games / Columns Interviews: John Mamais, Executive Producer of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

June 28, 2013 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris

During E3 2013, I had the opportunity to sit down and speak one-on-one with CD Projekt Red’s Executive Producer on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, John Mamais. I sat down with Mamais shortly after I got to check out the hands-off, behind-closed-doors demo preview of the game. In my official E3 preview of the game, it looks as if the Warsaw, Poland-based studio has truly outdone themselves with this ambitious, massive game with Wild Hunt. Mamais has been working on The Witcher franchise with the first game, and spoke with us about the final chapter in The Witcher game saga.

Jeffrey Harris: What was the basic goal with The Witcher 3?

John Mamais: To make it an open world game and preserve the integrity of the storytelling that was in Witcher 2.

Jeffrey Harris: So how much time has taken place between Witcher 2 and Witcher 3?

John Mamais: It’s about six months later.

Jeffrey Harris: So now we are finally getting Witcher on a PlayStation console. How huge of a step was this for you guys, and how did the deal get negotiated?

John Mamais: Yeah, it was a huge step, same with Microsoft; both [were] huge steps. It takes a lot of work on our part to talk to them and show them what we’re working on and convince them that it’s kind of game that should be on their platform. It’s always hard. Those guys are selective. I think the success of Witcher 2 helped us, but also just the effort that the team put in helped us as well.

Jeffrey Harris: Now for the first and second games, why not get ports of them on the PS3 or PS4?

John Mamais: We tried to port the Witcher 2 to PS3, but the architecture was not really compatible with our engine architecture. So the amount of work that would’ve been required to make that happen would’ve been not cost effective for us.

Jeffrey Harris: So it would have to basically be a completely new build for the game?

John Mamais: Completely new sort of pipeline would have to be developed to make that work. And it would take an exceedingly long amount of time and an extremely talented team. And at our studio, it’s grown into this state of wanting to do things perfectly almost if we can. I know our games aren’t perfect. And we didn’t have the bandwidth to port it internally, so we were looking for a partner that could handle it. And we found partners, but the estimations were like huge. At a certain point in time, we just wanted to go on and go on to the next thing, so Witcher 3.

Jeffrey Harris: So would you completely rule it out for the future?

John Mamais: No, I’d love it man. But what should happen is some indy developer should take the Witcher 2 – don’t even talk to us – just take it and port it to PS3, make it really freaking awesome, and bring it to the studio and say, “Here it is you guys. Can we release it?” If it’s awesome, we’ll say, “Sure, you can release it.”

Jeffrey Harris: Where is the game currently in this stage of development?

John Mamais: We’re in production, so it’s pretty Alpha.

Jeffrey Harris: So who is the hooded figure in the promotion and production materials that we see riding with Geralt?

John Mamais: I can’t tell you that.

Jeffrey Harris: So what has Geralt been up to since the end of the second game?

John Mamais: In the time between Witcher 2 and Witcher 3? I don’t even know what he’s been up to. He’s probably been chilling out with some hot chick I suppose.

Jeffrey Harris: Speaking of which, will there be more romanceable babes in the game?

John Mamais: Yeah, and they’re going to be more graphic because we have next-gen graphics. That’s the power of the new platform that it looks even better than it did in the previous game…We have to keep it at a Mature rating. We get above Mature and we can’t sell the game.

Jeffrey Harris: The monster designs in the game look great and the game will feature over 80 monsters. Who designs the monsters for the game?

John Mamais: We have concept art team that get ideas from the story team. The story team writes like a character sketch about the monster to give them some ideas. We might even collect some references from mythological books and pass that off to our concept team and those guys do it.

Jeffrey Harris: Would you say most of the monsters are based on mythology or folklore or are most of them original?

John Mamais: They’re original and based on mythology and folklore and based from the [Andrezj] Sapkowski books.

Jeffrey Harris: How did you want to approach the combat for this game?

John Mamais: We are trying to make the combat feel more like a really tightly, responsive fighting game. So it’s going to be more responsive, and you’re going to feel like you have more control over the combat. I hope that you’re going to like the changes. But it’s all still – what you saw today is still a work in progress.

Jeffrey Harris: Will we learn what happened to Triss and Ves in this game?

John Mamais: Yeah, we’re closing plotlines in this game.

Jeffrey Harris: Do you know where you might want to take DLC for the game? Would it be more on customization or do you think there would be some story based DLC?

John Mamais: Yeah, we’ll probably do DLC for this. We’ll be announcing that pretty soon.

Jeffrey Harris: So for the hardcore fans of the franchise, what do you hope they’ll get out of playing this game?

John Mamais: They’re going to finally be able to experience an open world game with a real deep storyline.

Thank you to Mamais for taking the time to speak with us. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will be released on the PC, Xbox One, and PS4 in 2014.

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