Part 2 of Mike Pondsmith’s Introduction

Click here for the part 1 of the article

The Right Feel

There are people out there who have protested to me at conventions that there have been hundreds of cyberpunk games made over that last two decades. But my counter-response is that, save for a very rare few exceptions,  most “cyberpunk” games are games from other genres with a cyberpunk veneer shellacked over the top; standard action shooters, futuristic racing games, involved explorations on trans-human philosophy—even classic space operas dressed up with a few heroes uncomfortably wearing leather dusters over their vac suits and mirror-shades perched precariously on the the tops of their finned helmets.

Most people think cyberpunk is just a summary of specific tropes; big guns, dark streets and dangerous guys in ubiquitous leather dusters. But the core of cyberpunk is a lot more subtle than that. Cyberpunk is about the seductive qualities of corruption and decay. In a world where rules and morality are non-existent, the temptation to descend to the level of the mean streets is always there. It doesn’t have to be dirty or grimy on the physical level. But on the psycho-social level, even the cleanest and most orderly Corp-zone should be rife with darkness and collapse. Ambiguous moral choices are key to cyberpunk, as are victories that aren’t always clear victories, and  defeats that feel like victories because they are hard won against impossible odds.

True cyberpunk also needs an adult feel (and that means more than just the sex). Unlike other genres, cyberpunk characters should have vices to go with their virtues. How they DEAL with those vices is a big part of their complexity. When we looked at the Witcher series, we saw a world where gambling,drinking, hookers and other vices were a big part of character development, but were also handled as part of the general adult character of the world. But in addition, relationships were treated as actual relationships, with the fights, negotiations, regrets and reconciliations that are part of the way real adults handle real situations.

Last, doomed, Romantic quests are another part of the cyberpunk mythology. You’re not just fighting an evil mega corp because  it will get you money. You’re doing it to save a friend, settle a personal score, win a lover, champion a cause. Most of the time, you’re a solo gunslinger riding a dirty, dangerous path, depending on your wits and skills as your follow your lonely quest to do what you know you must. You don’t stride in like a superhero, triumphantly defeating all enemies; you win by the skin of your teeth, and it means more because it’s PERSONAL.

The Right Tech

Cyberpunk isn’t just about high tech. It has to be the RIGHT LEVEL of high tech. Most “cyberpunk” games miss this important element, larding up the process with superpowers, spaceships, blasters and other overblown technologies. But the devices, vehicles, weapons and gadgets of a truly cyberpunk world have to be things that are only a few seconds ahead of where we are right now. They should be things that will spring from the real world we live in; direct extensions of trends currently in play. You can’t have ray guns in a cyberpunk setting—but you can have advanced sub-machine guns. Perfect example: in a Cyberpunk® project  written several years ago, I created the “agent”; a hand held super cell-phone that used small micro-programs that could tailor the device to the users needs. At the time, it was a logical extension of what cellphones should be able to do in the near future. Ten years later, I’m writing this on my tablet smart-phone. See what I mean?

The Right Resources

Making a great game can’t be done on a shoestring budget. You need the right hardware to execute a great vision. You also need the right combination of tools; specialized software, design tools, solid conceptual designers, modelers and researchers. You also have to have the will to make new tools and draw upon all your resources. Although we’d worked with other teams over the years who had the talent and passion, they didn’t have the level of resources needed to make a spectacular game that would be worthy of Cyberpunk®‘s many rabid fans.

  • EDOJHVKHV

    Brilliant read.It is very obvious from the start that you want this game to do justice to something that you created and cherished for so many years,and that you are(along with CD Projekt Red of course)doing everything you can to make it right.I personally can’t wait to hear and see more of it,whether it’s a picture of concept art or some new detail about the game,seriously,I have been playing games for the last 15 years or so and I can’t remember when was the last time I was this excited about a game.

    • Wisdom000

       Amen to that.

  • Kaleidoscope

    God damn you have got me super stoked for this game. The partnership between yourself and CDPR is a match made in heaven as far as I’m concerned. It’s the perfect project from the perfect team. I’m afraid I don’t have anything more insightful than that to say, but you’ll be getting my pre-order on day 1, guaranteed.

  • Wisdom000

    Jesus Mike…. what you said about the right tech… its pretty much the exact same thing as what I wrote in response to the other blog entry.  I am so filled with confidence that this will be the best game ever, I am almost shaking in anticipation.

    And while there have been a few Cyberpunk games, most notably Deus Ex, there has NEVER been a decent Cyberpunk sandbox game.  I really thought Saints Row 3 was going to be the first, but in the end that game just came out as utterly disappointing clownshoes.  But it was worth going through that level of disappointment, on a karmic scale, to see a sandbox game based directly off the Cyberpunk 2020 franchise.

    I keep saying it, this is a dream come true…  Since GTA 3 came out, the first true sandbox game, I have been waiting for this.  I am way more invested in this already than I have any right to be.  

    Damn we need a forum here…. what I want to say, the conversations about this game I want to have, cannot be contained to just a response box…

    • EDOJHVKHV

      Yep,we DEFINITELY need forum.

    • Guest

      Stop drooling, Deric, it lowers your face score. :)

      • Wisdom000

         I know, its undignified, but dignity be damned… I want this game…

    • Hock Seng

       I don’t think it’s gonna be sandbox dude.

      • EDOJHVKHV

        They have confirmed that it IS a Sandbox game.

      • Hock Seng

         Well, I’m excited as all hell then

        Give me the option to customize my Character’s gender and appearance and such and it will be my GOTYAY

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lars-Anderson/100003291510443 Lars Anderson

        except they said it was going to be sandbox

      • Daendyr19

        It will be sanbox.

    • robert70r

       It is indeed. The forum is really necessary here. :)

    • Crackton

      GTA is not sandbox and I doubt this will.. Neither are Skyrim, Fallout 3/NV etc.

      They are (good) open world games, but you can’t just be whatever you want to. Free-roam, sidequest and tons of random stuff to do is great in a game, but it’s not sandbox imo.

      • Crackton

        Normally you use that definition in MMO’s.. Sandbox vs. Themepark.. WoW got insane amounts of stuff to do, you can level in many different zones, with many different characters, never having to do the same quests or just by killing monsters. Gathering is also decent for levelling now afaik and after level 10 you can level in PvP. you can chose to focus on crafting and trading, dungeons and raids or PvP or just chill around doing random stuff.. But it’s not a sandbox, it’s the classic definition of a Themepark.

  • dragonpellet

    The moment I heard about this game I knew it was going to be #1 on my wishlist. I’m a big fan of cyberpunk and I love games with an adult/mature tone. Some developers put lots of blood and gore in their games and then call it maturebut there has got to be more to it than that.

    If this game turns out anything like you describe it, it’s going to be fantastic and unique! I can’t wait to throw myself into the cyberpunk 2077 universe!!

  • RexFeryl

    Frank Miller once said ”The noir hero is a knight in blood caked armor. He’s dirty and he does his best to deny the fact that he’s a hero the whole time.” Cyberpunk is film noir meets the near future. Getting that right is key and no one in video game land has done that yet. I know that’s about to end when you guys put this game out. I am beyond psyched for this game.

    • Hock Seng

       If only Frank Miller wasn’t a total derelict.

  • http://www.facebook.com/PaulHThornton Paul Thornton

    Killer read, not only for what we get to look forward to with regard tot his game, but for people who still play and run table top Cyberpunk games. Like me! Great inspiration here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Justin-Case/100003772398650 Justin Case

    CDPR,can we please have a forum?
    Also,good read Mike.

  • RosscoGameFace

    Really looking forward to this, haven’t played a good cyberpunk game since Shadowrun (SNES, none of this xbox pish.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/gastao.esteves Gastão Esteves

    You know what is the most frustrating thing with all “cyberpunk” games out there? None of them give you a good customization of cyberware.

    And by good customization I’m not speaking of one thing that you add and just increase a ability value (like some kind or magic armor on medieval rpg). I want to be able to choose between cyberwares with fun factor that actually changes my gameplay. Something like controlling remotaly some eletronic stuffs using by cyberpunk’s brain or have sharp razors coming out my arm (like the artwork showed by CDPR).

    I hope you guys can do it right.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Konrad-Barden/1095906632 James Konrad Barden

      None of them really do Virtual Reality & Hacking right, either!

      • Hock Seng

         Kinda hard to do virtual reality though. Let’s face it the Internet we have now is 1000 times better than some jack in crap like in When Gravity Fails

    • Wyatt Kelsey

      Oh gawd this.

  • Hock Seng

    Damn, this looks quite good.

    I do hope it comes out on console though. I can’t afford a computer that can run Minecraft, much less a modern AAA game.

    • Tarathelion

      It is supposed to be AAA+ game which means more than one platform. So there s good chance in will be on consoles

  • http://magiczne.seoisem.pl/ Bartek

    This is going to be one of *these* games! Thank you so much for “The Right Tech” paragraph – games these days are so unbalanced :/. I can not speak for others, but I for one am willing to pre-order Cyberpunk 2077 right now. Just give me a link :) .

  • Solo_dragun

    Love it mike! You said it chombatta, as far as I’m concerned this is the first official digital cyberpunk game. So looking forward to Friday night firefights with my kendachi monokatana and my armalite smart chipped .44. Keep following that lonely quest to do what you know you must to ensure the creation of the greatest game ever! You may remember this mike… ” a lot of battles get won before the first shot is fired. When your eyes meet his, and he knows that you’re willing to pay the price in blood. His blood, your blood- it doesn’t matter to you. You’re committed.” Take heart in the difficult times ahead. Stay committed and best of luck!

  • DeadboltDon

    We’re eager for more Mike. Keep up the hard work. (P.S. We really do need a forum).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Konrad-Barden/1095906632 James Konrad Barden

    Man, when I think of Cyberpunk, I think of Tron meets Deus Ex, System Shock, and Noir-ish fiction. I can’t agree a great game can’t be made on a shoestring budget, look at Bejeweled or some of the simpler stuff out there–even MUD’s. I also disagree with lasers not being part of it, as they’re already using cold fusion in the modern world. However, I understand and dig the vision. A “lightsaber” type weapon/whip or throat garrette, like the one used in Johnny Mnemonic works perfect in Cyberpunk, as does the hoverboards with magnetic “car surfing” found in Neal Stephenson’s ‘Snow Crash.’ All really cool ideas! I’m still waiting for a Lady with extendable nails, ala Neuromancer.

    • Ramt1nekpl

      Amen –  just finished to read Neuromancer and wanted to write the same thing about Laser lines used for stealth killing and extendables nails :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Konrad-Barden/1095906632 James Konrad Barden

    Not to mention psionics and cybernetic gear. A bitchin’ vibra-katana would be badass!

  • Wyatt Kelsey

    Mike, I am  so glad that you confronted this, because after playing the abomination that was “Syndicate (2012)” I felt like the cyberpunk genre was about to become this soulless, 2-dimensional, commercial object, that almost every-other thing from the 80′s-90′s had become.

  • http://twitter.com/MassaFX MassaFX

    Ok, I will confess. I have never played the PnP Cyberpunk game. But, I’ve always loved the idea of it. I’ve played Neocron, Anarchy Online, and Syndicate. I didn’t love any of them. So… I’m coming to Cyberpunk 2077 with low expectations I suppose. I really look forward to this game because of Mike’s involvement and the teams dedication in hiring true talent. Thanks for the blog entries! Keep ‘em coming!

  • Gawdzila

    Mr. Mike, you know WTF you’re talking about.

    Even if I had any doubts about CDPR’s ability to do this well (and I don’t), the fact that you’re in on it gives me the utmost confidence that the right decisions will be made.  Aside from having created one of my favorite PnP settings, you clearly have a learned outlook on the subtle philosophical underpinnings of the whole Cyberpunk genre.  This game is absolutely going to get it RIGHT.

  • Hidden

    So true! Basically, Cyberpunk is the exact opposite of Steampunk. Where Steampunk works by taking current inventions and remaking them using older technology (usually something from the end of the 19th century), Cyberpunk works the exact opposite, and say “what if technology was just a LITTLE bit better than we have now, or some already existing technology was actually affordable, reliable or efficient enough for use?”

    We already have the technology to colonize Mars, but we don’t have the resources (yet) to do so.
    In a Cyberpunk setting, such colonization might already be in progress.

    We can already make holographic emitters (so not the mirror thingies but actual emitters). But they involve filling a 10×10 room with technology for an 0.3×0.3×0.3 sized hologram.
    In a Cyberpunk setting, we might be able to size down the technology to the same size as the hologram it emits, though it’d probably still be too expensive for common use: something you might only find with a few bigger corporations.

  • Hangmans Tree

    I could never find a decent CP fiction in games. New Deus Ex wasnt much of a Cyberpunk imo. And that was a letdown. I love CP2020, have all the meterial on my shelf to this day. Although illustrations aged a bit (understatement, lol), the word in those books is still more fresh than the so called cyberpunkish games we see being developed now and then. Maybe thats just my nostalgia talking ;)
    Aye, when will you open Afterlife (forums)?

    PS
    To see my fellow country men develop such an importatnt title, which might become a milestone in the genre and gaming overall, is just… mindblown XD

    Yes, Cyberpunk was always a strong current here…

  • Jesper857

    I really hope we will be able to decide our Gender, was that confirmed yet?

  • Tnoyce

    Sounding more and more like things are on the right track here, as I figured they would be.

    Keep the info flowing.. :)

  • Goride

    I cannot wait for this.

  • Thor

    Cant wait!!!
    Cyberpunk was my top pen and paper game at 90′s and finally its going to computer.

  • Salamurhaajanoppoika

    Aaa. Remember to add finnish NPC.
    Finland in one of the Hi-Tec countries in the world and will be in 2077. Our schooling is very mutch oriented to new tecnologies etc.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/FEZXEZZ2TR5PYDCFACDXIYICSE Jeremy

    I would like to see a third person camera as well as first person.  Choices never hurt.  I also would like to see stealth improved period.  If I can roleplay as a hardened criminal I’ll be happy.  Give us drugs, drugs from the future!!!11

  • Rivercliff

    One word: “potential” (Unfortunately, my enthusiasm is tempered by my disappointment with TSW. A year ago I probably would have been hyperventilating by now.) Cyberpunk = great. Cyberpunk + CDProject = greater. Cyberpunk + CDProject + Mike Pondsmith = greatest! Like I said, “POTENTIAL!”

  • http://twitter.com/thewazaa Josep Pons

    I love your definition regarding Cyberpunk! So true. I will love to see some analisis from you of some Cyberpunk japanese comics and what you think about them, if they are cyberpunk or not: Blame, Ghost in the Shell, Appleseed…

  • E.S.

    I have complete confidence in CD Projekt RED but the announcement of this game being a sandbox style game is a bit of a disappointment for me. I read somewhere about the terrible completion rate for most sandbox games. How will CD Projekt RED handle this issue? How will you prevent players from getting bored or frustrated? Do you really think your quests will be varied enough to fight off repetition? Here’s hoping you go the semi-open world route similar to Batman Arkham Asylum (not Arkham City). I’m guessing the team is going the latter route though :(

    • Wisdom000

       I disagree with you.  No linear game could ever hope to encompass everything that Cyberpunk is.  In fact, a linear game, even done open world style, like Arkham or Deus Ex, would be far too limiting, and have far less playability, than a sandbox world.  With those games, you are limited to the story the game designers want to tell.  Deus Ex was fun, but once I played through it, which even going as slow as possible to take in and do everything I could, took just a few days, and once I beat it I never touched it again.  Wheras a sandbox game, Like Saints Row 2, GTA San Andreas, or Sleeping dogs… always keep me coming back. 

      Hell I still, almost 10 years later, pop in San Andreas.  A sandbox game allows you to not only play the games stories, but it allows you to play your own, in ways linear games simply do not, and cannot, allow.  The amount of time I played Saints Row 2 is nothing short of staggering. Discovering all the intracies, storing all the unique and mission specific vehicles in my garage, creating characters…. Hell I an still spend hours just shopping and getting clothes to find the right look, or getting in epic battles with gangs or cops… 

      And the more customization you put into a sandbox game, the longer it will be played, as you want to see every variation, every vehicle in your garage will be unique to you, your character will look and act like no one elses, it will be personalized in such a fashion as to always be at least a little fresh.

      There is just so much you can do with cyberpunk, that without a huge sandbox to play in, you will never even scratch the surface. 

      In fact, I would go as far as to say, if the Cyberpunk game was not going to be a sandbox game, my interest in it would drop drastically.  And I say this, as undisputedly, the pencil and paper games biggest fan and most ardent supporter.  The fact that they have verified it as a sandbox, is what has me literally trembling with excitement when I think about it too much.

      HOwever, take heart, they did create a linear Cyberpunk 2020 game for cell phones a few years ago.  It was put out by Lemonquest and its called Arasaka’s  Plot.  So we both have what we want.

      • E.S.

        You have listed a lot of open-world games that you like (Saints Row, GTA, and Sleeping Dogs). They are more open-world than they are sandbox especially in the case of Sleeping Dogs (which I quite enjoyed). It seems like you want an open-world game with sandbox design elements. I think this is what CDPR is most likely delivering. Its ambitious considering the size of CDPR and their budget…we could be waiting a while for it.

    • Wisdom000

       Also, when they talk of sandbox games having a low completion, they are generally referring to people not gaining 100% on them.  Completing the story of these games, no matter how long the story is, is usually only between 50 and 75% of the actual game… the rest being various activities or challenges, that really have nothing to do with the story, but add something extra for the most hardcore gamers. 

      In other words, sandbox games don’t often get completed because there is so very much to do in them…. Not because they are somehow lacking in entertainment, but because they offer so very much to do beyond the main plot.  Other than racing or fighting games, I have honestly gotten to the point that Sandbox games are the only ones I will buy new at full price anymore, because they are the only ones that offer me enough content and replayability to make the purchase worthwhile.

  • ConcreteShelter

    I love this man. I love his voice. I love how he writes.He’s the Berry White of the cyberpunk.

  • Greg Lyon

    I really feel like Deus Ex: Human Revolution got the setting and the feel of cyberpunk right. It was personal, though not as adult as it could have been, the tech closely mirrors what we already have. (with a few choice exceptions) 

    I think the only thing keeping HR from being a cyberpunk game is it calling itself a cyberpunk game.

    What do you think? Did you play it? 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alexander-Mzhavia/100001213415042 Alexander Mzhavia

    :)

  • François Gallé

    I love this. I’m quite confident that you and CDProjekt could make a great game. I’m also very happy about the sandbox style of the project.

  • cyber+

    You are sooo right bro!!

    in the past there were many fake cyberpunk games but no true ones. I always hoped to get a real cyberpunk game again with this special feeling and atmosphere.

    wish you best luck and hope you will be able to make everything you said true!