If you’re eagerly awaiting the release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and you have half a hour or more to kill, we come bearing gifts, or better, Senior Game Designer Damien Monnier does, with a ginormous Q&A on the game’s official forums.
If you prefer a small excerpt with some of the juiciest bits, you can find it here, but if you’re in for the long run, sit down, pick up a beer (which is obligatory whenever CD Projekt RED is involved) and enjoy the ride:
What is your name? Where are you from?
Damien Monnier, I am from Nantes, France.
How long have you been working for CDPR?
How did you become a gameplay designer? Was it always your plan to become one?
No, I wanted to be a cowboy when I was 6, then a jewelry designer in Art School. But looking back on it I used to make crude boardgames/dungeon crawlers when I was ~9 for my friends to play and never win, because the balancing was non-existent, so I guess I should have realised that my call was game making, and stop making earrings sooner. No regrets.
What are some of the projects you worked on in the past?
The most known projects would probably be the Motorstorm series which were really fun off road racing games, as well as some amazing but cancelled games which I cannot talk about, and some mobiles games back in the days when old nokia and snake were hot stuff. : D And god knows how many personal projects on the go. My CV is like a pick and mix that includes puzzle games, racing and action games.
What does the role of a gameplay designer imply? What exactly do you do?
I work with small teams which include coders, artists, to create features in the game. Gameplay doesn’t necessarily imply interactive things either but it can mean anything from weapon design, monster design, implementation of features that are more “under the hood” or even ‘pure’ game design like our Gwent minigame which is basically a card game.
How does a gameplay designer interact with members of other teams in the studio?
By being nice and saying “trust me, it’ll work” a lot.
Could you briefly walk us through a typical day in the office as a gameplay designer?
I try to come in early, grab a coffee and look at the status of the various features I’m working on at the time and prioritise my day. In some cases I can keep my head down and just spend a whole day doing implementation work (say, populate an area with living world things) but more often than not I have a few features on the go at the same time. Most designers are like that, you sort of take ownership of a feature and you are the go-to person for that feature until the end of the game.
Can you name some of the tools you use daily as a gameplay designer?
Each studio will often have their own tools, unless they go with Unreal or Unity (just an example) which happened in only one of the studios I have worked for, so for me I have had to learn new tools every time I changed jobs. I use our Red Engine 3 every day of course, but I also use our script editor which is called… Script editor or Sublime for XML sheets (that are used to store our item definitions amongst other things).
What are your biggest inspirations when it comes to game design?
Boardgames are really good for pure mechanics, I try to play a lot of boardgames and card games, even just once, so that I can understand the mechanics.
In the world of the Witcher, who would the game designers be? What mindset would they adopt?
Would they be a lowly peasant? Or maybe a mighty ruler?
A drunk, who is also really bitter.
Do you have any tips for someone that would want to get into gameplay design?
Assuming they have zero experience and don’t know where to start from.
Make something. Go grab a tool like game maker. Watch some tutorials and make something small. Even if it’s ugly it doesn’t matter, the key is finishing it & starting another one. Playing a lot of videogames is good for research (and for fun!), but just like watching a lot of movies won’t make you a director, playing just video games won’t make you a designer. Game Theory is very important too, you really need to understand humans and what pleases us, what makes us keep pressing those buttons, monkeys that we are.
I know you have the black duck. Can I have the black duck?
Please give me the black duck.
I have contacted Nvidia Russia and asked them to do me a massive favour and see if they have some spare ones, somewhere, that they could send us so that we can do a giveaway. If they come, I will for sure give you a black duck. : D
I will answer the alchemy related questions in one go. : D
We have kept a lot of classic Witcher potions that you have used in the past, things like Cat (its effect being more similar to W2 than W1) and Swallow for example. Ingredients like rubedo are also still present.
Now as far as the system goes, it’s pretty straightforward, once you make the potion it is yours and you can refill it automatically, or any empty potions in your inventory by meditating, assuming you have some alcohol with you (pure…don’t go pour wine in there). There are however different types of alcohol for different potions types. It is automatic and only one bottle of alcohol can refill multiple potions.
One of the reasons behind this is that with the open world it quickly became a pain to go really far to grab that one plant you need for a potion. If it’s a potion you use often there is no challenge in that, it’s just annoying. So instead the challenge shifts to when you first make it, the ingredients are not easy to find, but once you have learned to make it you’re good and you can refill it. This doesn’t get rid of the challenge at all; like I said we’ve just shifted it to the initial crafting phase of the potion rather than have pointless repetitiveness. It’s much better and fits our world.
As for being able to use the potions mid combat, this feature was praised during our hands on because due to the size of the world and the fact that it is an open world, you can walk around and suddenly you will be attacked by some monsters. Now, you could have some useful potions on you but you wouldn’t be able to use them with the old system which was frustrating – you would also sometime use potions, then have nobody causing you trouble, and thus you would have wasted a good potion for nothing.
You still have to be prepared and have what you need on you to go attack a specific monster. If you are going in the woods at night you better have the right stuff on you and make sure that you have meditated too of course (preferably in a safe spot). Going against bigger, unique creatures, the preparation also includes researching the creatures that you are hunting. Finding out its weaknesses, where you are likely to find it and of course having the right potion on you ready for when you find the creature (or it finds you…).
Overall the goal was to get rid of pointless repetitions whilst keeping the preparation aspect and even expanding it more (which is why we say that preparation is more important than ever) because by not understanding the monsters you are going up against, will cost you. On top of that, as I mentioned above, having the right potions will help. Personally I am a big fan of it, it allows me to be a bit more daring and more generous with the potions I use on myself and in some cases too generous and that’s when the toxicity level kicks in. : D Some potions are amazing but they will take you close to the “danger zone” as soon as you drink it – if you’re not sure how you’re doing you can check the toxicity bar or even Geralt’s face.
How will the game prevent us from just spamming attacks on normal human enemies or big monster? I ask because in the pax demo we saw the Wyvern evade a few of Geralt’s strikes, will there be something similar for human opponents?
Will certain enemies be able to parry you? And if so would they be able to launch a counter attack that you will have to be able dodge at the precise moment?
Yes to all of the above – spamming is not a good idea first of all when you have multiple enemies. They will come attack you even if you are busy with somebody else. If you spam the enemy can also dodge and you will end up doing a couple of attacks in the air which not only will make you look silly but gives the enemy time to then attack you. Humans also have shields which means that you must find a way for them to drop it. Stamina is what allows a guy with a shield for example to dodge or protect himself, so if he runs out of it (there is a bar above him that shows you its level) you can then attack him and he won’t be able to dodge. Other enemies for example if they block you will stun you a little bit – the one that comes to mind is the ice giant I was fighting recently, I got a bit too carried away, went for a blow and he blocked me – screen effect came up and I was stunned for a little bit. That’s when he went for the kill.
Can our dodge be used for more than just evading? In one of the earliest videos I saw that when Geralt dodges backwards into an enemy it almost looked like Geralt elbowed him in the face, and the enemies staggered backwards, will this be another way we can damage enemies?
You can make some space if you’re surrounded by dodging into someone, they’ll be pushed a bit but you won’t elbow them.
Does Geralt have finishing moves that involve the crossbow?
How does parrying really work? I saw that when Geralt parries an opponent he doesn’t lose any health or vigor, so how will the game punish us if we just hold down the parry button? Or when we are in the middle of a group we can just hold down the parry button and block all the attacks with little consequences?
Actually parry is the same button as block, but in order to parry you must press at the right time (as you’re about to get hit) only then are you rewarded by a parry (we call it counter attack). Some enemies cannot be parried, like a double handed hammer swing for example is something you should dodge rather than try and block with your face. It’s worth mentioning that not everything can be blocked fully. For example, sometimes, if you block a heavy attack, you will get staggered and receive fraction of damage.
In the GDC video we saw geralt fighting a bandit that was blocking all his attacks, but Geralt just continued hitting him until he wasn’t able to block.
Is this the only way to sort of get through an opponents guard, or will we be required to use other moves, than rather just hitting him until we break his guard?
That’s the stamina I was talking about above. You can parry for example and he will drop.
How does the parry mechanic work when fighting multiple enemies?
I saw in the polish demo that when Geralt parries an opponent with a shield he disarms them, but it looked like you had to be locked on. So will we be able to parry multiple enemies attacks? Do we have to be locked on to an opponent to parry? Can we parry any enemy that attacks Geralt from the back or side?
You parry only one enemy at a time. You don’t have to be locked but with multiple enemies basically whoever’s attack is closest to the parry sweet spot will get parried and you will see the animation. At that point you cannot be attacked by others but the parry is short so if you have somebody else raising his sword you can either quickly parry him too or…you get hurt.
Will our two different attacks this time make more of a difference?
Like for example, will certain enemies parry us, or dodge if we use heavy attacks to much? And similarly will they be blocking more if we just use light attacks? Will we be required to use the two different attacks on the correct timing to fight more effectively?
Absolutely, that’s also a reason why spamming is not recommended, eventually you need to switch and be a bit more clever with your attacks.
Will we have all the essential combat abilities like: Parry from all directions, deflect arrows, riposte, group-style and the full variety of (all 90+) combat animations available from the very beginning of the game?
You can parry from the beginning, this is not something you need to unlock, but as for the others you will need to learn them.
I saw that in both the polish demo and the latest pax east gameplay that Geralt does this sort of fury spin attack, how do you activate it?
Do you just press a combination of buttons or are you only capable of activating it on specific moments?
Active skill – hold down light attack for spin attack. Hold down heavy attack is the one that slices in half.
Is there any advanced group AI in game and if yes how does it work?
Wolves for example like to circle you and will work together, they know when one is attacking and they will go at it in waves, jump at your throat, then run away before circling again. A mistake often made is to run towards the one that just attacked you, when really, when wolves come, your best bet is to stay in the center, let them circle you and block, dodge, use Yrden (slows down time), do whatever you need to survive their attacks. They’re very smart.
Is it possible to kill anyone in game or did you decide to go with the way of immortal key characters?
Letting you kill anyone would cause too many problems and ultimately the game is not about going on a rampage. So when you’re in town, whilst you can still upset guards by messing around with your spell or your sword we have opted for a more passive way for you to show your aggressiveness to NPCs (you’ll see when you try it… As I am sure you will at some point… Everybody does : D ).
Can (human) enemies surrender aka laying down their weapons? Can Geralt “mercy” enemies? Are enemies always dead when slain by Geralt or will there be seriously wounded enemies who just can’t fight anymore (e.g. because they lost limbs in a fight)?
Losing a limb means death for enemies. Some enemies who may not have a weapon, will ask for mercy when they see that you have your sword out and just cower in a corner.
Can we play the whole game without using the crossbow even once, even if we want to fight against every enemy in the game? Are there quests that require us to use the crossbow?
Yes – no.
Horse fight – more about mounted combat if there is any. And can Roach kick bad guys with her legs?
All horses in our game can kick when they freak out a bit, that can hurt anyone who is standing behind them. Horse combat is great, you get a damage bonus (since you’re going faster) and so you’re more likely to see heads roll or bodies sliced in half.
It’s been stated that there will be different types crossbows and bolts, could you give a small example of how this could affect combat besides just doing damage?
Different types of crossbows and bolts that will focus on a type of damage you want to do, knockdown and exploding for example are two that come to mind.
How does environmental interaction work in a fight? Can we push someone over the edge of an abyss with the Aard sign, kicking them or with a sword slash?
Can we send the enemy flying out of a window or balcony? Can we crack his head or spine against a wall or impale them on a wall spike? Can we parry simultaneously the coordinated attack of two enemies?
Counter attack/Parry, Aard and if you kill on the edge of a cliff for example the body can roll off.
Does the type of armor Geralt wears affect his speed and stamina (heavy coat armor as opposed to wearing just normal clothes).
Yes. Light, Medium and Heavy trade between speed and armor.
How many types of additional weapons are there?
Are there perhaps dual short swords like those of Assassins from W2 available? And does Geralt have his own animations for additional weapons or does he share them with other NPC’s? Do additional weapons still have a dynamic stance like swords do?
Two handed, one handed, range with variations within those groups as well as damage type. There’s really a lot of weapons for you to play with.
One big issue i had with DA:I was that i felt more like a cobbler than a hero. I spent too much time on the crafting that it became tedious after a while, so ive had a bit of a burned out with crafting lately…
So what did you guys do to not make the crafting too tedious?
Good question. Crafting is not something I am a big fan of usually in games I must admit. In our game the best armors you can have are the ones that you craft, those are linked to quests so you go on an adventure to find the pieces that you need. As far as pure crafting goes you can really play a lot with it. You find blueprints that tell you the stuff that you need to craft. Now you can also dismantle things in your inventory that could produce some of those materials. If you don’t have what you want you can probably buy it from a shop keeper. We don’t send you on a mad dash across the world for materials.
Since it i known the most powerful items will be craftables, how difficult will it be to craft those – AND will there be a random component involved with gathering the materials for those items? As otherwise it seems pretty counterintuitive to make the most powerful items “certainly given” with the right knowledge.
These armors are Quest Related so in order to create one you have a whole adventure to follow, it’s really nicely done, it’s sort for a journey where you collect parts of the armor until you have the whole set. Note that we also have powerful items that are guarded by monsters, it’s not just about crafting. : D
I wanted to ask about crafting and how it works, what elements of armor and weapon can we upgrade and how many levels did that get? How it affects the combat too as it was told? And can we detach previous weak parts of armor upgrades to change it in more powerful?
With Runes, there are some fire and frozen runes that have some nice side effects. When you separate a rune from a piece of gear you must choose to either keep the rune and destroy the gear to have it then salvaged, or destroying the rune.
Was the reason the “VATS” system (ability to target individual vitals) was cut because of financial resources, or because it wasn’t really “fun” with play test groups?
are there any remnants of this system in finishing moves? (Stabbing a monster/human in the heart(s)/throat, etc)
I totally forgot about that system. That’s old. I have no idea why it was dropped, I think somebody mentioned that it may have been too expensive because all creatures had to have multiple shaders (the system used Witcher sense to see the innards and weak points of the beasts). Totally forgot about that actually.
Were there any features that were cut-off from the game?
Well I guess that VATS system.
What was going on with ice skating combat? Was that a serious idea? If so, please go into specifics on how it worked.
Also please make a game with ice skating combat. I demand it!
Haha Ice Skating was serious indeed, it’s in the books by the way. It only got to early prototype, one of our coders Eduar worked on this system and made it so that you could press LT and RT to skate left foot and right foot, once you pick up speed you could slide around and slice people in half. Looked cool, it had potential. Some thought it was silly, which is fair enough, but the main issue is that if we drop in on a frozen lake for you to fight enemies using a new mechanic, it’s frustrating if we expect you to master it right away. So we would have had to introduce ice skating earlier on and that didn’t work for anyone so we dropped it.
Is brawling in the street with multiple opponents considered a separate minigame from the tavern brawls, or is it just a random encounter?
When you see some guys punching each other you can basically walk up to them and ask them to join and that’s the mini game part. In some cases people will come up to you to fight you but that’s from quest side. Alternatively you can just start punching guards and see where that gets you. : D
Or punch a cow in the face, guards are less likely to care.
Could you elaborate on fist fighting? We know that it is now incorporated into the combat system itself rather than a QTE sequence but we have no details on how it works as compared to the rest of the combat system. Are there combos? Light and strong attacks? Is there a lot of moves/animations that Geralt has in his fist fighting arsenal? And can we use our fists at will, or are they only available during specific events?
It’s much more natural now, it’s not a QTE, you have light and heavy punch as well as block which all use the same buttons as if you were to fight a monster for example. In fact you could also unequip both swords and just try to punch a werewolf in the face (don’t try it) and that uses the same system as the one we would use in our mini game.
Fist fight – do we have winning animation after fist fight like in Witcher 1 (posing, celebrating)?
Will Geralt be able to fend off against armed enemies with just his fists, using roll, evade maybe even unarmed counter?
Or will we be forced to draw our sword when facing armed enemies?
You cannot block a blade with your forearms, well you can but it won’t work and instead you get hurt. You can take on enemies with just your fists if you’re good.
How does fighting with your fists work exactly? can you kill people, knock them out maybe like a finishing move?
Is it possible to get into tavern fights, it is possible to go up to some civilians and kill them, or guards in the city.
They will die. Having them just knocked out would mean that they would never give up fighting and become annoying.
Now I know something about game design so… How many pages of game design document did you manage to create till today?(I am really curious when it comes to such a big game)
You mean just for Witcher Wild Hunt alone? It’s impossible to count to be honest. The thing is we use google doc so anything that has stats will be in an excel sheet, it looks neat and it’s technically only one page… just a really, really long one. : D Put everything in a word document and you end up with a 1000+ pages bible.
What was a feature/mechanics that didn’t make it into the game – apart from squirrels and ice skating to make it more difficult.
That VATS system that I totally forgot about.
What is your take as a gameplay designer on the inevitable realism vs. fun vs. functionality dilemma when you design game’s mechanics? What is your thought/design process when you face a challenge like this? Any specific examples of such challenges during TW3’s development?
Realism is good sometimes, with simulator games… That’s their strength really but for us it makes no sense to have a boat that is affected by wind changes. We are not a boat simulator, and it would be annoying if you need to go somewhere quickly but cannot because the wind hasn’t changed for a few days. That was a no brainer and it’s often the case with our discussions with realism vs gameplay, if you put yourself in the shoes of the player and something is annoying, frustrating or doesn’t make sense, then it needs some rethinking.
What were three features/mechanics with which it was the hardest to convince producers to implement into the game – tell us why it was so hard, and what they do.
I wish I could think of something but everybody was on board most of the time – maybe Gwent? I had to play a few games with various people to show that it would work but it was not hard to persuade them, I’m happy to say.
How do you balance the game? How do you prevent that someone who focused on the sidequests won’t heavily outlevel the enemies when he continues with the main story?
We have a system so that if you out level a quest, it will be greyed out – pretty standard right? The twist though is that it will compensate for that and maybe give you more loot or money. Having said that, you can out level some main quests if you’re really doing everything. You know, there is nothing wrong with it, you have trained hard you have fought a lot of monsters, you have some great gear and your reward is that you are hard as nails for a little bit.
What were the criteria by which you determined what was a satisfactory gameplay design choice for The Wild Hunt? In-house testing? Successful implication in other games? Suggestions from fans, and positive response? Could you give an example?
Either it’s something from W2 that was kept and we see if players (that’s us too) liked it as it was or if there was room for improvement – or it’s brand new and it start with the prototype, if that feels right we go ahead and down the line when people play more and more, especially with hands on sessions we have had recently, you see when you made the right call. The way you can replenish your potions is one for example.
Are you going to be a part of Cyberpunk team?
I have already done some work on CyberPunk but right now all my focus is on Witcher.
What have been the most difficult gameplay mechanics you’ve come across when making The Witcher 3?
Combat, potions, leveling or perhaps some other thing that I didn’t mention? (or something mentioned in this thread.)
The horse (and I didn’t work on it) I know was not an easy one, we went through different techniques to make it feel right.
What references did you take for designing the gameplay mechanics in the witcher 3?
Witcher 2 mostly, our goal was not to totally copy another game but address the problems with Witcher 2’s combat.
As a developer working under a budget, timetable and what is practically possible I should think it would be impossible to get everything you work on to feel absolutely 100% the way you imagined it to begin with. But are there a idea or concept game-play wise in The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt where you feel OMG we absolutely nailed this 100% as we wanted it.
When we pushed the date it was because something wasn’t 100%. It hurt more when you see other features like combat when you think “yeah this is good combat, it feels good”. So we took some extra time to make everything 100%. I know it sounds like a silly answer, but I can tell you without a doubt that we nailed this game, it is one of the best RPGs I have ever played and the team is so pleased. I am very proud of what we have achieved as a team.
One of the amazing features in The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt is its living breathing ecosystem. How did that feature affect you game-play wise positively or negatively or did it affect it at all?
It was tough because you need to have features that players will see. By that I mean there is no point having this complex system if players don’t see it in action. Things like monsters being attracted to smells for example. The world is big and the probability that a monster will be very near a dead body that you have just killed for example is not really high (depending on which area you are), on top of that the probability that you’ll stick around for the amount of time it would take a monster to come to that body is probably even lower – that doesn’t even take into account the chance that the monster would come across another one and they would fight. So we had issues where people didn’t see this mechanic at all or rarely. The fix for that was to spawn monsters in areas with other animals so they do their own hunting, then the rest kicks in. So you can see monsters killing things, then other monsters being attracted to the smell or maybe you arrive later and they’re already done with the dead body.
Have you ever been inspired by a fan or a individual not attached to the project (maybe at a convention, post on a forum, etc) and thought that idea or concept simply sounds amazing for The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt and then implemented it into the game-play or parts of it?
I can’t say I have, the fans that we meet on the road are often full of positive feedback and maybe some will mention that something or another from W2 could be better, it’s often something that we have already addressed in Wild Hunt so it’s reassuring. : D
How is it to work a such at such a gigantic project and be responsible for creating something that so many many many people have such high expectations for and opinions about? In your case in relation to game-play?
It’s tough because you want to improve on what the previous title was, but you also cannot lose the essence of what made Witcher 2, so you need to constantly remind yourself “is this Witcher-like?”.
What were some difficulties you encountered during balancing the gameplay?
Not having level scaling… And the scale of the game.
I would like to know more about Gwent.
Do we start with a predefined deck or do we collect cards and build our deck through the game? How do we obtain new cards? Through loot? Purchase? Can even win new cards from the enemy in a Gwent match? Will there be a long quest, which sends us through the whole world? (like fist fighting or dice in Witcher 1/2)
You start with a Northern Realms faction base deck. Which includes the minimum amount of cards required to play Gwent. Then after that you can find more cards in loot, you can win some at Gwent, in fact most Merchants will play you for one card that he/she has. All cards are unique. There is also a competition that you can enter, it’s a one of a kind competition so you must make sure that you enter when you are ready. That competition includes all of the top players in the Northern Realms. : D
What was your favorite part about designing Gwent?
Prototyping it. I printed 4 base decks of our factions. Played them over and over again with the boys and girls at work and tweaking things.
What approach did you take with the in-game design of Gwent cards? Is it similar to the physical edition (which could break immersion to some), or are the cards especially designed in-game to fit the world and period?
Will there be a big Gwent tournament for Geralt to participate in?
Basically the limitations I was given were as follows: 1) Gwent needs to be fast, no more than 10 minutes per game; 2) it needs to be a game about two armies clashing (as mentioned in the books); 3) and it needs to fit with the lore. The immersion sides of it was actually ok despite having cards of characters from the game (including a badass Geralt card) because once you’re in there it’s more you playing against the AI than Geralt playing. It doesn’t break anything to see those guys in card form. Originally we were not going to have that but as people in the office played more and more it became clear that we needed geralt to have his own, as well as other characters.
Can we expect minigames that have not been mentioned yet?
I think we’ve already announced all of them.
What were the reasons for removing dice poker from The Wild Hunt, and is there any hope of seeing it return?
The goal was to maybe add a new mini game, we designed Gwent and that naturally took over so to speak as the “quick game” that you play against random people to earn cards, or gold.
A few questions about leveling: Could you please describe the leveling system? How do developers balance leveling in an open world environment without level scaling enemies? Does leveling increase any of Geralt’s stats automatically? Or does it just increase the type of equipment and skills Geralt has available to use? Or does it affect him in other ways? Is the main quest line non-linear? If yes, how are the levels designed to allow for balanced gameplay in each of the quests?
Geralt stats increased on normal and easy but on hard and dark it’s more focused on the gear.
Did Geralt react on environmental conditions, for example he can die when it’s too cold (for example in cold water or snowstorm)? If yes, how to protect against that (potions, warm clothes)?
No, under some conditions maybe but we’re talking Quest related events.
Do animals have their own ecosystems and habits? For example, are they evenly ‘planted’ in the game or are they encountered during certain habitats and times of day?
The Eco System takes a lot of things into account, animals are placed where it makes sense to have them, then around them things will happen and shift them about. It’s super organic as a system and it’s there to complement the other mechanics we have. Animals ultimately are there to add life.
Bellator Pius Gratus asked:
Will the banks in Novigrad be functional buildings(that you can enter and deposit/stash some gold or find some odd quest), or are the buildings there just for show?
You can use the bank to maybe change some of the money that you have (we have multiple currencies in play) or even borrow some money.
Can Geralt get drunk in game (I am now)? What the hell is blink?
Yes. Good. One of Ciri’s abilities.
Bellator Pius Gratus asked:
Is there a gift system, for instance when you’re out of gold, can you bribe Grandma with some White Gull or a nice emerald to tell you some nice stories or rumours?
You can bribe guards if you want to go places for example, places you’re not supposed to be in – or sometimes you can use Axii during a dialogue scene to get a number of information from people who were not as cooperative as they should be. : D
Bellator Pius Gratus asked:
Regarding Roach and when you call her. Will she be the same horse Geralt rode last time, and of the same colour, or does a completely random horse show up every time Geralt whistles?
It’s always her but you can ride others. You can spend a lot of time customising her with new items (some of which we’re going to be starting making soon for our free DLC).
I like that the HUD tells me what time it is, but why does it tell me the weather? Isn’t that pretty obvious?
Good question. Weather is important as it can also affect monsters, so if you get a tiny bit of rain you could think “mmm, that’s light rain, it’ll be fine” and then you get destroyed by drowners for example. So instead you look at it and you can see that the game specifically says “this is the weather currently, therefore beware”. Quick glance and you know what you need to take into account.
How do Ciri sections trigger? Do they automatically interrupt when the player reaches a certain point in the story, or do the player has to unlock and trigger them?
Can we skip Ciri sections on the second playthrough?
Are Ciri sections more focused on combat or dialogues and decision making?
Ciri sections are triggered at certain moments in the game. Her moments have combat and dialogue too, they really are so… different, especially the combat. I really am a big fan of whoever decided to do that. It’s like a typical “princess in distress” sort of setup, only you play as the princess and she’s totally kicking ass.
Can monsters attack cities/villages or they spawn and move around in the wilderness only? Can different monsters fight each other or fight bandits?
Monsters can get a bit too close but cities have guards to come and help out. We found out quickly that monsters could really mess things up around cities which are where you talk to people, get quests (mostly, you can of course do that in the wild) but the point is that it didn’t work if you came back to hand in a quest and the village has been attacked by monsters – it feels cool but at the same time that means you cannot hand in that quest and you get no XP so that’s super annoying. Guards will help keep things under a certain level of control. As for in the wild, everything goes.
Is there element of stealth in combat ? and if so can we do some special attacks to unsuspecting enemies like a stealth finisher?
No. But if you Axii an enemy then you have a higher chance of finishing him in one hit.
Does the game have collectibles? And if so, do they have a purpose or are they just there for the sake of busywork? And how do they integrate with the gameplay?
Besides Gwent cards, no. Lots of weapons…
What is your favorite thing to do in the game?
First thing I do every time I see a village is go find the notice board and read the stories on there. Not only can I pick up a quest from there but those stories or short notes really help me understand the type of people that live in that village. I love the immersion in our game, I’ve said it before but I think our writing team did such a brilliant job on writing all those little things. Second thing I do after I’ve read the notice board is chase geese around and pretend that I am a giant witcher.
Can you explain how the “level requirements” for weapons work in The Witcher 3 and which impact the individual weapons of Geralt have on his damage output? (How is the difference between a weapon for level 5 and one for level 30 in terms of damage and other boni for example. How does that work with balancing in terms of not giving the players the ability to get too OP too early in the game or to be too underpowered without the right weapon). Also, could you explain the durability system of weapons?
The damage dealt is smaller when broken , you can repair on the fly with some items or go to blacksmiths.
Will there be a possibility to restart your skills at some point in a game like in TW2?
Yes but you lose the things you have acquired from places of power.
Does the game have any statistics you can see, like how long you played, how many quests you did?
You can check out the quests you did and read a little conclusion text that wraps up what you have learned from the experience. I like reading that stuff, it’s not always fluff either.
How will world respond on Geralt appearance, for showing up with a monster trophy, will they comment it or something like that?
People are constantly commenting on Geralt, he is a freak after all, having trophies on you doesn’t change how people insult you.
What are the functions of the witchers medallion?
It vibrates when there is something magic around you, something that requires your attention. Very useful especially during quests or even when exploring. It’ll vibrate and you know that you must use your Witcher senses to have a closer look.
Agent Bleu asked:
Compared to TW2, more puzzles this time around?
Well we have more quests so technically you have more puzzles but we haven’t gone out of our way to make it a puzzle game if you know what I mean.
How do you maintain level of fun gameplay wise during such a huge game as Witcher 3, we will play it for hours, how do you keep it fresh after 70-80 hours of gameplay? I am a huge fan of Witcher series and lore, so I will play the game more than once to experience story, but would I want to do it just because of gameplay, the feeling playing it?
Honestly when I play, I still catch myself listening to NPCs talk about something that I had never heard before, a lot of care was put into their look too so you don’t have 4 models used for 200 of them for example. The quests are always really fresh too, even the minor ones. It’s also the POI (Points of Interest) that we have in our world, the things that you see around you, there is always a tower somewhere, a rock formation, something in the distance that you want to check out and on your way there you will meet new people, and monsters. I get massively sidetracked in our game. So much to do, but it doesn’t feel heavy, you just naturally end up exploring. This is thanks to basically each person in the team ensuring that their piece of the puzzle is solid enough to stand on its own, and so when you put all the pieces of the puzzle together you end up with a really solid experience, and ultimately a game that is fun even if you don’t play quests…
From what I have seen from gameplay videos there is an extremely fast HP regen – is that because some cheats are enabled or is the game like this? If I play on second difficulty will I have to worry about using potions for better health regeneration and etc.? As far as I read, potions will be necessary for higher difficulties,but what about medium?
Haha nicely spotted. Actually it depends on which video you mean but we have two guys who record videos most of the time, Pixel (not his real name) and Wnek (his real name) they’re both excellent players, Wnek actually is a top CS player – despite that they will often have some great potions on them to make sure that they don’t have to record again in case they die. As far as the bar (without potion use) regenerating, maybe we had an early video where it wasn’t final, or maybe they were playing on easy.
There are rumors that theres around 70 unique types of monsters in the game. How hard was it to make every monster unique gameplay wise? Will we encounter many creatures with crazy abilities like Fiends hypnotic eye and Foglings well…. fog?
They all have their own little thing, even if we have some that are in the same family (drowners for example come to mind). My favourite one at the moment is the foglet, well fogletS, because they usually come in groups unfortunately. You see a fog rising and suddenly some pale figures circling you. Then they will come in and materialise next to you. Freaky stuff. Now when I see natural fog I take my sword out and look around just in case.
Will ALL NPC react to stealing in the future? Like the guards do right now?
It depends if they care or not. Some will, some won’t – it depends on who they are, where, if they are shop keepers, etc.
I heard in one hand-on event Geralt jumped from the tower into hay and he died. Geralt worse in jumping than Ezio?
Haha really? I don’t remember that one, mmm basically you can roll to absorb the fall so maybe the person forgot to roll upon landing.
What types of “birds’ flights” was implemented?
Each group has its own AI, and they will fly following patterns of their real life counterparts. Sparrows fly low and in groups, spread, then get closer again and will fly around certain areas where you could expect to see them. Some crows are used by Leshen so those are a little less natural and a lot more… deadly.
How long does the day/night cycle last in real time?
From memory it’s just over 3 hours for 48 hours. It’s nice. It’s a good speed that allows you to see areas wake up and go to sleep, change around you, without it feeling like you need to play for hours at night.
Since you threw away traditional concept of difficulty settings (higher difficulty- enemies have more hitpoints and do more damage) could you tell us how exactly difficulty settings works? More enemies per pack? Better AI? Or maybe combination of both and even more than that?
More HP and more damage but more focused on the damage part, it’s more about you being good than them becoming sponges for your blows, also you cannot regen HP during combat OR during meditation in hard and dark. You also earn less XP which doesn’t feel like bad, it’s just less generous let’s say.
How long does it take for weapons and armor to degrade?
Can we visually see the degradation on armors and swords? For example swords getting chipped and armors looking battered and scratched.
Do we have to go to a craftsman to repair weapons and armor or Geralt can repair them himself in meditation mode?
The degradation time totally varies between items, I can’t give you a rough average either, let’s just say it’s enough not to be a pain in the ass but enough for you to care when crafting/purchasing an item. You can get people to repair your stuff or you can have kits on you so you don’t end up in a tricky situation, in the middle of nowhere, as it becomes dark, surrounded by monsters, with only a sword that couldn’t slice a kiwi in half.
ONLY ONCE asked:
Why do you keep saying that you’re going to play TW3 on PS4 when the games done? What’s the real reasons behind that?
I don’t have an Xbox and my PC has been dodgy recently, and in fact died on me 2 days ago when I was trying to play Pillars of Eternity. ;__; Also I have a nice sofa. Feel free to donate any PC parts. <3
What games do you love to death and consider legendary?
Baldur’s Gate, Red Dead Redemption and TFC. Actually TFC and TF2 I was in clans playing every night, entering tournaments, etc. I was super into it. to me those games, especially TF2 (vanilla version) are just so beautifully well designed and don’t require everybody in the team to be good or even know what they are doing to have fun. You can carry the team with a few good guys, you can have fun in public or you can play competitively and the game scales for that too as it’s really well balanced. Hell of a job they did. Trying to time a conc-jump with a 56k modem and a ping of 500, good times.
I would love some more insight into the whole “Enemies don’t respawn” thing. It just seems like areas would become stale when everything dies off and there’s nothing to fight. So my question would be, “If enemies don’t respawn at all, what will keep exploration of areas from becoming kind of boring overtime, with nothing to fight?”
They do respawn. Each group will have a different respawn time and basically as you walk around and trigger them at various times, their respawn will also be staggered if you would. So by doing your first pass you sort of shuffle the spawns around (or set the countdown).
How are you handling enemy respawning in game ? for example the player from GameStar Mag mentioned that he didn’t noticed any respawning within his two days gameplay time so is it true that enemies don’t respawn at all? And if so does this mean visiting an old dangerous area means no challenge?
All our living world encounters will respawn at some point, usually after 2 in-game days. It is possible that he was attacked in one place by some monsters, he killed them and two days later they respawned in the same area, but this area could be big, or they could have been aggroed by something in the distance. There could be so many variables to be honest. Our system is quite organic, we didn’t want it to feel fake where you would always have monster x at some exact same spot. Our monsters wander around and so on.
Will wind affect sailing? Can we sail directly against the wind (which in reality is impossible), will there be gradual change of boat speed depending on how strong the wind is?
No it wouldn’t be fun otherwise and having to look at the wind direction would take the fun out of it – it would become too realistic.
Will boats take damage when bumping on reefs and rocks? Will they have upgrades like for better speed and improved strength?
Yes you can destroy your boat, parts of it will come off until you start sinking basically. Not ideal so you want to be careful. There is one type of boat that you can sail with no upgrades.
Can we get a better idea of the full functionality of boats?
Obviously we know Geralt’s dinghy can take him from point A to B, but what other capabilities does it have, if any? (Like using it to ram into something, standing up on it and firing Geralt’s crossbow, casting signs, lobbing a bomb at a nearby boat/enemy, can it get attacked or if we run into something will it take damage and eventually be destroyed etc)
Boats are there to take you from A to B and allow you to explore remote places, you can still fight from it as you can encounter flying creatures, especially syrens.
What did you do to make the sign Axii more useful?
You can use Axii to calm down your horse if enemies come close – the horse has a panic meter and if that gets too high you will get kicked off (that meter that can also be ‘upgraded’ by adding blinders to your horse). Axii also allows you to confuse multiple enemies, you can make them fight each other too (with a buff given to the Axiied enemies) and there is also an increased chance to kill Axiied enemies in one shot. All in all Axii is a very good sign.
What are the alternative uses for Quen and Axii?
Quen can explode upon getting destroyed, that’s very useful if you have a few guys around you and there is also another use when it will give you HP back with each hit, that’s a more defensive approach.
If I’m not wrong, in some past interviews it was comented that the assets (big and small, for example, a table) had strong phishics attached that made them to be affected by witcher signs, for example aard one.
1. I’m in true? or did the info went wrong, somewhere?
2. If I’m in true, will it affect the gameplay and the combat, in some way? can we throw a table to an enemy?
Aard can affect small to medium sized objects.
I wanted to ask you, how did you design the signs this time?
Could you talk briefly about their roles in the game (maybe something like – using Igni to burn the swamp gas – which was mentioned before) and how did you balance them, having in mind, the previous installments had a big problem with balancing the signs and keeping all of them useful and fun to use?
In Witcher 1, Yrden and Axii were mostly useless and Igni was very overpowered.
In Witcher 2, Yrden got some uses, but Quen got terribly overpowered again.
We looked at what didn’t work in the previous games, why certain signs were not used as much as others and why OP ones were… well OP. Now keep in mind that OP stuff whilst it is boring can be ok sometimes, you don’t want to punish people and make them weaker just because something is not balanced well. So instead we added more use to the ones that were not used often, we have upgrades too and the ones that were OP will work well against our group AI but won’t be too powerful.
Will Quen be more balanced this time around, where we won’t be able to just spam it and win, or will there be more distances using it too much?
Quen is still a useful tool to use, but not an unbalanced one. It’s useful against swarms, but if you don’t follow up with it then it’s just slowing down the time it will take you to die. : D It’s also a good tool if you want to focus on an enemy without being staggered.
Did you guys get lot of inspiration to your game recently from the new Witcher book Season of Storms? Because it seems to broaden the lore in witcher world nicely and I would imagine it being useful to you.
Is for example the new monsters introduced in the book present in the game or new information about the witchers like the Somne sign?
Axii is very similar to Somne and is used like it during combat (its base level anyway).
Can we still just cast Quen and tank damage till the end like in The Witcher 2?
No, as I mentioned in another answer, swarms won’t allow you to tank like that.
What is the game-design logic behind having many learned skills but can only use some of them at one time? Are you confident that players will not feel overwhelmingly “such a pity” for this system?
Actually it’s done in a way so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by it, you play around with ‘builds’ if you will. Where you can focus on a more defensive play style if you know the enemy that you are about to face, or maybe more aggressive, high damage focused on one enemy. It’s cool to see other people’s builds.
In the first two games Geralt has many passive skills and abilities at the same time. Now that skills need to assigned to active skill slots – how do you go about finding the right balance between giving the player the opportunity to customize but at the same time avoid feeling like you’re restricting the player too much?
That’s down to guys in the team like Lukasz Wnek who try many combinations, and spend hours fighting and testing all sorts of combinations. We have some people in the team that are incredibly good at finding OP combos instantly. : D
Regarding the Armours and active Skill-Slots, do they really affect your gameplay (fast, aggressive, defensive, group style) and how much do they differentiate one another, gameplay-wise?
Yes different builds can change things like stamina for example which will or should (assuming you utilise that well : D ) make you a more aggressive player since you can swing your swords like it’s nobody’s business. On top of that some armors also tweaks that, and on top of that we have the 3 Witcher armours sets that focus on Speed, another one on Damage, and one on Magic.
Agent Bleu asked:
How have you made sure the Witcher Senses don’t end up turning into a «Press X to win» kind of feature?
Witcher senses are there to help you get more information or understand the surroundings – at no point does it help you to win, it’s there for you to see and hear monsters into the distance for example, understanding what you’re about to face (or avoid) or it will help you find surrounding herbs that you need for potions. It’s a neat little tool basically and it all depends how you use it.
Do we have to use the ‘witcher senses’ mechanic creatively at any point in the game, or basically it will be just an improved medallion (from TW2) that’s used for highlighting stuff and progressing during investigations? Can we examine clues without using the mechanic or we have to ‘trigger’ these objects, tracks or marks with WS to be able to examine them? Is mechanic now what it was intended to be when you first thought of the idea, or you had some more ambitious intentions with it?
It depends which quests because how you use it when exploring is up to you. In some sections you must use it as you cannot visualise things like smells unless you use the senses.
Agent Bleu asked:
Can the player dispense with WItcher Senses altogether and gather relevant info by interviewing sources, piecing clues together and using logic?
You can skip it most of the time in quests for example where the info will suggest you take a look at an area, but you can find information in different ways sometimes or even just figure out where to go without its use. We only really force in a few cases.
Will there be the legendary loot like the Makhakam Sihill, Moonblade, and Aerondith with Ravens armor in Witcher 1 or Vrans/Elders blood set in Witcher 2?
And will we see other witcher schools or their ruins in the Witcher 3?
Other schools are mentioned.
With accurate details like the beard growing…Will hair of characters be wet under the rain or in the water? And clothes? I mean, will we able to appreciate subtle differences between dry and wet?
So if it starts raining, say during a dialogue scene that is set outside you will see all characters’ clothes becoming wet, yours, or the people you’re speaking to.
Are there any traveling NPC in the open world outside the (main) roads, like in forests, dungeon, caves… you can come across with, who are doing their own Quest/Adventure so to speak?
You meet a lot of people who are also on their own personal quests. Those quests may not include fighting monsters but you sure will meet some great characters on the road and outside of those roads.
Can you keep going to your (Geralts) friends and family like Triss, Yennefer, Zoltan … whenever you like and chat with them or do they disappear after a short while (like in Witcher 2)?
Some, and if you’ve met them.
Also how complex Geralt relationship with women will be. For example if Geralt have sex with one girl or prostitutes and others will finds out? Can it get Geralt or other characters in troubles? And will they remember that relationship and will that affect the game as well?
I don’t know about prostitutes, I’m sort of a one girl kind a guy, but for sure choosing somebody over somebody else could close off options – like in real life. : D
Damien, How would you describe the physical size of the biggest monster that we can meet in the game?
a) 1 griffin
b) 2 griffins
c) 3 griffins
d) huge as f**k
We have monsters that are bigger than the griffin, so I would say between b) & c), but that definitely equals to d).
Is there any animation “drinking potions”?
No – having this during combat totally breaks the flow of the experience we want you to have. It’s fast, it’s challenging, you need to cast a spell, use an item, slice, etc. etc. – no room for “wait you guys, let me play my drinking animations”, AI would not care and totally own you. I know this works in other games but those games are a lot more hardcore than we are. : D
We have heard a lot of different answers from devs, including you, about the size of the world. Now that the game is closer to release, could you give us the official estimate of how large of a landmass W3 will have as compared to W2, Skyrim, etc? A figure in square kilometers will work as well.
The reason you have heard different things is because it’s hard to calculate, you have a lot of landmass but oceans too, and small islands scattered around. You know, that’s one of the reasons during interviews now I just say “massive” because I have no clue. Whenever I try to calculate it I come up with “Fucking enormous”.
Will there be books present in-game for Geralt to read (as in actual content, with pages you can turn a-la Skyrim)? If so, how many books will we be able to read? Tens? Hundreds?
Actually I’ve been saving the fluff in game for when I get to play it properly because I still want to have new things to discover you know. So I’ve only read two, they were short, and it was scroll down mechanic rather than turn page (but it might have been because they were short, I don’t know).
I loved the stories and they were takes on contemporary stories which I thought were brilliantly well adapted to our medieval setting. My hat’s to our writing and localization team. These guys don’t just write and translate, they put a lot of love from their homeland into the country (I’m talking about Alex B here, who did the French version, the guy nailed it). I don’t know how many books we have, more than 2 for sure. : D
Why is no one on the presentation of the game has not been shown keyboard control and mouse? This is very annoying, especially those who want to and will play on the computer, and they are the majority.
We have two dudes who play the game when we need footage, they play with pads. Also now that I think of it, you guys know that we are a PC company originally so if anything you shouldn’t be worried about it – we had more to prove in regards to console controls (even if Witcher 2 was released on Xbox 360).
Will there be many situations where Geralt can solve the problem without violence, and how will it affect people opinion of Geralt? Maybe some people will fear him less because solving problems peacefully and attack him more often?
People always fear a Witcher, if anything using Axii against a person will freak the others even more than if you had decked him for looking at you funny. You have to replay it and understand that you are feared regardless of what you do. I like to play it cool most of the time, but sometimes I like to drop a quick threat in there, puts people in their place.
You saved your games? How does “save the game” work? You’ re able to override your previous savegame?
Or will you end up with a huge pile of savegames like in TW2? Ending up deleting them manually?
You can save manually and you have an autosave that kicks in at key moments.
Can we lock the camera position near Geralt’s back and disable zooming out while combat?
How does the open world environment effect the narrative focus of the story? Will a player completing side quests cause one to feel like they are abandoning the narrative thrust of the story? I thought the The Witcher 2 largely did this well. However, it seems like the challenge is much greater now given the open world environment. If one abandons a quest mid-mission, are there potential game play consequences to that later in the game?
It’s so hard to say, you know, but what I can tell you is that you shouldn’t worry too much, just do a playthrough and roleplay as you would, it is a game yes but don’t try and game it. It’s an adventure, just flow through it.
Will there be raw input for PC mouses? Will we be able to fully bind/use our PC mouses and all of their buttons?
While playing as Cirilla, will we be able to have sex with Eredin?