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Mateusz Kanik: «Cyberpunk 2077 is done, when it’s done»

23 Февраля 2013

Cyberpunk 2077 is very promising role-playing game from the developers of The Witcher, and… well, yes: it’s about cyberpunk and dark future. The subject is very curious, the trailer is spectacular, but there is only one bad thing: release is very long time ahead. In order to somehow reduce the wait and find out more about the game, we contacted the creators of this project. Why Deus Ex is not true cyberpunk, what has The Witcher in common with the grim world of cybernetic future and how to transfer the board game rules to a video game? All these questions answered Mateusz Kanik, director of Cyberpunk 2077.

Hello! Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Mateusz Kanik Hi, I’m Mateusz Kanik and I’m the game director for Cyberpunk 2077.

Have you felt dark cyberpunk-atmosphere before you started developing the game? Have you reread Neuromancer, reviewed «Blade Runner»? How strong is the influence of classic cyberpunk-works to Cyberpunk 2077 creation process?

Of course we did. We mention these influences many times alongside with Ghost in the Shell or the Eden graphic novel. We are creating THE Cyberpunk game, you can’t go closer to the core of the genre than we go. We want the atmosphere to satisfy every fan of the genre. That’s why we look closely for inspirations and try to apply the rules of Cyberpunk into the game on every possible level.

The streets full of dirt — both literally  and with all the social junk around. A dark city that grew organically, with gangs and megacorps ruling this world — that’s our Cyberpunk.

Any cyberpunk is «High tech. Low life». Will your game meet this criterion? What, in your version, the future holds? Tell us about the world of 2077.

If any cyberpunk meets this criterion ours definitely does. It’s even more high tech and way more low life than the regular cyberpunk games. This is a great opportunity in moving to 2077 and not staying in this half of the century. We can imagine the development of tech in a much more realistic way seeing the changes around us. Also we want every advancement we make to remain realistic. For example the guns in our trailer, work the same way as today’s firearms. It’s like Colt 1911, still used by the US Army, but developed. We do the same procedure reaching far into 2077. Of course the first rule of Cyberpunk is style over substance so we want everything to be larger, bigger more powerful. This is how we apply the cyberpunk creed to the world design. In the back of our heads we always remember that whatever game fragment we create it has to go with the lore, expressed by the rules of cyberpunk.

Can you tell us something about the plot? Who is our hero? Who are his enemies? What is our purpose in this world?

The hero is a person from the street, who raises from the gutter against the mischiefs of this world. And his purpose in this world? Live on the edge! That’s another rule of cyberpunk. I told you, they’re everywhere.

Cyberpunk 2077

What is the role of Mike Pondsmith, creator of the original Cyberpunk 2020 board game, in Cyberpunk 2077 development? What board game and video game have in common: only the setting or also some basics of game mechanics?

Mike is our guardian angel and mentor — a vision holder, but not for the game but the universe. Nobody knows the lore more than him. He helps us, because he feels the world and knows hardcore pen-and-paper fans the most. Of course, we are players too and really feel his work. But we have 50 years of history to cover and Mike helps us assess which ideas will fit his setting.

The game mechanics we are creating are as close to the original as possible. Of course not all skills are applicable in a video game or the PC/console audience would find them not amusing. So we are building prototypes that allow us to merge these two worlds. Our aim is to create a system that allows you to  have great fun in front of your screen and then that it would allow you to print out a character sheet and play with your friends using pencils and dice.

Have you played last cyberpunk games — Syndicate, Deus Ex: Human Revolution? What do you liked in them, what caused confusion, what you would like to take over and what you would made other way?

There is a difference between cyberpunk and transhumanism as genres. We will be a cyberpunk game, meaning we concentrate on the way humans use technology for their (sometimes not so good) purposes. For Mike Pondsmith (and I agree) the games you mentioned are not pure cyberpunk and they a little closer to transhumanism — they are about how technology uses humans.

How much helps (or hinders) you the Witcher-series experience during the development of Cyberpunk 2077? Do these games something in common: the engine, tools, approach to creation? .. Can you use some Witcher sword 3D-model to create cyberblades for 2077?

The game uses the same engine — REDengine 3, a next-gen ready solutions, that will allow us to create games with great storytelling (it’s our trademark) and set in the open world. The same tech is used in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and the engine team helps both teams to get the best results. As for the blades — with all due respect to Geralt — I like the implants of the chick from the trailer better:)

But there’s more in common between the two games than the engine. The Witcher dealt with some serious issues from our reality in a fantasy world. It was morally unclear and didn’t try to brighten up the reality around us. Well Cyberpunk sure feels like that. We can even relate closer to what surrounds us and be more straight forward in this case.

Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 — this is an open world, non-linearity … How free can player feel in this dark world of the future? Would it be possible to play the game without killing anyone with your own hands? How many endings do you plan?

It’s too early to talk about the endings. I can promise you that the gameplay will be diversified and will depend and each goal will have its own means. Not only the story will be driven by your decisions, but also how you play the game. Each class will feel different and even while replaying the game with the same character, you’ll find different approaches.

We want to have a completely new level of non-linearity, achieved by combining freedom in playing your own character, free-roaming the environment and also having choices that have real consequences after you make a decision. 

What classes are you going to create? Which ways can we develop our character (brute force, stealth-fighter, hacker etc.)? What skills and abilities can we expect? Will it be hi-tech crafting or hacking?

I think the classes in the game should satisfy every Cyberpunk® fan. The abilities which you’ll develop will craft the way you play the game dramatically. Also most skills you can imagine from a game like this are a must.

It’s actually hard work to choose what can stay from the pen and paper system. That’s why we are working on many prototypes. The handbooks describe for example a skill: knowledge about fashion. A GM can simulate this in an RPG session, but how will it work in an video game? Well, we have found solutions for that. But for example things like geology had to go away, because they didn’t present much gameplay value.

Cyberpunk 2077

Release isn’t soon. We saw a stunning trailer, from which nothing is clear, but the fact that the game is going to be cool. But what have you already done? At what phase is the development of Cyberpunk 2077 now? Is release date still «somewhere in 2015» or you can already talk about it in more detail?

The game is done, when it’s done. We’re launching a new IP and this is really important that we get this right. There are huge expectations from the pen-and-paper fans, The Witcher fans as also fans of the genre and RPGs. That’s why we put much attention to what the community tells us. So we can make a game that will satisfy players.

You have not announced your goal platforms yet. PC will probably be on the list. But what about consoles? Is it in your plans? Is it possible to see Cyberpunk 2077 on current generation of consoles?

The game will be available at the same time on all high-end platforms available on the moment of the release.

Well, the last question. Is Cyberpunk 2077 about the future or about the perverted present? We live in a world ruled by the information; there are so many Internet-connected devices, almost more than the people; multinational corporations are restructuring the world economy as they want… Do not you think that cyberpunk has already arrived?

It’s not that bad now! But I think, if we consider games as an form of art — art always refers to the present problems. We have a world of the future but provide you food for thought about what’s outside the window. It’s like in The Witcher — we don’t have magic, elves, dwarves — but this game talked about greed, corruption etc. The same will go with Cyberpunk — we will be close to the players problems, but give it a new style. Some issues we will cover are just obvious if you think about the setting, but the way we’ll cover them — well you’ll see.

Thanks for your answers! We are closely following project.

Thanks for the interview and remember to check cyberpunk.net for the latest updates!

Kirill Ulezko

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