ approach to violence, morality and all other aspects of the world. Its also nice to have something esle to focus on besides straight XP and loot as a driver in game-play. Its also no less mature in its approach to sex from many movies and books.

    I am really surprised by how much negative reaction there has been to these cards. To me it is just a fun little extra, but almost everything I read about it has been negative

    BTW, I stopped in chapter 3 too (or was it chapter 4 – after you left the city again). I felt the story lost focus and I was running around another stone picking up stories aimlessly. The dialogue problems definetly didn’t help.

    I am looking forward to trying the game again post EE-patch and I will probably by the EE to support the devs.

  40. KCepic says:

    “BTW, I stopped in chapter 3 too (or was it chapter 4 – after you left the city again). I felt the story lost focus and I was running around another stone picking up stories aimlessly. The dialogue problems definetly didn’t help.”

    This seems to be the case with a lot of people who played the game.

    I was in the same boat. Somewhere in the middle of chapter 3 the focus started to wander, and I was on the verge of quitting. But luckily it got back on track after a little bit and the game picked up again.

    If you can put in the time to get past that out-of-focus section, I think you will find that the later-part of the game makes it even more enjoyable.

  41. Daneel53 says:

    For all those that seems deceived by the english version, I must state that the french one is excellent. So I hope for all english version players that the EE will bring to their ears all the pleasure that we have to play it in french.

    The loading times are not any more a problem for a decent PC since the patch 1.2, so let’s forget this drawback (except maybe for the unfortunates under Vista).

    The sexy cards? You have them only if you search to have them, so if you don’t want to see (very very soft) sex in The Witcher, you won’t.

    The Witcher is the most involving solo RPG I’ve played since a very long time, and the choices we sometime have to make in the game cause serious personal questions: what would you do in the real world in such situation? Would you save Abigail or let her burned by the population because it’s not your business? It’s the first time that racism and people’s differences oblige you to choices: are you a proud supporter of The Order (the humans), or do you, The Witcher, feel belonging to “the others” ?

    For those not yet belonging the game or not convinced, wait and try the EE. I hope it will give you all the pleasure many of us (already) have with this game.

    And I definitively don’t understand how it’s possible to state that the rate will stay unchanged (8/10) BEFORE anybody had a look upon the EE. You could be stunned !

    Note for David: You really thinks that Carmen on the picture has giant boobs? I’m not interrested in big sizes for such items in real life, and my opinion is that these ones have just the perfect medium size.

  42. AngleWyrm says:

    The advertisements on this website have at least as much sexual inuendo. Just look one column to the right.

  43. /b/ Finch says:

    So according to Butler, this is an 8/10 game based on paid off Bethesda critics from Metacritic? Yeah. Mhm. Sure… =\

    This game is easily an 8.75/10 to me, but after the enhancements and the removal of censorship and more animations, and of course, D’Jinni, it’ll be 9.5 at the very LEAST, dependant on the community and the learning curve of the toolset.

  44. Mark Stone says:

    This was one of the best RPGs as it was…EVER, despite the localisation issues and the load times pre patch 1.2. The storyline was incredible, the scenery beautiful, the characters with depth enough to make them seem real. IT IS HEAD AND SHOULDERS BETTER THAN THE CHILDISH CLAPTRAP OF Two Worlds, Oblivion, Gothic I, II & II, Prince of Persia, Neverwinter Nights I & II and any other recent medieval RPG which offered more style than substance (almost all in the past ten years). The Witcher is akin to Fallout, Torment and dare I say it, yes, even the Baldur’s Gate series in that it passes what came before it by a long, long, long shot. As for the sex cards, I’m glad they put them in. It’s about time RPGs grew up and became games for adults. The only thing that would have made this game better is if the asinine hypocritical US censors would get off their high horse and realize a game that shows a bit of sex isn’t nearly as bad as they fear. Perhaps because of the Witcher’s success the likes of Bioware and others will grows some nads and start expanding their own efforts of what they put into their games. Bioware read: make Dragon Age something of note rather than a pile of rubbish.

  45. Simon Brooke says:

    For my money, The Witcher is the best RPG so far. And yes, I’m playing with the existing English dialogue, so if it’s better when the EE comes out I’m going to be even more impressed.

    What’s good about the game is sheer story telling – a very dystopian world in which the actor – Geralt – is forced to make decisions in a hurry and with imperfect information – and where there very often are no good choices.

    Yes, the sex thing is handled awkwardly. If they had been making a game just for Europe they could have handled it much more intelligently, but they had to cope with the extraordinary prudishness of American market and so we get this half-baked, trivialised mini-game. That’s a shame. And it’s one of the reasons why I think that in future we’ll see better RPGs.

    But for the time being, this is the best there is; and it’s astonishingly good.

  46. Corylea says:

    I LOVE The Witcher. Of course it’s not perfect; no human endeavor is ever perfect. But I’ve played a LOT of RPG’s, and I think that this is one of the very best, possibly THE very best.

    As other people have mentioned, the moral system is superb, far in advance of the black-and-white model of other games. And the STORY! I haven’t finished the game yet, and I have to resist the temptation to go to a spoilers page, so that I can find out where Geralt’s been for the last five years and how he lost his memory and how he survived a wound that should have killed even a witcher. I love it that there’ so MUCH story and that every interaction has at least a short cutscene — this isn’t a game where you just hack and slash; it feels like what’s going on matters.

    And God, the opening cutscene took my breath away. I’ve seen movies that weren’t as well done.

    I’m surprised to hear that people think that the voice acting in the English-language version is bad. There are one or two clunkers, but on the whole, I thought the voice acting was far, far above average for a game. I thought the guy who did Geralt was right on, I love the way all the dwarves sound Scottish, and I think even the random passers-by say some really interesting things. Usually the townspeople say something like “nice weather,” but I overheard a woman in the Temple Quarter tell another woman to hit her abusive husband with a frying pan — that’s sure not same-old, same-old.

    I think there’s been great attention to detail in this game, and you can tell that the developers love those stories. The whole game reminds me of the way that Peter Jackson handled The Lord of The Rings movies — lovingly, and with great attention to detail.

    As far as the sex goes, I’m an American who thinks that my country’s attitude towards sex is absolutely ridiculous. I guess this is what happens when the first settlers of your country are mostly religious fanatics, cranks, and other misfits. :-) I think it’s high time that sex was included as a part of life in games, and it seems completely bizarre to me that it’s okay to spray blood around and have decapitated heads lying on the ground, but showing breasts is considered offensive.

    I’m a woman, and I think that having cards for each woman that Geralt beds is a bit juvenile, but it seems to me that the developers, like Geralt himself, had a bunch of unclear choices, none of which was obviously the best. Personally, I would have liked real sex scenes, but then, I have a crush on Geralt. :-) I can see why the stupid prudery of my country would have made it impossible for them to sell a game with real sex scenes here, and we’re a big enough market that it would be difficult for a game developer to forgo it. So the cards are a compromise, and while they might not be the compromise I would have chosen, compromises, by their very nature, don’t please everybody. I’m willing to cut the developers some slack on this one.

    I love this game. If it’s about to get even better, I’m thrilled.

    Michal Medej, please don’t take negative comments too much to heart. A lot of people like to complain, but go look at your list of awards and at your sales figures — an awful lot of people know that you’ve made something very special.

  47. John says:

    Just bought the EE this weekend, after waiting a very long time to see if the flaws (load time, etc) would be addressed. Other than an occasional crash when the game does a quick-save (which, yes, can be a bummer) I’ve had no problems. Story is well-written, questing system is very good, and the graphics (I have a dual ATI4870 Crossfire system, quad-core Intel proc, and 4Gb on XP-32bit) are fantastic.>
    As to the erotic content, shame it didn’t make it here to the States entirely intact. It’s not as if the game is targeted at children, so it would have been nice to have at least an option of “show it all – show some of it – show none” (and as Corylea – and many many others – point out, why is gore more acceptable here than sex?).
    Great update, guys, and here’s to seeing more of your work in the future!