Following an impressive showcase from Cyberpunk 2077 this week at E3 in Los Angeles, CD Projekt Red boss Marcin Iwiński joined Kotaku Splitscreen to talk about crunch, recent controversy over transgender issues, and whether GOG is in trouble.
A few weeks ago, CD Projekt Red had reached out to talk about their “non-mandatory” crunch policies on Cyberpunk, promising that they wanted to avoid the brutal periods of overtime that staff had to face at the end of development on The Witcher 3.
This week, they wanted to follow up. So a couple of days after watching Cyberpunk’s impressive new hour-long demo, in which the company showed off the different ways in which one mission can be tackled, I met with Iwiński for a 25-minute interview about many different topics.
He again said some interesting things about crunch, and I again said that we’d be keeping an eye out to hold him to these promises.
Here’s a brief excerpt from our conversation:
Jason: If I’m a designer at CD Projekt Red and I say you know what I have kids, I have a family, I’m going to work from 10:00AM to 6:00PM every day, and that’s it. Even until the very end. Am I going to be OK with that?
Iwiński: Yes. Yes.
Jason: No matter what.
Jason: So you can commit to that?
Iwiński: We’ve committed to that already.
Jason: That’s good to hear, because oftentimes it feels like there’s these social pressures and subtle pressures —
Iwiński: We can never be 200 per cent sure that there won’t be some pressure, but it’s actually our management’s work to make sure people are OK with that, and I think I’d like people to tell other people within the company that that’s OK, because that’s when we are successful when introducing it. But so far so good.
Jason: I was actually glad to see that you guys announced the game for April 2020, because I had heard from some people, "Oh, we’re going for 2019, it’s unrealistic, what are we going to have to do to ourselves?" Is that one of the reasons you guys delayed it?
Iwiński: (laughs) You’re digging way too deep, Jason.
Jason: (laughs) That’s my job.
Iwiński: The production plans are discussed with people, and of course we had to set a certain date, because as you know, we could develop every single game we’ve been developing endlessly because there’s always something you can tweak, make it better. So a set date is important.
But it is lots of planning and we take into account a lot of variables, first and foremost the production capabilities, the time we think is needed, the stage at which we are, but also the market environment. We are trying to hit a certain good window. And I think it’s a good window. And it aligns with our production plans.
Jason: Is it fair to say that you guys wanted to hit that target to make sure people didn’t have to kill themselves to make this?
Iwiński: (laughs) It’s a direct result of our production planning and we’re trying to make it realistic, and not make it a ginormous burden on the team. Why we’ve been making this public commitment is because we really care about the people that are making this game.
It’s not me coding personally or painting something, it’s the super-talented folks that decided to join us, and I want to make sure they feel taken care of and respected.