The Witcher 3 finally has official tools that modders can use to make cool shit from now until the end of time. There’s just one problem: they could be a lot better.
Don’t get me wrong: the new tools—released by Witcher developer CD Projekt—are better than nothing. And even with nothing, modders managed to unlock the camera, create a Ciri clone army, and of course, make everyone naked. Problem is, official mod tools were supposed to Change Everything. The ones CDP released, however, don’t pop open the role-playing’s hotrod’s hood so much as they crack it ever so slightly. Players can manipulate in-game objects and add their own meshes/visual changes to the game, but they can’t (easily) script entire quests or anything like that. So basically, The Witcher 3’s Modkit is a helpless kitten of a thing compared to The Witcher 2’s Redkit, which let players make their own quests and create entire worlds. And unfortunately, CD Projekt doesn’t plan to release anything more robust for modders to work with. A lot of fans and would-be modders are not pleased.
It all started when CD Projekt RED community manager Marcin Momot tweeted:
Problem the first: In a 2014 interview with IGN, CDP co-founder Marcin Iwinski said there’d be a Redkit for Witcher 3 “sometime after the game launches.” Promising a feature and then taking it back? Not a great idea when you’re dealing with Witcher fans, as it turns out.
Then came the wailing and gnashing of teeth and frightening of extremely skittish horses:
OK, some of those complaints are a bit over-the-top (let us not forget that CDP gave us a massive, goddamn wonderful classic of a game a few months ago; they are not suddenly The Literal Devil), but they’re worth examining. There are some clear recurring trends here, even outside the whole “You guys let us down; may your pets be hoarded by rock trolls who think they’re shoes” refrain. A lot of people are comparing the situation to Skyrim, a knee-jerk reaction that doesn’t quite hold up under scrutiny. The Witcher 3 is a very different game. Yes, it takes place in a massive open world, but The Witcher 3’s central appeal—at least, for most players—lies in pre-authored micro-stories, something most modders won’t be able to reproduce because, contrary to popular belief, Writing Is Fucking Hard.
On top of that, CD Projekt tried damn hard with mod tools once, and players reacted with all the enthusiasm they’d typically reserve for a wet fart in a quiet room. As you do in such scenarios, they pretended not to notice and conspicuously shuffled away. Seriously, I was considering doing a feature on Witcher 2’s best mods before Witcher 3 came out, but between Witcher 2’s Nexus page and the official Redkit site, there were only a handful of player-made quests—let alone good ones. So I can see why CDP might be hesitant to go all-in on mod tools again, since last time they built it, nobody came.
However, despite the impressive range of choices Witcher 2 offered, it was still a constrained and narrative-driven linear game. It did not immediately present itself as a modder’s paradise like, say, Skyrim, nor did it have mod tools at the height of its popularity (Redkit launched a couple years after Witcher 2 first came out on PC). Frankly, the conditions weren’t ideal for the formation of a bustling mod community.
Witcher 3, on the other hand, has a full open world that supports all sorts of side quests and activities, and it’s already far more popular than Witcher 2 ever was. It’s not necessarily destined to boot Skyrim off its throne with a flourish and a dad joke, but it’s got a much better shot at mod-born immortality than Witcher 2 did.
I mean, even with 60 hours on the clock, I still feel like I never want to leave The Witcher 3’s world. I think that says something all by itself. I want to go on more adventures in this place, with these characters (Or even as these characters. A whole adventure as Ciri? Yes, please). And shit, the game is already pretty silly sometimes, so bring on the piss-out-my-eyes bizarre hell world populated by Thomas The Tank Engine Slendermen. Give me cool mods, give me weird mods, give me terrifying mods—I’ll take ‘em all.
As is, though, our prospects are looking pretty grim. As I said earlier, something is better than nothing, but now there’s a very real possibility I’ll never get to realize my dream of creating an introspective journey of thoughtful conversation and self-discovery starring Roach the horse. That’s a damn shame, if you ask me.
Oh well. At least we’ll always have Geraltesemir.