RND/ To consider narrative design in Cyberpunk 2077 the nuanced storytelling equivalent of (say) “Escape From L.A” (John Carpenter, 1996.)

This, from a medium constantly claiming to be the final word in.. whatever.

To imagine possible minor improvements to narrative / storytelling technique in Cyberpunk 2077 – whose gameplay demo sounds designed by people called Meredith Stout with joyless faces of corporate convent nun’s cats – who seem to get their tryhard ideas about futuristic storytelling from listening to LOLtube comments left by edgelords.

Cyberpunk is Dead, part n

“Why do you sound like a badly written 2D character from an oldskool videogame?”

Consider Cyberpunk as expressed in 2077 as simple vat clone of contemporary global Capitalism – only with wack visible seam lines in faces – but with exact same awful cheesy speech one merely puts up with like anal warts – merely ‘passable’ rather than actually good.

cyberpunk-2077-joyless-corporate-narrative-agent
Joyless Corporate Narrative Agent

Where such amazingly hammy ‘Life Is Strange’ level dialogue sounds like prerequisite for communication in this universe – as though one can only express meaning via commonly accepted cliche and poorly directed acting – all subtlety / nuance seems positively outlawed

2077 feels like two fish in tank who don’t know or care that very synthetic air ir breathing consists of vast network of information / capital – strictly fiscal universe built from groundless ground up for nothing but (brain stunningly big) business.

Scenes from Cyberpunk 2077 Gameplay reveal:

Perhaps it’s this wilful ignorance of social context – ie. ideology – that allows or rather forces us to blindly mill around our sterile megacity like utter wankers – call us flatheads – brainless fashion models out of some awful reality-invading reality-tv show, strutting around like remote controlled robotic peacocks on catwalks – str8 trippin’, as Hip Hop says.

Where are the actually ugly people – even the ones with extreme body mods look nicely presented – clean dirt carefully applied to the faces of bad actors.

Just take look at them – it’s like they don’t have a fucking clue, or even look like they remotely feel need to go look for one – oh, except for our two titular, laughably swaggering cold-pressed antiheros, taking total control of their financial destiny for a better tomorrow via the same simple fiscal based force used by inherently evil near future mega corporations.

Simply because they do what ‘corpse’ does on smaller daily scale – dirty schemes, scams, common & garden holdups / data muggings done dirt cheap – this apparently (automatically) gives them the upper moral upper handedness – heck, they’re just another economic hit team in all but name eg. “Murda R Us.”

Note the ironic symbolism: people in 2077 refer to money as ‘eddies’ – in other worlds tiny whirlpools of chaos with violently unpredictable patterns of movement / growth.

Despite the flash dash hype on this Cyberpunk train to nowhere – it’s just more of the same material conditions of monetary virtuality we see today, just even more amped up on bad designer media steroids – like some top floor executive producer saw the gameplay footage and said “It’s fine I guess – just er make it a bit Darkerâ„¢“.

Thing is, modern Cyberpunk seems about as dark and dangerous as a Cybergoth Dance Party – which in fact appears a lot more fun:

Incidentally, ‘Dark’ just means “Oh wow cool! Another futuristic jerkoff scenario where I grow up to be the biggest version of the hateful cyber-hole I am already, and get to do whatever the hell I want [/without mommy telling me off].” Fuck that white noise.

“Your Cyberpunk Moms”

To imagine if someone street NPC were to gaze off longingly in middle distance and suddenly state “I miss the memory of trees” or “I hate working. I just want the chance to live” or “My boss is an asshole and I want you to spatterkill him” – but no; people here are simply raw human resources – material for coldly calculating (death) dealing machines to process into resellable consumption units.

Small yet meaningful (in terms of relationship) things could drastically improve such a deserted narrative blandscape.

  • If one of the main characters sniffed and then rubbed ir nose slightly.
  • If they blinked as though thinking, indeed if they didn’t just say their lines straight from beginning to end but paused for effect: “-And *you*.. you positively *reek* of Militech.”
  • If they asked if someone else had a stick of pineapple gum.
  • If they seemed remotely concerned for their partner in rhyme, acting like big brother or sister figure.
  • “You really like those spicy noodles, huh.. I can’t eat em they give me gas.”
  • If there was some 24/7 feeling of weariness resulting from living in city built entirely of Capitalist crime.
  • about how racism and tribalism is still a serious problem.
  • If someone robbed an obvious out of towner tourist of their smart phone.
  • If someone were told to hurry up or move.
  • If someone were on the street alone homeless and crying, expressing social problems generally.
  • Long term side effects of constant drug use of all kinds – chemical or informational.
  • If players are forced to infer indirect information.

Indeed relationship / friendship is all we have – not OTT guns or cool jackets that give ‘street cred’ *pfff* – what’s our intimate, inner relationship to others – fellow megacity dwellers – as expressed through careful and deliberate narrative choices / queues – or is it all just unceasing automated ‘dance of biz’ as Gibson states?

no-mean-city-rodney-matthews
We love tourists here: “No Mean City” by Rodney Matthews

Rather than some / yet another effortlessly, narratively cringy [CYBERCRINGE] hyper generic gunporn power fantasy – to consider it’s about relationships to “in-world relationships expressed as things” – responses both emotional / aesthetic – which delicately signal to players about whose skin they currently, actually inhabit.

Example Reference Links

  1. Cyberpunk Is Dead: A Study
  2. Dead Cyberpunk Movie
  3. Johnny Mnemonic
  4. Storytelling In Cyberpunk 2077
  5. Dead Cyberpunk Cities

// how to play big science

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