January – there it is in your calendar, there it is outside your door. It means many things, not least among that we’re at the start of a new year. So whaddaya say we devote a spell to looking back and summarizing the events of the past 12 months.
In 2016, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt celebrated its first birthday. Since its release back in 2015, it has racked up some serious achievements, including over 800 awards, 250 of which were GOTYs! These numbers alone are a source of deep joy and pride for everyone on the team, a team that today is larger than it has ever been. During this last year we also released Blood and Wine – the second expansion to The Witcher 3, which transported players to the fairytale duchy of Toussaint – and our Game of the Year edition. Together, these two releases tied things off and brought Geralt of Rivia’s adventures to a close… after nearly 10 years, we might add, as it was almost a decade ago, indeed, that we released The Witcher, the first game in a franchise that now includes a whole slew of titles with total sales exceeding 20 million copies.
Konrad Tomaszkiewicz (Game Director): While creating the Witcher games, we learned something new every step of the way, with each new installment. For the first title, we were a small, young team, just out to learn how to make games. There were a few more people around for The Witcher 2, and most of us knew a lot more about game development. But that only encouraged us to go that extra mile, or two, or three… to reach for more, reach well beyond merely making a better version of TW1. I’d like to think that’s just how we’re made, that’s who we are. So we devised and built our own engine and, besides seeking to perfect various game mechanics, we focused on the stories we wanted to tell. That became our obsession. Then came Wild Hunt, Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine. For these titles, we distilled all we had learned up until then, the groundwork we had laid throughout the years, making the previous games, developing as both individuals and a team. We took that highly concentrated essence, fortified those three titles with it exponentially, and set it all in a vast and robust open world. We’re obviously a little sad, now – partings are often like that. But we’re satisfied with how Geralt’s story played out and grateful to have learned so much in telling it.
Yet where one thing ends, another often begins. Worth mentioning here is the Witcher community, a group of individuals so devoted and passionate that they provided the spark for our next project. During E3 in Los Angeles last June, we officially announced that we were working on GWENT: The Witcher Card Game.
Michał Dobrowolski (Game Designer): Players really seemed to like the Gwent we had in The Witcher 3. Actually, they liked it so much that before too long we started getting proverbial piles of mail asking us to make a standalone version that people could play with their friends. So, please believe me when I say we set out to make Gwent for the fans. Literally. So we put together a new team, one that would devote itself entirely to the Witcher Card Game, and starting working full steam.
A fully playable version of standalone GWENT made its first appearances at gamescom in Cologne, then at Brasil Game Show in São Paulo, at Igromir in Moscow and at Warsaw Games Week. We also went to Seattle for PAX West, where we gave visitors a peek behind-the-scenes at the game’s development shortly before Gwent’s Closed Beta went live in October.
Yet the last year at CD PROJEKT RED was not solely about making games. Many of our team members attended and made appearances at game development conferences and events, sharing knowledge with other professionals in the field. We were at Trojan Horse was a Unicorn in Portugal, the Industry Workshops in Great Britain, and at the Game Industry Conference in Poland. These experiences, all valuable in their own way, gave us the sense that our corner of Europe lacked a game development event that would be equal in scope and caliber. So, in collaboration with the city of Łódź, we organized Promised Land – a festival of the digital arts for professionals from the game, movie and advertising industries. Promised Land Art Festival brought together over 40 lecturers and instructors from around the world, among them some true luminaries representing established developers like Blizzard, Industrial Light & Magic, Digic and Naughty Dog. The festival program included lectures, panels and presentations, as well as a series of hands-on workshops during which industry professionals could perfect their skills.
Paweł Mielniczuk (Director, Promised Land Art Festival): We came up with the idea for Promised Land years ago. But it took months of hard work by a group of passionate people to put it together. We set out to offer more than pure theory. So in addition to lectures, Promised Land offered a range of hands-on workshops in traditional drawing, digital graphics and sculpting in clay. In the end, lecturers, instructors and participants alike said they’d be excited to attend the festival’s next edition.
With the old year gone and the new year beginning, we should take a moment to summarize our industry achievements over the past twelve months. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Blood and Wine garnered the Best RPG distinction during The Game Awards. This was followed by a number of Golden Joysticks, among them our second consecutive Studio of the Year award. John Mamais, head of our Cracow office, accepted the prize on behalf of the CD PROJEKT RED team, which numbers more than 450 at this stage.
John Mamais (Head of Studio, CD PROJEKT RED Cracow): I’m so damn proud to be able to work with so many talented individuals. Not only the amazing team in Warsaw that I worked with for 5 years as an Executive Producer for the Witcher franchise, but now also the Cracow studio, which worked closely with Warsaw on The Witcher 3 and its expansions — especially Blood and Wine. The Witcher 3 was done with only a fraction of the team we’re building to make Cyberpunk a reality. We’re growing like crazy, but rapid growth doesn’t in any way diminish the spirit of cooperation we all value — it takes all of us together to make CD PROJEKT RED, and this and other awards were a result of the efforts of everyone in all departments, not only dev but also the support teams. It seems to have paid off and we’re so honored that gamers, gaming media and industry professionals alike all voted to recognize the passion and heart we invest in our work.
As the team continues to grow, the studio needs to keep up. In 2013 CD PROJEKT RED studio space totaled around 1100 square meters. Today we occupy over 6500 square meters split between three cities situated on two continents. As studios and teams continue to expand, we actively create opportunities for people from across the organization to meet and have a good time.
Kyle Rowley (Lead Gameplay Designer): The studio’s annual picnic – that was the first time I got to meet people from outside my immediate circle of coworkers, the first time I struck up new acquaintances. I had just moved from Finland to Warsaw with my wife, my kid and half my belongings. So the picnic and the party that followed were a great opportunity to meet some of the members of this team, highly creative people each and every one… and hailing from all over the world. It was great to take a break, meet someone new, learn something new. Because you never know where and when someone will come up with that idea that’s just pure gold… like a quest featuring a talking version of the witcher’s horse, Roach.
There it is – 2016 in a nutshell. Full of adventure, emotional highs, and expansion, expansion, expansion. We want to thank you for being with us this last the year and hope you’ll stick around throughout the new. Challenges lie ahead. How about we take them on together? Go to cdpred.com/careers to see the current positions we have on offer. We can’t wait to meet you!