The Witcher 3 First Expansion "Almost Done", PAX Panel Recording

While it didn't really have much to announce compared to, for example, BioWare, CD Projekt RED still had a presence at PAX Prime and even a panel, which thankfully was streamed on Twitch. The first part of the panel can be found at this link (starts at 37:08 with a trailer for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt) and continues at this link.

The panelists were Twitch streamer "CohhCarnage", who asked a series of questions concerning the writing process to translator and English writer Travis Currit and senior writer (and novelist) Jakub Szamalek, who both work at CD Projekt RED. Most of the panel concentrated on the writing and translating process at the company and focused on the difficulties of adapting a series of novel to the videogame format, but there are a couple of snippets that are arguably more mainstream and newsworthy.

While replying to the questions from those who attended the panel, Szamalek explained that the first expansion for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, titled Heart of Stone, is "almost ready" and is shaping up to be really interesting. Also, when asked whether CD Projekt is planning to do a physical or digital stand-alone release of the Gwent minigame for The Witcher 3, he argued that he'd pass the idea to his superiors, but that Gwent fans have something to look forward in the future, though he didn't elaborate on what it is.

During the rest of the panel, both Currit and Szamalek talked at lengths about the difficulties of adapting a series of novels. Adapting the same story wouldn't really work because gamers want their choices to be acknowledged by the game, so CD Projekt decided early on to go with a sequel to Sapkwoski's novels, though even that wasn't easy because of the very definitive ending the Polish author wrote. Another difficulty comes from the lack of visual references, which made it difficult to come up with character designs that could properly satisfy all the fans of the series, who had been imagining these characters for a very long time and had very strong feelings of how they should look.

Speaking of characters, while Szamalek wasn't at the company at the time, he asked his colleagues about the reasons that led them to wait until The Witcher 3 to follow up on the fates of pivotal characters in the books such as Ciri and Yennefer. At the time, the company was afraid to be unable to do justice to the characters. Szamalek explains that, for example, Yennefer is a very complex character that mixes a cold personality with moments of real affection, and back when they were designing the first Witcher game, the writers weren't sure they'd be able to portray the character correctly.

That said, there were some positive aspects that came from adapting a novel series. The concept of the Witchers, roaming mutated monster hunters, lent itself very well to a videogame and provided an excellent starting point for the Polish designers. Additionally, because the series was so successful, CD Projekt had the confidence to carry on with the weirdest aspects of the plot. If the books hadn't been published and the CD Projekt's developers were forced to come up with the plot on their own, they might have been more hesitant.

Finally, when speaking about the game's translation, Currit argued that one of the issues that come with making a translation that feels too natural is that some players will inevitably forget that the game comes from a unique Polish perspective. Currit indirectly referenced an editorial from Tauriq Moosa for Polygon in which he argued that the game should be criticized for having an all-white cast when both the in-game universe and historical medieval Poland would have allowed for people of color to be included.

Currit argued that the game was based on the reality of modern Poland, which is overwhelmingly white in terms of population. From a Polish perspective, ethnic and racial divides and tensions aren't based on skin color, and that's why most characters, human or otherwise, are white in The Witcher 3 too. That said, Currit explained that he understands where the complaints came from, and that other countries have a much more diverse population that expects to be represented in videogames.