CD Projekt RED is no stranger to the challenges that come with game development. Colin Walder, the engineering director for management and audio, recently spoke about the tumultuous development of their highly-anticipated RPG, Cyberpunk 2077. In his reflections, Walder acknowledged the intense pressure and series of milestones that the team faced throughout the creation of the game. However, he also emphasized the importance of learning from past mistakes and taking a different approach with future projects. Let’s take a critical look at CD Projekt’s struggles with Cyberpunk 2077 and how they plan to improve with their next Witcher RPG, codenamed Polaris.
Walder acknowledges that game development is inherently unpredictable. No matter how well-prepared a development team may be, there will always be unforeseen challenges that arise during the process. In the case of Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt faced numerous obstacles and had to navigate through a series of demos and ultimately, a troubled release in 2020. Walder’s statement resonates with the reality of game development as a whole. It is impossible to predict every hurdle that may come their way until it actually happens. However, what is crucial is recognizing these challenges and making the necessary changes to improve future projects.
One of the key lessons learned from the development of Cyberpunk 2077 is the importance of ensuring console functionality from the very beginning. Walder emphasized that CD Projekt is taking a different approach with their next project, Polaris. They have already begun running demos and internal reviews on consoles early in the development process. By addressing console functionality early on, CD Projekt aims to avoid the issues they faced with Cyberpunk 2077, where console versions of the game struggled to meet expectations. This proactive approach demonstrates CD Projekt’s commitment to delivering a smoother experience for players.
The fallout from the release of Cyberpunk 2077 had a significant impact on the morale of the development team. To address this, CD Projekt is focused on earning back the trust of their employees and ensuring future projects are not reliant on spikes of overwork. Walder highlighted the importance of acknowledging past mistakes and putting words into action. Instead of imposing hard deadlines, CD Projekt aims to foster an environment of commitment and adjustment. By allowing flexibility in scheduling and avoiding crunch, CD Projekt hopes to rebuild trust and morale within their team.
While there is evidence of CD Projekt’s efforts to improve, there are also ongoing struggles within the company. Some team members have formed a union to fight against unfair dismissal and exploitative working conditions. These concerns highlight the need for continued changes within the company to create a healthier work environment. However, amidst these challenges, CD Projekt remains committed to delivering more Witcher content. Project Polaris is just the beginning of a trilogy of new games, with each project targeting different audiences and exploring unique mechanics. Additionally, a third-party studio is working on Project Canis Majoris, a story-driven single-player open-world RPG akin to The Witcher 3.
In addition to discussing CD Projekt’s struggles with Cyberpunk 2077, Walder also touched upon the often-overlooked role of game audio. He emphasized how audio is a crucial component of player experiences and has the power to shape emotions and perceptions subtly. CD Projekt’s commitment to excellent sound design is evident in the feedback they receive from players, such as the feeling of a powerful gun. Even if players may not explicitly recognize it, the sound design contributes significantly to their overall immersion and enjoyment of the game.
CD Projekt’s journey with Cyberpunk 2077 has been marked by challenges and setbacks. However, the company remains determined to learn from their mistakes and improve moving forward. The experiences gained from Cyberpunk 2077 have shaped their approach to Project Polaris and other upcoming Witcher projects. As CD Projekt continues to navigate the complexities of game development, it is evident that they are committed to delivering high-quality experiences while also prioritizing the well-being of their development team. With each project, they strive to earn back trust and exceed player expectations.
CD Projekt’s struggles with Cyberpunk 2077 have certainly left a lasting impact on the company. However, amidst the challenges, the team has taken a critical look at their approach and made significant changes for future projects. The lessons learned from their rocky journey will undoubtedly shape their upcoming Witcher RPG, codenamed Polaris, and other exciting endeavors. As players, we can look forward to CD Projekt’s continued commitment to immersive experiences while also valuing the well-being of their team.