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Marcin Iwiński discusses history of CD Projekt Red

A recent interview sheds light on the studio.

  • Text: Sam Bishop

In a recent interview with Glixel, CD Projekt Red's co-founder Marcin Iwiński shed some interesting light on the history of the Polish studio, which has been praised for its RPG The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

"I started the company with a friend from high school, Michał Kiciński," he explained. "We started as game distributors, but in all honesty, we weren't very good at distribution. We were very good at games, at picking games and being the first to localise them for Poland."

"Initially, the big part of our motivation to start the company was that we would have access to new titles. It sounds super silly, but we were gods. We were the lords who were deciding what was being distributed in Poland and what was not."

Eventually, though, CD Projekt Red decided they wanted to make something of their own. "We had the dream of making our own games. But we had no clue how to make games. It was more like passionate gamers who knew how to run a gamer-friendly publishing business starting to develop games, without any knowledge of how to develop games whatsoever. And that was Witcher 1."

The moral ambiguity was also discussed, which was "straight from Sapkowski's writing: no clear distinction between good and evil, and always think about your choices but you don't know what the result will be. It's like real life. That's what we loved about it. I think it's about deconstructing the hero and building a different version of a hero. [In] a lot of American games it's clearer what is good."

"We started the company as two gamers distributing games in Poland. We were fascinated with RPGs. That's how we met Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk from BioWare, who were our role models. We played all the Baldur's Gate games. But it was always, like, there was this evil Sarevok and you go and find him and - [trumpet sound] - you won. We thought, hey, that's great, but let's add a new flavor to it: more ambiguous, more complex characters who are more real because they remind us of ourselves."

In the interview he also discussed the Witcher games, and how they share similarities with other Eastern European games thematically. "The fact that we come from post-communist countries definitely adds something to our games. I wouldn't say it's a crucial, defining factor. But it shaped our nations in a certain way - I would say more our thinking."

"In The Witcher, I think it more comes from our history and folk tales, because that's what Andrzej Sapkowski was inspired by. He's taking a lot of Eastern European folk tales - and Western ones as well - and deconstructing them and then rebuilding them. And then we add our layers of history. For the first time in an RPG, we have depicted medieval, rural Poland - the local architecture and structures. If I'm going to a museum of a 200-year-old Polish village, which I did a couple years ago, I see similar things that I see in certain parts of The Witcher. For me, it's important. For an American player, they say, "Wow, it looks cool." They won't know where it comes from."

Do you think The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of the best RPGs of recent years?

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
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