New Polish Video Interview with Lead Quest Designer Pawel Sasko has been Released, and /u/superspacesim Supplies Us with Translations!

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August 7, 2020

uge Shoutout to reddit user /u/superspacesim for translating a large portion of the newonce 50 Minute Polish Interview with Interviewer Wojciech Łozowski and Lead Quest Designer Pawel Sasko. Newonce does plan to do English and Russian Translations for the video later on, so stay tuned for that.

Wojciech Łozowski sat down with Pawel Sasko and went over several details that we haven't heard about yet. From "Timers on Pizza Boxes", all the way to "avoiding generic trash and using environmental designs already created and using modeled trash using them" It's absolutely detail-packed. So sit back, grab a beer, throw that music button on and Enjoy the Read.

They are sitting in area for influences next to their company on Jagiellońska (Poland, Warsaw). They prepared it using art from the game and even things like furniture is from the game. Basically they recreated style of the game in real life. This is when they did hands on with the game.

Part 1: Details

First part is about details. Dude in yellow played the game and was impressed by the details. Sasko started to explain just how much work went into this, like:

  • They have 4 architectural styles in game
  • One concept artist (woman) spend time designing even stuff like toilets to match each architectural style
  • Stuff like pizza boxes or ketchup bottles were designed to match the world (like pizza box has timer on it and show how fresh pizza is)
  • If you look into trash bins you will find out that even trash is designed. Instead just making generic trash they took boxes and items they made for the environment and modeled trash using them.
  • When you have meals in restaurant like pad thai, according to lore, meat is provided by "All food" so you can find boxes with "All foods" logotypes next to restaurant.
  • When they were designing seashore they were thinking how to lay tracks so it's realistic and make sense

Part 2: Futurology

Guy in yellow asked if they were working with futurologists. Paweł said that they were not trying to predict the future. It's more like they take elements of the lore and take it to extreme.

Like fat people. You don't have to be fat in CP world. You can modify your body as long as you want to do it and you have money to do it. He mentioned that they accent body modification by showing off that girl that replace her face plate.

He also talk about All Foods. Basically farm animals are extinct. All they have are things like rats. So in this world people make meat using invitro. That's "All Food".

Trauma team is another example. When you have platinum card, Trauma team just go in to extract you and help you. And they don't care if they need to blast some people to do it.

Basically they didn't made those things because they were thinking that will be the future. They just made a world that went wrong way. Place unbearable to live in. Paweł said he would not want to live in world like that.

Part 3: Framework of the world

Yellow guy ask about world constraint. In Witcher they were constraint by Sapkowski vision and description of the world. And he is curious how is it now. How many people worked on the lore. If they had big brainstorming or team making parts of the world and glueing it together.

Paweł started with saying that their starting point was CP 2020 (made in 1984). They took what they could from it but because it's 2077 they had to update the world too. And that gave them some creative freedom. Writers and quest designers worked together to update the world. One of the examples he brought was phones. Young people today won't even see a phone without a touch screen. So selling them fax machine in 2077 would be problematic.

He said that they think a lot about the details because they just love to do it. Like they could just take 1 architectural style and be done with it. Instead they made 4. And there are blends of them. Even when they were making guns they were figuring out how to make them in a way that you could build one in real life and it would work.

All to increase immersion.

Yellow guy asked how many people worked on that. So obviously they had writers, quest designers, concept artists and art department working together. But basically anyone could chip in and they often did.

Part 4: About Night City

Ok, Yellow guy ask about how long it would take to drive around the map. Paweł said he never tried that and he don't know so he started talking about the world. He pointed out that there is city that has plenty of verticality to it. There are badlands. He talked briefly about mega structures. Basically buildings like in movie Dreed where you have plenty of floors, NPC and quests.

Part 5: Life path (nomad, street kid, corpo)

He ask how different your experience will be with different life path and how much of the content is shared.

Paweł said that first of all you start the game by picking life path. And each life path start your game in completely different place on the map (we saw nomad starting in badlands, harassed by local cop). And they want you to "feel the character". To feel like a nomad or street kid etc.

They also focus on each beginning to be "right" so they didn't pay attention how long each last. You don't have identical quests during each starting point.

They is "core gameplay" that is shared between life paths. So that's probably main quests.

There are quests dedicated to your life path. Quests you won't have access too when you are on different one. And your choices will enable or block some content for you. So you won't see everything on each play through

Yellow guy said that you probably have to finish game 3 times to see everything. Paweł said that is not correct. You would have to play with excel spreadsheet and track all your choices to know that you tried everything. And you would still not be sure.

He also mentioned that you can play as nomad woman with scars swinging a sword and stick to nomads through the game but that does not mean you have to. You can be corpo guy supporting nomads. But you will be locked from some stuff that are just for character that is a nomad and understands them.

Yellow guy said that if those decisions determine ending then how many endings they have. Paweł respond saying that they took their experience from Witcher 3 and tried to make it better.

So there are multiple endings. Those endings have variants and those variants have "alternative versions". And they made sure to hide some stuff for people that like to dig in and explore the game.

Part 5: Character creator

Yellow guy didn't remember from his gameplay session if you chose attributes for your character. Paweł remind him that you pick attributes that define your strong and weak sides.

Later on you can improve those stats. Game is RPG first and they stick to it. You can also improve your character using gear, cyberware and skill tree.

Then he mention FPS/TPS. Basically said that he didn't had many opportunities to see character he created. Paweł mention that:

  • they give opportunities to see yourself during gameplay (like inventory, mirrors)
  • you can see yourself in 3rd person while driving car or motorcycle
  • there is one more element where you see yourself they work on but they don't want to spoil it
  • they are perfectly aware people want to see yourself
  • in inventory you can zoom and rotate yourself

Part 6: Hacking (and freedom of playstyle)

Yellow guy ask if you always can chose how to approach the quests. So you can go guns blazing or sneak and hack into things.

Paweł response is that they took lessons from W3. The most important thing is story. So when you sit in Jackie and eat pad thai (it's the second time he mention this dish, he must like it) there is no point pulling a gun and going crazy. But when they place challenges and obstacles in front of you they have Encounter team.

Encounter team works with quest and open world designers and make sure every approach to the quest is viable.

If you are restricted to specific solution - it's determined by the story. And they make sure you are aware why it's like that. They provide context and explanation so it makes sense.

They made sure that if something make sense during quest they program it into the quest.

For example in encounter with Roys you can pull a gun. The scene when V stick a gun to his head. So if you can do that... it makes sense that you can (if you want) to pull the trigger. And that will have consequences further down the line.

Basically if you feel like you should be able to do something during quest you usually can. They make sure no one ties your hand in those moments. That you feel like you.

Part 7: Brain dance

Yellow guy really liked it. Detective style content. He ask if there is more than checking the sound, thermovision, going to third person and watching situation from different perspectives

He said that he basically saw the whole feature but he was solving a very basic, simple quest during prologue. They have much bigger, more complex brain dance quests story wise. And it's not like you just have brain dance quests. It's an activity that might be part of other quests.

And Paweł said that when people will see more crazy ones they will realize that CDPR didn't play around making them.

They also tried to apply brain dance not only for detective style quests but also for other things.

Part 8: Moral choices.

Yellow guy asked if there will be moral choices. Paweł laughed saying that Witcher fans will immediately recognize what is what. Moral choices are backbones of CDPR games. And they say that moral choices are one of the best part of CDPR games.

He is joking that there is nothing better than to put a player in front of moral choices where no answer is the "good one" and then you can even have limited time to chose.

Part 9: Keanu Reeves

Yellow guy want to talk about Keanu because when he watch the interviews, people don't ask about it that much. He asked how hard is to convince star like Keanu to work with someone like them.

Paweł said it's complicated. Talks with the start are handled by "bisdef" department. Business-development. They are responsible for contacting stars and pulling them into the project.

Yellow guy asked if it was something like "We want Keanu, let's go for him".

Paweł said "Yes". They wrote Johny Silverhand. They knew what kind of character he is. And one of the directors suggested to bring in Keanu because he fits and because of what Keanu did before. Matrix and Johny Mnemonic.

They contacted his agent first. And apparently he was very interested. Especially since Keanu is interested in new initiatives. Something that play on his imagination. Something new for him.

They said that when they introduced Johny Silverhand to him he started to act and talk how he would see that.

Yellow guy asked if he had some influence on the character. Paweł said yes. Keanu gave character to Johny Silverhand. Things like how he move, walk. His interpretations of the voice lines.

Yellow guy asked how big Silverhand is in the game. Is it just episode or does he play big role. Paweł said he is really important. When he explained that you meet Keanu after prologue he also mentioned something...

The f**king prologue is like 4-5 hours if you focus on it XD

You build relationship with Silverhand (not in romantic sense I think). This relation is complex and will change based on player choices.

When they were sending Keanu his voice lines often he send them back with suggestions. But he did not influenced the story. He had the character and he was interpreting this character in his acting. Story was locked before they worked with him.

Part 10: Recent events

He ask about incredible hype around the game. Hype he never seen before. He ask if hype make them happy/excited or stressful. He said that at some point they don't even react to it. When you work 120% at some point hype won't make you do more. What they do must be enough because they give it their best.

People do worry because you never know how people will respond to final product but they hope for the best and they have confidence in their work.

Part 11: Questions from yellow guy fans

Are they planning expansions?

Cyberpunk will be supported just like W3. There will be expansions. Right now they focus on main content. Not expansions. He said that they have so much work that it would be irresponsible to use resources to work on expansions right now.

What was the biggest problem during CP production?

They had many different problems. For example they know after W3 that they need to work on tech. They reworked for Cyberpunk absolutely everything. Basically they made tech from scratch. Tech in Witcher 3 would tied their hands too much. Everything yellow guy saw in game was designed from scratch. They didn't reuse things from W3.

That means lore, engine, rendering, streaming, music, sound - everything was done from scratch. And because they were working on technology and large game, development was really hard because every step had to be coordinated with tech guys.

And that was the biggest challenge.

They didn't want to just take W3 and make Cyberpunk reskin and sell it. They wanted to improve every aspect of the game.

One of the examples - you can hop into a card and drive around detailed city and data streaming does not die on you. Streaming also had to handle vertical aspect of the game. Something that was not important in W3 because there was no verticality in W3. In W3 they only had horizontal data streaming. Basically they were loading area around you without worrying how much stuff was above you.

And now you have buildings with dozens of floors, with full interiors.

Do you need best hardware to run it?

Right now they... simply don't know. Because right now they are doing optimizations. It's hard work and there is plenty to do. They said they have many handcrafted moments like when you enter into cyberspace first time and you see black wall. The cool part is that you have 0 loading screens when you do that but they had to do some magic to make it work. So basically before they give any official info about requirements they want to optimize the game as much as possible.

One of the reasons it is hard is because during optimization they don't want to sacrifice quality. Goal is to make it look good and work great.

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