The Witcher Interview

RPGDot has conducted an interview with CD Projekt, in which an unnamed member of the team answers questions about the company's history and their upcoming RPG, The Witcher. Here's a bit about their experiences with Interplay and BioWare:
Q: Why did you decide to expand beyond publishing into game development itself and why did you choose this project for your first game?

A: We had already made the decision to start developing our own game 11 years ago :) because right from the very beginning we've been dreaming of developing computer games. However, we always try to make sure that the things that we take on are done well and we were waiting for the right time when we felt we would be able to do things on the right level. We expanded our publishing activities into more countries and we increased our market share and profits. At a certain moment we were ready to take that decision. Several people from the management team of CD Projekt stood down from their activities as part of the current company and started to get together and create a team.

Of course not everything went to plan, as can be seen from the story told here. Firstly, at the beginning we only wanted to make a port from PS to PC and this was supposed to be Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance (BG:DA). We wanted to start with a simple project, where it was possible that many elements were already ready. However, the BG:DA project became very complicated. After six months of initial plans and receiving the source code and dev kit, exactly one day before the contract was signed it turned out that Interplay's situation was getting worse very quickly. We had several honest conversations in which we were loyally warned that we could take on the project but that it was not known if it would actually happen or not. In the case of BG:DA it was not only about the financing, which as a local distributor we could have compensated for from sales in Poland, but it was also about the potential legal problems connected with the involvement of other parties than just Interplay. Finally, it was with a heavy heart that we decided not to begin work on the project.

However, the idea of developing our own game and the early beginnings of a team were still there. We decided to work on developing our own game of this type and we knew straight away that the best idea would be to base it on Sapkowski's work, of which we are all big fans. It's just the perfect material for a computer game. We would never have been able to think up such a developed, colourful and interesting world and main character ourselves. So we very quickly signed a suitable contract, which also only went ahead after a few twists and turns, since the author had already signed a contract with another company which had in fact decided to abandon the project after their first attempt. What was worse, however, was that this contract was signed in the early days and in a bit of a rush and both parties forgot to include a clause on what would happen if work on the project was abandoned! So theoretically the other company still had the rights! Fortunately, we were able to sort that out and then we were able to start work.

The first year or two was spent writing the script and creating the initial game prototypes based on our own technology - so in the dark depths of the internet it's still possible to find some of the screens from that version. A very small team of 4-5 people was involved at that point. We really got to work on the project only after we got the licence to use the Aurora in 2003. Then that team grew to around a dozen people and now there are over 40 people involved.