The Witcher 3: Dad Games, Revisited

By Bob Case Posted Saturday Oct 6, 2018

Filed under: Video Games 133 comments

In an earlier entry in this series (this entry, to be precise), I placed the Witcher 3 into the mini-genre of “Dad Games,” and said furthermore that in my opinion, it’s the best of them. Now that we’re closing in on the end of the main quest, I should go into that more.

Most Dad Games feature a protective relationship between the father and the child. This was the case in the Last of Us and this year’s God of War. In the case of the Witcher 3, however, Ciri is pretty capable herself and isn’t presented to the audience as vulnerable in the same way. She’s also older. I don’t remember if her age is ever made explicit in the game, but I get the impression she’s twentyish years old, or at least in her late teens – basically, an age where parenting might be less about protecting and more about letting go.

CDPR handles this theme in a way that in some ways is very clever, but in others can lead to players feeling like they’ve been treated unfairly. Basically, at several points in the second half of the game there’ll be a scene – which seems innocuous at the time – in which Geralt is given the choice of either being protective or solicitous towards Ciri somehow, or backing off and letting her act on her own. (The choices don’t all cleave along that particular line, but

For example, in one instance, Ciri is frustrated after the battle at Kaer Morhen, and storms off, and Geralt has the choice of following her or giving her privacy to deal with her feelings on her own. In another, Ciri is to meet several members of the Lodge of Sorceresses. Geralt, knowing that the Lodge has their own agenda and can be manipulative, can either accompany Ciri or allow her to face it alone.

The wrinkle that isn’t revealed to the player until much later (the end of the game, really) is that each of these decisions affects how Ciri’s character develops, and how well-equipped she is to handle a certain challenge that she has to face alone. This, in turn, determines whether you get one of the “good” or “bad” endings.

One the one hand, this is thematically appropriate, as it rewards the player for not being overprotective, and for treating Ciri as the capable, autonomous person she is. On the other, the way some of these choices are presented to the player are opaque to the point of being a bit unfair, and some of them just come off as arbitrary.

To go into one example in detail: at one point, Avallac’h is attempting to teach Ciri how to control some of her abilities, and she gets frustrated after repeated failures. She meets Geralt in the courtyard at Kaer Morhen, feeling the pressure of responsibility and self-doubt, and basically asks Geralt how he handles such feelings. Geralt is given two timed dialogue prompts. One reads “Relax. You don’t have to be good at everything,” and the other reads “Think I know what might lift your spirits.”

Link (YouTube)

Now a player encountering this choice for the first time has very little to go on as to what these two prompts actually mean. In this case, the “relax” one leads to a rather depressing scene where Geralt and Ciri get grumpy-drunk together, and the “lift your spirits” one leads to a lighthearted and fun snowball fight (which is, incidentally, the “good” choice, as far its effect on which ending you get is concerned). If anything, intuition and experience with Geralt would lead a new player to predict that “I know what might lift your spirits” would definitely be alcohol, whereas “you don’t have to be good at everything” is not bad advice.

To cite another example, at one point Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer visit Avallac’h’s lab, where we learn that Avallac’h has a preoccupation with the Elder Blood, and a strange combination of disdain and infatuation with Ciri herself. Ciri, who by this point is low on patience for elves treating her like a science experiment, gets angry and says “What? Do you fear I’ll level this place like I did Kaer Morhen? Shame I can’t do that at well, because I’d really like to now!”

Geralt gets two dialogue options, abridged by the game as “Calm down” and “Go for it.” Of course, taken literally, “go for it” means that Ciri does something reckless and extremely dangerous for herself and everyone else in the vicinity, so upon seeing those two options, my thought on my first playthrough was “wait, am I being sarcastic or not?”

This is a common, and for me at least, infuriating problem with many RPGs: dialogue options that the UI summarizes in such a way that trying to predict what my character is actually going to say or do is basically an exercise in guesswork. It’s bad enough in normal conversations, but about decisions like these, where their import is not immediately obvious and their consequences won’t be felt until many hours of gameplay later? To me, it feels unfair.

Let me say that I love the IDEA of the ending hinging on choices of how the player treats Ciri, and I’m ok with disguising their importance a bit. But players should be given more information with which to predict what the outcomes of different dialogue choices are. By luck, I did get one of the “good” endings on my initial playthrough of the game. But I can only imagine how frustrating it would be for someone to get a bad ending because of a poorly-paraphrased dialogue choice they made twenty hours earlier.

(In this case, incidentally, the “good” choice is “go for it,” which results in Ciri and Geralt trashing Avallac’h’s lab using conventional, non-magical catastrophe methods.)

Yen, you scoundrel. This is one of my favorite Yennefer moments.
Yen, you scoundrel. This is one of my favorite Yennefer moments.

That’s the extent of my thoughts (for the moment) on that particular aspect of the game. In the next entry I’ll cover the rest of the ending sequence.

For now, there’s another thing I want to at least mention in passing. Sapkowski, author of the Witcher novels and short stories, is going through the courts to get an additional $16 million out of CD Projekt. (Here’s just one of many articles written on the topic.)

Why? Well, back before the Witcher series became a surprise hit, the hitherto mostly unheard-of CD Projekt bought the rights to turn Sapkowski’s works into a video game. He sold them those rights, for what is now in retrospect a tiny amount of money. (I’m not sure how tiny. I’ve read that it was the equivalent of about $9,500 US, but I couldn’t find a citation for that figure.) Why? Well, Sapkowski wasn’t a big fan of video games, and he also (understandably) suspected that any such game – especially by a rookie studio – would be a bust.

“I was stupid enough to sell them rights to the whole bunch,” he says. “They offered me a percentage of their profits. I said, ‘No, there will be no profit at all – give me all my money right now! The whole amount.’ It was stupid. I was stupid enough to leave everything in their hands because I didn’t believe in their success. But who could foresee their success? I couldn’t.”

I’m not a lawyer, but I suspect that, in an American court, the argument of “give me more money because I only took an up-front cash payment in lieu of a percentage because I thought the game would flop” wouldn’t go anywhere. But apparently Polish (and more broadly, European) copyright law operates on different principles. It operates at least partially on the concept of “moral rights,” which say that (and be advised I am very much a layperson on legal matters, on any continent) the original creator has a relationship to any adaptations of their work that can, in some cases, supersede a written contract.

Roughly paraphrased, “yeah, sure, he signed away the rights for a song back before the games were a hit, but now that they ARE a hit, he has a claim to some of the profits they’ve generated through use of his creative property.” On the one hand, caveat emptor (or, in this case, “let the seller beware,” but I don’t know how to say that in Latin). On the other hand, CD Projekt made their fortunes as a developer partly on the back of this guy’s creative work, and he shouldn’t be penalized for failing to predict what was at the time an unlikely financial success.

I don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other on this dispute. I don’t know enough about either Polish copyright law or the fine details of the situation to make a judgment. However, broadly speaking, my personal sympathies are at least slightly with Sapkowski. Maybe he doesn’t get the full sixteen million. But CDPR is financially successful enough that they can certainly afford to toss him something, out of gratitude and good PR if nothing else.

Like I said, I don’t have a clear conclusion to draw from this, but I mention it because I think it’s an interesting situation. Next entry, we’ll be back to the game. See you then.


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133 thoughts on “The Witcher 3: Dad Games, Revisited

  1. guy says:

    Much as it would be nice of CD Projekt Red to toss some more money to the original author, requesting an upfront payment specifically in lieu of royalties and then later demanding royalties strikes me as acting in bad faith. CD Projekt Red paid an upfront fixed amount for the right to make and sell the game and earn an unknown amount in the future that they would keep in full. If the author wants to be paid in the event that the work makes more than a certain amount of money they can put a conditional clause in the contract.

    That said, according to the article there is a dispute about whether that deal applied to any sequels, and assuming it doesn’t then Sapkowski is entitled to royalties on them.

    1. Agammamon says:

      That’s my take.

      Rather than taking part in the risk CDPR was taking (that the game would flop), he demanded an upfront payment and left them to shoulder the burden of that risk. Now that its paid off he wants part of the payout? The payout they risked their capital (their studio, their money) on?


      If they had failed, does anyone think he would feel that he owes them back part of his upfront payment?

      Now that the series has run its course and made the bulk of the money its going to make it might be nice for CDPR to give him a royalty on future sales – as a nose-thumbing to the guy for *still* being so unaware that he’s suing them *now*.

      1. Indeed. This, by the way, is exactly the same relationship that employees have with their employer. “I’ll take a guaranteed fee for work (wages salary) and you get to run ALL the risk. If it makes money, you keep the profits. If it loses money, you absorb ALL of the risk for that.” So, this is basically like an employee saying “the wages I contracted for aren’t enough, I demand a share of the profits even though I took ZERO share of the risk”.

        If you want to make the big money, you gotta take the big risk. You don’t get to weasel out of the risk and then come back whining that you deserve the money.

        1. Sartharina says:

          Except if it doesn’t work out, you lose the job (Which is generally for a lower rate than it should be, due to security), and the guys at the top don’t shoulder all the risk – their losses are subsidized by banks that are subsidized by the government (Thanks to events that happened in 1929 and 2007) which is subsidized by the taxpayers.

          1. guy says:

            In most employment contracts, you get paid for all the work you do even if it doesn’t work out.

            The guys at the top don’t shoulder all the risks most of the time because they made deals with other people to split the risks and the rewards, and can offload some risk onto their employees by switching from pure salary to salary and profit sharing. If the government hasn’t signed onto such a deal preemptively, it only steps in when it’s concerned about economic collateral damage, and pretty often the guys at the top lose at least part of their cut going forwards.

          2. Agammamon says:

            The guys at the top do – because its the guys at the top who funded the thing, the owners. That includes the banks.

            As for ‘being subsidized by government’, well people like me keep pointing out that things like this (creating moral hazards) are why government shouldn’t fund very much and almost nothing being done privately.

            But the employees only lose a job – future income. They don’t lose the stake they put up in the venture, because they didn’t put up any capital. The owners lost money and future income, the employees only lost future income.

    2. Jabberwok says:

      Yeah, I pretty much agree with this, even as an aspiring author. For one thing, I can’t personally imagine giving up royalties for such a small amount of money. I don’t know the specifics of his financial situation, though. As the author of what I assume is a popular book series, I’m going to also assume he is doing reasonably well for himself. Perhaps not AS well as the franchise he’s spawned, but that’s hardly enough to inspire sympathy.

      1. guy says:

        He apparently wasn’t expecting the game to sell well enough to pay out a reasonable amount in royalties. It’s a reasonably common story, especially when the initial offer is a cut of the profits. Sometimes it ends like this.

        Also, sometimes you get things like Brandon Sanderson considering just giving CD Projekt Red the game rights to Mistborn for free because he already has enough money. Or Stephan King selling rights to make a student film for one dollar.

        1. Jabberwok says:

          Yeah. I mean, if he actually cared about the royalties at all, giving them away for a pittance is on him. He gambled and lost. And I don’t doubt that the legal system supports his right to try and reverse that in a way, but I don’t see him standing on the moral high ground here. It’s an interesting conflict, because I’m usually for anything that gives artists more ownership over their intellectual property. This is definitely an exception.

          1. guy says:

            I would argue that this is actually in a sense reducing an artist’s ownership of their intellectual property; if he wins that means an artist can’t sell their rights for a fixed sum. They can decline to go to court to collect, but they can’t provide a buyer with a binding guarantee they won’t change their minds in the future. That’s a serious problem for artists who just want an adaption made because they already have enough money and want to see a video game or movie made from their work, or for artists who just want a lump sum payment right now and will give up royalties for a larger lump sum. I generally consider ownership to include the right to sell under whatever terms you deem fit so long as you’re not under duress or being defrauded.

        2. CrushU says:

          Wait wait wait, Sanderson might be giving rights to a Mistborn game to CD Projekt Red?


          1. guy says:

            He has said on Reddit that he’d seriously consider giving away game rights to some of his works, particularly Mistborn, to them potentially for free. Not a commitment, but given that Mistborn Birthright fell through it’s quite possible he’s opted to give up on getting much money out of the video game rights (and/or plans to sell Stormlight Archive rights if Mistborn goes well) and it calls for a studio that both can handle book to game adaptions well and has proven design competence to hopefully get the iron/steel maneuvering working and with a good interface.

      2. Lars says:

        Sapkowski was a popular author – in Poland. Only Poland. After the Witcher games became successful worldwide, so did his books. The books got translated to a lot of languages and sold well. The first game led me to buy and read books, I otherwise wouldn’t have heard of.
        Before the games there was only a rather dull Polish film about the Witcher short stories. After The Witcher 3 Netflix bought the rights and will produce a series.

        Sapkowski profited from the Witcher games a lot. To demand additional payment now sounds just greedy.

    3. Redrock says:

      CDPR seem pretty sure that the contract covers all future videogame adaptations. Should be easy to confirm for a court. That said, I expect a settlement to be reached. Aside from everything else, CDProjekt really care about their “nice guy” public image, it’s a huge part of their business, be it GOG or making games. A big nasty scandal is not something they want. So Sapkowski gets his money, at least a part of it. Which isn’t strictly fair, but is also the kind of unfair I can live with.

    4. krellen says:

      This mindset that “contracts are binding” is toxic and harmful to creative work. It’s also the kind of mindset that forces Kesha to continue working with a man who raped her.

      Sapkowski shouldn’t even HAVE to go to court. In a just, moral society, CD Projekt would have already revised the deal to provide him a share of their unexpected windfall.

      This nonsense about “risks” and “rewards” is just that – nonsense. No one can predict business; it’s all luck. Sometimes hard work is involved. Sometimes it’s not. Letting the lucky keep these windfalls creates a horrible society where everyone is judged by financial success and deemed a “winner” or a “loser” solely based on their net worth.

      1. Hector says:

        I… Can’t actually if this is sarcasm. I think it broke my Sarcastometer.

        1. krellen says:

          Why would you think it is sarcasm?

          1. Hector says:

            In the context of your social media history, you may be serious. Assuming I not falling prey to trolling:

            Contracts, in their infinite variety of form, allow people to actually move forward in society. They are what allow people to earn their daily bread. You claim they are “harmful to creative work,” but that work becomes far more difficult without them. In this particular case, Sapowski clearly had the potential room to negotiate and was not under any duress; he voluntarily chose to forfeit his upside. In a similar vein, it’s not hard to put limits into contracts, and he evidently failed to do so, or would not need to be trying to shout and stamp his feet publicly now. This is not exactly a new phenomenon.

            But more to the point, *you* don’t get to arbitrarily decide who gets to benefit. If contracts are no longer valid, then that will be pursued and used as aggressively by those you dislike, or don’t think should benefit, as well as by those you do. Perhaps more so, since people unburdened by morals tend to have better lawyers than those who do.

            Finally, you may find others singularly unimpressed by appeals to “Just and Moral Society,” since (A) they may not be in terrible agreement with you about what constitutes that, and (B), appeals to a Just and Moral Society work better if it isn’t being blatantly used to the benefit of classes or groups you are predisposed to favor.

      2. skellie10 says:

        The mindset that “contracts are binding” is what makes contracts at all meaningful in the first place. There should of course be provisions for invalidating contracts when one party commits some terrible offense against the other, but in general contracts need to be binding for any agreement between two or more parties to be at all reliable.

        As for your last paragraph, I don’t even know where to start on how wrong that is. First of all, it’s obviously necessary to reward taking risks, otherwise no one would do it. Second of all, business is not all luck. You don’t get the kind of success that CDPR has had, at least in the games industry, without creating (or enabling the creation of) a quality product. Third of all, the existence of profit does not automatically lead to a society that only values money. Fourth of all, business don’t just “keep” their windfalls, they reinvest them. Without profits, there is no growth. In this particular case, CDPR would never be able to attempt a project as ambitious as Cyberpunk 2077 without the enormous profits from the Witcher series.

        1. guy says:

          Contracts in the US can be voided as being “unconscionable” when their provisions are in opposition to the public interest according to a court, whether or not they contain a termination clause. A particularly common one is with NDAs; they’re pretty much automatically invalid if they attempt to prohibit reporting illegal activity to the authorities or complying with subpoenas.

          1. Hector says:

            Contracts have to be made in accordance with the law, sure. But you have to look for some pretty extreme cases before that becomes a thing.

      3. Steve C says:

        I’m normally on the side of the author in these sorts of things. This time I’m very much against Sapkowski for “in a just, moral society” reasons. And not due to contracts. It is due to where the value was added. If Sapkowski had not licensed Witcher to anyone, what would have happened? Would Sapkowski have been better off if no computer games had ever been made?

        I think not. In fact I think the opposite. Sapkowski has gained book sales from the existence of the computer games. CD Projekt were the ones who added all that value. They acquired permission and gave fair terms for that permission.

      4. Hal says:

        If we had a “just, moral society,” we wouldn’t need contracts.

      5. shoeboxjeddy says:

        A contract being binding is what MAKES IT a contract. What you’re saying is complete nonsense. If you and I enter an agreement that you will make a good for me and I will pay an agreed upon price, we both have to do what we said we’d do to the best of our abilities. If we aren’t held to our agreement, it’s bad for either one of us. If I’m depending on the goods you were going to make (and don’t go to any other supplier because you agreed to give them to me), I’ll be screwed if you just decide “Nah, I won’t deliver.” And vice versa, if you do all the work to prepare the goods and I decide “nah, I’ll pay you half or nothing at all for the goods,” you won’t be able to recover all the resources you put together to fulfill our agreement.

        You know what happens when you can’t make contracts (say because you’re selling something illegal like drugs or guns)? Both parties have to use violence or extreme retribution to create the effects of having a legal contract in order to make things happen. Without the legal system to extract your due from a deal gone wrong, people resort to drive by shootings or fire bombings.

        Then, we arrive at your “just, moral” society and that’s the biggest nonsense of all. I think it’s just and moral that the writer receives NOTHING extra here because he made sure in his actions and words to refuse that outcome. CDPR was willing to make a different deal with him, but he thought they were dumb guys working with a bad medium and just wanted cash up front. Meanwhile, you think it’s just that he can refuse a different deal on multiple occasions but then demand more money if the people on the other side hit it big. This just goes to show that no two people will agree on what justice and morality is, so just saying “we shouldn’t use the rule of law, everything should just be perfect upfront” is a childish and foolish viewpoint altogether.

        1. Shamus says:

          I really think you could have made this argument without the personal hostility.

      6. anon says:

        Suppose we instead have the opposite scenario:

        CD Projekt, having bought the rights to the work for the agreed-upon sum, invests a significant sum of their own money and takes out extensive loans in order to fund the games. Then, it turns out the games are a complete disaster. They not only lose millions of dollars that they don’t have, but completely torpedo the reputation of their studio. The company has extensive debts and their creditors are circling.

        1) How much should we bill Sapkowski?
        2) Suppose that we explicitly establish that the failure was attributable in some way to the licensed IP. (For example, let’s say a bunch of people went around harassing anyone who bought the games, arguing that they “papered over Eastern European anti-Semitism” by portraying an Eastern European-inspired society without persecuted Jews.) How much should we bill Sapkowski?

  2. ElementalAlchemist says:

    You say you have sympathy for Sapkowski, but he is in a hole he dug for himself. Not only did he refuse the initial percentage offer, but apparently knocked back an invitation by CDPR to be more intimately involved in the project. Supposedly there’s a letter in TW1 which paraphrases a nasty missive he sent to CDPR. He has also disparaged the games multiple times in the press. By all accounts the guy is a complete and utter prick, and I think it is a bit rich that he has his hand out now.

    Let’s be honest, the Witcher book series would never have become popular in the West without the success of the games. Nor would he be getting a globally distributed TV series on Netflix. He should be content that he is profiting from that through no effort on his part.

    1. Michael Watts says:

      By all accounts the guy is a complete and utter prick, and I think it is a bit rich that he has his hand out now.

      Sure, but to be totally fair, if someone pointed out to me that local law entitled me to $16 million on condition that I file a lawsuit that any idiot could see was unjustified, I bet I’d go for it. The cause of action doesn’t make sense; the lawsuit makes a lot of sense.

    2. Redrock says:

      Well, the opposite is also true: the Witcher games would have become popular in the West or, indeed, existed at all, if not for Sapkowski’s work.

      1. guy says:

        Yes, but CD Projekt Red could have walked and made a deal with someone else and made games that made tons of money. I mean I don’t think the Runequest video game rights were locked up at the time, for instance; not sure if they were owned by a publisher but even if they were there wasn’t a KoDP sequel in the works.

        Sapkowski contributed the rights to use the stuff from his novels as the basis for the story. How much money is that worth? It’s impossible to say, but apparently he agreed that prior to the games being made the right to make the games was worth a lump sum payment of $9,500. Bad call, clearly, but that was his actual counteroffer to an offer to get a cut of the profits on an ongoing basis.

        It’s obviously worth more than that now, but that’s because the value has increased since the deal was signed, not necessarily because he was underpaid at the time.

        1. Redrock says:

          It’s not that simple. The games, especially Witcher 3, owe a lot to the books. It’s not just about the rights to the characters and the world. A lot of the things that make the Witcher games so much better yhan other RPGs have to do with what they could lift from the novels. So while I disagree with Sapkowski’s approach and tone, I think CDPR fully recognize just how much they owe him.

          1. guy says:

            That doesn’t mean the right to make “a Witcher videogame” was worth a lot of money at the time. If they’d screwed up the gameplay too badly, messed up the game dialogue, cast bad voice actors, or had terrible environment design, it’d be in the dustbin of history. And they could have gotten the rights to a different series where an author wanted royalties instead because CD Projekt Red would actually have preferred to do that because it would cost them zero dollars until they actually made money.

  3. “This is a common, and for me at least, infuriating problem with many RPGs: dialogue options that the UI summarizes in such a way that trying to predict what my character is actually going to say or do is basically an exercise in guesswork. It’s bad enough in normal conversations, but about decisions like these, where their import is not immediately obvious and their consequences won’t be felt until many hours of gameplay later? To me, it feels unfair.”

    The “Go for it” example you gave is typical, and if you preceded it with a question it would have made sense.

    Do you want to calm Ciri down or let her release some steam?
    1. Calm down
    2. Go for it.

    Sure, the wording of the options is still a tad odd. I’m guessing many games failing to do this is that they want to “surprise” the player (aka viewer) as to what happens next. To the writer it all makes sense in their head (as they know what is about to happen).

    “Go for it” should probably have been “Push *thing* off desk” instead though.

    Using text adventures as a template on how to do such dialog choices is a good thing as they tend to be good at describing the current state of things (text is all you have).

    1. Adam says:

      It’s particularly dangerous choice in Whitcher 3 as this is a game that will enable the player to do apocalyptic things and not hand hold them through it. In my playthrough, I think the last time Ciri had a “go for it” moment she nearly became a nuclear bomb. So I was fully expecting a Game Over screen at that point.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      Yes. Absolutely.
      I always felt a bit wary of Geralt; I never knew exactly what he was going to do with a lot of his dialogue choices. Quite often I’d end up regretting picking something and then reloading. Quite often I’d pick the intimidating dialogue choice hoping to scare an NPC, and Geralt would immediately draw his sword – cue more dead bodies.

      And just like picking ‘go for it’ or ‘I know what’ll cheer you up’, often the other option would conceal some clever solution that wasn’t even hinted at in the original choice.

      (Incidentally, Ciri’s the same. When she’s recovering in Skellige, there’s a guy in the village who’s revaled to have a crush on her. Just before she leaves, you get the choice to reveal that you know about it and pick a response.
      So I picked the flirty option.. and Ciri takes him by the hand and leads him to the back of the barn.
      Whoa, lady! I thought you were going to give him a kiss or flirt a bit before leaving, not decide to pop his cherry there and then!)

      1. 4th Dimension says:


        Like father like daughter :D

  4. Michael Watts says:

    caveat emptor (or, in this case, “let the seller beware,” but I don’t know how to say that in Latin)

    caveat venditor

  5. Roofstone says:

    The author is also claiming that he technically only sold them the rights to one game, and producing the witcher 2 and 3 was illegal.

    Which, and I am not a lawyer, sounds like lunacy.

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      It would be lunacy that CDPR would make two more games if their negotiation specified only one; it’s hard to see how they’d think they’d get away with it if it were in black and white. But it’s not crazy at all to think that the rights were, or could have been, sold for only one game. Licenses specify the terms and duration of the licensor’s rights to the property and the licensee’s rights to extend or withdraw the rights. There’s no way to know what the terms are without seeing what they signed.

      The way that I have typically heard Sapkowski’s suit described have not made me very sympathetic to his plight, but it’s totally different if he is suing for compensation for the unlicensed use of his intellectual property, off of which CDPR did indeed make a boatload of money. But that’s the other part of it: citing such grounds for suit only well after two more very successful games were released suggests that, at the very most, the terms of the contract are ambiguous and could conceivably be interpreted to mean that CDPR only had the rights to Sapkowski’s Witcher for one game… especially if you had a very large cash incentive to interpret it in this way. But The Witcher 2 came out in 2012, and was announced in 2009. If Sapkowski were seriously troubled by the violation of his intellectual property, the nine years that he spent overlooking it will and should attract some skepticism.

      1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

        And Sapkowski really doesn’t seem like the kind of person to overlook people stealing his stuff.

    2. Fon says:

      That argument probably wouldn’t hold water. If Sapkowski had an issue with CDPR producing a sequel, then he should have filed a lawsuit back when Witcher 2 had first came out. His inaction back then is also an implied consent– if making sequels is a breach of contract, then WHY would you wait until Witcher 3 comes out before taking action?

      1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

        Not even when it released, but three and a half years afterwards.
        Witcher 2 came out in flipping 2011. We’ve got two full games, multiple expansions, and at least one full spinoff game by now, all of which were supposedly developed, marketed and sold without the rights to the source material.

        Unless we’re supposed to believe that everyone involved didn’t notice, or kept silent for some reason. And Sapkowski does not seem like the type to sit quietly in a corner while people blatantly steal his stuff.

        Having said all that, I actually think the law is a pretty good one. Which means Sapkowski should get some royalties, even if he’s being a complete twatmonkey (although 16 million seems way too much considering the circumstances).

    3. guy says:

      It’s pretty common for a contract to be for a limited duration or otherwise constrained and this is presently responsible for an insane legal mess with Star Control Origins where Stardock bought the copyright to Star Control 3 but not the copyright to the first two and there’s now a lawsuit by some of the original developers of the first two saying the contract that gave the makers of Star Control 3 the right to use the stuff from the first two lapsed in 2004 and a countersuit from Stardock saying they’re not the original developers and made no significant contribution and have no actual claim to a copyright, please ignore the fact that no one objected when they released the source code to make freeware Star Control 2.

      I’m not a contract lawyer so I can’t evaluate the legal claims in this one, but it’s possible the agreement only specified payment for one game. The fact that he let them make two more games without objecting would hurt his legal position but not necessarily doom it.

      1. guy says:

        It’s also possible the original had a drafting error such that it specified transfer of all rights and the payment for their use in the first game, leaving payment for any subsequent games unspecified. In that kind of case a court could say he’s due reasonable and customary royalties and basically treat it like he’d agreed to an industry standard contract for later games. It’d be a stronger case if brought when the Witcher 2 started selling, though.

      2. Steve C says:

        To be fair, the original developers (Ford and Reiche) had to file a lawsuit. Stardock started selling StarCon 1&2 without Ford and Reiche’s permission. Plus Stardock started preventing sales of StarCon 1&2 by Ford and Reiche and making takedown requests. Which is more than copyright violation, it is theft. It is a claim of complete and sole ownership. The copyright is clear too as it is explicitly copyrighted to their personal names on the box in the bottom left corner. Then to make it even worse, Stardock’s doubled down and claims that Ford and Reiche did not make the game. Which tramples over their moral rights outside the USA.

        I have been following this whole thing since years ago when Ford and Reiche released the source code. Note that a company DID object at that time. Ford and Reiche reminded them with legal documents that nope they had no right to object and had no basis to object. They backed off and apologized since their lawyers quickly realized that their company had no rights.

        That company went bankrupt. Stardock bought their rights (previously established to be nothing of value) in the bankruptcy sale. Stardock realized later it bought a lemon. Stardock offered to sell their “rights” to Ford and Reiche. Who declined on the basis it was worthless. Then Stardock kept cozying up to Ford and Reiche. Attempting to get them to cooperate and consult with their new product. Ford and Reiche politely declined each time. (Which was the right move legally as it would have been interpreted after the fact by courts to be approval.) Then finally Stardock started the current bullshit as they were really in a precarious legal position if they did not. They were making a derivative product with no copyrights.

        Stardock has and continues to act in bad faith.

        1. guy says:

          It’s more complicated than that; Ford and Reiche have no rights to Star Control 3; Stardock bought that. The legal disputes are as follows:

          1. The argument over whether Stardock got the rights to continue selling Star Control 1 and 2, since those are different rights from the right to use the material in new works.
          2. The argument over whether Stardock got the rights to use the parts of Star Control 3 licensed for use from prior games or if that deal lapsed in 2004.
          3. Whether Stardock got the trademarks to Star Control and the alien names, since trademarks are not copyrights.

          I think Stardock’s specific demands are unreasonable and their effort to invalidate the copyright by arguing Ford and Rieche never owned it in the first place is nonsense, but there are aspects of the situation that are actually a confusing mess.

          1. Steve C says:

            This keeps getting marked as spam and I don’t know why! :-(
            First off Stardock did not buy specific rights. They bought whatever Atari had with no guarantees of what that entailed. That’s due to the basic nature of a bankruptcy sale. If Atari had non-transferable rights, then they did not transfer in the bankruptcy sale. “Stardock bought ____ specifically” is the major misinformation that is going around when this is discussed.

            1. Atari had a separate deal to *start* to sell Star Control 1&2 back when Atari started selling them on GOG without permission. Atari was notified that they did not have permission. Atari checked with their own lawyers who confirmed that Atari did not have any current rights to sell Star Control 1 & 2. Atari made a public apology. (I know that because I read it back when it happened.) Atari then struck a non-transferable deal with Ford and Reiche to start selling Star Control 1&2 on GOG. Part of that agreement included that Atari could not fuck with the Ur-quan Masters freeware project. (Atari had started to fuck with it.)
            2. There is an academic argument to be made only. Ford and Reiche have made it clear they don’t care anything that happens with Star Control 3. Stardock may or may not have gotten the rights to SC3. Nobody is stopping them nor claiming otherwise. It could be public domain. It could be owned by a hobo somewhere. It is irrelevant. Note that having the rights to sell SC3 does not give rights to make a new game. No matter what it is a derivative work based on SC1&2 and therefore anyone owning any stake in SC3 has very limited rights. In fact the license for SC3 was for a single game. Not blanket, not multiples. The statement “Ford and Reiche have no rights to Star Control 3” is simply incorrect. It ignores how derivative works work.
            3. This is a bit more complex. The trademarks from Atari likely expired because you must be doing something (like selling a product) to keep them valid. Too many years went where nothing happened. However this is a moot point. Stardock likely currently have trademarks to Star Control. This is because Stardock registered them and nobody claimed otherwise. Trademarks have to be objected against or else they become invalid. However the alien names were never trademarked in the past. Furthermore when Stardock started recently to mass trademark everything they could think of (like alien names), then those trademarks were objected. There is no reason to grant those trademarks to Stardock. Furthermore it violates the later agreement with Atari not to fuck with freeware project.

            Side Note to point #2 above: The statement “Ford and Reiche have no rights to Star Control 3; Stardock bought that” is incorrect. Stardock could only have bought some limited rights to Star Control 3 if Atari had them to sell. The licensing agreement Ford and Reiche made with Accolade to allow SC3 to be made came with conditions. Among those conditions, Ford and Reiche had to be paid royalties. If royalties were not paid, then not only was the licensing agreement terminated, but also the copyrights to Starcontrol 3 became the sole property of Ford and Reiche. (However like I said above, this is a academic point.)

            A)Can’t sell something that is non-transferable. B)Don’t own something that expired. C)Fail to live up to your side of an agreement, then the agreement is terminated. D)Can’t claim ownership of something you have no proof of owning. It really isn’t that complicated. What is complicating it is deliberate FUD.

            1. guy says:

              No, 2 actually matters; if the agreement hasn’t lapsed Stardock bought the rights to make new games using some portion of the IP from Star Control 2, because, among other things, the Orz appeared in Star Control 3, and the agreement wasn’t for just one game. There was at least some effort to make a fourth that fell through.

              But Ford and Rieche are arguing:

              Accolade never paid Reiche any advances or royalties under Addendum No. 3 after the initial advance of $10,000 in 1998 because it never released another Star Control game. On information and belief, Accolade also paid no royalties to Reiche and Ford for sales of the Classic Star Control Games after 2000 at the latest, indicating that it had stopped selling them. Thus, the 1988 License Agreement and Addenda Nos. 1-3 expired and terminated no later than April 1, 2001, either by virtue of expiration of the term set forth therein and/or Accolade’s failure to pay royalties. Thus, all rights to Star Control, Star Control II, and Reiche’s Preexisting Characters used in Star Control 3 reverted to Reiche on or about April 1, 2001.

              (they elsewhere note further evidence supporting that it was definitely expired by 2004).

              1. guy says:

                I will note that I think Ford and Rieche are at least largely in the right (Star Control trademark I’m not sure about) but as there are ongoing lawsuits over these topics they’re clearly in dispute at the moment, and the part that actually confuses me is that both sides seem to concur that if the agreement had not lapsed Stardock would have the right to use some but not all of the material and that Ford and Rieche definitely don’t own the Star Control trademark; they’re pushing to have it invalidated rather than given to them.

                1. Steve C says:

                  Ford and Rieche have been consistent over the years from when the freeware project appeared. They don’t care about the Star Control name. They don’t like the SC3 stuff and don’t want to be associated with it. Which is different than “both sides seem to concur that…” which is not a good descriptor. They don’t care what happens to it. It’s like if someone abandoned a car in your yard. Technically it is yours but you don’t like it, don’t want it and if someone stole it in the middle of the night, who cares? Color of right isn’t a factor if you don’t care.

                  What F&R care about is a very narrow set of things. IE the stuff in SC1&2. They are very hands off everything else as long as nobody claims ownership over SC1&2 or its component parts. When Atari started selling it, Atari was reigned in. When Stardock started selling it, they were asked to stop and instead Stardock escalated by claiming the moon. (Somehow Stardock believes they gained more rights than Atari did.) Origins doesn’t even seem to be an issue for Ford and Rieche. It is bullshit like Stardock saying “You didn’t make it.” And trademarking every proper noun they could from SC2. Stardock already knows it has no rights or basis to trademark those things from SC2. The only reason Stardock could be doing it was to pick a fight. It is strong arm bully tactics and a PR campaign.

                  1. guy says:

                    Stardock is using some small amount of stuff from Star Control 1 and 2 that was in Star Control 3, namely the “Rieche’s original characters” referred to above. I don’t think Ford and Rieche think that’s a big deal but they put scrubbing it in their suit.

                    1. guy says:

                      They also specifically want to invalidate the Star Control trademark itself. It’s a counter-suit, so it’s got a bunch of things they wouldn’t normally bother to sue over in there. Probably if they settle they’d drop some of the arguments, but having them in there helps pressure Stardock.

      3. Looking at all the comments about Star Control this is a fine mess indeed.

        My advise if anyone is ever planning on buying the licenses from someone (who bought the licenses) and plan to make new games (or properties), always renegotiated a new license with the original copyright holder.
        Usually (but not always) if you buy a “used” license to an IP that license probably only covers the existing library of games for example.

        Example: Company A goes bankrupt and Company B buys the entire game catalog. If any of those games are licensed games then Company B could re-release/continue selling them without issues. But they probably can’t make sequels as only Company A may have had those rights.
        If Company B bought Company A and made it a daughter company then Company A could continue making sequels though.

        This is why you sometimes see a game or production company get bought, retain the name then after a while gets renamed, and maybe later merged with another or into the main company. It’s probably due to the property licenses which has to be properly transferred to the mother company (by untangling a legal mess or by renegotiating in secret).

        1. guy says:

          Licensed works are usually relatively clear, but any reasonably large project can have different rights owned by different people. For one particularly dramatic example, Terry Nation is the creator of the Daleks but not Doctor Who, so he couldn’t make more Doctor Who stuff separate from the BBC and the BBC can’t use Daleks without licensing them from him. I think at this point that’s become basically a non-issue with a standing license from his estate, but it led to complications with overseas reruns when he was trying to launch a Dalek series.

  6. melted says:

    Third paragraph, “(The choices don’t all cleave along that particular line, but”: the end of the sentence is missing.

  7. The Rocketeer says:

    [Sapkowski] shouldn’t be penalized for failing to predict what was at the time an unlikely financial success.

    How lucky, then, that he isn’t being “penalized” at all. No one can be penalized by not being given a truckload of cash by someone that didn’t agree to give it to them any more than I am being penalized by the state lottery for not having picked the winning numbers for the last seventy consecutive weeks. CDPR didn’t lie to Sapkowski; they didn’t trick him; they didn’t conceal anything he was entitled to know. That the Witcher games turned out to be successful and profitable is irrelevant to their agreement; the idea that Sapkowski would have grounds to sue CD Projekt Red because the company (and Sapkowski himself!) didn’t negotiate his fee on the assumption that they would adapt his work into a string of surprise hits is ridiculous, and if Polish law grants that CDPR is on the hook for it, then Polish law is a ass— a idiot. But I won’t be surprised if they reach a settlement, unless Sapkowski really tries to bleed them behind closed doors; there’s no way CDPR wants the publicity of the suit, which will paint them in a very negative light— wrongly, but inevitably.

    It’s one of the most important lessons you can learn in you life, and one that will save you a lot of misery: you can’t spend what you ain’t got, and you can’t lose what you never had.

  8. Christopher says:

    Hey, nice to see you back Bob : D

    I’m hopeful Sapkowski might get at least some of the millions for his work. I guess this is my social democrat European shining through compared to the Americans, but I’m much more on the side of “You made a bad deal, let’s revisit this and get you a more deserved sum for your work” than “fuck you got mine, a deal’s a deal”. Even if he’s supposed to be an ass and a half about the video games. I remember Russ Pitts writing in his book that one of the things he’d do for his employees if they asked was change the nature of what kinda contract(rights to the show etc) his content providers at the Escapist had, if they felt they had made a bad call. It’s one of the few good things he could say about working for the Escapist, and I think that’s a lot more noble than not being willing to negotiate past getting someone’s signature. If the author of your games’ entire world, setting, characters and many storylines sold it to you for pennies, then giving him more money when you hit big isn’t outrageous to me, it’s fair.

    The ending requirements surprised the hell out of me, ’cause not only is it the opposite of what you’d think, it sounds like you’ll be locked out of content for some of them(not going to meet the lodge, not following Ciri). I respect it, but mostly ’cause I heard about it through osmosis first. I imagine I would’ve made a bad bet otherwise.

    1. Fon says:

      I’m fine with Sapkowski getting more money, and I’m fine with revising an agreement to give the other party a better deal… The problem is the actions Sapkowski took. If he wanted to negotiate, then he should have done so without involving the court of law. I don’t know about you, but I’d consider suing someone a hostile (albeit legal) action.

      But in Sapkowski’s defense, maybe he did negotiate already, but isn’t satisfied with the settlement. (Whether the settlement was already fair or not is another question.) Or maybe CDPR refused to negotiate altogether, but I think that’s unlikely, though I could be wrong.

      Either way, even though Sapkowski might deserve a bigger cut, I can’t say I like the way he is handling this, at least not from what I hear so far. (Which isn’t much, admittedly.)

      1. guy says:

        It should be noted that to date he’s just threatening a lawsuit, and CD Projekt Red’s official response is basically that he has no valid legal claim but they always like to keep good relations with authors of the works they license so they’ll talk.

    2. guy says:

      I don’t object to him getting a larger cut of the profits, but I do object to the idea he’s entitled to them in a legally binding manner. That, essentially, CD Projekt Red did not get what they bought from him, particularly when he actually turned down their offer to give him royalties in favor of an upfront cut; CD Projekt Red had to come up with the cash to pay him before they sold a single copy. So I view threatening legal action as outright renging on the deal.

    3. lurkey says:

      Yeah, I want him to get a little richer as well; after all, whenever there’s talk about how great “Witcher” series is, it’s not about how great swordplay, UI or engine is — it’s always about the story, the world, the characters. And those all are on Sapkowski. (I’m not a fan of American capitalism here as well).

      The sum is a bit outlandish, of course, but that’s just popular tactics: the other side will always try — and succeed — lowering it down, so the higher you start, the better deal you get in the end.

      I wonder why he only did it now. I’d like to imagine that Netflix people came over to negotiate rights for that TV series, he told them about his deal, they went all “You did WHAT?! …okay. Lets see if we can do something about that. Professional honor it at stake.”

      1. guy says:

        I want him to get richer but I think him successfully suing over this would be bad; if he actually compelled them to pay out then the next time an author responds to an offer to license the rights to their work in return for royalties by saying they’d rather be paid up front and not get royalties, the company is going to say “Ehh, remember Sapkowski? Pass, we’ll find someone else who just wants royalties instead of an upfront payment and then probably royalties later” and if CD Projekt Red had said that to begin with we’d never have had The Witcher at all.

      2. Jeff says:

        The story, the world, and the characters may be Sapkowski, but the storytelling has a far bigger impact than that source material. That’s all CDPR.

        The story, the world, and the characters would be utterly irrelevant and panned if it was turned into a corridor hack’n’slash under EA’s BioWare.

    4. Groz says:

      I guess this is my social democrat European shining through compared to the Americans

      Wouldn’t this be more of a Common Law contract issue though?

    5. Gaius Maximus says:

      Usually, I’d be inclined to agree with you. But this is not a case of a more powerful corporation taking advantage of an artist. When this deal was made, CDPR was a tiny company and Sapkowski was already a popular author. If there was any power imbalance in this deal, it was on Sapkowski’s side. Sapkowski had a choice between Option A) guaranteed money, and Option B) maybe a lot more money, maybe no money. No one’s suggested that CDPR lied to him, hid information from him, or tried to strongarm him in any way. He picked Option A of his own free will, and now that B turned out to be a lot more money, he wants that too. If there ever was a classic case of someone trying to have his cake and eat it too, this is it. He wants the money from A, and now that the risk of B is over, he wants the money from B too, If he succeeds in having it both ways like this, I would say that in the future, Option A shouldn’t be allowed. The author should have to share the risks, rather than be guaranteed the better outcome either way.

      As others have pointed it out, he’s profited plenty indirectly from the games already. Lots of people, including me, bought his books who never would have heard of them without the games. (Kind of regret that purchase now that I see what an ass he is). The Netflix series would never have happened without the games. I hope he doesn’t get a time from CDPR.

    6. Agammamon says:

      Keep in mind that he is getting a lot of money still for the workd *CDPR* did. CDPR has added a loooooot of value to his IP – its why those books took off and sold so well in the West when they otherwise would have been nearly unknown and why he’s getting a Netflix series.

      Honestly, and this is my opinion only, people keep forgetting that the value added to an IP goes both ways and if he deserves more for the work CDPR did, then CDPR deserves a cut of the money he’s making for his other deals.

  9. Synapse says:

    Interesting, personally those dialogue choices and others ofc didnt feel unfair at all (the closest is probably the snowball one but i don’t see how they could’ve shown both options and not make it way too obvious what to pick). Judging them on the context of the scene and character (Ciri in this instance) was enough. For example the Avallach one i did see it as being sarcastic, just Geralt suggesting Ciri to let her frustration out, much better than keeping it all bottled up and theres no way she can control her powers that easily anyway. Just my personal experience though I do see how someone else can interpret scenes way differently.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      The thing about the choices is that they become more obvious in retrospect. This one specifically is the difference between helping Ciri vent and relax (the snowball fight) and technically undermining the necessity of her training in controlling her powers (“you don’t have to be good at everything”). I do think the one major hint the game drops at you regarding the choices is when the elven sorceress tells Geralt it’s important for Ciri to be strong and capable of dealing with things on her own or something along the lines.

      Also, to be fair, far as I remember getting the baseline good ending requires you to get three out of five choices right so it’s not like a perfect playthrough is necessary.

      1. Synapse says:

        For me there was an even earlier (hint? more of a suggestion i suppose) from Dandelion who after being rescued plainly tells Geralt that Ciri isn’t the little girl you rescued last time, she can take care of her self.

      2. Jeff says:

        I think “you don’t have to be good at everything” is absolutely 100% obviously bad advice. There is no possible interpretation rather than discouraging in the context of trying to learn something.

        If your child is having difficulty trying to learn a skill and you tell them they “don’t have to be good at everything”, you’re effectively undermining their efforts and telling them not to bother.

  10. Sarfa says:

    I think one of the more interesting things about this sequence of choices with Ciri is how it mirrors the first game’s choices with Alvin. Especially with how the right choices with Ciri were the wrong choices for Alvin (because one’s about twenty and is thus a young adult where the other was six and thus firmly a child). That is, with Alvin a lot of the time the right choices were “you child, me adult, this is how it is.” where with Ciri the right choices are typically ones along the lines of “you can make your own choices and I’ll support you in those choices.”

    1. Synapse says:

      Hmmm interesting never thought about it that way, i do remember being more protective with Alvin (him wanting to learn sword fighting and all that comes to mind).

  11. Jabberwok says:

    I had thought that I wanted to avoid all spoilers for this game, but now I’m glad I read this. There’s nothing in games that I find more annoying than obtuse dialogue summaries and timed responses. Kind of sad that they chose to go that direction. I’ll probably just look up a walkthrough for those moments.

    1. Synapse says:

      I would really suggest not to but its your choice, its not exactly as simple as choosing a bad option automatically means you’ll get a bad ending. Although totally get why some people feel the way you do.

  12. Redrock says:

    The thing with the choices is curious. Somehow, I nailed each of those on the first attempt and got the good ending. Can’t honestly say why. Were the responses slightly more clear in the Russian version? I don’t think so, but that could be it. But mostly, I think you have to figure out that all of those are about encouragement. Now, that’s not applicable for every real parenting situation, but that is what they were going for in the game. That’s why you say “go for it” instead of “calm down”. It’s not about saying the best thing, it’s about making an effort to overcome a parent’s desire to second guess their child. At least I think that’s the arc the developers had in mind.

    1. Jabberwok says:

      That makes sense, but it doesn’t sound like that intention is communicated to the player very well. And having to guess the developer’s intention is usually a sign of either bad writing or poor dialogue mechanics. This is why I hate dialogue summaries. Before voiced protagonists, most RPGs would show everything your character was going to say before you said it. And a well written game would allow the player to reason out how the world was likely to react to each choice based on its phrasing and content. On the other hand, the Mass Effect approach obfuscates even the player character’s reaction to a choice, which kind of kills roleplaying. Which is old news by now, so it’s depressing to realize that even a game like this is guilty of it.

      Imagine trying to be an actual father in a universe where you only get to make one decision per day, and your brain can only give you a three word summary of it.

      1. Redrock says:

        I think the problem here is more that neither of the possible parenting choices seem like they merit being the difference between Ciri living or dying. So that can rightfully annoy people. Also, I once again wonder whether Witcher 3 is supposed to completely work narratively without the player being familiar with the books. To me, a lot of my understanding and emotional responses hinge on my prior knowledge of the series and the characters. I don’t know how much the developers accounted for that factor.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          I think the problem here is more that neither of the possible parenting choices seem like they merit being the difference between Ciri living or dying.

          Oh yes. Yes, indeedy.
          But We’ll get to that in time (i.e when Bob covers the ending).

        2. Fnord says:

          No one choice is the difference between her living or dying, though, because you don’t need to get all of them right.

          IRC, you need to make three out of five wrong choices to get the bad ending, so unless you take Emyhr’s money or don’t let her visit Skjall’s grave (both of which are pretty clear choices, I think) you have to get all three other ones wrong to get the bad ending.

          1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

            I don’t know about taking the money, that seems like a pretty Gerald-y thing to do.

            But it would depend entirely on the attitude Gerald uses. If he treats it like a business transaction (I hand you girl, you wipe away the debt), then that’s obviously bad. But an attitude of “I helped Ciri so i’m happy, but hey free money” seems very much in line with a mercenary.
            They could also add some extra dialogue where Geralt and Ciri discuss this. Which is how two grown adults should resolve their conflicts and misunderstandings anyway, so that would align with the “treat Ciri like an adult” theme of these choices.

  13. Zaxares says:

    While Sapkowski’s behaviour does generally strike me as being sour grapes here (for perspective, George Lucas did something similar back when he first made Star Wars, giving his financiers all of the profits from the movie showings in exchange for taking all of the merchandising rights. They probably laughed at George behind his back, but when Star Wars became a super-duper-mega-hit and royalties for Star Wars toys, books, lunchboxes etc. came FLOODING IN, those same people could only rue their decision), I think it would be an awesome PR move for CD Projekt if they acceded to his request and, if not give him the lion’s share, at least give him a more reasonable share of the profits. CDP has basically staked their reputation on being the “morally right” publisher in the business, and refusing to budge on this issue, while legally within their rights, can also damage this reputation which is so crucial to their business model.

    1. guy says:

      George Lucas made the opposite call from Sapkowski, giving up reasonably guaranteed immediate profits in return for unknown future profits that weren’t expected to be significant; movie merchandising wasn’t a major source of income for movies until Star Wars made it big.

      1. Zaxares says:

        I know, but my point was that George Lucas was basically the opposite, yet similar, scenario that Sapkowski is in. Lucas gambled on his vision making it big, and it paid off in spades. Sapkowski didn’t take the risk, but now that the Witcher games are raking it in, he’s regretting his decision. If Star Wars had turned out to be a monumental flop, wouldn’t everybody be chastising Lucas for not playing it safe and taking the lower, but reasonably guaranteed ticket returns?

      2. Boobah says:

        I rather thought that was Zaxares’s point; Lucas took the risky option and made tons more money than the people who payed for the movie to get made. To be fair, those financial backers still made out better than they had expected, even if they missed out on the big money, while Sapkowski agreed to a flat fee.

  14. Chris says:

    I really hated the choices in the game because of how vague they were. When I try to take her by the hand when she has to negotiate with a bunch of vipers I’m being overprotective and she should be respected as an adult, but when she feels hate towards the elf I should indulge her in her childish tantrum. The elf might be a bit weird, but he did help ciri.

    As for Sapkowski. I can see how it can feel unfair you lose out on so much money, and I get why there is a law that protects authors like this. But In this case I think it is kind of petty, he still has the HBO series that is going to give him a lot of money and it is not like he is a homeless man that could really use the money. Especially when he said he doesn’t like what the games do with his IP. I know that doesn’t have any legal impact but still. You’re too good for the writing of the games, but you still want the money. And if the stories that CPR was trying to be lenient to Sapkowski by getting him hooked up later down the road are true, it is especially petty.

  15. baud says:

    I think the video above is the first time I’ve heard Ciri’s voice.

  16. Vinsomer says:

    I really like how the Witcher 3 does it choices. You really have no way of knowing what the consequences will be, just like real life. And having the effects of choices occur hours after making them is a great way to force players to stick with their actions and not reload/try to game the system for favourable outcomes. Is it perfect? Nope. But it’s something a lot of games should learn from.

    I don’t like the vagueness of the UI, but at the same time, the game is trying to really sell the idea of Ciri being her own person. You don’t know how she’ll react to the things you say: a lot of the things like trashing Avallac’h’s lab are really Geralt following Ciri’s lead. In that sense, what leads to the ‘good ending’ is obvious: letting her be her own person, being supportive, not controlling. And being supportive means offering a shoulder to cry on, or helping her feel better when she’s sad, angry or frustrated. And knowing when to back off.

    What’s funny is some players complain about getting the bad ending as though 1. they are entitled to have the ending they want to have and 2. they aren’t exactly the same as parents who smother/stifle their children, who later have bad relationships with them. Bad parents often don’t think they’ve done anything wrong, especially if they always did what they thought was best, which is telling.

    The last thing is the player has a lot of chances to ensure they get the ‘good’ ending (the one where Ciri lives). You have to consistently make ‘bad’ choices (3 out of 5) for Ciri to die, so even if one or two are somewhat unintuitive, players still have a chance to make the ‘right’ choices.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      In that sense, what leads to the ‘good ending’ is obvious: letting her be her own person, being supportive, not controlling. And being supportive means offering a shoulder to cry on, or helping her feel better when she’s sad, angry or frustrated. And knowing when to back off.

      As I pointed out in the last ‘Dad Games’ article Bob did, there isn’t a clear consensus on what is ‘good’ parenting is. Loads of people know what being a good parent means and – shocker – they almost always mean something different from each other.

      Also, while I’m fine with Ciri being her own person who’ll make her own choices*, I’m less so with Geralt doing that. That guy spent a lot of time doing things I didn’t want, because I misinterpreted his dialogue options. There was a lot of ‘well shit, if I’d known you were going to do that…’
      Not fun when it’s the player’s avatar.

      *Fallout: New Vegas and Veronica Santangelo’s quest come to mind here. One of my favorite quests of all time, because it’s about how she handles people she cares about making choices she disagrees with.

      1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

        It also doesn’t really work well if you think Ciri is making BAD choices.

        She’s got a ton of magic power that she doesn’t always in fully control, bears a ton of responsibility, has some very powerful people gunning for her, and harbors some serious resentment about it all. And if she screws up somewhere, the consequences could range from having a learning moment to failing to stop the literal apocalypse.

        On top of that, several of the “bad” choices (as presented) don’t really undermine her directly, but simply seem to offer a more cautious path: Don’t go magic nuke on the magical lab of the ancient elf wizard. If you negotiate with a bunch of underhanded machiavellian schemers, take some backup with you. Don’t push yourself past the breaking point.

        Doubly important because this is the Witcher series, and they are absolutely capable of having important characters die if they constantly do reckless, selfdestructive things.

        1. Vinsomer says:

          It works fine if you think Ciri’s making bad choices, because that is exactly the point. Ciri is impulsive, rash, and often frustrated: she deliberately defies Geralt (and in doing so saves the day at Kaer Morhen) before you get to the point where you make any decisions which affect Ciri in the ending.

          Like, if you didn’t get that trusting Ciri’s judgement is often for the best, and that her listening to you while you try to protect her won’t actually win, then I don’t know what to say. The game straight up signals the values the player should have in mind when making choices. Not everyone will pick up on that, but hey, a lot of parents don’t pick up on the obvious warning signs that their parenting isn’t the best.

          And Ciri might be reckless (but only really at a stretch), but she certainly isn’t anywhere near ‘self-destructive’. Yes, a lot of characters do die after reckless actions. But most of those characters tend to die for their pride, hubris, greed, or straight up stupidity – traits Ciri shares none of.

          But, really, I don;’t think it’s best to frame the choices as ‘good/bad’. There are certainly favourable and unfavourable outcomes, but it’s really about how Geralt as a Father helps guide Ciri into becoming an adult, and not players choosing an arbitrary and unknowable ‘right’ option. Ciri can become the kind of adult who is confident, independent and believes in herself – you just have to choose choices that help her deal with her emotions, and that respect her as an adult. Yes, backup at the Lodge would be nice, and she has it in Yen and Triss. Geralt going with her is specifically framed by Philippa as him not trusting Ciri as an adult. Come on, CDPR are practically doing all the choices for you at that point.

          Anyway, it’s always the case that some players feel screwed. Everyone wants the good ending, nobody wants to reflect on the choices they made and how that led to the ending they got.

      2. Vinsomer says:

        No, there isn’t consensus on what ‘good’ parenting is. However, in most professional/scientific views of parenting, pedagogy, child psychology and development etc., things like helicopter parenting and not trusting your children are broadly seen as either not the best parenting style, or actually damaging to a child’s development. Like a lot of the ‘soft’ sciences, people think that everything’s just a matter of opinion, when it isn’t. Some parenting styles are better than others, especially during certain stages of development, and most research supports this. As Bob also says, being a good parent to a teenager/young adult (especially girls) is more about learning when to trust and let go, rather than being overprotective.

        And I definitely agree that some choices could be better labelled. But it’s only really the snowball fight/drinking one that isn’t, and if you pick the ‘wrong’ choice there, you can still get another ‘wrong’ choice and still have Ciri survive. Also, if you choose a choice that you’re immediately dissatisfied with, you can just reload: the choices seem to have been built to prevent reloading based upon long-term outcomes, not misreadings of the given options.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          So it’s not so much that I disagree about principles of parenting but think that there are a lot of different ways in which to do very, very similar things – especially in something as complex as dealing with another person.
          And games (by necessity) can’t reflect this. More often that not I knew what I would say/do, but the option didn’t come up, so I had to pick the closest option.

          I definitely agree that some choices could be better labelled. But it’s only really the snowball fight/drinking one that isn’t

          Not sure about this. For instance, going to see the Emperor struck me as a really bad idea at the time.
          Ciri’s just woken you up with a time-sensitive mission she obviously cares about. Do you:
          A) Go with her immediately, incidentally helping with the Wild Hunt situation,
          or B) Put off the imminent, looming threat of the Wild Hunt to spend a week travelling through a warzone so that Ciri can meet the father she doesn’t like.
          I also (wrongly, it turns out) assumed that a week-long diversion to Nilfgaard would mean Imlerith and the Crones’s party would be over. But apparently the Sabbath lasts longer than a week?

          Regarding the Lodge of Sorceresses: Without the obvious option of just ASKING her if she wants you to be there*, you’re stuck between a somewhat dismissive ‘you’ll be fine’ and a controlling ‘won’t let you go alone’. Neither of which I was really happy saying.
          I went and made a point of not saying anything, in the hopes that I’d be providing moral support – which was wrong.
          *Like you would an adult who knows what she wants…

          1. Vinsomer says:

            Actually, going to the Emperor leads to the bad ending, that is if you take money from Emhyr in front of Ciri. Not going never contribute towards Ciri dying. It only means that if she lives, she’ll become a witcher instead of Empress.

            Of becoming empress vs becoming a witcher, well the fanbase is split on which is the ‘good’ ending, which is why I called them favourable/unfavourable.

            You don’t actually go to Nilfgaard. You go to Vizima, which is in the Northern Realms. Hence why Emhyr is staying there: it’s closer to the front. I think I can also just accept the Sabbath thing as they formulate their plans well in advance of the Sabbath and not a few days/weeks before. Sure, there’s not a lot in the text to suggest this but I make this kind of allowance all the time.

            And yes, maybe some choices don’t give players every option they would make. But I think it’s worth pointing out that Geralt tagging along is specifically framed as helicopter parenting, so why you would assume that you could go along and it wouldn’t be like that is weird. Also, Geralt is neither invited nor a sorceress so he has no place there.

            Like I said, the choices are either abouit giving Ciri the trust and independence she needs to become confident and strong enough to survive, meaning that she starts at a place where she isn’t those things. Ciri doesn’t speak up because she’s used to having the adults, be it Avallac’h, Geralt or Yennefer, do the speaking for her. She can’t be asked what she wants because she doesn’t have the confidence to speak up about it – I imagine if you did ask, she’d just defer to Geralt’s judgement anyway.

    2. Jabberwok says:

      My problem with games hiding consequence because it’s ‘like real life’ is that it really isn’t. Yes, real life is unpredictable, but choices in real life are infinite and granular, never binary. If you make a mistake in real life, you have countless chances to change your behavior, to mitigate consequences or to adapt to your new situation. Games writing is incapable of offering this level of control. You make one single choice that locks you into a pattern of behavior for every moment after that, whereas in real life, none of those subsequent actions would be set in stone. As a result, if I have no ability to predict how my character might act in the future based on a choice made now, then I have no meaningful control over the character.

      If a game like The Walking Dead wants to make a point of making everything feel arbitrary, that’s one thing [that I still personally don’t like], but it’s generally not what I’m looking for in an RPG.

      1. Jabberwok says:

        Hmm, I hope this response didn’t sound hostile. I should clarify that I think you’re right that a game that telegraphs the nature of its choices is perhaps not realistic. But I think it’s somewhat necessary because choice in games is fundamentally unrealistic in other ways, so designers compensate for that. When they do not, the result is unfair in a very different way from reality.

        1. Vinsomer says:

          I didn’t take it as hostile, so don’t worry.

        2. Vinsomer says:

          Also, games are often caught between what’s ‘fair’ and what’s ‘realistic’, but for some genres, realism (or at least internal consistency/verisimilitude) definitely trump ‘fairness’, and I would count RPGs, sold on the immersive aspects of their worlds, to be one of them. Simulations would also be another example. Prioritising ‘fairness’ over ‘realism’ in a sim would almost certainly ruin it.

          And how would you define fair? Is a choice ‘fair’ if both outcomes are roughly even in terms of desirability and material gain/loss? Doesn’t that hugely limit the kind of choices that games can have to the point of rather obvious (and immersion shattering) contrivance? What about if a choice tells you the outcomes before you make it? Well, that means the player has privileged information no other actor in the story has as the basis for their decision-making. That is also not ‘fair’.

          I’d much rather prefer unpredictable, realistic choices to ‘fair’ ones.

          1. Jabberwok says:

            I think the main issue for me is not how the world responds, but the player character. The events of the world can spiral far beyond my control, but if the moment to moment choices of the character I’m playing are doing the same, the plot begins to feel contrived. Suddenly, it’s less as if I’m inhabiting a world, and more as if the author is forcing me to listen to the story they want to tell. This is doubly true if the game is implying that an outcome was caused by a choice I made, and yet a hundred choices have been made by my avatar since then that I had no say in. Where was the meaningful choice in that chain? Was this really something I did, or just something the writer wants to blame on me?

            The other problem is when the logical threads between player agency and world response are tenuous or nonexistent. In fact, Bob’s video on choice and consequence summarizes it nicely. The Mass Effect 2 ending is full of nonsensical connections between your actions and the game’s outcome. The basic concept is not bad: your friend died because you didn’t form a close enough bond with them. But the execution frequently does not demonstrate this concept at all, and so the heavy hand of the author is obvious. The other discussed example was the Fallout 1 water merchants, which involves a single decision whose outcome has far reaching consequences the player might not foresee, and yet is completely logical. I haven’t actually played The Witcher 3 yet, but it sounds like basing Ciri’s survival on a very vague set of dialogue responses falls more toward the ME end of the spectrum.

            But the former is the larger issue, I think. I don’t mind not being the center of a power fantasy, but a disconnect between avatar and player is just going to damage my belief in the story. And this seems to be more of an issue in high budget games with a voiced protagonist, where the script is more likely to be constrained.

            1. Vinsomer says:

              I think you’re being somewhat unfair and not taking into account the way these choices are framed.

              With Ciri, during the fight at Kaer Morhen Geralt tells Ciri to stay away from the battlefield. Then, when Vesemir is killed, Geralt is frozen and all hope is lost, Ciri uses her powers to save the day and defeat the Wild Hunt. The message is clear: you won’t be able to win, or at least win without sacrifice, unless you put your faith in Ciri and allow her to use her gifts.

              And I don’t want to shut you down, but I think this is the difference between playing the game and not. Because when you play it, you’ll notice that the game subtly steers you towards certain decisions, that dialogue and thematic elements all guide the player towards the ‘good’ ending, which is why I don’t really buy the complaints from players who feel shafted by Ciri’s death – you had to be inattentive on numerous occasions to achieve that outcome.

              The funny thing with ME2’s ending is that it’s not the author who decides who lives and who dies at all. It works like this: your team has a ‘hold the line’ score, and each squadmate contributes to that score. How much they contribute depends on who they are (Zaeed, Garrus and Jacob all contribute a lot due to their combat-focused role and military experience, while Kasumi, Tali and Jack are weaker due to not being soldiers), whether or not they’re loyal and whether they are suited to the task you assign them to during the Suicide mission. Beyond that, people can die if you don’t upgrade the part of the ship they inhabit but any player paying attention to the dialogue and upgrade system will be able to see this. So it’s not the author forcing the deaths of certain characters. Who lives and dies depends on a whole bunch of different decisions, many of which are purely strategic. Loyal characters can die because the HTL score is too low, if they aren’t the highest scoring character in the group. So you’re seeing the author’s intention where it doesn’t exist.

              So who dies makes perfect sense, if you actually break it down. It sounds like you want a more simplistic system where it’s easily predictable who lives and dies based solely on loyalty, and the attempt to introduce unpredictability and ‘realism’ by having it be based on a number of different factors such as the character’s role, skillset, assignment, and arbitrary aspects like where they inhabit on the ship which make perfect sense.

      2. Vinsomer says:

        I don’t think they hide consequences because it’s like real life. I think they do it to improve the gameplay, and that includes making it realistic, but it goes beyond that.

        The problem with choices is that if the consequence follows shortly after, then players can just reload whenever they get an outcome they don’t like. Having consequences happen hours after choices both forces players to own their choices (so, essentially, to roleplay) and makes the world feel more real. In too many games a choice is offered, then a consequence, then it doesn’t matter for the rest of the playthrough. In TW3 the world feels so much more alive when you’re reminded of a choice you made hours ago in ways you didn’t expect. And yes, in real life you have no reloads, no strategy guide, no way of knowing what the outcome of many of your choices will be. You can make up for bad decisions but only if circumstances and people (who are all making their own choices, too) allow you to.

        Also, the way you say it, it’s almost like Geralt is this wholly unpredictable, when he isn’t. TW3 doesn’t lock you out of options because you took the wrong ones unlike, say, the Paragon/Renegade system of Mass Effect. Not only is Ciri surviving/dying pretty predictable if you pay attention to the themes of the game (especially during Kaer Morhen), but it logically makes sense once you stop thinking ‘let’s try to guess the values of the dev team to scry what the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ choices are’ and instead think ‘what kind of adult should I help Ciri become?’

        And yes, games are going to be limited by the fact that they must be written, so content paths can’t be as porous or freeform as other mediums. But I don’t think holding the inevitable limits of the form against a game is a particularly useful criticism, at least not in this case. You’ll never be able to make every choice you can IRL, at least not in anything recognisable as a video game by modern design standards.

        1. Synapse says:

          The point you made a while about framing these choices with Ciri as “good” or “bad” is limiting is great, Sure mechanically that’s how you can interpret them but thematically speaking and in context of the story its not that simple.

          Perhaps if the snowball/drinking choice was labeled as [Have a few drinks with Ciri]/[Have a snowball fight with Ciri] it would come across as more fair, but maybe even way to obvious what to do. Then again even in this case either option seems viable neither of them are just good/bad.

        2. Jabberwok says:

          Well, good to know that it makes some sense in context. I’m out of my element on the specifics, since I haven’t played it yet.

          As to game choice being limited, that is not necessarily a problem. But it is, to me, why CRPGs specifically need to telegraph how a choice the player makes will be interpreted by the player’s character. Because we can’t make every decision, it makes sense to expect the choices we don’t make to be consistent with the ones we do. Which is why dialogue summaries are terrible. I don’t need to know how everything will affect the world in advance, but I do want to know what my character is going to do when I click a button. If the button is labelled ‘Pass the butter,’ but then Geralt shouts it while threatening his friend with a knife, which leads to a duel that turns into a battle that results in the whole town burning down, I’m more likely to feel that the writers are railroading me and not deftly demonstrating the butterfly effect.

  17. Christopher Wolf says:

    I was reading about this through the linked article and a person in the comments there made an excellent point:


    02/10/18 12:32PM

    @EvilMonkeyPL He “did” profited from CD Project’s games though. One could very easily argue that his novels are still being sold because of CD project, and that the netflix serie exists solely because of people’s interest in the games.

    While I don’t like when an author doesn’t get the money he deserves, he was offered a percentage and refused. He has also been outspoken about his dislike for the medium. I’m sure that if he had offered to help the writing team or work on the games CD project would have happily brought him on board (just like they did with Mike Pondsmith).

    This is really kind of petty.

    This makes sense to me in that he has profited greatly from selling the game, just not directly from the company he sold the rights to. They both made each other money, and now he wants more. Maybe they should even give him more to make things “right” with him, but to act like he didn’t benefit from the relationship is disingenuous.

    1. FluffySquirrel says:

      From what I’m aware of, the guy is pretty arrogant, and probably considers all the success of the Witcher 3 entirely due to his setting writing skills, rather than it having been made an incredibly good game

      I would agree that he should maybe get a bit more of a payout, but everything about his actions just makes him seem like a bit of a git, and he certainly doesn’t deserve the full settlement he’s asking for

  18. MadTinkerer says:

    So, in a nutshell, there’s this guy who wrote a bunch of fantasy novels in another language, and he sold the rights to make a game based on his characters. Then the game does so well that the books get translated and actually read by people who are interested in the books because of the game. But all this super-expensive free advertising isn’t enough for the guy, and he wants a bigger cut.

    I wonder if this affected the decision to make the next major big budget project not a Witcher game?

    1. guy says:

      Factor, probably.

      I mean, if the options are pay him royalties/deal with a legal headache or go talk to Brandon Sanderson about him thinking about maybe giving them the Mistborn rights for free, my next big budget project would be The Final Empire.

  19. I also thought trying to predict the outcomes were unfair, and while I do feel somewhat guilty for looking up a walkthrough on how to get the good ending, I don’t regret it. If it was a 6 hour game maybe I would replay it if I screwed up, but I’m currently at 200+ hours which is not something I am going to re-do.

    I felt the same “rug pulled out from under you,” feeling a few times playing games like Deus Ex HR, and Telltale’s The Walking Dead. I remember in one instance Clementine did something kind of dumb and ran off or something without telling anybody, and the responses from Lee were along the lines of “Don’t do that, you scared me,” or “Good job.” Naturally I didn’t want to encourage a child to do things like that and chose the “You scared me,” option, thinking it would be said calmly like a caring father, but Lee flew off the F&!%ing rails! and left Clementine crying with the game reminding me that “Clementine will remember that.” Still kind of angry about that years later.

  20. Gautsu says:

    In regards of Sapkowski, I read an article that interviewed him right after Witcher 3 came out and started selling like hotcakes. In it he stated that they offered him a share a the profits, but that (paraphrasing here) he thought that video games were shit and not art, and that all he wanted was the equivalent of $8,000. CDPR then offered him more money, a larger amount, and he said no, just leave me alone and go do your thing I want no part of it.

    If what I recollect is true, Fuck this guy. The interview in his own words made it sound like CDPR went out of their way to involve him and give him more than what he asked for, and his own nature kept him from that. I have also heard that they tried to involve him again before Witcher 2 and the Witcher adventure game and he still wanted nothing to do with it.

    If the guy wasn’t such a dick my sympathies would be with him. But here is a person who has literally sneered at something not made by him making his creative works a worldwide name. And then regretting decisions that were only made because he was a dick.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Very much this. I posted a more lengthy anecdote below but basically the guy is well known for dissing on anything Witcher related that is not penned by him personally: video games, fan works, pen and paper RPG, the movie… true, some of this stuff is not the highest quality but still.

      I’d even hand it to him if he took the one time lump sum thinking “these guys have a passion project but it will never take off” but was generally supportive of the idea. But believe me, he was shitting all over the games since before the first one came out to anyone who would listen to him.

      The problem is that if this ends up in Polish court they may very well take his side because he is a “real writer” and so deserves respect, as opposed to those young disrespectful idiots who are making dem computer toys.

  21. skellie10 says:

    I understand where people who think Sapkowski deserves some of CDPR’s profits are coming from, but from a practical standpoint I just don’t think it’s reasonable. No doubt CDPR has already reinvested a large portion of those profits into new projects, and having to give them up at this stage could mean having to halt or slow production on some of them. Perhaps CDPR should owe Sapkowski some amount from their future profits, but the money that they have already made should be theirs to do with as they please.

    1. guy says:

      From a practical standpoint it’d be doable; they can’t pay him from the actual profits themselves at this point, probably, but money is money so they could pay him out of the profits from later projects over time. The practical issue I have is with the idea that they’d be legally forced to; that would have a severe chilling effect on people’s willingness to invest any profits because those investments might fail and someone they had contracted with might come back and demand a share of the profits they’ve invested and not made back, so they need a larger safety margin.

  22. Simplex says:

    “is going through the courts to get an additional $16 million out of CD Projekt. (Here’s just one of many articles written on the topic: )

    Did you actually read that linked article? Because it contains this sentence: “But whoa, slow down there. This isn’t a lawsuit, and Sapkowski’s lawyers say they aren’t interested in pushing that particular point.”
    It also contains the link to the letter send by Sapkowski’s lawyers (translated to English by CDPR).

    Also, I don’t know about rest of the world, but the Polish “memosphere” exploded with memes and jokes about this demand.

    1. guy says:

      Well, it has the sound of a legal threat carrying the implication he will sue if not paid. So it’s not accurate to say he’s going through the courts yet, but his lawyers are setting up to do so. He’s likely planning to settle without filing an actual lawsuit, but the only point of a threat letter is to convince the recipient the sender might sue. Otherwise all it does is piss the recipient off and make them likely to stand their ground out of spite.

    2. Andrzej Sapkowski says:

      Dej 60 milionuw, mem horo Ciri

  23. T-rex says:

    As for Sapkowski thing. I do not have any sympathy for him. CD-Projekt did everything for the last 16 years, he just sat on his ass doing nothing with the books(ok, he released a prequel in 2013, a weak at that and that’s basically it from him, not to mention that he stated that Witcher isn’t that good and “Trylogia Husycka” is his true masterpice…). Now he wants money although he got global recognition and a Netflix deal all thanks to the games(let’s face it, things very rarely do this well because they are good, they do because they are popular and before you say “but T-Rex, how would something bad become popular?” I’ll say 50 Shades of Grey) and he has the audacity to say that it’s because of his popularity the games are popular, which is bull****. The books were popular in Eastern Europe but they weren’t that popular. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about.

    1. T-rex says:

      Also, I’d like add what Glukhovsky said: I think that he’s totally wrong, and that he’s an arrogant mother******, Without the gaming franchise, the Witcher series would never get this crazy international readership that it has. And it’s not just about the gamers but the gaming press and the buzz it creates, and just the feeling of something great and massive and impressive coming out. This got people hooked. He would remain a local Eastern European phenomenon without this, but he would never break into the West. And the same goes for my Metro books.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        Also, trust me as someone who’s Polish and has been to numerous conventions this guy has attended, Sapkowski is a major asshole with entitlement issues. Here’s my favourite story about the guy cause I’ve personally been there for it. It was during a major convention some 20 years back (I think it was either 1999 or 2000 but honestly not sure). At the time we sorta knew there would be a Witcher movie but that was pretty much the extent of the fandom’s knowledge (the movie turned out crap by the way, so bad it would make a great MST3K material if a lot of the unintended humour wasn’t kinda hermetic to Poland). So there is one of those “author meeting” things with Sapkowski specifically, and the man enters the room and while still on his way to his seat states the following:

        -I’m not going to answer any questions about the movie…
        Which is fair enough, we have no idea how involved he is in the movie’s production, he might be under NDA, or he might not have a good opinion about the production and doesn’t want to dis the movie (he is notorious for his dislike of any Witcher property not penned by him, not just the games but the movie, fanworks, the pen and paper RPG…)
        -…unless an intelligence person ask them…
        Oh, okay. At this point this could still be read as a joke, maybe he’s kinda playfully pre-empting all the questions he’s already been asked.
        -…but far as I can tell there are no intelligent people for me to talk with in this room.
        This, and to make it absolutely clear he did not turn it into a joke.

        Since then I’ve generally tried to avoid whatever thing he’s invited to but I’ve heard stories that generally confirm this is not just a case of him having a bad day and his disposition has not improved since, Most conventions, when they do invite him, have at the very least learned not to put him on any authors’ panel as he’ll completely ignore everyone else and just go on about whatever it is he wants to talk about generally belittling whoever tries to interrupt him, be them from the audience, other authors on the panel or a moderator if there is one.

        1. RFS-81 says:

          …unless an intelligence person ask them…

          That’s a typo, right? Too bad. This would have been a much better joke. “This is a matter of national security! I can only answer questions that are approved by the intelligence agencies!”

          1. Sleeping Dragon says:

            It’s a typo, I was posting from work and translating into English on the fly

  24. Gautsu says:

    As for the problem with the decisions made in this section, it’s that there is a breakdown in communication on their relevance. No indication is given anywhere that these will effect the ending. No indication is given that these are any more important than any other choice in the game. And no indication was given over multiple endings if I remember correctly as the game came out.

    On the other hand for what occurs at the ending of the game, I think very few people could have predicted the scenario. The White Frost apocalypse happening immediately after defeating Eredin, and Ciri having to permanently deal with it.

    That being said you do only need 3 out of 5 to get the ‘best’ ending. Two make sense if you play magnanimous Gerald, so only needing to get one more wasn’t so hard. Which leads into another thing I loved about this game. Geralt is a prefab character and yet my experience playing him seems to have differed significantly from several posters here. In fact I ran into significantly less issues with Geralt’s conversation choices than I did with Shepherd’s.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Geralt is a prefab character and yet my experience playing him seems to have differed significantly from several posters here. In fact I ran into significantly less issues with Geralt’s conversation choices than I did with Shepherd’s.

      Random thought: Is this a cultural thing?
      Redrock said similar to you above: he managed to make the ‘right’ choices first time – he’s also mentioned, before, being from/living in Moscow.
      Meanwhile I’m from the UK, and ended up being surprised by Geralt’s responses quite a lot. But – going back to Mass Effect – Shepard’s responses never caught me out.

      So Bioware’s a Canadian (or is it American?) company, which makes it cuturally similar to the UK. And CDPR (and Sapkowski himself) are of course Polish…you get the idea.
      Was it that I just missed a load of subtle cues that someone from Eastern Europe/similar cultures would have got?
      Just expected something different?

      1. Gautsu says:

        Well, right as in I got the “best” ending the first time through. I didn’t even know there were multiple endings until 2 of my friends playing concurrently with me ended with 2 different ones from myself. But in regards to Geralt not surprising me with his choices, I never had him draw a sword or attack anyone when I didn’t want him to. His smarmy and sarcastic answers ended up being that.
        In fact in a couple of situations there was a kind of epiphany for me, where a dialogue choice was exactly what I would have said, where we usually aren’t offered one. (Geralt and Yen in the tower in Kaer Morhen is one example here).

        Compared to Shepherd, where much of Shamus’s problems with the dialogue is spot on; you either weren’t given a choice or you just spout platitudes. To be fair ME 3 was the worst at this. I think Andromeda suffered a bit of the same, maybe a little worse because we only had 1 game to get to know Ryder and his/her crew versus the three with Shepherd.

      2. Synapse says:

        Im not too sure about it being a cultural thing, it could certainly be for some people i suppose. Myself, i’m from Australia and none of Geralts choices surprised me. Part of it is likely having read the books and played both W1 and 2 several times, infact Gautsu had a similar experience to what i did.

  25. Sean Donahue says:

    I know this “moral rights” idea is intended to protect creator’s rights, but I would argue this lawsuit actually serves to erode them somewhat. If you establish the precedent that an adaptation owes the IP owner royalties even if they bought the rights for a lump sum, you basically make it so no future creator can sell their property for a lump sum again. CDPR offered him royalties or a lump sum; had they known the lump sum offer would include those same royalties, they wouldn’t have offered it as an alternative (or at least would have offered a smaller sum), and Sapkowski wouldn’t have gotten that initial money (which is what he wanted).
    Additionally, there have been a huge number of adaptations of much better regarded and more popular IPs (such as Lord of the rings, star wars, the marvel cinematic universe) and the majority of those adaptations have been critical and commercial failures or middling successes. The Witcher games are successful because CDPR created a high quality product; ascribing their success to Sapkowski is not fair, any more than saying Sapkowski’s books are only well-regarded because of all the creatures, ideas, and tropes he took from pre-existing slavic mythology.

    1. Mistwraithe says:

      Agreed. The whole concept of Sapkowski getting to take the lump sum no risk payment and then turn around and say I didn’t think you were actually going to be successful, and also demand a percentage cut… It just completely melts my mind. Where is the personal responsibility for one’s own choices?

  26. Alecw says:

    I haven’t read all the comments so this point has probably been made, but this is utter bullshit.
    Sapowski isn’t entitled to another cent, CDP did absurdly unlikely things to achieve the success, but the thing is – HE HAS BEEN COMPENSATED. Wildly beyond his imagination.

    Do you think the international printings and sales of his obscure folklore retellings would have happened without CDP?
    I own a stack of his novels, and I surely wouldn’t have without the Witcher games. He got international fame and sales beyond anything he could ever have achieved on his own – AS WELL as getting paid up front?

  27. Stuart Hacking says:

    The bothersome thing about the media coverage of the Sapkowski-CDPR legal dispute is that it mostly casts one side or the other in a bad light, when it’s more nuanced. Taking either major argument (pro-IP vs pro-TooBadSoSad) and discarding all other variables could result in a negative outcome:

    1) Either Sapkowski “wins” and that sets a precedent that purchasing rights to use intellectual property is actually not really binding and you can get stung with big settlements further down the line. This will likely result in creative studios (and the investors thereof) to be less willing to enter an agreement with an author, or other producer of a viable setting.

    2) Or CDPR “wins” and that sets a precedent that if you make a bad financial decision, “well tough.” Which will result in the opposite-but-not-really scenario that authors and producers of viable settings will be unwilling to risk licensing their work to a small studio because they can’t predict the success of an unproven team. That’s bad news for the upcoming CDPRs of the future, but we could probably still look forward to such AAA classics as Shadow of Mordor.

    I suspect that the terms of the legal settlement were not arrived through some nefarious Dr Evil-esque “I wanna gazillion, bajillion dollars!”, but took into consideration the growth of CDPR as a business and how much of that was likely due to the success of the Witcher IP.

    I don’t really support one side or the other at the minute because I think a worst case scenario could come from either side. I’d really like to see both sides negotiate and arrive at a mutually agreeable outcome, and see less of the media and fanbase flinging poo at those involved. It’s quite an unfortunate situation.

    1. guy says:

      2) Or CDPR “wins” and that sets a precedent that if you make a bad financial decision, “well tough.” Which will result in the opposite-but-not-really scenario that authors and producers of viable settings will be unwilling to risk licensing their work to a small studio because they can’t predict the success of an unproven team. That’s bad news for the upcoming CDPRs of the future, but we could probably still look forward to such AAA classics as Shadow of Mordor.

      No, no, this is the standing legal situation throughout creative industries. If you’re reluctant to license your product to a small team because it might not sell, you do what Sapowski did and demand payment up front rather than royalties so you get a fixed known amount. Generally when you sign a contract it stands as written until a termination clause triggers unless there’s been malfeseance or a critical error in drafting the contract such that it doesn’t actually mean what either side thought it meant when they signed.

      The legal settlement offer is basically to pay Sapowski royalties as though they had agreed to pay royalties rather than to just pay a fixed sum and no royalties. Which I find particularly infuriating because it’s CDPR who originally wanted the first and Sapowski who insisted on the latter instead.

  28. PPX14 says:

    dialogue options that the UI summarizes in such a way that trying to predict what my character is actually going to say or do is basically an exercise in guesswork

    Ah yes, Mass Effect (2 and 3)

  29. PPX14 says:

    I saw “Dad games”, and immediately wondered how Witcher 3 fit in the same genre as Model Railway Simulator.

  30. Joe Informatico says:

    I’m not a lawyer, but I suspect that, in an American court, the argument of “give me more money because I only took an up-front cash payment in lieu of a percentage because I thought the game would flop” wouldn’t go anywhere.

    Not necessarily. Shuster and Siegel and their heirs have been in and out of courts trying to get back the rights to Superman for 70 years.

  31. Xander77 says:

    People summarizing the story tend to forget that Sapkowski already made deals with other studios for the use of the Witcher universe. The result wasn’t even a flop of a game, but rather not game at all.

    And CD Projekt only acted as a localizer and publisher for foreign games, with no experience of… you know, actually making games.

    So yeah, “this game is probably never going to be made, or will be a colossal failure” was an entirely reasonable assumption to make.

  32. Shenangians says:

    I didn’t have any problem with those choices and they played out exactly like I hoped they would. You have to read between the lines at the emotional state a response is projecting. When Ciri is let down, answering “You don’t have to be good at everything” conveys a defeatist, passive attitude. On the other hand, the other response clearly communicates action to improve her mood and raise her spirits instead of just surrendering to the bad situation.

    I can’t remember ever encountering the situation that my chosen response didn’t play out as expected. Maybe because I’m not literal about the choices given to me, but I put them into the emotional context of the situation.

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