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Konrad Tomaszkiewicz, The Witcher 3 Game Director
By Adrian Velez ‘Vichi’
Maybe at 2004, Konrad Tomaszkiewicz had no idea that eight years later he would be leading the game direction on the best RPG in the history of gaming (IMO), starting as a Junior Tester for The Witcher (IGN’s 2007 best RPG), he didn’t stop going up and up until he was picked as the Game Director of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, (I thank heaven every day for that).
Recently, in August we had an article about the great job CD Projekt Red made on The Witcher 3, and in general, an overview about how CD Projekt became what it is today and how they started as a company in Poland.
Two days ago, we had a little interview with Konrad, where we talked about his experience as a Game Director, his choices into the game and his favorite characters, and also shared his position about current trends in the gaming industry with DLC’s, please find below our interview.
Vichi, CR Gamers Hub: How hard was to develop The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, can you describe how is to handle the pressure when you know millions of people are waiting for your game –for a truly amazing experience?
Konrad Tomaszkiewicz, Game Director: Making a game that you know so many people waiting for your title is a really great feeling, but it’s also hard and scary as hell. For me, the toughest thing about it is trusting yourself and your guts, and handling the pressure, so that the team doesn’t have to. And we’re all perfectionists in what we do at CD PROJEKT RED, which makes everything even harder, because we never let us and always see room for improvement. It’s hard and scary, but I believe that this is also what elevates you to reach new heights in what you do.
“It’s the emotions and immersion that matter”
Vichi, CR Gamers Hub: RPG’s aren’t my thing, I tried Fallout 4, Skyrim, Dark Souls and others, none really caught me, I never got to finish them, nor played them for more than 5 hours before moving onto something else -I’m just not into RPG’s, that was not the case in The Witcher 3, I finished it! Decided to spend my days with Triss after defeating Wild Hunt and Ciri became a famous witcher herself! How does it feel to create something like this, something that hooks players so much?
Konrad Tomaszkiewicz, Game Director: It’s the emotions and immersion that matter, the way how the story and characters are written. If you forget that you’re playing a game and start feeling real emotions like happiness, anger, sadness, or regret — that was our goal, to create an experience like that. And it feels like nothing else to hear that the hard work that went into The Witcher 3 is something players around the world are enjoying.
Vichi, CR Gamers Hub: Was there a point where you said to yourself: “hey this is something unique right here”, or was it a feeling that came along the many awards, and amazing critics received since the game launched? – I know that when the first ‘10’ score came in, the whole studio started screaming and hugging and it was such a fantastic day!
Konrad Tomaszkiewicz, Game Director: With The Witcher 3, the goal was combining fire and water — a powerful, cinematic story and an open world game. Which, when you think about it, is usually full of side activities that serve as diversions from the main storyline. When I first played the game from start to finish was the moment I smiled and thought to myself — “this is it, we did it“. We’ve managed to create a game where an open world and cinematic story go hand in hand, creating a consistent The Witcher experience that’s faithful to the source material.
“You’ve got to be able to put yourself in the shoes of the gamers”“
Vichi, CR Gamers Hub: As a Game Director you are in charge of the whole development of a game, that is not an easy task at all, what skills and attitudes are a must have in order to make the difference as someone in your position and at such a renown IP like The Witcher?
Konrad Tomaszkiewicz, Game Director: You’ve got to have a lot of patience and calmness… which I’m still learning every day ;). Seriously though, you’ve got to be able to put yourself in the shoes of the gamers, try to imagine how they’ll feel when they’re playing your game — what they’ll like, and what they won’t. Game development is an industry where intuition plays a key role. You also need to have the necessary technical resources and the know-how of what can be done, and what can’t be done yet. But most importantly — you need to have people you can rely on working alongside you, because when you do, things get a whole lot easier.
Vichi, CR Gamers Hub: There are this companies who create RTS games, and sell DLC’s for ‘x’ amount of money just to add “Blood” to the battles, I mean COME ON, what in the world is that? You guys are quite an example about respecting your fans, you actually added a whole new game with your $20 Blood and Wine DLC! What do you think about today’s trends with cheap, useless extra content?
Konrad Tomaszkiewicz, Game Director: Back in the day, developers used to add new maps and weapons in patches for free. A lot of us grew up during those times. So we decided to adopt this format of doing DLC in our work — to provide players with small, meaningful pieces of content like additional adventures or gear for Geralt, or alternative costumes for his companions, as a thank you for spending their hard earned money on our game.
Vichi, CR Gamers Hub: Who did you pick? Jeneffer or Triss?
Konrad Tomaszkiewicz, Game Director: Yennefer. I think she’s an extremely interesting and deep character. And I’m also a fan of The Witcher books, so for me Yennefer was the obvious choice.
Vichi, CR Gamers Hub: Is there any character in the game, with whom you got an special bond during game development? If so, Why?
Konrad Tomaszkiewicz, Game Director: Again, I’ll have to go with Yennefer on this one. Like I said, I’m a huge fan of the books and I really love Yennefer as a character, and really wanted to get her right in the game. It was something that took us a lot of time. Our writers had to rewrite her multiple times. It was quite a challenge, and maybe that’s also part of why I feel especially attached to her, too.
Vichi, CR Gamers Hub: For how long will you deliver content for The Witcher 3, will more expansions come out?
Konrad Tomaszkiewicz, Game Director: Geralt’s story came to a conclusion with the release of the second The Witcher 3 expansion, Blood and Wine. But we are currently working on GWENT, which will provide a hefty dose of The Witcher universe for players looking for more after Wild Hunt.
Vichi, CR Gamers Hub: Do you think other companies should use CD Projekt as an example about how to create a game, a completed game, polished, with minor to none bugs, trying to provide the best experience to gamers who spend $40 to $60 on a game?
Konrad Tomaszkiewicz, Game Director: We worked very hard to be able to do things our way, but that doesn’t mean our way would work for other developers. It’s a matter of finding your own way to artistically fulfill yourself and give players what they’re looking for.
Vichi, CR Gamers Hub: What do you think about Hello Games, No Man’s Sky creators, they have received a lot of bad comments since their launch, do you think it was their publisher’s fault the result of this unfinished game?
Konrad Tomaszkiewicz, Game Director: I think there are a huge number of things and decisions taking place during a game’s development on all sides that we might not know about. And commenting on situation like this one without knowing all the facts is not something I would like to do.
Vichi, CR Gamers Hub: In the future, do you think there will be a “The Witcher: Old Blood” or “Cirila: Old Blood’s Journey”… I mean… I think we all love Geralt’s and Ciri’s bond, it could open a whole new experience within the IP, or maybe I’m just too excited about her..
Konrad Tomaszkiewicz, Game Director: You know, in GWENT’s story mode we’ll be telling some new stories from the world of The Witcher. These are going to be standalone experiences that both old time The Witcher fans and newcomers will be able to enjoy. There’s going to be difficult choices and brutal consequences, and while these stories will be starring new characters, you’re bound to run into some old friends as well.
Vichi, CR Gamers Hub: For last, what will be next after Cyberpunk 2077?
Konrad Tomaszkiewicz, Game Director: For now, we’re focusing on making GWENT an awesome game — let’s talk about other games some time in the future.
Vichi, CR Gamers Hub: Well Thank you a lot for this interview ,I appreciate it a lot! It’s been an honor to speak with you!
We want to thank Adam Grabowski for handling this interview between CR Gamers Hub and CD Projekt Red and making it possible. It seems we can still wait for more The Witcher related games and such things in the years coming, a fantastic and amazing world from books brought to video games by CD Projekt, the Poland company that makes games the way games should be done, thinking more about quality instead of money. Thank you Konrad and Adam, cheers from Costa Rica guys, keep making fantastic games!