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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Storytelling in The Witcher 3's open world: "it's a challenge"

We talk to story writer Jakub Szamalek about tackling a bigger story, surprising the player, and saying goodbye to Geralt.

"It is a challenge and we're fully aware of that."

We caught up with Witcher 3: Wild Hunt writer Jakub Szamalek between the team's Gamescom presentation of the title, to discuss with him the challenges of adapting the franchise's rich story as the series shifts from a linear progression into an open world structure.

"We spend a lot of time in pre-production period figuring out how to approach it. In Witcher 2, the story had a linear structure - a lot of branching - but it was linear in the end. We'd move the player from location to location when they completed the main quests.

"Whereas in Witcher 3, they will have complete freedom over where they go and when they do it. So we have less control over what the player does and have to take into account many more options. So the problem of pacing is much more difficult here; we really don't know what the player will do. But we've figured out a few ways to cope with that, the main one being that the story in Witcher 3 isn't linear at all; it's a collection of elements, that you have to find and collect them piece together to get a full picture."

He went on to talk about the team were approaching quest creation, and how they wanted to keep players guessing as to what was going to happen next in the game.

"There's no cookie-cutter formula, like we figure out one way to make the perfect quest and then make that again and again and again. We try and make it different and unique each time.

"For example with consequences, you never know a little side-quest may have a little effect, or may influence something on a global scale. We don't want players to discover our formula then approach each quest as familiar. We always wanted them to be on the edge of their seat, wonder what'll happen depending on their action - or lack of action. If you decide to abandon side-quests, we count this as a decision as well."

Szamalek outlined were we find the game's protagonist at the start of this latest adventure.

"The time between Witcher 2 and 3 is just a few months, but Geralt is a different character. By the end of Witcher 2, he'd regained his memories. All his memories and experiences came back... he's a much more determined person in Witcher 3, bent on achieving his own goals... Witcher 3 is about what he wants to get."

Of his companions - or even those people he'll come across during this more personal quest - the writer wouldn't be drawn on. "I can't give any specific names. I can reassure you there'll be characters from Witcher 1, 2 and the books. If you've read the books, there's characters new to the game, but not the universe."

And while this is the last chapter in Geralt's story, CD Projekt may not be done with the world just yet.

"This is the last instalment of Geralt of Rivia. That's not to say we don't want to make any more games in the Witcher universe, because it's such a great world, so many interesting NPCs and great places we haven't shown yet. We do hope we'll have the opportunity of maybe revisiting it at some point in the future.

"But we had to say our goodbyes to Geralt. It was a pleasure and honour to do stories for him, bur each character reaches a point were you should leave them alone, close the door and say that's it."

Watch the full GRTV interview below.