Night City Wire Episode 2 Q&A Part 2

Part two of the community Q&A sessions from the official Cyberpunk 2077 Discord with Senior Level Designer Miles Tost has fully been transferred over to text format and edited for clarity. Of course, just like the last one, the audio version is also available below, so you can choose which format to enjoy this in.

A very special thanks to the staff and developers for taking time out of their day to do these chats with the community. And of course, a huge thank you to everyone in the community who asked questions!

Community Question: Is the blocking of non accessible buildings or doors contextual? Is there a reason why they’re blocked and why we can’t enter a particular building or door in the game?

Miles Tost: Yeah, we try. It’s not everywhere is like that. We can’t put a bouncer in front of every door in the world. But in areas where we feel it’s super obvious, like if there’s an area in the main quest with a door you can’t enter, in that context, we’ll try to put something extra there. But holy shit man, the amount of doors we have in Cyberpunk will completely dwarf the amount of doors we have in Witcher 3. At one point in Witcher 3’s development, I counted the amount of doors we have. We have around 2,500 doors for that game. There are many more buildings than in Witcher, so naturally in a game like this, there are far more doors.

CQ: What is the most amount of times you’ve gone back to an area to make reiterations?

Miles: That’s… you know, I don’t want to sound arrogant or anything like that, but that’s like asking an artist how happy are they with their painting. You’ll find that they never are, that they’re never done. I’m fairly confident, much like it was with The Witcher 3. When we ship this, hopefully people will really love it, but once I will be able to play it, I’ll end up thinking “oh fuck man, I could’ve done that better, ahhh why is that there?” It’s hard to tune out the very minor details that stick out only to the person who designed it. Like I’ll walk through Witcher 3 and go “Fuckin’ Hell Man! There’s a fence floating off the ground, like 10 centimeters!” *laughs* Even now, even when we were playing with journalists, sitting next to them playing, I was thinking “Oh fuck man.. I hope he didnt fuckin’ see that.”

CQ: I think that’s always going to happen when you present your hard work to a public audience.

Miles: Absolutely! Luckily, most of the time you feel like most of the stuff is getting better but there are times where you don’t feel like some iterations are moving certain things forward. But then you come back months later, right? And then you take a look back at it and then it’s like “Ah, maybe this isn’t so bad” and then the solutions become obvious. You keep pushing it, right? And you can’t even say that even after five iterations “This is the best it can be”, right? Because you can even get it right on the second try sometimes, but I will never say you can get it right on the first try *laughs*. Sometimes it takes 10 attempts to get something right, sometimes more! And then, do you count iterations each time you move a piece of cover ever so slightly? It’s a really difficult process.

Having said that, each level designer for the game is an owner of one, if not several quests. That means that they are the level designer assigned to that specific quest, right? Witcher 3 was a bit different. We did more like “Here’s your locations, you’re an owner of that.” It could be that you had locations for multiple quests, or just a chunk of that quest. I got lucky, I had some that were more contextually connected in Witcher 3.

CQ: So you’re saying you could really feel the designer’s intent and creativity during quests?

Miles: What this allowed us to do, is be more consistent. For example, “I know how this quest starts, I have more control over how the levels or the locations transition or run off of each other.” Like the bit we showed off in the 2018 Demo. The level designer would have been the guy that worked on the Scavengers Den at the beginning, then the mega building, etc. You kind of know how the flow goes and you can adjust for the pacing much more easily. You know where to let the player breathe or where more action is needed, you can implement those things as well.  

I’ve got a few quests where I keep going back to locations (now as well), putting the final polish on them and keep bringing in elements, changing stuff up, play testing it. Realizing “Okay, that actually would be nice to have some cover over here when I come from this direction in the game.” Then you’ve got QA’s going like “Hey, I played your quest or I played your location in this quest, and stumbled upon a completely new way to play it. Was this supported? Was this intended?” And then you alter and adjust as necessary. That way, you can say once again that you’re never finished. Especially with how sandboxy most of our locations are with the amount of solutions that the player can come up with, depending on the playstyles that they have. There will always be something where I’ll go “ahhh fuck man! I didn’t think of the player that used this specific toolkit or combination, and if I had known that I probably would of provided that thing over here so he could use this “thing” in a more badass way.” That’s the kind of things we’re also looking at now.

CQ: What’s the one thing you’re most proud of that has had a lot of positive public reception?

Miles: Anything really *laughs* It really does go for anything. I don’t know, like,THIS IS OUR BABY! Putting our baby in front people is nerve-racking.

CQ: We don’t know if it’s obvious to the development team but there are some times where some of the news that come out, is not how the community actually feels, but some people just try to be spiteful and hate for the sake of it. Are the teams aware of this?

Miles: Well yeah, we’re aware that this is bound to happen. It’s always difficult. I guess it really depends on the individual to distance yourself from certain criticism, right? It’s easier, like you know, I guess when you hear voices on the internet (not in your head) *laughs* then it is easier to hear the negative ones over the positive ones.. HAVING SAID THAT! We have a fucking amazing community, not only on discord but on other platforms like Twitter and Reddit as well. It’s really really cool and we are really blessed with that, and things have been going really nicely so far, hopefully it stays that way. I will say though, that the tension… well, the tension you feel in the studio, not in the physical sense since we’re all at home right now, It was really high you know. Once we got our first previews in, this was really great for everybody on the team. It was a pretty great moment.

I think anyone who works creatively has to be able to relate to this, right? You are your own harshest critic really. As a developer, it’s easy to develop a bit of a tunnel vision and you only see the problems, it’s hard to see how far you’ve actually come. You know guys… it’s been a ride! Coming from 2018, and even before when we transitioned from Blood and Wine into full on production of Cyberpunk, and looking at it now man.. It’s insane.

CQ: I have a question for you real quick, I was asking Phillip about details, and I was curious if you could add onto i..

Miles: Hold up, is this like a situation where daddy didn’t help and now you’re going to mommy to ask?

*Chat bursts into laughter*

CQ: No No No! He gave me the details I swear! I was just curious if you could add onto it though!! *laughing* -Alright let’s actually give him a chance to ask his question- Are there areas in the game where weapons aren’t allowed? What Philip said was “Yes, those areas do exist. Especially with our Dynamic Scene System, where most of the time we give you control. If you were always able to do what you want, we’d have to build a full time simulator. We always try to give you as much control as possible.”

Miles: …What Phillip Said! *chat bursts into laughter again* Sometimes you can shoot everyone, sometimes you cant, it’s easy!

CQ: Do we know who those guys with the digital glitch faces are in the gameplay shown earlier today?

Miles: Ohhhh…ohhhh…ohhhh! You might already know them actually…

CQ: Who is Takemura?


CQ: So out of all the districts in the City, which one is most accessible in terms of buildings?

Miles: Like, evenly? That’s not really how we …approach it. It’s not like we’re like “Lets make this one more accessible than the other one.” I guess the one most accessible for a lack of buildings would be the Badlands. *Laughs* No but really, they’re all fairly accessible.

CQ: How do you go about getting into Level Design and working for a company like CD Projekt Red?

Miles: There’s so many possibilities nowadays for anyone to pick up the tools, when it comes to level design, and start working. If you download any of the engines like Unity or Unreal, you can basically start blocking out stuff pretty much right away, right? Lots of people start as modders, right? This has become a lot more prominent as of recently. There are more and more Universities teaching game design courses. Those can be good, CAN be. There are more and more alleyways to actually get into level design. I think the most important bit, as with most jobs, is to be interested in the topic and try to educate yourself. There’s lots of useful, and lots of shitty I have to say, resources out there. It’s simply a matter of engaging with the content and try to learn from it. What I also like doing is.. I.. I like playing video games! Surprise! Try to look at other developers and see what others have done there and take notes.

CQ: Are we getting a Cyberpunk Cookbook?

Miles: Oh fuck yeah! Send me 10 rats! *laughs* Actually, there’s probably someone on youtube that will eventually do it.

CQ: Just go up to the boss and be like.. I think the community wants a Cookbook..

Miles: I mean.. we did get a chair..

CQ: Just look at the Silverhand Drink!

Miles: Fuckin’ Hell Man, that’s such a cool thing. I’m not even joking. This is one where we came up with it in the studio. I still have the emails for it. We have a lot of people with lots of different backgrounds and of course hobbies and we have quite a few.. what’s the term? MIXOLOGISTS! Real enthusiasts about cocktails and cocktail culture, and they basically came up with this. It’s really cool! It’s an original thought. Well at least that’s what I think! I think the back story of that drink was somewhat also, you know, at some point Johnny was handed what was basically a Tequila-Old Fashioned but wasn’t happy with it. So he dropped some beer in it and called it a day.

CQ: How many power weapons are there?

Miles: Fuckin’ Hell I don’t know.. There’s a LOT.. There’s a ton of weapons. How I would summarize this is… I think people tend to forget that this is an RPG first and foremost. Right? So customization and equipment choices, making choices in the skills you have, the talents, how your character looks, how you choose dialogue.. Is the CENTER stage of this experience. I think some people look at this game and think “Ah man, it’s first person and has guns! it’s a shooter!” And that’s… a very surface level assessment *chuckles* I think in many ways, it’s a much, much deeper roleplaying experience than The Witcher 3.

CQ: Speaking of customization…. how far can you customize… your willie…?

Miles: I feel like this is an… ideal moment for me to eject! Given that I said 15 minutes and we are far past that, but I’m proud of you guys! it took a while to get there! *laughs*

CQ: Miles, we’ve been doing a thing in the server for a while ,where we try to go 24 hours without talking about genitals… We’ve never made it.

Miles: Is it like a counter…? Minutes since last penis question? *chat bursts into laughter*

CQ: So this is purely estimation. If there was ten guns for each shotgun, sniper, etc, and then obviously x3 for the power, smart and tech, there would be 180 guns by that estimate. There could be more than that I’d assume.. So there would be atleast 180?

Miles: Imagine if you’d have to model all of those! We have a whole dedicated weapons team, they basically just make weapons.

CQ: Last question, oh man.. pressure. Since you’re making this game, do you feel like you won’t be able to experience this like a normal person would just buying the game?

Miles: Um, oh wow.. It’s hard, because you guys seem to be very excited! But I am also fucking hyped for this game to come out. I’d say to a big degree that is actually true, that I will never be able to experience this game like a new game, like Breath of the Wild for example, where I went in completely blind, or Persona 5 where I didn’t even know what genre it was! “Oh it’s a JRPG? Fucking awesome!” I really loved it. This sense of discovery is what makes open world games so fun. Having said that, I do however have a different perspective on Cyberpunk. Like, I walk through the world and have lots of memories of making this stuff. Like the interactions I had with fellow developers. I even talked with an ex-colleague of mine, Peter, about this. There’s even moments where you walk through the world, be it Witcher 3 or Cyberpunk, and then you kind of remember the music you’ve been listening to, at the point in time when you were making that particular set piece. It’s really nostalgic in that way.

Now having said that, while Witcher 3 was a game where, even to this day, I know every single nook and cranny and I thought for a long time, I’d let it slide and let the sands of time do a job on my memory and I’ll forget. But once I turn the game on and I’m back, all of it returns. With Cyberpunk though, It’s.. just so big and complicated. It’s impossible for one person to know it all. I keep getting surprised in different occasions. There’s still lots of stuff for me to explore. Especially with me being less involved with open world content but mostly focused on main quest and side quest stuff in the game.. I feel like there’s still tons of stuff to explore. So hopefully it will be a different experience from Witcher 3.

CQ: You guys are so passionate about this and it gets me so excited because of that.

Miles: I’m glad about that!

CQ: One more question..

Miles: No!!! *laughs*

CQ: About the penises!

Miles: NO!!!!!! *laughter continues*

CQ: Well, I think I speak for all of us when I say thank you for coming back and speaking to all of us, It was truly fucking awesome.

Miles: Guys, thank you so much for everything. I really do think we have one of the best communities out there and it’s a pleasure to interact with all you guys whenever I do pop up on the discord. It isn’t as much as I’d like to, but we do have a game to make! Anyway guys, I hope you guys enjoyed Night City Wire. I had a lot of fun. Great pleasure and I wish you all a good night!

That’s a wrap for Night City Wire’s Community Q&A Chat with Developers Miles Tost & Pawel Sasko. Maybe we’ll get this again next time!

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Video game fan since TMNT: The Manhattan Project, I'm always on the lookout for games that could top Outer Wilds or Disco Elysium, or for new songs to listen to.

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