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"For us, our rule for side quests is that the story has to be something that you’ve never seen before, there’s gotta be something in this story that’s different."
- Quest director Patrick Mills talking to Metro about designing side missions.
When it comes to designing side quests, CD Projekt Red has a lot to live up to thanks to expectations set by The Witcher 3. In an interview with Metro, quest director on Cyberpunk 2077 Patrick Mills discusses the process of designing encounters for an open world environment.
Mills insists that the demo of Cyberpunk 2077 wasn't staged, explaining how the team is building the game to be cinematic and orchestrated without feeling too scripted. However, it's hard to accomplish in a non-linear structure.
"It’s a matter of, ‘OK, if you’re gonna walk to the end of this area here we’re gonna capture that you’re walking there and we’re gonna know to trigger these guys to walk around the corner’," he explains.
"And doing that across a big open world… like, if you’re doing that and it’s a linear game it’s much easier to do because you know that the player’s going to be coming from that direction."
Scripting actions in an open world game is a lot more work because designers have to anticipate all sorts of variables. "Even if you look at Witcher 3 in terms of how the community acts in that, you can see some of the beginnings of what we want to do here," he adds.
"All those characters, you go to a village and it starts to rain and everybody runs and stands underneath a tree or whatever. And at night everybody goes to bed and they all know which bed is theirs. And during the day they go to work. And we want to do the same thing here but on a much larger scale."
When designing side quests for an open world like Cyberpunk 2077, Mills looks at the main story first. "After we’ve written out and sketched out the main story we find the characters that maybe we want to spend more time with, themes, or even bits of old main story that aren’t getting used anymore."
"Because we iterate a lot so sometimes you wind up with something that is part of the main story and then at some point you’re like, ‘No, main story has changed but we’ll make it a side quest’. And because there’s not the pressure of being part of a multi-hour long story you have a little bit more freedom to figure it out," he explains.
"And for us, our rule for side quests is that the story has to be something that you’ve never seen before, there’s gotta be something in this story that’s different. It’s never gonna feel like, ‘Go here, do that’. It’s you go there and do that and then something happens."
The interview was part of a larger conversation around Cyberpunk 2077, so be sure to read the entire piece over at Metro.