The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an action role-playing game developed by Polish developer CD Projekt Red, and first published in 2015. It is the sequel to the 2011 game The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings and the third and final main game in The Witcher video game series played in an open world with a third-person perspective. The games are based on The Witcher series of fantasy novels written by Andrzej Sapkowski.

Lens 1: Essential Experience

Essential Experience 1: Storytelling

The immersive storyline. This is one of the reasons why Witcher 3 is always one of the games on my top recommendation list. In this game, every quest and mission felt carefully designed and tells a unique story. Even for some random side quest or a “collect items” contract, there is a story behind it to be discovered and doesn’t feel repetitive. Other than the common dialogue-styled storytelling, there is also a rich amount of artefacts, scriptures, history books and monuments to read and understand how this world was like in the past. In addition, players do not just simply follow the story as it is, they get to make decisions and choices in the game that determines how they want the story to end. This makes the storytelling of the game even more immersive as the players get to “live” the story instead of simply “listening” to it.

Essential Experience 2: Immersive Open-World Exploration

Some funny dialogues 🤡

Though the open-world concept is becoming a common staple in the triple-A industry, there is something unique about Witcher 3’s open-world experience that differs from many out there. One of the key differences is the NPCs. In Witcher 3, every NPC carries their unique dialogue with the players (Most of the time 🤡). In addition, if my memory serves me correctly, I seldom met any NPCs with the identical appearance in the same setting before. This makes every interaction with the NPCs truly special and makes the overall impression of the game more engaging.

Free roam ⛰️

Besides the NPC design, the overall environmental and audio design has also elevated the game’s immersiveness. For example, when the wind blows, the players could actually hear the leaves rustling. (Sometimes, I will just pause my quest in the game and stop somewhere just to enjoy the syntactic scenery ⛰️)

Lens 2 & Lens 3: Surprise & Fun

Gameplay Demo ⚔️

Though I’ve been playing this game for more than over 60 hours (mostly during NS 🤡), completing all available main and side quests, I’ve never felt a single sense of boredom. There are so many interesting game mechanics that come into play to provide a unique combat system. Brewing of potions, the enchanting of swords, the preparing of bombs/traps, the use of elemental powers, etc. Each mechanic offers its own sets of excitement and surprises. For example, when upgrading Geralt’s sword mastery, the player gets to unlock more dynamic sword combos that can inflict more damage to the enemy. This happens with Geralt’s elemental power mastery as well, providing him with more tricks up his sleeves. This offers lots of fun and surprises as the game advances with players unlocking more and more cool features of Geralt.

Lens 4: Curiosity

Hidden Chests 🧰

Being an open-world game with its massive map, Witcher 3 does spark the curiosity in me to explore all bits and pieces of the game. For example, secret chests are hidden all around the map. In shipwrecks, dungeons, city sewers, secret rooms, caves, riverbeds and palaces, etc. The harder the place to get to, the rarer the contents in the chests. Very often, I find myself distracted from the main quest, just to explore the “?” marked on the mini-map, wondering what items could be found. In addition, these places are usually filled with some explorable background stories, which further attracts me to explore these places to find out about their history in the game.

Lens 5: Endogenous Value

Gear Crafting ⚒️

Crafting mechanics is another feature that brings great satisfaction when I was playing the game. As there are many armour and weapons that can be crafted, it motivates the players to track down the materials required to craft them and finally to unlock and try them out. It is also kind of cool and exciting when players get to see their Geralt being equipped with more and more badass gears, like a token of achievement or a symbol of growth.

Lens 6: Problem Solving

Riddles and puzzles 🧠

Witcher 3 was one of those games that I actually pay full attention to the dialogues and in-game quest instructions. This is because this game is embedded with so many riddles and puzzles to be solved in the context of the story. In addition, these are not just some simple and repetitive puzzles that require you to perform the same few steps. Some of them are rather hard and require some logic, linguistic and detective skills, which makes the game even more challenging and fun. It also brings more dynamicity to the game such that it is more than just a simple “slash-you-out” type of game.

A game inside a game 🃏

Speaking of problem-solving, how can the players forget about the famous Gwent! Gwent is definitely one of the features in the game that grinds our brain juice, especially when there are many mechanics involved and tough in-game AIs to defeat. It is truly amazing that CD Projekt Red designed and built a totally independable game within the already super packed Witcher 3 🤩

Lens 7: Elemental Tetrad


Combat Mechanics 🤺

A very complex system combined with many interesting game mechanics. Listing a few: House racing, monster hunting, detective vision, solving riddles, equipment crafting, skill trees, elemental powers and dynamic storyline progression, etc.


The game takes place in a fictional fantasy world based on Slavic mythology. Players control Geralt of Rivia, a monster slayer for hire known as a Witcher, and search for his adopted daughter, who is on the run from the otherworldly Wild Hunt. Players battle the game’s many dangers with weapons and magic, interact with non-player characters, and complete quests to acquire experience points and gold, which are used to increase Geralt’s abilities and purchase equipment. The game’s story has three possible endings, determined by the player’s choices at key points in the narrative.


Breathtaking AAA Open World Graphics, with ultra-detailed character design and immersive sound effects; Unique and impressive architectures and environment styling that brings about a realistic fantasy world;


The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was created with the REDengine 3, CD Projekt Red’s proprietary game engine designed for nonlinear role-playing video games set in open-world environments, aided by the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles and prepared for use in October 2014.

REDengine 3 was designed to run exclusively on a 64-bit software platform. CD Projekt Red created REDengine 3 for the purpose of developing open-world video game environments. It introduces improvements to facial and other animations. Lighting effects no longer suffer from reduced contrast ratio. REDengine 3 also supports volumetric effects enabling advanced rendering of clouds, mist, fog, smoke, and other particle effects. There is also support for high-resolution textures and mapping, as well as dynamic physics and an advanced dialogue lip-syncing system.

REDengine 3 has a flexible renderer prepared for deferred or forward+ rendering pipelines. The result is a wide array of cinematic effects, including bokeh depth-of-view, colour grading and lens flares associated with multiple lighting. The terrain system in REDengine 3 uses tessellation and layers of varying material, which can then be easily blended.


Though this blog post is mostly praising the Witcher 3, drafting this blog post has actually taught me to appreciate a good game through different points of view. It has also taught me what we should look out for in the different lenses when it comes to designing our own games.

Umurangi Generation

Plenty of games by now have implemented some sort of photography mechanic where the player can further immerse themselves in the world by having their character take images of their view of their world. But photography in these games are often hardly the most important feature of the game. At least until Umurangi Generation, a first person photography simulator first released in May 2020. Well received by indie players and critics, the IGF award-winning game is most notable for its ability to make a subjective art form, like photography, an actually rewarding core mechanic in a virtual world.

Set in the “shitty future” [sic], the player is a Māori courier amidst impending civil turmoil and resistance against a United Nations occupation. Armed only with a film camera (and great parkour skills), the player traverses the cityscape and takes pictures for cash. I played the first level of the game, taking place at the roof of Mauao View, with graffiti splattered walls, scratchy chill hop blasting from boomboxes, and a pool with a penguin?

Lens #17: The Toy

Here the toy clearly is the camera. Is the camera fun to play with even though there are no goals? That would depend on how well the virtual camera is adapted from a real life one.

To many photography enthusiasts, it is essential that the camera has enough settings to give them control and autonomy over the outcome of their shots. But to photography beginners, the technical details may be overwhelming. Being neither a replacement of photography, nor a photography tutorial, but a photography game, it is essential that the camera is accessible enough, but also providing the options that real photography provides in terms of color, focus, exposure, etc. The game abstracts away or omits many of the technical details (film types, f-stop, developing), and together with the “photo editing app”-style sliders and limited mechanics (mainly zoom, focus, lens switching), Umurangi Generation really succeeds in maintaining this balance. 

Lens #79: Freedom

Having a good camera doesn’t necessarily make the game fun. A game about art would not make sense if the player doesn’t have artistic freedom. The game makes it clear from the get go that scoring photos by some sort of metric isn’t right; after all…

This translates directly into the game as: you will not be graded/judged/penalised for the aesthetic of your shots. In fact you can either

  1. take low effort shots and rush through the game
  2. carefully framing and color grading each shot
  3. parkouring into the weirdest places and just taking the most extreme angles

and you can complete the game just the same. In fact, the less you feel bounded by the need to play the game properly, the more you go out of the way to explore the world beyond what the rules tell you to, the more you are likely to get out of the game.

Lens #38: Challenge

All that said, this game is not a sandbox game, it doesn’t have enough building/interactive elements to be one. So how can the players feel challenged, and feel progression in a game that doesn’t emphasize extrinsic objectives? 

  1. Photo bounties: Take pictures of the items required
  2. Constraints: Time limit, Film limit.
  3. Unlocking equipment: By fulfilling bonus objectives

Photo bounties give the player some direction and goal in each level by requiring certain subject matter in the photos. While that seems simple enough, the bounties are often accompanied by certain other shot requirements (Must this be a closeup shot? A wide angle one? Taken with telephoto lens?) which adds an additional dimension of challenge e.g. a standard lens may not be able to take a close up shot of a bird far away.

There is also a 10min time limit for timely bounty delivery, and a 24 film limit on how many pictures you can take. By limiting resources, the game imitates the challenges in real-life film photography, making the players value their shots more and put in more thought into each one.

There is one more mechanic: money. But other than being a number on the screen and one of the bonus bounty missions, it doesn’t really seem to have any other incentive or purpose. In that sense it is perhaps redundant, but doesn’t detract from the game.

Quite importantly the game does not punish the player much for failing to meet objectives. If you run out of film or time you can still roam in the level until you want to restart. Taking pictures of the blue-bottle jellyfishes is “not allowed”, but if you happen to take them, you get a minor fine on the photo, and that is all.

Lens #7: Endogenous Value

But that doesn’t solve the question of how the player can feel progress (other than clearing each level). You do so mainly by unlocking gear, after completing all bonus objectives. Not only does this encourage replaying the level (it isn’t easy to complete the bounties AND finish all the objectives within the 10min limit on your first try), it also is a great way to give endogenous value to clearing objectives when they aren’t enforced heavily.

Lens #9: Elemental Tetrad

Aesthetics: Upon playing one can immediately tell the graphics take a leaf out of the early-3D era of game graphics, with the low polygon count and neon saturated colors. This is unsurprising given that the aesthetic of the 80s and 90s are experiencing a resurgence, but the Cyberpunk inspired environment and Jet Set Radio inspired models and set design evokes more than just feelings of nostalgia. It is part of intentional atmosphere design and world building. Which ties in with…

Story: Strong parallels exist between the cyberpunk trope and the zeitgeist of the 80s, as developer Tali Faulkner describes in this slide. 

Screenshot of Faulkner’s presentation from Freeplay Parallels 2020 [Source]

Inspired by his government’s handling of Australian bushfires and COVID-19, Faulkner wanted to make a social commentary he felt without him having to preach to his audience about it. Further on in the gameplay, the environments get darker, foggier, dingier and heightens the sense of danger and hopelessness than the story embodies, without the story ever having to even introduce a single line of character dialog. After all this is a photography game.

Mechanics: And the simple mechanics (point, shoot, toggle settings) and typical first person movement controls help to drive home that. The way the objectives are designed, almost like a “hidden object game”, encourages you to really observe your surroundings and take in the world he is trying to convey, explore every ledge, nook and cranny for an item or a shot location. Nowhere is off limits, the NPCs don’t even seem to notice you, whereas you are hyper-aware of all of them, allowing you to soak up the world you are living in.

Technology: The game, developed in Unity, has simple controls (since the mechanics don’t require it), low-poly graphics, doesn’t require any complicated AI, and doesn’t require a powerful graphics card to run. The technology is just enough to deliver the game, and the simplicity works out well for the game.


Umurangi Generation is a rare gem in the haystack of indie and AAA games because of how much heart and soul is in it, not a common sight these days. This really shows when you break down the game’s design in terms of the Lenses, and we can learn a lot from Umurangi Generation about effective visual storytelling and immersion with almost minimal technology.

Genshin Impact — Step Into a Vast Magical World of Adventure

Genshin Impact is an open-world action role-playing game, where the player is a traveller exploring the world of Teyvat, in search for their lost sibling. On their journey, players meet different characters, embark on quests and discover new cities.

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Lens 7: Elemental Tetrad


Players can wander around freely using the normal navigation controls. They can also sprint, jump, climb, glide and swim but with limited stamina. During combat, players can use normal attacks and elemental attacks, with different weapons and elements depending on the chosen playable character.


The stories mostly lie in the quests, which involve meeting certain characters and helping to resolve the conflicts they are facing. It is mostly a linear story-telling method (author control), the interaction (player control) is relatively insignificant — only on a conversational level.

Character dialogue


Genshin Impact has stunning aesthetics, with detailed character design and architecture of vibrant colours, paired with enchanting music, sound effects and character dialogue that gives personality.

Aesthetics and visual design

Meticulous care is also given to the interactions that players can have with their environment, making the experience very immersive and in line with the theme of exploration.


The game was developed using Unity. It is available on multiple platforms, such as Android, IOS, Windows, PS4, PS5 and they are planning to release on Nintendo Switch as well.

Lens 1: Essential Experience

I believe that one of Genshin Impact’s key components is their concept of elemental reactions and character switching. Each playable character has a main element (wind, fire, ice, etc). Combat in the game requires players to think about how to use elemental compatibility and reactivity to their advantage, both within their own party and against their opponents. For example, attacking with a water character and then switching to an ice character can freeze enemies that are difficult to beat, or using an electricity character on a rainy day will cause the enemies to be electrocuted, hence dealing more damage.

Understanding more about how the world in the game works and using past knowledge to solve new problems are part of the essential experience of the game.

Elemental Reaction of fire and water to increase damage

Lens 5: Endogenous Value

There are various rewards players can receive in Genshin Impact, and I think one of the most significant ones are Primogems. Genshin Impact has a “gacha” (or randomised) mechanic of pulling playable characters, and Primogems are the in-game currency necessary for that. Since the characters have different strengths and weaknesses, players would feel motivated to earn more Primogems to be able to pull more characters to create their ideal team.

Gacha” wish system to get playable characters

Completing certain domains or defeating bosses can also reward players with the required materials for levelling up their weapons or characters, which is also attractive as it makes defeating tough opponents easier.

As someone who does not want to spend money on games, this system works in my favour as I can continue to progress and enjoy the core game experience as long as I work on the right quests and tasks.

Lens 2, 3 & 4: Surprise, Fun & Curiosity

When players are not pursuing any active quests, they can go at their own pace in increasing their world exploration progress. As an open-world game, Genshin Impact provides many opportunities for players to wander around unexplored regions on the map, discovering enemy camps and treasure chests along the way. This is what I usually do when I get bored or stuck at a particularly difficult quest but still want to play the game.

Attacking enemy camps

Lens 6: Problem Solving

As mentioned earlier, combat requires strategies, especially when defeating opponents with different weaknesses. Players can use weapons and elemental reactions to their advantage.

One of my favourite parts is how Genshin Impact has puzzles sprinkled all over their map — for example, figuring out the right mechanism to unlock a certain domain. Clues and hints are available in the area, and players can put two and two together, sometimes using different characters’ abilities to solve the puzzle. This gives a great sense of accomplishment.

Solving a puzzle to unlock rewards


Overall, Genshin Impact has a good mix of action, problem-solving and aesthetic. I love how it allows players to immerse themselves in a different world, and the way players can slowly explore and progress at their own pace if they choose to.

PUBG Mobile

PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds (PUBG) is an online multiplayer battle royale game developed by PUBG Corporation, a subsidiary of Krafton. PUBG Mobile was released in 2018, one year after the successful release of the PC version in 2017.

PUBG PGI 2018 Results - ft. Ninja, shroud, Dr DisRespect - Elecspo

Lens 1: Experience
PUBG Mobile is a battle royale game, which blends last-man standing gameplay with the survival, exploration and scavenging elements of a survival game. Such a concept is not one that people often get to face in real life, but players can discover such an experience through the virtual effects of such a game.
In addition, the game is meant to have an extremely immersive experience. Players are recommended to use earpieces when playing the game to value add to their experience. Key sound effects include footsteps, gunshots etc, based on these sound effects, players can gauge where their enemies are without having to see them.

PUBG Mobile version 8 adds Sanhok map, enhanced airdrops and ma

Lens 2 & 3: Surprise & Fun
In a battle royale game like PUBG Mobile, the element of surprise is always present throughout the duration of the game. While navigating through the map, you will not know if there is an enemy camping behind a wall or snaking in the tall grass. These enemies are bound to give you a surprise when you walk past.
PUBG Mobile has many fun aspects, one of it is that it is a social game. While solo mode does exist, most people opt to play squad mode in a squad of four people. The fun and enjoyment gained through playing and winning the game with your friends is pleasurable for the brain.

Best weapons in PUBG Mobile | Digit

Lens 4: Curiosity
There are many different weapon types and an even larger number of different weapons available in the game. Different weapon types are suitable for different kinds of combat, and different players are more accustomed to different types of combat. For example, a player may be better at close quarter combat, and would prefer guns like sub machine guns, in comparison to another player who is better at long range combat, and would prefer guns like bolt action sniper rifles. In order to find out what he is most accustomed to, players will always be curious to put themselves in different situations during the game to try out new types of combat.

PMGC 2021 Announced With $6 Million USD Prize Pool: How Does it Compare to  Other Esports Events?

Lens 5: Endogenous Value
Players who make it to the professional stage have the chance of winning great prize pools, for example the most recent PUBG Mobile Global Championships 2021 has a huge prize pool of USD$6 million. For amateur players, there are also regional competitions they can sign up for to win smaller prize pools, and it also gives them a chance to make it to the professional leagues as well.

Lens 6: Problem Solving
While some may look at the game as a simple shooting game, that is actually far from the case. Within a squad of players, there are different roles, examples are In-Game Leader, Fragger, Flanker, Sniper, Support etc. Based on players’ strengths, they are allocated roles for them to display their strengths, and they all play important parts in winning a team fight or the entire game. Also, there are also a lot of analysis and problem solving when it comes to finding appropriate rotations into the safe zone, not rotating into the safe zone on time will result in the elimination of the team. In general, there are also many other strategies such as the heal strategy, but I will not go into detail here as they involve too many technical details.

In general, analysing such a popular game like PUBG Mobile has thought me that there is a lot more than it meets the eye when it comes to creating a successful game like this. It is important to consider many various perspectives when designing any game in general, and looking at the lenses are a good way to start of with.