“It’s rain-wet streets, it’s nights like this with fog rolling in, cars and faceless people going by doing the things that they’re doing – there’s something kind of hypnotic about it – that’s when I get inspired.”
Not the opening dialogue to a gritty crime thriller from the 1940s, but the recent words of Mike Pondsmith, creator of the Cyberpunk pen-and-paper roleplaying game and 2005/6 inductee into the Origin Awards Hall of Fame for his outstanding work in the game industry since the 80s.
Pondsmith was talking in a short film released by Machinima.com, in which he discusses his aspirations for the collaboration with Polish developers, CD Projekt RED, on the latest instalment of his dystopian near-future franchise, Cyberpunk 2077.
Waiting For the Future
The Cyberpunk genre, inspired by the writing of William Gibson and his contemporaries, was shaped into a roleplaying game by Pondsmith and co. in 1988 and has been through several revisions since, but ironically never in technological form.
“We’ve approached doing this [as a] video game numerous times before. We have fought to find somebody who was enough of a fan of the world and the game to not want to go change it around or to stick a label of Cyberpunk on it then do something totally different.”
“When CDPR approached us, what we realised really rapidly was: these guys were fans, they know the material – they’re quoting things back to me I’d forgotten. That’s an important thing, you have to able to understand why this world exists.”
But rather than just licensing the intellectual property over to CD Projekt RED, it seems Pondsmith will be very much involved in the continued development of the title, as he explains in the video;
“They’re dragging my but all the way over to Poland several times a year. We’re excited ’cause there’s a really strong element of cross-pollination, there’s a really strong element of co-operative building going on and that’s really great.”
A Dark Digital Destiny
With an enthusiastic and talented team – CD Projekt RED, the creators of the acclaimed and morally challenging The Witcher, combined with the continued influence of the Cyberpunk RPG architect – how does Pondsmith see the franchise evolving beyond the pen-and-paper era?
“Cyberpunk 2020 was about early Cyberpunk, it was a world in which people didn’t know a lot about what the tropes were, the feel for it. The great part about 2077 is that it’s a mature form of that, we’re basically able to progress a larger arc.”
“We’re looking at the same mucky, nasty Night City that you were in before, just a lot bigger and probably a lot more dangerous with a lot of players you don’t know about yet.”
“2077 is about the Cyberpunk you thought you knew, scaled up; bigger, badder, stranger. It’s the visual component that the frozen pictures we put in the books can’t give you. It’s the sound, it’s the feel, it’s the movement. Seventy-Seven is gonna be about being there.”
A Fan of Fans
So fans of the franchise can rest assured that the digital realisation of the grimy streets and fortified skyscrapers of the dark future are in good hands. Pondsmith is very dedicated to delivering something worthy of the legacy and seems as much a fan as many of us.
“We’ve gone through a long, long journey all of us: those of you who have been fans and have been waiting for us to get the right game together at the right time with the right team and we were going to wait long enough to make sure it happened the right way. Cyberpunk 2077 is going to be the right way.”
[If you got this far and you haven’t yet seen the Cyberpunk 2077 teaser trailer, you really, really should.]
Source: Twitter (@CyberpunkGame)