In a bold reflection, a leading engineer at CD Projekt RED addresses the challenges faced during Cyberpunk 2077's development and outlines changes in the development of their upcoming "Polaris".

CD Projekt Engineer Shares Lessons Learnt from Cyberpunk 2077

The roller-coaster journey for the developers of Cyberpunk 2077, including numerous speed bumps and hurdles, has been a daunting experience, one that has not escaped the notice of CD Projekt RED's engineering director of management and audio, Colin Walder. In a candid reflection, he exposes the intricate developmental challenges encountered during the creation of Cyberpunk 2077, and how they aim to avoid similar pitfalls for their forthcoming Witcher RPG, currently codenamed "Polaris".

Addressing the gaming community at the Inven Game Conference in South Korea, Walder shared insights about the tumultuous development process of Cyberpunk 2077. He painted a vivid picture of the intense race against time to hit key milestones, such as creating and delivering impressive demos for E3 events in 2018 and 2019, and ultimately, the game's release in 2020.

Walder recognizes that the uncertainty and unpredictability of game development are common issues across the industry and not solely problematic for CD Projekt. He argues that the best way to improve is to review what didn't work out in the past and pinpoint the reasons, and then implement changes based on this evaluation.

Embracing this philosophy, CD Projekt is undertaking some vital changes for their work on Polaris. One essential adjustment, according to Walder, is to ensure the game is running smoothly on consoles right from the start of development. This approach, he asserts, is crucial and contrasts with the course taken during Cyberpunk's development, where the compatibility with consoles was considered relatively late.

What's more, the company aims to mitigate the intense "overwork" spikes typical of many game development projects. The significant updates and recently released Phantom Liberty expansion for Cyberpunk 2077 were stepping stones towards regaining the trust of a somewhat demoralised development team. CD Projekt, as Walder emphasizes, has recognized the need for a healthy work-life balance within its staff and is committed to not imposing burdensome deadlines.

But recognizing the problem is only the first step—the changes need to be put into action. Walder mentions potential solutions like adjusting the schedule when deadlines loom or rethinking the entire approach towards the project to avoid resorting to "crunch time". He believes that this move could help restore the team's morale and trust in the company.

Despite the expression of intent and actions towards a healthier developmental process, it's clear that there are still hurdles to overcome within CD Projekt RED. The recent formation of a new union by team members, who aim to combat unfair dismissal and exploitative working conditions, serves as a stark reminder of the challenges they still face.

In the same vein, Walder offers some intriguing insights into the oft-overlooked aspect of game development: audio. He argues that sound plays a subtle yet profound role in shaping player experiences and emotions. He takes pride in his team's work on the sound design of Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3, noting small details like a boss in the Blood and Wine DLC attacking in rhythm with the music.

Besides "Polaris", CD Projekt has several other projects in the works, including Project Sirius, a standalone unnumbered spin-off for fans and newcomers alike, and also Project Canis Majoris, an immersive, story-driven single-player RPG reminiscent of The Witcher 3.

All in all, while there are evident lessons drawn from the Cyberpunk 2077 saga, only time will tell if CD Projekt RED's commitment to change and improvement will manifest in their upcoming projects. It's clear, however, that they are making strides towards it, and one can only hope that these lessons will contribute to creating gaming experiences that are successful and enjoyable for all involved.

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Adam Devine

Hey, it's Adam Devine here! When I'm not out and about, you can bet I'm either casting a line, hoping for the biggest catch, or lounging at home, delivering some epic fatalities in Mortal Kombat. Life's all about the thrill of the catch and the perfect combo move. Whether I'm battling fish or virtual foes, it's all in a day's fun for me. Let's get reel and play on!

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