An Interview with CD Projekt Red’s Maciej Pietras
WayTooManyGames had the opportunity to watch exclusive footage of Cyberpunk 2077 at E3 2018. You can read more about it in our preview article. The game was unanimously voted our favorite game from the show.
We also had the opportunity to interview one of the game’s developers, Maciej Pietras Cyberpunk 2077‘s lead cinematic animator, at CD Projekt Red’s private booth.
Leo Faria: You were there at Microsoft’s Conference when Cyberpunk‘s trailer went live. I would like to know the reaction from the people at CD Projekt seeing both fans and journalists going absolutely mental when the trailer went down.
Maciej Pietras: My first reaction, I was absolutely touched, because it’s one thing to see your work of months because our cinematic animation team together with cinematic designers and our team all our teams basically created the trailer so it was absolutely stunning and super touching moment actually. But you know we always take that kind of response and always try to transform it for extra motivation because we take that feedback, we take those reactions and always, just, this kind of stuff always makes us work harder.
Leo: Despite also being based off an existing franchise (Cyberpunk 2020), Cyberpunk 2077 is the first new IP that CD Projekt has worked on ever since The Witcher. What are…
Maciej: … We have Gwent…
Leo: … sure, but it’s still from The Witcher universe. I meant something not from that realm. What are the freedoms and challenges of working with a totally new art style (cyberpunk instead of medieval)?
Maciej Petra: Right! During the development of The Witcher 3, we started talking within ourselves about which would be our next project. After some time and some discussions, we’ve realized that the Cyberpunk 2020 universe was perfect for us, not only because it touches upon themes that are very universal, but because it could be perfectly translated into an RPG. The second part of your question was about…
Leo: Freedoms and challenges of developing and designing something new for the team, something not medieval, something a lot more futuristic…
Maciej: … Yeah, well, it’s super exciting because we are using Cyberpunk 2020 as our base, as our starting point, but since that’s a pen & paper RPG, we are not afraid of adjusting it, doing our own tweaks and our own story with it, as well as creating our entire Cyberpunk 2077 universe. When it comes to challenges, there are plenty of challenges, right? We are full of really dedicated people who really love what they do and they’re super good at it. I think that’s how we just do it, it’s how we make video games.
Leo : Besides its obvious source material (Cyberpunk 2020), what other sci-fi and futuristic franchises have you used as inspiration for the art direction of Cyberpunk 2077?
Maciej: Mike Pondsmith’s Cyberpunk 2020 is definitely our biggest reference when it comes to creating this game. When it comes to the other inspirations, we are not limiting ourselves to just one specific piece of art, we are not limiting solely to movies, or solely to books. We are actually trying to approach it broadly, like, take the entire genre of cyberpunk and see how it works within Cyberpunk 2077 universe.
Leo: Is it safe to say that we can expect, from Cyberpunk, an RPG experience that is as big or even bigger than The Witcher? What’s the scale and the sense of ambition that this project has in comparison to the other Witcher projects that came beforehand?
Maciej: It’s big…
Maciej: …It’s big, it’s very big, and I mean by that, you know, it’s actually really difficult to compare those projects, because The Witcher was such a horizontally huge game, right? You can ride on a horse in one direction for a very long time. Cyberpunk takes place in a city: that means verticality is a lot more important. It’s hard to compare a vertical-oriented map with a horizontal one: the map is filled with buildings, and that means you have levels, and in those levels you have rooms, and so on. It’s hard to measure. But as I said in the beginning, it’s big.
Leo: So about verticality, is this one of the reasons why you included those claw arms so that you could scale walls like some sort of cyberpunk Spider-Man?
Maciej: (Laughs) You’re answering my question! Yes. Yeah, it’s all about being part of the melee combat system. We have Mantis Blades, but when it comes to melee we actually also have a Katana, which we didn’t show in the demo. When it comes to the exploration, this is a city, of course it has floors, of course you’ll be able to go between the floors… and Mantis Blades might or might not help you to get somewhere. I also think it’s a really cool weapon. And it’s actually one of those canon weapons from Cyberpunk 2020!