- CD Projekt Red’s engineering director Colin Walder said the development team suffered a hard morale blow after the game’s bumpy launch.
- The CDPR director said that the team acknowledged the errors and was determined to change things.
- Walder also shared the lessons CDPR learned from Cyberpunk’s bad reception and said that the studio is already applying the valuable insights to Polaris, the upcoming Witcher project.
Colin Walder, a veteran engineering director at CD Projekt Red revealed in an interview that the Cyberpunk 2077 team suffered a significant morale blow after the game’s much underwhelming launch. The CDPR director outlined the substantial lessons the studio gained from the critical reception of the game. Additionally, he provided his insights on effectively addressing the contentious crunch system in the industry.
Walder talked with InvenGlobal at the Inven Global Conference. The engineering director acknowledged that the team’s morale took a “significant hit” after the highly disappointing Cyberpunk 2077 launch. While elaborating on the challenging period he said that the team at CDPR admitted their errors openly and started the redemption arc for the now widely acclaimed sci-fi RPG emphasizing that “actions speak louder than words.”
Regarding other tools or strategies for maintaining morale post-release, especially after the difficulties we faced—it was indeed a challenge. The morale took a significant hit; that’s clear. The crucial thing was to acknowledge what happened. We had to admit that the outcome wasn’t what we’d hoped for and that we were determined to change things.
According to Walder, the studio took inspiration from the disastrous 2020 launch and is applying the learned lessons to CDPR’s upcoming game from The Witcher series codenamed Polaris. He emphasized the importance of addressing key aspects right from the project’s outset, for example, console testing saying that they are “already running demos on the console” for Polaris, a step that was delayed in Cyberpunk’s development.
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During the conversation, the industry pro went on to touch on the controversial crunch system, where employees are pressured to work extra hours to meet tight deadlines. He said to maintain a trustworthy working environment, the devs need to “demonstrate commitment.” He reinforced that “the people need to see it to believe it.”
For instance, when a deadline is looming, instead of reverting to crunch, we might say, ‘Let’s adjust the schedule,’ or, ‘Let’s approach this differently.’ Once this becomes a repeated behavior – once the team sees a genuine effort to prevent crunch – that’s when trust and morale start to rebuild.”
Cyberpunk 2077 debuted with a heavily bugged product that earned it a massively bad reception. However, the devs never once considered abandoning the game resulting in the update 2.0 that revamped the RPG and accumulated an incredibly large amount of players. The retro-futuristic title has now sold 25 million copies with the highly praised Phantom Liberty DLC already rolling over 3 million units.
Cyberpunk 2077 was released on December 20, 2020, on a myriad of new and old-gen platforms.
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