On Thursday we were given the privilege of touring CDProjekt Red's booth in Kentia Hall. What we saw was the work of a number of incredibly talented artists who are attempting to create the world of a European fantasy best seller. The Witcher is based on a series of books by Andrzej Sapkowski, the most prominent Polish fantasy author. The setting is dark fantasy Ã¢â‚¬â€œ do not entertain any doubts about that.
The Witcher is set in a world where Humans are dominant at the cost of the near extinction of elves and the interment of dwarves and gnomes. Racism and racial violence is a major part in the world of The Witcher, something that few other games (if any) have ever touched upon. The setting of the Witcher is blood and mud Ã¢â‚¬â€œ knights wear dented, rusted armor that's a far cry from the mirror sheen of other fantasy games, the King is not always just and benevolent and the peasants aren't necessarily terribly happy with their lot in life.
Players will take the role of The Witcher, Geralt, a professional monster hunter with some minor magical powers. The Witcher appears to be very story driven Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I observed a demonstration of the decision tree where each decision affected at least two other plot arcs in the game in different ways. As it stands there are over a thousand pages of dialogue, over one hundred main storyline quest and another hundred or so side quests. The play time is estimated to be 30 hours for the main quest with another 50 houres or so more for all of the side quests. Also, different types of monsters will appear in different weather conditions or times of day. The Witcher looks to have a very complicated, layered and branched storyline with the possibility of many hours of replay time.
CDProjekt Red makes use of a heavily modified version of the Neverwinter Nights Aurora engine. Major changes include rewriting the rendering engine to take advantage of new technologies and the use of a non tile based system to render the game world. Water effects and other environment effects have been greatly improved. We observed a demonstration of a character standing in water and watched the flow of the river react to his presence, swelling and running around him. The designers and mapmakers turned to medieval maps and city layouts to work on some of the terrain in the game, giving vast, sprawling cities with varied architecture. Some important buildings are even designed and laid out according to medieval plans. Unlike Neverwinter Nights, however, there is no multiplayer component to The Witcher - the game will be an entirely single player experience. The view is also set to a third person view. The screenshots below show some of the fantastic things that have been done with Aurora.
The combat system has also been totally overhauled. We were told that there were over 200 combat moves rendered to make each fight different from the last. Combat has been set up to include the possibility, for players and NPCs, of bleeding, stunning and crippling pain. Combat will be conducted in real time and players will be able to customize their fighting with over 250 special abilities and half a dozen supernatural abilities called Ã¢â‚¬Å“SignsÃ¢â‚¬Â.
The Witcher is a game that holds a great deal of promise Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a dark and gritty fantasy world, rich in detail, where nothing is ever black or white paired with a solid graphics engine makes The Witcher a title to look forward to in the Spring of 2007. We can't say for sure who will be distributing the game just yet but the details are being worked out and in the final stages of negotation. The game will debut in English and Polish at the same time - both versions of the game are being built from the ground up. A lot of good fantasy and science fiction has come out of Eastern Europe since the USSR collapsed. Movies like The Night Watch are gaining widespred fame in the United States something that was until very recently (historically speaking) impossible. The books on which The Witcher is based will be available in the United States sometime next year.