A Trip to New York and Some Huge Artwork

The PS4 launched last week and, though I still barely believe my luck, I got the chance to accompany Jon to the launch event in New York! As it turned out, I was a bit too shy to help him out too much with the questions, but it was still an invaluable experience for someone who has never before been to anything like this event.

The interviews happened somewhat randomly. A whole floor of the Standard Hotel was dedicated to indie games that would appear on the PS4, and the press wandered around, peeking into rooms and sitting down to play the games when they were available. I snapped a picture of the room where The Witness was shown:


We spent two days showing the game to many journalists. They usually played from the beginning for a while, then Jon took them on a guided tour of an area where the puzzles were starting to get a little crazy, explaining the thought process behind them. It was so great to finally see the game being played! Everyone seemed to love it, too!

During the nights, we were invited to a few events. Sony took the indie developers out for dinner, where I met Shuhei Yoshida, and chatted with the guys from Secret Ponchos about goldsmithing and tattoos. It was a good opportunity to get to know the other developers, and a nice gesture by Sony. The next night there was also a bigger, louder party in the penthouse of a tall building, to which local developers were invited as well. It was so full we could barely move, so I just stood around trying to piece together conversation through the incessant club music.

By Wednesday we were done with the interviews and I had some time to explore New York and feel totally lazy while Jon got some programming and design done in a cafe. I ended up spending most of the day in the MoMA, where there just happened to be a special Magritte exhibition going. Love Magritte! Oh, and I also got to see Sleep No More, which was a really amazing experience!

The most unbelievable part of the trip for me, however, was seeing our artwork displayed on the side of the 17 story hotel. It was difficult to decipher right up close, since it was displayed on huge sheets of LED lights, but it was wonderful to be right there to see it happen! We took a few pictures but they turned out very blurry, so here are some taken by Kevin Geisler:

2 3 1

Only Alex's windmill and my autumn forest and orchard made it onto the building, but I thought I would include all the original images we submitted, since we put some effort into getting them together. These are pretty high res, in case you guys want to print your own posters or crop them down and make some wallpapers:

Witness_windmill Witness_autumn Witness_MountainTree Witness_Beach Witness_keep Witness_Ruins Witness_entry Witness_orchard


  1. It looks great, although I feel like the beach was the only piece of art that would have really shined on a building. I would like to see what the art looked like from a distanced, though.

  2. Good job Orsi. The autumn forest looks nice. The angles of the alpha planes with the leaves on the orange trees looks just right, the leaves look very natural. I’m curious about something, the overexposure light effect on the leaves in the top of the image was rendered in real time by the shader or was it done in photoshop after the render?

    • For the autumn forest shot, I only brightened the frame of the puzzle panel to highlight it a little more, everything else is straight from the engine. It’s all lighting, tone mapping, and a volume that color corrects everything based on a reference screenshot the artists can tweak.

  3. That sounds like a really exciting experience! I’m really happy for you guys. I just got my “Witness Machine” aka PS4 and I am really enjoying it. This goes without saying, as I end every post with this but:


  4. These are absolutely georgeous!! Finally some hi-res pictures, ou I cant wait to mess around that remarkable designed island and solve puzzless…

    @Orsi or @Jonathan: I am just curios, are you willing to tell us how big do you expect that the game could be? In GB…I guess not much since you are using nice and clean objects without heavy texturing..

  5. Currently the game is around 3GB. I do not know how much that will change when we ship.

    • Maybe I am too easily impressed or I have false assumptions about game sizes (thinking of how modern FPS’s are tens of gigabytes now) but holy cow, that is a very reasonable size!

      • These sizes are caused by resources…models, textures and sounds. Actual code is “small” copared to the other stuff…

        We only can admire how good looking game is Thekla making without any texture overkill, it is wery “easy” to mask stuff with testures all around the place, but this is different kind of art, with right shading and lighting you can create nice looking enviroment, just like in The Witness :)

        BTW Thank you for the answer Jonathan! Currently 3 GB is really great, with my connection around 5 Mbps, titles like Killzone(50 GB) would take loooooong time to get downloaded, but this game could be played in 1-2 hours!

        • Yeah, I don’t think I’ve even seen code go over a few 100Mb at most. Here’s something to think about – the human DNA chain is basically code too – a compiled binary that’s 4Gb in size. Makes you wonder what they used to write it and what they used to compile it and how you debug it.

          • Also there is too much redundancy in the code. In other words, it needs to be heavily optimized. Doing so would shrink the 4Gb size considerably! :)

  6. Also, I felt compelled to put all these new screenshots together into a fan trailer.

    Appologies for it not being a youtube link, but after an hour and a half of fiddling, I wasn’t able to get it to export in it’s proper form. What can you do?

  7. I noticed a lot of detail in the rocks and I was wondering if you had implemented some type of Radiosity Normal Mapping or similar technique for areas not light by dynamic lighting? I would assume baking the detail into the light map would require them to be much too large. If so does that technique work and look good for reconstructing specular lighting as well or do you just have specular highlights from the sun and point lights?

  8. These pictures look stunning. What kind of GPU will be required to run this at max (1080p, 60 fps), even if it’s just a rough estimate. I’m looking at getting one that’s slightly better than the PS4’s, would that be a safe bet or would you recommend a bit more power?

    Thank you, and can’t wait to play the finished game.

  9. Hi Jonathan & The Witness guys,

    Thanks from Holland for these beautiful images. We’ve decided to use them for our office, so much appreciated. :)

    Good luck on the game!


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