On Cyberpunk 2077

At release (December 20, 2020) Cyberpunk 2077 proved that we were still light years away from replicating the table top role-playing experience in digital form.

Did the choices matter? No, they were window dressing so that the player could experiment with call and response. The most beautiful graphics in the world could not hide the fact that the underlying systems of gathering up discarded junk as "loot" and watching numbers burst off the face of enemies were poor replacements for character development and the absent sense that a player could change the game world.

The most shocking thing about Cyberpunk 2077 was that CD Projekt was getting away with the same murder as many other AAA videogame publisher/developers: having the gumption to charge a premium price for a subpar product. Video games are luxury items that have been increasingly produced to substandard levels. If a video game maker is going to try to convince me that they have spent seven years and untold thousands of human labor hours crafting an experience that's going to be unlike any other, and in their marketing material try to sell a virtual world where I am the hero and what I do matters, that better damn well be the case when I plunk down my $70 and fire up the game.

That was not the case with the launch version of Cyberpunk 2077.

It took three years for Larian Studios to prove me wrong with Baldur's Gate III. So, not light years after all. —Ed.


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