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 Witcher 2  devs: Branching storyline 'hell' to create, but worth it
Witcher 2 devs: Branching storyline 'hell' to create, but worth it Exclusive
July 16, 2012 | By Staff

July 16, 2012 | By Staff
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More: Console/PC, Design, Production, Exclusive



In a new Gamasutra feature interview, CD Projekt RED studio head Adam Badowski says that developing a fully branching storyline for the RPG was "hell" but worth it, and promises more experiments in the future.

Many games have branching content -- particularly RPGs. In The Witcher 2, CD Projekt RED took this to an extreme, with players being rewarded for their decision-making by being confronted with almost totally different second acts to the game.

"Really, it was kind of a design experiment," says Badowski (pictured). "In Act 2, we basically made two different acts, and from the production perspective, it was kind of a hell, but we did it."

So why did the team do it? "We want to treat our players right," he says.

Co-founder and joint CEO Marcin Iwinski says that the team approached the game that way because "we wanted to play a game like that."

Badowski says the experiment was "for sure" a success, but that "probably half of our players didn't even realize that they can choose totally different paths."

"So in that case, you can say that all the work we put into that other area of the game went to waste for those players," admits Iwinski. For the future, the developer wants to more clearly communicate to players the real consequences of the choices they make.

"But I don't know how we can communicate that without spoiling things or destroying the immersion. It's very tough, but that's why it was an experiment," says Badowski.

"You can be sure to expect more experiments from us," promises Iwinski.

The full feature, in which the two discuss what other lessons they learned from the Witcher series and how they'll be applied in their forthcoming game based on the Cyberpunk pen and paper RPG franchise is live now on Gamasutra.


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Comments


Jeffrey Crenshaw
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""So in that case, you can say that all the work we put into that other area of the game went to waste for those players," admits Iwinski."

Somewhat disagree. Even if the player didn't read the marketing bullet point that there are multiple second acts, it may still have enhanced their experience by providing cohesion that the typical linear or bead-structured local agency narrative structure simply can not. A game reacting to a player's responses to create this narrative cohesion and a subconscious sense of global agency can be its own reward.

""But I don't know how we can communicate that without spoiling things or destroying the immersion. It's very tough, but that's why it was an experiment," says Badowski."

My advice is to just vaguely hint at a branching narrative in press (spoiler free), be honest and actually deliver said branching, then let the vague hint of agency and word of mouth be your marketing.

Matheus Cardoso
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"But I don't know how we can communicate that without spoiling things or destroying the immersion. It's very tough, but that's why it was an experiment," says Badowski

Just don't communicate. Why? Because that's fun. I mean. You need to choose in the dark, without known what will be the consequences of it (like some choices in our life) and I really think that's the entire fun of games. Your choices, their consequences and how you will deal with them.


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