Real Life ‘Inspiration’ for a Cyberpunk Game

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Voros

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The reason I put inspiration in quotation marks is because some of this stuff may hit a bit too close to home and be kinda scary but hey that makes it all the better for updating a Cyberpunk game.

With the prominence of the net in our lives I’m surprised I haven’t seen a Cyberpunk game that takes place more completely in the net with avatars, etc. like Vernor Vinge’s original proto-cyberpunk novella True Names.

 

EmperorNorton

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Honestly, without going too far into real world politics, I plan on running a CP2020 game this year (might cheat and use Red, but I've been joking about this for years), and I think modern politics and economic issues have a lot of room for looting for a Cyberpunk game.

(Again, not trying to address anything in specific, just saying its definitely there for people who want to grab it.)
 

carpocratian

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With the prominence of the net in our lives I’m surprised I haven’t seen a Cyberpunk game that takes place more completely in the net with avatars, etc. like Vernor Vinge’s original proto-cyberpunk novella True Names.

That is one of my favorite novellas. It was way ahead of its time.
 

Raleel

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yes, there is a lot to go into in real world stuff. Good looting material. A good year for cyberpunk. Heck, a friend sent a link to a bunch of mysterious drones operating in concert over a part of Colorado and no one knows what’s going on there. Straight up cyberpunk.
 

Ladybird

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We've basically been living in the cyberpunk future for at least a decade now. Online has been openly a theatre of war for years, which tends to suggest that this has been happening privately for longer.
 

Raleel

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We've basically been living in the cyberpunk future for at least a decade now. Online has been openly a theatre of war for years, which tends to suggest that this has been happening privately for longer.

though not by much. There is only value in the online information if they are Online and their information is there. Truthfully, some of this stuff is very “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” and scientists trotting ahead :smile:
 

Voros

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This podcast series Hunting Warhead is excellent but deals with some very disturbing subject matter on the Dark Web. One thing I noticed is that similar to the 'Click to Kill' article I linked to above the story starts with a 'white hat' Hacker.

 

Raleel

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This is a hard one to talk about without getting overly political, but a really good and important genre for gaming. There are lots of real shades of it now. some Things to loot:

  • massive protests over equal rights, poverty, surveillance, freedom, antigovernment, anticorportation
  • drone usage, including by the military, massive collection of information On people, ubiquitous computer usage at the personal level
  • socioeconomic balance being comparable to what we see in stories in many places, especially American, Russia, and China.
  • massive corporate mergers with wide ranges of power and abilities. No one is in only one industry anymore. Zaibatsu and Keiretsu abound. Power consolidation - enough to challenge governments via soft power
  • immigration issues all over the world and the resulting xenophobia and strife, not to mention strain on infrastructure. The breaking down of country boundaries with the internet. The voice that has been given to anyone there.
  • virtual reality and augmented reality moving into the norm, virtual personas becoming More and more the norm for interaction and “truth”. Deep fake videos are possible now. Indeed, the definition Of truth is being altered to perception.
really, one does not have to go far for a cyberpunk game, only to google news. This might be bad for some folks who want gaming as an escape. This might end up being what turns my cyberpunk game from cyberpunk into more of a post-modern high fantasy game - my people have a decided aversion to grim games.

as a side note, and not wanting to open any this old arguments, but I can see why some folks don’t think Shadowrun is very cyberpunk. I think it certainly can be, but I do think the folks with this view are attacking the wrong points.
 

tenbones

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My perspective of Cyberpunk as a playable genre always starts at the street level. All the stuff you posted above Raleel - is *absolutely* part of the genre and forms that solid scaffolding that forms the vertical nature of a very hierarchical civilization.

But as we are now in 2020... many of those things have been with us for *years* as Ladybird pointed out. The place where it matters, and where you'll see the rubber literally hit the road, is at the street level. Even in CP2077, none of the vertical assumptions have changed. Not one of them. Megacorporations, Corrupt government, Organized Crime, Technoshockopolies, economic collapse (for most), etc.

The "game" is always about what you as the player are going to do about it (or not). Cyberpunk as a genre (regardless of the system) gives you sooo much to work with in terms of approaching that gigantic set of problems. So much so that your game may not be simply about doing anything about it - but promoting it, because you may be a beneficiary? Or both.

The moral gray areas of the genre are around us today - it's what people are screaming about on our "news" outlets. Morally lacking people with little understanding of actual Ethics making day-to-day life choices and prognostications for others while committing those same sins "just to get by". But like in real-life, half the fun is engaging in these contradictions as inherently part of the game. And for a lot of people - it's far too easy to simply ignore them (that's partially why the world becomes this way - the cessation of power to the powerful often is by overtly passive choice). Cyberpunk as a genre generally has to do with people actively making that choice (even though sometimes they're pushed to the edge of having no other choice at all).

For me, it starts at the street and goes up from there. That starting point is what informs the best characters. Starting at the top becomes too easy to be part of the establishment that rests easy there.

A flip through the TV/Internet news is pretty much a non-stop glut of cyberpunk inspiration. Drink it down if you can stomach it. Make something good out of it.
 

Raleel

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This was one thing I struggled with when doing my own cyberpunk business. Like... I like shadowrun, but it doesn’t feel very punk to me. Then i realized there you needed all of the “outside the system” and “against the Man” and racism and power inequality to make that work. That is strongly emphasized in cp2020, but somewhat buried in all of the other stuff of SR.
 

tenbones

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Yeah but once you realize that - SR can totally be punk then. I personally have never run SR, only played it. Love the setting... did not like the system at all (nor did my GM when I allowed myself to become a Vampire for the Essence bump... boy that spellcasting took off. Campaign didn't last long enough for me to get punished for it).

But anyhow... did you see that Netflix show Bright? It's SR without the cyber.

I think the real meat of cyberpunk is the atomization of individuals back into tribes that happen to coexist in the same sphere that none of them control by design - or at least they rest beneath the firmament of those that do.

Cyberpunk is like being the morlocks, and the PC's happen to be the morlocks that do things their own way. What those things are - is the game.
 

Raleel

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I have seen bright. Enjoyed it. Definitely accurate description.
 

Séadna

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I was actually talking recently to a guy who does robotics who said very little AI is used in building them, which naively I had thought. It's more very simple and constrained programs that react to movement and environmental conditions with limited cognition. I don't really understand it of course, but I thought it was pretty cool, maybe the tech fellas here know more.
 
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Tulpa Girl

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All of this is from a few years ago, but that's just because we've been living in a cyberpunk world for a while now...



 

Picaroon Jack

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All of this is from a few years ago, but that's just because we've been living in a cyberpunk world for a while now...




Oh we're there, just minus a few things like everyone wearing pleather pants and having wired reflexes.

D9wOVIuUIAEiQ1C.jpg
 

Picaroon Jack

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In other words, we have all the corporate BS, and none of the cool parts of cyberpunk. Man, this timeline sucks.
I was definitely sold on the "style before substance" that just didn't pan out. We might have crossed over into a more dystopic timeline and we need some sort of adjustment or autocorrect.

"How do you steer this thing??"
 

Nobby-W

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In other words, we have all the corporate BS, and none of the cool parts of cyberpunk. Man, this timeline sucks.

Indeed, living the dream
  • Corporate overlords - check
  • Omniscient A.I. monitoring our daily lives - check
  • Daily threat from hackers - check
  • Black leather trenchcoats - check
  • Encroaching eco-apocalypse - check
  • Chip-enhanced reflexes and smart guns - ...
Never mind.
Where's my flying car, dammit?
 
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Picaroon Jack

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Indeed, living the dream
  • Corporate overlords - check
  • Omniscient A.I. monitoring our daily lives - check
  • Daily threat from hackers - check
  • Encroaching eco-apocalypse - check
  • Chip-enhanced reflexes and smart guns - ...
Never mind.
Where's my flying car, dammit?
In terms of recent depictions of smart guns, a video game (Deep Rock Galactic) I play just added them as a new weapon for the Engineer class. It works exactly how I always pictured smart gun technology from Cyberpunk 2020.
lghrd52un9081.png

Some players are complaining that it is "auto targeting!" and yes, that's EXACTLY what it is, people.
 
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Raleel

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Was thinking about this today - I find it somewhat difficult to want to do a cyberpunk game because it feels a little close to the dystopian present. But also Shadowrun never felt very punk to me. Probably obvious realization, but the basic premise (regardless of what a lot of people do with it) just isn’t very punk.

I want cyberpunk, but distinct from my dystopian perception of the current world, which I don’t think can happen, because punk almost requires some dystopian aspect.
 

AsenRG

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The problem with this Cyberpunk future is we get all the shit stuff and I still don't get a cybereye to replace my blind one.
Real Life beats fiction even at being More Dystopian Than Thou:shock:?

Was thinking about this today - I find it somewhat difficult to want to do a cyberpunk game because it feels a little close to the dystopian present. But also Shadowrun never felt very punk to me. Probably obvious realization, but the basic premise (regardless of what a lot of people do with it) just isn’t very punk.

I want cyberpunk, but distinct from my dystopian perception of the current world, which I don’t think can happen, because punk almost requires some dystopian aspect.
Funny, that...that's exactly what inspired me to switch to Zaibatsu. Delta Green didn't feel dystopian enough for the present:grin:!

Yes, I know, I'm the Handler, I can make it more dystopian. But Zaibatsu gets there without even trying!
 

VisionStorm

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We've basically been living in the cyberpunk future for at least a decade now. Online has been openly a theatre of war for years, which tends to suggest that this has been happening privately for longer.

The Present is Dark and Cyberpunk.

Stuff that could make it into a Cyberpunk world includes things like ceaseless propaganda and disinformation, coupled with rampant censorship and attempts to crack down on dissenting voices. Citizen journalists become prevalent and crucial to expose the "truth" about what the corporations and colluding government structures are doing behind the scenes, as does the need to establish "pirate broadcasts" and alternate means of communication between insurgent groups. And anyone who opposes the established order gets smeared and ridiculed, often to the glee of the heedless public.

Expect anything that the PCs do to get framed as "terrorism" and broadcasted into world in the most unfavorable light 24/7, while the crimes they expose get buried and purged from the internet. Everyone has a digital ID with all their personal and medical information, probably tracked using a chip implanted into them, and there are check points everywhere you go, were you need to provide your identification to pass through. Anyone without an ID is barred from all economic activity and immediately suspect, giving rise to underground parallel economies for PCs to trade their goods. And in order to pass through check points PCs will need to get fake IDs (which are probably nigh impossible to make, and risky to use, given the centralized nature of how information is processed and stored) or seek alternate routes to avoid the authorities and get where they want to.

Plus tons of other stuff I can't think of right now (or might hit to close to "politics") or that have already been covered by others.
 

AsenRG

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The Present is Dark and Cyberpunk.

Stuff that could make it into a Cyberpunk world includes things like ceaseless propaganda and disinformation, coupled with rampant censorship and attempts to crack down on dissenting voices. Citizen journalists become prevalent and crucial to expose the "truth" about what the corporations and colluding government structures are doing behind the scenes, as does the need to establish "pirate broadcasts" and alternate means of communication between insurgent groups. And anyone who opposes the established order gets smeared and ridiculed, often to the glee of the heedless public.

Expect anything that the PCs do to get framed as "terrorism" and broadcasted into world in the most unfavorable light 24/7, while the crimes they expose get buried and purged from the internet. Everyone has a digital ID with all their personal and medical information, probably tracked using a chip implanted into them, and there are check points everywhere you go, were you need to provide your identification to pass through. Anyone without an ID is barred from all economic activity and immediately suspect, giving rise to underground parallel economies for PCs to trade their goods. And in order to pass through check points PCs will need to get fake IDs (which are probably nigh impossible to make, and risky to use, given the centralized nature of how information is processed and stored) or seek alternate routes to avoid the authorities and get where they want to.

Plus tons of other stuff I can't think of right now (or might hit to close to "politics") or that have already been covered by others.
Yeah, that probably counts as "hitting too close to politics":thumbsup:.
 

Ladybird

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The Present is Dark and Cyberpunk.

Stuff that could make it into a Cyberpunk world includes things like ceaseless propaganda and disinformation, coupled with rampant censorship and attempts to crack down on dissenting voices. Citizen journalists become prevalent and crucial to expose the "truth" about what the corporations and colluding government structures are doing behind the scenes, as does the need to establish "pirate broadcasts" and alternate means of communication between insurgent groups. And anyone who opposes the established order gets smeared and ridiculed, often to the glee of the heedless public.
Another thing our modern prophets didn't foresee : the amount of people that would be on the Oppressor's side, the extents to which the Powers That Be would go to to get in on the counterculture act, and the levels of psyops and deceptions that would constantly be going on.

You can't operate under the eyes of the corps, because their entire business is to have eyes everywhere.
 

VisionStorm

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Another thing our modern prophets didn't foresee : the amount of people that would be on the Oppressor's side, the extents to which the Powers That Be would go to to get in on the counterculture act, and the levels of psyops and deceptions that would constantly be going on.

You can't operate under the eyes of the corps, because their entire business is to have eyes everywhere.

That part even got me by surprise, and I've always been kind of a misanthrope who expects the worse from regular low resolution thinkers. But I never thought that the public would be THAT willing to go along with it and even defend the establishment and authorities (corporate and gov) with such fervor. I would've expected it a bit, but not this strongly. How well the Power's That Be managed to infiltrate the "counter culture" side was also kinda surprising. Defending the establishment somehow became the side of "progress".
 

Picaroon Jack

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It's definitely easier to list the differences versus similarities.

Here's some more:
  • We got tons of drones, but never got mass produced VTOL air cars.
  • We have state of the art emergency medical response, but they are not armed/armored to the teeth.
  • We have advancements in AI, but it seems sort of apathetic.
  • We have electronic cigarettes, but we never got the euphoric/suicidal Smash soda.
  • We can 3D print working guns, but we don't have vending machines with plastic one-shot pistols.
  • We have advancements in virtual reality, but it's not chipped into our brains.
I resisted the urge to put "yet" at the end of most of those.
 

VisionStorm

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It's definitely easier to list the differences versus similarities.

Here's some more:
  • We got tons of drones, but never got mass produced VTOL air cars.
  • We have state of the art emergency medical response, but they are not armed/armored to the teeth.
  • We have advancements in AI, but it seems sort of apathetic.
  • We have electronic cigarettes, but we never got the euphoric/suicidal Smash soda.
  • We can 3D print working guns, but we don't have vending machines with plastic one-shot pistols.
  • We have advancements in virtual reality, but it's not chipped into our brains.
I resisted the urge to put "yet" at the end of most of those.

That's what I kept thinking as I read almost everyone of those. :trigger:
 
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