Mike Pondsmith talks some changes to the tabletop game’s mechanics.
Cyberpunk 2077 is easily one of the most anticipated games coming out in the near future. Some people may not be aware, however, that the game actually has an original source. It is based on the tabletop game, Cyberpunk 2020. It’s been confirmed that 2077 also shares the same universe. The tabletop game will also be seeing an update at some point next year, with a new edition called Cyberpunk Red. The original creator, Mike Pondsmith, also has some changes in mind for that.
In an interview with Eurogamer, Pondsmith discussed the upcoming adaptation of his work, as well as some changes he wants to make to the tabletop game, particularly to Netrunning, a mechanic that involves going into cyberspace. In the original 2020 game, it often was isolating, potentially leading to boredom, and Pondsmith hopes to make it far more active in the new edition.
“The biggest problem with Netrunning right now [in Cyberpunk 2020], is oddly enough the Gibson-esque worldview of Netrunning, which is you go out into a vast cyberspace, you fly around and you do things. Case [the protagonist in Gibson’s famous novel Neuromancer] works doing that because that’s pretty much what everybody does,” said Pondsmith. “But if you do that in the context of a game, everybody goes, ‘okay I’m gonna go get a beer, Netrunner’s going in, anybody need pizza?’ and they’re gone. So one of the biggest things for us when we went into it was we needed to get the net back into a box that was usable. To that, and you’ll see this extremely well done in Red, is we needed to force the Netrunner to be with the group. He can’t sit back in his comfy chair with his keyboard and say ‘go to the fifth level and open the door’. No, he has to go in there. You have to be under risk.
“So I spent a lot of time studying computer architectures and I have two friends who specialise in computer security systems, so I said, ‘okay, so tell me how I can screw myself and give me some goal plans here,’ and they helped me design stuff that forced the Netrunner to be there, better toward how it works and that sort of thing. It’s not super realistic but it’s realistic enough. And that informed a lot of what goes on in what you saw today, in that people are doing hacks very close to the runner, they’re doing hacks of stuff, they’re not flying through cyberspace. When our hero goes to one particular area and they go to the wider net, that is rare. That is insanely rare. That’s like saying, ‘okay, by the way we’re going to now get on the jet plane and we’re going to fly to the moon.’ It is very much right there, it’s gonna come and bite you in the face.”
Cyberpunk 2077 will release on April 16th, 2020 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Cyberpunk Red will release sometime next year as well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a big renewed interest in the game.