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The Witcher 2 has received raved reviews since it debuted in May. With version 2.0 hitting PCs next month and the Xbox 360 version of the game set to release early next year, there’s a lot going on with the RPG. We sat down with Marek Ziemark, level designer and environment artist at CD Projekt RED, to talk about the development process and how to get the most out of the game’s incredibly demanding settings.
DIG: What’s the response been like since The Witcher 2 was released on May 17th?
Marek Ziemark: We’re really happy with the feedback we’re getting. It seems like a lot of people really love the game and are playing it multiple times, which is something we’re really proud of.
DIG: The first Witcher game ran into some controversy for its sexual themes. How has Witcher 2 been faring on those fronts?
M.Z.: The sexual content … is something we got from the books. There were a lot of sequences about relationships between Geralt and, let’s say, Triss, so we just tried to move that into the game. We changed our approach in Witcher 2; we don’t have those sex cards any more. In Witcher 2 we wanted to focus on the relationship between two people more than the sexuality.
DIG: Witcher 1 also had some really high-end system specs, which meant a lot of gamers couldn’t play it to its full effect. Has that changed at all with Witcher 2?
M.Z.: It’s true that you had to have a good gaming PC to play Witcher 1. That changed when it comes to Witcher 2: Of course if you want to play on maximum details, you will need a cool PC -- we always try to push the visual quality to the limit of the machines that we have. But on the other hand it’s really scalable, so you can lower the details and play the game on many different types of machines. It’s demanding, but it’s also visually stunning.
DIG: Witcher 2 is nothing if not a visual experience. Does a computer exist today that can run the game with all the options cranked to the limit?
M.Z.: Yes, there are PCs that can play it. There’s one option that’s quite famous in some forums called Uber Sampling. That’s very demanding. We knew it was going to be very demanding, and not all of the gamers would be able to turn it on, but we decided to have it for the future. PCs are getting stronger and stronger every year now, and maybe sometime in the future everyone will be able to play fluently with all the max settings.
DIG: Did you use any special technology in the development of Witcher 2?
M.Z.: It did take us some time and a lot of programmers, but we managed to create our own engine. It’s called the RED Engine. Basically it’s a multiplatform engine. First we focused on creating a PC title, as we have no experience in creating console games. Once that one was ready, we decided it would be a great challenge to try to move it to the console, to create a real console game that would look really good.
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