The PC version of The Witcher 2 hit store shelves last year to great fanfare and critical success. This year console gamers will finally get their chanceto pick up the mantle of Geralt of Rivia as the game will be making it's way to the Xbox 360 on April 17th. In anticipation of the release we sent over some questions to the folks at CD Projeckt about what we could see from the adaption (don't call it a port) of the game.
Could you introduce yourself and talk about your role on the project?
Hi, I’m Adam Badowski and I’m the head of the CD Projekt RED studio.
So you’re adapting the game to the console, could you tell us what the difference between adapting a game and “porting” is?
We’ve rewritten the game code so it feels native to the console. We’ve rebuilt large parts of the game so we can achieve the same fidelity of gameplay that we have in the PC version. You’ll be amazed by how much we squeezed out of the Xbox 360. We dare say The Witcher 2 is one of the best looking games ever to be released on this platform. On seeing the X360 version for the first time, many people were amazed that it looks almost as good as it does on the PC. Also we re-adapted the controls for the Xbox gamepad, that is to say, the PC version supported gamepad controls, but now they’re close to being perfect. Also, the spectacular combat in The Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition really flows on the Xbox 360. You feel like a real sword master as you slash through ranks of foes and roll through pools of monster blood.
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.
The 360 version was originally supposed to come out by the end of 2011, could you talk about the problems that pushed the release back to April 2012? What lessons from the PC version that you used to improve the 360 version?
We wanted to make the game almost perfect. We listened, and continue to listen, to our community. We learned what annoyed players and proceeded to change it. We’ve added some new gameplay to Chapter 3, which many players thought was simply too short. In the two new quests, players will visit new locations, meet new characters, and see that the story is even more intriguing. But no spoilers. We’ve also added new cinematics, including the well-received CG intro. You know, the one with the assassin wreaking mayhem on the riverboat. If you haven’t seen it you should! Just go to our YouTube channel: Witcher2Game.
Xbox players will receive a new user interface and controls, once again, specifically adapted to the new platform.
Given that this is the first Witcher game on the console, what things are you doing to fill people in on the event of the first game?
Don’t worry, we added some content to the Enhanced Edition to make new players familiar with both – the game world and the first part of the game.
As you may know, the story of our protagonist, Geralt of Rivia, is based on a series of best-selling novels by Andrzej Sapkowski. For those of you who don’t know, a witcher is a professional monster slayer. Witchers were taken as infants from their parents and then subjected to mutation and rigorous training. They use minor magic spells called Signs, have superhuman reflexes, and can drink potions which would be lethal if consumed by ordinary humans… All told, they are the ultimate killing machines. In the game you don’t play as any witcher. You play as Geralt of Rivia – and he has a past that makes him who he is.
As I said, this will be explained in more detail by additional content. But stay tuned, cause we might release these materials.
Was there ever any thought to holding the PC version off until the 360 version was ready?
No. But in our development plans our next large titles will be released at the same time for at least two platforms.
Is the content of the 360 the same as the PC version? Did you feel like you had to censor any of the content of the console version?
No. We have not censored anything. Xbox players will get the same mature, non-linear and complex story PC gamers got. We’ve made moral gray areas a trademark of the Witcher series. Players face tough, morally difficult decisions. The consequences of these are substantial and permeate the game world.
Also, all of the new in-game content from the Xbox 360 Enhanced Edition will be made available free of charge to current PC users. All the movies and gameplay for free. As you can see, PC players are still on our minds, and we have not forgotten about our fans.
Are you still working on additional content for the game or is what ships on the 360 version the end of the line for content?
I can just tell you to stay tuned. We are realy concentrated on the Xbox 360 version and it is our main focus. We’ll be able to talk more about the future after the game release on the 17th April.
The PC version of the game supported the Xbox 360 controller, have you changed how the controls worked at all since then? Will you patch the PC version to support any changes?
The re-design of controls I mentioned before was done for the benefit of Xbox players. These changes will not apply to the PC version. We are leaving the control system unchanged. As I mentioned, all the other in-game content will be available for free to PC users.
For first time players, what are three things they need do when they pick the game up?
Remember that the games in the Witcher series are about choice and consequences – so be vigilant. Every little decision you make might change the game as a whole. And second, keep in touch. We love to get feedback from players. The third thing is that this is a really massive game. What I would like to say to gamers is that we highly recommend installing the game to the Xbox hard drive. If you want to get the most of our hard work and really see why many people were bowled over by The Witcher 2’s environments, don’t play the game directly from the discs.
Now that you’ve got one console adaptation underneath your belt, are there any thoughts about bringing the original Witcher game to the Xbox 360? Are there any plans of porting either game to other platforms (such as the PS3 or Wii U)?
Our technology, the REDengine, was designed as a multi-platform tool. But right now, we are concentrating our efforts on the Xbox adaptation only. It’s too early for any declarations regarding other platforms.
So we have to ask, what is CD Projekt working on next? Any chance it rhymes with “Thitcher Fwee”?
You’re mistaking us for the creators of Assassin’s Creed (let’s say it rhymes a little). Whereas we made the Assassins of Kings. I also can’t really imagine making a complex and mature game based on the TV series Glee.
But all joking aside. We announced in November that we will publish two AAA+ multi-platform titles in 2014 and 2015. Both of these will be non-linear, story-driven RPGs. But that’s about all I can say at this point. We’re likely to announce some details soon.
We'd like to thank Adam for taking the time to answer our questions as well as Troy and Tom for coordinating the interview.