CD Projekt On The Witcher 3’s Open World, Beards

By Nathan Grayson on March 5th, 2013 at 12:00 pm.

Good news! Better news. Best news. Geralt is back, and he’s realized that he’s capable of doing more than just moving ever-onward in a straight line. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt sees gaming’s favorite silver-haired sourpuss return with a heart full of purpose, a beard ripe from mighty mutant brooding, and – most excitingly – a fully open world teeming with possibilities. But why? What does the beard mean? Can we talk to it? Oh, and also the open world, I guess. How’s that work? I got in touch with CD Projekt senior quest designer Jakub Rokosz and (thankfully un-assassinated) marketing king Michał Platkow-Gilewski to find out everything. Or, well, most things – for instance, how Witcher 3’s world will stack up to Skyrim‘s, where traditional Witcher storytelling fits into that, how far-reaching the impacts of our choices will be, what sorts of people and locations we’ll encounter, and heaps more.

Make a break for the break. Otherwise, this intro will never end. (Warning: Beware of minor Witcher 2 ending spoilers.)

RPS: I’d like to start with the most important question. Why does Geralt have a beard now?

Michał Platkow-Gilewski: [laughs] That’s a tough question. When it came to redesigning the character, we made a survey of the company. We asked all the girls here, what’s the sexiest thing about the guys in the office? They all said the beards are the sexiest. So we came up with this breakthrough design change and added the beard. No, just joking. A few months have passed. Geralt is on the road, you could say?

The open world was the only right approach for this.

Jakub Rokosz: Right now he’s pretty much a man left on his own, after what happened in Witcher 2. He basically wanted to get a little alone time. I think the beard signifies that, that he spent some time in the wild. He didn’t really have to worry about looking good for the ladies out there.

RPS: It’s an interesting dichotomy to set him loose in an open world like this. I mean, you’ve been saying that getting his memories back has made him more focused than ever on his main goal. It seems like he has something he really wants to do now, as opposed to just wandering. Why did you decide to use an open world to tell that story?

Jakub Rokosz: To be honest, we always loved the narrative part of the Witcher series. We really like the way we tell the story. But we always felt that we were restricted by the way we allowed the player to travel to locations. They were always small, closed locations. We knew that if we wanted to give you the feeling of Geralt searching for his meaning and knowing the world, this wouldn’t work. The open world was the only right approach for this, to be honest. Geralt, right now, after two games and restoring his memory and stuff, I think he needs to find himself again. This is part of his journey as well.

RPS: Also, there’s a war going on now. How does that affect the open world? Are there actual battles, or is it more that you just see the ramifications of the war?

Michał Platkow-Gilewski: Depending on the region, you’ll see other effects of the war. When you’re traveling through the open world, you’ll see places just after the armies have marched through. Places destroyed by the war. In different places you’ll see people talking about the war as a chance to maybe gain some wealth.

Jakub Rokosz: Or they’ll talk about it as if it’s something really far away that won’t actually happen to them.

Michał Platkow-Gilewski: Yeah. War will be present – maybe not at every single step, but almost everywhere – in different ways, depending on how far from the actual fighting, the front lines, you might be. It depends on who you talk to. Maybe a small community will have other problems on their hands apart from the war, which is far away.

RPS: Will there ever be any points, just roaming around the open world, where massive-scale battles – presumably related to the war – break out?

Michał Platkow-Gilewski: I don’t know if we really want to get into those kinds of details right now. I might spoil something. But what I can say is that there will be heavy combat events. They will be executed better than in Witcher 2.

RPS: In other interviews, you’ve noted that you’re paying close attention to the strengths and weaknesses of worlds like Skyrim. How so, though? Where do you think Bethesda and others most need to improve?

Michał Platkow-Gilewski: It’s hard not to mention Skyrim, but I believe that our approach to our game is totally different. What they created was an open-world RPG. What we’re doing is a story-driven RPG set in an open-world environment. For us, the most important aspect of the game is always the story. And by “story” I mean not only what’s happening, but also the choices and consequences, the moral gray areas, the good or bad characteristics of the NPCs that make them believable. After you meet them, you’ll remember who they are and why they do what they do. All that is the most important thing for us.

But this time we wanted to put all of that in an open world. It’s a big challenge, but we’ve identified all the tricky parts of it, and we’re working hard to give a great storytelling experience in this open world. As far as asking what will be the consequences of your actions, there will be a lot of them. You know Witcher 2. We want to bring all of our experience in this field and put it in an open-world environment. Bigger and smaller actions will all bring you to small or huge consequences.

It’s enough to tell you that we’re preparing three totally different epilogues depending on how you finish the game, with different choices somewhere in the middle. There will be 36 different states you can leave the world in. By states, I mean more significant changes, not every single change you’re involved in.

RPS: How do you a tailor an open world to be conducive to really good storytelling? In general, they’re best for player-driven types of things. When you’re trying to tell a player a story, how do you change open world design?

Jakub Rokosz: In our case, in The Witcher’s case, it helps in some fields. One of the biggest problems we had in The Witcher 2 is that to keep pace between the story and the game itself, we had to sometimes overload the player with information. Just so they could understand the mechanics and the world and the consequences of their choices. What the open world gives us is that, because we have this open world consisting of three different regions, we can build areas up from local communities to whole countries or peoples, and we can tailor the whole experience, the whole story arc of what Witcher 3 will be about… We can tailor it at both the macro and micro levels.

Even the smallest quest about some person who has troubles with monsters outside of his hut, we’ll tell you a little bit of story about it. Maybe this pack of monsters arrived because the war’s on and they were driven away from where they used to be. We got to a point where we decided to tell the whole story at every single level.

RPS: It sounds like those types of missions will fill in the gaps. They’ll tell you a little bit more about the world. With the main story, though, Geralt’s quest, how linear will that ultimately be? Will that just be like, “Go to this city. Now, to continue the main quest, go to this other city”?

Jakub Rokosz: What you just said, that example… This really conflicts with our point of view on the open world. It doesn’t make it an open-world game if you just make a huge world and ask the player to go from point A to B to C in exactly the same order every time. When we create our game, it’s always in our heads that the player can go anywhere and do anything in any possible way.

We think that the main story will cover around 50 hours. The thing that you said about the other quests filling the gaps, that’s probably another 50 hours of content. Then there’s a lot of other gameplay quests. But to answer your question, we don’t want to make anything linear. Where we can get away with not making it linear, we’ll do it.

We think that the main story will cover around 50 hours.

As an example, there will be a main plot, a main storyline, but we won’t treat it as a chain of quests. It’ll be more like the theme for everything you’re doing. You’ll travel through a diversified world, and in the different regions, you’ll have a main storyline for each region. You might complete it, or you can abandon part of it. All that will move the main plot somewhere. By doing something or not doing something, by being involved in it or by skipping whole quests.

Michał Platkow-Gilewski: Also, not doing something… When you’re finishing the storyline for some area, there’s also a significance if you choose not to do anything in relation to things people ask you to do. The story will be all around you, to a greater or lesser extent. Sometimes you may think that you’re not doing anything related to the main plot right now, that you’re not advancing it, but in reality you will be. It may have some impact on the main plot as well.

RPS: That’s interesting. I think a lot of games just treat quests as a checklist of things to do, and if you don’t do them, well, you just didn’t do them. It sounds like you’re focusing on having ramifications for inaction or indecision.

Michał Platkow-Gilewski: Yes. I don’t believe in a structure like A-B-C-D-E-F-G, you’re finished. The main storyline needs to be connected with everything that’s going on in the world, to a bigger and smaller extent. Of course, you just go out to somewhere in the woods, in the wilderness, and you can focus on monster-hunting. Maybe you as a gamer just love to hunt monsters, like the Witchers are supposed to do. You can focus on the undead if you want. So you can do whatever you want. For me, this is the definition of an RPG. Do whatever you want.

RPS: You said that different quests might affect the main story without players even knowing. That sounds like it would ultimately benefit players the most to do everything, or do as much as possible before they finish the main story. With those multiple epilogues you were talking about, is there a good, better, and best one, or are they just different?

Jakub Rokosz: We don’t have multiple colors of endings in our game [laughs]. To be honest, the ending for us, the epilogue, it should just be the cherry on top of all your consequences and how you wanted the world to change. I don’t know if there’s anything like a bad ending or a good ending. It’s just the way you played. If you don’t like it, just play it again.

Michał Platkow-Gilewski: It’s only the consequences of your choices. You decided that the world should be shaped this way. If you don’t like it, you can try it again.

RPS: You’ve said that the characters around the world are going to react to you, who you are, and what you’ve accomplished. One of the things that struck me about that is that Skyrim also did it. It was sort of an immersion killer for me sometimes. At one point I became the head of The Companions, and then I fast-traveled to the other side of the world and some random guard immediately knew who I was. There’s no way they could’ve known that quickly. How are you executing that?

Michał Platkow-Gilewski: First of all, you’re the Witcher. People who live in the Witcher’s world, they know who the Witchers are.

Jakub Rokosz: Yeah. Basically, people react like that to the Witcher. This is the basic way they will react to you. As far as the consequences of your actions and the fast-travel thing, like you said… This is pretty tricky. You have to ask yourself a question. Do people care about a guild master from the other side of the world? I don’t really know if this is even possible in this setup that we have.

What we prefer to do is an approach from micro to macro. Local communities, the most important thing to them is, do they have a potato on their plate? Do monsters eat their children every night or not? This is the important part of being a Witcher. This is what we want to focus on, the experience of being the Witcher. Of course you do have big things. You can do absolutely awesome things that you get recognition for. But the recognition is always justified, in my opinion.

RPS: Tech and resource limitations aren’t exactly kind to open-world NPCs, though. They add flavor, certainly, but only up to a point. I mean, does the phrase “I used to be an adventurer like you, but then I took an arrow to the knee” ring any bells? Because I’ll probably go to my grave remembering it better than most of my childhood.

Jakub Rokosz: You could even see that in Witcher 2, to some extent. You have to re-use some assets. You can’t get away with anything else, because otherwise your budget would just kill you. The difference is, how do you use them and how often do you use them? As you said, the arrow to the knee got overused to a point where it just became a meme, a funny thing on the internet.

But to be honest, I don’t know how to answer the question. We are trying not to do that. We always try to make our characters and our world believable. But one day you’ll have to judge whether we’ve done enough work on that or not. I believe that the guys from Bethesda weren’t trying to create a meme there. It just happened. We aim to use that wisely. This is our goal, our approach – we don’t want anything to break the immersion in the game. Repetitive dialogue and text are a bit of an immersion breaker, so we try to minimize the damage.

RPS: What about unfriendly NPCs? Will they just be of the “Grrr, arrghh, murder, kill, whoops I died, oh god I’ll never get to play violin again” variety? Or will there be a bit more to them?

Michał Platkow-Gilewski: While you’re fighting with enemies, human enemies, they have a morale system. If you’re strong enough and they feel like they’re losing – like if they outnumbered you at the beginning, but now there’s only one of them still alive – they’ll start to go on defense. They’ll be afraid of your swings. Then, ultimately, they’ll surrender. When they surrender, you can either finish them or leave them alive. You can take their loot any time you want.

RPS: When people surrender, depending on whether or not you let them go or kill them, how big are the ramifications later in the game? Is it just a moment-to-moment thing as far as how the player feels, or will it affect them in some major way later on?

Michał Platkow-Gilewski: It depends on the situation, of course. If it’s an important moment in the storyline, it will have significant influence on everything. You saw situations like that in The Witcher 2 already, just in the prologue.

Jakub Rokosz: That’s also one of the situations we told you about where not doing something matters.

Michał Platkow-Gilewski: Yeah. If you’re just fighting small-time bandits somewhere in the deep woods, maybe it will have no influence on the world. But maybe something will happen. We’ll see. Those bandits might do something later on. Maybe they’ll kill a shepherd.

That’s one of the situations where not doing something matters.

Jakub Rokosz: Or join up with his friends and have another ambush for you.

RPS: You’ve mentioned that hunting will play a much larger role this time around, but how does it work? There’s a sense mode now, right?

Michał Platkow-Gilewski: Yeah. We call it “Witcher senses.” All these mechanics, gameplay mechanics, reflect our idea that in The Witcher 3, you’ll be more Witcher-ish than ever before, in every single aspect. Not just story-wise, but also gameplay-wise. We’ve implemented a lot of changes in the combat to make you feel like the ultimate sword-master. That’s who Geralt is. We introduced Witcher senses as well.

These are actually many tools. They’re not just one thing. These are tools that reflect your long training and the augmentations in your body. So when we’re talking about using them to find clues, it’s basically something you activate with the press of a button. You’ll see more and hear more. When you see it, it’ll be as if the screen fades a little bit into shades of gray. All the points of interest around you will be highlighted. It’ll be easy for your to spot something.

Jakub Rokosz: Drag marks or footprints or [what have you].

Michał Platkow-Gilewski: Yeah. This is one layer. Further in, sometimes, in some situations, you’ll be able to predict or judge what might have just happened. You’ll see small, simple animations showing what happened in a place. For example, if you see a body that’s been murdered somehow, with these skills you can see some of what happened – how the guy died.

Jakub Rokosz: Geralt, because of his knowledge of anatomy and movement and stuff, he can reconstruct the events that took place and you can see a visualization of it.

Michał Platkow-Gilewski: Yeah. He can anticipate what just happened. Other uses of Witcher senses… If you enter a deep, deep wood – I’m not sure why I’m always referring to a deep, deep wood, maybe it’s just attractive to me – but if you’re in a deep, deep wood and you can’t see anything, with the Witcher senses you can hear more. You can hear something from one direction or another, and when you walk toward that direction you might find it. Maybe a monster. This is part of the set of tools that will help you feel that you’re the Witcher – not only human, but something more.

Check back tomorrow for part two, in which we discuss Witcher 3’s revamped combat, difficulty, the role of sex in a story that sees Geralt feeling a bit less, er, wayward, plot twists, mods, the effects of multiplatform development, and cooperation with the Cyberpunk 2077 team. 

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66 Comments »

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  1. Dowr says:

    Beards make the world a better place.

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      MajorManiac says:

      … And pipes

      • Suits says:

        And not box quotes

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          colossalstrikepackage says:

          Nah box quotes, beards and bears all the way.

        • nicolekidmanq says:

          Daniel. true that Jason`s blog is exceptional… on tuesday I got Renault 4 from having earned $4838 this last month and-even more than, ten/k this past month. it’s certainly the nicest work Ive had. I began this 6 months ago and right away started to bring in minimum $82.. per/hr. I follow the instructions here http://www.Fly38.COm/

    • SuicideKing says:

      Looks like they took a beard to the face.

  2. Svant says:

    Really hope they manage to make side-quests have an effect och story and other quests thing. Quests should block other quests, picking a guild should block access to the other guild etc. Quests you did not do should have a negative impact on how a village sees you. Accepting a quest should be a choice not just “TAKE ALL THE QUESTS!”

  3. smeaa mario says:

    Ah, the love CD Projekt has been giving us RPG addicts… Finally, an open world will be the much anticipated icing on the cake.

  4. Premium User Badge

    golem09 says:

    Sounds like the best open world game ever made.

    Getting a little excited now.

    • Sarkhan Lol says:

      I told myself just now I wouldn’t get excited about this until it was out.

      Then I realized I was humming the Witcher 2 theme.

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    RaveTurned says:

    Too many box quotes. Not enough alt-text. Beards. Overall: 7/10

    • cwoac says:

      Potential candidate for beard simulator of the year?

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        RaveTurned says:

        Maybe! Does it support TressFX?

        • Tyrmot says:

          Perhaps they are using TreesFX for all these deep, deep woods.

          • ecat says:

            TrissFX has something to do with deep wood too but this is a family site so details are withheld.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      I think you mean: “Beards” Too many box quotes. Not enough alt-text. Beards. Overall: 7/10

      On a related note, this hatred of pullquotes has been mentioned in every comments thread for the past week. The fact that they are still being used is a sure sign that they’re here to stay.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        I’ve blocked them and RPS still looks lovely for me!

      • Caiman says:

        Perhaps because only a small percentage of readers actually bother to comment, and therefore prevalence of a topic in the comments in no way reflects actual site user opinion. But hey, here I go. I rather like box quotes, especially in an article like this which contains Witcher 2 spoilers. So I’m skimming the article to try and avoid that stuff, and the box quotes get some useful information to me and highlight which paragraphs I actually want to read.

        • Josh W says:

          I can understand that, the problem is that it encourages skim reading, which encourages
          “what about this?”
          “they said about that in the article”
          “oh, ok, didn’t read that bit”

          which is something that rps have consistently been peeved about, so it’s strange that they’d encourage it!

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    MajorManiac says:

    Surely the title should be – “The Witch-way-er”.

  7. GallonOfAlan says:

    Yes, yes, yes but – can you take a Robust Sword of Dol Blathanna to the knee and never be the same after?

  8. Tuco says:

    The more I read about this game, the more it sounds like they took a lot of inspiration from Gothic/Risen… Which is absolutely great, in my opinion.

    • tobecooper says:

      Arguably they have been taking inspiration from Gothic since the beginning. IMO, the first Witcher isn’t influenced as much by Bioware’s or Bethesda’s games as it is by the good old Piranha Bytes’.

      • n3burgener says:

        I totally agree. When I played The Witcher back in 2007, I described it to a friend as feeling like a cross between Gothic and Vampire Bloodlines.

      • smeaa mario says:

        I agree too. And I will probably shed manly tears if this turns out to be a Gothic-like experience. Not like Arcania though. Please not that ffs.

    • E_FD says:

      I was thinking the same thing with a bit of trepidation, because the first two Gothic games were great, and then they said Gothic 3 would be all that stuff within a huge open world, which sounded incredible… and then the game itself was much weaker than its predecessors.

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      dahauns says:

      Well, the devs have referenced Gothic themselves in interviews (IIRC regarding world design and level scaling) so yeah, I think that’s a given. And yeah, I also think that’s great.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Kong says:

    Great. Want it.

    Just why did they create that gang with horned helmets? Ah hate it. It is so US-fantasy 1950’s.
    “I love viking movies. Vikings with fucking horns.” Killing Zoe

    • Merlkir says:

      It’s funny, because Skellige seems to be a sort of a vikingy/irish sort of island. And the books came out in the early 90s, so a little oldschool fantasy horned-helmet theme might fit.

      In all seriousness, the enemies are clearly cloned assets, I doubt we’ll be seeing too many identical horned helmets in the final build.
      And horned helmets, while a made up trope for vikings, were quite real in certain parts of history.

      • Arglebargle says:

        While certainly seen on some ceremonial helms, having a horned helmet is a ticket to an increased death rate. Like the boob plate, it is an artistic convention with deadly real world effect.

        • Merlkir says:

          Knowing other outrageously protruding objects people wore on helmets (not talking about knightly plumes, rather the bronze age and early iron age ones), horns would work about as well. All the talk about breaking necks and stuff like that is armchair philosophy. People actually tried wearing horned helmets and while it’s not particularly practical, it’s doable and a blow to the horns won’t kill you.

  10. mildante says:

    Great ideas, this is how RPG game development should be approached. I love Skyrim but this could be even better.

    • The Dark One says:

      If any other developer* looked at Skyrim said, “What we’re doing is a story-driven RPG set in an open-world environment. For us, the most important aspect of the game is always the story,” then I’d be worried about getting a game like Mafia 2 as a result.

      *Obsidian gets a pass for obvious reasons

  11. S Jay says:

    3 regions and 3 endings, eh?

    Coincidence?

    • krisk7 says:

      Yes a coincidence, I don’t think there is any reason to tie endings with regions, it would be like tying them to colors :) I expect different endings will reflect Geralt’s decisions towards his personal life and involvement in the world.

  12. nizzie says:

    I really hope this one doesn’t turn out the way TW2 was. I bought it ages ago, and it still doesn’t run properly on my decent system, not even on the lowest settings possible. And no, the graphics don’t justify anything, many other games look much better and run far better. Hell, even Planetside 2 is playable on medium/high settings on my rig, and that says a lot.

  13. Kefren says:

    I didn’t have to read this because there were quotes in boxes.
    [Irony. Hate those pull quotes, they imply we are attention deficient.]

  14. Aedrill says:

    I like what I’m reading but it’s too early for hype. All this stuff about witcher’s special senses sounds fun but also incredibly gamey. I’m on the “crime scene”, press one button to find clues? Sounds exactly the same like Detective Mode in Batman. I hope it will be done well.

    Anyway, I can’t wait and I hope the game will be great.

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    Qazinsky says:

    Great, now i want a potato on my plate. :(

  16. Tacroy says:

    Michał Platkow-Gilewski: We don’t have multiple colors of endings in our game [laughs].

    Attn: Bioware

    You have been burned.

  17. Yanpet says:

    Hunting will have larger role? Survival elements in gameplay???

  18. Rian Snuff says:

    Sounds brilliant.

    I do hope maybe on the hardest mode however it won’t highlight items for you or anything like that. Maybe if you get near something your hearing or sight will only slightly change, just to let you know that you should be looking around. But I think it’d add value to the game to actually look for things the hard way, but have said items places intelligently, in places people WOULD hide things or lose thing for example. Jewels along shorelines, an old treasure chest in the sand slowly uncovered slightly over time. In caves. Inside of a hollow truck. Under rocks. In an old battlefield.

    I find it immersion breaking with items are highlighted with some kind of freakin’ magic highlighter.

  19. Zitacos says:

    I still can’t get over my initial apprehension with the new open world design. I keep hearing Skyrim comparisons again and again, and I think fundamentally open world isn’t the right approach to the linear well defined story. People criticized The Walking Dead for its limited gameplay, more akin to a visual novel, but I feel that more gameplay elements on top of that game would have completely ruined why everyone wanted to continue. I just keep getting the vibe, the best we could get out of this “open world” is something like Mafia 2 or LA Noire. An open world that just feels pointless and wasted on the game that simply didn’t need it. And you know what would be even worse? A Skyrim clone of shallow and generic elements, in the witcher universe.

    I never played the Witcher for its faux-mmorpg gameplay or the Witcher 2 for its combat and sidequests. We all played through the broken mechanics of the first game, because the world, characters, and story was just so damn interesting. The Witcher 2 refined everything broken about the first game, and blew me away with an extremely tight narrative, and amazing new engine. I hope they prove me wrong, but I just want to see some real gameplay of “open world” and how it matters to this story.

    • Stevostin says:

      I think Open world without character personnalisation is a dead end. Actually any RPG withou that is a dead end. The very second you’re not deciding who you’re playing, it’s not really RPG. I do respect CD Projekt, they’re clearly a promising team but I couldn’t get my head into TW1 and not even TW2 (which was hugely better). And I doubt I can get interested in TW3. I am just not interesting in being a big white haired chippendale. Also, 3rd person view, I can’t see faces, I can’t see details, and I can’t feel I am the character. Maybe it’s better for sword fights, but fights are a minor thing to me. Also, can we see far away ? I want to see far away.

      Now, I could be interested in Mass Effect. Because I could decide of my face. Huge, huge difference. Let me be A witcher, not THE witcher, and I’ll have my fun. Even with goddamn stupid 3rd person view.

      • Aedrill says:

        You couldn’t choose who you were in Torment, you didn’t see faces or details in Torment, Baldur’s Gate 1/2, Fallout 1/2 and pretty much anything before Oblivion because technology was crap. If you’re going to say those RPGs were worse or “less interesting”, we have nothing to talk about. If not, you’re using double standards. Just because some games use FPP doesn’t mean you can’t be immersed while playing in TPP, same goes for character creation.

        Now if you’ll tell me that you don’t like Geralt and have problems with playing this role, that’s ok, the game is just not for you. But don’t try to convince people the problem lies within the whole concept of the game or that it’s developer’s fault.

        • Havok9120 says:

          This. So much this.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          @Stevostin – Firstly what Aedrill said.

          Secondly, if you can’t play a character, any character you are given, whether or not you as a player “like them”, if you HAVE to create who you want in every game, you cannot roleplay for shit. That’s not a criticism of your tastes, your tastes are yours but don’t pretend you like role playing games if you don’t like to role play.

      • Kamos says:

        Plenty of RPGs start with premade characters. Plenty of pen ‘n paper RPGs, for that matter. It doesn’t really matter whether you have created a character from scratch or had it made for you as long as you’re the one playing the role. Sometimes it is easier to get players into a setting and into a game if the characters already have some predetermined hooks and some background story. That is also why you’ll often see games in conventions where the GM has already created the player’s characters. What I’ve said applies to computer RPGs.

        On the other hand, a game can allow personalization and fall short of being a RPG if there is no choice and consequence. Many recent cRPGs are like that.

  20. kud13 says:

    Sounds very promising. The “36 possible endings with sig. differences based on your actions” reminds me of S.T.A.L.K.E.R: CoP’s ending (which took a page out of Fallout 2’s ending vignettes)–which to me says they are going to for a huge hand-crafted world that’s large enough to be look “open”, but with all content still pre-designed, rather then relying on procedural generation. Which sounds about as ambitious as a 3D Arcanum-type world would be.

    The “senses” I’m not too sure about. I mean, I’m sure they COULD be cool, and I liked lookking for Cedric in the woods by following blood spatters, while being rushed by Nakkers in TW2, but I really, really hope they don’t implement this at the expense of sense-enhancing potions. I realize these were much-maligned and the entire alchemy system has had a lot of falk from Game 1 onward, but it’s one of the things that gives the game its unique feel, not to mention makes it stick true to source material, rather than become another generic Western RPG.

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      fupjack says:

      “Get out of here, Witcher.”

      Oh, I’m sorry. I had to get that out. Anyway, how many procedurally-generated RPGs that have actual dialogue and first-person perspective like this are there? Any? Cause I’d sure like to see that.

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    dangermouse76 says:

    If this turns out good it could be just the thing The elder scrolls needs to up it’s anti a bit, and add some much needed depth to that 1 inch lake it has made.

    A 1 inch lake I have got a lot of fun from; but still depth of narrative, or rather a more focused and emotionally grounded plot would help a lot.

    But maybe that’s not the game they want to make.

  22. iucounu says:

    Why do I keep bouncing off TW2?

    It looks gorgeous, the combat looks deep, there are all kinds of things going on – but it’s annoyingly hard to string everything together. Signs, daggers, bombs, traps, swords, oils, mutagens, rolling around, triggering menus, responding to QTEs – I don’t really feel in control or aware of what I’m supposed to be paying attention to. The patched-in tutorial kind of stinks – ‘here’s everything you can do, one after another’ – I mean, if ever a game needed a kind of AssCreed Three Hour Hand-Holding Learn the Ropes Tutorial, this is it.

    I really, really want to play this game. I had a great time just noodling about in the first time playing simple minigames. But when I start out in search of the actual game, it keeps not being fun, just kind of stressful and frustrating. Is that a known, temporary phenomenon with this game?

    • Ruffian says:

      It may just not be the game for you or something. I do believe the opening is pretty rough, even with the tutorials. Actually if I’m remembering correctly, I didn’t REALLY get into the game until after the first big decision, when I realized that I really had never played anything that gave me so much real control over where the narrative was going. The combat was second fiddle to the story for me after that point, though it did grow on me quite a bit after I had gotten used to crafting potions before what I thought might be a hard fight, using the glyphs effectively, switching swords, etc…Sooo, yeah, it’s not just you, I think a lot of people probably had to push themselves at least a bit to get through the first part.

      • iucounu says:

        What it is is partly that I keep playing it for a few hours, then putting it down for a week and being completely unable to remember how to play it the next time I load it up. Thanks, though, I’ll keep at it, if only out of a bloody-minded reluctance to waste twenty-five quid or so!

  23. Megakoresh says:

    If there’s any game I’d advise them to look at in terms of building an Open World right with charming and interesting micro-stories to every location and turning NPCs into actual characters, it’s KoA: Reckoning.

    That game did a rather terrible job at main story and main characters, but oh my god, how great was it’s Open World. I never felt so involved with some forgotten village in the middle of nowhere and an old man there who lost his daughter and asks you to bring her back. It’s still beyond me how they managed to make all these locations and completely unimportant side-characters so interesting and engaging.

  24. Josh W says:

    This is a fabulous perspective. I really agree with a lot of what they are saying; skyrim had chains of triggers, where each quest unlocks a new one, with the end being a story of accomplishment, mission complete, with more memorable twists on the way. This mmo-like quest line approach is totally different to having people and systems and events that react to you, in ways you may agree with or disagree with. Quests can be embodied in this framework, but they would work differently; a straightforwardly completed quest would work as before, although they could also be subverted, ignored, or part completed. A request ignored could be completed by someone else, or they could fail in the attempt, whereas a quest taken but dropped could lead to consequences for those who relied on you.

    The real question I think is how you do timing; when considering the world as a living place that reacts, you need to decide how much you make that realtime, and how much you create discrete player controlled “ticks” where the world discretely calculates the consequences of your action.

    Do you have acts where things change? Slowly transitioning seasons or movements with the capacity to skip ahead? Specific actions that unlock the next stage of the story?

    I like the middle version personally, as many exploration minded players will try to avoid big changes so they can see the whole world before it changes, exploring each frozen time slice completely. Encouraging these completionists to either let the pace of change happen and slowly observe the world change or race against it will I think allow both to have a reasonably authentic experience, whereas obviously signposted abilities to skip ahead (eg geralt goes hunting for food/gathers ingredients, skip ahead?) will mean that people with less time can treat it more as a more conventional game.

    Imagine a fast travel and rest mechanic with random encounters from another game, except that they are derived from some of the things that would happen if you were slow travelling, and it covers a broader range of tasks that normally represent “getting a feel for a place” or getting settled in.

    If you can pace the ticking over of the world development right, then people who choose these options will have a shorter punchier game that corresponds to many elements emphasised in the witcher 2, whereas those who want to settle in to the world and understand how things fit together will be able to, and probably make more measured choices.

    Also interestingly, this interview does exactly what I thought previous interviews should do: Gently and consistently compare someone’s game to existing games, but let them show how they want to differ, what their own view on these things is, and not get absorbed into just critiquing an existing game. It’d be nice if there were a few different games for comparison here, and maybe a little more about the witcher 2, but everyone knows skyrim, and there’s naturally a lot to go through there.

    I also quite like the idea of people using “batman vision” to cover stuff that makes things more adventure-game-like, observation, history, the “look at this” side of things. Like the heart from dishonoured, bringing back some of the old adventure game verbs in alternative control schemes. If they can keep it above “press to see the invisible waypoints” and make it a real investigation mode in how it handles hunting, then we’ll be going somewhere special.