CD Projekt RED Blog Update: Tough Choices

29 Sep 2012

In the latest entry to their official blog, CD Projekt RED's Maciej Szczesnik covers the tough choices the team has to make throughout the development of a game - from a "like it" system that the studio uses to integrate new ideas to a "consequence graph" that helps them determine what ramifications there might be for implementing specific features. The Witcher 2 is referenced directly, but the scope of the design apparently applies to all their games, past and present:
In the studios network we create a table with every idea listed and give people the opportunity to add their own. To choose the best ideas we use a “Like it” system – similar to facebook. Each team member can “like” an idea. The ones with the most votes are implemented. This is our first benchmark – after all 120 people are less likely to be wrong than one.

With the ‘new ideas’ problem solved, we had to think about improving what we already had designed. Sometimes a great idea, got general acclaim and we implemented it immediately. Suddenly the new feature caused some trouble for the other teams or spoiled the overall gameplay of the game. We always think about the consequences of each new feature, but sometimes we cannot predict everything. We wondered how could we improve this. We observed that when foreseeing consequences people tend to think only one step ahead e.g. “if I don’t set the alarm clock, I can be late for school”. But we don’t think about what does being late imply.

Our first solution was a “consequence graph”. We used it while creating The Witcher 2. At one point we thought about Geralt dual-wielding his swords. Geralt would fight with both his steel and silver sword. The idea seemed spectacular, especially in the visual aspect. Then we drew the consequence graph. The starting point was called: “dual wielding combat”. Then we started thinking about the direct consequences e.g. “looks great”.

Then we went deeper.. and we realized that dual-wielding interferes with one of our main gameplay rules – our swords serve two different purposes. The silver one is against magical monsters and the iron one is against humans. The idea was finally aborted and Geralt’s image remained coherent.