I’ll actually be travelling tomorrow, headed for Price, Utah, but I should be in town and set up in the hotel with enough time remaining in the day to post a few articles. As such, this article won’t be a typical travel-related post, but the somewhat overdue round-up of CD Projekt-related news.
Mr. Badowski is the head of the CD Projekt Red studio, and he was hit up to talk about the Xbox 360 version of The Witcher 2 and the challenges the studio faces adapting the game for the platform.
What was the hardest part of adapting the PC game to the Xbox 360? Were there any compromises you had to make with the Xbox 360 version?
The PC and the Xbox are different platforms that provide different performance levels. And we wanted to give console gamers the same experience that PC players had. This required a lot of effort from the start. The REDengine is a great tool, a tool that was created with multiple platforms in mind. The game is massive, and adapting it to the Xbox hardware was difficult, but in the end we prevailed! I think we pushed the Xbox 360 to its limits and are giving console players one of the best looking games to be released on their platform.
Mr. Badowski goes on to confirm that the game was not…censored at all for its console release.
More talk about the Xbox 360 version:
DK:…Obviously, bringing The Witcher to console for the very first time is a pretty big deal for you guys. What excites you the most about this opportunity? Is it exposing a whole new audience to The Witcher brand in its current form or the future possibilities of how the franchise might evolve with an expanded audience?
AB: We are really excited that a larger group of people will meet our hero. Geralt of Rivia is really exceptional. Abandoned by his parents as a child he undergoes intensive training and magical experiments, which make him a mutant. Geralt is considered non-human by people and human by others.
His changed body gives him skills that no normal man can have. He can cast magical signs and drink toxic potions. He is a master of the sword. But this is only the tip of an iceberg.Because the real great thing is his character. He is not a glorious knight or plain scum. As all of his world, when it comes to morality, he is in the grey region between good and evil. The types of choice we give to console players will also be new to many of them. Many times players will have to decide to take the lesser evil. There is no karma point system. In many console RPGs the choice looks like this: “gain items/money/skills and lose karma” or “lose items/money/skills and gain karma”. In the Witcher we bring real consequences. Every action has a unique result – just like in real life.
Which reminds me that I need to get back into playing through the Witcher games. After a long season of BioWare titles, I find that I’m getting just a teeny bit…burned out on their particular approach to moral choice and consequence in games. I find I’m gravitating toward Reckoning even more as I play Mass Effect 3, precisely because moral decisions in Reckoning don’t seem to have long-reaching, far-flung consequences. Though the opposite circumstance might also be a welcome one.
Here’s a “behind the scenes” look at that awesome CGI trailer for the Xbox 360 version of The Witcher 2:
That’s the word directly from Marcin Iwinski, the company’s CEO.
“We release the game. It’s cracked in two hours, it was no time for Witcher 2. What really surprised me is that the pirates didn’t use the GOG version, which was not protected. They took the SecuROM retail version, cracked it and said ‘we cracked it’ — meanwhile there’s a non-secure version with a simultaneous release. You’d think the GOG version would be the one floating around.”
“DRM does not protect your game,” Iwinski told Joystiq after the presentation. “If there are examples that it does, then people maybe should consider it, but then there are complications with legit users.”
I’m sure a whole bunch of you will be quite thrilled to hear this.
GameBanshee has aggregated a couple of things, including an interview with CD Projekt RED level artist Mark Ziemak, along with links to a couple of other pieces of previewy-type content. Here’s Mr. Ziemak’s comments on the expected reception awaiting The Witcher 2 on the Xbox 360:
First of all, we are aware that there are some casual players on console, but on the other hand I think people are educated enough and ready for quite a… maybe not a ‘hardcore’ experience, but more of a ‘true’ RPG. It’s not like The Witcher is going to be hard to start playing for anyone. You don’t need to be a master at games to get into it.
Sure, the game may not be very easy, but you have the Easy setting that will allow you to enjoy the storyline and make choices and consequences. So we’re not really afraid. I think people will enjoy it. There are games like Demon’s Souls which are really challenging, and still have their audience. So I think we will satisfy a lot of players.
But really, let’s face it: Microsoft’s current-gen gaming console hasn’t seen an RPG as sophisticated and as complex as The Witcher 2, and the game is definitely something very different then what the console’s audience is used to.
Marcin Iwinski again:
“I don’t want Witcher to be sold by crappy stores which don’t care about the consumers.” That’s what the impressively titled Marcin Iwinski — co-founder, Member of the Board and Business Development at CD Projekt Group — had to say at GDC last week.
“Look what [Steam] have done with Steamworks,” he continued. “They’ve offered a lot of stuff and are forever linking the developers with the platform. All of their offering is free so… is there any better strategy? No. Give a lot of value.”
So will we not see the next Witcher game at GameStop? I suppose there’s hope!