Q&A

QUEST DE­SIGNER PA­TRICK MILLS dis­cuses IM­MER­SION IN CY­BER­PUNK 2077 AND WHAT IT’S LIKE TO WORK WITH THE CRE­ATOR OF ITS UNI­VERSE

XBox: The Official Magazine - - CYBERPUNIK -

What’s been the re­ac­tion to the trailer you showed at Mi­crosoft’s E3 press con­fer­ence? And how have you been able to gauge that? We’ve been watch­ing things like Twit­ter and read some of the stuff peo­ple have writ­ten, and peo­ple re­ally seem to be into it. It’s very ex­cit­ing to see. There might have been some ini­tial sur­prise that the city was more vi­brant and alive than some were ex­pect­ing from our first teaser trailer. But what I’ll say about that is that we started with that aes­thetic,then branched out from there. That’s still in the game though, we’ve got a day/night cy­cle and a weather sys­tem, so you’ll still get to see those dark and rainy streets. There has been con­cern from some quar­ters about the idea of be­ing able to cre­ate a fully cus­tomis­able char­ac­ter, but then hav­ing them stuck be­hind a first-per­son per­spec­tive. How would you put those con­cerns at ease? There’s a lot of things we get from first- per­son, and part of it is be­ing closer to the char­ac­ter and to feel like you’re in­hab­it­ing that char­ac­ter. But at the same time I would also say this: go play a third-per­son game, go play The Witcher, and look up. Just try to look straight up. You’ll find that the [im­mer­sion] never re­ally works. It never feels like you are look­ing up. It feels like you’re mov­ing a cam­era around. In [ Cy­ber­punk

2077] we re­ally want you to be able to walk around Night City and look up and see those sky­scrapers made of con­crete, glass and steel. To feel like you’re in this canyon, this jun­gle and that it’s eat­ing you alive. That’s only pos­si­ble in first per­son. But in terms of be­ing able to make your own char­ac­ter, most first-per­son shoot­ers don’t feel the need to do that. Why in­tro­duce such a ro­bust sys­tem if you’re not ac­tu­ally go­ing to see much of that char­ac­ter? Well, it’s an RPG. It’s an RPG be­fore it’s a shooter. And it’s re­ally about mak­ing a char­ac­ter and in­hab­it­ing that char­ac­ter and liv­ing in this world and mak­ing choices from not just the point of view of that char­ac­ter but also of your­self. With The Witcher, you had Ger­alt, and Ger­alt had his­tory. He had decades of books, games, comics and even a tele­vi­sion se­ries, with a new one on the way, and it was about guid­ing him through his story. But with this, we want it to be your story. So re­ally, putting you in first per­son is the only way to do that. You’ve men­tioned be­fore that this will be a ma­ture game. What can we ex­pect be­yond sim­ply nu­dity and vi­o­lence? For ex­am­ple, will there be po­lit­i­cal themes or so­cial commentary? Cy­ber­punk 2077 is a game about peo­ple with power at the top and peo­ple at the bot­tom with none. That power can come from money,

hi­er­ar­chies, tech­nol­ogy and vi­o­lence. The orig­i­nal Cy­ber­punk 2020 set­ting, like the set­ting of The Witcher sto­ries, was a com­plex cri­tique of the au­thor’s world, and we don’t shy away from that in our games. On the con­trary I think it’s one of the things that sets us apart. Of course, to us, ma­ture doesn’t mean just sex and vi­o­lence. We will try to en­gage you on mul­ti­ple lev­els, not just the vis­ceral, but also the in­tel­lec­tual. Cy­ber­punk is an in­her­ently po­lit­i­cal genre and it’s an in­her­ently po­lit­i­cal fran­chise. It’s a place that is very crit­i­cal of the world in which we live, in in­ter­est­ing and com­plex ways and we hope we can get that across. What has it been like work­ing with Cy­ber­punk cre­ator Mike Pond­smith, and has it been a daunt­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to work with such a beloved uni­verse? Just the other day we were talk­ing to Mike about how even table­top role-play­ing games were al­ways a col­lab­o­ra­tive process. It’s the DM, or in Cy­ber­punk terms the ref­eree, who sets the stage and then the play­ers par­tic­i­pate in the story. Build­ing this with Mike Pond­smith has been sim­i­lar. He sets the stage with his orig­i­nal Cy­ber­punk 2020 stuff, and we are not afraid to change that or to mod­ify it and to up­date that story in some ways and to make it our story as well. Of course Cy­ber­punk 2077 is an adap­ta­tion of Mike Pond­smith’s uni­verse, but were there any other in­flu­ences? When you think of cy­ber­punk you can’t help but think of, among oth­ers, the sto­ries and nov­els of Wil­liam Gibson and Philip K Dick, or films likeRi­d­ley Scott’s Blade R un­ner and its re­cent se­quel. Oh yes, or course. We draw in in­spi­ra­tion as much as we can. We don’t even limit our­selves just to the cy­ber­punk genre. Some­thing as sim­ple as an al­bum ti­tle has been enough to in­spire us to cre­ate whole quest lines. When sim­ply look­ing at a great turn of phrase, we of­ten ask our­selves “How can we ex­am­ine that idea and turn it into a quest?” Speaking of quests, in some games when you’re of­fered to make a choice dur­ing a mis­sion the nar­ra­tive can some­times bot­tle­neck to­wards the end of it and your ac­tions ac­tu­ally end up mean­ing very lit­tle. In the demo we took a par­tic­u­lar path dur­ing the mis­sion with the Mael­strom gang and were told that this could have gone dif­fer­ently. How do your de­ci­sions im­pact the game? What we like to do, and you see this even in Witcher III ’s quest de­sign, par­tic­u­larly in the ex­pan­sions, is we de­vel­oped the phi­los­o­phy that if it’s log­i­cal for you to be able to do some­thing in a dif­fer­ent way, or in a dif­fer­ent or­der, then not only should you be able to do that but the quest should re­spond to it as well. Some of those changes are mi­nor. In the demo you saw that you could go visit the Rip­per­dock be­fore vis­it­ing [Fixer] Dex, or vice versa. That doesn’t have a last­ing dif­fer­ence, how­ever it does change your di­a­logue when talk­ing to Jackie. But other things could change, I can’t com­ment specif­i­cally on the story de­tails, but if you go in guns blaz­ing in the gang’s hide­out things can turn out very dif­fer­ently. If you don’t visit the Militech agent first, you have very dif­fer­ent op­tions when you ap­proach their hide­out. There will be big changes and lit­tle changes. How far do you think we are as a so­ci­ety from the kind of fu­ture we see in your game? Cy­ber­punk 2077 is about a world where a van­ish­ingly small num­ber of ul­tra-rich in­di­vid­u­als at the top of in­tractable cor­po­rate power struc­tures reign over a dis­in­te­grat­ing world where the vast ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion lives in an end­less cy­cle of poverty and vi­o­lence. How dif­fer­ent that is from our world de­pends a lot on your own per­spec­tive, I sup­pose. Will we see the re­turn of any fa­mil­iar char­ac­ters and can you talk about any of the other com­pan­ions that you’ll have within the game? We’ll re­veal more de­tails about the char­ac­ters in our game at a later time, but there’s al­ready some hints and clues float­ing out there for care­ful ob­servers of our trailer!

“Some­thing as sim­ple as an al­bum ti­tle has been enough to in­spire us to cre­ate quest lines”

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