The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will have a vast open world for us to explore, but how was it created? Level Designer Miles Tost gave an explanation on the game’s official forums.
Ah, we in the Locations Team are really proud of the fact that everything is hand-crafted, which is why you keep hearing us say it over and over. Your conclusion there makes my heart almost hurt just a little bit. So for this reason, to be a hundred percent sure, I called in what is now called the Environment Council, consisting of me, Daniel Olejnik (Senior Environment Artist) and Marcin Michalski (also a Senior Environment Artist).
We discussed this and shed a couple of tears together. Enough of it is hand-crafted for us to not feel like lying when we say that everything has been hand-crafted by us. Even when the team created the basic land shape it started out in zBrush, then got some erosion applied via software, and then iterated in-engine (sculpting the terrain without terrain brush tools). Terrain Textures are painted by hand, assets including foliage are placed by hand as well. We do have foliage generation for a basic foliage layer based off the type of terrain texture used (which again is painted by hand). It will apply a layer of grass. However, any further vegetation, trees, bushes, flowers, etc, are all hand placed.
Think about Novigrad City: none of the houses have been placed procedurally or by an algorithm, the city was carefully planned and crafted all the way from the rough districts to individual pathways in between (or through) houses. Also I realise that the question might’ve been meant differently. In that regard: Terrain was shaped by hand, erosion effects are applied, at this point, there’s virtually no spot of terrain in the world that hasn’t been touched by a dev.
Yes, it is an insane amount of work that we did have to sacrifice our fair share of evenings for – but for us it’s just worth it and honestly, we firmly believe it makes for a better game, because it makes the world more enjoyable.
If we wouldn’t we would’ve not done it, right?
Tost also gave more details on the destructible environments we’ll find in the game (and on the ability to ignite gas clouds and influence environment elements):
Yeah, they’re fairly frequent. You can of course create your own gas clouds to ignite with certain kinds of bombs. Some bombs will also attract monsters through smell, which can be an asset to the player as well. Lots of stuff you can move around/destroy for the fun of it, not all of it is particularly useful other than for the eye candy and empowerment it might give to the player.
Got to have a little fun every once in a while, right?
And right it is. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to explore The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt‘s enormous open world, and experience all the craftsmanship that went into its creation.