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24 April 2014

Developer Spotlight: Of Witchers and Cyberpunks

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We got a chance to ask CD Projekt Red some questions about their two upcoming games, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Cyberpunk 2077, which are probably my two most anticipated games in a long time.

Yeah... They said this is the old renderer.

 

Founded back in 2002, CD Projekt Red has made some of the most amazing games in recent history. The Witcher was the company's first game, and it did so well that it led to a sequel that even made its way to the Xbox 360, The Witcher 2: Assasin of Kings. Unlike many companies who are busy making rather mainstream titles based on tired formulas, CD Projekt Red goes out of its way to deliver beautiful, polished games that cater to mature adults. That M rating on the box isn't just tacked on because there's a bit of blood spurting out of an opponent.

The stories are deep and meaningful, and seemingly harmless choices could have serious ramifications later on in the game or even in its sequel. Best of all, they don't hold the players hand, giving them the freedom to research and experiment when dealing with all manner of situations until they find out what works for them. The next addition to these series is The Witcher 3: Wild Huntwhich will use the beautiful REDengine 3 as well as being the first in the series to feature an open world game. CD Projekt Red hopes to bring all the great elements of a more focused RPG and merge them with the amazingly fun, distracting, loose entire days or weeks at a time sandbox nature of games like the Elder Scrolls series.

If The Witcher series wasn't enough for us, CD Projekt Red recently announced Cyberpunk 2077, a new open world RPG taking place in a dystopian world. Much like The Witcher series it will be a mature game, aimed at adults and not for everyone. This "not for everyone" approach to game development CD Projekt Red is so fond of is actually an incredibly refreshing sight in the industry where everyone is trying to make games more accessible and reach a broader audience. 

Cyberpunk 2077 will take the Cyberpunk 2020 tabletop game and convert it to video game form, as well as moving the timeline up a few decades. Fans of the table top game will be able to see how things have changed, from improved technology to the way in which certain events have played out and affected the world. This is no small task however, as there are so very many books of source material to go through. But CD Projekt Red not only has the blessing of Cyberpunk 2020 creator Mike Pondsmith, he is also working alongside them in order to create an authentic Cyberpunk experience. Excited as I am for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and finding out what happens next with Geralt and the Northern Kingdoms, I have to admit that Cyberpunk 2077 is probably the one game I'm looking forward to the most, and if CD Projekt Red can hit its target render I'm going to need to overhaul my system. If you haven't seen it, take a look at the teaser trailer below.

 

 

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Jakub Rokosz, Senior Quest Designer on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt  was kind enough to answer some questions about Geralts latest open world adventure.

Gamersaurs: In the past there have been games with multiple choices that affect the story line and get a sequel. Players are lucky to see an honorable mention of their previous actions in the sequel. How will choices from The Witcher 1 and 2 affect the events and outcomes in Witcher 3, if at all?

Choices and consequences were always an important part of our games, and a motivation for making the sorts of games we do. So, for sure, we aim to include importing savegames to the game if we have the technical capability to do so. As for details – this would give you too much spoilers, so I won’t dig into that.

Gamersaurs: The Witcher 3 will take place in a much more open world this time around. What sort of epic adventures, besides following the story in The Witcher 3, will players be able to embark upon in the open world?

The plot of The Witcher 3 will have some separate threads. What’s important is that they all interfere with each other, so if the players pay less care to one part of the tale, that indifference will still have influence on other plot lines. In the main narrative about Geralt’s quest for his loved ones and the Wild Hunt, each land in the open world will have its own unique story to tell. There will also be great sidequests and activities like Monster Hunting.

No quest will be automatically generated. Every little bit of the narrative is hand scripted and carefully designed. So don’t expect something artificial just to fill the game world. The game will be different stories we want to tell you and not just send you running on FedEx quests.

All in all, the game will be about 100 hours long – the main plot is 50 hours, while other tales will account for the second half of your play time.

 

Beautiful, frozen scenery.

 

Gamersaurs: I've heard monster hunting being mentioned in previews about The Witcher 3. This instantly brings up memories of playing Monster Hunter - all the preparation that went into hunting or capturing a beast. How will monster hunting work out in the Witcher 3?

When Geralt gets a contract to kill a beast he must first learn more about it. He can study the place where the monster has been seen last and examine the clues it left behind. Then he can track it to its lair and learn more about it. This knowledge may prove crucial in the final confrontation. Knowing which body organ, for example, gives the monster some advantages can allow the witcher to aim directly at a key target and facilitate victory.

Gamersaurs: There was a fairly drastic change in the way combat handled between the first Witcher and Witcher 2. What improvements have been made to the game over all, especially combat?

We went through some fan feedback and there will be improvements in the combat system. First of all, we made it more responsive. Now, one button press is exactly one blow, which will also take a similar amount of time. Also, each strike can be interrupted by a defensive move, such as a pirouette.

Also we’ve changed the camera system in a way which will allow the player to control all of the combat ground. No enemy will get behind you without you noticing. There have been some changes in the enemy AI to make it more interesting – groups of enemies communicate with each other and try to surprise the player.

Gamersaurs: I saw that the Witcher 3 is going to have horses for players to ride on. Is there a chance that Geralt will be able to take up mounted combat or have to fend off mounted assailants?

We’re working on a way to deliver blows from horseback, but Geralt was trained in a more “dueling” type of combat. So unmounted combat plays to Geralt’s advantage in most encounters.

 

I think Skyrim is a little jelly right about now.

 

Gamersaurs: Gambling and brawling have always been fun side distractions in the Witcher series. Will these be expanded upon in The Witcher 3? Maybe some horse races, jousting or just stumbling across tournaments while completely losing track the main story line?

The mini games will be back, and yes – dice poker amongst them. The other ones have been improved and new ones added. So there will be some time to sit at tavern for a couple drinks and then have fun any way you want. Witchers sometimes need breaks too.

Gamersaurs: The Wild Hunt has been mentioned and hinted at through the previous two. Nothing was really made clear about them other than they were part of why Geralt had amnesia and what players could find in some scrolls or books in the game. Will we finally get to find out more about them and even engage them in combat or rigorous verbal debate?

We will make sure that the game’s story will be easy to dive in for every player. The Wild Hunt, a cavalcade of ghastly spectres known from European mythology, is a very important part of the main narrative and will be introduced, so no one should get lost.

Gamersaurs: The few screen shots we've seen of The Witcher 3 are nothing short of amazing. What are the system specs required to run this beautiful beast of a game?

These screens were made using our old renderer. So the final results will be much different and resemble CG movies. The game is out in 2014, so there’s still plenty of optimization ahead of us. Talking about the specs right now is just impossible.

Cyberpunk 2077

Damien Monnier, gameplay designer talks to us about Cyberpunk 2020's first foray into video game form and all of it's awesome technological glory.

I bet that big stompy bot wants to be BFF's for life!

 

Gamersaurs: The Cyberpunk table top game has been around for a long time. For people that don't know much if anything about the tabletop game: What is Cyberpunk all about?

Damien Monnier, gameplay designer: Cyberpunk is about saving yourself, as Mike Pondsmith once said. It’s about staying human in a world which has the technology to dehumanize your body and the society which takes your psyche away. That’s what Cyberpunk is all about.

Imagine a future in which we have made substantial advancement in almost every field, but the social problems and decay just got worse. It’s putting the cybertechnology in the punk nature of man.

Our Cyberpunk world is based on a pen-and-paper system by Mike Pondsmith and will be set in 2077’s Night City, a large American city of the future, somewhere between San Francisco and LA.

Gamersaurs: Like most table top RPG's, Cyberpunk 2020 gives players a lot of room to create the character players want to play. From cop roles to reporters. How much, if any character and play style customization will Cyberpunk 2077 offer players? Will the role or play style a player chooses affect the story?

Roles and customization will be very important for both the story and the gameplay. One of the main rules of Cyberpunk is style over substance, and we have this always at the back of our heads. Also, we are CD Projekt RED! You can be sure that many thing will affect the story, from tricky moral decisions during quests to the way you look; the game world will adapt and change around you depending on how you choose to interact with it. 

Gamersaurs: If we were to take a lovely stroll through Night City, what wonderful and terrible things could we expect to see and do?

The streets of NightCity are very harsh and reflect some deep and very, very dark social conflicts. Some districts may be ruled by gangs, others will be under the influence of Corporations. Those worlds will have to meet at some point; and will do so whether the player is around to witness it or not. Our goal is to have this living city that can change and evolve with or without your help as well as rewards for exploring and understanding what NightCity is. Something that is omnipresent in NightCity, whichever part you choose to explore, is Braindance. Braindance is a new fad which has everyone hooked up. In a nuthsell, Braindance allows you to record your feelings and visual experiences, so they can be packaged and sold on to other people. Some are legal, others not so much, depending on the sort of ‘experience’ you want. Tou might trip over a Braindance junkie that was thrown out of their home as they were too hooked to Braindances, hooked to somebody else’s more interesting life.

We will also have psychos, whose bodies simply cannot handle having any more implants added to them; that’s what drives them crazy. Then of course we have Max-Tac, the special unit in charge of exterminating any Psychos.

Gamersaurs: Cyberspace is kind of a big deal in most any Cyberpunk setting. How will it be represented in Cyberpunk 2077 and how would a player go about accessing it?

It’s too early to talk about cyberspace now. But we can assure fans that we know how important it is for the settings.

Gamersaurs: While looking through some information on Cyberpunk 2020 I stumbled across something called Braindances. The general gist of it, at least what I gathered, it looked like you could actually live someone else's life, experience everything that they did. It's the ultimate form of putting yourself in someone else's shoes with a great chance for things to go horribly wrong. These, on their own, seem like they could be an incredible addition to the game, especially when performing investigations. Can you explain more about braindances and how will they be handled in Cyberpunk 2077?

The most important thing for the player that we can talk more about is the mentioned social status of braindances. I’ve already talked about the fad and junkies, but it’s also worth mentioning that BrainDance built a whole industry around itself. We call it something like New-Holywood with its own stars and celebrities and productions. But there’s also an underground producing illegal productions, with more unique and disturbing themes.

Braindance is an invention that changed the world and is one of the most important advancements in 2020. 

 

Gamersaurs: From watching the teaser we saw what could happen to any person in the Cyberpunk 2077 that abuses augmentations, substances and generally over indulges in the great new pleasures of the future. That being said, there aren't many games that include a sanity system that changes a players perceptions of the world or takes some degree of control away from them like Amnesia has. Is there any chance that a player could turn into a psycho for a while and then realize just what they've done?

The systems for becoming a psycho are tested. We have to have some sort of side effect for overdosing on implants, for pushing your body too far, but we can’t talk about the details now.

Gamersaurs: Night City looks like quite an impressive place to wonder around in, judging from the teaser trailer, but what about the world outside? Will we get to see places beyond night city on release or is this being left as room to grow for Cyberpunk 2077 with expansions?

 Who knows? you’ll have to check it out when the game comes out, when it’s ready.

Gamersaurs: Gameplay is the most important thing in any game. At the moment not much is known about Cyberpunk 2077 other than it will adapt the Cyberpunk table top RPG into a video game. Can you give us an idea of the sort of gameplay we will be seeing in Cyberpunk 2077?

It will be definetly an RPG. We are working really hard to adapt the rules of the pen-and-paper system to a video game. Our ideal is to create a title which plays great in front of a screen, but with a character that can be printed out and then played with your friends. Of course, not all systems from the original pen-and-paper game can fit our game, but our job is to experiment and bring players the most fun possible.

Gamersaurs: Last but certainly not least are the graphics. I heard that the graphical goal of the game is to get as close to the graphics of the teaser as possible. Given how incredible that trailer looked. How close does it look like tech will be able to support this graphical fidelity and what kind of system specs would be required to run Cyberpunk 2077 at full blast?

CG quality is our goal. Our engine team is working on a new renderer for the REDengine 3. This will be used also in The Witcher 3 and I think that new hardware will support us. So just wait and see…

Big thanks to CD Projekt Red for answering our questions! So what are your thoughts CD Projekt Red's upcoming titles? Let us know by commenting below!

Last modified on Wednesday, 06 March 2013 23:53

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