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Cyberpunk 2077's Rough Launch Led To A Massive Structural Overhaul At CD Projekt Red

CDPR's workflow is more agile and supportive in the wake of Cyberpunk 2077's infamous launch.


Three years after a rough launch, Cyberpunk 2077 is in its best shape thanks to a steady stream of updates, patches, and the launch of the Phantom Liberty expansion that brought sweeping changes to the game. Compared to the version that first launched, Cyberpunk 2077 is almost unrecognizable thanks to all of its upgrades, a lean and mean open-world sci-fi experience that succeeds in making you feel like an Edgerunner with nothing to lose and everything to gain.

But getting to this point required serious introspection from developer CD Projekt Red as it faced negative reviews, player backlash, and a tarnished reputation. No studio wants to let their fans down, and for the developers in the trenches who poured their hearts and souls into the game, they knew that they had a long road ahead of them as they began focusing on improving Cyberpunk 2077.

"I think after the release, we did everything we could. Literally, everything we could," global art director Jakub Knapik explained to GameSpot. "We invested a lot of effort with the 1.5 next-gen release, where it was a massive priority to fix the game. Making the team to work on that game and fix it was really the hardest thing ever. To motivate the team, to put in more effort, was a really hard thing because everyone was devastated after release."

While morale may have been low at the time, CDPR knew that it did not want to abandon this IP, especially one with so much potential. This renewed focus led to an organizational overhaul as CDPR looked to create more open lines of communication between its team, more flexible approaches to fine-tune any issues that arose during development, and an environment of supportive workflow.

"In the base game, we had this situation that we called Silosis, art director Pawel Mielniczuk explained. "We had art silos, we had code silos for example. A few departments working on their own part and not really looking outside of their silo, not communicating very well with each other. That's something that we definitely fixed for Phantom Liberty, there is now much more communication. We have the strike teams who are working on the quests, so it's not like the quests are made by a designer and he's just ordering stuff like an asset here, a car here. Right now they're working as one team."

CDPR's strike teams are filled with different developers from different departments and disciplines, all working together on sections of Cyberpunk 2077 while also being mindful of the bigger picture. With this new production framework, CDPR's workflow allows for its teams to talk to each other every day, provide feedback, and support. "It's invaluable," narrative director Igor Sarzynski said. "For creative work, I think this is the only way to go right now."

The results of this new streamlined workflow approach? One of the best games of the year, as Phantom Liberty earned itself a rare 10/10 review score for how it embodied the very best of Cyberpunk 2077. Development on the Cyberpunk 2077 sequel is officially underway and several members of the "core" Cyberpunk 2077 team are involved in this follow-up to the dystopian sci-fi adventure.

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