Talk Tech: The Witcher 2

Never bring a cold sword to a hot sword fight, that's my motto.

Apropos of nothing, I’ve joined the rest of RPS in becoming deeply excited about The Witcher 2. Look at it! Swords, hair, grass. Great. Last month Jim posted a nine minute video of CD Projekt talking about the tech behind the game, and today they’ve released part 2, which awaits you beneath the jump. At one point they use the word “polish”, which I of course read as “Polish”, in the context that they would “Polish” their game engine. That was weird.

Clearly the best line in the video is this:

“That’s why we chose to use middleware- that is, technology from internal companies. One of them is the Path Engine. It is a navigation library, allowing a drunkard to merrily stroll from the inn to his home.”

CD Projekt: Takin’ Care of Drunkards since 1994.


  1. Eclipse says:

    awesome! instabuy for me

    • Lobotomist says:

      Pre-ordered at GOG (you pay only when game is released)

      No DRM ! Plus you get one free classic game of your choice :D

  2. toaster says:

    OMG. Look at that grass. Just look at it.

    Dragon Age 2 will have to be one hell of a game to trump what Witcher 2 has in store.

    • Ian Moriarty says:

      Indeed, I’m glad the genre is getting more serious competitors on the “western” side of action oriented RPGs.


  3. goatmonkey says:

    Super excited about this game despite their silly pre-order bonus rubbish

  4. Navagon says:

    Oh lawd, Havok… *facepalm*

    Witcher 2: Spindledance Edition!!!

    • Lukasz says:

      beats physx by a mile

    • Navagon says:

      How so? Only I don’t recall any massive physics fuck ups while playing a game that used PhysX. Havok is nothing more than a comedy factor added to some games for reasons of ignorance or humour. Sadly in CDPR’s case it seems to be the former.

    • Lukasz says:

      You are really asking this Nav?

      Massive resource hog. Sure it is impressive but you need beasty machine just to use it properly.

      It is owned by nvidia. that’s a HUGE no.

      ATI users are f–ked. and Nvidia gets greater control over the market and that’s bad for everyone

    • Lukasz says:

      oh. I don’t see the superiority of Physx over Havock which you seems to see. at max settings yes but that requires double GPU from what I hear.

      at normal playable on normal pc settings there is not much difference.

    • Theory says:

      “It is owned by nvidia. that’s a HUGE no.”

      Whereas Havok is owned by ATI. Do some research next time.

      Both of them happily run in software mode BTW, making this whole point completely moot.

    • Lukasz says:

      Havok is not owned by AMD

    • DarkFenix says:

      Sounds like someone needs to worry about their own research before criticising others’.

    • Tayruh says:

      @ Theory

      I have a Radeon HD 5750 graphics card. It’s definitely not the best but it runs most new games at least 30fps with full settings at 1600×900 (my monitor resolution). However, running games with Physx like Mafia 2 cause the game to chug horribly. Turning Physx off in the settings gets me about 4x the frame rate. It sucks because I’d really rather have better physics, but not at the cost of the game being unplayable.

      As for ownership, it appears that Intel now owns Havok. So I guess AMD owners are screwed no matter what when it comes to an unbiased physics engine. I will say that at the moment Havok runs a lot better on my machine than Physx though.

    • Navagon says:


      For one thing, I wasn’t asking about the corporate politics of the situation. I’m aware that AMD are cautious about supporting PhysX because they’d be giving Nvidia too much control over the market. But what relevance does that even have when I didn’t even mention PhysX in the first place?

      In any case, those aren’t the only two options available.

      When CDPR claim that they’re using third party technology because it works perfectly and among them is fucking Havok of all things… well I’ve got to facepalm. No choice in the matter. It’s instinctive.

      Secondly, not a game on the market needs more than one graphics card. Consoles have been retarding graphics development for years. Which is why, in terms of system requirements, things have barely moved forward in the past 3 years. Any exceptions are all crappy console ports like GTA4 and Saints Row 2. Neither game would have been very demanding if they were even slightly optimised.

      Now even graphics card advancements are mostly focussed on tidying up problems experienced in previous generations. Well, apart from AMD that is. They’re still as incapable at coding drivers as they were as ATI.

    • Navagon says:

      @ Theory

      You’re thinking of Intel. Which is actually worse. The less I have to do with the geek mafia the better.

    • Suo says:

      I’d like to point out that Source uses a (modified) version of Havok, and I’ve never heard anyone seriously criticize the physics in Half Life 2 and the episodes.

      I think we’ve come a long way from the harlinquin-esque bodily contortions of, say, NPCs in thief 3

    • Navagon says:

      I can’t honestly say I’ve seen any improvement at all. Spindledance is still prevalent in a number of recent titles. In fact for me it’s usually the first indication that Havok is used in the game.

    • Lukasz says:

      i mentioned physx. You say it sucks for the game to use havok i say it is better for CDPR to use Havok over Physx., that’s all.
      then i gave you my reasons.

      and yeah. you need double gpu to run physx at max settings. one 580 cannot handle it.

  5. gulag says:

    Really glad the CD Projekt are getting another run at this. While the originals mechanics were novel, they couldn’t quite sustain the length of game they were embedded in. Thankfully the writing and story-telling carried me the rest of the way through. This will be a rare day one purchase for me.

    When the gaming history of the last decade is written, Eastern Europe is going to feature highly, and deservedly so.

  6. DJ Phantoon says:

    Yeah! Polish the fuck out of that game!

    … I know absolutely nothing about the Polish, other than I’m sure they’re quite tired of being invaded, thank you.

    • Urael says:

      I think their workforce is doing quite well reversing that trend these days, judging by the number of local supermarkets that now stock Polish food brands…

      The game sounds fabulous. It’s lovely to see little details like a drunkard’s path home being looked after. Little things like this really help bring a world alive. :)

    • Basilicus says:

      The first game’s Enhanced Edition had some impressive spit and Polish to it.

  7. Rich says:

    That battle, that is what Bethesda wished they could have done for the siege of Kvatch. Freaking wow.

  8. MrEvilGuy says:


  9. JohnnyMaverik says:

    Exciting stuff, glad to know both my brother and sister’s Laptops will be able to handle it no problem.

    • Pinky G says:

      I agree its good when games are scalable. But dont you think the minimum requirements were almost too low?

    • Jsnuk says:

      I often find the minimum requirements say nothing about how optomized a game is, or indeed how well the graphics scale. For instance back in the day crysis didn’t look too bad on medium to low, however some games on low graphics look like a grey mulch.

    • Pinky G says:

      Good point.

  10. Zetetic says:

    I’ve no objection to RPS writers being drunk when they post stories, in fact I positively embrace it, but ‘technology from internal companies’ should be ‘external companies’. That way, it makes sense.

  11. Nick says:

    Havok the leader.. for some stupid reason.

  12. skinlo says:

    Hmm, the minimum graphics card is my graphics card, but I easily exceed the other two things. Maybe time for an upgrade I feel.

    • goatmonkey says:

      This might be the game that makes me upgrade to something a little better but we shall see

  13. Pete says:

    Very excited for this, despite quitting the first one after a few hours. It had clear potential, but the script and combat was abysmal. This strikes me as much improved, however, which is a very promising prospect.

    • Surgeon says:

      You should maybe give it another try Pete, the script improves massively after the first couple of hours.

    • Simon Jones says:

      It’s important to note the difference between a bad translation (which The Witcher frequently suffers from) and a bad script. I actually think The Witcher has one of the best scripts written for games yet, even managing subtext and a decently layered plot.

      I wrote more about it in a recent blog post: link to

      But yes, you do kinda have to have a dual core brain with a dedicated thread to filtering through the dodgy translation to find the great writing underneath. :)

  14. clownst0pper says:

    I’m running a 4 gig quad core with a 4870HD… Think that’s good enough?:(((

  15. MrWolf says:

    My Boner Pants came in handy today!

  16. Surgeon says:

    “…a thread streaming game resources in the background, allowing us to eliminate loading screens”

    At bloody last.
    I feckin’ hate loading screens.
    They’re the biggest immersion buster going.

    • Basilicus says:

      To make up for CDProjekt’s obvious oversight in game design, Bethesda will be doubling the number of loading screens in Elder Scrolls V. Eurogamer has translated an Austro-Hungarian news report that indicates there will, in fact, be a dream world segment midway through the main quest of Elder Scrolls V “composed almost entirely of…procedurally generated loading screens.”

    • Jsnuk says:

      Correct me if I’m retarded but does this not entail a massive processor hit?

    • Nick C says:

      To Jsnuk:

      If you watch the video, you’ll see that they are requiring a dual core processor just for tasks like that. It eases the stress on the rest of the system, and will be even further optimized before release. I can’t wait!

    • Jsnuk says:

      So What you’re saying is, with my quad core processor, if one or two corea are taken up by this background stuff the other two will be dedicated solely to in the moment stuff and it will make everything run better?

    • Surgeon says:

      I’m not sure how many cores will be dedicated to different threads, but in essence, yes :)

    • Thants says:

      If Just Cause 2 can do the things that it did, there’s no reason that games can’t get rid of loading screens altogether.

    • Urael says:

      @Thants – Bloody well said. After both Just Cause games – where you can assault a mountaintop military base and see mountains and cities that you can travel to forming your backdrop – going back to the restricted level design of other games makes them look incredibly lazy, in the same way that playing GTA3 for the first time made most racing games look like they weren’t trying hard enough.

      We can all imagine the possibilities of those incredible engines used for other genres – now which developer is man enough to accept the challenge?

  17. PodX140 says:

    Polishing an engine:

    -Adding/changing copius amounts of code while under the influence of Vodka.

  18. Lucas says:

    Orange and teal continue their rampaging campaign against art. Since I read this I can’t help seeing it everywhere:

    link to

    • Basilicus says:

      That guy did a fantastic job of finding scenes from 5 films across two years that share a vaguely similar color theme, but I think he’s crying wolf:

      Inception: White and Yellow
      Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Brown and Blue
      Shutter Island: White and Brown (Blue and Red for effect)
      Salt: Black, Grey, White
      Robin Hood: Green and brown. Oh god, so much beautiful green and brown.
      Avatar: Green and blue
      Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince: Black and Yellow
      Sherlock Holmes: Brown and Black

      He’s dead wrong on The Wolfman, whose dominant color scheme was black and white. Blue and yellow hues are mainly used for specific locations in what was a beautifully graded, if deeply flawed, film.

      Star Trek, for such an expensively produced film, maintained pretty realistic coloration on everyone’s faces despite rotating every color theme they could lay their hands on and punishing epileptics with lens flare (and doing some interesting things with red, silver, and gold.)

  19. Navagon says:

  20. Kevbo says:

    Good video, especially like the honesty at the end about modding. Hopefully the game will do great and they will open the doors to modding :)

  21. Megadeth89 says:


  22. Anonymous says:

    Never played the first one, but this one looks like quite a lot of work is put into, so I’ll definitely check it out. Glad to see good games comes from Central/Eastern Europe.

    Havok is an Intel project (though not originally created by them), Physx is entirely Nvidia marketing scheme to milk the users.