Polish gaming website Polygamia asked its users to ask questions about the console version of The Witcher 2. Those questions were then answered by the CD Projekt RED's head honcho - Michal Kicinski. Some interesting stuff here.
I've translated the whole session(I left out two or three questions that were strictly Poland related) to the best of my ability. I apologise for any grammar or spelling mistakes of which I'm sure there are many. Ok, let's get to it:
1. When's the release date?
We're aiming at the end of the year. An exact date has not been assigned yet. It will be annonced at GamesCom in Cologne.
2. How many discs?
It's too early to talk about that. We'll know exactly closer to the release.
3. Will the console release be bundled with a map, artbook, etc., or will it just be the standard DVD case with a manual/leaflet? / Will the Xbox version be as rich as the PC version or all we're getting is a disc in a box and nothing like the Premium Edition?
It's really important to us that the console version of TW2 is unique and richer than standard releases. We've already started talking with Microsoft about it, but it's still too early to give any details. We'll release info on that once we have something concrete. There are certain limitations related to relasing a game on consoles though. However, we're hoping that the Xbox release will be something special.
4. Language versions?
The game will have 11 language versions just like the PC version. There's a small possibility that additional language(subtitles only) is incorporated.
5. Kinect compatible?
We're not planning that and I think that's ever going to change. But you know what they say: Never say never ;)
6. Are there going to be those few loading screens like on the PC?
Yes. Background data streaming will be used for Xbox. Our intention is to make loading not interfere with gameplay and with you having fun. We'll see what we'll manage to achieve, but we're working very hard, so that despite the hardware limitations everything works as good as on the PC!
7. What about PS3? Are you waiting till you finish the Xbox version? Are you hiring more people? Are you not planning it at all? / Are there any distant plans to relase it for the Sony console? / Why X360 only? Is it about money? / When for PS3 and why so late? / Is there going to be a PS3 version? When will it happen(year and month please)?
MS is known for spending money on a temporary(and in this case only partial) exclusivity. We're trying to focus on just one platform that we're currently working on at this time. What we want to do is to adapt the game for the specificity of given hardware and to squeeze out its maximum power. Of course, when developing the REDengine we also had PS3 in mind. Nevertheless, today we only have pland for Xbox and what comes next we'll know after the 360 release.
8. When' the release? Are rumors about November 15th true?
That date was called by online stores and I'm guessing it's their own estimate. I cannot confirm it. The exact release date will be announced during GC after we've had some proper arrangements with the game's distributors.
10. Will there be a demo(probably not, but who knows...)?
We're not planning it.
11. Will the game have the exact same content like the PC version? Will the main plot be cut down, will there be the same number of side-quests, etc. Please let there be everything. Even if the game has to be shipped on four discs don't cut anything out!
In terms of story the game WILL NOT BE CUT OR DUMBED DOWN. Our intention is to release one of the most layered, mature, non-linear and demanding games ever seen on consoles. We believe that there are many console gamers(17 or older) looking for more demanding entertainment. We're adjusting the GUI, controls, camera, but we're not simplifying the gameplay and most certainly the story. We may even extend a little, but that's a surprise for later ;)
12. Oh, when can we expect some info on retail versions, because I'm ready to preorder right now!
There's a chance for such info once GC comes or during our fall press conference at the latest.
13. For how much have you sold yourselves out to MS?
We're not for sale ;) We have our goals and our approach and all decisions are made based on our ideas.
14. Will you release any screenshots comparing it to PC's ultra details?
We'll be releasing some little by little. I think that gameplay videos form E3 may come first though. It will be for you to see that the REDengine handles itself really well on the Xbox.
15. Will the console version receive any censorship. I'm asking in reference to Mass Effect and the "SexBox-gate".
Absolutely not! The game will have the same ratings as the PC version. We're hoping that something changes in Australia(making the 17+ rating available) and we'll have no problems with releasing our game down under(it was the only market where we've encountered few bumps in the shape of censorship).
16. Is there some sort of contract with Microsoft that forbids you from releasing The Witcher on PS3?
17. Will there be a PS3 version? When? Is it going be ported from X360 or maybe PC? Will it look the same(worse? better?) than the Xbox version?
It's too early to talk about the PS3 release not to mention such details you're asking about. I can only assure you that we're treating every platform equally serious and that if there's going to be TW2 for PS3 we're make sure that it's of top quality(both the game and the package).
18. Will there be any big, payable DLC before the 360 release? I'm asking about new quests, locations, characters.
Any plans regarding the evolution of the PC version will be gradually released when the time comes. Right now we're focusing on tweaks, fixes and smaller DLC. We have ideas for at least another 1-2 months of work. Then, around GC, we'll talk about further plans.
19. Apart from E3, when are you going to show the console TW2 on action?
After E3, GC in Cologne in August and then during our fall press conference.
20. How do you see your chances against TW2's main rival on 360 - Skyrim?
They are different games with different philosophy aimed at different tastes. To simplify, The Witcher is about the story, Skyrim about the sandbox gameplay. I think that the biggest RPG fans will try both games. Looking from a different perspective, Skyrim wil have a huge marketing campaign that will build up huge expectations and meeting those will be the key to success. Even if it fails to meet all of them, I don't believe in becoming a failure. TW2 is at a different stage. Gamers already know what to expect, which is comfortable for us. To summarize, these games are in different situations and both have a chance to become big hits.
22. Couldn't you have done this earlier? *groan*
Not really. The whole studio was in high gear while working on the PC version. Announcing a prject is not just a matter of a press release or a video clip. It's a hard work inside the team on a production schedule, budget, distribution contracts, etc. Finalizing that stuff let's us comfortably announce the project. Otherwise you'd have another Duke Nukem Forever on your hands ;) - even though that one is finally coming out. I've never thought I'd live long enough to see it ;)
23. Will you make a tutorial? In form of an extra stage which will introduce us to the combat mechanics in a more user friendly way?
The most common complains were about the PC version was the lack of a proper tutorial and throwing gamers into deep waters. We'll certainly be tweaking and redesigning that element. Not to make it easy, but to make all the combat mechanics and its nuances more clear.
24. Will the Xbox version have any changes in the plot, like extra plot-threads?
There is such possibility, yes. There won't be any huge changes, but some extra content may be added. Regardless if and how many extra material is worked in, it will be available for the PC version for free!
25. What about The Witcher 1?
We're preparing a tiny(don't expect miracles) surprise for the second half of the year. All the more, the game still sells pretty well!
26. Above all, are you even planning a PS3 version? I don't care about dates. Are planning it at all?(that you said in an interview that the game is playable on PS3 hardware doesn't mean anything)
When it comes to our intentions, then of course we'd like that. We've made a really good game and in our eyes it'd be best if most gamers played it. But intentions are not enough. The project must make sense substanially, organizationally and financially. If we manage to make all that stuff work, then we'll able to make an announcement. It's also important to note that we're not currently in a place to have a few irons in the fire. We've already suspended two projects and we don't want to do it ever again.
27. Have you ever considering asking Namco Bandai for help on developing the PS3 version? Or are not close enough with them?
Being close is not key here. Our experience taught us that if we want to be certain of reaching top quality, we have to make everything ourselves. Market is filled with ports made in cooperation or by third parties and it's often clear that there was not as much heart put in a game as there would be if the main developer worked on it.
28. What about the 'Rise Of The White Wolf'?
Unfortunately, it's still suspended. If something changes in that matter, I'm sure you'll notice ;)
29. I'm curious why you hired Tomasz Bagiński this late so he could add something into the project, and also, will the console gamers get a proper intro and outro unlike the PC gamers?
Times when a prerendered movies were the only way to show beautiful graphics are long gone. We acknowledged(us and many different developers too) that in-engine cutscenes can also look impressive. ...but we also love CGI ;) Hence the idea to once again invite Platige Image to work with us and now you can expect something extra on 360(and a free update for PC gamers:) As for "why so late", I'm not going to get into details here, but it was a well thought-out decision, no matter how it looks from the outside(this to address the accusation-like tone of your question:)
30. Are the achievements going to be a pleasant thing to get or can we expect something hardcore along the lines of "See all 16 ending permutations - 10G"?
The most hardcore chievos in the history of 360! ...ok, just kidding. We'll give details closer to the release.
31. Can a 2 player Co-op or something like Horde Mode be for Live/split-screen be expected?
We're not planning such gameplay additions. Including so far reaching changes and modifications would make us postpone the release for such a long time, that you'd not like us at all.
32. What about people that didn't play the first game? Will you include a comicbook(like "Genesis" in PS3's ME2)? Is there going to be any kind of introductions for those console gamers that have never laid eyes on The Wticher 1?
The way TW2's story is constructed allows you to play it without touching the first game or the books. True, both could add some aspects to the way you see some things in the Witcher's world. However, we might make some changes that will improve on taking in a role of Geralt for those that will be new to this fiction.
33. Will the combat be more similar to slasher games? / What kind of tweaks will be added to the control scheme to make the game more accessible while playing on a gamepad?
The combat will be the same experience as it is on a PC with a gamepad. Many people are happy to play that way.
34. Will there be a bundle 360+TW2?
We'll talk about that with MS. It's too early to promise anything, but there's always a chance!
35. 1. After finishing the 360 version will the whole team start working on PS3? 2. Are there any people in your team that are unofficially trying to wrap their head around Sony's hardware?
Most certainly after finishing with Xbox our whole team will start working on a different project. Is it going to be PS3, it's too early to say. When it comes to working on a PS3, we're checking the compatibility of our technology with the platform, so it's not like we're completely avoiding the matter.
36. Once all the work on console(s) version of TW2 are you going to get back to making Rise Of The White Wolf using your new engine?
We'd really love to resurect that project one day. We're feeling very sentimental about it and I think it could achieve something on the market. Unfortunately, we have so much stuff on our minds right now, that we don't really have time to think about it too much.
37. Are you going to implement some new extra DLC on release day like you did on PC? If so is it going to be for all versions or just for CEs and pre-orders?
Like I said earlier, there is a chance for extra content, but we're not giving any details on that yet. Don't expect something huge, that's for sure. As for DLC, there may be something small, like the 6 DLCs for PC version, but that's not certain right now.
38. Is the checkpoint system going to be better implemented than it is on the PC?
Most things that gamers were complaining about are already fixed(we've added new checkpoints, we've improved the save-file compression and added a delete function in the Load Game menu). Generally speaking, you can expect that this type of things will be fixed for console version(and of course released in a patch for PCs).
39. Any plans for continuing The Witcher or working on other, as of today unannounced, titles?
Right now we're focusing on improving the PC version and releasing the game on Xbox. We don't have any other plans right now. Which doesn't mean that we won't have any in the future ;)
40. Why the LIES that you're not working on a console version, that "PC-only right now and then we'll see"? E3 is close and you're ready with a console presentation!
We didn't lie. Practically the whole team was working on PC, while saying that we're also making our technology to be multiplatform ready. Thanks to this we can already show the game at E3.
41. Will the Xbox version be much uglier that the original?
You'll have to see it and decide yourselves. In my opinion REDengine handles itself really well, what should be clear during our E3 presentation. And please remember, that TW2's visuals is not just a matter of a high-end gaming rig, but also of art design, which remains unchanged!
42. Will the game be better than FIFA 11?
Yes! :) ... Okay, maybe not for everyone ;)
43. Where during E3 will you show a playable version? CD Projekt already had its E3 conference and there wasn't any TW2 gameplay!
Yes, we will :) [I don't get this one at all. - mak_wikus]
44. Does CD Projekt RED not know how to release The Witcher 2 on PS3?
It know, but it doesn't know how to clone itself. ...yet ;)
45. They sold themselves out to a company that buys everything. The Witcher became a temporary exclusive on 360 and it shows. Not cool, not cool. A punch below the belt to people that wanted to play it on PS3. And the rest of the world already left such policy behind... Whatever, PS3 fanboys will wait or won't play it at all. I'm curious whose idea was it? M$ Poland's or someone's even higher?
Conspiracy theories are a burden of our society. Even if they are based on such ridiculous assumptions. Come on, how can there be an exclusive when the game's already been released on PC? ;)
46. Wouldn't it be worth it to keep the momentum and release TW1?
Sure it would be worth it. But it'd have to be handled by copies of our clones, since they'd be working on PS3 ;)
47. I bet there will never be a PS3 version. You'll see. I said it on June 3rd 2011.
I wouldn't make any bets if I were you ;)
48. Will TW2 have any cool extra content that will make it a must-buy for those that already own the PC version? You said that the sotry will be completely identical, but maybe xbox will have some extra quests or something like that. How do you want to convince PC version owners to buy the same thing for the second time?
From our perpective, probably not! PC and Xbox version will be identical(PC will be updated when the Xbox gets released). We don't want anyone to buy a second copy of the game. Our approach is about making the game available to those that don't have PCs good enough to run our game. I'm talking mainly about the western markets where PCs are not as popular as a gaming platform.
49. Why didn't you announced the console versions before you released the PC version?
Because we didn't want to start a new thing when we were still working on the previous thing.
50. Why Xbox only? Is PS3 too complicated?
It has it's specific architecture and to utilize it fully, we have to focus on it 100%. It's difficult to make two things at the same time and make them reach top quality. People are not Dual Core ...generally ;) All the more, we're making our technologies platform-specific.
51. How long will the development for 360 take? Or is it porting?
We're calling it an adaptation. Siply porting it wouldn't take as long. We want to finish work before the end of the year.
52. Will there be any differences between Xbox's and PC's collector's edition?
It probably won't be identical, although some things may overlap, like the artbook.
53. How much did MS pay?
Nothing yet. And I'm afraid they don't have to pay anything. It's more likely we will pay licensing fees from every copy.
54. Will you try to accommodate those that were let down by the PC version's technical side and are waiting for console version?
In my opinion that's the reason why more people are playing on consoles. Because PC games are technically demanding. This way the console version will be just for them.
56. How many FPS will there be on 360 and which PC's detail setting will it be closest to?
This kind of informastion will be given close to release.
57. I was waiting for the Rise Of The White Wolf and they scrapped the project that was, as it seemed, in it's final stages of development and moved all resources towards the sequel. Any kind of promises will be unreliable right now.
The key phrase there is "as it seemed".
59. Have you hired any extra people experienced in PC -> Console ports or do you think that CDPRed can handle it by itself?
Yes, there's John. He was hired especially to work on console version.
60. Are you preparing any DLC, in-box bonuses for console versions?
Yes, but it will also be available on PC.
61. What are your sales prognosis for The Witcher 2 on Xbox?
We have some internal estimates that we don not wish to reveal.
62. Do REDs ever think of remaking The Witcher 1 on RED engine?
We think about many things and it would be weird if we'd never thought of that one ;)
63. Will there be some kind of comic like in ME2?
64. Are you planning some extra stuff like avatar clothes or dashboard themes?
We'll talk about it closer to release date.
65. Will the graphics be as equally epic as they are on a good PC?
They will be very good, especially for a typical console level. As good as on a good PC? Probably not. But good enough to be sucked into The Witcher's world.
There you go. A wall of text. Thanks for reading.
Oh god, my hands >_<