Post Script

Se­nior game­play de­signer;

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When we speak to se­nior game­play de­signer Damien Mon­nier and se­nior quest de­signer Pawel Sasko, it’s the day of The Witcher III’s re­lease. There’s no sound of pop­ping cham­pagne corks in the back­ground, how­ever; the game may be out in the wild now, but the team is hard at work on its DLC and mon­i­tor­ing fo­rums for launch-day tech­ni­cal is­sues. Here, we dis­cuss the philoso­phies and de­sign de­ci­sions be­hind the cre­ation of a re­mark­able open world. What’s the se­cret to mak­ing a be­liev­able world? Damien Mon­nier The first thing we did was cre­ate a Liv­ing World team to work closely with the Lo­ca­tion guys. Lo­ca­tion started by cre­at­ing moun­tains and lakes in places that made sense. Then they’d look at where vil­lages would go. They’d do their re­search, un­der­stand the cri­te­ria that peas­ants in Me­dieval times would use to de­cide where to build vil­lages and set­tle­ments. Then the Liv­ing World team kicks in, pop­u­lat­ing the vil­lage, then plac­ing ev­ery­thing around it, and that’s where things get tricky. When is it too much? When is it not enough? We knew we wanted a sys­tem that was or­ganic, and that means you can’t hard-script things. It took a lot of pro­to­typ­ing. We’d have peo­ple around the of­fice play­ing and one would say, “I haven’t seen any­thing for 20 min­utes,” and we’d know we had a prob­lem. So it was all done by feel? You weren’t tempted to use data to han­dle it? DM We didn’t want to cre­ate a sys­tem that would check that sort of stuff. ‘Have you seen a mon­ster in the last 20 min­utes? If not, then we’re go­ing to force one to spawn.’ That’s not what we wanted. The sys­tem now is the re­sult of so many it­er­a­tions – ev­ery sin­gle area, ev­ery sin­gle mon­ster, made and placed by hand. Pawel Sasko The im­por­tant thing to add to that is that along the way we failed many times [laughs]. To be hon­est, I still can’t say if we got it right; we did ev­ery­thing we could to make sure the player was never bored, but not over­whelmed. A game based so heav­ily on choice in­vites re­peat playthroughs, which is un­usual for an open-world game. Did that af­fect the world, or quest de­sign? PS We don’t re­ally want play­ers to do that. We want the player to make a choice and stick to it. You must un­der­stand peo­ple won’t do that, though, es­pe­cially since the con­se­quences of some de­ci­sions don’t be­come clear un­til much later. PS Yes, and that’s in­ten­tional. We wanted to re­flect a bit of the un­cer­tainty we have in life. We don’t al­ways know how our choices will af­fect our lives.

Damien Mon­nier, se­nior game­play de­signer

Pawel Sasko, se­nior quest de­signer

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