Conducted By Adam Ames
TGP is proud to offer an interview with the great folks at CDProjeckt RED, developers of the RPG sensation, The Witcher 2. You will read about their views on PC development, DRM, piracy, modding, the lack of a demo and much more.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of The Witcher 2.
John Mamais, Executive Producer and Head of Production at CPDR. I manage the team and make sure we execute on the vision on time and in budget.
How did you get started in developing PC games?
I started at the bottom as Production Assistant at a small studio about 15 years ago.
A criticism of The Witcher 2 was the lack of a tutorial helping the user become comfortable with the controls which lead to some bashing you for creating a devilishly difficult game. How do you respond to these accusations?
We set out to create a challenging game but in hindsight we should have also built a more robust tutorial system. We’ll make up for that in version 2.0
Were there any challenges you faced in ensuring The Witcher 2 would run on the various PC system configurations?
Certainly many challenges considering all the possible hardware configurations but we had some help from Intel, Nvidia, AMD, and our publishers from their compatibility labs to work out the bugs. Nvidia and AMD also made some great updates for their drivers to help support the Witcher2.
Outside of creating the game itself, what is the toughest aspect of being an PC games developer?
Becoming a multiplatform games developer 😉
Please talk about your decision to pull DRM from the retail version of The Witcher 2. Also, what are your thoughts on how the PC gaming industry as a whole are dealing with the problem of intrusive DRM and piracy?
DRM really punishes the actual consumer more than the pirate. It disrupts the experience due to the extra installation requirements and can potentially cause some performance issues in the game depending on how deeply embedded the safeties are placed in the game. Also generally all forms of DRM are cracked day1 of the release. In addition its implementation creates extra work for the development team in the critical closing stages of the game. Our decision to remove it quickly came after an onslaught of complaints about activation issues and performance hits. In regards to the industry, some piracy can be mitigated by games that require constant or even intermittent connectivity to the internet. But anything can essentially be cracked and played offline or with private server hacks.
How do you feel about the digital distribution platform as a whole?
Thinks it’s great and it allows many indies to get their games on the market.
Please discuss your decision not to release a demo for The Witcher 2.
Demos don’t work well for all game genres – especially RPG games like the Witcher which require some significant investment in time to really understand the game and get into it. A short demo wouldn’t have really done the game justice.
How important is it to get instant feedback about The Witcher 2 from users through online message boards and other social networking sites?
This is very important especially shortly after release. Having the ability to deliver patches quickly online can solve many problems that even a sizeable QA team might have missed – especially in complex non-linear titles like the Witcher 2. We also get many great ideas for features for sequels from the community and we like to think that we pay close attention to the boards for these reasons.
How much value do you place on the opinions of those who review The Witcher 2 professionally?
Professional reviews are also very important to us. Reviewers are also gamers but the trade requires them to look at games in perhaps a deeper and more analytical manner than the casual gamer. In a way they are the most experienced and thoughtful game testers out there. We’d be silly not to read all the reviews and consider their feedback carefully for correcting potential flaws and in consideration for all future games. Reviewers are also opinion makers so it’s important for the wider critical acceptance of the game to earn positive reviews.
Bill S.978 was introduced to the Untied States Senate earlier this year which could make it illegal to post unauthorized copyrighted content on YouTube and other video sharing sites. How do you feel about individuals outside of CDProjektRed posting gameplay videos of The Witcher 2?
As long as they go up after the game is released, I think it’s cool and provides additional exposure of the game. Hate to see the Internet too over-regulated.
How do you feel about DLC and its current implementation in the PC gaming industry?
DLC gives developers and publishers a chance to really extend the lasting value of the game. It’s great for gamers too. If you really love a game, it’s better than waiting another 1-2-3 years for the sequel when you can experience new facets of gameplay with a simple update.
19. Recently, there has been a lot of talk about modding of PC games and the relationship developers have with modders. How do you feel about the online modding community in general and specifically if mods were created for The Witcher 2?
Mods are great and we really need to extend our toolset to modders eventually. We’re really focused on building a toolset that is specifically intended for the development of RPGs and we do intend to extend it for the modding community. Modding is also a way to get into the professional games industry and we always looking for new talent but talent with experience – even modding experience.
What advice would you give up-and-coming PC developers who are trying to break into the business?
Key is to make a great game. Take your time and do it right. Self-publish it if you have to. If it really stands out and is well done – people will play it and you will ultimately be very successful. – End
We would like to thank CDProjeckt RED and wish them nothing but the best in their continued pursuit of PC gaming greatness. You can pick up The Witcher 2, DRM-free, via GOG.