While checking out the new expansion to The Witcher 3, Blood and Wine, we had an opportunity to sit down with senior animator Jamie Bury for a quick chat.
The new expansion is being talked about as Geralt's last adventure before he settles down, and features a roughly Skellige-sized new area called Toussaint, resemblent of a fantastical medieval France.
It was just a few brief questions, as I was keeping Bury from his well deserved rest at the end of the day. The poor guy was quite jetlagged, too. So I've broken it down into a few subjects.
On the combat animations...
“We actually don’t use the normal system of animating a character moving on the spot and then adjusting their x/y/z position so they sort of float through the game world. We actually make sure their legs are connected to what’s below them, and their movements propel them through the world.
“That sort of means we have to start with the amount of distance that will be travelled, and work out the rest from there.”
On Toussaint’s style...
“The people of Toussaint don’t only have their own sense of dress, but they do actually have their own walking styles, fighting styles, etc. So I think just for the NPCs walking around, that’s another 2,000 animations that are exclusive to Toussaint.”
On decorating your house...
“Early on, Geralt will be rewarded for a quest with his own estate. And one of the first things you can do is decorate it with your own weapons and armour, paintings, and upgrade things like your bed and stables, which actually gives gameplay benefits.
“You might see some friends from the main game pop in and give you a visit, once you’ve fitted out your home to be comfortable enough for them.”
On rewarding the player through the world...
“There was a lot of feedback around people wanting to actually see what happens to the world when you complete quests. In places like Velen, you’d see the story conclusions but it would remain a very run-down, muddy place and the populations would remain the same.
“In Toussaint, finishing lots of quests in an area will see more people move in as it becomes safer. As you take out more bandits, the farms and vineyards will start to flourish. It’s already a colourful place, but it’ll become more bustling.
“We made a mission where you come across some workers, and if you help them, they’ll actually complete a big landmark that can be seen from very far away. It’s a noticeable addition to the horizon.
“So we listened to a lot of fan feedback on that one, they wanted to really see the results of their questing and we’ve given that to them.”
“There’s a Skellige Gwent deck in the game now. We’ve seen the Kickstarter for the physical game, but there are still no plans to make an official physical Gwent deck.” On Animating The New Monsters…
“There are something like 30 new big monsters in the expansion, many of them non-humanoid, so that’s a lot of animating interesting creatures.
“A lot of those monsters will have answers now, even moreso than before. For example, you just played the [Spoilers redacted], which can actually be taken out with one quick [Spoilers redacted]. But it’s kind of up to the player to think of those solutions, and of course do all the research like interviewing witnesses and consulting the bestiary.”
Our thanks to Jamie Bury for his time!