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For Witcher 2 devs, strong character design is all about empathy

Some games strive to make players want to be the main character. But developers at The Witcher studio CD Projekt RED don't think this is the way to build a strong connection between a player and the game.
Some games strive to make players want to be the main character. But developers at The Witcher studio CD Projekt RED don't think this is the way to build a strong connection between a player and the game. "I think that this idol[ization of the main character] will not work," explains lead gameplay designer Maciej Szczesnik. "I think it's all about empathy, actually." He continues, "It's similar to watching movies, right? If you can empathize with the main character, you will feel his emotions and you will be able to understand his motivations, and you'll be able to eventually understand the storyline, and you will be able to like it. And if you're not able to empathize with the main character, basically you're watching something." Marek Ziemak, gameplay producer on The Witcher 2, believes that his team managed to pull this off with the game's main character Geralt. "The thing we are really proud of is that some of the players say that he would probably choose this thing, and the others say he would choose the other thing. So we're delivering two choices," notes Ziemak. They are essentially defining Geralt, deciding for themselves what kind of person he is, rather than being told explicitly. Say Ziemak, "The problem is so deep and so... It's not blurred, but the solutions all go well with the type of character you're playing, and then the choice is really, really difficult." The full interview with Szczesnik and Ziemak, in which they share their insights into how they crafted The Witcher series, is live now on Gamasutra.

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