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Witchfire Developer Diary, Literal Edition

What are we working on at the moment?

What are we working on at the moment?

How to write about the next big update — codenamed TWT — for Witchfire without spoiling it too much?

Here’s one attempt. Let me tell you what each of us at The Astronauts is working on right now. It’s a good pretext to show off some cool new things coming to the game.

For the longest time, there were only twelve of us. But we grew to eighteen in the last six months. Still hilariously small compared to our ambitions for Witchfire and other teams doing similar scope and quality games but hey, that is a 50% growth!

So here’s what all eighteen Astronauts are working on:


We all need to form a prayer circle for Karol Krok. He has the most important task concerning the new update: making sure it’s fun and engaging to play.

Wait, how? Don’t we already have a fun core gameplay loop? I think we do, but what you do in TWT is somewhat different from what you do in the rest of the game. It’s uncharted territory for us.

Let’s go back a few weeks. We knew that with TWT we needed to offer our players, veteran and new, some new environments and activities. Karol came out swinging with a new feature that would significantly change how you use and think of Arcana, our “power-ups”. It’s a pretty big and risky feature, but I loved it and gave it the green light despite some light opposition from the more sane teammates.

But that feature answers what you get in that new gameplay loop in TWT, not how. We needed the how, and we needed to ensure it is, as I said, fun and engaging. Great loot can make you play a weak activity repeatedly. You can play a great activity despite weak loot, just for fun. But why not “simply” ensure you earn great loot in a great activity, right?

After designing Arcana 2.0, Karol is now responsible for implementing it into the game and working on the core gameplay loop of the new activity that TWT is all about.

And we don’t know the results yet.

No, I’m not kidding. Karol does believe the new gameplay will be worthy, but he is not yet ready to show it to the rest of the team. We are hoping for this week.

This is pretty nerve-wracking as the whole update depends on this feature. But — in Karol we trust.

After managing bigger things in the previous update, Andrzej Sugier, our other designer, took it upon himself to create a sweet pack of new gear for you to enjoy in TWT. A weapon or two, new spells, and magical items — you get the idea. All of these are already prototyped and tested and are fun. We will be moving into production soon, meaning adding and finalizing the assets, effects, and sounds.

So, Andrzej, may Cthulhu bless his soul, thought he’d have it easier this time. But then I, also a designer, inspired by a certain Karol’s remark, thought of a big feature I’d love to have in Witchfire, designed it, and asked Andrzej to pilot it. So… yeah. To be clear, it is 50/50 for this particular feature to make it to TWT, so I should probably not talk about it too much.

But before the feature is ready for Andrzej to own it, he’s busy with ten thousand other things. In his own words:

Right now I am making the arenas for [redacted], and tagging drops so the map displays the rewards for the events, and Arcana, so [redacted] works properly. Also, I’m implementing sounds for the new items, and re-tagging the auto-aim on everything that is not an enemy, as the core system for it has been rewritten.

Busy is the life of a game designer.


Did I say that Andrzej pilots the new secret feature? I did. And he will. But for now, most of the work on it is in the hands of Jeremiasz Kacprzak, our new gameplay programmer, who previously worked on games like Cyberpunk 2077, Final Form, and Gord.

It’s kind of funny because Jeremiasz came to the studio to make the lives of our other programmers easier, i.e., to take some workload off their backs. Instead, he is already working on a new feature. Damn, gamedev, you crazy. I love it.

Kacper Domański is the man behind Witchfire enemies, namely their AI. We will have a couple of new enemies in TWT, and Kacper is working with the animators — outsourced for now, but fingers crossed this changes in the near future — to bring them to life. Which is funny because they are dead. Well, undead. Is undead the same as alive? No? Anyway, this is what Kacper is working on currently. Here is a sample animation from one of the new enemies. I’ll leave it to your imagination what is happening here…

Piotr Korgul is a programmer who not only likes working on UI but can also make excellent designs for it, visually and user-experience-wise. In my 30 years in game development, I have never met or even heard of a person like this. So I guess it’s no surprise that Piotr is working on a huge list of all things UI. New features, fixes, redesigned old features, you name it.

Here’s an example of one cool improvement coming to the game with TWT: hovering over a map item will now tell you what the possible loot can drop from engaging with it.

Paweł Kaczyński is the man behind many of the systems in Witchfire, whether it be Arcana, the shop, elemental interactions, or gear… When I say systems, I mean the stuff that is the foundation for gameplay, pretty visuals, and great sounds. Things down deep in the ocean of code. Paweł is working on the core of Arcana 2.0, and it’s a big, serious rewrite.

Last but not least, Szymon Piórkowski has just taken care of some DevOps stuff. We now have two build machines that are independent of the light baking network. Imagine, until today, if we wanted to cook a new build and someone else wanted to bake new lighting for a level, it was all happening on the same machines and network. No wonder some builds took us up to three hours. Now, it’s all separated, and the build process lasts a mere 40 minutes from pressing the button to being playable on EGS. Ah, the wonders of technology. Szymon still has a long list of DevOps things to deal with in the future but, for now, will focus on optimizing the game. We want it to be fast and stable no matter how many new features we add.


Let me just quote Jazmín Giolito on what she’s working on at the moment:

In the sound department, two fronts are being tackled: the new weapons and the ambient sounds for the new level.

Since the more out-there sound design for the weapons released in the GGU was very well-received, we decided to continue with that mindset. We are now polishing the implementation of a weapon called the Basilisk, and I’ve been having a lot of fun defining its sonic identity.

When it comes to ambient sounds for the new level, the focus centers on designing ghastly remains of the activities that once took place in its different spaces. Both the mundane and the unholy sides of what life there used to be are being pictured via sound as haunting shadows that draw the preyer to the depths of [redacted].


Let’s start with what I cannot show you. The Gubin brothers — Peter joined us a while ago, and Andrew joined us recently — are 100% dedicated to the new big level coming in one of the updates after TWT. We tried to make a screenshot that shows something from this map without spoiling it, but nothing worked. So let’s leave the [redacted] alone for now and talk more about…

…the TWT map. Adam Bryła is working on the exterior and the general art direction of the map. Here’s a sample of the landscape he’s sculpting right now:

Meanwhile, Jakub Rygiel — it was only after hiring Jakub that it turned out we know each other from a Destiny clan — is working on the interiors, and here’s a sample:

Note these are work-in-progress editor screengrabs, not glamor promo shots or anything.

Finally, while Grzegorz Kozłowski is helping the level artists with the assets they need, every now and then he finds a moment to make an asset needed for the gameplay. One example is a new vendor item:

And this is something you will be fighting for in TWT:

Andrew Poznański, our tech art wizard, is working on both the TWT map and the [redacted] map, making sure they actually work in real-time, too. Just kidding, but you know what I mean: he is optimizing, well, everything, from textures to visibility and LoDs.

Michał Kosieradzki has done literally 99% of the visual effects in the game, but in the last few weeks, he’s been focusing on something else: new enemies exclusive to TWT. Right after this, he will add effects to the new gear and new events and gameplay things arriving with TWT, and then…it’s back to enemies, this time for the [redacted].


We are not in the release stage, so Michał Witkowski‘s hours are no longer too insane — but there’s always work for QA in a project like this. For example, previously, I was testing the prototypes as soon as they were done. These days, they all go through Michał first, and so when it’s finally my turn, they are in a much better state. This helps me focus on the design exclusively, without worrying if bugs and such color my judgment.

Bizdev / Marketing / Other

I cannot stress enough how cool it is to have a guy behind Cyberpunk: Edgerunners and Witcher: Ronin at The Astronauts. Rafał Jaki is now busy on multiple fronts getting everything ready for the update and beyond. But the creative art of his spirit is well and alive, too. We’re both working on the scripts for the upcoming trailers and some other cool things that I need to keep under wraps right now.

And this is what we’re busy with these days. On a more personal front, I have just migrated my old PC to a new one.

I thought I was being clever by just cloning the disk to a new one (that worked well, for what it’s worth) and ordering a PC that was 90% assembled with the parts I wanted — but it still took me two full days to get everything up and running. And I had to switch to Windows 11. Which is actually not too bad …for now.

After not playing Destiny 2 for a year, I jumped onto the Final Shape expansion and had a blast. Now, it’s Elden Ring and Shadow of the Erdtree time. I am only a few hours in, so I cannot say much about it other than: I am not in a rush. This is the first and last add-on for the game, and I am going to cherish every second of it, as experiences like that are all too rare.

Till next time!

Question of the Week

No. But there will be an area called The Witch Mountain.

When we released the GG update, one person was fairly close to guessing it meant Ghost Galleon. I have to say that with TWT, some people are even closer. Much closer. I think someone got it except he used a kind of a synonim for one of the words. Fun times.

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