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The Witcher 2 'it's about pushing the limit again and again'

Lead level artist Marek Ziemak on creating the epic RPG

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Sure we had to remake some of our streaming stuff, cut the size of the textures because the resolution of Xbox is lower than the PC in most cases. So we had to change some technical stuff, but on the other hand, all the dialogue, the cut scenes, meshes, locations, characters, everything, was moved and adopted from PC to Xbox 360. That was hard, to keep all the content while having such a huge game and keeping it looking really good.

The biggest challenge is that we're already experienced in creating PC titles, we've created two games to date, so that perhaps is not much, but it gave us a lot of feedback already. And consoles are like a new proving ground for us.

We all are console players, we've been playing console games so it's not like we know nothing about it, but on the other hand it's challenging to create Witcher on a console, to address all the needs and features players would like to see there. Most challenging was finding out what players would like it to be like and to make it fluent and console-ish.


You're big advocates of non-linear gaming, which we really admire, but it's quite a tough call for a developer, because there may be large parts of a game some players will never see. Why do you feel this approach is important?

Our spine, the spine of the whole game is our storyline and it's a dark fantasy world where you have to make choices, then later on you have to face the consequences of your choices. We were looking for a way to make those consequences meaningful and really important for the players. To show that we sometimes have to kill some characters, sometimes burn some places, make some huge differences and changes in the game's world.

Non-linearity and creating different stuff, different options is one of the means we have to actually show you the consequences of your choices. It's not always enough to tell you that someone died because of your choice, we want to show you those consequences, because you're the man deciding, then we have to be prepared that you choose one option or the other. We may have to create twice as much content, but then, there's twice as much fun!

You make unashamedly adult orientated games and good for you we say, but are you surprised that games get attacked for examining adult themes, things TV and movies get praised for?

I think games are evolving, at the beginning the audience was a bit different and some people think games are for children, we believe that that's not true. Our opinion of games is that they're like interactive movies, you can compare it to reading a book or watching a good series on TV because there's a deep storyline and our target definitely is a mature audience.

So we're using all the stuff that's being used by other authors and creators like writers or movie directors. It's not about delivering sex just to have sex in your game, it's about creative freedom and having the same opportunities and using the same weapons as all the other creative people.


Games like Skyrim, Kingdoms of Amalar and the Witcher 2 show the gaming public still have a huge appetite for RPGs, what do you think is the lasting appeal of the genre?

I think the name of the genre is the answer, it's a role playing game and people like that. I believe most people play the game to experience something different from their everyday life. In most cases you don't want to play as an IT guy, because that's what you're doing every day, you don't want to be a nurse in game because that's your job. You just want to get out of this reality and check out something else, become a different character because that's what RPG games are valuable for, becoming another person, making decisions, developing as a person. They are usually really deep with great dialogue and they really immerse you into the game. So that's really one of the main reasons the need to run away from your normal life.

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