The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Interview: DRM, Open World, and More
GF: Combat — it evolved quite a bit from The Witcher to The Witcher 2. How is it evolving in The Witcher 3 and what can we expect?
Ziemak: We like to think of it as a blend of hardcore RPG mechanics and the precision and speed of a fighting game. This time, it’s more intimate, it brings you closer to the action because we changed the camera. We also changed Geralt’s stance in combat so he’s not running with a sword in combat, he’s ready for action. It’s also more dynamic. The attacks are very fast, but you have the time to see and analyze what’s happening around you. In that way you develop more respect for your enemies. It’s more intimate, more dynamic, and maybe even a bit harder. You have new ways to parry, to dodge attacks… another massive change is that a single click is a single blow or a single move, so you have more precise control of Geralt this time.
GF: You mentioned difficulty. That was a point of debate in The Witcher 2. Some felt it was too hard while others appreciated the challenge. Can you describe the difficulty level overall in The Witcher 3?
Ziemak: After patching The Witcher 2 and creating the Xbox version, we were quite happy with the difficulty. Of course, we got a lot of feedback from players. The lesson we learned is that we need to create a better tutorial system. Many difficulties arose when we didn’t introduce some core systems at the outset of The Witcher 2. This made the game more difficult than it should have been.
We learned the lesson. Now we’re putting in the effort to more smoothly introduce gameplay mechanics in The Witcher 3.
GF: How about setting the difficulty level of particular monsters? Will enemies scale to the players’ level in The Witcher 3?
Ziemak: We’re not following the enemy-scaling trend. We’re a bit more old school in this regard. There will be some parts of the world players don’t want to visit until they’ve built up their skills and developed their character. No level scaling. We want players to feel like they’re becoming a more skillful player and a more powerful character.
GF: Glad to hear that. Changing gears, how about DRM? The Witcher 2 launched with DRM before it was quickly removed with the first patch. Some time after launch, the studio also very publicly went after gamers who pirated the game. What is CD Projekt Red’s current stance and strategy in regard to DRM and piracy?
Ziemak: I can’t comment too much on that because it’s a bit of a business thing. I will say that we perceive DRM as problematic for the players. That’s the main problem and why GOG.com offers DRM free games. I’m sure The Witcher 3 will launch as a DRM-free game.
GF: How about modding? The RedKit is live and players are currently modding up The Witcher 2. Is The Witcher 3 being designed with the modding community in mind?
Ziemak: I can’t really comment on this one too much either because I’m not involved at all with the RedKit project. We are absolutely happy that players are creating new content for The Witcher 2, going so far as to recreate the original Witcher using Witcher 2 tools, which is fascinating. It’s great to see as a developer. It means that we’ve created cool tools and given players a good reason to use them. We’ll see. Time will tell what will happen, whether we decide to release REDengine 3 to players, how we would do that… time will tell.
GF: Last question: Post launch, in general, are there any particular plans in mind? The Enhanced Editions for the first two games were a big hit, but that format doesn’t seem to fit with an open world game. DLC expansions?
Ziemak: You’re right, Enhanced Editions aren’t really something we’re thinking about. Then again, they weren’t really something we thought about with the first two games. They came about largely because of the feedback we received and ways we saw that we could polish the games.
So no, no real post launch plans. Right now, we’re fully focused on developing the best possible game. That’s our focus until release.
We appreciate Ziemak taking the time to chat with us, especially in the middle of an insanely busy E3. Stay tuned to our E3 channel for all the news from the show!