I travel to Warsaw in Poland to visit CD Projekt, celebrated house of The Witcher, and there's one thing I discover that I can't stop telling people: The Witcher 2 was very nearly canned, and the entire company almost collapsed.
It was 2009, two years after the first The Witcher, and the global economic crisis had CD Projekt on its knees. The money from the first game had been burned trying to clear up the mess of The Witcher: White Wolf, the console game that never was. Elsewhere, the publishing-distribution business CD Projekt was founded on had become a black hole, sucking money away, and GOG was barely big enough to sustain itself.
It was the scariest moment in Marcin Iwiński's 20-year career. "The company is my baby, is my first baby," he tells me. "Then there is my daughter and then my son. And I realised that I might lose it."
Rather than hit the ground running after The Witcher, CD Projekt was about to fall flat on its face. "It was looking pretty grim back then. It was very edgy. We had probably a year where we were scraping money to make the payroll at the end of the month."
It's not what I expected, and not what I see before me now: Iwiński in a plush, dimpled leather chair in the middle of a trendy office, all exposed brickwork and glass walls and ventilation shafts, where some 200 people now work. There's a motion capture studio, a dazzlingly bright red toilet, suits of armour, swords, awards and a brand new vegetarian canteen. And all around me, an army is making The Witcher 3, a game so prestigious Microsoft boasted about it during the Xbox One conference at E3.