The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt Interview: PS4-Xbox One Versions, Weather System, Monsters And Dragons

We interview Jonas Mattson, the environmental artist on the game.

At this year’s E3 we were invited to the CD Projekt booth to check out The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt. We got a chance to speak with Jonas Mattson, the environmental artist on the game, about the differences between the next generation versions, the weather system, the in-game day night system, dragons and more. Check out the entire interview below.

Leonid Melikhov: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt does look pretty good. Obviously what we have seen is the alpha footage and so I have a few concerns, like there were times where the frame rate was not stable.

Jonas Mattson: Yes, that was alpha footage. As we are going to release it in 2014 so we have all this time to truly polish all the loose ends. Right now we are focused more on the quality of the game and as usual in any development scenario you focus on optimization and we have pretty cool stuff to help with this i.e. Umbra. I won’t get too technical but it allows us to hide things that the player does’nt see automatically. We have this feature in our engine and it will be further optimized to improve performance.

Leonid Melikhov: Is Umbra a custom written or a proprietary engine?

Jonas Mattson: It’s like an addition to the main game’s engine. We have RedEngine 3.0 and together with that it’s our own stuff.

Leonid Melikhov: So it’s not like the Unreal Engine where some company buy licenses?

Jonas Mattson: No. Umbra is a separate company, the license and everything is different. I am not a programmer so I can’t go in to specifics but Umbra basically gives a boost to our own engine. So ye, there will be much better frame rates later on.

We are targeting all high end platforms, so the Xbox One, PS4 and obviously the PC. We won’t absolutely forget our roots, absolutely not (referring to the PC).

Leonid Melikhov: Is PC the lead platform for Witcher 3?

Jonas Mattson: We are targeting all high end platforms, so the Xbox One, PS4 and obviously the PC. We won’t absolutely forget our roots, absolutely not (referring to the PC).

Leonid Melikhov: So will the PC version be ported to the consoles?

Jonas Mattson: Right now what you see is running on the PC but we have development kits (for next gen consoles) so we are aiming to have an equally high quality experience with all the platforms. As you know the specs of next generation platforms, it really allows us not to hold anything back. When we were working on The Witcher 2 on the Xbox 360, it was…

Leonid Melikhov: Problematic?

Jonas Mattson: Not problematic, but we had to do a lot of work to get it running on a current gen console. But really, this time we can push the limits and hold nothing back.

Leonid Melikhov: So the PC architecture similarity and nothing like the PS3 which had a complicated Cell processor architecture where developers need to find a way across…

Jonas Mattson: Exactly, I personally think this new generation will make it easier for a lot of developers to release games on consoles.

The fiend that you saw earlier, it feels comfortable in its own territory, so the player needs to lure it out. Our monsters in the game act differently and take in to consideration where it is and they behave accordingly.

Leonid Melikhov: Do you feel you guys will be able to push the game a bit more on the PS4 given that it has 8GB GDDR 5 compared to 8GB DDR3 on the Xbox One?

Jonas Mattson: As you are aware am an environmental artist but we have talked about this in the office. I don’t think we are taking too much advantage of it. But as I said I am entirely not sure about this as I deal with making the world pretty.

Leonid Melikhov: I am intrigued by the whole weather dynamics in The Witcher 3.

Jonas Mattson: Did you like it?

Leonid Melikhov: I liked it and I thought it was pretty cool.

Jonas Mattson: We really wanted to be more than just fiction and create an impact in the community. We wanted the people to react to it and get affected by it. Because sometimes when it is raining and nothing happens.

Leonid Melikhov: What about the monsters in the game?

Jonas Mattson: Some monsters in the game are nocturnal and you can only hunt them in the night. Some monsters are not. This is where your boosting skills and abilities will come in the picture. What kind of monsters I am going to deal with? What kind of potion should I drink to prepare myself for the fight? When should I fight?

Leonid Melikhov:  It probably depends on where the player is currently located in the world…

Jonas Mattson: Oh yes. There are monsters in the game where you won’t simply find running around in the wild. The fiend that you saw earlier, it feels comfortable in its own territory, so the player needs to lure it out. Our monsters in the game act differently and take in to consideration where it is and they behave accordingly.

Leonid Melikhov: How does the day-night system works in The Witcher 3? Is it like 24 hours or modified for in-game time?

Jonas Mattson: It is 24 hours.

Leonid Melikhov: Do you mean real 24 hours?

Jonas Mattson: Ah…no. I think it’s a little bit faster. It is seamless compared to Witcher 2. The Witcher 2 times were a bit quicker so we have made it easier to play it in The Witcher 3.

I am not going to spoil it but there is a valley there, river leading out and it really gives you a grand view of it. It basically makes the player say wow.

Leonid Melikhov: What is your favorite location when you were creating the world for Witcher 3?

Jonas Mattson: I worked on the ruins a lot and it was really nice to work on them, because you have the mountains and valley behind it. I am not going to spoil it but there is a valley there, river leading out and it really gives you a grand view of it. It basically makes the player say wow. The ruins are located higher and you can see all those valleys. Even when the player is fighting a fiend and being attacked it still pushes the player to check it out. For me the composition, all the mountains and everything comes together and really makes it beautiful.

Leonid Melikhov: Are we going to see any Dragons?

Jonas Mattson: (Laughs) I don’t want to spoil anything so am I not going to say anything about that.

Leonid Melikhov: I know you said the release date is 2014, but can you tell me the seasonal date?

Jonas Mattson: No, I cannot say anything about when in 2014 it will be released. But yes, 2014 is the year the game will be released.

Leonid Melikhov: Tell us a bit more about the different creatures in the game.

Jonas Mattson: There are 80 creatures in the game and of course you have the wild life like rabbits, deer and bears.

Leonid Melikhov:  Can you kill them?

Jonas Mattson: Yes you can kill them.

Leonid Melikhov: Are they useful for anything or they just make the world look pretty?

Jonas Mattson: Of course, each of them has a different use. The player can invest hours in to hunting and sell them to the villagers. The fiend, I mentioned before, it basically does not stay in one territory, it goes out to hunt. So the player might come across it, so even when you’re hunting you might become the hunted. You have all this monsters like werewolves, so we are really populating this open world as much as we can.

The Witcher world is dark fantasy world and it is about delivering this experience and we are not going to change that. I can’t see us change that and we are not going to change it. This is what we are as a studio, this is what we do, we do mature role playing games and we are going to continue to do that.

Leonid Melikhov:  What about the gore in the game? I remember playing Witcher 2 where I was able to cut off limbs. Can the player do the same in The Witcher 3?

Jonas Mattson: There are certain times where the game is a bit gory. Currently we cannot cut off limbs; we might do it later on. But we don’t hold anything back to due to the ratings. This is a game for adults and for people who can handle violence, gore and intimate relationships. We are not changing our attitude.

Leonid Melikhov: That won’t be Witcher if you do…

Jonas Mattson: Exactly! The Witcher world is dark fantasy world and it is about delivering this experience and we are not going to change that. I can’t see us change that and we are not going to change it. This is what we are as a studio, this is what we do, we do mature role playing games and we are going to continue to do that.

Leonid Melikhov: So you mean to say gore may be a part later?

Jonas Mattson: Maybe. But right now it’s not our focus. Right now we want to make a kick ass game.

Leonid Melikhov: Is there any beta or demo planned for the game?

Jonas Mattson: As far as I know, no. But we have an open beta program for our RedKits, the modding tools for The Witcher 2 and that is what we have in terms of beta. For Witcher 3 we have our own testers so we probably won’t do an open beta. I can’t say yes or no but I guess it’s not going to happen. Sorry to disappoint you and I know people want to play it as soon as possible.


  • Daniel

    Good to see that they still see PauperStation4 as a second fiddle. PC FTW and f*ck $0ny!

    • T Dot M Dot

      Blatantly hating because PS4 getting so much PC love.. Boo hoo you fanboy,

    • Dakan45

      Its a mid range pc, thats why it gets “love”

  • danniel

    fuck your pc

    • Dakan45

      No fuck your shitty consoles.

    • Nintendo Fan 4 Lif3

      If they’re so bad, why are there more console gamers than PC gamers around the world? Believe it or not next-gen consoles are catching up to PC and will eventually pass it so u got another thing coming, pal.

    • Dakan45

      Clueless.

      Consoles were good because they were cheap and they had good games. People who couldnt bother with harwdware and installs choose consoles.

      Sadly in this day and era consoles are just as complicated as pc and the games are damn expensive.

      Ofcourse consoles will have more users, they are made for the common folk, they are advertized as gaming systems.

      In this generation the console owners and game developers did everything and ANYTHING that was possible to attract non gamers, dumb down games, simplify games, makes games alike, advertize games as much as possible to get as many people who dont play games into gaming. We dont play games anymore we play interactive graphics movies.

      Horror is dead on consoles because the requirments are too high to sell it only to cult following so they made RE6 and Dead space 3 into action games.

      Thats the reason big budget games dont stay on one system but they are multiplatform, to make enough money to keep making them. All console exlusives are basicly funded by sony and ms and nitendo. Pc has no such benefactor but its a free platform and thus that results into bazillions of indie games which have new and varied ideas in gaming while the big AAA games play pretty much the same.

      You say console gaming is catching up to pc?

      Meaning what? In power? This is the first time that such a huge gap between pc and console hardware even exists. We are talking about tremendous diffirnce mainly caused by this generation lasting for freaking forever and consoles becoming so expensive that they had to go to amd and tell them to make cheap locked out pcs in order to make the consoles cheap.

      So no its not catching up. Every time pc comes up with an idea such as F2P, online distubition, MMO, indie games and new idea consoles rip them off a few years later and mutate them into something horrible to keep their greedy profits going.

      Let me show you something. THQ is dead. Darksiders 2 sold bad. Kingdoms of amalaur sold bad and the studio was clossed down. Syndicate a pc strategy game was rebooted as a fps and floped. Crysis 3 had the lowest sales and scores in the series, medal of honor also sold horribly and studios like pandemic closed down thanks to ea.

      Check this list Tomb raider, hitman absolution sleeping dogs,dead space 3, moh warfighter, crysis 3, resident evil 6, dmc. All those games and others that i am missing now failed to get their required sales. We talking about games failing to hit their cost goals not just getting profitable. Those games specificly betrayed their own franchise to attract more sales from non fans and failed to reach their goals. Hell sleeping dogs sold 1.5 milion copies while 150 milion ps3s and x360s exist.

      On top of that bioshock infintie which is basicly a betrayal to the franchise and dumbed down and streamlined made it with hype ane lies.

      Lets not forget that Colonial marines on E3 was on pc and the consoles couldnt handle it so they had to remove effects and objects and make the levels smaller. on pc its patched up right now, on consoles, nope still looks bad.

      So no matter how you shape it, consoles will always be behind pcs and will deliver very expensive samey games that have to sell 5-7 millions to justify their development costs.

      While on pc the development costs are less than they were on ps1. If you only knew how much money sony and ms want from developers to let them makes games on consoles. Let alone ms charcing for patches. Pc on the other hand is free platform.

    • Nintendo Fan 4 Lif3

      First of all, Bioshock Infinite only turned out different from what it was to be initially because it was initially going to have a Renaissance era setting, but Assassin’s Creed II beat it to the punch so they had to scrap almost everything and go with the early 1900s vibe. so it would have been much different than what it is now; you can blame Ubisoft on that note. Second, I know there’s a gap between PC and consoles so lotta stuff has to be dumbed down and I know PC did many things that console followed up with later, but regardless that the gap got larger this gen, it is coming to a close since from this point forward consoles wiil use PC hardware. Also, I know developing for consoles isn’t cheap since you can’t customize closed hardware; ur not talking to an amateur here. Thing is PC is only cheaper to develop games for is that developers make all their money back from the expensive hardware used to make the games. And actually, Microsoft is no longer charging for patches, look http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-06-26-microsoft-no-longer-charges-developers-to-patch-their-xbox-360-games Seriously, I know all that goes on in the video game industry so don’t remind me about the games that didn’t meet their quota and should have met their quota, a la Tomb Raider. And to be on record, I’m not just talking about power, but also the other features that are attributed to the gaming experience such as online purchases and multiplayer, etc. that get improvements or things that get added to consoles that already exist on PC such as game streaming and multitasking. Seriously, I’m a hardcore gamer which means I’m a game expert. Ask me anything about the game industry and I guarantee I’ll know at least 90% of what you’re talking about, with the least common denominator being 80%. Go ahead.

    • Dakan45

      Actually bioshock was going to have a surealistic style and had the same setting as bioshock infinite, to find a girl in a cult and reprogram her. Then they changed it for rapture in 40-50s but the gameplay was the same as system shock 2.

      The SHOCK formula is the same as system shock 2.

      Nonlinear maps

      upgrades

      multiple ammo types

      hacking

      heavy emphasis on logs.

      Bioshock infinite however got dumbed down and its an inferior game, it is your average linear 2 weapons shooter which would have been fun if it was like E3 2011 or E3 2009 demos, go check them.

      But the actual game is repettive and borring as hell. Yet when colonial marines get bashed for fake demos when infinite does it 100 times worse by showcasing levels and scripts and dialogues that never made it into the actual game and putting “WINNER OF OVER 80 AWARDS” on the box despite nothing of what got those awards was in the actual game.

      Ironicly they were working on the xcom game before that.

      Developing on consoles is expensive due to porting and license fees.

      Glad you know alot of things about the industry.

    • Nintendo Fan 4 Lif3

      Bioshock Infinite isn’t terrible or boring or even bad for that matter, you just have bad gaming tastes. Seriously, do you play anything other than shooters besides RPG’s and stuff to actually give a decent evaluation of the game yourself? I bet you the only reason you play any shooters at all is cuz you only dig multiplayer, hence why you deject the linear nature of the game. Believe it or not, many games out there changed mid-development and still turned out good. The original Borderlands was going to have a realistic art style and more serious tone, as Gearbox said when they first showed it but like a year later it became a more cel-shaded like style and had humor. And you know what? Everyone ended loving the game and its sequel. I understand you don’t like the direction the game took in the end but maybe if u played through again or something and took time to understand the story and the way the world is integral to it, then you may change your mind. When I first played Majora’s Mask, I didn’t like the departure from the freedom and open environment of Ocarina of Time, but as I played more I actually began to enjoy it and eventually beat the game; in fact I’ve beat it 3 times. My point is that sometimes one play through isn’t enough to get the full experience from a game. For Bioshock Infinite, after I played through on easy and then went straight to 1999 Mode after beating it once. It was a helluva lot harder but I got the satisfaction out of not only playing again and noticing things I didn’t catch on my first time through, but also overcoming its challenging difficulty, as it was no easy feat. Even though I played through it twice, I would play that, The Last of Us, and Tomb Raider again cuz they all have great stories and I’m all about story, as long as there’s a challenge that comes with the experience. And yea, I know about licensing fees and ports, like I said I know nearly everything. Thing is this gen, costs of development are gonna go down for consoles as ease of development increases while the same can’t exactly be said for PC since it doesn’t have a unified architecture. Only reason consoles have higher prices is also because they require more R&D than PCs due to architecture and power differences so of course publishers and developers have their games sold at a higher price and one of the reasons why games went up to $60 this gen. Hopefully prices for games will go down; I know PC services such as Valve’s Steam give huge discounts for games but that’s only cuz not as much work is required as for consoles since there’s not as big of a transition in development, as you know, yourself. And thanks, I’ll make sure to keep broadening my knowledge of the industry and use it to my advantage. Do you game mainly on PC or also spend lotta time on consoles? If you so much, tell me what SVOGI stands for and what it does for games, or would have done since Tim Sweeney said current high-end PC hardware isn’t powerful enough to do UE4 with that included in it? Let me know when you have an answer.

    • Dakan45

      “you just have bad gaming tastes.’

      bioshock infinite E3 2011 demo

      That was good,

      half life seires are good, doom and quake series are good, raven games are good, resistance gmaes are good uncharted games are good. Darkness 2 was good. Bioshock infinite is the same thing from start to finish. its borring, repettive, with no sense of achievement of progression, no pacing and variety in objectives. You kill samey enemies and loot boxes for money to ugprade. Kinda like borderlands this is NOT why i play linear story driven fps.

      “Seriously, do you play anything other than shooters besides RPG’s and stuff

      It says wticher on the article, so yeah apparently i do play rpgs.

      “the only reason you play any shooters at all is cuz you only dig multiplayer, hence why you deject the linear nature of the game’

      I fucking facepalmed.

      No the reason i am bashing Call of boreshock infintie repettive arena gunfights is because it a horrible linear fps and very dumbed down sequel.

      The original bioshock was nonlinear and it took some skill, ofcourse nowhere near as good as deus ex or system shock 2.

      The problem is that fps nowdays suck. They are too simplistic, too alike and generic and two linear. Doom and other oldschool fps were pretty nonlinear in comparison.

      Bioshock infinite nor has the SHOCK formula gameplay that makes it more interesting to play than your avreage 2 weapons fps and it is not a good singleplayer campaign either. It is pretty much a 5 hour game that was copy and pasted to reach 15 hours to justify 60 bucks, Longer game doenst mean better it destroys the pacing. Compared with the likes or resistance or half life or even uncharted, it is a horrible campaign.

      Have you ever heard of a game calleg antichamber? Just check it, yes i actually finished that game, so dont tell me that i am multiplayer fps moron.

      ” many games out there changed mid-development and still turned out good”

      Far cry 3, was gonna be in Antartica and then it became semi linear and then open world.

      Xcom was gonna be lienar cellshaded fps and they turned it to third person tactical shooter.

      Half life 2 also had some more impressive demos but the actual game kept most of it in the game, bioshock infinite ditched all the impressive stuff that got it E3 awards and basicly decided to make a repetitive arena shooter instead of keeping the scripted moments, the dialogues and varies events from the demos. Not to mention the vastly superior art style and more complex and nonlinear level design with better vistas. Or the alarms and AA cannons that never made it to the game resultign this game being more or less the same without introducing new toys. Same tears too, same things all over . No variety or sesne of progression, you keep playing it without having any idea when it finally ends and then at some point it ends. No bossifght either.

      So games changed for the better, bioshock infintie claimed that what you saw in E3 was in the game “WINNER OF OVER 80 AWARDS” on the box and yet it was inferior in every way.

      “maybe if u played through again or something and took time to understand the story and the way the world is integral to it,’

      To bad that the logs are far far far fewer than the previous games and they dont do a good job at introducing the player to the world and characters. So yeah, it is pointless to try to understand better a incomplete world with alot of things missing. Hell the vigors were just shoved in there becuase thats what a bioshock game was apparently. Bioshcok exlpained everything about plasmids. In Infintie the vigors are just “there” they are not integrated to the world. Sooooo no. Poor job on that one irrational. I get to know more interesting characters through the logs of bioshcok than through the few logs of infinite that were cryptic at best. instead of that they should put more logs to break the borring gunfgihts and provide more story. Admit it, you played this game for the narrative not the supbar shooting.

      High end pcs cant run unreal engine at the highest setting? Too bad ps4 run it far worse, you could see the inferior graphics everywhere.

      Also havent you got tired of rating your own comments?

    • Nintendo Fan 4 Lif3

      I wish I could play Half Life, Deus Ex, Doom, and Quake but I don’t have a gaming rig so that’s not a reality for now. Especially wanna play half life since I’ve heard great stuff bout it. Glad to hear ur an actual hardcore gamer and not just someone who plays to pass time on mobile devices. I myself play other genres and don’t like limiting my options.for me I’m used to linear games and how they connect u to the story. Don’t have lotta experience with nonlinear games, with my most recent one being Dishonored. I for some reason just can’t stand that nonlinear games make story nonlinear instead of some other part of the game such as customization. I prefer an RPG like Kingdom Hearts where u have one story and its ending or special ending and u can use whatever powers u want… that experience and other similar scenarios I prefer in RPGs. Speaking of which, u getting FF XV and KH III? A lot of people these days either don’t vet around to finish what they play or play the same thing over and over unlike the 90s so I just assumed u wer one of them.. didn’t realize I was talking to a true gamer. Anyway I do c y u wer disappointed since I too like variety in my experience thst comes with challenge. Though I mainly play story driven games I also play games for their game play and other facets cuz I look for balance in my games so one little mistake can make or break the experience for me. I make sure I’m getting a worthy package before I just play any game out there. I wish myself wish Irrational had invested more time in the world and let u explore cuz like u said they didn’t leave room for that luxury much so hopefully whenever they make their next game there is more freedom. Also, I didn’t say high end PCs can’t run UE4 at all: I stated that due to the amount of power SVOGI requires, if it had been included in UE4 no high end PC would’ve been able to run it so that’s why Tim Sweeney made the difficult decision to omit it from UE4. Even though PS4 doesn’t run it as smoothly, I bet u that as developers use the hardware more they will discover tricks the hardware can do to make it look better since consoles’ power doesn’t start excelling until at least a few years into a generation. Finally good to c a gamer who truly plays for thr love of the game. Amd no, I don’t rate my comments at all ever. I’m not that self-conscious or even desperate to draw attention to myself, dude. Hope ur not.

    • Dakan45

      ehmm all those games are like ancient. 90-2004 at worse case scenario quake iv was a 2006 game. You dont need a gaming rig to play those.

      yes choices in rpgs feel like they are there just to have em rather support a purpuse but i think mass effect 3 got it right.

  • Nintendo Fan 4 Lif3

    Really want this game. Anyone give me a synopsis on the first two games so I’m not totally confused when I play the third one?

    • Dakan45

      Not really, you see Witcher is based on novel. He is a monster hunter. Something happened in during a hunt he lost his memory. The first witcher chapter doesnt really have anything worth mentioning. So just get a pc or a x360 and play the second.

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