Body horror, game design and the grimbright future
During my conversation with Mike Pondsmith, two people ask him to sign artwork from the Cyberpunk pen and paper game that he created. He tells me “it never stops being weird”, the fact that people want his autograph, but he gets it. Cyberpunk is cool, it’s rebellion, it’s sticking an augmented finger to the system. And it’s not just an aesthetic.
“At core, unless you have the meaning behind the black leather and the neon, you lose what cyberpunk is. That’s the problem with getting Cyberpunk made as a videogame; people don’t get it. They think it’s about action heroes quipping as they take down corporations.” Over the years, Pondsmith has made deals with companies to bring Cyberpunk to PC but says he’s glad that those deals “crashed” because now the real deal has arrived. CD Projekt Red, the studio behind The Witcher and upcoming Cyberpunk 2077, “get it”. “They’re actual fans and they know stuff about Cyberpunk that I’ve forgotten.”
The future’s looking bright then, even through the obligatory shades. Read the rest of this entry »
Listen now or have a wretched existence
Bring out your ears, it’s the RPS podcast, the Electronic Wireless Show. Adam has returned from Gamelab in Barcelona and is ready to tell us all the hot goss about Arkane’s president leaving the studio (there’s not much) but also all the gamescience he acquired from RiME developer Raúl Rubio and Cyberpunk 2020 creator Mike Pondsmith. In the mean time, Brendan has been falling off airships and getting into disagreements with cloud hobos in floating island MMO Worlds Adrift, and Pip has been too busy to play things. The world is an accursed slum of injustice.
But there’s more! We also have a tougher-than-normal edition of our patch notes quiz, Patch Adam, and take some questions from readers. Listen now, your attention is our sustenance. Feed us. Feed us.
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Listen now or fall behind
Jingle jingle, it’s the RPS podcast, the Electronic Wireless Show. This week we discuss the ongoing Steam summer sale and bare our respective piles of shame. Editor-at-arms Graham also joins us to talk about spelunking roguelike Caveblazers, while Pip takes on the free-to-play Orcs Must Die! Unchained and Brendan marches on with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
But wait! There’s also an interview with the creators of “roguevania” Dead Cells, and we take some questions from listeners too. But most importantly, we introduce some extra jingles from our music man, Jack. Come and listen, educate yourself.
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Design changes detailed
Gwent [official site] is both one of the best PC minigames and one of its best collectible card games. Its first version, playable in The Witcher 3, is a smart minigame fantastically integrated into an RPG. Its free-to-play standalone version, which recently entered open beta, is a brilliant reinvention of the game for a multiplayer, competitive setting. Rather than opting merely to give a great minigame its own .exe, developers CD Projekt Red have clearly re-evaluated the rules from the ground up, radically altering Gwent so it works by itself. Gwent has retained its identity in the transition but it has also become a game that’s fun to play with other humans.
Gwent has evolved, and the continued existence of both versions provides a unique opportunity to ask how and why. Rarely do two games with the same structure and objectives exist side by side. It’s a terrific opportunity to investigate how Gwent has been adapted for its new purpose. Read the rest of this entry »
Taking the weather with me
A secret for you: I have not finished The Witcher 3, even though I think very highly of it. I do not believe that I will ever finish it, and the reason for that is the weather.
I’ve never uninstalled the game from my hard drive, but though I fire it up once every couple of months, I don’t progress. Read the rest of this entry »
What would Saint William Gibson do?
The raw material for CD Projekt’s next video game, Cyberpunk 2077 [official site] – and no, I don’t know its release date either – is a pen-and-paper RPG called Cyberpunk 2020. The game’s moving the timeline forward because reality is catching up and 2020 seems worryingly close. The tabletop RPG has done something similar – its original rules were published in 1988 and set in 2013, the second edition jumped forwards seven years, and there was a third edition set in the 2030s nobody talks about. (Just as long-running TV shows have a season fans disown, RPGs have their verboten edition.)
Cyberpunk 2077 is wisely going back to 2020 for inspiration. The most popular edition, it was detailed in a 250-page rulebook, over 30 supplements, two novels, and a card game. That’s a lot of source material, a solid base for launching wild speculations about the video game from. So let’s do that – while discussing what made Cyberpunk 2020 interesting in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »