[PAX EAST '12] Chatting with The Witcher 2′s Senior Quest Designer

The_World

The PC version The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings received so much praise when it came out last May that even President Obama got it as a gift from Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. It also got my pick for 2011 Game of the Year, so when I saw the 360 version being demoed – naturally, I had to play it.

After getting some hands-on time with the Polish-made gritty fantasy action RPG myself, I got to interview Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz, the senior quest designer at CD Projekt RED.

We discussed a bevy of things, including various aspects of the new Xbox 360 version (read: not just a  ‘port’) of The Witcher 2, the possibility of a PS3 release for the game, and CD Projekt RED’s philosophy on DLC and updates for its fans.

Check the interview out, and be on the lookout for The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition which hits both Xbox 360 and PC on April 17 (next Tuesday).

CD Projekt RED has said before that this new Xbox 360 iteration of The Witcher 2 is not just a console port. How is it different from a simple port like with many other games?

We actually call it an “adaptation,” because we have added so much new content and we have made so many new changes for the Xbox 360 version. We have added about 33 minutes of new movies and cutscenes throughout the game. We have added new quests which add about four hours of new gameplay. We have added a new CG intro made by Tomasz Baginski. We have changed the controls for Xbox 360, so the game is more enjoyable for Xbox 360 players. And many more.

There’s a new ending cutscene as well, if I am not mistaken.

Yes, we have also added a new outro for the game.

Does the new ending give more detail than the ending in the PC version? The PC version just kind of ends, so will there be more to it?

Yeah, there’s a little more to it. So there’s definitely something that you should see. If you have played through the PC version of the game. I believe you should play through the whole game [again] because we have added content along the way, not only in the end. So yeah, I highly recommend it.

The 360 version will obviously not have as highly detailed visuals as the PC version just because of the limitations of the Xbox 360. How difficult was it to push the 360 to its limits?

Well, actually it was really difficult because of the architecture of the Xbox 360 and the memory. But I think we managed it pretty well. So, we had one year for it. The Witcher 2 was out in May last year. So we immediately started working on the Xbox 360 version. We have made many, many optimizations throughout the game. Most of them are behind-the-scenes, so I don’t think you should see any big differences in-game. We haven’t dumbed any of the game down, so all of the content that was there on the PC is on the Xbox 360 as well.

So combat will be just as challenging as it was in the PC version, right?

Yes it will.

If time and money allowed it, would it be possible to put The Witcher 2 on Playstation 3?

I think it would be possible, but it would take a big amount of money and time to do that. I think that the scale for going from Xbox 360 to a PS3 version is as big as from going from PC to the Xbox 360.

I did notice that in one of the trailers for The Witcher 2. There was a little hint at the end that said “PS1…PS2..” in little messages and then finally “PS3..it will happen someday.” Could you say anything about that?

Yeah, it was there. [laughs]

So, the Dark Edition of The Witcher 2 for 360 has sold out in both Europe and the United States. How limited was the printing of it, and would it be possible to release more of that edition in the future?

I don’t know the exact numbers for the Dark Edition, but I think it would be possible to make more of it. It’s more of a higher management decision, so I don’t really know if we’ll be going to do that.

What was your reaction to it being sold out so quickly?

It was really flattering, actually, yeah. Because it shows that people who play Xbox 360 are waiting for this game. Obviously, they like the content we have provided with the Dark Edition, so we are very happy to hear that it sold so well.

CD Projekt always loves to give bonus content for free to its fans. Why don’t they charge for DLC like other developers and publishers do?

It’s a part of our philosophy and the rules we uphold. Because we believe that if you have bought the game, this game deserves support. The people who bought it deserve to get new things for free. We don’t think that people who already bought the game should be forced to pay for little things we are adding to the game. We consider them to be an upgrade to the game, so it’s not [like] a standalone expansion itself. So I think it’s normal to work that way.

It’s kind of like the classic days, where expansion packs came out when there was more content to warrant a bigger release, instead of just smaller stuff.

Exactly.

My final question – Since this Xbox 360 release is mostly for introducing new people to The Witcher 2, and since PC users are getting all this new bonus content that’s in the 360 version for free, is there any reason for a PC user to get it for the system if they’ve played through The Witcher 2 already?

That’s a tough question. I think that if you enjoy playing on Xbox 360 more than on a PC, then you should definitely buy the Xbox 360 version of the game, because it plays just as well as the PC version of the game. And if you prefer to play on PC, then you should just keep with the PC version of the game. That’s my opinion.

Gotcha. Thank you so much for your time.

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Author: Patrick Kulikowski View all posts by
Patrick Kulikowski is a Rutgers University graduate and Pixelitis writer. In addition to being a gamer for over 19 years, he is an avid drummer and enjoys working on his VGdrum videogame music project. He also doesn't cling to just one platform. Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, the PC market, he loves it all.