How Witcher 3 Breaks all the Rules

Shamus Young

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How Witcher 3 Breaks all the Rules

One of the things we've come to accept in video games is that we're never going to get another big-budget, dialog-heavy RPG like we used to get in the old days.

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Casual Shinji

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Gonna have to disagree on that combat bit.

The Witcher 3 is brilliant, but its combat is okay at best. Most of the time I was doing horseback charges, since it made the fights go by faster, and was actually way more fun. Compared to what it used to be though, it's a godsend.
 

CaitSeith

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Guys, I think Shamus ran out of his meds. He is talking to himself again!
 

FoolKiller

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But then to save money they will just give you a digital manual instead of a real one with the physical purchase.

Actually, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt not only gives you a manual. There's a thank you card and stickers etc.

But then they must make up that money by nickel and diming you with microtransactions.

Actually, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt gives you over a dozen pieces of DLC for free that, while small, would be charged for by other companies

Well then to protect their investment the PC version must be loaded with always online DRM and such.

Actually, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt can be purchased from CDProjekt Red's digital platform, GOG, which provides DRM-free versions of the game.
 

Shamus Young

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FoolKiller said:
But then to save money they will just give you a digital manual instead of a real one with the physical purchase.

Actually, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt not only gives you a manual. There's a thank you card and stickers etc.

But then they must make up that money by nickel and diming you with microtransactions.

Actually, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt gives you over a dozen pieces of DLC for free that, while small, would be charged for by other companies

Well then to protect their investment the PC version must be loaded with always online DRM and such.

Actually, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt can be purchased from CDProjekt Red's digital platform, GOG, which provides DRM-free versions of the game.
I like how you think.
 

Baresark

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I think the move toward voice acting is a mistake for every single game. I see it all the time though. You get these small studios that make a great game but it isn't voice acted, and all you see in comments section is wining about there not being voice actors. It's madness. Especially when most games have a conversation that involves two people standing there.

Maybe this isn't the norm, but I can read and understand a conversations much faster than someone can read it to me. Voice acting is novel, but the novelty quickly wears off. I turn on the subtitles and skip through conversations. Even in a game with very short conversations, I skip through most of the spoken dialog because I read it much faster.
 

Baresark

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FoolKiller said:
But then to save money they will just give you a digital manual instead of a real one with the physical purchase.

Actually, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt not only gives you a manual. There's a thank you card and stickers etc.

But then they must make up that money by nickel and diming you with microtransactions.

Actually, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt gives you over a dozen pieces of DLC for free that, while small, would be charged for by other companies

Well then to protect their investment the PC version must be loaded with always online DRM and such.

Actually, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt can be purchased from CDProjekt Red's digital platform, GOG, which provides DRM-free versions of the game.
The Steam version is actually DRM free as well. All you have to do is go to the directory and access the exe. It should just start right up.
 

Errickfoxy

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Serious talk then.. what does The Witcher 3 do wrong? Anything? Nothing is perfect so it must have flaws of some sort. Is it.. is it Gwent? Is Gwent the flaw?

(I really don't get into Gwent, anyway)
 

K12

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I'd be fascinated to see what CD projekt RED's secret is if they can manage to do all these things so much better than other AAA develops can.


Good communication? Longer pre-production? A genius project manager? Slave labour? Selling their souls to the devil?
 

Tar Palantir

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K12 said:
I'd be fascinated to see what CD projekt RED's secret is if they can manage to do all these things so much better than other AAA develops can.


Good communication? Longer pre-production? A genius project manager? Slave labour? Selling their souls to the devil?
Genuine respect for the Witcher universe and not being dependant on a soulless western publisher...EASEGASOFT


...tho I wouldn't rule out a dark pact with some polish witch coven...
 

antipunt

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Took the words right out of my mouth. I really do feel the same about this game, it's magical
 

Fat Hippo

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K12 said:
I'd be fascinated to see what CD projekt RED's secret is if they can manage to do all these things so much better than other AAA develops can.


Good communication? Longer pre-production? A genius project manager? Slave labour? Selling their souls to the devil?
One point that comes to mind, which surprisingly enough I don't think I've seen mentioned in many discussions of how the Witcher 3 manages to be so massive and yet so consistently good, is that costs are bound to be far lower when making games in a place such as Poland, rather than places like the USA, Canada, or most of Western Europe. And I do believe the entirety of the developement team is still based in Poland.

Taking a gander at the average mothly wages, we find a value of $4,537 for the USA, and only $1,753 for Poland.[footnote]Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_average_wage UNECE 2011 statistics. I chose this data-set since it seems like a better representation of the cost of an employee to the employer, rather than the living expenses, while still taking into account some of the costs of labor regulations.[/footnote] So for every employee in the USA, you can hire approx. 2.5 in Poland. Assuming these employees are of a similar quality as their western counterparts, it's no wonder they are able to create such big games. They have a huge advantage in costs, allowing them to work with far more manpower. And they still sell the game at regional prices (e.g. 60 dollars in the USA) so their revenue is the same as that of western developers.

In fact, an interview with one of the directors confirms this: "The industry must be able to readapt internally, and there is no textbook solution for that. We can't all move to smaller countries to do cheaper games there - I'm talking mainly about American developers, as the costs of hiring specialists in the US are very high. We have a way better situation with Poland being a 'cheaper' country, where we pay less to our employees than in the US - that's a fact. We gain some money from that, and we have a chance to make bigger games. Besides, RPGs are rarely released, so we operate within a niche."[footnote]Source: http://www.gamepressure.com/e.asp?ID=51[/footnote]

It doesn't make their game any less impressive, but it seems like this is often overlooked. It almost doesn't seem fair to criticize Western studios for not being able to keep up with the sheer size of The Witcher 3.
 

K12

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Fat_Hippo said:
K12 said:
I'd be fascinated to see what CD projekt RED's secret is if they can manage to do all these things so much better than other AAA develops can.


Good communication? Longer pre-production? A genius project manager? Slave labour? Selling their souls to the devil?
One point that comes to mind, which surprisingly enough I don't think I've seen mentioned in many discussions of how the Witcher 3 manages to be so massive and yet so consistently good, is that costs are bound to be far lower when making games in a place such as Poland, rather than places like the USA, Canada, or most of Western Europe. And I do believe the entirety of the developement team is still based in Poland.

Taking a gander at the average mothly wages, we find a value of $4,537 for the USA, and only $1,753 for Poland.[footnote]Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_average_wage UNECE 2011 statistics. I chose this data-set since it seems like a better representation of the cost of an employee to the employer, rather than the living expenses, while still taking into account some of the costs of labor regulations.[/footnote] So for every employee in the USA, you can hire approx. 2.5 in Poland. Assuming these employees are of a similar quality as their western counterparts, it's no wonder they are able to create such big games. They have a huge advantage in costs, allowing them to work with far more manpower. And they still sell the game at regional prices (e.g. 60 dollars in the USA) so their revenue is the same as that of western developers.

In fact, an interview with one of the directors confirms this: "The industry must be able to readapt internally, and there is no textbook solution for that. We can't all move to smaller countries to do cheaper games there - I'm talking mainly about American developers, as the costs of hiring specialists in the US are very high. We have a way better situation with Poland being a 'cheaper' country, where we pay less to our employees than in the US - that's a fact. We gain some money from that, and we have a chance to make bigger games. Besides, RPGs are rarely released, so we operate within a niche."[footnote]Source: http://www.gamepressure.com/e.asp?ID=51[/footnote]

It doesn't make their game any less impressive, but it seems like this is often overlooked. It almost doesn't seem fair to criticize Western studios for not being able to keep up with the sheer size of The Witcher 3.
So my suggestion of slave labour wasn't a million miles off.
 

Fat Hippo

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K12 said:
So my suggestion of slave labour wasn't a million miles off.
Hah, well I'm sure the wages are very fair by polish standards. After all, if wages are lower, prices will usually also be lower. And people with technical skills tend to have enough prospects that they don't need to take jobs they don't want. But in a sense, yes, it's a question of manpower.
 

Omey

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Fat_Hippo said:
K12 said:
I'd be fascinated to see what CD projekt RED's secret is if they can manage to do all these things so much better than other AAA develops can.


Good communication? Longer pre-production? A genius project manager? Slave labour? Selling their souls to the devil?
One point that comes to mind, which surprisingly enough I don't think I've seen mentioned in many discussions of how the Witcher 3 manages to be so massive and yet so consistently good, is that costs are bound to be far lower when making games in a place such as Poland, rather than places like the USA, Canada, or most of Western Europe. And I do believe the entirety of the developement team is still based in Poland.

Taking a gander at the average mothly wages, we find a value of $4,537 for the USA, and only $1,753 for Poland.[footnote]Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_average_wage UNECE 2011 statistics. I chose this data-set since it seems like a better representation of the cost of an employee to the employer, rather than the living expenses, while still taking into account some of the costs of labor regulations.[/footnote] So for every employee in the USA, you can hire approx. 2.5 in Poland. Assuming these employees are of a similar quality as their western counterparts, it's no wonder they are able to create such big games. They have a huge advantage in costs, allowing them to work with far more manpower. And they still sell the game at regional prices (e.g. 60 dollars in the USA) so their revenue is the same as that of western developers.

In fact, an interview with one of the directors confirms this: "The industry must be able to readapt internally, and there is no textbook solution for that. We can't all move to smaller countries to do cheaper games there - I'm talking mainly about American developers, as the costs of hiring specialists in the US are very high. We have a way better situation with Poland being a 'cheaper' country, where we pay less to our employees than in the US - that's a fact. We gain some money from that, and we have a chance to make bigger games. Besides, RPGs are rarely released, so we operate within a niche."[footnote]Source: http://www.gamepressure.com/e.asp?ID=51[/footnote]

It doesn't make their game any less impressive, but it seems like this is often overlooked. It almost doesn't seem fair to criticize Western studios for not being able to keep up with the sheer size of The Witcher 3.
Thank you. It is surprising how often this gets ignored. Also since they have a second source of revenue (GOG), The Witcher 3's scope makes so much more sense.
 

eberhart

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Fat_Hippo said:
That said, circa 25% of their workforce (and we are not talking low-level QA etc) are from "international" pool - which also means "international money", even when accounting for lower living costs (ehh, though not necessarily so obvious in metropolitan area) and they had to relocate as well. Not everybody is going to treat it purely as investment into their resume.
 

Tiamat666

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Shamus Young said:
Except Witcher 3 has loads of choice. It arguably has more choice than your average BioWare game, and certainly more than a Bethesda game.
That is true only if you limit "choice" to the branching possibilities of the plot. Overall, the Witcher 3 has considerably less choice than your typical Bethesda game.

I love the Witcher 3 and think it's an absolutely stunning masterpiece. There is no question that CDPR has created an incredible game of truly epic proportions. But from a technical standpoint it's important to realize that the game is extremely and very well focused on just two features: the fluid combat system and the plot, as conveyed through the cutscenes and dialogue. These two extremely well made things are what 80% of the game is about.

For comparison, a typical Bethesda game, like Skyrim, has many more systems, like detailed crafting, deeper interaction with the world, such as sitting and sleeping, buying property, faction systems, detailed NPC stats and inventories, every item being a real object in the world, real and more complex NPC schedules, a leveling system, more varied magic and equipment systems, player customization, etc. From a technical standpoint, a Bethesda game is a much more complex beast, and the much broader spectrum of systems make them less focused and not as flawlessly executed as the two main features in the Witcher 3. So I think its not entirely fair to directly compare the two and ask Bethesda why they can't do something on the same level of awesome.

For me, the Witcher 3 is an amazing adventure game. But its not very good to roleplay in, as you are stuck in your Geralt role and there isn't really much you can do in the world besides going on with the plot and completing contracts. For the freedom of roleplay, nothing beats a Bethesda game.
I wish the Witcher 3 were a better roleplaying game. Then it would be simply mind-blowing.
 

RandV80

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Yeah I was going to add that in earlier, the differences in wages between Poland and North America/Western Europe probably pay a big factor.

But I think CD Projekt RED still deserves a whole lot of credit here. While a AAA dev has to pay higher wages in NA, while they will employ a lot of talented people there's also likely a lot of strain & overhead tacked on from working under a massive corporate umbrella.

Analyzing them by their finished work, this is a dev team that's worked on one series and produced 3 games over around 10 years. They also have a clear level of progression from The Witcher 1 to The Witcher 3, not everyone can successfully navigate going from a solid niche title to mass market (see: the Gothic series). They started within their means and improved in size & scope as they went along. This sounds to me like a dev studio full of talented people under effective & involved leadership with little corporate overhead & oversight.
 

Clive Howlitzer

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Errickfoxy said:
Serious talk then.. what does The Witcher 3 do wrong? Anything? Nothing is perfect so it must have flaws of some sort. Is it.. is it Gwent? Is Gwent the flaw?

(I really don't get into Gwent, anyway)
The UI sucked. It was really bad at the start, a massive clusterfuck. They have patched it a bunch but it is still way worse than it needs to be. Also, the itemization isn't great. The game has a million craftable weapons/armor and drops in the world and 99% of them are going to be worthless trash that won't ever be worth using.

In general, everything involving equipment is almost entirely without consequence. You can go most of the game and totally ignore it, even on Death Marches. They could have definitely focused on that more to improve it, either by streamlining it into a system of sidegrades or give it a more proper loot system with an actual progression.

Besides that though, the game is pretty damn perfect.
 

Gethsemani_v1legacy

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Errickfoxy said:
Serious talk then.. what does The Witcher 3 do wrong? Anything? Nothing is perfect so it must have flaws of some sort. Is it.. is it Gwent? Is Gwent the flaw?

(I really don't get into Gwent, anyway)
The Flaw is that much of the gameplay outside of combat in The Witcher 3 is rather superficial, since it consists almost exclusively of going to waypoints and using Witcher Sense once you get there or following trails in Witcher Sense instead of going directly to the waypoint. The politicking done in the Witcher is also almost exclusively tied to making certain dialogue choices or forking paths in Quest lines (ie. getting the key for Djikstra or getting the location of Dandelion) and isn't really the result of some long time planning on Geralts/the players part. Some of the side quests are also rather fetchy and even some of the Witcher Contracts become little more then "go there, use witcher sense, murder mini-boss(es) and come back for reward".

All that being said though, the Witcher 3 is so proficient in world building that these flaws are easily forgiven or even easy to forget. All the factions you meet feel realistic and internally consistent and all get plenty of fleshing out, all the major and most of the minor characters also get a lot of characterization or at least effective characterization. Even if most side quests are "use witcher sense, fight something, return" the world building makes it feel like an important task and less of a repetitive chore then it really is.