The Witcher and FDL

The Witcher is a fantasy hero from Andrzej Sapkowski‘s books. I love them, because I find Andrzej’s writing style perfect (not sure about translations), and the characters he creates are incredibly interesting and expressive.

He’s style is to write about fantasy world with very modern thinking. It’s a bit strange at the beginning, but mostly because people tend to think of fantasy worlds as medieval+magic (you know, swords, knights, dragons, it must be medieval, right?) while there is no rule. It’s fantasy. It’s not anywhere in our history. The results are very interesting while he adds great piece of humour, a bit of philosophy and keep it so easy to read, you can do a book per evening.
Anyway, let’s get back to the subject. So, basing on the books there was a movie. Movie was Class D, horrible, pathetic production that costed ~4,5 mln dollars (it’s pretty much as for polish market) and should simply never ever happen.

Years later, polish publisher, CD Projekt, basing on their success decided to create a game development studio – Red Studio. Red Studio decided to start working on The Witcher as their first game. It’s good, they’re very talented, motivated, gathered a great group of fantasy writers, RPG authors and the best coders, designers in Poland, to work on the game, that’s bad, because they have no experience. They decided not to work on multi-player, not to work on Linux version, not to make it extendable (writing own modules to the game), just to focus on the story line. Lack of experience resulted in many changes late in the project. For example they first tried to develop their own gaming engine (in 2004?) then decided to buy Aurora from Bioware (Neverwinter Nights engine), but soon decided to activly co-develop Aurora 2 and it looks pretty good I think. There are many delays of course, the game was planned to be released around Q4 2005, now it’s Q1 2007 but you can watch videos from the E3 and it looks pretty much ready now.

I overall think that the game is worth waiting for, and I cross-fingers for those folks to create something really amazing. But what recently surprised me, was their Wiki. The Wiki is for gathering-around community to create knowledge base about The Witcher sage and story, to share their knowledge etc. It might be usefull later, to build in-game KB, but I don’t know if they’ll do this. What I know, is that they decided to use FDL as the license for the Wiki. And it wasn’t random decision as they describe it. They want to be able to share the data with Wikipedia. To be able to get the data from, and push it back to them.

I really think that we’re somewhere around the new age. Commercial, closed source as hell, game, made by poles who are usually very conservative in “I prefer to hide everything than to give anything” way of thinking, starts using a public MediaWiki with an intention to share the knowledge with Wikipedia, and uses open license.

I’m very happy to see this, and I hope that slow adoption of open ideas, licenses and freedom will happen, not even on the production level yet, but on the mental level. The Witcher made a small, but very important step in this direction 🙂