They say time flies when you’re having fun. It’s hard to believe that 5 years have passed since The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt released in May 2015. To celebrate the occasion, we’ve decided to sit and talk with creators from CD PROJEKT RED about their experience in developing this unique and memorable game.
Excitement, longing, enthusiasm - we all felt them while waiting for the third part of the famous Witcher trilogy. Finishing it after 2 additional DLC’s and over 100 hours of gameplay left us with feelings of awe. Joining the famous witcher, Geralt of Rivia, on his search for Ciri, the Child of Destiny, has etched itself in our minds. Yet, it was also a very memorable experience for the game’s creators who spent almost 5 years of hard work developing it.
This is my story, not yours. You must let me finish telling it
One of the foundations of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt's success was its brilliant script, based on the bestselling Andrzej Sapkowski novels. Marcin Blacha, Story Director at CD PROJEKT RED, remembers writing the game’s screenplay as quite a complex and demanding task:
- From the beginning, the biggest challenge was the conversion from one medium to another. Sapkowski’s prose paints the world and its heroes with contours that fuel the imagination of the reader who must then fill them on their own. This means every book reader has had a Geralt of his own, while we had to create a Witcher that all the gamers would find appealing.
Our Geralt had to be interactive, so that the players could lead his adventures in more than one way. Luckily, The Witcher 3 wasn’t the first game that confronted us with such challenges, as we already had some priceless experience from creating the first part of the series.
Kings die, realms fall, but magic endures
The other feature that makes The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt quite unique is its rich world filled with magical locations and characters that feel almost alive. A large part of this universe’s creation fell on the shoulders of Lucjan Więcek, Art Director at CD Projekt RED. When asked which part of The Witcher 3 world he finds especially appealing today, he answers:
- After much consideration, I think I would choose Skellige Isles. Mainly because of its beautiful, vast landscapes and fresh air. Spending a weekend in such a place would definitely have a great effect on my frame of mind. I particularly feel drawn into openness, both in the meaning of large spaces and the freedom of thought.
Also, I would definitely like to spend some time in White Orchard. The sounds of a crackling fireplace, nature, forests, and the running river… Who could want more in these times when we tend to cover everything with concrete?
Things used to be simple. Monsters were bad, humans were good
The Witcher 3’s quests are quite unlike others found in modern RPGs. They gave us a choice in both shaping the story of the game and the world surrounding our heroes. Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz, Quest Director at CD PROJEKT RED, has many fond memories from the time of the game’s development:
- I liked working on the prologue, set in White Orchard and Vizima - Vesemir’s character is one of my favorites and it was cool to “accompany” him for a while. Personal bonds between Geralt, Ciri, Yennefer, Vesemir, and other witchers were a very important part of the story, and I find them one of my favorite elements in The Witcher series.
I have some very cool memories about the so-called Uma’s quest. It was crafted by one of our designers, Dennis Zoetebier, with my input. I remember we had a lot of laughs when he was designing the boozing scene that included the three witchers. I can still recall one meeting with the Project Manager and the studio’s executive when we were playing this quest. The sound recording had just arrived, and we were laughing so loud while playing that from time to time people walking through the corridor peeked in to see what’s going on.
Wolves asleep amidst the trees. Bats all a-swaying in the breeze…
It’s been five years and we still hum the songs and themes from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt under our breaths. We owe that to Marcin Przybyłowicz, one of the brilliant composers, who filled the game with a fantastic score. As he admits, some of the work had a pretty tight deadline that added some pressure:
- I remember working on the music for the Crookback Bog quest, and the dialog scene near the arras from which I started composing the score for this part of the game. We had one of the most challenging moments during the whole production back then, time was short and a milestone was looming on the horizon. The entire score for Ladies of the Woods was composed in only four hours!
Another important moment in terms of music was the development of the first gameplay trailer
. It was the first time the score for The Witcher 3 would be heard in public, so we knew the first impression was very important. We worked over three weeks to make it happen, and in the end, over twelve different versions of that score were created.
The legend lives on…
So, five years have passed since the fateful release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Do creators still remember the feelings that followed them now, in May 2020? As Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz puts it:
- I remember I was a bit worn-out then. A few days before the premiere, I was on the game’s promotional tour in Asia, from which I returned tired and jetlagged. On the day of Witcher 3’s release, the thought of this title being finally completed and shipped to people around the world seemed a little surreal to me.
Marcin Blacha, on the other hand, remembers being quite calm on that day:
- I felt joy, pride, and was somewhat curious how the game would be received emotionally by gamers. I wasn’t really worried about the potential reception of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, I knew back then it was a good game.
Lucjan Więcek gets most emotional when he summarizes:
- I admit I was a little stressed by waiting for the final reception of the game on which I have worked for so long. I remember journalists, as well as gamers at expos, received The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt very warmly. Such reactions gave us hope for the game’s ultimate success, but still, the waiting game wore me down a little. I wanted to see the gamers' reactions and then finally go on a well-earned holiday.
The truth is, we all put our hearts into this project, well before anyone knew it would become such a huge success in 2015. That’s why I want to use this occasion to thank all the game creators for their hard work and the wonderful time we shared together. It still seems remarkable to me how we could’ve created something so huge with so few people. It was all possible thanks to their talents and a huge dose of devotion.Still haven’t set your foot in The Witcher’s world? The 5th anniversary of the cult game from CD PROJEKT RED is the perfect occasion to catch up. It’s also a great opportunity to play The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt once more and relive all the happy gaming memories it brought us.