With all the fervor surrounding The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt at this year's E3 conference, it might it might be surprising to find that there was once another Witcher game being developed in Poland. It wasn't being made by CD Projekt Red, but by Adrian Chmielarz, the leader of Bulletstorm developer People Can Fly.
In an interview with Eurogamer, Chmielarz describes that in 1996 his studio Metropolis Software was creating an action game called The Witcher based on the same 'Wiedzmin' stories that inspired the modern series. Chmielarz says that he met the man who wrote the stories, Andzej Sakowski, at a sci-fi convention where attendees addressed people as friends.
"I just wrote him a letter and told him we wanted to do it," Chmielarz says, "And he agreed." Because there was no English word for Wiedzmin, Chmielarz coined the term 'The Witcher.' "I don't want to sound like 'heyyyy, I'm that guy'," he says. "All I know is that at least he claimed I was the one who proposed the title."
Chmielarz's version of The Witcher was originally going to be an action-adventure game, with moral choices and mature storytelling. "The focus was on making it this 3D action-adventure that was, as we called it at the time- and again I hate to use this term because it sounds so pretentious - for adults."
"I know it sounds a little cliché or funny in 2014, but in 1997 - 17 years ago - it wasn't really obvious. These things like moral choices or hard choices or slightly darker storytelling - it wasn't common. But that was the goal and it was all because of the quality of the source material - it inspired us to do something very special."
The game was able to sign a publisher, TopWare, and screenshots were released to the press. However, technical issues and publisher doubts caused it to fade away.
"There wasn't any drama," Chmielarz says, "It just kind of died."
The project was never formally cancelled, so Metropolis Software could have refused to sell the IP to CD Projekt Red. "But that was never really... We just joked about it," Chmielarz says. "That was never really something we seriously considered." CD Projekt Red purchased the IP in 2002, and in 2009 they acquired Metropolis Software, saving the studio in the process.