The Witcher: Enhanced Edition Interview

Article Index

Eschalon: Book II

Developer:CD Projekt RED
Release Date:2008-09-16
  • Action,Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Isometric,Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
In mid-February, CD Projekt RED announced plans to release an "Enhanced Edition" version of The Witcher that will not only address a few pending issues but will also add a reasonable helping of new content. In an attempt to learn more about the ambitious project, the upcoming D'jinni editor, and the franchise's future, we cornered CD Projekt's Tom Ohle, Katarzyna Kuczynska, and Mateusz Kanik and presented them with the following questions:

GB: The Witcher has received numerous "RPG of the Year" awards and has sold over 600,000 copies in its first few months on store shelves. How does it feel to see your game met with such high praise and success?

Tom: I think it's safe to say that we're really happy with the reception The Witcher has received, but we also realize that there's a lot of room to improve. There's still a pretty significant audience out there that hasn't played the game, and that's a big part of why we're working on The Witcher Enhanced Edition. For a debut game from a fledgling studio for a (dead platform) in a relatively niche genre, though, I think the game's success is astounding.

GB: Given the game's success and the employment opportunities at CD Projekt for console programmers, is there a chance we might see The Witcher ported to the Xbox 360 and/or PlayStation 3? Why or why not?

Tom: The PC has always been our lead platform, and our goal was (and, with the Enhanced Edition, still is) to deliver the best role-playing game for PC gamers. That said, a console version is entirely possible the game would really lend itself to a unique console-RPG experience. However, when and if we decide to do a console version, it will have to be significantly reworked to be relevant to console gaming. From a business perspective, we don't see any point in doing a straight port of the game; why release the exact same game a year later on consoles? If we release the game on 360 and/or PS3, it will be improved and enhanced in a way that allows it to compete with other AAA titles on those platforms we want to surprise and impress people all over again.

GB: Tell us more about the recently announced Enhanced Edition. What can we expect from the two new adventures being included in the revised version and how will they tie into the original storyline?

Tom: When The Witcher was originally released in October last year, we got a lot of important feedback from fans and media about the issues they had with the game. For the most part, gamers were able to look past their concerns to get a lot of enjoyment out of it, but in some cases, those problems long load times, inconsistent dialogue and stability, among others meant enough to have a very negative impact on how some people perceived the game. We've made things better through patches we've released since launch, but we really want to fundamentally improve the game and give gamers the ultimate role-playing game. For The Witcher Enhanced Edition we're fixing nearly everything that players and journalists complained about, repackaging the whole thing with some awesome bonus content like two music CDs, a making-of DVD, the D'jinni Adventure Editor and more. People who already paid for the original will get all of the in-game improvements for free in the form of a patch. which may or may not be gigantic.

Katarzyna: Both adventures take place before the events presented in The Witcher. The Price of Neutrality tells the story of a girl that arrives in Kaer Morhen and brings some trouble to the witchers' world. She is Eskel's surprise child and she wants to become his student. But there are some powerful people going after her and Geralt has to make a difficult choice. The Side Effect adventure is a completely different one. It focuses on interesting and diverse gameplay with a lighter, less serious plot. Geralt will have to help his friend Dandelion get out of trouble by gathering a considerable amount of money.

GB: The press release mentioned that you'll be retranslating all of the English text, redesigning the inventory panel, creating over 50 more character models and 100 more character animations, and reducing loading times by 80%. Such revisioning sounds like quite an undertaking. What steps are being taken to ensure all of these features become a reality and meet your goal of releasing a version of the game that's "devoid of all major criticisms"?

Tom: Yeah, some people probably think we're crazy. Really, it's just a matter of having a team committed to making their game even better. and working diligently to implement all of those features. It's definitely going to be a challenge, but we're confident we can get it done. In any event, we're dedicated to getting the improved version of the game out there, and we're not in a position where we have to rush the release, so we'll take as long as we need.

GB: You've stated that an Enhanced Edition downloadable update will be made available for those of us who already own original copies of The Witcher. Will this download be provided free of charge or will there be some sort of fee associated with it?

Tom: We don't want to charge fans of the game for something we feel they deserve, so the plan is to release the in-game content as a free download. As I mentioned earlier, it might be a massive patch. so just keep some hard drive space open :).

GB: How powerful and versatile is the upcoming D'jinni editor and how does it compare to other editors such as The Elder Scrolls Construction Kit or the NWN1/NWN2 toolsets? Will the editor be "officially" supported and well-documented?

Tom: The D'jinni Adventure Editor is essentially the same tool the team used to develop the game, and we've taken the last few months to make it a bit more user-friendly. Since we're not working with a tile-based system, as in Neverwinter Nights, or really any sort of terrain editor, D'jinni won't make it quite as easy to create new areas for new adventures. That being said, we've got some huge areas in the existing game that you can use to create your adventures think of how big Vizima is, for example and I imagine we'll see some mod teams spring up that create their own areas using a 3D tool.

We created a special designer team, the Live Team, whose sole purpose is to help modders get used to D'jinni and to help them create their own adventures. There is a Mod Editor forum (which we'll rename to (Adventure Editor forum) to get in-line with D'jinni's official name) on our website, where everyone can ask any question about D'jinni and the Live Team will try to answer them. We've also made two adventures of our own to give the players some new entertainment, but also to give modders some examples of what they can make with this tool.

Mateusz: D'jinni has many integrated and useful functions like a dialog editor, a cutscene editor and a special effects editor. Of course you also have the possibility to create your own scripts (NSS and LUA) using the built-in script editor.

D'jinni will be released as a BETA version so it won't be supported in a technical manner, but you can count on developers to help with adventure creation, scripting problems, etc. With D'jinni we will be providing documentation, and there will be an official wiki page where developers will post more hints and useful information about the Adventure Editor.

GB: If talented members of The Witcher community begin creating some amazing content with D'jinni, is there any chance you might start some kind of a premium module program like we've seen with the Neverwinter Nights games?

Tom: It's entirely possible that we'd roll out premium adventures for a certain fee. We really want to continue to support the fan community for as long as possible something that's pretty difficult to do with a single-player RPG so new content is one thing we're looking at. We're already working with external groups to create new adventures, and I expect fans will come up with some awesome content soon after D'jinni is released.

GB: CD Projekt is now the majority owner of Metropolis Software. What does this mean for both current and future CD Projekt games? What do the guys at Metropolis bring to the table?

Tom: We're really excited about Metropolis joining the CD Projekt group. With Metropolis on board, we now have three projects in development that constant flow of games should help us make a greater impact on the industry. They've got a really talented team the engine they've developed for their upcoming shooter, THEY, is awesome, and we'd love to make use of their technical prowess to further enhance the other projects we're working on. Going the other way, we're excited about the prospects of having CD Projekt RED's design team ensure that the story in THEY meets a very high standard; we want that game to compete with other great story-driven first-person shooters like BioShock and Call of Duty 4.

GB: With Metropolis on board and CD Projekt having been split into two teams, you now have three titles in development. We know that Metropolis' THEY is an FPS, but can you give us a better idea of what we should expect from the other two games? Will the CD Projekt teams be focusing primarily on role-playing games going forward or will they be branching out into other genres as well?

Tom: For now we're totally committed to making the best PC role-playing games we can. The Witcher was our first internally developed game, and it's done quite well for us. Needless to say, that franchise is our focus on the CD Projekt RED side, and it's really all we're thinking about for the next little bit. Sure, we'll announce other stuff in the future, but let's stick with Geralt for awhile.

Thanks for your time, guys!