Following up on the success of The Witcher 2: Enhanced, CD Projekt is hard at work on its upcoming modding tools, collectively known as the Red Kit. Scheduled for release sometime in 2013, it gives users the tools to establish their own worlds, quests, and branching storylines within the Witcher's reality. It's a spiritual successor to their Djinni toolkit based on the original Witcher, but the entire interface and workflow have been refined to make the process simpler to use and easier to understand.
Everyone using Red Kit will have access to all assets from The Witcher 2, including character models, textures, shaders, animations, and sound effects--essentially everything you need to create you own Witcher adventure.
Based on the demo shown at Gamescom today, simple quests can be created in as little as 30 minutes. It all starts with a flat plane, but the world comes to life once grass, foliage, and elevation are applied. Modifying terrain elevation is achieved via a paintbrush-like tool, allowing users to sculpt the terrain to their liking, all in a matter of seconds, not minutes or hours. Vegetation such as grass and trees can be generated on the fly, but with a few alterations to graphic sliders, the density, number of clusters, and even "energy" (action potential) can be adjusted rather quickly. Vegetation is generated based on user-defined parameters, but also on elements such as the chosen terrain's natural ability to sustain water underground.
After quickly creating a landscape, the CD Projekt artist controlling the demo dropped a cabin and a non-player character into the environment. Before setting characters in a scene, you have the ability to alter their appearance and default animation. In order to turn the NPC into a veritable quest giver, one must simply apply a line of dialogue and possible responses, each of which is an event trigger, either activating, or ignoring, the quest on offer. It's also possible to generate camera angles on the fly based on who's speaking, but you can adjust timing and positioning to your liking as well. Dialogue is represented as text, but CD Projekt is working on tools that will allow you to import your own voice-overs, although this won't initially be available when the kit ships in 2013.
You will, however, be able to import your own 3D models (meshes) created in your favorite modeling software. The one catch is that all models must exist within CD Projekt's proprietary format, but they plan on releasing plug-ins for the most popular tools in order to streamline the process.
There was mention of integration into Steamworks, but there was no official word on it and when it would become a reality.
All told, Red Kit is an extremely powerful modding tool that puts the power of a CD Projekt dev into the hands of users. The graphic, node-based structure presents the scripts associated with mods in an easy-to-understand fashion, but dig deeper, and you can tweak nearly every aspect of each character, environment, and quest to your liking. The plan is to ship the kit sometime during 2013, but interested parties can apply for early, closed-beta access starting today, at www.thewitcher.com/redkit. As usual for a beta, CD Projekt is looking for feedback from individuals and groups interested in modding in order to iron out some of the existing kinks, as well as refine the experience, but in its current state, it's already looking like one of the most robust modding tools on the market.