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    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Miles Tost, Level designer CD Projekt Red Speak About The Game

    Can you give us an idea of how big The Witcher 3’s world is and how dense it is in terms of the towns, villages and events you will come across as you explore it?

    We’ve had a hard time accurately conveying how large the game world really is. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s something that you really have to play in order to understand. Sure, I can give you a number 35 times larger than the previous Witcher title in regards to playable area however, it doesn’t really convey a lot of info, especially since it’s hard to measure with many caves, interiors, and underwater locations being in the game and accessible as well. There’s quite a bit of ‘vertical’ content. What I can say is that the game will offer enough content for players to spend anywhere between 100 and 150 hours plus, depending on whether you are a completionist or more casual about the game. I feel like we struck a good balance when it comes to content and world size.

    How have you have balanced putting places and events in the world so that players have things to do, without taking away the sense that you’re traveling in a vast, open wilderness?

    There’s multiple factors that went into achieving this. It started in the pre-production phase of the project. The world size was ultimately determined by the space required to tell the stories that we wanted to tell. We didn’t just create a landmass and decided that now we need to fill it up somehow just to later maybe run into the problem of having too much or too little space. So basically, the content dictated the size of the world. After that, it’s a matter of finding out what feels good through lots of playtesting and re-evaluating. When placing points of interest and encounters, we don’t just decide that every X minutes/seconds you need to stumble into something. It’s a balance act. Sometimes it’s good to have nothing really going on except for the nice landscape with its views. Contrast is key. If stuff constantly happens to you in the game, events lose their novelty. You’ve got to have some moments of calm in order to be able to properly appreciate when things happen.

    How open is the choice system and branching storyline of The Witcher 3? Is it simply based around dialogue options or can your actions affect things as well?

    Consequences can also follow your actions. Those sometimes speak for more than the words you can choose. We also consider inaction something that draws consequences in the game. Imagine yourself in a situation where you have to chase someone down. Do you capture him? Or kill him? Does he maybe escape? All of that can influence what happens afterwards, later in the game. For me, the coolest thing is that consequences are not always foreseeable. You might do one thing early on in the game and it can come back way later to bite you in the ass. It’s not like the game tells you what will happen when you do a specific choice. You have to live with the consequences of your choices and actions. This makes the story and its outcome very personal.

    How does the system through which Geralt can bargain for more money for contracts work?

    We’ve been saying that with Wild Hunt, we want to bring Geralt back to his roots, his profession. Geralt is a professional monster slayer first and foremost. With that comes the ability to also negotiate a price for your services. Now, it’s your choice here how greedy you want to be, but not everyone has a lot of coin at their disposal and sometimes you might find yourself motivated by different reasons other than the money and the prestige that comes with it. You don’t need to negotiate a price most people will already have an amount in mind. It is when you, as a professional, are not happy with the money, that you can negotiate a different fee.

    How and why have you changed the combat system for The Witcher 3?

    We’ve been listening to feedback from fans and decided to rebuild Wild Hunt’s combat from the ground up. Our main focus was to increase its responsiveness and really put control into the player’s hands. At the same time, our ambitions were to make combat challenging in the way that there’s not just ‘one solution’ to any enemy type. Geralt has a wide arsenal of different tools at his disposal ranging from multiple swords, ranged weapons like crossbows and bombs to combat magic that allows him to set his enemies on fire or even control their mind to turn them against their comrades. Different foes will require him to make use of his entire skill set in various ways. Combat is now more brutal with our dismemberment system in place. It gives Geralt’s strikes a lot more weight and fIts perfectly within the gritty world that is the Witcher universe.

    A lot of games seem to be emulating the combat system from the Batman games. Have you also taken inspiration from that, or is that trend something you’ve tried to avoid?

    When designing games, of course you look at other games for inspiration. Figure out what worked and what you’d like to improve upon. Having said that, Wild Hunt’s combat system has a very unique feel to it, especially in the realm of sword fighters. It has to, in a way. From the source material of the Witcher universe, we know that Geralt’s combat style is considered as unique, with him almost ‘dancing’ with his enemies. His move set (dodging with pirouettes, for example), the way he wields and uses his swords, the combat music tracks with a deep focus on drum rhythms… all of that is made to reflect this notion.

    Do the sequences in which you play as Ciri differ in terms of gameplay and pacing to when you’re playing as Geralt?

    Yes, they do. The game still focuses on Geralt’s story and we consider the Ciri sections more of a narrative tool. It helps telling a story from multiple perspectives sometimes. Gameplay-wise, for this reason, we decided to make Ciri’s sections more linear compared to playing as Geralt. She’s been trained to become a Witcher, yet has never undergone the mutations. She’s also not able to use their signature combat magic, the Signs. Because of this, she plays similar to Geralt in one way and very different in others. She’s a living weapon, sought after by many different factions in the game for their own goals, due to her powerful magic affinity. This power allows her to more than make up for her shortcomings as a Witcher by using teleportation abilities. These sections allow us to show just how powerful she is and offer a little extra variety in gameplay to players.

    How open are The Witcher 3’s town and villages to exploration?

    There are plenty of accessible interiors in Novigrad City and all the villages in the world. We made sure of that. ‘Open world’ for us means that the world is open to the player and free to explore. This applies to most of the interiors, which have been lovingly and carefully handcrafted much like the rest of the game. Some of them are unlocked because… it makes more sense and it makes the world a bit more believable. The Witcher world is dangerous, of course people that can afford it would try to lock their buildings. At the same time, we want it to be open for the player so rest assured that the majority of interiors still remain accessible with the occasional ‘flavor’ locked building. Some of these buildings don’t stay locked, of course. You might get to know the owner of a place who then welcomes you in his home. In a way, Novigrad opens up more and more as you progress in the game, making new acquaintances.

    You’ve talked in the past about NPCs reacting to Geralt in different ways depending on actions you have performed. Does this have gameplay implications or is it more about atmosphere?

    There’s both. We have the atmospheric kind where people will react if you cast Signs in their vicinity or barge into them, for example. Sometimes, people will even comment on Geralt’s appearance, which as a mutant monster slayer, somewhat differs from how regular humans look (Witchers have cat-like eyes, for example). And then there’s some that affect gameplay. Imagine in one quest you made a choice to kill a guy. Later on, you might need someone’s help but it turns out they were buddies with the guy you killed so now he won’t help you and you need to find another way. Maybe, if you hadn’t killed the guy but had treated him nicely instead (even though he might not have deserved it), people would’ve been more helpful…

    Is the whole game open to explore as you want from the beginning?

    We definitely open the world up as soon as possible within the Prologue section of the game, [with] a relatively small slice of our open world in which the player can freely and more or less safely roam and explore. This is to get the player accustomed to our open world and its workings. After finishing the Prologue (you can decide to meddle for longer, which we encourage), we throw you straight into the middle of our huge open world from which point on you can basically go wherever you please. There’s a couple of mechanisms in place to prevent the player from feeling lost. First off, when in doubt, following the main quest line will always bring you to new and exciting places to visit. On the other hand, each village has their own notice board. Each of these offer a variety of different activities or quests to engage in. Sometimes they also have some hints as to interesting places to visit. This acts as a familiar element that all villages have in common and that the player can always rely on for some interesting stuff to do.

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