Amidst all of the nudity and subtle gags lurking in CD Projekt Red's latest PC role-playing adventure, the aspect of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings that has impressed me the most so far is how blurry it is.
I'm not talking muddy graphics, but rather the purposeful motion blur effect seen when the camera moves about the main character. It's an effect used often in first and third-person shooters to heighten immersion and enhance the feeling of being in motion, but it's never struck me quite as profoundly as it has in The Witcher 2.
So impressed was I that I decided to badger the folks at CD Projekt Red to find out how and why the effect wound up in the game's proprietary RED Engine.
Adam Badowski, project lead at CD Projekt Red, explained the reasoning behind the inclusion of the striking motion blur.
"We aimed for smoothness - things like motion blur or vignettes are actually quite natural for cinema. The main goal was actually to make sure that the game looks closer to something resembling a movie rather than... an amateur wedding video or something of that nature."
Mission accomplished on that front. The Witcher 2 would make for the worst amateur wedding video ever, at least until the giant spider creatures showed up and started feasting on the groomsmen.
Let's go a little deeper. Bartlomiej Wronski, the CD Projekt Red graphics programmer responsible for implementing the effect, told me that the motion blur was a quick addition to the later stages of the game's development. "We thought that we could benefit from effect that would add some dynamics to visual effects during combat."
Wronski told me that the effect was inspired in part by the blur in Crysis, but Crysis and The Witcher 2 are two very different games.
"Crysis is first-person shooter and we have third-person perspective game, so motion blur should work another way - if we rigged it with the camera-like motion blur in first-person perspective games, Geralt would get blurry and there would be less immersion. Therefore, we spent most of time to tweak it so that we get more immersion. Objects close to the Witcher get less blur and it seems that this blur is caused by the player's camera and Witcher movements."
And in case you hate the motion blur and the toll it takes on lower-end systems, you have Wronski to thank again, as he's the one that decided the option could be turned off.
If you have to turn the blur off, then by all means, but you'll be missing out on some spectacular visuals. In full HDR, when the spells are flying and the swords are swinging, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is a wondrously blurry spectacle to behold.
And yes, the creatures in the video look more like lobsters than spiders. Everything evil is a spider. Don't complain, or you're a spider too.