Published on June 27th, 2023 | by S. Masoud Kazemi

Mateusz Kanik Interview (BLANK.) @m6a6t6i #Cyberpunk2077 #TheWitcher3

We catch-up with Mateusz Kanik (former game director of Cyberpunk 2077 and co-game director of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt) to talk about his new game studio, BLANK as a co-founder and game director.

The very first question I want to ask is, what can you tell us about the new game you are currently working on in Blank. or at least when can we expect to learn more about the game?

We are developing an immersive, story-driven, single-player survival game with a unique take on an apocalyptic world. Despite its originality, we are confident that our game world will evoke a strong sense of familiarity among a wide range of players. The game will have an innovative narrative structure, and we’re aiming to build in strong replayability that isn’t necessarily found in the majority of narrative games. While we can’t share too many details about the project yet, we firmly believe that once we unveil it, you’ll find the anticipation justified.

CD Projekt Red has been known for making some amazing adult action RPGs with dark stories. As far as we know your game is also set in an apocalyptic world. Will we see more similarities between the games you’ve made in CDPR or do you want to make something entirely different from them?

We value good narration and mature stories, so rest assured you’ll find those elements in our game. We believe that evoking lasting emotions in players is the most important aspect of designing a game.

I wanted to know how much the pressure of developing and working on a big-scale game like Cyberpunk 2077 has affected your decision to co-found Blank. Studio?

Not much, to be honest. The decision was not triggered by any pressure. I simply found myself in a particular place and time when I decided that I am capable of creating something of my own, without limitations imposed by others.

What was the biggest difference for you between working in a big studio like CDPR and working with a small team in Blank?

That you know everybody on the team by name. And that changes everything. From being able to wrap your head around everything that’s going on in the project to just simply being a totally different team dynamic.

What would you say is the best thing about working independently?

Your creativity is not limited by external and unknown factors. That’s the best thing in the world.

One of the core beliefs of Blank. is to not get into crunch which is amazing. Do you think there is a way that gamers could also help the industry to stop the crunch culture and eventually make it something of a past?

Gamers aren’t responsible for fixing crunch culture; it’s up to us – the developers. Finding balance, avoiding shortcuts, and making tough decisions are key. Sure, game development is complex and delays are common. But you can’t expect support and understanding from the players, even when you prioritize their experience, if you’re not open about what you are doing. It’s our responsibility as developers to take the first step and promote transparency.

As a gameplay designer, what is the most challenging aspect of your work?

To create a game that most people will enjoy playing. You can piece together a ton of technical elements, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Recently, many games have been launched in not good shape, especially the PC ports. As a veteran of this industry, can you help the gamers understand better what are the main reasons for this?

I think it’s all about the rising scope of games. Games are more and more complicated to develop, harder to test. We can see a trend in the industry where bigger often means better. We think that’s not necessarily true.

Let’s change the subject a little bit. What was the most inspiring game you played in recent years?

MK: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for reimagining how people think about open-worlds. That was a huge achievement!

What are you playing right now and how is the experience so far?

MK: Diablo IV, and I am enjoying it a lot! Kudos to the incredible team behind it!

For the last question, what advice would you give to a person that has just started working in the video game industry or started working on their solo project?

Establish clear goals, be humble, consistently learn, be responsive to feedback and build a robust network.

About the Author

An admirer of art that doesn't stop talking about films and games.

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