Tomasz Gop Explains The Witcher 2

By Jim Rossignol on June 10th, 2010 at 10:42 am.


You know, at least three quarters of RPS is really looking forward to The Witcher 2. Why? Because it’ll be even witcher. Ha! Sorry. Even my cats groaned at that. (But I’m not going to stop asking if Mafia 2 is even mafia that the original.) Anyway, The Witcher 2 will be an enormous lump of steaming hot fantasy RPG, crafted by a studio that has the money and the expertise to make it look good and play intricately. It’s worth being excited about because, while it’s not alone in the RPG club, it does seem to be leaning quietly on the bar with an air of eyebrow-raising confidence. It’s been some places, learned some things, got some stories to tell… and CD Projekt know it. Tomasz Gop is one of the CD Projektian gentleman of at the controls of the development machine: a senior producer, no less. He decided it might be okay to tell us a little bit about his game. I spoke to him via the magic of Skype. You may read on for certain bewitchment.

RPS: What is with all the RPG love in Europe? I mean, there are some US studios doing some interesting things, but the old fashioned RPG enthusiasm seems to radiate from European studios? Or am I just imagining things?

Gop: Interesting question. For most of the people I know, the guys that I know, the guys on this team and people I know outside of that who love RPGs, they all have a strong background on the pen and paper stuff. That means they have always had RPG in their blood, and migrating into computer games is just natural for them. I don’t know if that’s the scheme all around Europe, but from what I see from guys in Poland and European developers I talk to, they took to RPGs before they even thought about making videogames. That might explain it.


RPS: So are you being influenced by, say, Mass Effect 2 and Alpha Protocol?

Gop: Well it’s our own game, obviously, but we cannot hide that inspirations are good. We take inspiration from other games, it’s not a bad thing. And we see games inspired by The Witcher, we are inspired by things from The Witcher. But I don’t know, we could mention some games we’ve found inspiring, like I could name Heavy Rain, or name Batman, or… oh. I just got a post it from Borys saying “hello” to you. [Borys Pugacz-Muraszkiewicz, senior writer on The Witcher.]

RPS: Hello!

Gop: Sorry… Yes. I was saying that we played Mass Effect and we have been inspired by some of that stuff, making our own dialogue technologies, but we have not taken it literally. I mean they have choices which are red for evil and blue for good, things do not fit The Witcher in this way…


RPS: Right then. Technology. You’ve done a lot of work to create new tech after Aurora, but how has that changed the design fundamentals of the game? How important is it for the nature of the game?

Gop: It is the most important thing. We knew by the end of The Witcher that we wanted to write new technology, I mean, we did not /hate/ Aurora, but there were things we knew we wanted to do with the game. Aurora was fine for The Witcher 1, but we wanted more freedom in another game, and so we started writing an engine from the moment we released the first Witcher. Initially it was just a small team, but after a year the engine was ready to start building a game on. At that time the whole team moved into working on that for The Witcher 2. The reason for doing all this was not the graphical stuff, although it was a good excuse to work on that, it was the tools, the editor and so on. The tools for creating the storyline, a non-linear storyline, you need powerful tools to present all that stuff in a useful way. That was the most important thing. Now we have our own tools we can do all this stuff, we have tools for things like creating composite characters: legs, chest, hands, heads, all composed from a set into characters that are far more detailed than anything we did even in the Enhanced Edition of The Witcher.


RPS: But stuff like the combat system… is that the same?

Gop: Hmm. I’m not going to say we have precisely the same combat system, but we’re also not ready to give a dedicated presentation, maybe in a few months. We need to explain to people exactly how the presentation works, and right now I have to get people to take my word for it that the combat is not hack ‘n’ slash action. It’s not action gamer way of doing it, but we want to give people the feel of how the Witcher really moves. We wanted to get rid of the static elements – the sequences of strikes in The Witcher 1 were good, but you would have to carry that out to the very end to get the most out of it, but now we can combine any kinds of strike and they still build up to the same thing. There are no fixed stances and so on. We have done a lot of mo cap to show all this, because we want to show Geralt moving really incredibly fast. That is the goal for changing the combat – it looks faster, and it more dynamic. It’s smoother, and I think hands-on demonstrations will show that.

RPS: You don’t want to appeal to the hack ‘n’ slash player…

Gop: Well, we want to appeal to them, we’re just not making an action RPG. That’s what we are really clear about. That is not The Witcher.

RPS: So the traditional CRPGer and the men who like stories are your target audience?

Gop: Yes, absolutely, that’s why we started our informational campaign with the story. That is absolutely at the forefront of what we want to say is important about this game.


RPS: So let’s talk about the story: what’s going on in The Witcher 2?

Gop: Well, I must assume you have played The Witcher 1? But anyway at the end of that you will have noticed that there is something going on. We were, of course, already planning to extend the story. At the end of the game there is a scheme, someone is trying to kill the king. The Witcher 2 is this, it’s a direct sequel. Things that happen in The Witcher 2 take much wider scale, both in land and in politics. There are more of the guy who tries to kill the king, something drives them, and it’s that you are finding out about. The guy that tried to kill the king will start off the main thread in The Witcher 2, and you are going to find out more about that. Geralt would like to find out more about the assassin, but there are still some area of Temeria in which there is a rebellion, and it’s to one of these areas that the king travels, asking Geralt to go with him. You start at the castle of a female baron, and it’s a prologue to the game. We have shown some stuff from act one, but something has happened before that in the prologue. You’ve found stuff out, you’ve met knew people. It’s going to be epic, a boom!

RPS: So how big is the game going to be?

Gop: Well there are things we don’t yet know, things we need to test and find out about. But we do know that there will be three main acts, three chapters, and there will be the prologue and the epilogue. As I mentioned the areas you are in will be way bigger, but we are trying to get rid of the quests that are purely about time – the FedEx quests, “fetch me something” and so on. So on the one hand it will take time to see everything and explore everything, especially as areas will be so open for you, but the quests will be more packed. So it will probably take less hours to finish The Witcher 2, but exactly how many gameplay hours is not clear right now.


RPS: Oh, what I meant to ask – are you going to fix alchemy?

Gop: Yes, yes, we have made many changes based on feedback from the first game. For example, you can meditate anywhere in The Witcher 2. These small adjustments are important to the whole, tweaks for the original game. Other things have been entirely redone. So the manual processing of potions is entirely different. Brewing potions isn’t obligatory, of course, but you can create more useful potions if you spend the time in what I guess is a mini-game. Also potions must be drunk before combat, not during combat. They are now preparational.

RPS: So are PC gamers with expensive new PCs going to see much return for their investment for this game?

Gop: We’re almost a year ahead of the release of the game, and right now we are using very high end PCs for our presentations, but when the game comes out I don’t expect they will be high end. The detail that we have right now has a really, really high level of detail, you need to see it live for the proof. The textures are really high detail. You have to downgrade textures for mid range PCs right now, and on a monster PC it really is going to be wow.

RPS: I played the enhanced edition with Polish voice acting and English subtitles, it meant it was like playing…

Gop: A foreign movie!

RPS: Exactly. Are you going to be including those same language features in The Witcher 2 from the start? Am I going to be able to play with Russian voice-acting?

Gop: I can’t promise anything, because it’s not confirmed. The same answer we give to questions about consoles! We would love to, but we can’t talk about it now.


RPS: Is it true you’re not going to use DRM for this release?

Gop: Well we didn’t make any announcement, actually. Because of the recent talk with Namco we had to react, because we feel it’s important people do not associate anything with The Witcher 2, because nothing is decided. I mean, it is not going Ubisoft DRM. People know our opinions on DRM, so it’s clear that we are not going to allow the players to get hurt by whatever we do.

RPS: Okay, we are running out of time. Anything else we should mention at this stage?

Gop: I want to mention the story again. People know the story in The Witcher was good, so we will get some credit there, I think, but The Witcher 2 will be really good. Also I think this will be the best looking RPG ever, and I really can’t wait to be able to do some more detailed presentations to show people how the game feels. Hands on stuff showing the new dialogues and the new combat – how they work – I can’t wait for that.

RPS: We can’t wait either! Thanks for your time.

The Witcher 2 is arriving next summer, probably.

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88 Comments »

  1. Marco Antonio says:

    next summer? What?

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Skip to the end, eh?

    • PleasingFungus says:

      “Gop: We’re almost a year ahead of the release of the game…”

      Presumably.

    • mlaskus says:

      A fun fact, CD Projekt’s worldwide total profit for Witcher was close to 12 000 PLN. (that’s 3500 USD/ 2900 EUR/ 2300 GBP) :P

    • tomeoftom says:

      @mlaskus

      That’s really not a very fun fact at all. Jeez.

    • Navagon says:

      @ mlaskus

      Which is BS. Made obvious by the fact that the first search result for that is this very page. Unsuccessful games don’t get sequels, at least not from any publisher that’s still in business they don’t.

    • mlaskus says:

      They never planned to make the first Witcher to be a commercial success, they wanted to make a name for themselves. The numbers are from a few months back but they are true. I just thought it quite amusing when I heard of it. It was an enormous investment and their income was almost identical to their expenses.

    • TeeJay says:

      @ mlaskus

      But “profit” is only one part of a companies accounts.

      Young start-up companies are attractive to investors because the market value of the company is growing rapidly – but they reinvest all their cash (profits) in growing the company.

      Mature companies are attractive because while their share value tends to be stable they produce a lot of cash-flow / dividends.

      Some indications (all from their own corporate website) that the development side is doing OK:

      * The CD Projekt group was attractive enough for a planned – purchase by / merger with – Optimus (a leading polish IT company) in exchange for 50% of Optimus shares (letter of intent signed in Dec. 2009).

      * CD Projekt itself has also sold off it’s Czech, Slovakia and Hungarian distribution companies and invested the money “on more profitable and less risky operations” – ie GOG.com and developing the Witcher games (it still has it’s Polish distribution) (May 2010).

      * The Witcher production costs = 20 million zlotys (c. £4m / c. $6m) and that they have sold 1.3 million copies.

      * Warsaw Business Journal’s 2007 “International Success Story” prize and Ernst & Young’s 2008 Polish “Entrepreneur of the Year” prize.

      (nb – Your profits may also be lower if you pay higher wages to your employees or higher if you shovel out unsupported and half-finished games and increase your sales via investing in marketing rather than production.)

  2. BooleanBob says:

    Ah, but who witches the witchmen?

    Sorry.

  3. Karacan says:

    Love. I’d preorder it straight away if I could.

    I also love the dig against Ubi’s DRM at the end. Even when I played the Witcher 1, I noticed that these devs somehow understood what I, as a hardcore rpg-fan, want in a game. The interview proves that sentiment is still out there.

    I actually enjoyed the more slow-paced combat system of the Witcher though – holding my breath on that one.

  4. JohnDoe says:

    Sounds great. I loved the first Witcher, and these guys really seem to get PC gaming.

  5. Nimic says:

    I actually just bought the Witcher, having shamefully pirated it when it came out (but never really playing it). Unfortunately, I found the fighting/control system impossible to deal with. It seemed sort of like a strange mix between Dragon Age and Assassins Creed, but not working near as well as either.

    • Karacan says:

      I remember that it took me all the way into the second chapter for the combat mechanics to start working for me. Give it a bit of time, it’s worth investing the time.

    • Nimic says:

      Which camera view did you use? I don’t really like the close-up (“behind the shoulder”) view, but it seems impossible to control the guy with WASD if I use either of the others. Specifically, holding A or D caused him to move sideways, as opposed to turn around, as if it were an FPS.

      I suppose I could get used to just using the mouse to move the fellow around. I’ll give it another go.

    • snv says:

      What? A and D have to be strafing, always, in every game, everything else is just wrong and should be classified as bug

    • Nimic says:

      For a first person game, definitely. But in this case the only way to turn around is to either push the mouse to the edges, in which case it doesn’t seem as fast or smooth as it should be, or simply use the mouse and click where I want to go. That’s an option, and I’ll try to get used to it, but it also makes the strafing pointless.

    • Lukasz says:

      wait what?

      I played with second camera. not the closest one nor the bird view one.

      and i looked around with mouse.

      a and d is for strafing. if it is not then the game is wrong. dear god. a and d for turning around… i haven’t used that since games moved to 3d like ten years ago.

    • Karacan says:

      I used to play in the second and third camera, moving with leftclicks and treating it like a Diablo-style game, instead of trying to move with WASD.

      As I said – it took some getting used to, but the game is very much worth sinking a few hours “to get it” into. (Reminds me a bit of Dwarf Fortress in that aspect. ;))

    • Zyrxil says:

      For a first person game, definitely. But in this case the only way to turn around is to either push the mouse to the edges, in which case it doesn’t seem as fast or smooth as it should be, or simply use the mouse and click where I want to go. That’s an option, and I’ll try to get used to it, but it also makes the strafing pointless.

      What? Have you never played Anachronox? Or any kind of MMORPG? You hold a mouse button to turn, you don’t use the edges. For god’s sake people, if you’re not going to have the decency to use custom bindings, at least check the keybindings screen!

    • suibhne says:

      Give it a try on Expert, if you haven’t already done so. I found it easier to get the timing of the swordplay when the silly icon wasn’t coaching me – the animation and audio provide plenty of cues. And I’m bad at fighting games, so I came in with a few strikes against me. ;)

    • Rhygadon says:

      I tended to play zoomed-in and WASD for exploring, then zoomed-out for combat. In my experience, there wasn’t actually that much need for moving around in combat. The enemies pretty much always close to melee range for you, so you can just focus on attacking, and click-move to chase if somebody runs. I experimented with the combat moves (rolls and such), but found very few situations where I wasn’t better off just standing still and attacking.

    • Biz says:

      use 1st person view (you need to download a mod)
      controls kind of like a FPS

  6. Divebomb says:

    very good. please cdprojekt just do regular cd check drm if you have to do anything. no online activation anything, or steam bullshit

  7. westyfield says:

    I never played the first Witcher (should I?), but I’m quite interested in this one. Looks like a properly-meaty RPG from here.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      westyfield: Yeah, you should.

      KG

    • BigJonno says:

      It’s fantastic. People talk about how great the grey moral choices are and they’re pretty good, but the real treat is that your actions have consequences. Seemingly insignificant decisions have major ramifications down the line and the game really spells it out for you.

    • westyfield says:

      Ooh, Enhanced Edition Director’s Cut is only 12 Britpounds on Steam. And exams end very soon. I have an idea for what to do once I have free time…

    • bleeters says:

      There’re two versions, incidentally. The as-it-was-on-release standard version, and the ‘enhanced edition’. Don’t worry too much about the difference between the two, you can patch up the older version for free.

      Another point of witchery praise? In addition to masses of bugfixing and the like, the patches remove the DRM completely.

    • Garg says:

      @BigJonno: I never understood this thing about there being “grey moral choices”. You were basically asked to either side with some Real IRA type terrorists or some Nazi knigts. That was the thing that spoilt the game for me, as there wasn’t always a middle way approach when perhaps there shouldn’t have been.

      Worth playing though, as some people seem to love it and others not so much.

    • Rinox says:

      @ Garg:

      That’s the point. There isn’t always a middle ground. It’s basically the enter premise of the game, the fact that Geralt wishes to stay neutral but can’t – and how it affects his/the player’s view on what he does and is, ie a Witcher.

    • Lukasz says:

      exactly:
      no perfect choice. no black and white. no right and wrong. just crapsack world where you are forced to choose.
      to choose lesser evil

      which one?
      up to you to decide.

    • Vinraith says:

      My only real disappointment with the Witcher (outside of a couple of cut-scene to boss fight with no save moments) was that so many of those “grey moral choices” turned out to have right and wrong answers late in the game. Sure, they’re still grey when you make them, and that’s cool, but the whole “clear right and wrong in retrospect” thing kind of undermined the “lesser of two evils” angle to me.

      On the whole, though, a great game and the kind of RPG you just don’t see made these days. I’m looking forward to the sequel.

    • Rinox says:

      in addition @ Garg:

      SPOILERS

      And the two ‘sides’ you describe weren’t nearly as one-dimensional as that. The game presented you with good (wo)men fighting for ‘wrong’ causes on both sides, and explained how they get where they were. In addition to this, the two sides clearly weren’t evil per se but were caught up in a conflict that continued to polarise and spiralled into an inevitable torrent of violence and bloodshed. The game makes it clear that you are only one man in a society gone apeshit, a hero, yes, but one man. You couldn’t have prevented the conflict that had been brooding for years any more than anyone else, but you could make your mark on it.

      Personally, I sided with the squirrels and felt sympathy for their cause until they started killing off innocent hostages in the small farmer’s town. That was the line for me. I was so disgusted that I pulled out of their stupid conflict alltogether and in the process caused much additional grief and outlawed myself.

    • Okami says:

      @Rinox: I really wanted to side with the Squirrels’ cause, but they just kept beeing insufferable pricks. While Siegfried (or whatever the blonde naziknight’s name was) was just an all around great guy who went monster hunting together with me. So in the end I sided with the knights, eventhough they were a bunch of Nazis. But I couldn’t turn against the nice knight who’s really become a friend by the time I had to make my final decision about who to help.

    • Rinox says:

      @ Okami

      SPOILER

      I hear you. When I had to tell Siegfried that I wasn’t going to be helping him and the knights with their ‘cleansing’ but wasn’t down with the Sciotael either, I was hoping he’d see it my way and lay down his arms. Instead, he pretty much told me his oath surpassed our friendship, and we ended up fighting each other (mostly because I was a dick after he spurned me). I ended up killing him and felt really really bad about it. :-(

    • suibhne says:

      The faction stuff wasn’t as deep as it could have been (and as I hope TW2 is), but it was at least thoroughly gray. Allying with either faction can have late-game consequences that sit uneasily with you, and it’s also possible to stay pretty independent and tell both sides to sod off; there’s no clear right or “best” choice, just a series of complications. Sapkowski’s Witcher writings often evince a theme of suspicion of institutionalized power, and the role of Witchers is very much independent, so I found this to be very effectively handled in the game.

  8. Vague-rant says:

    I’m not entirely sure why but CD Project seems to be reminding me more and more of Valve.

  9. Huggster says:

    This time instead of “love cards” there will be “love movies” to collect!
    NmNmNm ….. (creppy mutter)

  10. Ricc says:

    So far the Witcher 2 team has really been spot-on in making me confident about the game. Hugely anticipating this one…

    In their latest dev-diary they mentioned that you can import your Witcher 1 savegame! That’s just awesome. :) More RPGs should do that, especially story heavy ones.

    • edosan says:

      I like the idea in principle, but that assumes we all back up our savegames religously.

    • TeeJay says:

      I suspect the fan-base will solve this problem by creating a range of save-files for people to use or work out some clever file-tweaking technique.

  11. Item! says:

    The Witcher was a rare thing for me – a game critically acclaimed by sources I trust, in a genre I love, that completely failed to give me any pleasure whatsoever.

    I got the uprated version end of last year and tried a few times to get into it..

    I experienced a low-level, yet persistent dislike for the characters, the setting, the dialogue, the controls, the “feel” and the game mechanics.
    I am sure there was more to it that the first hour or two would suggest, but I couldn’t sustain any desire to keep playing after completing the opening in the keep and moving on to the next stage in some camp in the woods.

    The whole experience left me baffled and not a little sad; a brilliant joke that everyone seems to get except me. :-(

    • lethial says:

      You are not alone in that. I have 3 different copies of The Witcher (One imported, one bought here in US, and the Witcher Enhanced Edition later) and I have yet finished the game… Heck, I haven’t gotten pass the first town…

      I am a big fan of RPGs because I can “get in character” while the character can become more like who I am in real life. However, with Gerald, I just can’t seem to do that… He just feel too different from who I want to be. (He seem to be a womanizing, drug addict (can you even get through the game w/o using any “drugs?”) for the most part. )

      It doesn’t help that the game world is full of “invisible barriers” that you can’t walk across. But this is really not important, I am just nit picking here.

      That said, I ABSOLUTE ADORE CD Projekt, I only wish that I have the wealth to be able to support them (and Obsidian actually…) so that they could focus on good old PC games with depth, and don’t need to resort to appeasing the console crowd (Not to say that console gamers are inferior or anything, but looking at the current trend of popular games conjures up a lot of feelings of disappointment in me. If this continues, I can see myself abandoning my hobby of gaming completely. :( )

    • Rinox says:

      You can get through the game without using many potions, yeah. Maybe a healing and/or nightvision potion now and then, but the rest is almost completely optional (if very useful).

      And the first part of the game is a hurdle, yeah…it’s only after the first chapter that things start picking up. But when they do, they do it so well.

    • Bureaucrat says:

      I had the same experience. I got as far as poking around Vizima a bit (early chapter 2), and still hadn’t found a single character who was at all interesting or who inspired any empathy. Combine that with a less-than-likeable protagonist, rampant juvenile misogyny, a story that presents only one interesting mystery (what Geralt has been doing for the last 5 years) and proceeds to ignore it and instead send the player running some other errands to help characters he has no reason to care about, dodgy controls and interface, and lots of repetive grindy combat (which resembles a rhythm game more than anything else), and I decided that the rest of the game wasn’t worth my time.

    • Chris says:

      I felt the same way about the misogyny. It wasn’t even “low-level” in my opinion:

      (1) So 90% of the interact-able female characters are there for me to sleep with and then “collect” as a playing card?

      (2) Two of the “strong” women in the game will end up fighting over me, and I can sleep with one of them twice?

      (3) The one _truly_ strong female in the game is a child abuser who wants to kill a boy in order to gain more EEEEEEEVIL power?

      Seriously, friends, XX chromosomed-individuals make up MORE than 50% of the population. While they may not play games like the Witcher in the same percentage (and with female role models as described above, I can’t wonder why), why any non-Neanderthal would spend years making a game showing women as nothing but bar wenches, whores, and weak sluts is beyond me?

    • TeeJay says:

      @ Chris

      Alternatively you can play the game without sleeping with anyone and regarding the “wenches, whores, and weak sluts” as just being bar-staff, sex workers and people who like sex, within a fictional cultural and social setting. I haven’t read the original novels and I don’t know about the intentions or beliefs of the author or the game developers, but my impression isn’t of systematic “misogyny”.

      I also make an allowance for when and where a book/game/film is produced – for example something made in the UK in 2010 compared with a 1950s film or something made by people living within a different cultural setting (ie Poland). Looking back to the offensive things kids (including me) said in the 1970s / early 80s make me cringe now – but we weren’t all hate-filled bigots, just not as “aware”. I have been in a foreign country and said/done things that accidentally offended or embarassed people, which after having it explained to me I would be be ‘sensitive’ about (eg obscure stuff linked to Burakumin as a teacher in Japan, or Basque names/words when I was teaching Spanish school-kids).

  12. mlaskus says:

    I really liked the first Witcher, the only thing that bugged me was the number of monsters. In the novels Geralt rarely fought more than one at a time. In the game it felt like a grind fest. Everywhere I went, there were monsters attacking me, usually in large groups. It quickly became quite boring and I found myself just sprinting from one quest to the other avoiding as much of the fighting as I could.

  13. Daniel says:

    A nice interview. The guys from CDProjekt always come off as nice, genuine people in the stuff I’ve read, and the stuff they speak about is pretty much in line with what I feel about the genre. The game is looking very pretty, and the story has me genuinely intrigued. If they can pull this off, I can see them becoming a big hitter in the industry, which can only be a good thing.

    More of this, please.

  14. Tei says:

    I just want more witcher, with better flow.. and maybe faster load times.
    With better flow, is mean make me feel the witcher can go anywhere, and avoid the feel everything has something like a forcefield around ( aka bounding box hull).
    The first one was very very good.

  15. blargh says:

    At the risk of sounding like a juvenile fanboy…

    Can’t WAIT! Loved The Witcher, love CDPR, and this will make me love them even more!

    YAY WITCHER!

  16. pupsikaso says:

    Why does Geralt look younger than in the first game? =/

  17. edosan says:

    If they can just change the name to “The Witcher 2: Witch Harder” that would be perfect.

  18. MuscleHorse says:

    I couldn’t get past the first few chapters of the Witcher: the dialogue was dreadful and the misogynistic bullshit with collectable cards was amongst the most cringe-worthy features I’ve seen in any game.

    • malkav11 says:

      The dialogue got patched. The cards got patched… to be nakeder, in the US. But I never personally got why that was such a big issue for people. If you don’t enjoy that aspect of the game, don’t have Geralt sleep with anybody. I think it’s either completely or almost completely optional. (When I say almost, I think – can’t recall for sure – that there are one or two quests where one possible solution involves sex, but I don’t think there are any genuinely unavoidable such scenes.)

    • R.Hippy says:

      There’s a couple of cut-scenes of Geralt doing the nasty with the significant women that you can’t avoid. I just got a bit weirded out by the dev’s apparent obsession with redheads. All the random trollops are optional though.

    • Bremze says:

      Heh, its great seeing another individual be enraged about the game reminding of his choices. You know that you can go through the game without seeing the cards, but no, that would require some willpower, lets blame the game instead!

    • bleeters says:

      …Well, yes. Of course we’re going to blame the game, on account of it containing the thing we’re annoyed at.

      “If you don’t like it, don’t look at/use it” is generally a terrible defence, you know.

    • Vinraith says:

      @bleeters

      So to be clear, any time an RPG gives you you a moral choice, you perceive it to be an endorsement of that choice? Complaining that the game is “misogynistic” when it gives you ample opportunity not to be is absurd, the choice is yours to make and you made it. It’s like claiming that Mass Effect 2 condones murdering innocent people because of some of the Renegade options. It’s not a core mechanic, there’s no disadvantage in not sleeping with everyone you meet, the only reason to do it is because you want to play the character as a misogynist. If making that choice disgusts you, blame yourself. Personally I played through with Geralt being entirely monogamous.

    • bleeters says:

      @Vinraith

      I never said I found it misogynistic myself, and I’d not so much criticise the fact such an option was presented but rather the way in which it was handled. In this case, fairly distatefully. To go with your example, I’d compare it not so much to shooting unarmed folk in Mass Effect, but if Shepard kicked their corpses around and laughed at them afterwards. If that happened, I’d feel fairly justified in complaining about it.

    • Rhygadon says:

      The cards were a bit silly, yes, but “misogynistic”? I don’t see how. (And for what it’s worth, this is coming from a vocal, crusading feminist.) The female characters in the game tend to be, if anything, *more* complex and interesting than the male characters, and a few of the potential sex partners are among the most interesting characters in the entire game. Meanwhile, the way Geralt interacts with the women is far *less* demeaning than you’ll find in most games. He’s pretty straightforward about what he wants, and he doesn’t lie (much) or use abusive means to get it. If sex figures into other RPGs at all, it’s usually either as a “reward” for hitting 100% companion loyalty (which means it’s the end of a long, often creepy process of dialogue-tree flattery), or as a means to gain someone’s confidence before you rob or betray them (or get robbed or betrayed). The idea that Geralt simply likes sex, and has sex only with women who already seem interested in him, seemed refreshingly non-misogynistic to me.

      That leaves only the question of the nudie-cards themselves. Again, silly, yes, but it’s hard to see what harm they’re causing (in an M18-rated game). In a story full of blood, drugs and betrayal, I thought it was actually rather charming to have mementos of Geralt’s few moments of simple happiness. The women are posed in ways that express their distinct personalities, and look (if anything) in control of their environments. Unless you’re simply opposed to all nudity, ever, in games, what’s the problem here?

    • Rhygadon says:

      And while it’s on my mind — did anyone else find the companion-dialogue process in Dragon Age utterly skeevy? If you want the buffs for high morale, you need to explore the various dialogue paths and then reload and choose the best one. (At least, until they came out with the gift DLC that lets you skip all that — yay!) And then when you say the right thing, the character tells you how wonderful you are. After a few rounds of that process, I started feeling like some sociopathic mind-reader exploiting people’s weaknesses to make them love me. Bleah …

      And and and! Women like Morrigan should NOT melt when you say impossibly saccharine things to them, nor run off in a huff when you respond to their verbal jabs with a riposte of your own. Has no one at Bioware ever MET a real-life Goth? Is cynicism really that rare up in Canada?

    • Rinox says:

      @ Bleeters

      I see what you’re trying to say, but I wouldn’t exactly compare trophy collector cards of (half-)naked women with a Shepard giddily kicking around enemy corpses. The latter is far more offensive. Maybe we’ve all been numbed down enough by the (common) extreme violence in games that we have actually started thinking that this is somehow on the same level of offensiveness. Perhaps it even ties in with the way mass entertainment media in the West and the US in particular don’t have much of a problem with bloodshed but god forbid you get to see a female nipple somewhere.

      (not aiming this at you personally, just thinking aloud while tired and being incoherent)

    • luminosity says:

      @Rhygadon

      That’s why I intensely like the Obsidian style influence bonuses that Bioware seem to be picking up. It rewards you for people liking you, so instead of encouraging you to have your own opinion, or hell, to role play and have your character have an opinion, you feel like you’re being punished if you don’t just suck up to everyone. Which I guess is okay if you want to role play a suck up, but… I like being able to pick my own stance on issues, and I hate feeling punished for it. Even if you have gifts dlc to undo the damage you get from disagreeing with someone, it still feels like you’re being punished for having your own opinions.

      I’d much rather have companions with no influence bonuses, and if you treat them badly enough / do enough that they disagree with they will just leave, unless you’ve been able to convince them that it’s okay to disagree, or that you have good reasons for what you’re doing. If they want characters to get bonuses from your actions, I’d much prefer the Mass Effect 2 style loyalty quests. Do sidequests for characters placing your main quest in jeopardy, but resolving problems for companions.

    • luminosity says:

      Err.. intensely dislike, that is.

    • bleeters says:

      @Rinox

      Yeh, neither would I, to be perfectly honest.

      I’m probably giving the impression that the whole thing bothered me far more than it did. It’s not like I sat watching, scoffing with disgust, or that it’s going to keep me from buying Witcher 2. The collectable card nonsense just came across as irksome and unnecessary, and more than a little juvenile.

      @Rhygadon

      Urgh, yes. I hate approval systems in just about every game that’s jammed them in. The only thing I could really say in their defence as far as Dragon Age is concerned is that the bonuses only really affect them, and as such only matter especially if you plan on bringing them along with you, in which case they’ll gain approval pretty quickly anyway. Unless, for example, you plan on being a bastion of purity and justice, rescuing kittens from trees and the like, and then drag Morrigan and Sten along.

  19. Vandelay says:

    Sounding good. Quite intrigued to see what they have done with the combat and also the potion making. Have to say, I never bothered trying to mix my own potions and just got the recipes from the manuals littered around the world. The only problem was that it seemed like I ended the game with very few of the available potions. I suppose trying to create your own was what they intended, but it seemed like you would just end up wasting a lot of your ingredients.

    I didn’t find the combat to be particularly bothersome in the original, but it certainly wasn’t great. Something with a bit more control given to the player, at least in the abilities we can choose Geralt to use, would be welcome.

    In fact, I’m still not hearing whether they are improving my main problem with the original game. I really hope they allow us to really customise our own character. The skill tree on offer from the original game never gave you much opportunity to specialise in any particular discipline, only different fighting styles that all had their uses and some spells that weren’t that much good. I never felt that I crafted my own Geralt, outside of the odd moment where you got to make a decision that would later effect the course of the game (which did work well.) So, an improved skill set is something I would really love to see in the new game.

    Also, why haven’t CD Projekt put their games up on GoG? I would definitely be buying The Witcher 2 directly from them if I could.

  20. Bookiegnu says:

    @12kill4, Vimes doesn’t watch Vimes. Vetinari does.

    who watches Vetinari? Gods.

    But Vetinari’s probably got some spies among the gods.

  21. bhlaab says:

    Witcher 1 doesnt like my CPU

  22. The Dark One says:

    My problem with potions wasn’t so much finding a campfire/hearth to do my meditations, but the auto selections picking samples with secondary properties that didn’t line up. Don’t waste my Rubedo, damnit!

  23. Kevin says:

    So? Assuming their costs include their salaries, I’d say breaking even is a perfectly fine thing. They supported themselves and made something wonderful.

  24. Zoe01 says:

    For me, The Witcher is the best RPG since BG2. I just have sooo much love for CDPR. And they have a really smart community too.

    2011 will be the year of The Witcher 2 .;)

    • Jakkar says:

      Exactly! BG2 was the last truly good RPG, outside of the FPS perspective.

  25. Jakkar says:

    Aggressive interview. Some of your questions came across as snarky, or bordering on openly offensive.

  26. uk_john says:

    You can tell it was an American interviewer: ‘Are you going to make is a worse cRPG by making it like Mass Effect or Alpha Protocol? ‘ (I paraphrase)

    Then ‘is it going to be hack’n'slash?’ as every isometric RPG today, even if Baldur’s Gate was just released last week, is now called ‘Diablo like’ or Diabloesque. Fallout 1 and 2 would be called ‘Diabloesque’ I swear”

    Other stupid questions was ‘so your making this for cRPG PC gamers’ and ‘how big is the world’

    The only question that should be expanded on greatly on this site, is how old fashioned PC cRPG’s are now the domain of Europe. With games like The Witcher, the Gothic series, Boiling Point, Arx Fatalis, Drakesang, The Divinity series and the Spellbound series, to name a few. It’s only Europe that give us PC centric games like STALKER and Heavy Rain (even if they come out on console!)

    Conversly, the U.S. market now sees games like Jade Empire, Mass Effect, Dragon Age and Alpha Protocol as the future of RPG’ing, when many would say these titles are closer to the ‘Action-Adventure’ genre!

    It’s amazing how many games that comes out of Europe from full time developing teams that could only have come out of the U.S. market via the indie market, developed by groups of part time programmers and on a totally different level.

  27. MSJ says:

    Well, they do have their own digital download service, albeit for old games.

  28. Fred says:

    The Witcher was refreshingly misogynistic, and Gerat’s misogyny was integral to the larger ‘Alvin Stepfather’ plot. Without it, the game would have been just another cloying Bioware-styled affair.

    RPGs– PnP or cRPG– are the domain of male nerds who like computers and swords and math; all the painfully silly lovey-dovey puppet sex stuff we’ve been inundated with lately is frankly embarassing.

    Geralt as a James Bond-esque man-whore who collects classy raunch boobie-cards was a fantastic tonic for the sloppy, feminized pretension-to-literariness mess we’ve seen so much of in our RPGs lately. So jettison your sanctimony and admit that the testosterone and raunch stuff was great. Or, go try on a skirt or something.

    • Pantsman says:

      There’s a girl in my DnD group, and she fits right in. So, um, screw you and your ridiculous concept of masculinity.

    • jaheira says:

      I’ve always thought skirts looked much more comfy than trousers, so maybe I will try one on. Thanks for the encouragement Fred!

  29. Alex says:

    “You can tell it was an American interviewer”

    Nice try, but better luck next time… Jim is British.

    While I agree that Europe seems to be the last bastion of hope for old fashioned cRPGs, the childish “its stupid so it must be American” worldview you’re throwing around ruins an otherwise interesting and thought-provoking post.

    • UK_John says:

      Well, Alex, just shows Jim has sold out, like most of the gaming media, to the viewpoint of the big North American developers/publishers. It’s the only viewpoint so many gaming sites come from now. I just came from a site that lists Dragon Age II as a cRPG and the WItcher 2 as an action-RPG. So the anti-European gaming media seems to be continuing. Expect Dragon II to get in the 90′s and Witcher 2 to get in the 80′s – as normal.