VG247: Tell us a bit about the updated engine? What technological limitations did you come across the last time out, and how did you push through those with Witcher 2?
Tomek Gop: The Witcher 2 works on brand new engine created by CD Projekt RED, so it is not updated version of Aurora.
Previous technology limitations were mostly connected with the RPG core of the game. Dialogues, cutscenes, character interactions, scripting the storyline and so on. We’ve removed a lot of limitations, some of which were pretty obvious (the infamous obstacles you couldn’t leap over), and some closer to the production pipeline. Lots of things are now easier for designers, animators and artists to do without programmers’ help.
That’s one of the reasons the game looks so good a year before release. In one word, rewriting the engine was a mainly RPG-related challenge for us.
VG247: Any plans for future downloadable content like adventure packs? What about a demo? Any plans for one? If so, will one come to consoles?
Tomek Gop: As for DLC nothing has been announced again, but we’re definitely thinking about this one. A lot of ideas, and new possibilities with the new tech. We’d like to make sure we do the game first though.
VG247: Geralt is pretty much the Captain Kirk of the medieval world. Will he have just as many female conquests this time around or will he decide to settle down with one gal?
Tomek Gop: What Would Kirk Do? Geralt has always been sort of womanizer, so you might expect relations this time as well. It was important for us to rethink and redesign the presentational aspect of sex, nudity and romance in The Witcher 2. We focused on this being more bound to the story, and less “collectible”.
You could expect that this time sex means actually two people getting close to each other.
Witcher Vault: We have already heard rumours that new SDK for the Witcher 2 will be a lot better than D’Jinni, is that true?
Tomasz Gop: Oh no doubt about it! At least for us – we wanted to write an engine from scratch, so our tools are our own. It allows us to add something, or change something, in any way we want to. For instance, designers can do a lot more stuff without the programmers’ aid, which, thinking logically, will translate similarly into the realm of community-made things.
W2 will have more of an open-world to it
Witcher Vault: All right, then what about open-world locations? There’s been quite a few such places in W1, but overall the world felt just a bit too hermetically sealed…
Tomasz Gop: Locations in W2 are much larger than in W1. At the same time, there’s a huge difference here; where in one Act you had to travel between several locations in W1, for example, Act 4 required travel between several places, in W2 you get one huge location for each Act. The interiors are dynamically streamed as well.
Not Too Many Load Times
Witcher Vault: So, this will more or less look like we’d have Vizima’s Temple and Trade quarters hooked up together with no transition?
Tomasz Gop: Yes, this might be a good example. But size aside, we’ve also streamlined the loading process. You might not see a single loading screen throughout a whole Act in Witcher 2!
Witcher Vault: Continuing in the ‘comparison’ vein, can you tell us something about combat? We’ve seen the examples during your gameplay session, and – to be frank – it wasn’t actually more dynamic to the viewer. However, from what you describe, the system is much more dynamic. Can you explain?
Tomasz Gop: Well, right now you’ve seen a dev playing. There’re two significant changes here, first of all, there’s no hard lock onto a target. Where in W1 you were forced to attack a selected target – which needed to be reselected, if you had to switch to the next one – now you can simply change the direction of your attacks, and they will find the next opponent even mid-hit, without losing the pace. Another new thing is the ability to mix fighting styles ad hoc, without any penalty or losing your progression. And, to that point, there’s no fixed combo sequences now – you build your attacks by yourself, mixing and matching for better result. You can even use Signs during ‘clicking’ with no detriment to the melee.
Witcher Vault: So is seemingly slower-paced combat a result of lower level of the character shown in the presentation, or maybe something else?
Tomasz Gop: We don’t want to show everything at once. To be honest, we were focusing more on the plot, dialogue system, cutscenes integration into the game during this presentation, more so than on the combat. It’s also worth mentioning that combat in the Witcher has never been a very big part of the game – at least, not considering the RPG aspect. In fact, we wanted to make combat in W2 more ‘witchery’, more tactical, more tuned to the character development. That said, we wanted to give player a choice: whether he/she wants to fight more with the aid of alchemy, or maybe solely focusing on the swordfight. There’s even more interactivity here – since wilderness here is a true ecosystem, you can perform truly ‘witchery’ stuff, not just tied to your knowledge of how to defeat the monsters. For example, you can catch a beast, pump it full of some substance, then let it go. Then, you follow it on its chemical trail to its lair, and destroy the whole lair of the monsters. This, in particular, is something that we haven’t done in Witcher 1.
Witcher Vault: Going back to actual combat, what of the active blocking? We’ve seen Geralt put his sword up in a sort of a ‘riposte-ready’ stance…
Tomasz Gop: There’s going to be active block. We want to make it so that you can use this blocking tactically – to wait until you see an opening, and then strike to see it work.
Witcher Vault: Since you can do that and you can change the way Acts pan out, can you also have different endings?
Tomasz Gop: Oh yes, definitely. There’s going to be a lot more possible endings in the Witcher 2. Not just one or two more, a LOT more. I can’t divulge how many there’ll be just yet, but I can already tell you that some of the endings will not entirely depend on your dialogue choices… there’s a lot more factors at play here, including seemingly random elements. Aside from that, your companions will influence the plot as well – and you will get to have a companion around you.