We recently sat down to try out a preview build of The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt on Switch and just yesterday we published our hands-on impressions. Spoilers! It's pretty remarkable. Our friends over at Digital Foundry also got the chance to sit down with senior producer at CD Projekt RED Piotr Chrzanowski and they gave him a grilling on specifics concerning the game's complex porting process.
Saber Interactive is the studio responsible for the port at large, with Chrzanowski and CDPR 'providing guidance' according to the article. He revealed that the port has been in development for a relatively small amount of time given the open-world RPG's epic scope and the considerable constraints placed upon it by the Switch's mobile chipset. When asked how long the process had taken, he gave the following response:
Over a year now. Well it depends on whether you want to add the business stuff, but then I would say it's around 12 months at this point.
He went on to discuss how the team has used some typical tricks seen in many of the Switch's 'miracle' ports, including reducing texture quality and using dynamic resolution in certain circumstances (temporarily reducing the screen resolution during computationally busy situations in order to maintain a solid framerate). In other areas, though, there were surprisingly few changes:
Geometry is the same. I think we dropped the LOD 0s in the cutscenes in most places, because of the memory constraints again. In some of those at least, we had to balance where it made sense and doesn't make sense. But overall, yeah, basically, we changed most textures but models, we haven't changed much. There were some slight adjustments in some cases, but nothing [much] I would say. If you compare frame-by-frame, you won't see much of a difference besides things that are obvious, like foliage density.
Elsewhere Chrzanowski discusses how ambient occlusion now features in the Switch build (it was absent from the E3 version). The interview covers various technical aspects of the port and we thoroughly recommend checking it out if you can't get enough of the nitty gritty details. Regardless of the clever tricks employed to get Switcher (as we learned it's called at CDPR) running without sacrificing the effect of its huge open world, it's mightily impressive that its taken Saber Interactive only 12 months to whip it into shape on Switch. We can't wait to give the final build a whirl when it launches on 15th October.
Reckon you could squeeze The Witcher 3 onto a mobile chipset in just one year? Pah, child's play - why not do Red Dead Redemption 2 at the same time on a second monitor? While we idly consider all the other 'impossible' ports we'd queue up on Switch, why not leave a little comment in the usual place?