The Witcher Returns to Action in 3D

February 8, 2011

By John Gaudiosi

Back in 2007, Polish developer CD Projekt Red unleashed the white-haired Geralt of Rivia in an action-packed role-playing game called The Witcher. Over the past three years, a team of 100 has developed a brand new game engine (the original game was built on Bioware’s Aurora engine) and created a more immersive sequel. They’ve also worked with NVIDIA to add stereoscopic 3D support to The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings for PC gamers with 3D Vision.

“Thanks to the availability of 3D Vision in most of today's PC games, most players can enjoy stereoscopic 3D right in their homes,” said Tomasz Gop, senior producer from CD Projekt Red. “This feature is really becoming more and more popular. The Witcher 2 will feature 3D, we've already tested it, and it adds to the gameplay experience.”

The core gameplay experience remains intact for fans of the original. The developer allows players to make many choices as they play through the interactive storyline. There are 16 possible endings to the second adventure and many different ways to play. As players make choices – like taking a more stealth approach versus punching and kicking every enemy in sight – the story branches and events diverge. Save a woman from the hands of a torturer and she may not be happy with you if you killed her son earlier in the game, for example. This opens up replay for those wanting to explore all of the possibilities in Geralt’s new adventure, which also looks much better than the original.

“Our programmers worked really closely with NVIDIA engineers, sharing ideas for rendering code together,” said Gop. “There are not too many specialists on renderer programming in Poland. That's why help from NVIDIA had come in really handy and right on time. We managed to do a lot of verifications and testing to make sure there are no bottlenecks in the process. At the later stage of the project, we even got huge help from NVIDIA with compatibility and performance testing.”

Working with NVIDIA – and the new game engine – opened up rich details for GeForce owners. The game offers the traditional dark, torch-lit castle dungeons, but there are huge expansive cities that are fully explorable. Basically, if you see something on screen, you can go there. Gop said his team spent a lot of work creating all of the details in the game. They emphasized quality and consistency within the world so that a dwarven town looks consistent within the game world.

“The story has definitely grown,” said Gop. “Not only in terms of scale (thanks to the streaming system, locations are more open and bigger this time), but also the way we tell it -- it's much more mature.”

The game offers huge battlegrounds for hand-to-hand combat against many foes, including ghost soldiers. There are also huge boss battles with creatures like a fire monster that could turn into a tornado and summon fireballs from the sky.

“Thanks to the performance optimizations, our artists could invest more into data that's being rendered in high-end machines,” explained Gop. “The game is scalable, but on higher-end machines it will contain graphics that are far from being the norm for an RPG game. The game runs smoothly and offers a rock-solid performance with HD resolutions.”

Gop said the combat system is the biggest change in the game. The developer has created a more fluid combat system by refining the clicking-based system that some people complained about with The Witcher. Early feedback from people who tested the game has been really positive, as a result.

“Even though our main goal was to develop the technology that was best for making decent RPGs, we couldn't leave behind all those chances to rewrite the renderer in a reasonable, performance-boosting way,” said Gop. “I don’t think we would have gone so far without NVIDIA’s help.”

Gop said that developing for the PC is a constant process because the bar is being raised as the hardware constantly evolves with new graphics cards from companies like NVIDIA. And together with this evolution there are constantly new ways to further push the envelope of what’s possible with a PC game.

“I think that combining the technology and our attention to detail, we were able to create the RPG that looks better than anything before,” said Gop.

GeForce PC gamers will be able to explore the rich RPG world of The Witcher 2 and enjoy every nook and cranny of these details, along with the new gameplay features and multiple story lines, this year from publisher Atari.