View Full Version : Look and Feel: the Cyberpunk World and Beyond

2nd Jul 2008, 18:56
Really should've made a new thread, instead of posting what I did in the Spector thread, as this does warrant it's own.

As I mentioned the biggest gripe between the two games is that DX:IW destroyed the old world. The "look and feel" was totally changed. Grungy dirty old world complete with old UI, changed to a Star Trekish sterile UI one. It's good that the old Ion Storm crew finally figured how/why the blow up did and can occur (don't listen to just those in the industry, start listening to the fans. We may not work in the studio environment nor deal with it's politics, but we're not stupid to gaming itself). But is the new Eidos-Montreal crew listening?

All I've seen is one concept art piece, and a teaser for DX3. The CA, will probably change in the final design (as they tend to be changed for programming/time/budge reasons), but to think that maybe what's in store is a little let down. Not that it doesn't look good -- my it does, kudos for the designer!! -- but if that's the theme, there's more of it.

Cyberpunk is a nasty world. It's not just nano lights and a futuristic Mad Max setting. It's a world that is decayed both externally and internally. It's also a mindset of losing the ability of knowing right from wrong, and not even giving a damn in a Darwinist society. It was popular theme during the 80s because the main fear then was a nuclear war, it's aftermath and the powerlessness of it all -- Black rain, Black rain. It's filled with inner and outer despair. Beauty and Art is dirt, because no one cares to even bother to clean it. On themselves, in their environment. It's like dust in the dusk bowl years -- it's on everything, in everything and can't be washed off. You even eat it. It also taints what's good, too. Giving even good characters a dirty appearance and complex morals/ethics.

JC fit that world as he has plenty of inner demons, in himself, and how and why he even existed (he was even born a tragedy). Same goes for the rest of the old DX cast (which amazingly the devs managed to cobble together and not destroy. They were believable, because in a cyberpunk world, characters can be quite "weird" by nature. Anyone remember THE Alex, with his keyboard pants even?). In the DX universe, as presented, JC bucks the dirt and mindset. We don't know why, as that is what he was born in and knows, but he tries to buck the status quo. He isn't Mad Max, or a Rebel without a Cause, but he does defy authority (maybe because authority was his "father"), in a calculating way. He's the contrast to his more philosophical inclined brother who is suppose to be older and wiser. But ALL have a past that they don't want to talk about, all have their motivations that would make you wince in this world.

Combined we get the arch-typical cyberpunk world, with all it's ugliness, side stories and dramas. The thirst for survival in a Darwinistic environment with the biggest and baddest weapons; the search for a way out of the dirt -- that constant reminder of the past, a past that does need a Noah's flood wash. People who are "there" but not knowing why they want to be "there", or really even care (they float through life, as that's what that environment offers -- the biggest depressive existence known).

In effect it is a form of horror. DX did it nicely by making all levels in the nightime. Folks may not have gotten the F.E.A.R. level cheap spooks, but they got the inner world horror. You can go into the tunnels and not freak out, but the doom and gloom is your constant companion -- a reminder what you (as JC) is wanting to run from.

That's the cyberpunk world. That IS the world of DX.

Now how is DX3 going to fit it into that DX world? Will we get Star Trek? Will we get F.E.A.R.? Or will we get the impossible - the DX 10 year anniversary? It can be done, yet are and will the devs listen: that the theme has to Look and Feel the same?

2nd Jul 2008, 21:02
A good critic and resume, not to mention a fair request. :)

2nd Jul 2008, 22:21
Like gh0s7 says, it's a good critique. I completely agree with you by the way. DX 3 should definitely reflect something of a cyberpunk feel. And it should be spread all over in any place where it's appropriate. Like you said in the other thread, the Paris subways should have been a lot grimier. A minor oversight, but rather noticeable. I didn't really notice it, since the music was reminding me that I had to be misrable in that godforsaken city.:cool:

We definitely need more of a cyberpunk world where people are generally down on their luck. Oddly enough, many of them don't care. besides that there is uncertanity everywhere you look. Just summarizing what you saidThatis what I think when I think cyberpunk. And that's the reason I think it has such appeal, owing to a certain grounding in our own uncertain times.

3rd Jul 2008, 01:29
The seeds are there in the old game. Just modernize the delivery (and please not this silly shoulder swing thing seen in DX:IW, it's so fake it's crazy, how is that like talking to anyone? Mitts and all DX was even more real in conservations and body gestures), and go from there.

DX is old, how the NPCs walked around or just stood there wouldn't even make a hardcore fan happy today, but the depth of the NPC conversations (even the annoying ones -- the preachers and the bums telling you to blow off), is better than very scripted conversations seen in games now -- even MMOs. I liked it that entering the free clinic that ex-soldier said one line, which had me thinking, "Was that a clue? Did it mean anything?" Just one line, a blip for the programmer, but it's a memory and part of the game's lore. Those little "gotchas" are so rewarding. Just as going past a switch you have no idea what it's for -- "Do I flip it or not?" Would be nice that some switches and operational stuff have nothing to do with anything, it's there, much like tunnel dead ends or half drank coffee cups still warm, "Who was there? Where did they go?". Mix it all up, like it is in real life.

Devs see the bigger picture too much, when it's the little things that can and are memorable -- like climbing with the LAMs and all (which the devs would never have thought could be used for that purpose, but fans did it, and again part of the game lore) -- if it's any clue, fans like to climb on otherwise forbidden areas (e.g., straight walls without ladders; buildings; monuments, etc.).

3rd Jul 2008, 01:46
Unless someone has the balls and genius to reinvent the wheel, as far as cyberpunk is concerned Blade Runner is pretty much the mothership to go by, and DX definitely fit into that mold quite nicely, with an expended vision of the whole world. Like its predecessors in the genre, recent history has proven it to be frighteningly accurate and I wouldn't be surprised if a whole bunch of us told our grandkids about this one video game that foresaw 40 years in advance how the world would turn if we let it slip.

You're right about the cheap spooks we are getting these days vs the awkward and uncomfortable feeling of cyberpunk. Much like Hitchcock suspense, it's a scary world that follows you everywhere you go, in every scene, without any possible escape or big boss to defeat to end it all. I think Half Life went from ambiance scary in the first game to totalitarian cyberpunk in the second with quite a nice transition, with the exception that Freeman was a bit too much of a chosen one type character to really fit into this world and create the right mood for the game. There was hope with every objective, something not quite right for the genre. DX did it marvelously well with its ambiguous endings that proposed no real solution to a problem gone way, way too far. I hate to ***** about capitalism or individualism, as they can work quite well, but this universe of DX was every socialist's nightmare, where individual decisions and selfish motivations spiraled downward into this devastating free for all.

This scary thought hits way too close to home during what we can already call our dark times, and if I were to make another DX game, I'd definitely want to set it in this universe again. If they really want to project it further into the future, just add some space exploration to this nightmare, and new colonies promising the mountain top and a fresh new start on another world. We all know those who left Europe got shafted by the hostile territory, imagine how it would be to leave for another damn planet, and how profitable it would be for those who organise it. It doesn't necessarily have to be the usual Total Recall slave colony type of world, just a promised land gone wrong, with the Earth in an even worse shape than last time we saw JC (in DX 1 of course).

3rd Jul 2008, 02:33
Space wouldn't fit into it, as this is a Terra game, it's the DX world. Can see Area 51 aliens in the game, as it's on our planet, but Mars or the Moon? Ah, tooooo much Star Trekish.

I can go on forever about this topic. Get ready....lololol

The thing that was missing in DX was the complexity of JC, the very protagonist. The movie was suppose to fill in the missing pieces, and show a guy trying to hold the very pieces of his psyche together. It would've gave players more of an understanding of why he was so angry, and how he would see the world. We never got to really know JC but through his actions.

In DX:IW they painted a more cold JC, but one without a reason to really to explain it. What are his triggers? What drives the guy? He's just there, a guy you play and there's nothing more about him, other than his cool outfit and shades (are they now gone? Treated like Star Trek uniforms? New for every movie??). Would like to know what makes him tick? Why was his parents chosen for this creation? What was really different from JC and Paul other than personalities and some DNA differences (and do those differences mean they're not exactly clones??).

We know what JC is, but WHO is he?

Yet that's not were the game development will go, as they don't want to develop such a character too much, as it binds them to a single pointman. "Creative control". So we'll get another action figure, who's "there" and as interesting as cardboard.

What does JC feel?
What does JC think?
What does JC do but chase bad guys?

Yes, the world has a-l-o-t of potential. But if there's little soul, that potential will be quite empty. A hollow world -- remember that Star Trek episode from the old series named, "The World is Hollow but I've Touched the Sky"? That'll be this franchise's fate if the characters aren't fleshed out. This isn't Quake or UT, this is a game that you actually care about who you came in contact with. To care, is to know more about who you care about.

Like all sequels we'll get some new characters, some in NPC roles as guides and such, some more like team mates. But I would like to see the old cast around, even if for a level, that says, "we're still here and fine, don't worry!!" With such reminders fans don't have, too. HINT, HINT.

A piece of the old world, the people in it. Take them into the future or past, but make sure they're "there", and that we give a damn about them to care.

The fear is the world and people won't even exist. A fear I hope isn't reality.

3rd Jul 2008, 02:52
Well I don't think a colony would be any worse than the underwater we got near the end, although I DID dislike that part of the game. I guess I'm just saying they can bring the universe further in the future without giving us some sterile "futuristic" world like IW or Minority Report. I don't necessarily want it, I'm just saying it wouldn't be too much of a stretch. The only logical solution to a world gone ridiculously wrong, besides blowing it all up and starting over.

Character development with the main protagonist is a tough call to make. Someone made the excellent point a few weeks ago that the reason we identify so easily with the character we play, besides the first person view, is the lack of identity and character building besides the little backstory and the mysterious conditions surrounding his "birth". JC got pissed when we decided to get pissed, and reacted the way we wanted him too, something that helps tremendously with the immersion.

Getting to know JC as a side character, I guess I wouldn't mind. My only fear from this is to be disappointed in who he actually is. When I played him he shared my beliefs, if I can put it this way, what if he has some silly vision of the world when I get to know him better, at least according to my standards.

Character development is essential, especially in such a wonderfully sad and scary setting, where people are constantly pushed to their tolerance limits, but I'd reserve those developments for the people we meet in the game, and not the dude we play. But maybe that's just me.

3rd Jul 2008, 06:29
The problem with going too far into the future is it will be Star Trekish. It'll be sci-fi, more than cyberpunk (which would lose it's meaning in that age). Devs would get carried away with it, and what is the soul of DX will be traded for all the stuff sci-fi offers.

You can see this issue with the plasma rifle and laser carbine in F.E.A.R.. It really didn't belong, despite the references to microgravity experiments. It's a cheap exit for "kewl" things, yet too futurish in a near future setting. BF2142 even reeled it in, with the Titans being the only real futurish object in the game, almost 100 years ahead than the DX universe.

In 2100AD I can see it, but in 30 years the architecture even seen in DX:IW is a pipe dream, too. That's one thing that doesn't change much overtime, and repeats the problems seen in the 50s/60s sci-fi movies depicting the future.

Just don't see it happening, simply because the technology won't be there in 30 to 40 years (we'll be lucky to even find a cure for cancer within that time).

4th Jul 2008, 05:32
Really too tuckered out now, but after the 4th July gluttony, I'll write more about this topic -- located an excellent example to illustrate what I mean about grim/look and feel/ and continuity.

Pictures tell it better than just typing it out.

4th Jul 2008, 21:31
Totally agree with what's generally being said. The cyberpunk atmosphere is one of the, if not THE most essential thing to be implemented in DX.
Speaking of cyberpunk as a genre,I'm currently half-way through reading "Neuromancer" by William Gibson (generally percieved as the cyberpunk 'bible' as i'm sure you're aware of) and that really helps to paint a picture of the kind of morale-lacking, dreary world that Deus Ex is about. It's also very interesting to see such a futuristic and detailed vision coming from a book written in 1984.
I found it a pretty difficult book to get into (especially because of Gibon's fast-paced writing style) but once you're in, you're in.

20th Aug 2008, 01:33
Hey guys, this is an excellent post, I actually enjoyed reading all of it in its entirty. Please continue. As a side note, I agree with having space-exploration part and started a thread called: "Outer-Space levels" if you want to continue your discussion there, but onto the main topic... Yeah, I totally, absolutely, agree.