The Witness on PS4: A progress report

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The Witness on PS4: A progress report

Find out how Jonathan Blow’s ambitious new puzzle adventure is coming along

The Witness is a game where you explore an abandoned island and solve puzzles. We’ve been working on this game for a long time (it’s been over five years since I began working on it, myself! The rest of the team joined at various times after that). We don’t know the release date yet; it is still officially “when it’s done”, but these days “when it’s done” is getting closer and closer. The Witness is an ambitious game with a lot of things for us to get right, and getting it right takes time; I don’t want to rush the game out at the cost of quality.

The Witness

Here are some of the things we’ve been working on lately:

Design

All the gameplay along the “main line” of the game — the stuff you would expect to do from the beginning to the end of a standard playthrough — is done. But, this is a game that has a lot of extra things for players who are really into the game and want more; we are still designing some of those extras.

Modeling and texturing

The game has a lot of different locations and it’s very important that they all receive the same degree of care. Most of the island where The Witness takes place is fully modeled at this point, but there are a few very important locations that are still in a draft stage, and several others that could use another pass of detail.

The Witness

The Witness

Frame rate optimisations

At release on the PS4, we are planning to render at 1080p and 60 frames per second. Right now we meet this target in many areas of the game, but not everywhere. But with more old-fashioned hard work we should be.

Level-of-detail management and streaming

For example, making sure that it doesn’t take too long to stream in new parts of the world as you move. When we do stream in higher-detail versions of far-away geometry, we don’t want the graphics to pop, so we’ve recently implemented a smooth blend between LOD levels. The Witness is an open-world game with no loading screens; the feeling of just walking around and looking at things is very important. We work hard to make this happen as smoothly as possible.
“The Witness is an open-world game with no loading screens”

Audio

Since the game is so much about a sense of place, the audio design is crucial. Right now there are 1.2 gigabytes of sound (much of it compressed!) in the game, which represents over 40% the game’s data.

This last statement about the audio made me curious about what our data looks like, so here are some numbers on how much data is in The Witness. (These are all the size of files in the game as it would be shipped, not the source files!)

  • Texture Maps: 1196 files, 446MB
  • Meshes: 4588 files, 507MB
  • Sounds: 2435 files, 1.2GB
  • Animations: 197 files, 0.6MB
  • Entities: 1 file, 4.3MB
  • Lightmaps (these are auto-generated): 17916 files, 453MB

Total (including other files not listed here): 39387 files, 2.7GB

It’s a lot of work, but we are now in the downhill stretch of the race and looking forward to tying the game up completely. We’ll have more updates for you before too long!

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