What happens when a company that has never made a game thinks it is easy to make a game? Check out The Witcher’s and CD Projekt’s journey.
Andrzej and The Witcher series were famous long before CD Projekt came to him. CD Projekt is not the first studio to make a game about Geralt of Rivia. Adrian Chmielarz (known for games like Bulletstorm, Vanishing of Ethan Carter) and studio Metropolis, another Polish studio, turned to Andrzej and successfully persuaded him to give the right to develop a game based on the novel mine. But we will return to Adrian and Metropolis later. For now, let’s continue with the CD Projekt step.
CD Projekt wants to set up a real gaming studio with the rights to make games based on The Witcher series in hand. Marcin and Michal planned for CD Projekt RED in 2001 because both believed that the era of small game publishers like CD Projekt was coming to an end. Big players like EA, Ubisoft, Activision will soon enter the Polish market, and CD Projekt cannot compete with these giants.
CD Projekt is just a tiny person in Poland.
CD Projekt needs a retreat, a new source of income, a new focus. Both are very knowledgeable about RPGs after the release of blockbuster games like Baldur’s Gate, Torment, Fallout in Poland. And want to make a similar game. The two of them firmly believed that this would be the best path they could choose. They need to find someone who will make the game, then release it and achieve success.
Origins of the game: The Witcher – Part 1 Let’s find out about the source of some of the most popular series of fun today, starting with the origin of The Witcher.
CD Projekt RED was established in March 2002. RED is not just red – it represents Łódź, a well-known working town and studio. Their first logo was a factory on a red background.
The first logo of CD Projekt RED
Sebastian Zieliński, an experienced developer with recruited shooters. Although he has worked with Mortyr and InterCalaris, he has never touched an RPG before. Pawel Smyla, a 3D artist who participated in the implementation of Metropolis’s The Witcher, was also involved in the project. Back then, the game The Witcher was still in Metropolis, so RED wanted to try making a game set in a board game of Games Workshop, such as Warhammer, Mordheim. However, a few months later, Metropolis lost the right to do The Witcher game for an undisclosed reason. RED quickly reached an agreement with the author Andrzej.
The Witcher 1
Also, around the time RED was founded, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance was born and made a strong impression on gamers thanks to the elevated viewing angle like Diablo, lots of monsters, equipment, ranks … RED believed to title the game. His Witcher can compete and succeed. It must be monsters and have compelling storylines of “expert hiring contracts” and interesting missions. Of course, killing monsters is indispensable.
The first version of The Witcher 1
The first version of The Witcher 1 was designed based on the Dark Alliance, including the graphic style and camera placement. They wanted to port Dark Alliance to the PC, as you know in the previous article. According to Ryszard Chojnowski, Project Manager of Witcher for the period 2003-2004, the port was completed but was not released by the bankrupt Interplay, and CD Projekt was not given the right to release the game as originally planned.
The screenplay for The Witcher 1 is written by Jacek Komuda and Maciej Jurewicz. This studio’s entire population is only four people, not counting Jacek and Maciej because they both live in Warsaw. The four studio members are responsible for making a game based on a script that has been written for a maximum of a year, and it must be a complete AAA game, must be profitable, and then of course part 2, part 3, et cetera et cetera.
During the implementation of The Witcher 1, a lot of changes were made to the game’s script. Initially, the game protagonist was not even Geralt, but another witcher who survived the massacres. Geralt is also a playable character in this version but appears only in a short time for gamers to control the quest to save the protagonist.
The script of The Witcher 1
Later, however, the Witcher was so bad that it insulted the viewers to make RED think that the character was inappropriate. They wanted to follow the content of Andrzej’s books without correcting them to fix anything. They realize that Geralt is something that Andrzej’s fans want to see on screen, not a character who doesn’t even exist in the novel.
The scene from the television series The Witcher aired in 2002.
And yet, initially, RED wanted to allow gamers to create a separate character next to Geralt, then add a female witcher to let gamers choose instead of Geralt. You can change the appearance, name the character, … like a classic RPG game, and force gamers to catch mice in the wine cellar of Kaer Morhen. As you all know, all these ideas ended up being put aside, except for the Kaer Morhen cellar.
The original script of The Witcher 1 is a vast collection of many different ideas, all great, great things, such as a city on the seafloor. Ryszard said he enjoyed the script because it was filled with details familiar with Andrzej’s stories in The Witcher novels.
Some of them have appeared in the complete version of The Witcher 1, but the vast majority were cut off for various reasons, such as technology limitations. However, the storyline’s constant change to fit the gameplay led both Jacek and Maciej, the two scriptwriters, to leave and leave RED shortly after that.
The ambitions that CD Projekt sent into The Witcher 1 have turned it from an original “four-person, one-year” AAA game to an original impossible game for the original team. The four RED members split up to work in two rooms: Sebastian Zielinski, the RED boss and the only programmer locked in one room, and the other three in the other room. Sebastian and the two writers Jacek, Maciej hate each other so much that they do not even need to meet together, so Ryszard has to make the “speaker” convey both parties’ message. Jacek once said that he wanted to hit the chair in Sebastian’s face the first time they met in Warsaw to discuss the game because none of his ideas could get into Sebastian’s ear at the time.
“We want to write the lines. You know that you can’t write lines on paper in games because conversations are very complicated in RPG. The lines change—selected gamers. We want Sebastian to create a speech editor so we can offer conversations in digital form, ” Jacek recalled. “Sebastian answered no because he couldn’t understand what we wanted. We had to write conversations in Neverwinter Night Aurora and then output the paper into a book of about 600 pages. I recalled the RED members stunned because they didn’t know what to do with them. ”
Jacek Komuda, one of the game’s two-story writers
According to Ryszard, Sebastian believes that the Calaris engine experience he wrote himself from the Amiga computer era (1985-1996) is best for an RPG like The Witcher 1. “I don’t think Sebastian understands RPG. He doesn’t like RPG. He likes FPS, ” Ryszard said.
With such an old and limited engine, Ryszard realized that they could not continue to work because even in the best of circumstances, they would only create a trivial game, and would not. There is the so-called global success. They probably won’t have any fans in Poland. The Witcher 1 will be a low-quality product.
These images almost became the official version of The Witcher.
In 2003, CD Projekt’s “bosses” brought three of the four RED members to their headquarters in Warsaw, while Sebastian stayed in Łódź and then terminated his contract. Sebastian explained that he was tired and exhausted, his salary was low, and CD Projekt did not express his desire to continue cooperation and refused to buy the engine for 250,000 złoty. “I want to make games, but I also want to live a normal life like other professionals. Back in 2003 in RED, it was impossible. ”
At the moment, CD Projekt is scrambling for the market with Empik, a chain of stores in Poland, and their financial situation is not very good. Meanwhile, a new chapter for the story of The Witcher 1 and CD Projekt RED is about to begin in Warsaw.