Still Hardcore? Studio Boss Adam Badowski Talks The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
This time around, Badowski explained, Geralt’s many attacks and magical abilities will be introduced over time in a step-by-step format, so that players actually learn each skill, instead of having everything dumped on them all at once as it was in The Witcher 2.
“We have a gentle learning curve in terms of the UI and gameplay elements – for instance, we’re introducing a grid-based inventory, which in itself constitutes a huge change,” he said. “Also, rather than include a separate tutorial, The Witcher 3 will naturally introduce new mechanics as they appear. By the time you get a good grasp of ‘A’ and ‘B,’ you’ll start seeing some ‘C’ and ‘D,’ and so on down the line.
“The Witcher 2 taught us some very valuable lessons. For this next game we’ve made sure to balance things so that it can cater to the needs of even the most hard-core PC gamers, while being accessible to more casual players as well.”
We’re also particularly interested in the steps CDP is taking to create a truly living world in The Witcher 3. We’ve seen some impressive living worlds before, most notably in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Badowski said The Witcher 3 will feature more than just vast spaces to make it feel expansive and alive.
“We’ve worked extra hard to make it more than just vast plains to travel through — it’s living and breathing. It’s believable,” he said. “We’ve designed a ton of points of interest and filled our world with them — basically, these are areas that exist just for the sake of exploration. They contain side quests, monsters or NPCs, all of which are interesting enough to give the player a reason to venture off the main storyline. The time required to exhaust the main plot and the side quests will be split in half — approximately 50 hours for the main storyline and 50 hours for other quests.
“As for the living world, we didn’t take the easy way out, it’s not just a few birds here and some random animals there — we’ve got a whole ecosystem where large animals will hunt smaller ones and creatures will react to the day and night cycle,” Badowski explained. “For instance, Geralt will have to avoid some beasts after the sun has set. NPCs are also an integral part of the realistic world. Villagers will defend their households against monsters, they will also react to weather conditions. Farmers will look after their livestock, while merchants will travel across the land.”
Badowski added that the economy will also play a key role in The Witcher 3’s living world. If, for example, Geralt is in a sea port city or town, the economy will be based on fishing, with the area filled with fishermen. Accordingly, prices on products from the sea will also be cheaper in harbor towns and more expensive inland.
Talk of The Witcher 3’s economy got us thinking about CDP’s own economic policies and its stance on digital rights management and piracy — two areas in which the studio has been outspoken in the past. Badowski said CDP will continue to keep a tight hold on things like DRM, and looks to deal with piracy by listening to its player base.
“Ideally, we’d like to view pirates as just misunderstood customers,” Badowski said. “Players have always come first for us; we listen carefully to their feedback and incorporate that into our development process where applicable. They’ve shown us a lot of love and have also trusted us to deliver content of a certain quality.
“That’s why our philosophy revolves around the idea of making their lives as easy as possible. DRM doesn’t fit into that — we feel it’s actually the opposite. Furthermore, it’s a mechanism that often punishes players. Obviously, we don’t encourage piracy, but it’s a symptom of modern times and DRM isn’t the right tool to tackle that problem. In a nutshell, where we can (hint: on the PC), we try to be as DRM-unfriendly as possible.”
One of the ways Badowski said CDP tries to encourage, thank and reward paying customers is by making post-launch add-on content free for them, as it has with the Enhanced Editions of the first two Witcher titles. Post-launch plans for The Witcher 3 are still a ways off, Badowski said, but whatever form it takes, CDP wants to make it free for customers.
“We owe it to them, after all — we wouldn’t have succeeded without their support,” he said. “You can be sure that we will always do everything in our power to continue with this gamer-friendly policy.”
Mike Sharkey is a former GameSpy (RIP!) editor. He’s currently contributing to IGN and Game Front while mourning the Bruins’ loss in the Stanley Cup. Follow @mjsharkey on Twitter.