REDkit – Preview
Modding is a vital part of the gaming community. Allowing people to take part and create in the games that they enjoy has kept communities alive long after they would have ordinarily ended. Not only that but, in the case of Arma 2, mods like Day-Z can create sales far above what the game could have otherwise expected. It’s no surprise then, to learn that more and more developers are embracing the modding community and CD Projekt Red cemented their position as one of those at the forefront when they announced the REDkit, an awe-inspiring modding kit for The Witcher 2. This isn’t their first attempt at providing a modding toolkit – they released the Djinni editor for the original Witcher – and it shows.
It is obvious right from the start the REDkit is designed to make modding as easy as possible, coming preloaded with every single texture and model from The Witcher 2 itself, meaning that the power is in your hands from the start – no need to model anything for yourself, you can just jump right in to creating lands and quests of your own. Creation is the real meat of the REDkit, and where it really flexes its muscles. It’s entirely possible to build an environment in a few sweeps of your mouse. In less than ten minutes we not only saw a map created from scratch, but watched as it was turned into a flat stretch of featureless land into a living, breathing world. Flat plains became dimpled hills and small rises, white became grass, trees sprang up in vast forests and abandoned houses appeared, all in a matter of minutes. As day became night, shadows twisted, colours stained the clouds and leeched from everything and the sun serenely followed its course through the sky. Except it was decided that it wasn’t the right course. A few clicks later the sun followed a completely different course through the sky.
After far less time than we could believe, it was time to start populating the world. Just as in the initial creation, every model in the Witcher can be used, which means that NPC characters can be lifted from the game and deposited directly in your world. What’s more, they don’t have to look exactly as they do, with the option to customise them completely so each character is as you desire. It is a similarly simple method when placing monsters; simply put, when, where and how many should spawn and the monsters of your choice will soon be swarming in your map. It is then simple to assign them their places in your personal world. You can set NPCs to many different tasks, and monsters can be set to various actions depending on the stimulus.
The NPC we saw was assigned to repairing his house, a task he took to with alacrity. In fact, he was so focused that he ignored the player character completely, which led us to yet another impressive feature of the REDkit – along with giving you the freedom to create your own world, Projekt Red have also given you the freedom to create your own story. Not only can you create quests by setting goals, you can also create dialogue and place it into your game, scripting lines for any character in your world, whether they be a meaningless NPC or Geralt himself. There is no dialogue, but the REDkit does what it can to ensure that conversations are interesting by allowing control of the angles the camera takes during conversation.
Almost nothing is linear in the Witcher, which has long been part of its appeal, and Projekt Red have encouraged modders to create stories and missions along the same lines, and to do so they have created what is essentially a flow chart of the actions that characters can take. Missions can be as simple or as complex as you desire, and the flowchart serves to keep even the most convoluted stories structured and achievable. It also means that the player cannot make any decision lightly- much like the Witcher 2 achieves – as the creator may well have forced consequences onto any of their actions. The NPC we saw fixing his house asks us to clear a nearby shack of monsters. If the player chooses to go so then the quest continues as normal, with Geralt receiving some pay and moving on with his life. However, should the player choose to leave the village, the monsters leave the shack and attack the NPC. Even the simplest of actions can be given consequences.
As complex as the REDkit may sound, the emphasis on it is ease of use. The kit provides dozens of tools to make creating both easier and faster, such as the option to place trees. They can be placed tree by tree if you have a particular vision, but there is also the option to randomly generate the trees; this results in them dotted around the map in what are seemingly completely natural formations. Apart from the actual placement of the trees however, almost everything about this option can be customised, and you can choose the type of tree that is placed as well as the spacing between them.
The best part of the kit is that it is still in beta. Projekt Red have said that it is still some way from being finished and that there is plenty more that they want to do with it. Not only that, but they plan to work together with some of the most prevalent modders in the Witcher community to ensure that the tool is the very best it can be when it comes out next year.
CD Projekt Red wants people to take inspiration from the Witcher 2, and they want them to create and share their own stories. They have done everything they possibly can to ensure that this is not only possible, but easy as well. This is not a tool that requires endless hours of editing. This is a tool to enable people to tell their stories. If people take the invitation (and they should) then this has the potential to keep the Witcher 2 fresh and enjoyable for a long time to come. Although they are still unsure when the kit will be released, Projekt Red have begun to look for modders to take part in the beta. Have a look and apply at thewitcher.com/redkit.
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