When designing Geralt’s appearance for the second part of The Witcher we decided to make some revolutionary changes. We remodeled his face so it would meet modern character design standards. We added many accessories, costumes and we gave him a ponytail.
And then all hell broke loose. We didn’t expect that a change of hairstyle could inspire such emotions. It was the number one subject in our studio. We tested and discussed many variations of Geralt’s hair. We asked our community in a poll and didn’t get a clear answer to our dilemma – the difference in the number of votes between loose hair and the ponytail was minimal.
Finally we agreed – the ponytail gets in the game. The hair looks better this way, it’s more realistic and pragmatic in combat and also it was much easier to implement. At the same time our fans were promised to get an option of changing Geralt’s hair in the future.
Well, promises are easy to make, but the execution was much more complicated. We encountered numerous problems: how could we change the bone system of the ponytail if it is an integral part of the whole character model? How should we implement the hairstyle option in the game’s interface? And finally, do we want players to be able to switch hairdoos at the beginning of the game or in the inventory (just like you switch between swords)?
Making the hairstyle optional meant many problems and was a rather low priority, because it didn’t influence the game quality directly. But we made a promise, so we had to work it in somehow.
Unfortunately we didn’t keep that promise when the game launched – the players only had the ponytail. We couldn’t keep it that way and since we already had some basic things done, we decided to release the new hair changing system in the next patch. The idea to change it from the inventory seemed too awkward for the team. The proper inventory icons should have to be among Geralt’s stuff – we could not imagine him buying or crafting those. Furthermore, a collection of scalps would look strange amongst potions, swords etc.
That’s why we decided to introduce barbers into the game. We added a dialog option to a NPC in each location, which allowed players to change Geralt’s hair for a small fee. To lead the players to this person we added a special chair in the vicinity of the barber.
Initially we wanted to add only three options: loose hair, a high ponytail and a low ponytail. But taking money for such a limited service seemed unfair. That’s why we added a ponytail made of all of Geralt’s hair, braids and a ponytail with shaven temples. That seemed enough to satisfy everyone willing to spend their orens on a new haircut.
The barbers were available in patch 1.2 and our community liked the new options. Finally Geralt could take care of his image.Tweet