Home Gaming CD Projekt Red reflects on creating the hardest Witcher 3 quest

CD Projekt Red reflects on creating the hardest Witcher 3 quest

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The Witcher 3 sure had some complex quests 2

The Witcher 3 is an exceptional game, and it’s thanks in part to a handful of outstanding quest lines that still stick with me today. Stories like the one told throughout the Bloody Baron quest, or the climatic battle at Kaer Morhen that could’ve easily satisfied me as the game’s ending. There’s a lot of thought that went into these quests, and it’s not surprising to hear they caused more than a few issues during development.

The nuanced art of quest writing is something that is often overlooked, but it’s certainly something you miss when implemented poorly. Reflecting on some of the biggest challenges The Witcher 3 threw up, CD Projekt Red Quest Designers Pawel Sasko and Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz have spoken about the worst of the lot. Unsurprisingly, the Battle of Kaer Morhen crops up as the most technically challenging quest to implement, but only because it gave players so much choice.

For reference, the Battle of Kaer Morhen takes a lot of your previous choices into consideration. The quest allows you to bring anywhere between 9 to 16 different NPCs to help, in an assortment of combination and permutations. This, as you can probably guess, causes mayhem for coherent scripting – especially when all of the characters involved bring with them their own unique abilities for the climatic fight. Tomaszkiewicz explains just how challenging it was:

Another level of complication in ‘Battle of Kaer Morhen’ was with the gameplay mechanics – each character has something unique to offer that I had to design and implement, while some of the mechanics had to have synergies. All scenes and gameplay situations were designed to give the player a reward from what they did in all the quests before. At the end, I was proud of what we managed to achieve and I’m grateful that I was working on it.

It was a headache, but an achievement the entire studio was proud of when complete  – and it’s certainly work that every player probably appreciated more than once. And while Kaer Morhen was technically challenging, the Bloody Baron easily usurps it when it comes to writing. And that’s not surprising either, considering it’s widely considered the most emotionally compelling story in the entire game.

In terms of writing, the Bloody Baron storyline took a lot of time to get it right. The topic we decided to tackle was difficult and ambitious and required special attention. Karolina Stachyra, who did all the writing, spent lots of time with me dealing with nuances. Both Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz and Marcin Blacha offered lots of feedback and ideas to improve the writing – we wanted to present mood of Velen through the character of Baron and sketch the similarities between two fathers who lost their daughters (Geralt and Baron).

The entire Q&A is a fascinating read, and a really good look into some of the more complicated parts of quest design that many assume “just happens”. It didn’t just happen with The Witcher 3, and it’s probably why it’s so damn good.

Last Updated: May 5, 2016

61 Comments

  1. [Spoiler Alert]

    Reply

  2. Alien Emperor Trevor

    May 5, 2016 at 11:36

    That Bloody Baron story line. Wow. All the feels all the time. The writing & voice acting were so good.

    Reply

    • Loftus

      May 5, 2016 at 11:37

      replaying it on DM now, trying my best to get the “good” ending for it.

      Reply

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        May 5, 2016 at 11:40

        It’s easily my favourite RPG to date now, but I’ll never replay it. It’s a singular experience & I want it to stay that way. I had a great play through & the ending was perfection. Not interested in experimenting with different outcomes.

        Reply

        • Loftus

          May 5, 2016 at 11:42

          I had the same though and then i gave it ago. It’ll blow your mind again!

          Reply

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            May 5, 2016 at 11:46

            Nope. I’ll play the next expansion, which I’m really looking forward to, then it’ll be uninstalled & all the boxes put on display in the centre of my collection.

          • RinceThis

            May 5, 2016 at 14:17

            When you say ‘collection’ you mean doll heads again, right?

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            May 5, 2016 at 14:20

            Don’t judge me.

          • RinceThis

            May 5, 2016 at 14:21

            I wasn’t, was just… Checking 0_O

          • Matthew Holliday

            May 5, 2016 at 11:47

            i tried starting a second playthrough, but i didnt think it was that great to replay, so much you HAVE to do and so many niknaks you cant ignore, its just… too invested

          • sirjonk

            May 5, 2016 at 17:05

            Agree, I have little enough gaming time as it is, I can’t spend another 50-60hrs playing a game twice.

      • miaau

        May 5, 2016 at 12:06

        is there a good ending? I tried to reunite a family and that action doomed others.

        Reply

        • Matthew Holliday

          May 5, 2016 at 12:25

          There is no fairy tale ending, you cant save everyone, witcher.

          Reply

  3. Admiral Chief in New York

    May 5, 2016 at 11:38

    You know, after the Kaer Morhen quest…..when there were still SO much questing left, I just knew, these guys (CDPR) are NOT sellouts.

    I take my hat off to them.

    Reply

  4. Admiral Chief in New York

    May 5, 2016 at 11:38

    Also, the BB quest? Damn man, so flippen goooooooood!

    Reply

    • Loftus

      May 5, 2016 at 11:43

      Did BB also hang himself in your play through?

      Reply

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        May 5, 2016 at 11:46

        He did in mine. I saved the kids.

        Reply

        • Matthew Holliday

          May 5, 2016 at 11:59

          Oh, but did you? you freed them, but did you save them? 😛
          I got the other ending for my playthrough

          Reply

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            May 5, 2016 at 13:46

            True, I freed them, and I saved them from a terrible fate… for the moment.
            It’s like that isolated house you come across in the middle of Velen where a bunch of kids are staying and when you go back there later there’re signs of a struggle & the kids are gone.

          • Matthew Holliday

            May 5, 2016 at 18:36

            Well you freed them, but you freed them to go back to their burnt down villages or wander through the bog, waiting to starve or be killed by hags and drowners, who knows, some of them might have been from that village the evil spirit was gna destroy.

      • Greylingad[He Charges!]

        May 5, 2016 at 12:03

        HE HANGS HIMSELF!?

        Dammit, I need to play it again…

        Reply

      • Admiral Chief in New York

        May 5, 2016 at 12:23

        Nope, not in the first one, but in the second

        Reply

    • David Muller

      May 5, 2016 at 14:57

      Toss up between that and Scenes from a Marriage in the Hearts of Stone expansion

      Reply

  5. Loftus

    May 5, 2016 at 11:40

    Playing it on New game plus ( yes i am trophy whore) gives me a new appreciation for the though and effort that went into the game. Cd Projekt Red you have a loyal fan from now on. Bring on cyberpunk 2077!

    Reply

  6. Greylingad[He Charges!]

    May 5, 2016 at 11:52

    The Crones of crookback bog was one of the most unsettling quests I have played to date, as much as it was unsettling, it was also one of the best…

    Reply

    • miaau

      May 5, 2016 at 12:05

      very much unsettling……

      I did what I thought was best and was shocked at the outcome.

      Reply

      • Aries

        May 5, 2016 at 12:06

        I just wanted to kill them regardless

        Reply

      • Greylingad[He Charges!]

        May 5, 2016 at 12:07

        And that’s what makes it so good, I have not encountered a story as good as what was hidden in TW3, with the slight exception of Dune, there has not been a story as good as that of TW3.

        Reply

        • miaau

          May 5, 2016 at 12:08

          Well, I have read many books that I thought had better stories, to be honest, fantasy setting or otherwise.

          But stories in games? NONE better, not that I have ever seen or heard of.

          Reply

          • Matthew Holliday

            May 5, 2016 at 12:21

            speaking of books, Witcher 3 fits in with the books really well.

            Andrzej Sapkowski isnt quite a David Eddings fantasy writer, but his stories translate to games really well

          • miaau

            May 5, 2016 at 12:25

            I tried to read a translation and just could not get into it. That was a few years ago, when I played Witcher 1 the first time. I struggled to read it easily, did not flow very well. Perhaps I try again?

            Like Umberto Eco (Name of the Rose), great story, but the translation (from Italian) made reading difficult sometimes.

          • Matthew Holliday

            May 5, 2016 at 12:29

            oh, the first book is a very difficult read, its a very different type of story telling, there is no structure, feels like there is no story to tell, its all very fractured

            it all feels like a series of unrelated short stories for the longest time, you sorta come to grasps with whats actually going on halfway through the second book.

          • Greylingad[He Charges!]

            May 5, 2016 at 12:30

            Like the first time you play a Witcher game and have absolutely no idea of what each realm means, or why there are Witchers in the first place…

          • Matthew Holliday

            May 5, 2016 at 12:34

            the books explain quite well who the witchers are and stuff, you understand the whos and whys fairly early on, but the layout of the story is very different to conventional fantasy fiction.

          • Johann

            May 5, 2016 at 13:21

            Planescape: Torment also has a hell of a good story

    • Matthew Holliday

      May 5, 2016 at 12:18

      i liked that quest where we had to play gwent
      and that other quest where i had to play gwent

      i quite enjoyed gwent

      Reply

  7. Greylingad[He Charges!]

    May 5, 2016 at 12:02

    And Fallout 4 still wins GOTY?

    There is a large body of water, just on the edge of each land mass, filled with many things, ranging from beautiful organisms that generate their own resources to survive some of the harshest conditions, they thrive on being under pressure and are the creatures that maintain the ecosystem that allows the others to survive, all the way through to the ones that devour others for the simple reason of being at the top of the food chain… I feel that TW3 deserved every single award it garnered, and to the fullest, the just of it, Fallout 4 can get into said body of water…

    Reply

    • Matthew Holliday

      May 5, 2016 at 12:06

      well fallout had to win SOMETHING
      Witcher 3 got the overall GOTY for 2015

      honestly, there are so many GOTY awards its hard to keep up with which ones are actually “official”
      Fallout won GOTY from the dice awards i think?

      Reply

      • Greylingad[He Charges!]

        May 5, 2016 at 12:08

        But then shouldn’t some of those awards be named best runner up of GOTY? that should at least be a suggestion…

        Reply

        • Matthew Holliday

          May 5, 2016 at 12:18

          No
          there is no over riding governing body that decides the single GOTY
          each website publishes their own list, gaming doesnt have and official Oscars type event, each publisher has their own.
          of those, something like 10 put witcher 3 as the Game of the year.
          while fallout 4 only got like 3. most notably the award from the DICE awards.

          Reply

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        May 5, 2016 at 13:38

        It can win “Nice Try of the Year”. tee hee

        Reply

    • miaau

      May 5, 2016 at 12:07

      More to a game than great stories and great characters. There is the hard to define feeling of joy while I play and Fallout 4 gave me 1% more feeling X than TW3. So, 90% vs 91 %, really.

      Reply

      • Greylingad[He Charges!]

        May 5, 2016 at 12:14

        I’m sorry, but I disagree completely, F4 wasn’t half as polished, it didn’t have half of the intrigue and after the first repeat of a quest, as in, fetch this exact item that you did previously, without any deviation on the story of said item, I can’t place the two next to each other. Not that close at any rate…

        Reply

        • miaau

          May 5, 2016 at 12:17

          Well, I did massively enjoy both.

          AND that is a great thing, that we we have different opinions on the games. More variety and all that. Also, same as the study of literature, your environment, frame of mind, education, all that and more combine to provide a different experience when reading the same book. Same should easily apply to games.

          That is cool. Perhaps I needed Fallout 4 to help bring me some much needed “dead brain” time at that point in my life and that effects my opinion. Who know?

          Reply

          • Greylingad[He Charges!]

            May 5, 2016 at 12:21

            You raise a very good point, one which I respect dearly, while your opinion differs to mine, it still bares a lot of value, I tip my hat to thee.

          • miaau

            May 5, 2016 at 12:24

            Comments like that might just break the internet.

            Thanks!

          • Matthew Holliday

            May 5, 2016 at 12:24

            Fallout was a great game, i sunk a solid 60 hours into the game, but i never felt compelled to do the story, and at that point, the story really felt like a grind.

          • miaau

            May 5, 2016 at 12:27

            Fallout games have stories? Hmm. not sure they do. I have never thought the point of a Fallout game was to have a story.

            Fallout 3, I did story as an afterthought, Fallout New Vegas, the same.

          • Greylingad[He Charges!]

            May 5, 2016 at 12:28

            With that said, I plunged over 150hrs into TW3, of which every single moment was one that I enjoyed dearly, to the point where I’d just stop in the middle of a valley and just take in the scenery, make no mistake, Fallout 4 had a few of those moments, but they didn’t carry as much impact as TW3’s…

      • Captain JJ vs ..............

        May 5, 2016 at 12:18

        As much as I loved Fallout 4 it just wasn’t a full package to me. It lacked so much and in the end when you dig a little it’s got nothing new to offer.

        Reply

        • Greylingad[He Charges!]

          May 5, 2016 at 12:24

          In fact, it stole elements from other games, and while still executing them correctly, didn’t do anything astonishing with them.

          Reply

          • Captain JJ vs ..............

            May 5, 2016 at 13:11

            But there are some great mods for Fallout 4 now. Really nice weather mods and such.

          • Greylingad[He Charges!]

            May 5, 2016 at 15:55

            HAHAHAHA!!! None of those were necessary for TW3… Which makes it even funnier…

  8. RinceThis

    May 5, 2016 at 14:16

    If you can live with a name like Tomaszkiewicz then this kind of script writing is siple…

    Reply

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      May 5, 2016 at 14:21

      Of all the times not to make a typo.

      Reply

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