Witcher Developer Taking an Interesting Direction with Storytelling in Cyberpunk

CD Projekt RED, the developer of popular RPGs The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings recently spoke with Gamasutra about the success of their Witcher series and what they found was the single most difficult part for gamers to grasp a hold of: the story.

Based on a series of novels from Polish fantasy author Andrzej Sapkowski, developers found that many ended up confused with key plot elements and character relationships due to the game’s context being so deeply ingrained within the author’s universe. If gamers didn’t have access to or chose to not dig deep into the fiction of the world, they would often be left out in the cold and missing in key elements of the game. This, of course, is very damaging, especially to an RPG, whose base element is story.

“What we learned from the Witcher series is that we need to attract people with a smoother learning curve when it comes to storyline,” said studio head Adam Badowski.

In order to make good on what they’ve learned, developers have decided to approach storytelling from a different angle with their next project, Cyberpunk.

Based on a popular pen-and-paper RPG from the 80’s, Cyberpunk is a near-future RPG that deals with the likes of hackers, corrupt corporations, and cybernetic human enhancement, a la Deus Ex: Human Revolution or Syndicate.

With Cyberpunk, developers have decided to take a much more streamlined approach to the storytelling by making the learning curve a smoother one for the players. There will still be the same depth to the game’s fiction, but players will only be able to access the deeper parts of the story if they choose to, allowing the basic elements to stay intact for those who simply want to play through the game rather than completely immerse themselves in the lore of it.

“Players should be able to choose how deep they enter the story or plot,” says head of marketing Michal Platkow-Gilewski.

Players can still expect to see a return of the conventions that made The Witcher such a successful RPG, including a non-linear approach complete with choices to make within a mature narrative.

While many might worry the developer is “selling out” or cutting away at a rich history of challenging and deep gameplay, CD Projekt staff wants to put your fears to rest.

“Just to make sure we’re understood correctly by our fans, this does not mean we are going to simplify our games,” said co-founder and joint CEO Marcin Iwinski.

Now, as stated before; the entire basis of an RPG is story, so this is a brilliant move on the part of developers. Allowing players the opportunity to explore and dip into the fiction of the game as much as they want will help make the story a more personal experience.This means that gamers of all types will be able to enjoy the story told by Cyberpunk, be they casual RPG fans to the hardest of hardcore. You’ll still experience the game itself, but how deep you want to get into it will be completely up to you. Too often, I feel like “streamlined” is a word that is scoffed at and looked down on, when in reality, it only helps the industry as a whole. When making RPGs more accessible, it allows more and more people to be able to enjoy it, giving the game a chance at more widespread success that will help increase the franchise’s overall worth. And if they’re able to successfully implement the changes they’re looking to make with Cyberpunk, it might allow for multiple levels of immersion and interest in the game’s universe, creating a more personalized experience that will keep players coming back for more.

While Cyberpunk is still very early in development, it’s hard to not get excited about what the developer is doing with their ambitious new IP, and we can’t wait to learn more.

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