The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings - Developer Q&A - April 13th 2012

At a recent event at the BAFTA venue in Piccadilly, London, we had the chance to attend a Q&A session with Bartek Ocham and Mariej Ocham, developers at CD Projekt, regarding the upcoming 360 release of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. During the presentation, the devs outlined the various additions that have been made to the game since its original PC release in May 2011. We were also treated to a series of game demo's using save files from various points during the three act narrative, which highlighted the impact of player choice throughout the campaign.

Among the most prominent changes to this "enhanced edition" were the revisions made to CD Projekt's custom built game engine (which Mariej referred to as "a real labour of love, but worth it in the end"). A new, more intelligent camera system has been implemented, along with improved menu navigation, and a slicker target lock on mechanic designed specifically for controller input.

There is over four hours of new content in the Enhanced Edition.

There's also over four hours of new content, which includes new quests, cutscenes and items. And in a similar fashion to the upcoming Extended Cut for Mass Effect 3, recap and outro movies have been added to the end of the game to better reflect the consequences of your actions. This was in direct response to player feedback which has, and will continue to be, an important part of the development of the series.

Q. How much do players have to know about the backstory of the game in order to fully understand what's going on in the Witcher 2?

We have included a lot of text based info and cinematics that explain who the Witcher's are, how they were created, and why they have developed these mutated abilities. So it's there for players who have no previous knowledge of the story. But if you've read the books or played the first Witcher game for PC, then you will be able to appreciate a lot of references that we've included within the game.

Q. Is there any one particular feature that you wish you could have included in the Enhanced Edition?

We probably had enough ideas for content to make the single player 200 hours long! But at some point you just have to say stop. The Enhanced Edition includes everything that we always wanted to have in the Witcher 2. But we're always coming up with new ideas though!

The graphics and scale of the game are both very impressive.

Q. Any plans to port the original Witcher 1 to consoles?

Right now, our focus is on the Witcher 2, so we can't comment on that right now.

Q. What elements define this as an adult game?

There are lots of things to consider when you're making a game for an adult audience. You have to understand what the target demographic is looking for. We think that intense combat and a storyline with emotive dialogue are both very important. Also, player choices should be more about deciding between the lesser of two evils than just good and bad. We find that complicated combinations of these types of choices are more satisfying for adult gamers.


Q. Why did you decide to go against the traditional "good vs. evil" dynamic when creating the morality system for the game?

We explored the traditional "+1, -1" idea of morality in Witcher 1. But we wanted the choices you make to seem more ambiguous at the time you were making them. The consequences of those decisions would happen later on in the game, and we felt that focusing on this made the story more intense and engaging.

Q. The scenery in the game is beautiful. What is your process for constructing it?

We really spent a lot of time on developing concept art. We also watched a lot of movies and played quite a few different open world games. After we shaped the plot and overall artistic vision for the game, we looked for real world references to make the in-game scenery as interesting as possible. We used 2D photographs and then recreated elements of them as 3D art. Locations in games are important, as they allow you to shape the story through the shape of the world.

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Namco Bandai
CD Projekt
17th April 2012
PC 360