PlayStation Universe recently hooked up with Michał Krzemiński, Senior Art producer for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt which is due for release on Windows PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in 2014.
The interview talks about many aspects of the game, including the new narrative, the evolution of the series and how the developer has harnassed the power of the PS4 hardware
1) Similar to Valve, Projekt Red is often praised as being one of the "good guys" of the industry by always looking out for the gamer with free DLC, free modding, etc. Is this something you’re aware of? Does it play a part in your decision-making and what content you release, knowing you’ve created this image of yourselves?
Michał Krzemiński, Senior Art producer: It’s not exactly an image that we’ve created, it’s who we really are. CD Projekt RED was founded on the idea that it’s always worth it to give gamers more. Instead of barricading ourselves from people with DRM, we decided to trust gamers and build a long lasting relationship with them. And it seems to have pay off. Are we aware of that? Yes, we are. We’re humbled and honored by it.
2) As the Witcher 3 is the third game in the series how do you plan to bring PS4 players, who will be experiencing the franchise for the first time, up to speed with the story?
We’re still experimenting with various ways of getting PlayStation gamers up to speed but it’s important to emphasize that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt features a standalone story and you don’t have to be familiar with what has happened so far to have fun right off the bat. Don’t worry though; by the time the game launches we’ll have you covered!
3) The Witcher 2 gave players plenty of room to explore, but you’re taking that a step further in The Witcher 3 with an open-world setting. What prompted this decision?
We always wanted to make an open world game as it’s the perfect way to make the story truly complete. We believe that small steps are the key to success when you want to deliver quality gaming. Each game we’ve made pushed us forward in terms of storytelling, visuals and world size. The Witcher 3 will be the culmination of all these steps and, we sincerely hope, will help to shape the future of next-gen RPGs.
4) One of the challenges of writing a narrative which caters to player choice is accounting for the numerous variables and story threads that consequently play out. How do you manage such a daunting task?
I’d like to give you some super-secret witty answer you’d say “wow” to but the reality is that we have to sit down and brainstorm the hell out of a given choice and its consequences. Can gamers do this? Or maybe that? Or maybe something entirely else? While brainstorming, we try to get in the shoes of gamers and predict their choices or think what they’d like to do if they had an opportunity to become Geralt in a particular situation. Is it difficult? Yes. But it’s challenging in a very fun way.
5) A criticism of The Witcher 2 was that with the Prologue clocking in at about three hours, the main narrative took a while to get off the ground. Are you looking at ways to get players into the action faster this time around?
Yes, we’ve significantly improved pacing and made the overall learning curve of the game much smoother. That doesn’t mean the game has become more casual or that the story will be less intense – it means is that we’ve balanced everything to be very attractive from story and gameplay perspectives from the very beginning.
6) You’ve promised around 100 hours of content. Can you give us an example of some of the activities/objectives that have you included to keep players engaged over such a long play-time?
With The Witcher 3 you’ll get 50 hours of main story arc quests – that’s a lot of gameplay time even on its own. The additional 50 hours are side quests, minigames and something we call monster hunts. Monster Hunting is an entirely new feature in the series. Since Geralt’s a witcher, his main source of income is slaying beasts. In the previous games, he did not devote much time to this because of being involved with political affairs. It’s different this time, though. Because of the Nilfgaardian Invasion, the political powers have other matters to worry about, and Geralt is free to roam the open world and get back to his roots. During Monster Hunts players will track down, identify and slay powerful beasts that are embedded deeply in the world they live in. It’s not a typical find and kill XYZ type of thing. We’re providing a backstory to every monster so players feel that they’re a part of the world and not just randomly spawned around the place. I think it’s really something.
7) How has item management evolved since The Witcher 2?
We’ve experimented with grid-based designs but I can’t say anything concrete right now, as everything might change at this point.
8) CD Projekt Red has previously claimed that the RPG maxes out PS4 and Xbox One tech? Is that right?
We’re doing our absolute best to deliver graphics that will be truly next gen. To put it in simple words, we want you to say “wow, so this is how next gen looks like” when you first launch the game and we want that “wow “ to stay with you throughout the whole experience. Will that max out the technology? That’s a really tough question to answer because you learn the system along the way and games that are developed at the end of a console’s life cycle are always better looking despite the hardware remains unchanged. And it’s not a thing specific to us, other studios are subject to this as well. Nonetheless, The Witcher 3’s visuals will blow you away.
9) What specific strengths does the PS4 architecture bring to The Witcher 3?
Working with the PlayStation 4 is a really great experience. Not thinking about hardware limitations and unleashing all the creative firepower we have is a dream come true when it comes to game development. Also, we’re really thrilled to be finally able to release on the PlayStation as many of us here really love the platform.
10) Your next project is Cyberpunk 2077, also coming to PS4, when can we expect to hear more about this project?
Well before 2077, that I can promise