In 1988, a tabletop roleplaying game was released that would ultimately become a cornerstone for tech and geek culture. Mike Pondsmith’s Cyberpunk predicted the rise of cellphones, the Internet and even GoPro cameras. It still resonates today as a dystopian snapshot of contemporary culture, sharing an aesthetic with Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and The Matrix. Further cementing its influence, one of the most highly-anticipated video games of the next couple of years, Cyberpunk 2077, is based on the world Pondsmith created and he’s working with the creators to realize his vision.
“My wife told me that these guys in Poland wrote to us and said they wanted to do a Cyberpunk game,” Pondsmith tells Glixel. “They told me that the game was really important to them back in the Iron Curtain days – back then, they had Cyberpunk and communism. What impressed us was not just their capabilities and their well-organized toolsets, but that they knew and loved the material. I said, ‘let’s do this thing.'”
Those guys in Poland were CD Projekt Red, the team behind The Witcher – the blockbuster fantasy series that has sold more than 20 million copies since the first game in the trilogy was released 10 years ago. Think sprawling open landscapes, giant monsters, intricate lore and scenery that would make Bob Ross fall to his knees and weep. Cyberpunk 2077 – which was first announced back in 2013 – will see the studio take the same approach to create a vast, convincing and immersive game world.
“I go over there pretty regularly,” says Pondsmith..”I’m in a room with a hundred people, all firing ideas back and forth. We jump up and down on the systems and see how well they work. I really got lucky.”
It’s good news for fans of the original pen-and-paper Cyberpunk RPG too. Pondsmith is also working on a new version of the tabletop game that will be released alongside CDPR’s Cyberpunk 2077. “There will be more Cyberpunk stuff coming, yes,” he says cryptically. “One thing I’ve learned is that I don’t talk about anything before it’s ready. I pioneered some genres, and people started paying attention to what I say. I don’t want to help the competition.”
You can read the full interview on Glixel.