CD Projekt RED: “The War Between Good and Evil Isn’t Interesting”

CD Projekt RED simply doesn’t find the tropes of high fantasy interesting and will continue to pursue mature, morally grey themes in its games.

Speaking with GI International, studio head Adam Badowski explained his team’s penchant for morally grey characters and stories. He said:

“We always wanted to avoid simple good and evil scenarios. The war between good and evil isn’t interesting for us. We love controversial stuff, anti-heroes, Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns, for example. So we have controversial roles and post-modern influences in the storyline.”

Working on The Witcher helped the studio develop its gritty style, and Badowski wants to see that grit taken a step further with Cyberpunk. He said:

“We don’t think that there are enough games for mature, adult players – Cyberpunk is going to be one of them. We learned a lot from working on the Witcher and we want to go even further on Cyberpunk. There are more main characters, we have different classes and character types, so you can expect some new elements to the storyline. Geralt is described in many books, but for Cyberpunk we need to create the character from the start. We’re going to keep the same style as we had in the Witcher in terms of moral decisions, the black and white side of the world, but creating a character from scratch gives us new elements.

“What plays a crucial role in Cyperpunk are street stories, which will be more intimate and emotionally engaging for the main characters. I think that epic events are important to these characters, but first we need to focus on the characters themselves and offer choice on epic events.”

I must agree that black and white morality is dull, a paradigm appropriate to a simpler time but outdated by today’s standards. Give me anti-heroes. Give me shades of grey. Give me a character-driven story.

How do you feel?

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6 Comments on CD Projekt RED: “The War Between Good and Evil Isn’t Interesting”

Rjcb

On March 8, 2013 at 10:13 am

That’s is interesting. But many of today’s plots are now IN shades of gray. Emo guy, guy troubled with past, etc., or badass guy, I’ve been in prison and I know the dark side, etc.

At least many of the games I have played have moral ambiguity, especially the more recent titles. What I haven’t seen are heroes/villains/ emo dude who are fully committed to doing good or evil, even with the ability to choose to be morally ambiguous, unless I’ve missed a few games, there hasn’t been a totally evil (committed and logical and dangerous because of fanatical devotion to a cause which may or may not be totally evil lol) or totally pure hero… maybe I’ve missed out on some good games… but that’s what it seems like to me.

T Wal

On March 8, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Saying good and evil are dull and don’t belong in stories anymore is like saying boss battles are cliche and don’t belong in games anymore. They still have their place, they’re still relevant, they just arn’t as appreciated these days. A simple story about good and evil could focus less on the big plot and more on the characters and adventure, like Lord of the Rings. That’s not to say I don’t like CD Project’s storytelling, I love it, actually. But classic stories don’t really go out of style, it just depends on how they’re done.

MIke

On March 8, 2013 at 1:35 pm

So wait, then to these guys Star Wars isn’t interesting…and that’s just blasphemous.

gasmaskangel

On March 8, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Antiheroes and moral ambiguity are all well and good but when story boils down to unlikable people doing unpleasant things to other unlikable people (the Hostel school of writing) I lose interest. To my ever lasting shame I haven’t been able to get through more than an hour or so of either games in the Witcher series do to the punishing learning curve, so I can’t comment on the writing in those games or how well CD Projekt Red walks the line between antihero and douchebag, however I do have a couple of thoughts on writing that applies regardless of moral ambiguity, and that is that for a story to be good we need only a few ingredients, and I’m of the belief that most of them are about characters.

You could tell the most cliched “hero rescues princess from evil wizard” story imaginable and if the characters are likable, and if not relatable then at least possessing understandable motivations and emotions, then I, unsophisticated hick that I am, will still enjoy it just fine. Like wise, you could have a complex and nuanced story of political machinations and real politik, with complex philosophical untertones and all that other good stuff that I’m sure makes for compelling drama, and if the characters are all relentlessly unpleasant jerks I’m just going to turn off the game and walk away because I have no reason to care about any of the characters.

It is often said that moral ambiguity is more realistic, however too often people take this to mean “make every character a selfish racist bastard with no redeeming qualities” and the fact is that isn’t true anymore than the mustache twirling villain and lantern jawed hero are.

doonerbandit

On March 8, 2013 at 4:38 pm

GvE meh I don’t really care what kind of bothers me and prompted me to comment though is the fact there wil be no character creation. Certainly not a deal breaker but still that kind of sucks.

Brad

On March 8, 2013 at 8:51 pm

@Mike: The truth is, if you look at all the Star Wars content out there: the movies, games, books, and other Expanded Universe stuff, you start to realize that there were times in Star Wars that the black & white morality thing was modified to fit a character or situation. It was never really consistent. Take Return of the Jedi for instance, as Luke used Force Choke against the Gamorrean guards in Jabba’s palace. In later books, Luke wound up having to use the dark side to impress an alien race that was trying to take over the galaxy. Not to mention the numerous instances throughout the Star Wars Expanded Universe concerning Grey Jedi (whom George Lucas has since said don’t exist), Jedi Knights going over to the dark side only to come back as good guys, Kyle Katarn becoming a Jedi, going to the dark side, rejecting the Force, and then becoming a Jedi again, Dark Jedi and Sith Lords whose only reason to be on the dark side is to “save the galaxy” (I’m looking at you Revan). The truth is, Star Wars is a poor example of an interesting black & white morality saga simply because there are inconsistencies throughout. I realize that many Star Wars fans essentially believe some variation of “if it happened outside the movies it doesn’t exist”, but that’s the same as saying “I ignore an entire season of my favorite TV series simply because I don’t agree with the way it was written.” Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. You may not like it, and you’re free to ignore it, but it’s still part of the story.

@gasmaskangel: I’m going to have to agree with you there.