The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Interview: DRM, Open World, and More
Geralt of Rivia isn’t pretty. Prominent facial scars, a set of freaky yellow cat eyes, and a shock of white hair make him look downright villain-esque. Still, the monster hunter looks gorgeous in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Developer CD Projekt RED rolled out the latest open-world installment of its hardcore fantasy RPG series in a lengthy hands-off gameplay demo at E3 2013, and Geralt has never looked better. Aside from the eye candy, what exactly can fans expect from chapter three? I sat down with Gameplay Producer Marek Ziemak to find out, and we chatted about everything from story to co-op play to modding, and more.
Game Front: TW3 is being built with a new engine, REDengine 3. Can you provide some details on what the new engine allows you to do as developers compared to the tech used in TW2?
Marek Ziemak, Gameplay Producer, CD Projekt Red: REDengine 3 is another evolution of the same engine, but this time, it was created for multiplatform games and games that are next gen. There are a lot of changes in the technology. The biggest is that it allows us to create an open world, a world you can explore without any loading times. The way you travel the world, on horseback, sailing in a boat, or even swimming, it changes the way we create the whole world and REDengine 3 allows us to do all that.
GF: You mentioned multiplatform. The Witcher, up to this point, has been a PC game first. The Witcher 3 is multiplatform, but is it still a PC game first?
Ziemak: Our goal is to always deliver a game that is the best for the platform it is created for. When we started out, we didn’t have the resources to create a multiplatform game, even though we would have liked to. We had to focus on the PC. Then, when we were working on The Witcher 2, we really wanted to bring it to different platforms, so we had to change our focus and maximize it for the Xbox 360.
Right now, I think we’re more experienced, the studio is bigger, and we believe that we can focus on all the platforms at once. It’s not a PC game being ported to consoles. Having said that, we also want to make sure the controls, the rendering, the technical possibilities are fully maximized on each of these platforms, so high-end PC gamers can still expect to see a more visually impressive game.
GF: Let’s talk about story versus open world. In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim — to make the inevitable comparison — I’ve spent countless hours exploring, but I still haven’t managed to complete the main storyline. How will The Witcher 3 attempt to find the balance between a world I want to venture off the beaten path and explore and a beaten path players actually want to follow to the end?
Ziemak: That’s a big challenge for us, connecting the open world and the intense storyline, but it’s a challenge we’ve been aware of from the very beginning. The first two titles allowed us to learn how to create storylines players get sucked into and don’t want to leave for too long. That definitely helped. We’re also trying to connect as many side quests as possible to the main storyline. We’re trying to blur the line between what’s a sidequest and what is the main quest. There are plenty of gameplay mechanics that will draw players back into the story even as they travel through the world and explore different places.