Mobio Talks within the framework of White Nights Moscow 2016, which took place on October 11-12, interviewed the speakers of the conference. Today we are publishing a conversation between Maxim Anisimov, a development manager at Mobio, and Matthew Steinke, a leading technical designer at CD Projekt RED.
Tell us about your path in the industry.
My career in the industry started right after school. I studied computer science at university. I was lucky — I worked in the virtual reality laboratory at VRAC — Virtual Reality Application Center (Virtual Reality Applications Center). There were completely different technologies that differ from those that exist today. At that time, we had walls measuring three by three meters with six projection screens so that a person in stereoscopic glasses would not cast shadows. We used to use an electromagnetic resonance tracking system that could track the movements of four people at once. We had a lot of technologies that people are already used to now. At that time, everything was completely different: we had a computer school with large supercomputers. It was an excellent start, which later led me into the gaming industry. At first I worked with computer games, then with Xbox and PlayStation games.
Tell us about the Witcher 3 development process. How do you test the expected scenarios?
All the credit belongs to the testing department. I have never seen such passion with which the guys worked round the clock, delving into the essence of the game and doing everything possible to cheat the system or break the game so that we could fix everything before the release. This can be seen in the example of all DLC and add—ons to the game – even on additional content, such as “Hearts of Stone” or “Blood and Wine”. Every time we manage to stabilize the game more and more, add new features, and all this is thanks to the testing department.
How did you plan the economy in the game?
Our approach is no different from the approaches in many games. The development of the game was delayed a bit, we had the opportunity to approve additional elements before the end of development. I would recommend that game developers pay attention to the integrity of the system in order to be able to make adjustments to the game during development. This is the secret of The Witcher — we started changing the game when it was ready for release. We had to do a huge amount of work in a limited time. By taking a more systematic approach to the development process, we were able to quickly form functions that allowed us to quickly change the game, as well as make adjustments based on how people play it. We also didn’t forget about the various trophies for the players to motivate them to continue playing.
How do you communicate with fans? You have a lot of them all over the world, there is definitely a large fan club in Russia.
We constantly participate in gaming events, are active in social networks. From the side of game design capabilities, we are glad to have the support of the online community, all the comments that we receive from forums, as well as from subscribers on the youtube channel. We are constantly analyzing these comments. We use user feedback to improve the game. Someone can find a loophole in the game, someone does not understand the interface. For example, there is a huge difference between the standard version of the game and the game with the “Blood and Wine” supplement, which was released later and has already been supplemented in many ways. Most of the elements have been improved and worked out in more detail, the graphics have become clearer.
Share tips for technical designers.
The most useful tool in my arsenal is a regular spreadsheet, no matter what it is, Excel or Google Docs. With their help, you can quickly record tasks, test results, and easily share them with other developers from the team. In addition, before I write the first line of code or script for the engine, I use Visual Basic and a macro to visually represent the data. These are all standard and understandable tools, but they make it possible to facilitate the work of the designer and the entire team as a whole.
Another tip I would like to share is to test more often. Test as you make changes, as soon as you work with the engine or make edits to the data. Sometimes late at night after a long day at work, you just want to do everything at once, launch the game, and in the end almost everything doesn’t work the way you wanted. The problem is that you’ve made too many changes and don’t know which one has ruined everything. Sometimes, maybe it’s because you changed a few things that ruined everything. So I encourage people to make one change at a time, and in small steps test the change of those things that, as you know, will have an impact on the system as a whole.