Mike Pondsmith Looks Moody, Talks Cyberpunk

By Jim Rossignol on January 18th, 2013 at 2:00 pm.


Those handsome men at CDP have put out a video featuring Cyberpunk creator – that’s creator of the original pen and paper RPG system (and one of my own nerd-heroes) – Mike Pondsmith. I was surprised to see Mr Pondsmith appear at Cyberpunk 2077‘s initial unveiling, and it seems that CDP are very much bringing him along the ride as their create their new digital RPG. Which is a good thing, because he’s an extremely smart and creative guy, who did a lot to define Cyberpunk as a game concept and a setting, and will no doubt provide some worthy input in this new game.

So yeah. This isn’t a game trailer so much as just a transmission from one of the minds most fundamentally responsible for it, and I wish game promotion was more about this sort of material, frankly.

So yeah. Can’t wait for this one. It’s going to be quite the thing.

That teaser again:

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49 Comments »

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  1. f1x says:

    I should put myself in a cryosleep until this is released

    • gguillotte says:

      The glassy streets hummed with cars, rain coming down in sheets. My eyes lit up a glossy man, outlined his dredlocked face covered in so much paint in so many rainbows of color he might as well be every race and none at all and all at once.

      He brushed my shoulder; my jacket sensors picked up on the chip he slipped into my pocket and immediately started reading its contents into my eyefeed.

      //> k-a-y-l-a-s-t-e-p-h-e-n-s-3_

      The cursor sat there, winking at me in the corner of my vision like an itch. It was worse than a clue, it meant nothing, hit nothing as it bounced about the matrix, every byte a shower of bolts into nothing and returning nothing.

      Kayla. Was it a person? How could a person buy a ’77 Lotus Elan? How could a person in this shattered world, under the boot of tyrannical corps like RPShotgun and Scotch/Egger, against the hedonistic cravings fed into us through a million new glistening pipes of throbbing media and distraction–how could a games site commenter make 10,000 yenyuan a month?

      //> k-a-y-l-a-s-t-e-p-h-e-n-s-3_

      Blinking, just blinking in my eye as I trudged through the wet streets, the spatter of raindrops popping against my hat like lagspikes over wireless. I needed more. I needed that edge, that hit to push my meat brain through the pieces and into the puzzle. Who was Kayla Stephens3? AI? Some newbreed neuromancer? Some razorgirl with unfathomable reach?

      I shoved my hand in my pocket, pressed the hot little chip between my thumb and forefinger, shorted it and flicked it into a sewer grate.

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        Harlander says:

        This made my morning. Thanks! :D

        (this was meant to be a reply to gguillotte’s prose, but the whole article and video was pretty delightful too)

  2. Premium User Badge

    Morlock says:

    This VOICE.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      The voice!!!!! And the music as well … GOD they really nailed the atmosphere. Wish you the best of luck, dear CD project.

      • P.Funk says:

        Well they really nailed the atmosphere in this trailer but not in the actual rendered trailer. The music in the first trailer doesn’t speak to cyberpunk to me at all.

        I hope they get the vibe right because I honestly am such a stickler for atmosphere if the whole game has awful music I’ll be suffering through it. If that trailer is the one mad bit of music we see… I can say I’m pretty excited.

        Having the creator on board is definitely a great thing because they’re not just interpreting it they’re getting access to the mind behind it. That SHOULD keep them straight on it and keep us on the right track… hopefully.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      I want a voice transplant. I am all reedy, like a small rabbit with a pan pipe stuck in its mouth

  3. ShowMeTheMonkey says:

    My loins are ready. My mind is not.

  4. Pindie says:

    I usually hate narrated intros or cutscenes but this guy is great at telling stories and I would not mind him voice acting in the game.

    Well, this seems like it’s going to be another strong title for CDPR. They got the original author to write for their game this time.

    • f1x says:

      Sapkowski was involved in the Witcher 1 and 2 aswell,

      As far as I know from the interviews, in The Witcher 1 it was mostly consulting, but for The Witcher 2 he wrote a lot of background history to help set the world as faithful as possible to the novels

      edit: wrong information, sorry, he didnt write anything actually

      • caddyB says:

        And it shows.

      • f1x says:

        I had read in an interview in some spanish games magazine with a CDprojekt guy, they say Sapkowski wrote background material for the witcher 2, I’m gonna look if I can find that same interview in english

        What you linked is the interview with Sapkowski itself, he says he didn’t wanted to get credit basically and that he doesn’t like computer games in general

        anyway, will try to find the other interview ;)

        • Shooop says:

          Awfully strange that a writer wouldn’t want credit for something they did and is very well-received. Reading it over it seems like it does suggest he did have some hand in the narrative. But it’s vague and confusing. A strange man.

          And I’d appreciate it.

          • f1x says:

            After reading everything again, apparently the guy is happy with the witcher games but is sort of angry because of the international press asking him about the games constantly or something, he is definitely kind of weird

            http://www.hobbyconsolas.com/reportajes/entrevista-al-productor-de-the-witcher-2-9081
            Its in spanish but I’m reading it more carefully now, I think there is a problem with writing/translating, I get now that he says that no, actually Sapkowski didn’t write for the games, he only assisted when they had doubts and approved some things

            The phrase that got me confused is one that says literally: “he wrote a book with all the background that we needed”, but he was refering to the novels not something that Sapkowski wrote specifically for the games, so sorry for the confusion from my side

          • Kamos says:

            The Witcher games led me to read both books available in english. I think he should be grateful that some people who wouldn’t otherwise even know he existed have taken interest in his work, yet everytime I read about Sapkowski it comes across as if he dislikes or is completely indifferent about what CD Projekt does.

            I can understand that, no doubt his books are not only a setting but a way he explores some of his own views on things. One of his books (can’t remember the title) read to me like a big satire on fantasy tropes, while the Witcher games take themselves much more seriously. Hell, I don’t know. It still seems odd to me.

          • Baines says:

            I like that he isn’t into the idea of cross-media stories. It’s annoying when, say, a Matrix movie has a tie-in prequel Matrix game. Or a game skimps too much on story and character development, because you are expected to get it from the tie-in novels.

            And I can understand a writer wanting his world to be his own. If he started tying in with games made by others, then it isn’t entirely his world anymore. Then you get into issues where one story contradicts another, or maybe some legal issues crop up, or people knock you for something that wasn’t your work, or whatever. (One of the commenters at the Eurogamer article mentioned Triss’ outfit in the games, and it bugged me too. Triss in the books doesn’t wear low-cut outfits because of the scarring she has, scarring that isn’t present in the games or in game tie-ins like the Witcher 2 Playboy spread.)

          • ye0912 says:

            Were you playing the same game? Because sub-par graphics? It’s fractionally less pretty than Crysis 2. There’s a good screenshot gallery here

            http://www.polygon.com/2012/10/19/3528132/warface-screenshots#!/3884541

          • Baines says:

            The bots are getting better?

            An almost relevant comment, the included link text is a real link to a real article at a real game site, but embedded link is a fake link hidden through a URL shortener.

            The biggest flaw was that it was simply posted in the wrong thread, a Crysis/Warface comment in a Witcher comment offshoot of a Cyberpunk 2077 article.

          • Slazer says:

            You have this satire stuff (female assassin with 7 dwarf mercs; cursed girls locked up in in towers to save people, but then being freed by glory-hunting knights) mainly in the short stories, most of them published in the first two books. Stuff gets much more serious when the actual mainplot starts. Especially the Elves/Scoiatael that is touched in the Games with Yaevinn and Iorweth and the Flotsam fights is a big part of the book’s side-stories and most of the statements and feelings you get in the game are coming nearly identical from the book

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    Lars Westergren says:

    Previous trailer doused my enthusiasm, but now it has been rekindled. I love Mike Pondsmiths passion for the material.

  6. philbot says:

    Saw this one a few days ago. Really hope they can deliver their vision for it. And If he doesn’t voice act at least one part/character… It will still probably be an awesome game.

  7. Hoaxfish says:

    There’s a neat little breakdown of the trailer here: http://www.behance.net/gallery/Cyberpunk-2077/6573211

    • Serpok says:

      Director / Story: Tomek Bagiński
      Now that’s a name I hadn’t heard in a while.
      After “Fallen Art” for several years there were no news coming about him or any projects – glad to see that he still works.

      For those unfamiliar.

      • Aedrill says:

        Bagiński made intros to both Witchers, and I’m not 100% sure but to other CGIs as well. So not exactly idle, right?

  8. Pindie says:

    Upon re-watching the two above videos and listening in to the lyrics of the teaser song I can think of one potential theme in Cyberpunk that relevant to current affairs (coincidentally since good sci-fi is universal). If I am correct about my interpretation (it’s just a hunch).

    On philosophical level, which I have to underline (it is a philosophical debate at the core IMO), the current fight over firearms is between two camps. Both agree that technology is potentially hazardous and we need some means of control how it is used.
    First camp says that external control should be the dominant form since you cannot depend on everyone being capable of controlling themselves internally (via a value system within, good uprising etc.). The other camp says external means of control will still be circumvented and preaches that we should install a value system in members of society so we can depend on them controlling their actions by themselves or on them controlling each other.
    So in short a top down or a bottom up approach.

    Why do I get this vibe?
    What I get from the short interview is the theme of problem of controlling potentially harmful technologies.
    What I get from the trailer is words “Personal Responsibility” blasted again and again. That and the remaining lyrics. And maybe the fact is shows a mass killing scenario?

    • f1x says:

      The song is “Bullets” by Archive

      The lyrics are a bit abstract, to me they are about inminent violence, regret and disconnection from reality perhaps because of a traumatic situation,
      like someone who did something terrible (or watched something terrible happen) and now is in a state of shock that just put him out of reality “Bullets are the beauty of the blistering sky, bullets are the beauty and I don’t know why”, like is just watching the bullets over and over again but he just dont know
      (he or she ;))

      So put in the context, the song is really a superb choice

      The original video of the song is quite great also you might want ot check it out

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Well that’s certainly a well thought-out argument for Cyberpunk being a commentary on gun control. Crazy how topical it is.

      I think it’s a little more broad than just gun control though. It’s an argument for human agency. Pondsmith said that he wasn’t interested in transhumanism and would rather focus on what individuals did with the technology in a cyberpunk setting. Transhumanism has always been a little hostile to the individual, in that it’s promoting technology as the catalyst for an inevitable cultural evolution. I think Pondsmith, as a tabletop gamer, is more interested in what stories emerge from indivduals appropriating cyberpunk technology and discovering ways to make their mark on the world.

      • Pindie says:

        Recently it seems you cannot talk about video games (or write about them) without talking about firearms, so let’s just embrace it.

        Joking aside irresponsible use of technology is a common theme in dystopian scenarios (and dangerous technology is more sinister than a handgun). I of course agree on that transhumanism part. Cyberpunk is a possible future where while technology evolved societies remained stagnant. It’s in direct opposition to more light hearted scifi titles like Star Trek where human views and ideas changed together with technology.
        At this point I just run the risk of reiterating what he or you said so I’ll just say I agree and I have high expectations for Cyberpunk 2077 now.

  9. Shooop says:

    This just gets better and better. Anyone have a time machine?

  10. The Random One says:

    I love cyberpunk (though I know nothing about Cyberpunk). There’s always room in my heart for someone talking about it.

    Plus this is much better than that time I saw a guy looking cyberpunk and talking Moody. Just twenty minutes of a dude in an overcoat talking about credit rating.

  11. TsunamiWombat says:

    PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

  12. Blackcompany says:

    I cannot articulate the degree to which I am looking forward to an elf-less open world completely lacking in orcs & swords. I love fantasy but its time for something different.

    Thanks cdpr.

  13. guygodbois00 says:

    Mr. Pondsmith, you have just made my gloomy day a very much brighter with your talk of rainy, wet streets. And great Gibson quote there.
    Thanks, Mr. Rissignol. It’s on posts like these that I think of you as a civil servant, but in a good way.
    Yeah, I know.

  14. B1A4 says:

    “Which is a good thing, because he’s an extremely smart and creative guy…”

    Maybe, but he isn’t good with naming things. I get the Leonard of Quirm vibe

    • Keran says:

      @B1A4

      I knew I spotted a gun-comes-out-of-your-hand-machine in the teaser!

  15. Stevostin says:

    I have to say that while I don’t like the Art Direction for the Witcher, what I am seing so far (oc not ingame) is pretty good. I find it very smart not only to get the Blade Runner vibe & lights, but also all the 80’s typo and dress.

    I am curious about that one. I hope they allow fpv and deal well with it.

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    AlwaysRight says:

    Mike Pondsmith is a great name, I hear he has a friend called Ian Puddlemonger.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      This made me laugh so hard that my anus prolapsed and flooded my undergarments with watery faecal matter

  17. gulag says:

    This shit is DOP

    Day One Purchase.

    • rawrty says:

      Yes, no doubt. And I rarely buy stuff until it’s on sale because I’m a habitual cheapskate.

  18. Kamos says:

    I’m really looking forward to this game. And this is not good! I must never again let my trusting and hopeful side take command, where game developers are concerned. Not even for CD Project. :)

  19. gwathdring says:

    Indeed! More of this sort of thing, game industry!

    I’m not as into Cyberpunk 2020. It doesn’t really grab me … but hearing him talk about his relationship with CD Projekt and their perspective on things and his perspective on the game makes me really excited that I’ll love this anyway.

    I especially like the bit about trans-humanism–as much as I loved Deus Ex: HR, I’ve never felt like augmentation and cyberpunk-style implants would fundamentally re-write what it is to be human. It makes a damn good sci-fi story and an even better modern heroic epic, but it doesn’t represent a credible future to me. That’s what makes Gibson’s Cyberpunk so awesome to me, and what makes this video excite me most: it’s not about technology changing people. It’s about technology allowing us to do things we couldn’t do before.

    Where I would disagree with Pondsmith is that it IS about the technology. It’s about what tech we look into, what paths we follow and what we ignore. Where does progress wind, how much does it cost, and who gets left in the dust? Where is it headed next, and what is the future’s Transhumanism? What are they afraid of and excited about? What do they have, and what do they wish they had? That’s about technology, to me, as much as it is about the people with it.

  20. MeestaNob says:

    Easily my most anticipated game this year.

  21. magos says:

    I’ve gotta say, I was genuinely surprised that Mike Pondsmith was black. My surprise surprised me even more so. Then I realised: I know of no active figures (as a relatively ‘mainstream’ gamer) in game development who are black.

    Please guys, I’d rather you correct my ignorance than confirm my theory: are there any major developers of colour active at the moment?

  22. spelvin spugg says:

    Does anyone know if this game is open-world? Or is it semi-linear like Witcher?

  23. Josh W says:

    A funny thing about cyberpunk the rpg, rather than cyberpunk the genre, is that it really does include a lot of technological agency, in the form of cyberpsychosis. The game defines some concrete changes that technology makes to society and the individual, but does it in a negative restrictive way rather than as a positive.

    Compare that with a world in which each kind of cyberwear has it’s own consequences, in terms of maintenance requirements or vulnerabilities, without any moral statements about the humanity of these new capacities and obligations, and you have a world closer to the improvisational re-hacking technology of gibson.

    But regardless, Pondsmith is an imaginative man with a surprisingly lovely voice.