Electron Dance
3Jan/2113

Discussion: Cyberdunk

Welcome to the year-late December newsletter (sign up if you want to read it):

Some have hoped that studio bosses will wake up and smell the Cyberpunk coffee, exclaiming, “Jesus, all that death march crunch is really bad for our games!” I think the more accurate analogy will be those hurrying past a violent mugging in broad daylight, grateful that it wasn’t them this time.

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  1. i’m not interested in the aforementioned game, so here’s what i did:
    a) mute the title of the game, and
    b) don’t engage in anything related to that game. not even a comment.

    i tend to find discussions of older games (even as ‘old’ as a year) more meaningful than the hot new thing on display.

    i guess what i’m really saying is that i wish people would really take more time to say what they think. this is why i scroll past most text-only tweets and concentrate what i got on twitter for: finding cool new games and artists.

  2. To be honest I have nothing to add except

    *sigh* Yup.

    Oh, and I remember Jon Ingold also expressed the idea that AAA is indie’s R&D department at an AdventureX talk in, I think it was 2010. Just for the sake of sourcing.

  3. Your recent playlist is a multiplayer tease! :-)

    Good dunk and I’ve not got much to add either. The NMS angle really frustrates me because the dogpiling on it, Hello Games and specifically Sean Murray was awful. Fast forward some years and it’s okay to like Hello Games and NMS again. But! NMS now feels like a lazy get out of jail free card apologist gamers can play when their high profile AAA darling doesn’t hit the mark. ‘I’m sure it’ll be great after some updates!’ feels like such a cop-out, particularly for something so eye-wateringly expensive and broken, and when there are so many new games out there that are great RIGHT NOW. Play and celebrate those.

    All that said, some of the bugs and memes have been very entertaining so… cheers Cyberpunk!

  4. I’ve just realised I’ve been reading it as Cory Balrog for years.

    Rather than NMS, the comparator I associated the Cyberpunk debacle with is Skyrim: ambitious, buggy, and probably best in a year after both the community and the developer have taken another few passes over it. I figure it can only benefit from letting the hype lie long as well. Mind you I still haven’t gotten around to Skyrim and that game is old, impossibly old, so.. see you in 2077, Cyberpunk?

    As Ethical Consumers ™ we’re in an awkward position with crunch, because its victims aren’t served by boycotting a crunched game, but its perpetrators are rewarded by us buying a copy.

  5. Ah having fun over here. You wouldn’t guess it from the coverage but UK finance had a no-deal Brexit. Welcome all.

    daniel

    Hello! So I have tried that before but it’s not that effective when a game rushes through the feed like a waterfall as not everyone uses the term. There are also those little abbreviations that sometimes get invoked instead of the full title. I tried, once, to block out Game of Thrones spoilers and it was a impossible task. I did, however, mute the term “slack” today after everyone said they couldn’t do any work without slack, over and over.

    Wait, you didn’t see any of my text-only tweets? :)

    James

    Ahhhhh! I wonder if that’s what I misremembering from? I spent about 20 minutes just going through Robert Yang’s blog because Google couldn’t find it and I just gave up. Also “R&D” is definitely the term I should’ve been searching for.

    Gregg

    We switched our family game night – which is basically parents playing games kids wouldn’t fire up (why would you if you have Fortnite Forever) – to playing multiplayer for the last month for a change. I’m thinking of going back this month so we can make more progress on System Shock.

    The funny thing about this “Cyberdunk” is that I didn’t really want to dump on the game, I wanted to be detached and talk about how sad it is that everybody gets so mad. Then I read more and more about what CDPR had done, just to get links in place, and gradually slid over to a position of “WTF I can’t defend this!”

    I mean, the game looks so gorgeous and I wondered about buying it just to wander around the world (I once thought similar about Guild Wars). But it sounds like the open worldness is not really there and I might end up feeling frustrated. Don’t want a high frustration-to-buck ratio.

    But, yeah, they ate up everyone’s attention for the Christmas month when Twitter could’ve been applauding some other cool stuff.

    CA

    Maybe it really is Cory Balrog and he mis-typed his own name on his own video!

    Yeah, that *is* a real issue for us Ethical Consumers™. Boycotting is useful but what they need is some proper regulation. Unionization might help although libetarian developers aren’t in favour of that; curbs on hours would be better. The industry just finds it cheaper to burn through young, eager developers to make $$$ projects than keep them fed and watered and mentally fit.

  6. So… what was the appeal of Cyberpunk anyway? I was bombarded with promos for it through GOG and, well, it’s not like I’m going to play anything like this on my laptop, but it didn’t seem like something that would be particularly interesting even without the bugs? I guess it’s a “people liked Witcher” sort of thing, but it also seems like the transition from fantasy to sci-fi-ish is going to have major effects on the gameplay, just because you’re changing from whacking things with close-range weapons to shooting things. I assume.

    Oh, can I coin Kentuck’em-up as a game genre? I was thinking about this while playing Mutazione (which I should get back to, it’s been months). A Kentuck’em-up is basically a point’n’click style game with little to no emphasis on puzzles, a lot of emphasis on story and characterization, and lots of dialogue choices that probably don’t lead to branching but allow you to express how you feel.

    Boycotts are always an issue for Ethical Consumers for that reason, so it usually comes down to, do the people on whose behalf you are protesting want you to do this? Like, sanctions on apartheid South Africa surely hurt black South Africans in some way by affecting the economy, but they were encouraged by the ANC anyway, and rightly so. Which means in this case that the workers need to have a voice, which means unions, and laws in general, as you said. (Not sure how much it affects this that CDPR is Polish with different laws.)

    Speaking of which, wasn’t CDPR like the third-largest company in Poland by valuation? Why oh why couldn’t CDPR have rushed this out six months ago so the knock-on effects might at least have taken down their awful president?

  7. Joel: I found the talk! Skip to 19:20
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXGo0rBeTIo

    I too would have loved for Cyberpunk to be good (or at least not completely terrible) but the more I looked into CDPR the more I found myself hurtling towards “fuck ’em”. The numerous delays, the crunch despite the studio going to great lengths to promise no crunch, the toxic marketing, the bigoted tweets… I realised there was so much shit in the water that I found myself trying to prove or disprove every single point when I already had more than enough reason to condemn them. This actually culminated in me and some other devs being part of that “Be a better cyberpunk bundle”. I personally wanted to feel like at least one good thing could come out of this mess.

    Matt: I for one totally get the appeal of an open-world cyberpunk game. I’m a massive fan of the subgenre and love the idea of living another life in that kind of world. Most decent games in that setting put you in the shoes of a particular character, but I’ve always loved the Elder Scrolls method of “you could be literally anyone” Even if those implementations are less mechanically deep moment-to-moment (eg. try making a moral choice, or even just expressing yourself through dialogue, in Skyrim) I can’t help being enticed by the promise that, at least on a broad level, you could move through this world as any type of character and it would still work.

    It’s just a pity this implementation is awful :/

  8. Matt

    I’m half with you on the “mysterious appeal” and half not. Another rando future RPG, shrug. Then again, if it’s another Deus Ex, then maybe yeah? But perhaps it was more faith in another game from The Witcher people.

    Oh God, I’d forgotten that CDPR was Polish, of course. And there are regulations in the EU called the Working Time Directive which limits the hours you’re allowed to work… unless you’ve signed up for the opt-out. It seems like in Poland, though, the opt-out only applies to medicine in that article? According to this article, there was an ECJ ruling in 2019 that said employers must have a system of tracking hours spent. I’m not an expert in Polish law, unfortunately. (Every job I’ve had has required me to sign up to the opt-out and it makes you wonder what force it does have when opt-out is normalized.) Looks like Poland permitted employers to extend the reference time for WTD to 12 months, meaning employees could work long days for half the year and get away with it.

    Oh, I don’t know if you can coin that as a genre, considering I still haven’t played KR0.

    James

    Thank you, Mr. Patton!

    I do wonder if this new recent development of the Alphabet Workers Union will snowball – go further than just one tech giant.

  9. Every job I’ve had has required me to sign up to the opt-out

    “The priest then performed, or so I think, all the ceremonies associated with baptism. However, before the priest began to read the baptismal service, one of the friars bent over and whispered into my ear that I must freely accept the ceremony of baptism or I would be killed. So I confirmed that everything I was doing was of my own free will, although I thought otherwise.” Danilo Kis, “Dogs and Books,” from A Tomb for Boris Davidovich

    (Is it a bit overwrought to compare this labor rights issue to the medieval inquisition and, by association, the Stalinist purges? Yes.)

  10. matt:

    I dunno, power is power ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  11. I kinda wanted to say “Yes, but…” (I’m actually not 100% sure what you’re saying “I dunno” to.)

    Back to games! I have played two entire rounds of Hades, having been asked to get it for a child and it was something I kinda wanted anyway, and I sort of feel like jumping into the discourse about whether it is a roguelike. On the side that says “A roguelike is a procedural game with permadeath where sometimes you have to run into corridors to avoid getting mobbed, and the last one is the only one that’s really necessary.”

  12. Well, Joel, I think the newsletter pretty much covered it all on this one. :)

    I think CDPR announced selling 13mn copies initially, against a 1st year of 25mn? Even with refunds on console platforms I’d say the game has probably done well enough that you are right: nothing will be learned from this shitshow.

    I have Hades now, so I guess I’ll play that soon?

  13. Thanks Shaun. I have a feeling there was a bloody-minded determination to buy CDPR whatever happened and even though console fans will be pissed off, I imagine they will hold onto it waiting for fixes.

    I have absolutely no information on Hades here other than being aware it exists. I have been so out of games the last few months! Dear God.


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