Witcher 2: Tech stuff from the best game at Gamescom 2010
In a talk with senior producer Tomasz Gop at the Gamescom 2010, PC Games Hardware gained new information on technical details about CD Projekt's The Witcher 2. The topics were: the engine, PC vs. console and DRM.
Today, we want to focus on the technical aspects of The Witcher 2 and the engine called TSOOD, which has been developed exclusively for The Witcher 2. Tomasz Gop, Senior Producer in the CD Projekt explains us everything we need to know.
The Witcher 2: Engine
CD Projekt invented a whole new engine for The Witcher 2. Its name TSOOD is the English phonetic notation of the Polish term "cud” which means miracle. Right after finishing The Witcher, the creators developed a complete, bulked tool system which would allow the game designers to easily access and manipulate all of the world's details. What emerged was the best RPG engine in the world, says CD Projekt. Of course, they implemented some graphical improvements, but that hasn't been the main reason for developing a new engine. What's more is that - from the very beginning - the developers took into account that the game would run on each of the three most important platforms, which are PC, Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. For each one, there already exists a prototype. At the moment, The Witcher 2 is still DirectX 9 only.
Since the game is optimized for consoles, which have a lower bandwidth, the streaming function works very smoothly. Within chapters, there are practically no visible delays until certain textures or areas become visible. When it comes to multi core support, Tomasz Gop explais us that the game had mainly been tested in an Xbox 360, which has three cores. So, on PCs, The Witcher 2 is expected to run best on fast dual cores. There would be some increase in performance with more cores, although it wouldn't be linear.
The Witcher 2: Advantages of the PC version
In a demonstration of the early beta version, The Witcher 2 made a good impression. It was running on an upper middle class PC, which would equal a middle class machine, by the time the game will be released. The entry dungeon seemed pretty detailed. The walls have been plastically elaborated via parallax mapping. In outdoor areas we could look over great distances and we witnessed atmospheric lighting. In contrast to other titles, The Witcher 2 doesn't exaggerate when it comes to dazzling and blend effects. The textures look mostly detailed, but not great. At the moment, there is no advantage of the PC version beyond higher screen resolution.
The Witcher 2: Bugs there are. But not in the final product!
The Current Version the The Witcher 2 lacks any kind of facial animation or lip synchronization. The fighting animation on the other hand made a great impression. There will be a box fight mode, where the perspective switches to over-shoulder and depth of field tightens the focus on the scene. The choreography itself looked very varied and was fun to watch.
The dynamic lighting she shadows looked convincing. But there are still some issues with self shadowing, which is creating some hideous artifacts up to now. Tomasz Gop himself pointed out that problem, promising it would be solved before the final version is out on the streets. The dynamic fire looked very impressive. Unfortunately we can't make the same statement about the water. Puddles looked very stiff and they didn't interact with non player characters walking through. Every once in a while, there was an animated texture on the water's surface, when a drip fell from the cave's ceiling.
At the end of the presentation, CD Projekt showed a battlefield level. The Witcher 2 will be based on an open-world-design thus calling it a level isn't exactly right. The boss was able to morph into a tornado. That is one of his special moves. The TSOOD-Engine uses Havok which computes flying debris and other objects with little performance-loss.
The Witcher 2: DRM
Quite clearly, Tomasz Gop stated his mind on digital rights management and copy protection: Indeed, to this point of development nothing was final, yet. But honest players should be rewarded instead of being punished harder than software pirates. Ridiculous DRM-systems like seen in other games would not be applied in The Witcher 2, says Tomasz Gop.