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Hello all!

I think it's no surprise that Witcher 3 is on its way, which is great, since the immense gamble they took with the first Witcher has paid off in a way which benefits an extraordinary company looking to created extraordinary games. I think one of the sheer awesome things about this series is that it comes from outside of a usual publisher mindset, and outside of the two primary game making countries. This perspective is what gave us the brilliant newness that came from a world some merely condemned as usual 'orcs and elves' fantasy before they truly experienced the world as a whole. I commend the Poles for taking that risk, and providing us with a quality product in the process.

No matter how fantastic both games are though, there's always room for improvement, and I think it's high time (before the official announcement) that we all bring to the fold our own personal hopes for improvements and continuations in the series. I feel like this game has sweetened a lot better with time as I explored its depths and began to understand it, but that's not a luxury you can take with most players. You should never assume that your audience is incapable of intelligent wiles, but the dazzle them on the first display it paramount to making most turn around and say "Y'know, I WOULD like to play that again!". So let's dive in to where improvements can be made.

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Larger General Issues

Cohesion: The number one problem facing the series is simple cohesion. And this doesn't even have anything to do with aesthetics, writing, or mechanics. Those are all fantastic, and way above many other games in working their parts together as a whole. The problem is in the code, basically the bugs of the game. If you simply watched this game being played through with no sporty affairs, you'd probably notice rather quickly all its flaws. Tons of animation glitches and idle path-finding, often you can be hit without proper reaction, and there's more than a few points where clipping can become a major issue. The Kayran fight is a huge example, with two major unavoidable visual errors at each crux of the fight.

Also important to note is the repetition of actions. The developers seemed to amend this at certain parts in the game with merchants not doing a spiel before allowing you to shop, but didn't fix it for others. One of the most grating issues is trying to repeat a minigame, particularly dice poker, which is entirely a chance game anyways. You could win as easily as you could lose, and having to click through all that dialogue is annoying as hell. Obviously the options to repeat general dialogue, when unaffecting, should exist since people can accidentally misclick, but you should be either be able to instantly repeat a game right off or not have to rapidly click through dialogue to do it again. The way the animations flash when you click through dialogue is distracting too, and could perhaps be a bit smoother. I know we're breaking the audio and all, but some concessions are made over others. Characters acting unnaturally is more odd than dialogue stutters.

This is the 'easiest' issue to solve, since it merely involves a lot of refinement and QA testing. I have no doubt that they spend a lot of money and time into this, so it's not really so much a concern. However, I see that some of this might have root in some other, smaller problems in the game which are less cut and dry. It's impossible to iron out all the bugs in a game so immense as one in this series, but the closer we get to perfect cohesion is the closer we step into a fully realized experience as the developers intended. Here's hoping that the game maintains that consistent greatness throughout.

Combat- Recoil, RNG, and Spaces: I doubt anyone will say The Witcher 2's combat was perfect. While it certainly felt tense, it didn't always work as intended, and you could get caught in completely BS situations where you die before knowing what hit you. The perfect example of this was in Letho's Act 1 fight, where if I was knocked down by an Aard sign, it was literally impossible to avoid his flame bomb (but not any other bomb, strangely). This example is mainly about where the fight took place. It seemed like CD Projekt really reveled in putting Geralt into tightly constricted rooms to fight, and it wasn't a fluke. At least four major fights in the game consisted of this, and plainly, it wasn't fun. It especially wasn't fun if you structured your build around mobility, which should have worked fine, but you were utterly screwed in these fights because you lost real control of your surrounds. This stuff was not fun, and completely counterintuitive to the game's freeness of design and choice.

Perhaps it would at least be acceptable if Geralt's reaction times were up to his Witcher standards, but the affect of recoiling in this game is basically unpredictable. In between having to stave off waves of enemies, trying to avoid their attacks and using the abilities at your disposal, there's no way to account for a sudden failure because the AI was quick enough to follow your movements in rapid succession. I think above all things in this, there needs to be an invulnerability time - even if briefly - when knocked down, because you can be slaughtered for mistaking the speed of an enemy by a millisecond. Believe me, while I completely understand the consequences of getting into a tough fight, there's no reason I should go from 100% to zero for not being able to read unpredictable attack patterns.

Lastly, there's a pervasive element in the series which is both awesome and horrible, the random number generator. Honestly, when it comes to things like crits and all that, I have no problem with a percentage existing. Hell, it adds a lot of depth to the game, especially when you plan your own attacks. What I take umbrage with is the idea that all basic status ailments (including INSTANT DEATH) are on a chance stick. This makes both incoming and outgoing attacks completely unpredictable, and ultimately makes the game artifically more risky, when it should be about learning an enemies attack patterns within a single fight. While it was rather fun (in both games!) to get a crit on an Aard and get an instant kill, that wound up being a strategy I relied on all basic enemies, because of the things I mentioned above. That negates so much of the game, when instead crits should be more of a 'nice thing to happen' which doesn't fundamentally alter the balance of play, especially when you have so many attacks going off a second.

And finally, the learning curve. A lot of people rightly bagged on TW2 for its lack of tutorial, and perhaps it wasn't so much the tutorial as it was the learning curve of it all. You needed to know your skills before getting into the first fight, and no amount of practice was going to prepare you for the whooping you were going to get below the walls. Those enemies should have been softer, I don't care that this is a hardcore game. Even Ikaruga slowly introduced you to the game's concepts. The Prologue is an introductory portion to the game, and if you can't wade out combat long enough to make your first meaningful choice (the second meat of the game) then there's no way for anyone to tell if they want to actually subsist with it if there's nothing to fall back on from the combat.

I trust, of this, that the recoil issue will be resolved. And who knows, that may fix a lot of the problems in the combat system! But they should keep up on adding options to combat. I found traps entirely worthless for the game's entirety, but I found bombs rather useful on my dark playthrough. The way combat is set-up as well is quite interesting, though I think they need to adhere to their 'preparation for combat' rules more often rather than just tossing it out the window for a few key fights. The specialization of your Geralt relies a lot on the potions he uses, so I'd hope that you'd be able to use them before any necessary fight. Regardless, I certainly have never thought the combat system to be truly bad, and hope that CDPR can create something equally challenging but less frustrating with their next iteration.
Post edited January 23, 2013 by GoodGuyA
Stealth Sections: I honestly didn't expect these to turn out as uninteresting as they did, but utimately the stealth sections were straight up broken. Great concept, marred by the movement in the game, which is more of a general problem in itself. In terms of turning, walking forward, and the like, Geralt moves rather heavily. It works most of the time, but the momentum in his movement did not make for great stealth sections. They felt more like a chore than anything, and though at times could produce a degree of tension, that was destroyed by the boneheaded AI which could look towards you without actually seeing you.

I think what it needed was a better utilization of its elements. One of the cooler sections is where you go about avoiding physics objects in a room, but again, they are so braindead that one can sneak out of the room without being noticed. If these elements were present in every stealth section though (making it based on sound rather than light)? That would be far more deep. And the cover system was completely busted as well, even when I thought it would be a really neat addition to the game. Take a cue from Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which has made the best third person stealth gameplay thus far, in my opinion. Even more amazingly, that game made the stealth controls as integral as the stealth itself, and it's about the only time that controls have ever enhanced a game for me.

I don't want these sections to go a way, quite the contrary! I always found stealth an easy, but thrilling way to add immense amount of choice to a game. Having the choice to even do basic sneak attacks on enemies (which seemed to be implied in one of the trailers) is great, but what I think is even more great is the choice to turn back to stealth without having to cheat the AI. Say you knacker the stealth and still don't want to get into a fight (perhaps they are cheating Scoia'tel bastards). You should have the option to stealth back behind a tree and avoid the combat, but obviously they would be on high alert. I don't think that it needs major revamping, just better integration and control issues sorted out. It could mean a lot for the game if that mechanic is sorted out.

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That's all of my major concerns for the game that I think need legitimate fixing, but there are a few more innocuous things that I'd like to touch on, just to make sure that the developers are actually thinking about it.

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Smaller General Issues
Animations: I mentioned before about some odd animation glitches and jerkiness as results of other parts of the game, but I think the majority of production value for TW3 should be put into this. There's no use upgrading the general fidelity of TW2 engine (which they are supposedly still using) since TW2 will still be one of the best looking games out there when TW3 is released. Aside from new assets, a reworking of how areas load in, and perhaps a bit of optimization I believe the majority of the 'making things look good' category should go into animation. The Witcher 2 has some astounding high detail animations, from the faces to individual limbs. I think this is due in part to the slow-down you are able to access, which requires all current animations of the screen to match the pace. It served the world so well that it's hard to find much fault with them as they operate in the world, but we still need more of them.

The less 'standing around stiffly' gestures we can get, the better. You can obviously see animations repeated throughout the game, which is a concession to having unique animations for certain scripted events. The more you are able to focus on this, the more vibrant your world will become. The faces are there, the textures are there, all we need is more variations in movement. Small touches go a long way and can help elevate the overall cohesion of the world. It's my belief that animation does this best above all else, as was proven even back in the 8-bit era.

Use the World Effectively (Design): Should the hidden message be believed, we are going to be traveling through an 'open world' in the next Witcher game. What exactly that means is unclear. There are more styles of open world than just "GTA" and "Elder Scrolls". Even both Witcher games, in their main areas, could be at some extent be described as 'open worlds', with large levels that you can move around non-linearly. I personally feel that their approach should mirror the work of the "Ultima" series in order to emphasize the 'meaning' of their world and the quieter moments of the game (which TW1 and TW2 have in spades). It helps contextualize our adventure, and keeps it from becoming mere pulse-pounding yet dry action (see Pacing for that).

What I'm referring to more specifically though, is using assets all ready present in TW2 in order to create new experiences for the player in design. One of the biggest missed potential I see in most games as it comes to the design is the complete absence of verticality taken into consideration. TW2 actually had a few sections which were accessible only by finding 'the high road', but these were limited and ultimately took a lot of time to get to. The ability to scale structures should be far quicker and the paths that lead upwards (or downwards) should be taken into consideration far more than building 'a huge world'. Skyrim actually did this well, as was necessary of it as a game set in a mountainous region. Not enough, but it's thus far the only example of it being used appropriately in an RPG that I can think of.

The essence of making the most out of your space can also lead to interesting combat situations as well. Everything from environmental effects (a chill upon a mountain, an eeriness inside a cave), to immediate combat changes (taking the 'high ground' could give you an advantage over certain enemies, and just general world design could be more interesting if you stopped thinking of the world in terms of two dimensional pathways. Primarily, I'm excited for the possibility of buildings becoming more non-linear with this trick, and ultimately creating new scenarios in places outside of the 'open world'. The essence of life should be much more than just its breadth, for we so rarely get a chance to acknowledge when to look up or down. I've heard a saying from designers that 'It's almost impossible to get your player to look up', and I think it's high time to use that against them.


You Have Physics, Use Them
: Hand in hand with the more creative use of world elements, we have the physics. It seems like every game since Half-Life 2 had to introduce a physics gimmick in some way, and TW2 thankfully didn't have to stretch far to find one. The issue was that it was not used more. I think there's one or two instances per chapter where you must use the Aard sign to uncover something, and a lot of it is obvious. What was not obvious, though, was on my third trip through the accursed hospital I found an untapped Aard wall. That astounded the heck out of me, and I wished that there was more intuitive use of this in the game! Even during the quest at the shack in Act II, they are blatant abut the use of the sign, which is unfortunate for such a great concept.

As I mentioned in the Stealth section, one way to use this would to incorporate it into gameplay would be to have it be the 'primary adversary', so to speak, in the stealth sections. Physics objects that you could manipulate to redirect the guards' senses, possibly even place traps, and be the primary way you could be detected rather than simply waiting for patrol routes to cycle. Another is to integrate physics, as well as the other signs, into puzzles much like Igni was primarily used for the majority of them. There's a lot of potential in the tools that are all ready there, so there's no need to struggle trying to develop new concepts. The use of Axii in conversation trees, while totally ripping off Force Persuasion, was still a new way of using that power in a non-combat setting. Do that some more, and I think we're well on our way to creating new content out of thin air.
Post edited January 23, 2013 by GoodGuyA
Pacing: Quick, what's the universal complaint about The Witcher 2's story?!

If you said 'pacing' then hurrah, you can read, but you're wrong. The actual issue in regards to pacing comes in the form of Act 3. What's wrong with Act 3? The largest issue is how it pushed you very readily along towards its end point, whereas the rest of the game did not. There never felt like a moment of rest was appropriate in the final act, and squandering your time clearing Gargoyles and arm wrestling The Mighty Numa was in that area of gamey-ness. I think it has less to do with the 'fade out' ending and more to do with how it related to the rest of the game.

Aside from the Prologue, the rest of the game was done almost entirely on your terms with an overarching goal to achieve. The ambiguity was both a compliment for the game's design, and a refreshing style of pace than most 'goal driven' RPGs. You didn't know where Iorveth or the Kingslayer were, so your time in Act 1 was spent discovering that information after overcoming other hurdles which affected the people who could assist in that search. You certainly felt driven, but it wasn't forced. Act 2 had a looming threat and a very ambiguous goal to be achieved, but the pace was still leisurely because you understood that these events were far reaching and could take a long time to breakthrough. I'm not saying that a constant threat that will catch up to you is bad, but I think this is one thing which sets The Witcher series apart from most RPGs, and one I hope they don't sacrifice in their evolution.

Act 3, however, drove you into the incredibly complex situation of the Council about to occur as well as your own personal decision which hardly seemed correlated at the time. From the moment you enter, you're running along a mountain pass, directed right to the front doorstep of Loc Muinne. Though you may wish to sidequest, it feels dampening of the urgency in front of you, and the brevity of the digression you take seems not worthwhile. The Extended Edition did a lot to amend this, but it still didn't fix the problem of feeling like you were under pressure to do something at all times. The goals should have been more ambiguous to start with. Taking Roche's path as my example, if like in Act 2 your major goal was to find Triss with no real direction on how to do so, then it would have been less hammered in terms of pace. As is though, Roche knows exactly who to talk to and where everything is. That really destroys the essence of discovery as it comes to both environments and politics.

Keeping this less deliberate pacing makes us feel more like our choices matter, rather than being bustled from action scene to action scene like other games of the same ilk (Mass Effect *cough cough*). We are allowed the time to reflect on our decisions, make new ones, and really take in what the world has to offer. The directed experiences should come when the pace needs to feel urgent, allowing us for a laissez-fair approach to our shaping of the world when otherwise. It allows the world to feel more organic and reactive. Speaking of which...

A Reactive World is Better than an Expansive World: I don't want to harp on the open world topic too much, but I can see why it's a big issue with some people. Let's just go out and say it: Skyrim has a pretty static world. It seems more due to developer ignorance than actual intention, and it drags the game down because of it. I don't know about you all, but I would rather have a single level which evolves and I rediscover as I go than a plethora of empty levels which amount to the same experience. I doubt TW3 will end up like that, but we need to see the idea of 'open world' really become conducive to the narrative structure that this series presents. Do not sacrifice the ability to make something grow in response to your actions for simply making it bigger. That should say enough for itself.

Use the World Effectively (Story): I have no doubt that the epic which CDPR weaves with The Witcher mythos will be both referential to its source material as well as wholly unique unto itself. We all have out own secret thoughts of where we want the story to go, but we're obviously not going to influence their vision any. What is certain though is that Geralt is heading South, into the Nilfgaardian Empire. Take a look at this map and tell me that the possibilities are not endless, even before making it halfway through Aedirn. I have never read The Witcher books, but I've spent a lot of time stumbling through the rather confusing articles on The Witcher Wiki, and I'm totally excited for where we might be taken.

Take this as less of a suggestion and more as speculation, but I think I found a few possible avenues that could be taken. First off is Gulet and Vengerberg. Gulet is where Letho originally hailed from, and where Dandelion and Geralt met for the first time. It would totally be in the poet's ways to meet up with him there, as well as a possible way for Geralt to finally put the Kingslayer business to rest. Vengerberg is the home of the oft-foreshadowed Yennefer, and would be a great location to start trying to look for anything she might have left behind as clues of where to locate her. Further South is Rivia, from where Geralt takes his title, which was actually officially presented to him by a spiteful queen mentioned by Stennis in TW2.

Right nearby the Nilfgaardian and Rivian border, however, is a location which is incredibly relevant to the themes of the game. Dol Blathanna was again mentioned in TW2 by Iorveth, who claimed that Saskia's rebellion held a better chance at Elven future than such a place, which is an officially protected elven state by the power of Nilfgaard. Quite interesting in their supposedly 'progressive' ways, right? It's also led by a sorceress Francesca Findabair, who was a member of the sorceress lodge. If you do not see the political machinations turning from this, I don't know what will. I would be highly surprised if we did not at least meet such figures in the game, if not visit the Valley of Flowers directly, since it has been a fleshed out location in the books as well! So much potential for contentious storytelling and reactions to the Northern/Nilfgaard conflict!

Keep Up With the Minigames (But Knock Out the QTEs): As a final little side note, I loved the various minigames in the series, excluding the QTEs. They were never integrated well, and really should be dropped in favor of different kinds of minigames. Imagine the arm wrestling minigame as a determining factor in a cutscene stand-off! Far more engaging, especially since that minigame was so well designed as to actually feel like a struggle. Or perhaps asking you to solve a quick puzzle in order to load the ballista or cast the spell which would allow you to win a battle. That would feel at least difficult, rather than tiresome button presses.

The fighting is where it really started to stink. The whole system is an absolute joke, easy for even the most inexperienced QTE user. The first Witcher had a very dysfunctional, but still unique fist fighting combat system. They need to create a real combat system for this minigame, or else it will continue to suffer. What could be actually interesting is to bring back the combat flow of the first game for this side option, which would be a nice harken back to how TW2 was originally going to play. Simply make it feel like a fighting system, and I guarantee you it will feel more real (which it certainly does not as is).
Post edited January 23, 2013 by GoodGuyA
With those out of the way, I want to bring forward my own minor squabbles about the game, likely not shared in opinion by others. These are getting quite nitpicky, so you may want to avoid them.
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Personal Hopes


Overhaul the Inventory and Crafting: I feel the most unnecessary part of both Witcher games is screwing around with the inventory. Neither inventory system adds much to the game, and it might be one part where TW2 fared worse than the first game. I think a category called "junk" emphasizes that point well enough. The problem is that the systems in which you use items is entirely automated. Sure, you can choose certain ingredients to use in potions, but besides making sure quest items don't get gobbled up, why would you want to? The choice is utterly meaningless in the long term and carrying around the items is a chore. At least in other games it's sorted through dungeon delving, here it's just robbing people's stuff (which REALLY breaks the story's core). That needs to be amended, because it's simply ridiculous.

Here's my proposed solution: Up the effects items have, and increase the rarity. Mindlessly picking up plants, even when you don't mean to is just boring, and doesn't make you feel like you're being clever in the world no matter how well planted the herbs are. Make each individual herb, token, ingredient, etc. worth a lot more than it is. Not in economy standards, but in how it affects minute to minute play. Celandine could give a certain affect while other plants another. Why use Blue Meteorite Ore over Red? Describe the potency on the ingredient, rather than making entirely separate crafting tables. By allowing us less direction in how we go about making our items and using them, the game truly becomes unique in its gamepaly experiences. I stated earlier that potions can define a playstyle, and how better to emphasize that than with slight tweaks to how you make potions?

By increasing the rarity, you also don't have to resort to throwing heaps of items around just to make sure the player has stock. Instead, the player learns early that items don't come easy, and is more protective of each oren they make towards their eventual goal. It also breaks the effect of raiding people's houses, and makes each item all the more enjoyable to receive in the first place. I feel that this is simply necessary in order to sustain the game's true feel, because otherwise we'll simply keep seeing inventory as a chore. Given that its very nature is tied in with being a Witcher, that's not a good thing.

Preach What You Promise: I find this one funny, because I got a lot more from this game than I was expecting, but still not what I seemed to be most looking forward to. I will point you to this: The first video on TW2 I ever saw (Posted by Benzaie of That Guy With the Glasses). not only did it sell me on the stealth aspect (we know how that turned out), it also promised to have no 'cardboard cutouts' as the presenter calls it. Meaning that we could go to anywhere in the castle, taking the right routes. While those aren't the exact words out of his mouth, more along the lines of "You will be able to be around this castle at some point", it always stuck out to me because the implication was that I would be able to flaunt about on top of that bridge which they showed with the unhinged camera. Take what you will of that, but I found it to be less than honest.

The second, definite lie they told, was in a video I cannot find readily. But the claim in the video was that boss fights (specifically the Kayran) had multiple 'hidden endings' to take them down. We all know there is only one way to skin a Kayran, and none of the other bosses had even the remotest cinematic element where something could change. This is a perfect place where I could bring up using your elements more diversely in the world again. I doubt it was a struggle of figuring out HOW to do multiple endings as it was a matter of budget, but it was a promised feature for something that looked very cool at the time. However, no harm no foul, and I certainly won't get miffed over a few missed promises. Understanding how the game and engine functions now, the devs should be able to project exactly what they are capable of in their time.

Feel Free to Leave Things Open-Ended: The first Witcher had the benefit of being rather condensed and less epic, which in turn helped it evaluate the smaller things that affected Geralt. Since TW2 is about political upheaval, it needed to be bigger, and ultimately that meant more sprawling. The biggest thing I want to emphasize with this point is that not everything has to be resolved. That was what really stuck about the ending of the game, more than anything else. The fight will still continue, the world is still in flux, and your decisions will have greater ramifications. Don't be confined to resolving everything in TW3, even if you intended the story to be a trilogy. Like I mentioned before, the ambiguity is one of the most defining things about The Witcher series, in all of its forms. Not every little action needs to see consequence immediately, and the Nilfgaardian War shouldn't just be done with in one game.

This is a section where open-world could help the most. Your actions don't have to have an immediate affect because you can cross wide areas of the world without it immediately needing to. This concept is especially great for sidequests. I found it jarring that I would meet the people I was recommended to arm wrestle or play dice poker with in Act 1 in Act 2 without fail. That much is amended when there's more places to visit, and it becomes more circumstantial than perfectly plotted. Not having things be so tight is good when it comes to emerging characters and a growing world. This approach can open up a lot more options, and make those options easier to resolve in the future.

More Divergent Character Moments (But Better): I gotta say, the opening to Act 2 was perfect (at least on Roche's side) save for one detail: Fighting as another character. It's absolute tripe that you have to limit yourself to a single sword move and blocking for that section. We shouldn't be mirroring Geralt here, but give us at least the mobility that enemies receive in the game. These moments of taking over other characters, especially with dialogue moments, was a perfect way to show a new perspective without being forced into it for too long. One of the greatest pieces of story-telling in games is in FF7 where you flashback to fight along Sephiroth, the main antagonist. It helps establish his character through mechanics, and overall strengthens your impressions because of it. Henselt and Saskia are introduced in a similar fashion and benefit brilliantly.

However, the same cannot be said for Auckes and Serrit. Not only is no effort made to establish their character, but the gameplay sections you play through are a whole heap of missed opportunity. Not only can you FAIL those sections without seeing the ending, but the game completely squanders the intriguing concept of recreating moment from an outside perspective (and fighting yourself!). There was a lot that could have been done which simply wasn't properly evaluated, and ultimately turned out to be an exposition device. I wish that things wouldn't be put in the game when they're only half-baked, I think is the salient point here, and probably a better point than the one I highlight. Tone down the scale if you have to, but don't drag the game to a halt.

Accessible Lore: I don't mean this so much in terms of explanation, but in terms of actually being able to learn about the world in more than dialogue. Primarily, books. Books cost too damn much in this game, are uninteresting to read, and waste time you could be discovering the world with. This is a section where Elder Scrolls does brilliantly. You discover books throughout the world, and they feel substantial (again, an Inventory problem) so you hope to read them. Occasionally they give benefits, contextualize history, and are generally just neat to look at. This is a cheap and fun way to increase the amount of information you can portray to fans, so why not open up that option? It's literally just making your books a bit larger and putting more words into the. Master Dandelion would appreciate.

Change that Ploughing Font!: This relates to the above, but GAHHHHH the non-world aesthetics are terrible! I don't know what it is about such talented artists that leave the rest of the player experience so drab, but it feels like a slog even to look at these things! I'm not saying to change the font or style in basic user interface and subtitles. Those are nice and easy to read. With flavor text though, you need something better. Get your 2D artists to work on a more fanciful UI, because it's way too clean.


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Well, that took damned long. Probably missed a few things, but I'll end it there. What else are you hoping to see improved in TW3? Do you agree with the broader statements made? as always, discuss below, and happy monster hunting!

(I am sorry for this being so long!)
Post edited January 23, 2013 by GoodGuyA
Thanks for giving us an interesting read.

I have mixed feelings about the witcher games. I have both from GoG and providing my PC will play the next one I will get it.

I just wish it was a bit more open world like Skyrim, that I must admit is one of my all time favourites.

Cheers Markl
i disagree about the open world thought, it just wouldn't suit this game i reckon. besides i find games much more interesting the way witcher is done rather than wide open spaces that seem lifeless and lacking. one game that's done 'linear' methods perfectly is final fantasy 10 in my opinion.
I read the Witcher saga, and I wold see the continuation of it. In the games Geralt meets many friends, foes, many of these friends were shown in more positive light than in the books, as much that when I first met them in the game, my first reaction was why can't I just slit their throat right open. Geralt's stepdaughter was never mentioned in the games, and finding her again would be the ultimate quest which in my humble opinion is the most important aspect of the books. The whole surrounding story just doesn't make sense if we don't know anything about that. Too bad that the writer didn't write more books about the Witcher, and the game developers now have very hard time finding out which parts could be pulled in from the books, and how to continue the story. The games sorta continue the story from the books, but for me Geralt is just a lost soul wondering around, everybody knows a hell lot of more about him than himself, and using it against him, while the people most close to him just went missing, and he is not even aware of it. This situation should be remedied somehow.
avatar
zselleristvan: I read the Witcher saga, and I wold see the continuation of it. In the games Geralt meets many friends, foes, many of these friends were shown in more positive light than in the books, as much that when I first met them in the game, my first reaction was why can't I just slit their throat right open. Geralt's stepdaughter was never mentioned in the games, and finding her again would be the ultimate quest which in my humble opinion is the most important aspect of the books. The whole surrounding story just doesn't make sense if we don't know anything about that. Too bad that the writer didn't write more books about the Witcher, and the game developers now have very hard time finding out which parts could be pulled in from the books, and how to continue the story. The games sorta continue the story from the books, but for me Geralt is just a lost soul wondering around, everybody knows a hell lot of more about him than himself, and using it against him, while the people most close to him just went missing, and he is not even aware of it. This situation should be remedied somehow.
Ciri is mentioned in the game more than once- in fact, Geralt also remembers what happens to her during one of his flashbacks. The story of the WItcher games is a direct continuation of where the storybooks end- Geralt's supposed death.

Here's what happens

*GAME SPOILERS BELOW*

Geralt dies in the Massacre, and Yennefer dies trying to revive him- but both are rescued by Ciri, who has immense magical prowess, and they are transported to the Isle of Avallach. After some time the Hunt appears and kidnaps Yennefer. Geralt returns to reality to pursue the Hunt, and it was during this time that he meets the witchers from the school of the Viper. The witchers succeed in locating the Hunt- they fight the Riders and cannot win, so Geralt sacrifices his soul for that of Yennefer's. Geralt becomes a Rider for some time, but escapes- when we see him running in the woods in the first Witcher game, he has just escaped from the Hunt.

*SPOILERS END*

So we can see that the story has continued pretty seamlessly from the books, or at least as seamless as we can expect from a video game. Because of the nature of video games, the narrative part of storytelling differs in format from that of books- you can't backtrack to the last chapter to re-read something for clarification, nor is it possible to include too many details outside of the Hero's perspective without breaking immersion. It is quite a challenge to adapt the book narration to a video game narration format, but I think CDPR has succeeded in doing so.

The problem I see for the future is this: if you are familiar with the various Stories of the Witcher universe, you know that Ciri is a very important character- in fact a lot that has happened is related to her. Now the challenge is how to remain true to the Story without minimizing the importance of Geralt's character. I am excited to see how the developers handle this, I have complete faith in their ability to continue with excellent storytelling.
This is in response to the OP, regarding the QTEs: I absolutely love them, I just wish they were tougher.

The tutorial for the game was understandable and the combat has a learning curve, but that what makes it fun- this is not a hack and slash game, and I certainly hope it doesn't become like that.

The pacing was excellent- the Last chapter is short for a reason- there's not much they could have expounded on in terms of the story without being repetitive or asinine.

Additionally, it might be enjoyable for some players to have a more interactive alchemy or crafting option, but others would hate that- they just want to make a sword or potion, quick and dirty, tell them how to do it fast and don't make it a headache. The strength of the Witcher games is in the combat- one can hope it is not dumbed down in lieu of better alchemy.

Also, it wouldn't be a great idea to delve too much into other characters- this is not a book, we are limited to Geralt's POV to a great extent, and it wouldn't make sense for him to know too much about the lives and motivations of other characters. Side note, one can never fail the Auckes necromancy mission- you go back to reality and then return back to continue.

Regarding leaving things open-ended- no way. Some people like resolution and closure, and it would be such a cheat to leave them hanging after so much time and effort. It may be bad storytelling to resolve everything, but resolution needs to happen for all aspects of the story to some extent.

Regarding combat: the "dying before you know what hit you" is actually not bad- it's adds to the gravity of the situation and makes fighting tense- some people like that. Also, it would be completely awful to have moments in combat where the character was invulnerable simply for being knocked down- that would make fighting boring. The W2 combat mechanics are great, but one can hope to see them become more challenging for the next game.

The font wasn't bad either, actually.

edit: word choice.
Post edited January 29, 2013 by cmdr_flashheart
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marklaur: I just wish it was a bit more open world like Skyrim, that I must admit is one of my all time favourites.
Thanks for the compliment!

Though while I do enjoy Skyrim to the extent of a casual RPG, the systems at play in that game do not at all help serve the aesthetics at play in TW series. TW is more 'laid back' than 'aimless' like Elder Scrolls, and so-called wasting of your time feels less like you're just delaying a plot device. The actual design of locations in Skyrim is probably the best part about its design, lacking almost everything else in terms of making your actions feel weighty. TW does that, and it's the best part, so I wouldn't want that to be sacrificed just so we could wander around a mostly lifeless landscape.
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zselleristvan: I read the Witcher saga, and I wold see the continuation of it. In the games Geralt meets many friends, foes, many of these friends were shown in more positive light than in the books, as much that when I first met them in the game, my first reaction was why can't I just slit their throat right open.
The game is not about total freedom, nor should it be. The idea is that you are taking control of a character with justifiable relations in the world, always hanging tenuously on a string. In a logical sense, Geralt would operate within these ideals, rather than squandering his life and time on petty arguments. That's what makes the meta-narrative so strong, that you can't go and justify the idea of just killing someone right off. In other games, it's clearly a work-around by the game devs, but here it serves to a greater purpose.
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zselleristvan: Geralt's stepdaughter was never mentioned in the games, and finding her again would be the ultimate quest which in my humble opinion is the most important aspect of the books.
Alvin was a replacement for Ciri in the game, since the games still have avenues which they wish to build up to or simply not shoehorn into the games as a whole. I do not doubt that CDPR intends to bring Ciri back into the game at some point, but the Yennefer situation has been foreshadowed since the beginning. The games all ready take a stretch in delivering some of the characters into the narrative (haven't read the books, but WTF is Yarpen doing in the Pontar Valley?), and they can achieve the same idea with their own characters rather than forcing ones all ready created. That's an adaptation for ya, but by all accounts, this is a fantastic one.
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cmdr_flashheart: The tutorial for the game was understandable and the combat has a learning curve, but that what makes it fun- this is not a hack and slash game, and I certainly hope it doesn't become like that.
You see, the learning curve was just terrible in my opinion. Great combat, but even in the added tutorial, you could get two shot. There should be SOME enemies to train up on. There is no single game that I can think of that simply throws you standard enemies that will decimate you if you don't use EVERY opportunity to avoid them. There should have been an easing in. As it was, the first fight was often the hardest, the Dragon turned out to be the simplest fight, and anything in a corridor took the difficulty leagues above your current stature. That is not good design, even if you're designing for the 'hardcore'. Even 'hardcore' players need to be eased in.
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cmdr_flashheart: The pacing was excellent- the Last chapter is short for a reason- there's not much they could have expounded on in terms of the story without being repetitive or asinine.
I don't agree there. There's a lot of content there and no justifiable reason for exploring it, because the game is forcing an urgent attitude on you, plus under explaining things. There is no real respite like the rest of the game.
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cmdr_flashheart: Additionally, it might be enjoyable for some players to have a more interactive alchemy or crafting option, but others would hate that- they just want to make a sword or potion, quick and dirty, tell them how to do it fast and don't make it a headache. The strength of the Witcher games is in the combat- one can hope it is not dumbed down in lieu of better alchemy.
So you don't want combat dumbed down, but you're content with simple-as-dirt alchemy? Alchemy is an integral part of the series, much more than the actual fighting itself. If we're encouraged to do this stuff and really engross ourselves into the character of Geralt, why should it be so simple? Even cooking isn't that simple. Plus, it undermines items even further.
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cmdr_flashheart: Also, it wouldn't be a great idea to delve too much into other characters- this is not a book, we are limited to Geralt's POV to a great extent, and it wouldn't make sense for him to know too much about the lives and motivations of other characters.
That's not what I'm saying. I'm just saying I want more lore, better delivered. As is, there's basically no reading material that gives you any incite. It's not as if the devs don't want it to, book are there, but they're underdeveloped. There should be more to them then just a snippet of notes from the bestiary.
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cmdr_flashheart: Side note, one can never fail the Auckes necromancy mission- you go back to reality and then return back to continue.
Yes, but if you fail on the stealth mission, you don't get to see the rest of the dream sequence. Not that it's really worth seeing, but why would I be restricted from seeing it entirely? It makes no sense.
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cmdr_flashheart: Regarding leaving things open-ended- no way. Some people like resolution and closure, and it would be such a cheat to leave them hanging after so much time and effort. It may be bad storytelling to resolve everything, but resolution needs to happen for all aspects of the story to some extent.
Of course have resolution, but not everything has to be neatly tied. I personally don't expect the whole Nilfgaardian War to be wrapped up in one game. That would be really terrible, frankly. The effects of your choices for The North in TW2 shouldn't have quaking consequences in the political realm that you have to see immediately is what I mean. Your relations with the political realms should affect responses from other NPCs, but we don't have to see every single character we met last game for some tightly tied resolution.
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cmdr_flashheart: Regarding combat: the "dying before you know what hit you" is actually not bad- it's adds to the gravity of the situation and makes fighting tense
For this, I absolutely cannot agree. Too much RNG is absolute crap. It disencourages you from being hit AT ALL, meaning you continually use one boring strategy to ensure that you can actually make your way through an encounter. That is simply not fun whatsoever. Imagine if, in a game like this, you had a 1/10 chance of being killed instantly if you were hit by ANYTHING. That's what I'm talking about here. I should be able to relatively gauge how much damage an enemy does after a few encounters, rather than never. More control, less dice roll.

Thanks for the discussion!
>"The game is not about total freedom, nor should it be. The idea is that you are taking control of a character with justifiable relations in the world, always hanging tenuously on a string. In a logical sense, Geralt would operate within these ideals, rather than squandering his life and time on petty arguments. That's what makes the meta-narrative so strong, that you can't go and justify the idea of just killing someone right off. In other games, it's clearly a work-around by the game devs, but here it serves to a greater purpose."

Excellent way to put it, I completely agree.


>" You see, the learning curve was just terrible in my opinion. Great combat, but even in the added tutorial, you could get two shot. There should be SOME enemies to train up on."

You say terrible, but I say awesome, what to do :)

Objectively speaking, the combat learning curve is forgiving if you play on Easy while you're learning. For someone starting out with the game, Easy mode is more manageable, and then they can switch to something else as they progress. It's enjoyable and rewarding to survive challenging combat, and it doesn't make sense for experienced players to have to suffer easier combat. Easy mode is always there for someone who wants to eased into the combat.

>"I don't agree there. There's a lot of content there and no justifiable reason for exploring it, because the game is forcing an urgent attitude on you, plus under explaining things.

What do you have in mind? I thought everything was explained satisfactorily, and further exposition would have been repetitive or impinged into W3 territory.

>" So you don't want combat dumbed down, but you're content with simple-as-dirt alchemy? Alchemy is an integral part of the series, much more than the actual fighting itself. If we're encouraged to do this stuff and really engross ourselves into the character of Geralt, why should it be so simple? Even cooking isn't that simple. Plus, it undermines items even further."

It's a matter of preference- I appreciate how important Alchemy is for the game, but I don't view it as anything more than a means to an end. I just want to mix things and drink them so I can fight better, I don't want to have a headache figuring out proportions, lunar phases or something else equally asinine, though realistic.

>"That's not what I'm saying. I'm just saying I want more lore, better delivered. As is, there's basically no reading material that gives you any incite. It's not as if the devs don't want it to, book are there, but they're underdeveloped. There should be more to them then just a snippet of notes from the bestiary."

I agree! Thanks for explaining what you meant- I would like better books as well.

>" Yes, but if you fail on the stealth mission, you don't get to see the rest of the dream sequence. Not that it's really worth seeing, but why would I be restricted from seeing it entirely? It makes no sense."

As I remember it, if you "fail" in the dream sequence, you actually got to re-try it without having to reload. But maybe I am mistaken .

>"Of course have resolution, but not everything has to be neatly tied. I personally don't expect the whole Nilfgaardian War to be wrapped up in one game. That would be really terrible, frankly. The effects of your choices for The North in TW2 shouldn't have quaking consequences in the political realm that you have to see immediately is what I mean. Your relations with the political realms should affect responses from other NPCs, but we don't have to see every single character we met last game for some tightly tied resolution."

I don't care about the political situations, but it should be possible for the players to give their character a satisfactory end. I don't hate cheesy, but I know other people do. This is a tricky subject, what to do *shrug*

>"For this, I absolutely cannot agree. Too much RNG is absolute crap. It disencourages you from being hit AT ALL, meaning you continually use one boring strategy to ensure that you can actually make your way through an encounter. That is simply not fun whatsoever. Imagine if, in a game like this, you had a 1/10 chance of being killed instantly if you were hit by ANYTHING. That's what I'm talking about here. I should be able to relatively gauge how much damage an enemy does after a few encounters, rather than never. More control, less dice roll."

It makes complete sense that you cannot get hit in certain situations- it's more realistic. Again, one can always jump to Easy mode if they do not like unforgiving fights. I don't mind the "dice rolling"- it's incredibly rewarding to come out victorious against the odds, easy or hard.

Thanks for starting this topic :)
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cmdr_flashheart: Objectively speaking, the combat learning curve is forgiving if you play on Easy while you're learning. For someone starting out with the game, Easy mode is more manageable, and then they can switch to something else as they progress. It's enjoyable and rewarding to survive challenging combat, and it doesn't make sense for experienced players to have to suffer easier combat. Easy mode is always there for someone who wants to eased into the combat.
Now, I beat the game on Dark Mode, so I don't come at this with the attitude that the game is impossible. However, the supposed skill based system is marred too much by the RPG system in place, not just with dice but also numerous glitches which can occur. The real difficulty here is 'forgiveness for mistakes' of which there is zero. Early in the game, doesn't matter the game, you should not be punished for evolving a strategy. In TW2, you are, and have to resort to every cheap trick to get past the starting level. Only later on are you allowed to formulate a strategy based on attack and defend, which for some players can lead to a clutching of the "one tried and true" strategy until it becomes completely invalid and the game becomes far too difficult. Then later on, basic strategies prevail. Screwed up learning curve needs to be amended. Last two fights were piss easy.

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cmdr_flashheart: What do you have in mind? I thought everything was explained satisfactorily, and further exposition would have been repetitive or impinged into W3 territory.
Not really. Take the context as it is: Loc Muinne, an ancient city that was apparently befallen some sort of tragedy, I guess, now center stage for an immense political uprising. That much I can tell, and the results, but what about the depth of the political factions like Kaedwen and Aedern? We get none of that for Redania or Nilfgaard, boiling down the situation to somewhat absurd levels. But again, my main problem is that the act is far too rushed. "See Radvoid, Rescue Triss/Free Anias, Go to Council, Defeat Dragon, Confront Letho". None of the other acts can be summed up like that, and overall the RUSHING pace makes none of the other stuff seem important at all. I missed so much in my first playthrough because I felt betraying of my character, squandering time on stupid Gargoyles. Nothing felt natural, using the rest of the game as a metric.

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cmdr_flashheart: It's a matter of preference- I appreciate how important Alchemy is for the game, but I don't view it as anything more than a means to an end. I just want to mix things and drink them so I can fight better, I don't want to have a headache figuring out proportions, lunar phases or something else equally asinine, though realistic.
Hey, don't be dissing moonsigns! They gave a lot of depth to Ultima!

I'm not saying it had to be complicated, but it's all ready integral to counterbalance the flawed combat. If that combat becomes less flawed, then it could be an even greater asset to creating deeper combat. Keep the simple metrics, but allow for more options. Why just keep it as a system which is just busywork to you instead of making it more substantial? Then we'd all be happy :)

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cmdr_flashheart: As I remember it, if you "fail" in the dream sequence, you actually got to re-try it without having to reload. But maybe I am mistaken .
Nope. Not at all. You are sent back to Geralt's eye without ever completing the rest (so long as it's after they meet Letho).

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cmdr_flashheart: I don't care about the political situations
Then why do you play? :P

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cmdr_flashheart: It makes complete sense that you cannot get hit in certain situations- it's more realistic
Not if it's a freaking Nekker. The dragon should be able to do some major damage, but couldn't A basic enemy should never do as much damage as a boss in the same timeframe unless it has some serious weaknesses to go along with it.

I'm liking this discussion though! Keep it up!
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GoodGuyA: "The real difficulty here is 'forgiveness for mistakes' of which there is zero. Early in the game, doesn't matter the game, you should not be punished for evolving a strategy. In TW2, you are, and have to resort to every cheap trick to get past the starting level.
But a mistake is just that- a mistake, why should you be forgiven for it on Hard or Dark modes? When you're playing on Easy, there is plenty of leeway for the player to bounce back from mistakes. It definitely helps that players can change game difficulty during play, and that feature should be carried over. Sometimes a player dies because of a glitch, which can occur in any mode, and sometimes they die because of bad luck- that is what makes insane mode a serious challenge. It's a great combat challenge to conquer the bad luck, and it's certainly enjoyable. Why shouldn't players get to experience that if that is what they want?
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GoodGuyA: Not really. Take the context as it is: Loc Muinne, an ancient city that was apparently befallen some sort of tragedy, I guess, now center stage for an immense political uprising. That much I can tell, and the results, but what about the depth of the political factions like Kaedwen and Aedern? We get none of that for Redania or Nilfgaard, boiling down the situation to somewhat absurd levels. But again, my main problem is that the act is far too rushed. "See Radvoid, Rescue Triss/Free Anias, Go to Council, Defeat Dragon, Confront Letho". None of the other acts can be summed up like that, and overall the RUSHING pace makes none of the other stuff seem important at all. I missed so much in my first playthrough because I felt betraying of my character, squandering time on stupid Gargoyles. Nothing felt natural, using the rest of the game as a metric.
There's a pretty logical progression to how the story shows the extent of Redania's and Nilfgaard's involvement. It doesn't make sense for the player to get extended exposure with Radovid and his crew- Radovid has no reason to trust you, and he can achieve his goals without your involvement, a stark contrast from the situation in Aedirn and Henselt/Saskia. As for the Nilfgaardians, it also doesn't make sense for the player to get chummy with them either-

GAME SPOILERS BELOW

At the beginning of chapter 3, they are basically holding both Triss and Yennefer captive to further their goals, in what way could they hope to appease Geralt or win his favor? Geralt is a thorn in their side.

SPOILERS END

It is because of these reasons that we cannot reasonably expect too much information regarding the Redanians or Nilfgaardians. But in W3 we should expect more information regarding the motivations of the Emperor, and why he has Yennefer captive (if you know the identity of the Emperor, this question is easily answered).
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GoodGuyA: I'm not saying it had to be complicated, but it's all ready integral to counterbalance the flawed combat. If that combat becomes less flawed, then it could be an even greater asset to creating deeper combat. Keep the simple metrics, but allow for more options. Why just keep it as a system which is just busywork to you instead of making it more substantial? Then we'd all be happy :)
The alchemy just helps makes the fights easier- people should have the option to just mix and chug/make bombs etc. It's cheaper to gather ingredients and make things yourself- that's the only reason I care for the alchemy.
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GoodGuyA: Nope. Not at all. You are sent back to Geralt's eye without ever completing the rest (so long as it's after they meet Letho).
Maybe your game is glitched *shrug*- I just used a previous save to test this and purposely walked into a trap 3+ times, Dethmold always transported me back to the dream.
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cmdr_flashheart: I don't care about the political situations
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marklaur: Then why do you play? :P
I am enjoying the story of Geralt of Rivia. Other players certainly have the option to get into the politics up to their eyeballs, but I am on the path to get back his memories, find Yennefer, and then...who knows. I like the games for giving players the option to remain neutral.
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micktiegs_8: Not if it's a freaking Nekker. The dragon should be able to do some major damage, but couldn't A basic enemy should never do as much damage as a boss in the same timeframe unless it has some serious weaknesses to go along with it.
I don't understand why you're looking down on the Nekkers- they're a formidable enemy. But even a cat can kill a person in the right circumstances. A player always has the option to go to Easy mode, and they should utilize that. If I am playing the game on Dark Mode, I would want all the enemies to be ruthless and unforgiving, otherwise what is the point of Dark Mode?
Oops, I 've just seen the Witcher 3 poster, with Geralt in the company of other witcher, or witcheress? with ashen hair. Things are getting in place.
Thanks for for taking the time to articulate your ideas. I have to say, I agree with almost every single one of them.

My BIGGEST petpeaves about TW2 were mostly interface related.

-The mini-map AND map were both AWFUL. Seriously. TW1 had informative maps that were practical. TW2's map was nearly useless.
-The inventory was awful too. Consolitis written all over it. At least TW1 had the benefit of being functionally old-school. Not even filters at launch. Skyrim had the exact same problem, AN AWFUL INTERFACE! The modding community came up with SkyUI, which is probably one of the best game UI I've ever seen. SkyUI should be a standard thing in all RPG nowadays. Thank god for the modding community.
-The whole potion aspect needs to be retought. I found myself always drinking the same pots and applying about the same oils all the time. The low timer on them, coupled with the need to meditate before drinking, felt more like a gimmick than anything else.
-The crafting was not a fulfilling experience
-All mini-games are more of a nuisance than something fun. I found myself doing the fist fighting, poker and arm wrestling in case the rewards were good, not because they were enjoyable. In fact, I resented them.
-Fast travel. TW3 cannot do without it if it is going to be open-world like Skyrim.

I also think devs should start looking into more practical storage options than going in an inn. Since the Witcher narrative includes magic, please allow me to summon mules through portals to store my stuff. I ALWAYS use mods that upgrade the carrying capacity. There's nothing more annoying than sorting through an inventory. TW2 did a poor job at hinting at the resources we should keep or not. Inf act, the whole crafting system was a mess.

I also dearly missed the old school ALT highlight key from TW1 and hated that medallion replacement to highlight stuff of interest, but I suppose this was done for the sake of immersion.

Free cursor... what happened to that? I like it. Bring it back.
Post edited February 10, 2013 by TigerLord