CD Projekt: The Witcher 3 Multiplayer Hardly Set In Stone

By Nathan Grayson on April 4th, 2013 at 10:00 am.

'Oh god, multiplayer's a terrible fit. Divert all resources to more super dorky goat helmets!'

If you think about it, Geralt’s basically a bunch of super cool dudes packed into one hyper-dude, by which all other dudes are judged. I mean, he wields two swords, has lived multiple lives between his various states of memory having-ness, and is approximately 22 million times lustier than the average bear. Also, his newfound beard is considered an above average bear by most leading ecologists and bear raters. So basically, he doesn’t need multiplayer. He’s more than multifaceted enough all by his lonesome. Red flags were raised, then, when CD Projekt studio manager Adam Badowski strongly hinted that multiplayer’s in the works for The Witcher 3. During GDC, however, I had the opportunity to clarify the issue, and – whether the traditionally single-player epic sprouts a mound of hydra-like new heads or not – CDP insists that it has no intention of giving fans reason to worry.

“That’s something Adam mentioned in the context of us always looking at the best ways to make the games we’re currently working on. So multiplayer’s certainly something we’ll investigate, but it’s not currently set in stone for Witcher,”  marketing head Tracy Williams told RPS.

“We think about different methods, but nothing’s for sure right now. We’re just investigating some opportunities,” added lead gameplay designer Maciej Szczesnik.

Obviously, though, CD Projekt’s interested in doing something that takes (at least) two to make things go right. Because really, who isn’t these days? It means potential longevity, and that’s precious monetary lifeblood in an industry where mindshare’s becoming a measurable commodity. That mentality, however, is precisely why CDP’s having second thoughts about including any sort of multiplayer in the first place.

“It’s tacked on [in other games], but that won’t be the case here,” stressed Szczesnik. “If we decide to have any multiplayer elements, they’ll be tailored to the game. It will be the best possible experience in the single-player experience first. [Even social mechanics] have to be optional. With single-player, you just want to jump in and enjoy the story. Huge multiplayer features can be more destructive than helpful. We’re not trying to have multiplayer just to have it.”

Naturally, then, it’s all pretty touch-and-go right now. The Witcher, after all, has carved out quite a sizable niche in a rather packed role-playing kingdom, and single-player’s been leading the charge entirely. Thankfully, CDP’s well aware of that, and its goal is absolutely to make a third Witcher game – not Marketing Survey Friendly Fantasy RPG XVIII: The Vanillaning.

“At the end of the day, it’s about playing as Geralt,” concluded Williams. “So we look at the core elements of that and what RPG players are looking for, and I don’t know if multiplayer is really at the top of that list.”

“I don’t really think it’s possible to make that kind of experience in multiplayer,” added Szczesnik. “So that’s why we’re trying to investigate other options.”

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36 Comments »

  1. CaspianRoach says:

    “So that’s why we’re trying to investigate other options.”

    Dark souls asynchronous multiplayer elements in Witcher 3, you heard it here first.

    • Kodaemon says:

      Considering the nature of the titular Wild Hunt, I can definitely see potential for Souls-like invasions.

    • Ruffian says:

      I’d be cool with that, I think. Idk if they could provide enough variety of playstyle to make that truly interesting though, or rather that they would want to take the time to. I’m only going on what’s in TW2 though, and there’s a ton of different ways to spin the whole asynchronous multiplayer thing, I guess, so who knows? It should be interesting to see how they take it, if they do come up with something, regardless.

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      amateurviking says:

      Why haven’t more people ripped that off? Such a good system!

    • Ateius says:

      I dunno, getting randomly ganked by internet dudes in the middle of my in-depth choice-driven narrative-heavy RPG might qualify as one of those “more destructive than helpful” multiplayer features.

      • Coriolis says:

        Make it optional. Problem solved. Even dark souls does this to some degree with the covenants, although it’s not absolute.

  2. Grargh says:

    You with your puritan bears over there… in Europe, the average bear is at least 15 millionths as lusty as Geralt, and let’s better not talk about pandas.

    • Aedrill says:

      Yeah, European Pandas are the worst. They just won’t stop breeding.

  3. Bostec says:

    “Would you like Multiplayer in The Witcher?”

    No, not really.

    “Tough, your going to get it anyway”

    *Boo Hiss* If you must.

    “What would you like”

    A blonde with big ti…na only joking. Something like Jedi Knight 2, you know those 1v1 sword fight in a arena. I would have a pop at that..maybe. Its probably going to be Horde mode or something. Kill Wave creatures, upgrade sword/bomb/drink potion after sudden demise of said wave, raise and repeat. I’ll pass on that. Now Make it So (if you must…if you really really must)

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    DarkLiberator says:

    Wouldn’t mind seeing some sort of c-op mode with friends if we’re going all out.

  5. Cytrom says:

    As long as they don’t fuck with my singleplayer experience, they are free to experiment with any multiplayer they desire… if they do mess up sp / turn the game into always online, that’s 1 lost sale from me.

    Something that is completely optional, and additional to the sp component could be actually nice for a short while, it wouldnt last long enough to make it worth the effort though. But i dont want this social gaming garbage sneak into a fantasy rpg. Thats just a big slap to the lore and distracting my immersion.

    • lofaszjoska says:

      Oh this. I wouldn’t mind any form of multiplayer as long as it steers clear of the single player part. Not worried tough, I’d be really surprised if the CDP guys saw it otherwise.
      A competitive arena would be really-really nice, but then again, I wouldn’t mind some co-op monster bashing either.

  6. Alexrd says:

    “[Even social mechanics] have to be optional.”

    Love you, CDP.

    • Bhazor says:

      Don’t thank them yet. They’ve been known to change attitudes radically.

      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/12/15/cd-projekt-threatening-alleged-pirates/

      • Aedrill says:

        Is it something personal between you and CDP? Someone there stole your girlfriend or something?

        We’re talking about design choices and you’re coming with something 100% business related. I’m sure lead designer of The Witcher 2 was behind this idea.

        Also, they changed their attitude again when gaming community told them it’s a crap idea. This can’t be said about other companies, who still do it, but I don’t see you trolling comment sections under news about their games.

  7. MeestaNob says:

    Exactly zero people, even on consoles, will buy this for its multiplayer.

    I don’t think the clever lads at CDP will bother, after they have gotten their fact finding mission out of their system.

  8. Feferuco says:

    Why do people dread MP so much? Many games have already proved it is perfectly possible to have a fully realized single player campaign along with a multiplayer mode. If anything it is the MP mode that doesn’t get a decent treatment.

    I for one perfer when there’s MP, specially if I enjoy the gameplay. Playing a human, for me, will always be more fun than playing an AI. I feel people associate MP with CoD and CoD with broness and broness with bad things and then all MP is assumed to be a terrible thing.

    • Cytrom says:

      I like MP games too, especially ones with coop elements where people complement each other in a synergizing way that is more than just more than one people running around pointlessly … but not in my SP games. When i read a book I dont want “bros” giving me high fives while i try to immerse myself in a experience designed for ME, because all the meaning is lost and all i experience is the people around me instead. Putting mp in an sp game simply destroys the sp element completely. And reversely good MP devs shouldnt waste time implementing some generic garbage SP, instead of focusing all the energy on making proper MP experience.

      • Feferuco says:

        I agree only in the case where there’s some sort of forced mp aspect that changes the game entirely, like how Resident Evil became a co-op game. Then, whether it is destroying or improving the game, it changes it. But if it is a game mode separate from the single player experience I say why not.

        • stvornikus says:

          Several reasons.

          it takes resources away from SP. Even if you have new programmers programming net code, it affects basic game engine. Compromises have to be made to accomodate MP in the code (hit detection and animation need to be aware of network and latency etc.) and game engine becomes more complicated.

          And even if that were not true, more lines of code means more bugs (ask any developer), means more QA. (therfore less QA for SP)

          Also it means that main game designer(and other people) has to test out and provide feedback for MP having to split focus.

          There is no such thing as a free mulltiplayer it always has a cost.

    • malkav11 says:

      It may be possible, but it isn’t guaranteed, and it isn’t necessary. Most games I buy for the singleplayer. If they spend time, money, and effort on developing multiplayer as well, the singleplayer may not end up being bad, but neither is it being enhanced by that time, money and effort and odds are I’m not going to get a compelling multiplayer experience out of it. (In part because I don’t have much time for multiplayer.)

      • Feferuco says:

        That’s what I was talking about, the idea that the game won’t be as nice as it could have been because of multiplayer. I don’t think that’s true.

        First is that we can’t really know how budget is planned, for all we know they could increase the budget for MP expecting it’ll return its investment.

        Second is that there are many examples of games that turned out really good and had MP modes. Example, Uncharted 2 is a huge leap in quality, even if one doesn’t like the series it is easy to see how it improved, and Uncharted 2 had multiplayer mode for the first time.

        Half Life and Half Life 2, both had multiplayer modes added shortly after release.

        Mass Effect 2 and 3. Yes I know, ME3 has its problems but they are not in the scope of the game nor in the gameplay, for me in those two aspects it topped ME2 and it had great multiplayer.

        Red Dead Redemption, seeing it as either a sequel to Red Dead Revolver or Grand Theft Horse V, it is a big leap forwards and it had multiplayer.

        Portal 2, ended up a brilliant game and it had a brilliant multiplayer mode.

        Metal Gear Solid 4, sure it had its issues but like ME3 they were not in the gameplay, and it had a very fun MP mode.

        Dead Rising 2, continued to deliver what the first one did but much more of it, and it had MP. Kinda lame but it was there.

        These are just some examples of sequels that had MP added to them and turned out all around pretty great (yes I know I listed ME3 up there). One example people often bring to say how MP ruins a game is Bioshock 2, but people often forget it wasn’t made by Irrational.

        So I think there are more examples out there of sequels that were improved AND had multiplayer mode.

        What I really like about the MP in a lot of those games is how they give you a chance to really have fun with the mechanics. ME3′s online is a much deeper game than the entire gampaign. In MGS and GTA games (RDR included) the most fun to one could have was just fucking around and the MP modes really gave you a lot of room for that. The MP for both Half Life games ended up spawning some great games themselves.

        So I think odds are there’s more to be gained than lost, specially if you can trust the developer.

        • malkav11 says:

          You can’t spend the same time, money, and resources on singleplayer and multiplayer both. This is self-evident. Ergo, at the very best you are spending different time, money, and resources on multiplayer than would ever have been available for singleplayer. This doesn’t bring anything to the table as far as I’m concerned and it would make more sense to either invest those resources in a dedicated multiplayer game (if you think you have an idea that would actually sell and retain a playerbase), or hang on to them to allocate to a subsequent singleplayer title.

          I’m by no means saying that multiplayer necessarily detracts, though, just that attaching it to an otherwise singleplayer game is not an improvement, and there’s really nothing to be gained and plenty to be lost.

          • Feferuco says:

            Like I said, far as we know, any budget that’s put into MP could very well exist exclusively because of MP, since it brings profit. For an instance, the multiplayer in a lot of the games I mentioned there either have an in-game store or multiplayer DLC. What I’m saying is that the money put into MP would not be used for the game, because it wouldn’t bring the extra profit MP does. But we can’t know that.

            What we do know is that there have been plenty of games that exceeded expectations and had a multiplayer mode. And as someone who has enjoyed multiplayer modes, I say it has added value to the game.

            Playing Portal 2 multiplayer is very different from SP, it is a gameplay experience that can only exist on MP. Half Life’s multiplayer, as I mentioned earlier, was the origin of some amazing games. Free mode on GTAIV is pretty much the best way to fuck around with the game, which is incidentally the most fun you can have playing alone or with people.

            Then, for a lot of other games, MP actually gives you a chance to push the game. On MP modes it isn’t rare to find people playing the game in novel ways, doing things that would never work or be needed on SP. Playing against an AI, even if you try to push the game, you can only get so far.

  9. Lukasz says:

    a single cent which will go into development of MP is in my eyes a wasted cent.
    I am really disinterested with that game. Nothing I hear about it makes me want to play it.

    They are doing MP because some guy in a suit showed some data clearly illustrating that their NPV will rise but that percentage by implementing MP.

    Fuck that.

  10. aliksy says:

    I hope this doesn’t make modding/cheating impractical. I cheated like hell in Witcher2 because I couldn’t be bothered raising money or farming for ingredients.

  11. Danda says:

    I don’t need multiplayer at all.

    Even if you like multiplayer games, unless the one you want to play is one of the “hot” ones, there won’t be enough players. Even so, after a few months it will probably just die out anyway.

    Co-op is fine, but only if it doesn’t taint my singleplayer experience.

  12. ScubaMonster says:

    Color me highly skeptical. Any developer can claim they are doing it right, and several have made this claim only to fail. Look at all the single player games on consoles with multiplayer added. It almost always ends terribly. God of War Ascension, Ninja Gaiden 3′s multiplayer mode, etc. I’m not going to bother naming all of them. Not saying it’s impossible to do it well, but the odds of this turning out well is heavily stacked against them. I’m pondering why they even thought adding multiplayer to this type of game is a good idea in the first place. To add multiplayer to a game like The Witcher is most certainly tacking it on no matter what they say.

  13. Paul says:

    No multiplayer, please !

  14. Ender7 says:

    Hell no to multiplayer. What the hell is this modern shit with all games that just HAVE to have multiplayer. That is wasted resources and money that should be going into the singleplayer experience. I have no interest in saying hi to some random idiot somewhere else int he world. I do NOT want stupid social shit. CDP should know their core fans do not want this shit. Its kind of a bad sign the way CDP has been talking in some interviews lately.

  15. kud13 says:

    No multiplayer

    no “Social Features”

    Yes to hardcore story-driven RPG with choices + major consequences, plz.

  16. Ahtaps says:

    “Also, his newfound beard is considered an above average bear by most leading ecologists and bear raters.”

    Geralt’s so manly he has a full grown adult bear growing on his chin. This is why he’s 22 million times lustier, they are obviously inferior products, plucked from the chin of the progenitor of all things beary.

  17. Kamos says:

    “It will be the best possible experience in the single-player experience first.”

    Good. If you must have multi-player in it, make sure it stands on a proper single-player base, instead of just gluing things together awkwardly.

  18. cHeal says:

    Not bothered by Multiplayer for this. I’m in it for the story. However, it seems to me that the easiest implementation of this would be through the Arena System, that I’d imagine is already planned (it was worthwhile addition to The Witcher 2). Make the Arena optionally co-op, or versus and it could make a really really awesome MP mode. Something simple and unique. Not trying to do anything too smart, but just allowing people to engage with each other.

    I predict no MP on release, but MP in the Enhanced Edition. League tables, rankings etc. It would be a fitting end to the series. Finish all the story stuff and then have fun online and get perhaps another 6 months of a years play out of the game.

    I personally really liked the combat in The Witcher 2, I expect it will be improved for the next game, So I think a MP mode akin to Jedi Academy could be pretty awesome and could give the Franchise the longer life to sustain it until the next Witcher game is released (which of course won’t be a sequel, but will be a separate game based in The Witcher world, thus will likely be 5-6 or more years after the release of The Witcher 3). I think MP’ing up the Arena Mode could be a really worthwhile addition to the game but it should not be allowed compromise the Single player, but it’s perfect add-on content for the Enhanced Edition!

  19. Megakoresh says:

    Hmm, didn’t I see this text somewhere already…

  20. Lazarus_Soma says:

    To be honest, as long as it doesn’t detract from the Sp then i can think of at least a couple of ways Mp in witcher 3 might not be a bad idea.

    Remember the big arse battle between the revenant armies in act 2 of TW2? what if that was the online multilayer, a sort of witcher flavoured napoleonic wars style big epic battle arena where people can just pop in have a bit of fun with lots of weird and wonderful units and have a decent afternoon or whatnot.

    Since like the last game your most likely going to have geralts companions tagging along with you; why not have an optional Co-op mode? grab a few friends who maybe are a little hesitant to get in the game and have them tag along playing as triss, the bard fellow and drinky mcdwarf(sorry can’t remember the names for the life of me right now, brains in a bit of a fugue state) since they’re going to be with you regardless in the single player why not let some freinds take controll and have a bit of fun with mixed tactics if you want to? or be socially repressed and stay the hell away from anything even slightly representative of another human and just enjoy your completely intact single player experience without it being impacted in the slightest?

    Just my thoughts on ways multiplayer could possibly work with the witcher at any rate.