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The Witcher 2 Video Interview
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 05:46pm 21/02/11 | Comments
AusGamers caught up with The Witcher 2's Senior Producer, Tomasz Gop, watch the video interview or read the transcript for what he had to say about CD Projekt's epic sequel...

Watch the interview in the video embedded above, or click here for the HD streaming option

AusGamers: Hey guys, welcome back to AusGamers, you’re here with Stephen Farrelly and we’re speaking to Tom who is the Senior Producer out of CD Projekt on The Witcher 2, which we just got hands-on with - Tom, thanks so much for letting us get hands-on with it today...

Tomasz Gop: What did you think?

AG: I love it. I loved the first Witcher; it was great. I always found that the combat was pretty unique and it took a little while to get used to compared to everything else, this time you seemed to have approached that a little bit differently, can you talk about that...

Tom: Yeah, sure. There was a lot of feedback on the combat from The Witcher 1, so obviously with that there was a lot of things we could do about it; there were actually two main reasons why combat is so different in The Witcher 2 - the first one was a lot of people thought it was too hardcore [and] as you mentioned a lot of people actually had to take an effort to learn it and some people didn’t want to do that because they’re not into combat, they’re into story. So the first change that we’ve done is real-time; you’re not bound to any pre-defined stances of your sword or anything - you can mix anything at any time and it’s really easy to learn, but on the other hand we wanted to keep the complexity for all those [who] want to master the combat. So it is hard to master, there are a lot of tactics that the whole character development contains; unique gameplay oriented skills that you might actually want to do.

AG: I notice there’s a fair bit of spell-mixing - you came over and pointed me in the direction of making sure I had my (electrically-charged) shield on and I used a bit of Force Push so I could give myself some breathing room and then obviously you can link together a bunch of different sword attacks - how deep does all of that get? How many different variations and combos can you string together? Because it seems pretty full-on already...

Tom: You’ve got no idea - I probably don’t either (smiles wryly). Obviously in the build that you’ve just played you’re roughly in the middle of the game and you did not play the Tutorial, that’s why I was here to tell you what you can actually do; how many toys you have to play [with].

The possibilities are really, really big because you can mix different kinds of sword-fighting with different types of magic, together with alchemy and if you level-up your character you gain extra, unique skills. For example, with your sword you have an option to get a “reboast”, which is a unique skill, you have a chance to throw daggers, you can even learn really special... at the end if you focus on levelling up your sword for example, you gain an extra, unique skill of group finishers that allow you to do amazing things - there are really a lot of amazing things you can do if you want to dig deep into The Witcher 2’s combat.

AG: Now obviously for the sake of this demo we’re just playing as Geralt on our own, but obviously part of The Witcher is the cast of characters that he gathers along the way - how does the party system work this time around?

Tom: We do not have a party system based on strategy; on commanding your friends in the battlefield. The way we’ve done it is story-based. So whenever you actually have somebody who accompanies you, it’s always because of the path you carved throughout the storyline and that’s why you’re allied with this guy or that woman, or so on and so on. But you gain help from them while you’re fighting if they are along your side, and it might actually turn around the result of many fights you’re in, in the game.

AG: Now you guys have gone and created your own engine for this iteration of the game...

Tom: A leap of faith it was...

AG: Yeah, I mean it seems to have paid off; the game looks fantastic. Obviously it’s been in development for quite a while, how did you guys approach the task in the first place? Obviously you had the Aurora engine first and you played around with that for a while, so I guess how big of a “leap” was that?

Tom: It was the obvious one, to start with. By the time we had finished The Witcher 1 we already knew that if we wanted to top that, it could not be done with Aurora - we had to write something of our own, from scratch, to make sure that we had the tools to allow us even more to unleash the creativity of the designers, artists and gameplay designers, for example.

So we built the engine and we call it “Red Engine”, and this one has dozens of tools that are tailor-made for making RPGs. So you get a dialogue editor, a cut-scene editor, a community editor; you get non-linear story scripting editor, debugger, you know, tweaker and all of these tools and it was pretty much because there are not too many RPG engines on the market; we wanted to do something that will allow us to do The Witcher 2 in even less a linear way than The Witcher 1 - that’s why we have 16 endings; they base on more factors than just dialogue line choices, and that;s why we decided to go for this leap of faith... I mean for the first year or year and a half, it was hard because we actually didn’t see any results because we were writing the low-level code, we were prototyping stuff; parts of it were working but it wasn’t a game itself, we were just, you know, fooling around - well not fooling around, but trying to see if it works.

In the end it paid off, but it was a challenge.

AG: The Witcher was a critical success the world over, and did quite well in Europe, but a lot of [other] Western game-players maybe still haven’t even played it before, and this time around you guys have pushed the series even further; your own engine - as you say “a leap of faith”, how are you going to express that when you’re launching on the PC platform, which you guys have been purists for, for such a long time, and that’s great because not many companies are anymore... obviously I’m eluding to the all-important console question that you’ve probably been asked countless times, but obviously you guys want to expand beyond that original core audience, so what’s your strategy for that at the moment?

Tom: The main idea, and the main focus or style that we work with is that we would like to focus on one project at a time. So when we will have done The Witcher 2, when we will have released it, we definitely will think about doing something [with] other platforms - we would like to release The Witcher 2 on consoles at some point - we just don’t know when, or even if it’s going to be possible, but we’ll try.

AG: Is the Red Engine capable of being pushed onto console?

Tom: Yeah, we’ve already done tests. Seriously. I have seen [The Witcher 2] working on current-gen consoles... like, we ported parts of the game to make sure that it looks good; it doesn’t look worse than on a PC, and it plays as well and the interface is already ready to control it with a game-pad, for example, so...

AG: If you went down that path could you see yourselves potentially releasing the first Witcher on next-gen consoles as well, or is that a little too hard to re-skin or...

Tom: It’s a difficult one because definitely releasing The Witcher 1 on consoles is deep in our hearts - we would love to do that. But getting back to that project would be a lot of work right now, so if it happens, it’s not going to happen now... maybe some time in the future we would love to do it, but I just can’t promise anything.

AG: So you guys are on the home-stretch now obviously, the game is due out in May I believe...

Tom: May 17.

AG: May 17 - what’s left for you beyond bug-fixing? Is the game finished proper?

Tom: Yeah, we’re just closing the beta stage of the game [but] there are many definitions of “beta”, so for some people it might actually be beta, for others there are still small things to do before it’s called beta - I like to call it pre-beta, especially the build that I was showing you today. After that, it’s kind of switched to the production process from feature-driven or asset-driven to bug database-driven, so you pretty much close all the bugs that there are...

AG: Well we’ll leave it there. Thanks very much for your time today Tom - you heard it here on AusGamers, The Witcher 2, we got our hands on it pretty much before most people in the world.

Latest Comments
Posted 08:41pm 21/2/11
Nice! That bit of gameplay during the vid was awesome. Did you catch the specs of the hands on PC?
Posted 11:46pm 21/2/11
So excited for this one.
Posted 11:58pm 21/2/11
Yeah looks damn amazing. Will definitely play this.
Posted 10:13am 22/2/11
F**** me those screens look so good. F*** TES I want The Witcher 2.

Edit* - Pre-ordered it on Steam for 45 bucks, bargain maen.
Posted 10:08am 22/2/11
This is how rpgs are suppose to be.
Posted 09:20pm 22/2/11
I actually didn't enjoy the first Witcher at all. The combat was fiddly and unsatisfying, the graphics were average at best and it took too long to really get going... This, however, this looks like an amazingly well polished and planned sequel. Well Done CDProjek, you've won me over.
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