Witcher Developers Divulge Development Secrets

Gamescom 2012: Two of the creative minds from developer CD Projekt Red share some of the lessons they learned from developing The Witcher 2.

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At this year's Gamescom, Marek Ziamark and Maciej Szczesnk from CD Projekt Red talked through some of the development strategies they designed during the production of The Witcher 2. The goal in creating these strategies was to "provide an objective criteria for the decision-making process." Too often, they argued, development teams feel like they lack cohesion or are ruled by a tyrannical direction who is not open to suggestions. While there were seven strategies total, only three strategies will be covered here.

First, there's the "Like It" Method. This is a spreadsheet filled with ideas and short descriptions for abilities in the game. The entire staff is then asked to review the list and vote on which abilities they most want to see in the final game. This crowd-sourcing method provides a good indication for which ideas are the most exciting and also serves as a good brainstorming tool. While the example was for character abilities, this method could also be applied to items, monsters, or other features.

Second is the Consequences Graph. This tool forces the designer to consider all ramifications of a new feature by outlining them individually in a flowchart. As an example, the developers revealed that they had considered including dual-wielding swords in The Witcher 2; however, after penning the Consequences Graph and seeing all the hurdles this would involve, they decided against it before committing any resources to the task.

The final point covered was Risk Analysis. This tool takes the basics of the Consequences Graph and applies them across the entire project. When building a Risk Analysis, the director will want to consider every major risk they could encounter, define the probability of each risk occurring, and think of a prevention plan (as well as a plan B in case that plan fails). Doing this will help you see the big picture of your game and the challenges you might face.

These three are just a sampling of the many tips the developers had for Gamescom attendees. These tools were also not designed to be set in stone, but rather are ideas to be molded and adapted depending on the studio's needs or style. We're just hoping one of these tools can help us divine when their next game, Cyberpunk, will finally hit store shelves.

Discussion

51 comments
rukshan47
rukshan47

Dear CD Projekt RED, 

As for me you are the only game developer company who earned so much respect after Remedy Entertainment . Don't let anyone buy you! Never!!!

keyan3d
keyan3d

Oh dude draw your silver sword

coop36
coop36

Ah the difference it can make when you arent a cold faceless money hungry 'corporation'. These guys are gamers for gamers imo.

iluvOP
iluvOP

Good dev group but lately it seems that they have been on a small egotrip for some reason.

Sup3rn0v4
Sup3rn0v4

Respect to the fullest for this dev. Keep up the good work CDPR!

Many of nowdays' devs need to follow your path...

And yes, can't wait for Cyberpunk release :D

snake3107
snake3107

CD Projekt Red kudos to you guys! respect!

Vambran
Vambran

Good game. I had issue with the game map though. Found it too hard to access and read.

ghostXzero
ghostXzero

how about CD project learn how to program properly to eliminate input/control lag?  the problem still exists in the latest version 3.2 of the enhanced edition of witcher 2.

Peter_Eater
Peter_Eater

While I prefer combat style from the original Witcher, CD Project Red have done so many things right on Witcher 2, that it sits in my top 10 games of all time.

I especially love their customer care. The mere fact that they listened to what gamers wanted from the game was truly inspiring. What blew me away was the DRM free policy and absolutely free DLC and comprehensive updates.

As a matter of fact, I'm re-playing The Witcher 2 at the moment, because they recently updated all game version to Enhanced Edition with a hefty 10.5GB update/patch.

Any and every developer should look at what and how CD Project Red are handling this game. They have A LOT to learn from them.

Alygator
Alygator

CD Projekt has remained the last of the true gaming company's that made Epic games. Hope they will never be bought by EA.

 

ulgk
ulgk

The Witcher 2 was a fantastic game. Whoever plays this game knows that it is not easy. Strategies and tactics exists for different types of enemies and bosses. Timing is also key. Unlike Diablo 3, where the stupid inferno difficulty is nowhere near acheivable.

pbmpharmacist
pbmpharmacist

Witcher 2 was great.  I never finished Witcher 1 as the combat was dreadful.  So this is a company that definitely LEARNS.  Kudos to them.  Big fan of this publisher.

FoxDragoon
FoxDragoon

I think a strategy they failed to use was the one that says don't suddenly end the game just as the character is reaching maximum potential.  The only thing that really bothered me about this game is that it ended 5 minutes after my character finally felt complete. 

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

The secret to their success is that for Risk Analysis, they had George Costanza at the helm as Risk Management.

Lamachina
Lamachina

Here is their BIG secret. DON'T SELL OUT LIKE OTHER RPG DEVS. THE END

Doomrul
Doomrul

They still didn't fix the weapon+armour  set bonus animations. What are they talking about? Stopped playing only because of this. Their official web site is full of endless threads addressing this. Seriously?

Gater29
Gater29

As a current student of game design planning to go into the industry when I graduate in another year, I really enjoy the advice that game developers give one successful projects. Unlike some companies of late that seem to want to blame the gamers or make excuses as t o why their games aren't innovative or didn't sell well, its refreshing to see a company actually give solid advice intended to help the industry as a whole.

 

I find it sad that many of the companies in today's industry don't seem to be making games for the gamers, instead opting to try and pull as much money into their pockets as they can. Seeing stories such as this gives me hope that there are still companies who care about the gamers, and design their games with that in mind rather than how many copies they will sell.

Renato1984
Renato1984

Refreshing to see developers talking about new strategies on how to make a great game, instead of new strategies on how to take every last penny from the user's pocket.

oldschoolvandal
oldschoolvandal

Looks like this project management tips are working fine within their development and programing team....keep it up!!

 

I've no idea about the size of the team they have to develop their games but specially the "like it" is not really good inside huge teams or teams where most participants don't have the same goal or interest (like regular companies where people waste an astonishing amount of time with politics and favor seeking).

endorbr
endorbr

So was one of their strategies to realize that guys like to look at boobies?  Because they sure implemented a lot of that in the game if that wasn't one of the their development secrets. ;)

Vojtass
Vojtass

@ Maxwell McGee

These guys have different names: Marek Ziemak and Maciej Szcześnik. Give them some respect and write their names correctly.

yeah_28
yeah_28

Those strategies make sense, i just hope the consequences of making a bigger and more varied game arent what made TW2 so small and short.

Peter_Eater
Peter_Eater

 @ghostXzero 

I don't think they can fix that issue with a patch.

But from my current experience with CDPR I wouldn't be surprised if they rewrote the engine and offer that as as free download... :)

Cruisemissile
Cruisemissile

 @Alygator If any publisher buys them ill go out there myself and kill all people involved in the buyout.

 

But really id probably just not buy anymore games ever! and ill stick to my current games i got.

Peter_Eater
Peter_Eater

 @pbmpharmacist 

I personally liked the combat style in the original game, but many people found it off-putting, and they listened. For that I respect them immensely, even though I didn't get what I wanted.

Peter_Eater
Peter_Eater

 @FoxDragoon 

IMHO that is a RPG genre curse.

However in some games like Skyrim for example, when my character becomes uber badass there are not enough challenges left and leftover quests become tedious instead of fun and/or challenging.

I think CDPR tried to make a compromise. Whether they managed it... it is a matter of opinion.

Myself... I'm not sure...

ihateds2
ihateds2

 @Doomrul Can't tell if you're a troll, or if people this whiny actually exist.

OGKNav
OGKNav

 @oldschoolvandal Specially these days, a lot of people lack proper creativity. There's always at least one or two people who just throw whatever the hell comes first to mind like "Okay, how about a shark with a monocle and clown suit hurr hurr durr". But I'm sure when they choose this development staff, they most likely filter out people with such suggestions.

lx_theo
lx_theo

 @Vojtass Oh, if ne of their names "Szcze?nik"?

 

Or did you just write that incorrectly? Lol!

d_khan
d_khan

 @yeah_28

 The Witcher 2 is only short if you only play it ones, since choosing to follow Iorveth instead of Roach or the other way, wil result in a COMPLETE change of the last HALF of the game, which means you actually get 45 - 50 hours of gameplay. This is also considering the fact that RPG's are not as lengthy as they used to be (Except for TES: Skyrim.)

moonlightwolf01
moonlightwolf01

 @picho86 Not really an ego trip its more like their desperately trying to make the corporates like EA and Activision realise how much damage they are doing to gaming. There nothing egotistical about being opposed to DRM or saying that you shouldn't milk your customers dry with overpriced DLC, especially when they are backing up these views with their actions.

Doomrul
Doomrul

 @ihateds2 In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. And I can't see anything about the game or any response related to what I said about an aspect of the game. I guess your question is answered, in a way and also who is the real troll has been revealed.

yeah_28
yeah_28

 @d_khan The Witcher 2 in hours, isnt short, but it is in events and locations. if i wouldnt've played TW1 i doubt id be saying this, but i did played it.

 

And the fact that chapter two is completely different according to what you choose is true, but the first play through is by far the most important thing, you can totally enjoy the "new" chapter in the second play through but for that you have to replay all the other parts of the game again and you'll already know most of the ending.

 

For example, play AC2 wich is usually finished in 20 or 25 hours and play TW2 in 40 hours, then think wich one felt longer, more complete and ambitious, in my case it was AC2.

 

For me TW2 needed at least one full extra chapter, a chapter as long as the entire prologue with Flotsam maybe.

 

 

Peter_Eater
Peter_Eater

 @Poodlejumper 

I'm a Serb, and just wish to clarify: there is a huge difference between what you are saying and what enartloc wrote.

He refers to Slavic Latin alphabet. With Serbia in particular, we use both Latin & Cyrillic alphabets, but both host 30 letters respectively, in contrast to Unicode or English alphabet that consists of 26 characters.

Czech alphabet is also Latin, but it has 42 graphemes (or letters if you wish).

Poodlejumper
Poodlejumper

 @enartloc Polish uses the Latin alphabet.  With a few additional letters and some strange cognates.

 

"Slavic Letters"?  The alphabet used by Serbs, Bulgarians, Russians, Ukrainians, and even the Mongolians (not a Slavic language but uses the alphabet) is called CYRILLIC.  Named after Saint Cyril who with his Brother Saint Methodus invented a written alphabet to spread Christianity to the East.

Vojtass
Vojtass

 @enartloc Exactly. It's Latin-2 character set (ISO 8859-2). Unicode U+015B. Szcześnik.

yeah_28
yeah_28

 @d_khan i totally agree, its matter of preference really, i want variation for replayability and long campaigns in all games, but if one requires the sacrifice of the other then i want a longer campaign far better.

 

d_khan
d_khan

 @yeah_28

 I too am a fan of choice and consequence, but I may have played to many game lately with that description. I really want the consequences to unfold LONG before the end, and I believe that any game that is good enough to play once, is probably good enough to play twice. I'm not the kind of guy who bouy 30 different games avery year, maybe 10 but that's all, so I really want the few games I buy to have not just longer campaigns(like you said) but also more variation each time you play it.

yeah_28
yeah_28

 @d_khan Oh, i didnt mean to focus on the ending if thats what it looked like.

 

I was trying to say that for me replayability is just a bonus, cause its just that, replaying something, i like how a lot changes because of what you choose, but also because of that, you dont get to experience a third of the entire game's value in the proper manner, wich for me is the first time you play it, when you are hooked to the story, you dont know how anything ends and its still completely fresh.

 

Anyway, i just think that the game should've been quite longer or make you play two different chapters instead of one of two variations of a sole chapter.

Spending 45% of the game in the same place mostly unchanged, and then 45% in another same place mostly unchanged, then 10% in the prologue, loc muine and epilogue is not a good administration for me. Maybe chapters half as long but twice in quantity, double the cities or locations, would've fixed the problem

 

I am a fan of consequences and choice in games but not to the extreme that it negates a third of the whole game to the player.

 

By the way, the extra chapter i wanted could be at the end, the start or the middle, i dont care, i didnt mean to mention it as a solution for a better ending.

 

 

 

 

d_khan
d_khan

 @yeah_28

 I can agree that TW2 would have been even better with 1 more chapter, but you are referring to the ending, when I personally am FREAKING TIRED of people addressing different endings, when it's not the ending that needs to be different, it's the entire game. Think if every RPG did what TW2 did, and changed almost 40 percent of the content according to 1 little choice, now that would add some real replayabillity. The ending is just 1 or 2 scenes, I would much rather have them change the entire gameplay with the choices made, and I have only seen TW2 do this, and perhaps Skyrim to some degree..