Diecast #326: CYBERBUG 2077

By Shamus Posted Monday Dec 21, 2020

Filed under: Diecast 116 comments

Strangely enough, I’m one of the lucky ones. Cyberpunk 2077 is running pretty well for me. I’ve run into lots of visual problems, but very few issues that impact gameplay. I’m usually the cursed player, fighting my way through a sea of bugs and crashes while the masses chant, “But it works fine on MY machine!” at me. It’s nice to be on the other side of that for once. Although it would be even better if the game was working for everyone.


Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Diecast326


Link (YouTube)

Show notes:

00:00 CDPR is dead

Or to put it more accurately: “The narrative that CDPR is a pro-gamer company run by people with a passion for the hobby” is dead. Last week I cautioned that their reputation was a valuable but fragile asset that gave them an edge over other publishers and storefronts. This week they pretty much pissed it all away by filling in our collective “Sleazy corporate executive” bingo card.

You can’t explain away these decisions with “Whoops”. This cavalcade of dishonesty, foolishness, deceit, and casual contemptThere are very few ways to infuriate an audience than telling them a lazy and implausible lie. can’t be blamed on a single momentary lapse in judgement. Cyberpunk just blasted sales records and made its money back on Day 1, so you can’t excuse this mess with “We were low on cash and panicked.” You can’t blame this on a failure to communicate or a single wayward employee. Blame for these actions goes to the top, and is the result of decisions that people made when they had the time and money to choose to do something different.

More importantly, this isn’t a single mistake. This is a pattern of behavior stretching over an entire year. You can’t smooth that over by saying sorry and having a sale. You can’t fix that with bug patches and free DLC.

And all of this for nothing. It’s not like any of these lies and shortcuts did them any good. Claiming that the game was “complete and playable” in January didn’t make that true, it just set unrealistic expectations for the public. NOBODY believed that “gamers” demanded that Devotion be censored. The review restrictions didn’t stop people from finding out about how buggy the game was. And now the company is dealing with mass refunds and the game has been pulled from the Playstation Store while the game itself has become a Fallout 76-style shitshow of memes and derision.

What a stupid waste.

23:05 Mindustry Bug

Bug, or lack of feature?

31:05 Something Unicorn – LED String Curtain Lights with Dimmer Switch for Teen Room, Girls Room, College Dorm, Nursery, Kids Room Décor. Perfect for Unicorn, Fairy & Rainbow Decoration. (Standard Version)

I’ve been thinking of re-branding the site. I don’t think “Twenty Sided” is giving me the SEO I need, so I’m going to rename the blog “Twenty Sided Nerd Culture Videogames Tabletop Games Nerd Culture Blog with Videogame Background for Young Men, Gamer Girls, Kids, Grognards, perfect for Minotaur and Sasquatch Articles (WordPress Blog.)“.

Anyway, the lights are fun.

39:02 The Game Awards

While I like the IDEA of having a game awards show, maybe a three-and-a-half hour black-tie ceremony with musical numbers isn’t the way to go. I know that’s how Hollywood does it for the movies, but like I keep trying to tell these people: Games are not movies.

45:01 Mailbag: Tools that Limit Creativity

Dear and precious Diecast,

In the middle of 2020, me and my friends started playing D&D campaign, which I was running. Due to the Coronavirus, we used a virtual tabletop called Roll20. This program allowed me to use a huge library of sound effects, music, pictures, visual effects and beautiful maps made by its lovely community to enhance the atmosphere of each session. Since that worked very well, I was adding more and more of these things into the game.

However, at some point it backfired. Usually I could just described all the stuff that were happening, which allow me to react quickly to players’ choices. But once the narrative switched to being more visual, there was no turning back. Showing half of things and randomly describing others felt very weird and disconnected. So the whole story was increasingly constrained by the limitations of what audiovisuals effects I could use – basically, I overdid the usage of the props and it made the game much more linear. This made me think if videogame designers are facing the same issue, but on a larger scale – by wanting to enhance the experience for the players, they may be limiting themselves with the new, cutting-edge technology (especially since this kind of technology is prone to bugs and issues; also, I excluded more marketing-oriented issues).

Do you think that more story designers should be playing some kind of tabletop sessions (not D&D, just anything that’s related to the type of game they’re working on) to experience potential issues – not necessary the ones that I described – that making long, interactive narratives can bring?

Cheers,

Darek

58:41 Mailbag: Fighting for a Feature

Hello Shamus + Guests of the Future (Probably Paul),

I recently got to read a three-part blog series from the lead designer of Battletech. Having bought, played, and loved this game I found it fascinating to see a lead designer’s take on their own work. In it she echoes a lot of themes I’ve seen in your work as well, namely the importance of writers and writing to deliver an appealing game. She also talks about the compromises made and some of the mechanical things you’d find interesting as a game-maker yourself. She also mentions the hill she fought over and damn near got fired for in the design process.

To bring this around to a question: What’s the biggest hill in a game/software design that you fought over? Is there one you wish you fought harder for?

Links to the blogs:
Part 1
Part 2 – (includes “the hill”)
Part 3

Thanks,
GoStu

1:02:33 Wrapping Up

 

Footnotes:

[1] There are very few ways to infuriate an audience than telling them a lazy and implausible lie.



From The Archives:
 

116 thoughts on “Diecast #326: CYBERBUG 2077

  1. Vertette says:

    Is Shamus on version 1.05? I heard that patch made things worse for PC users.

    1. Shamus says:

      Yeah, I’m on the latest patch.

      Didn’t make it any worse for me. Had 60FPS before. Still have it now. So the patch was all upside for me.

    2. droid says:

      I’ve also been putting off the upgrade because I’ve heard mixed things. Is Shamus 1.05 still angry about Mass Effect?

      1. Taellosse says:

        Patches don’t typically remove features, though. I mean, if you’re looking for bugs in Shamus that need patching, we could ask to have his persistent pattern of posting new articles without a break on the front page, improve the quality of his spelling and grammar proofing, or even resolve his tendency to become completely unproductive when exposed to furry animals.

        I’ll grant that “griping endlessly yet eloquently about the manifold of failures and self-defeating decisions involved in the Mass Effect game series” was, perhaps, not a part of the original list of features when Shamus was still in the design phase, but that hardly means a highly popular emergent behavior should be removed.

    3. Mephane says:

      I didn’t notice any change in performance (on a Ryzen 3700X and RTX 3080).

  2. Lino says:

    To be fair, GOG isn’t “getting a living” from Western markets – they’re still operating at a loss. Also, most people in the West won’t even know about this, because the majority of them don’t follow gaming news. Whether the majority of GOG users follow (or care) about these news, there is no way to know. I guess we’ll find out, based on their earning reports if there’s a drop caused by a bunch of users that have left in boycott.

    1. RFS-81 says:

      I seem to remember reading that GOG is just barely profitable. Is such a large portion of their revenue from China?

      Anyway, I don’t think I’ll be boycotting GOG. Where else would I go? Steam? I guess I can go to itch.io for the indiest indie games.

      1. tmtvl says:

        Steam has done so much for the Linux gaming scene they deserve kudos.

  3. ivan says:

    I was already down on CDPR before because of their ingrained crunch culture. Problem is now I get to be down on GoG as well, which sucks. Up until this week I was largely seperating the two in my head. But, this week it came up that GoG and CDPR between them turned ppl’s GoG accounts into a (admittedly minor) vehicle for DRM in Cyberpunk, as well. Or live service guff, whichever way you wish to think of it, I guess it is closer to the latter. (There are various digital ‘goodies’ for ppl who buy Cyberpunk to get, by signing in to certain websites with their GoG account).

    And yeah, one of GoG’s biggest selling points, for me, has always been the total lack of DRM. Sad to see that is, I fear, in the process of changing. Slippery slope arguments, etc etc, but still.

    1. Leviathan902 says:

      Look, I’m not going to defend CDPR in any way here. I still love their games, I just am not a fan of the company anymore. That said, let’s not go overboard. Providing some free t-shirts in game if you launch the game from your GoG account ain’t exactly the same thing as DRM. I mean come on, there’s plenty of shade to throw at CDPR already, no reason to obfuscate with nonsense like equivalating free bonuses with Denuovo.

      1. webternet rando says:

        I would argue that locking single player digital goods behind the use of GOG’s launcher is DRM, though.

        It may be minor, as Ivan states in his post, but it is GOG digitally managing the rights to their goods by forcing people to use their proprietary software.

        1. Bubble181 says:

          You literally do not, in any way, need to interact with any software put out by either GOG or CDPR to claim the freebies.
          Literally.
          As in, not at all.
          You need to sign up with an e-mail address. That’s it.

          1. webternet rando says:

            Respectfully, Cyberpunk’s website says otherwise.

            You do need to use GOG Galaxy to access your cosmetic rewards, as the cosmetic freebies are not included in the standalone installer.

            You can check the FAQ here: https://www.cyberpunk.net/en/goodies#goodies

            Is MY REWARDS also available on the local version of Cyberpunk 2077 — which can be downloaded via GOG and installed separately from GOG GALAXY?
            Because MY REWARDS requires an internet connection, the local version of Cyberpunk 2077 that you can download via GOG will not support MY REWARDS.

            1. Webternet Rando says:

              To clarify, if one is playing Cyberpunk from Steam or Epic, they have to use CD Projekt’s proprietary launcher, called REDlauncher, in order to access certain extras.

              From the same FAQ as listed above: https://www.cyberpunk.net/en/goodies#goodies

              Do I have to be connected to the internet in order to participate in the MY REWARDS?
              An internet connection is required to register a GOG account, log in to REDlauncher (Steam and Epic Games Store) / register Cyberpunk 2077 with GOG (Xbox, PlayStation, Stadia) and claim your rewards. Once claimed, however, rewards will be yours to keep regardless of whether you’re playing online or offline.

              1. Gautsu says:

                You do not need to sign up. You just have to launch it through Galaxy. Not everyone has problems using an integrated launcher, although obviously some seem to. Also, the items are level 1. You literally outlevel them by your first burst of looting. They are not game breaking as some pre-order bonuses have been. And I know this because I never signed up for anything but still got the content when I launched it through Galaxy

                1. Echo Tango says:

                  I think the fact that the items are low-level is because they’re just testing this type of stuff out, rather than an indication that they won’t start introducing pay-to-win stuff later on.

                2. trevalyan says:

                  The items can all be upgraded with the right perk investment. The Wolf Shirt is very good, to the point I use it large game in its legendary form. Black Unicorn is probably the best katana available, though I don’t use melee enough to judge.

                3. ivan says:

                  You do not need to sign up. You just have to launch it through Galaxy.

                  So, according to you, you don’t necessarily need to sign up. The alternative is to … already be signed up?? Thanks for that clarification :/

        2. Taellosse says:

          All digital goods are not created equal. Cosmetic items your character can wear, or even average-strength starting weapons or armor, are quite different from overpowered (p2w) gear, extra NPCs, or whole quests/levels/regions. Moreover, offering minor bonuses like this simply as an inducement to start the game from a particular launcher 1 time is VERY different from requiring a constant internet connection for a single-player, locally-run game, and totally different from charging extra money for anything, cosmetic or not.

  4. Joe says:

    I am genuinely in favour of more articles about minotaurs. If you *do* write more minotaur articles, I’ll be a happy man.

    Given your love of glowy lights, you’d probably like my new PC. One side has a glass panel. I can see the video card and the RAM light up. The RAM fades from one colour to the next. However, I never wanted that. I just wanted the case to sit under the desk and mind its own business, none of this flashy nonsense. Uses power and thus money. If I knew how to disable the lighting, I would.

    But yeah, not a good week for CDPR. Be interesting to see what they do in future. If they manage to redeem themselves, or if the mud will continue to stick.

    That said, you know why they originally planned on an April release? That week also had the birthday of the creator of CP2020, Mike Pondsmith. What an awesome birthday present that would be. A triple A videogame based on your creation from 30-odd years back. Damn shame that reality interfered in multiple ways.

    1. Syal says:

      Gotta love my Cyberpower, which has flaring neon rings around the fans so you can’t even cover them up. No idea why people thought that was a good idea.

      Even the keyboard glows like a flashlight, but at least that one can be blocked with tape. Although it takes more tape than you’d expect.

  5. Joshua says:

    Showing half of things and randomly describing others felt very weird and disconnected. So the whole story was increasingly constrained by the limitations of what audiovisuals effects I could use – basically, I overdid the usage of the props and it made the game much more linear.

    I just played in a game on Roll20 last night where half the material had maps, and the other half was just Theater of the Mind while the DM explained the cave (and the way that led to it) in detail. When we returned back to our home castle, that was also explained verbally instead of pulling out the original map. It worked out perfectly fine, so I would think that you’re just overthinking it. So, maybe that’s a message for game developers as well.

    1. Fizban says:

      I don’t know about player side, but I know that even just planning things I run into the same problem: the more detail you prepare, the more detail you want to prepare. I think it’s a major reason why some people run everything (even detail/mechanics oriented games like DnD) as wacky improv narrative “rule of cool” things. If you draw a map for one place, you should have maps for every place. If you art up one map, they should all have art. And if you can use some stock assets from a thing to do the art, hey that makes things easier- but the more you use, the worse it will ‘look’ when you break with those stock assets, whether it’s other or no, and sound is indeed the first big wall of “I can’t find this and can’t make this” you’ll run into. I find the problem very relatable.

      My recommendation would be to keep the “map tool” stuff to just a map and tokens. No integrated lighting, absolutely no integrated game mechanics beyond a simple drag and drop initiative display if there is one, no sound effects or other bells and whistles. Cutting apart and pasting together bits of map is quite do-able, but those integrated mechanical systems they like to tout literally just turn it into a videogame engine you’ll have to fight whenever you do something outside of that framework, and messing with layers and multiple perspectives is a huge waste of time you’d never even consider at a table.

      1. Steve C says:

        Meh. I’m not so sure. Personally as a retired DM, I cannot get behind it. I find the prep work to be *the* barrier to entry for me and for people willing to DM in general. The more prep I do, the more prep I do NOT want to do.

        Hell, you even touch on this in your second paragraph. You make the case that a simple tool is better than complex one. It doesn’t matter to me what type of prep it is– technical/mechanical/artistic etc it’s all the same kind of chore to me as a DM. Just learning the online software tools is too much prep work for me. (Plus they keep changing.) Muddling through new software is something I hate doing. Therefore I don’t play nor DM anymore. But I know if I did I could have fun with it.

        1. Taellosse says:

          My state of mind plays a LARGE role in my feelings on prep, and my interest in doing one or another kind of it. Sometimes – like when I’m worldbuilding a new region or even whole setting, the necessary writing can be a lot of fun. Messing with game-related software can be enjoyable too, once I’ve got the nack of how it works – particularly with a flexible rules system and software that reflects it, using it to design setting-appropriate powers, abilities, NPCs, and mooks is often as fun as world building.

          I’m not in the habit of using sound effects or music much – I’ll occasionally use it if I know of something that would be particularly appropriate, but it definitely isn’t common. I use visual aids when I happen to have them – sometimes I use some character portrait from somewhere or an evocative creature design as inspiration for characters and monsters, and then I’ll show the players the art on 1st encountering what I made. I’ve also drawn my own from time to time, but only if I think it’s important to convey something words won’t do well. When we played in person I’d encourage players to find miniatures they liked for their PCs, and I have a moderately large collection (mostly of prepainted plastic ones) of my own for mooks and NPCs. We’d run battles on either a blank, erasable grid where I sketched out key elements by hand, or I’d sometimes print generic battlemaps and put them under sheets of plexiglass.

          My GM experience purely online has been a bit ad hoc and erratic – half my usual group moved too far away to get together in person 7 or 8 years ago, but we’ve revived our last campaign to move it forward. We’ve adopted a primarily play-by-post format via a private Discord server, which works okay for non-combat situations. But events and distractions have cropped up repeatedly to grind progress to a halt, so we’ve only moved through a week or two in-game. I haven’t had much reason to use narrative aids yet, though leveraging them through Discord would actually be a lot easier.

          1. Steve C says:

            For me, a TRPG is primarily a social event. Where I can have a shared experience with a group of friends or strangers. The prep work is a solitary experience. It is paperwork, planning, etc along with creativity. A difference in kind rather than a difference in degree. It can be enjoyable but still solitary. Pretty much anytime I’m doing TRPG prep I’d rather be doing something else more focused if I’m alone. Or I’d rather do something more social.

            Prep always ends up being second class entertainment. Where I can always think of something else that fills a better niche of what I want at the time. IE Any time I’m doing it, I would rather be doing something else.

  6. Mr. Wolf says:

    “But it works fine on MY machine!”

    I’d like to say it’s nice to be able to say that for once, but in truth it’s just kind of confusing. When the whole world tells you something is fine, but it isn’t, it’s easy to think the problem is at your end. When the whole world tells you something is terrible, but it isn’t, you start to wonder whether you’re talking about the same thing,

    1. Corvair says:

      When the whole world tells you something is terrible, but it isn’t

      I had the same experience with Cyberpunk, and I’ve seen a few threads on social media with the same theme: “Everybody is shouting at CDPR and how horrible Cyberpunk is, but I’m having fun – are we even playing the same game?”

      My hesitant thesis is that this is threefer of:
      – Blown up expectations. CP77 was everywhere before launch, and hard to avoid. People hyped themselves to insane levels. This is never a good thing, but marketing stoked that fire, so they cannot use that as excuse. Of course, if you successfully sell people a dream, they will always be disappointed when they wake up to the real thing.
      – Large parts of the gaming media thrive through controversy; There is this concept that hate and anger drive people to share articles more, which means more clicks: Outrage is profitable, and thus, they fed into that mechanism.
      – The game apparently really has no place on last-gen consoles, and should not have been sold there. This means there is actually a solid foundation for all the disappointment and outrage, which then gets carried far and wide, and bleeds into the perception of the game as a whole; People forget that the game runs on PCs as well, and runs well – a bit of jank notwithstanding.

      As a PC player: I am about 65 or 70 hours into the game, and it is absolutely nova in my perception. I have to mention that I consciously avoided as much hype around the title as I could, and had filed it in my head as “enhanced Witcher 3 in Cyberpunk”, and that is exactly what it is – down to the dumb decision to bind “Use” to “F”, and keep that binding out of the in-game rebinding options, so you have to futz with the .xml.
      But I am so enjoying my time with Cyberpunk 2077 that I lose sleep because I just have to drive around for a few more minutes, just have to finish that gig, just have to stand around and watch people pass by, thoroughly enjoying this totally Eighties atmosphere (as an Eighties kid, starting the game up feels like coming home) and the hundreds of different outfits. Personally, it’s approaching “game of the decade” for me.

      1. Matt says:

        I think this is a cogent analysis. The only bit I’d add is that I think there are certain NPC behavior gameplay conventions now built in to open world games that CDPR failed to understand or deliver on. Some of the expectations include:

        – NPC civilians behave in different ways when violence starts (some flee, some cower, and there’s a few different animations for this).
        – NPC drivers will stop when you get in their way, but will ultimately try to route around an obstruction.
        – NPC police can observe you committing a crime and begin pursuit, summoning backup that must hone in on you.

        You could probably file this under “blow up expectations,” but I think the things I listed above are so ingrained at this point that is feels weird (at least it does to me) when, for example, police teleport in behind you or a motorcycle permanently blocks traffic.

        1. Corvair says:

          Hm. I had to think about that for a bit, and, I would probably file those expectations as “not appropriate” – but not “overblown”.

          I have not played a single GTA game since 2 (you know, the last top-down one), but it seems to me that those expectations originate there, because I did play the Saints Row series, and NPC behaviour feels even more artificial and gamey there – like when you start getting Wanted levels, the NPC spawn system is so transparent and rote that you can set your clock to when the next wave of whatever faction you managed to anger will arrive – and they all spawn just off-screen as well (so it’s pretty much how the police in CP’77 “work”). Pedestrian NPCs sometimes do not react at all (like just walking into a burning car wreck, setting themselves ablaze), or run around like headless chickens.

          As said, I did not follow the marketing around the game. It’s certainly possible that CDPR made a conscious effort to push those expectations, but at the same time: Those are expectations only if you bought into the idea that CP’77 would be a GTA-like experience, ingrained in GTA-players specifically – and, again, that’s not something I even considered, because my information about the game made me think “Witcher 3 in Cyberpunk? Gotcha, choom”.

          Plus: The NPC behaviour is not that bad either. Depending on what you do, their reaction changes; Land near them after a longer jump/drop (so the landing is loud), they may curse you, cower in fear, or run away. Pull the “Activate Grenade” Quickhack on a gang member standing in a crowd? Once they are aware that something is not right, non-combatant NPCs usually hightail it out of there. Drive on the sideway, and NPCs hop out of your way.
          Yes, it could be better (much better, like you can rear end cars and all you get is a mildly annoyed “Ugh…” as reaction), but again: Unless you hold the expectation that the game features a highly intricate, life-like crowd simulation sandbox, it’s not an issue.

          That said: Would I appreciate it if they improved upon that aspect? Hell yeah.

      2. Dreadjaws says:

        I think the problem is far more simple: people who dislike something for a particular reason tend to find more flaws in it than it really has.

        Like, I watch a lot of movie reviews, and there’s always this pattern where people will spend a good time criticizing elements of a film that they have no problem with in other movies. They will talk about a movie they disliked and go on a tirade about how “this character has no arc”, “this CGI looks bad” and “this plot hole exists”, yet for a movie they liked that has those exact same problems, even if they are exacerbated, they will outright ignore them.

        It seems to be the same with Cyberpunk. People want to be mad at the game for stuff extraneous to the gameplay and they fins issues where there are none or simply play up their gravity.

      3. Freddo says:

        Absolutely. At the risk of starting a “when I was young we had to use floppy disks to load games and we had to use both sides of them too”-rant I don’t get why people insist on blindly pre-purchasing games (you don’t even get early access) and then start doing their worst Karen imitations over imperfections on day one. I guess it is the same class of people that clicks those “you may have won an Iphone” ads. Is it really so hard to wait a week for reviews to roll in and the most egregious bugs to be patched?

        That being said, even on my PC which is below the minimum specs the game is mostly awesome, with some expected stuttering when driving in the busiest parts of downtown.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          Very late to the party but this kind of rubs me the wrong way a little bit because I sometimes get the “old man yells at cloud” treatment when I say that “in my day and age” we expected games to work on day 1 and weren’t expected to basically run beta tests over the first half a year as things were patched. To be fair it is extremely rare that I buy games on release and even when I do it’s literally never AAA titles but still. And just to be clear I don’t mean CP77 specifically, there have been a many releases where people talking about the game being borked or running poorly are basically being told that their complaints are unreasonable because it’s obvious the thing needs to be patched after release (Batman:Arkham Knight, AC:Unity, FO76 to name but a few high profile titles) and in some cases the publisher/dev will basically hold the updates hostage dependent on the initial sales.

  7. John says:

    Shamus, “no refunds after two hours” is Steam’s refund policy. Sony’s refund policy for digital sales is “no refunds”. Even if the game was obviously buggy and unplayable from the very first minute, Sony would not have offered refunds.

    1. Thomas says:

      Sony needs a proper refund policy and this latest incident demonstrates why

  8. Henson says:

    GoG is still my storefront of choice, simply because it doesn’t require me to launch or download games through a separate client; I actually own the games. (so long as I save the downloads). And as crappy as the Devotion situation is, I rather doubt other digital platforms would do, or have done, much better.

    I probably won’t be making any purchases from them for a while, though…

    1. ivan says:

      Steam has also done this. But Steam has lower expectations placed upon them so no one noticed.

      1. DeadlyDark says:

        Iirc, and don’t quote me on this, but wasn’t the game’s publisher that pulled the plug, not steam itself?

      2. Corvair says:

        Exactly. Two factors make me furrow my brow more towards GOG than Steam:
        1. Steam zeroed Devotion a while back, also to some public backlash. This was known, and as such, should have been on GOG’s radar when they got ready to sell the title.
        2. I do not shop at Steam (much) any more precisely because I have standards. GOG meets them, but they’re starting to slip.

        That all said: I am not interested in Devotion as a game – but nevertheless, this puts a bitter taste in my mouth; It hints at problems at the company level.

        1. Dreadjaws says:

          But Steam didn’t take Devotion out of the store. The devs themselves did, and it was because the game was being review bombed by Chinese players.

          Plus, the “offending content” was long gone. There’s literally no valid reason for GOG to refuse to sell the title.

  9. CrushU says:

    So the timeline is:
    -CDPR says they’re sorry, they will get refunds to everyone on PS4 and Xbox One that wants one.
    -Sony says their policy is no refunds.
    -CDPR says they cannot refund the game themselves, the game is sold through Sony’s platform which they have no control over.
    -Sony pulls the game, offering refunds to everyone on PS4.

    What’s the scandal here? It looks to me like everyone who wants a refund on PS4 is getting one. It looks to me like Sony said “Yeah, we won’t handle refunds, period.” and CDPR said “We *need* to offer refunds. What will make that happen?” then Sony goes “If you feel that strongly about it, we need to pull it from the store.” So then CDPR says “Yes. We do.” Sony pulls it, then everyone bitches about *CDPR*? Why? Because Sony’s refund policy is shit?

    CDPR said everyone who wanted a refund on PS4 can get one. This is now true. Where’s the problem?

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      What’s the scandal here? It looks to me like everyone who wants a refund on PS4 is getting one. It looks to me like Sony said “Yeah, we won’t handle refunds, period.” and CDPR said “We *need* to offer refunds. What will make that happen?” then Sony goes “If you feel that strongly about it, we need to pull it from the store.” So then CDPR says “Yes. We do.” Sony pulls it, then everyone bitches about *CDPR*? Why? Because Sony’s refund policy is shit?

      You seem to have the entire baseless assumption that there was a communication between CDPR and Sony, but everything points to the fact that there was not. Not before and not after. Sony’s decision to remove the game from the store and offer refunds is entirely divorced from CDPR.

      Now, granted, I’m not going to praise Sony here, because the reason they’re doing this is very transparently self-serving, but CDPR didn’t do anything in favor of the consumers here. They told them to seek refunds and then left them on their own. Yes, they offered an e-mail to communicate with them if they couldn’t get refunds through the proper channels, but from what I hear, they simply ignored everyone who used it.

  10. Echo Tango says:

    A nice counterpoint to voice-acting and other massive-budget push from games, are the ones that just added on top of the plain speech-text. Zote the Almighty from Hollow Knight, has a gag showing just how full of himself he is. His text rambles on and on with self-aggrandization, and exaggerated tales of all the foes he’s vanquished, and you have to keep pressing a button to move past the text. A slightly higher-budget version is the styled text from the Paper Mario games[1]. There’s shaky text to show that someone’s scared or annoyed, big text for shouting, small text for whispering, or even colored text for certain characters. Yahtzee Croshaw is using this in Starstruck Vagabond – I only wish more mid-budget games would do this instead of burning budget on voice-acting. :)

    [1] They might have been doing this as early as Mario RPG for SNES?

  11. Ninety-Three says:

    I think “CDPR is dead” is a bit much, not just because of the obvious hyperbole but because across the internet public sentiment still seems pretty positive on them, to the point where random “haha look at this funny 2077 glitch that makes people walk on walls” posts attract very defensive comments from CDPR fans.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      CDPR itself isn’t dead, but the version of them that gained their original users seems to be. I mean, that’s the modus operandi of pretty much all large companies in the game world – gain your initial money with smaller markets, then switch over to the larger demographics who care about different things.

  12. ivan says:

    As an aside, I have not played Cyberpunk myself, it is a game that released this year so it falls outside my personal style of game purchasing, however, I saw an interesting statement made in twitch chat by someone who had. The quote was something like “It’s less buggy than Skyrim at launch.” Which is super interesting, and kinda also sad. Though, of course, people may disagree with that statement; I cannot personally vouch for it’s truthfulness myself. We can all agree, I thing, that Skyrim was an extremely buggy game at launch, though, I think.

    In any case, the fact that Bethesda, a company that before and since have earned a deserved reputation for releasing technically shoddy products time and time again, of effectively outsourcing quality control to their fanbase, could get off with such a small backlash to releasing a monumentally bug-riddled game, whilst CD Project, who in the past have essentially released nothing but, if not absolutely flawless, and least sound and reasonably polished products, get this absurd drubbing from fans, publishers, media, and all in between, for slipping up once, is pretty sad. The price of good behaviour is excessive punishment at the slightest infraction, whilst the price for excessive bad behaviour is more or less nothing.

    Notably, I am not even a defender of CDPR, and yet I feel like, for this particular aspect of the recent overall situation, they do not deserve the beating that they are currently receiving. If ppl were suddenly up in arms about all the crunching they did for years and years to get the game finally released, in that state, well, that’d be a step towards being outraged at the right people for the right reasons. Though it would also carry the unfortunate implication that the crunch would have been fine as long as the resulting product was good. Ugh.

    But yeah in all the other ways CDPR and/or GoG have earned ppl’s ire, go for it. No probs with the rest of it. Or, agree to get as angry with Bethesda next time they release a game, maybe.

    1. tmtvl says:

      Heh, CP77 is the sequel to Fallout76.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      Well, it’s the problem of expectations. People are more upset precisely because they didn’t expect these kind of problems from CDPR, and people have an irritating tendency to equal “not what I expected” with “terrible”.

      That being said, as far as I remember, Skyrim didn’t suffer from so many delays, so people weren’t on edge at the time of release.

      1. EOW says:

        well, 2011 was also a widely different time with widely different internet culture.

      2. ZekeCool says:

        No to mention that Skyrim had mostly visual bugs and funny oddities, not game crashes and failed quest flags.

        1. Geebs says:

          The PlayStation 3 version of Skyrim was famously barely playable, with a frame rate that was inversely proportional to time spent in the game both overall and per session..

        2. EOW says:

          you sure? Even recently i tried to replay it and i pretty much had to constantly use the console commands to unstuck quests, especially during Dawnguard

    3. modus0 says:

      I would say that people give Bethesda a “pass” on their games being buggy only because their main in-house titles (The Elder Scrolls and Fallout 3 and on) always end up being buggy at launch, so it’s expected of them, so people aren’t getting blindsided with bugs.

      But CDPR doesn’t have a reputation of releasing buggy games, so people were expecting a solid release, and are upset that there are bugs. It’s particularly bad when you consider they had several months and 2 delays from their initial planned release, and there are still issues. Did they have any QA testing or bug fixing done on “complete” content during that time, or were they only adding new things/finalizing incomplete content?

      It could also be that people are starting to get fed up with game developers thinking they can get away with releasing buggy games, then patching them post-release. And Cyberpunk 2077 is the first AAA release to be that way so it gets the brunt of the backlash.

      1. EOW says:

        well, it’s not that they don’t have the reputation for buggy games. Longtime fans know just how much of a mess witcher 2 was on release and how it almost bakrupted the company because console versions literally would combust.
        Witcher 3 was also similarly buggy.
        The reason why CP77 didn’t get a pass is that CDPR didn’t enter wide public consciousness till 2016 and by then Witcher 3 already had received numerous patches and expansions.
        Then there’s the marketing that focused so goddamn much on cars and guns, giving people the illusion it was gonna be a scifi gta spinoff. Or how they kept saying “no, no, the game is ready we delayed for polish” three times in a row, only for the game coming out barely playable.
        And then there’s the Devotion debacle and other stupid pr messes.

        And all of this is a shame. I’m sure in a year cp77 will be the game that was promised, that’s just how cdpr has always been and in general they seem to have more care for long term perception.
        Who knows, maybe they’ll bounce back up, but it still kinda hurts to see them fail so much, even more when cp77 is actually a good game underneath the bugs, unlike fo76 which is just the usual tripleA skinner box designed around hunting whales.

      2. Chad Miller says:

        It’s likely Bethesda has burned their goodwill for “it’s okay if the game is buggy at first” at this point. Fallout 76 was enough of a disaster that people are wary.

    4. EOW says:

      well, cdpr always released buggy unfinished games, they just didn’t get in the spotlight till witcher 3 had a year of patches and expansions.
      And honestly i too think the reaction to the game has been overblown. While the marketing was awful and the pr handled it poorly, it also seems most people just expected the second coming of christ. But not only that, places like reddit and twitter have entered full “cancel culture” mode, where every little minute detail is criticized and mocked and those that once were valid complaints turn into baseless circlejerk of people just wanting to be mad at something regardless of that something actual state.

      Honestly the Devotion shitfest is what killed my goodwill for CDPR more than anything else. I can excuse bad pr (the game grew bigger and faster than they were ready) and meet them halfway cause i know how the industry works.
      But cancel a game release mere days prior and not even be brave enough to say “it was china” is scummy as all hell. Like, seriously, say it that it was china, gamers will understand and not be *as* mad at you. But probably they couldn’t, so they tried to take the path of least resistance

      1. Trevor says:

        I would be interested to know when other people got into CDPR. For me it was with Witcher 3 and, like you say, probably about 2016. I bought the Game of the Year Edition with all the expansion packs and patches and I found it as amazing as everyone said it was. I never experienced the game at release, nor the previous Witcher titles.

        I wish you could learn that information about people’s experiences with CDPR as they commented on forums just to contextualize their comments. It seems the loudest critics were expecting the complete-edition Witcher 3 experience but multiplied by the best game ever. And that’s a ridiculously high bar.

        But once the “gaming community” has decided to be mad at something, the criticism just snowballs out of control with everyone fixating on a small number of things. Everyone was so mad at BioWare for Mass Effect 3 that when Andromeda came out everyone made the exact same “My face is tired” joke all over twitter and reddit. Andromeda is not a very good game and there are hundreds of things to criticize it for but everyone was so geared up to hate it that all they focused on was that NPC’s bad facial animation.

        I’ll probably wait until the Game of the Year Edition of CP2077. Sure, I’ll be late to the party on some of the discussions of the game and I’ll have some meme-able moments spoiled for me in the meantime, but with the state of the community’s discourse at present, I doubt I’ll miss much.

    5. John says:

      I think CDPR is more or less getting what it deserves right now.
      I am usually baffled by gamer outrage, but whatever outrage exists at the moment–if outrage is even the right term–is perfectly understandable. People are upset that they bought a deeply deficient product. What could be more understandable than that? Frankly, it’s the CDPR apologists who baffle me this time. It doesn’t matter what Bethesda does or doesn’t do. It doesn’t matter whether other games are also sometimes buggy. We’re not talking about that right now. We’re talking about Cyberpunk and CDPR. We can save the conversation about other games and other developers for when those other developers release those other games.

      1. Bubble181 says:

        Right, well, that’s disingenious. “It doesn’t matter what other X are doing, you’re doing it now” is true up to a point, sure, but you also have to compare with other products to claim something is out of the ordinary.
        If the CP77 launch is “normal and par for the course”, you may say that’s because the whole industry is in a sorry state (and I’d agree), but it does mean leveling a shotgun at them, trying to proclaim them “dead”, saying they’re the worst ever and should go bankrupt, etc etc, is an overreaction. If all games with such launch issues were widely derided and attacked, boycotted etc, then it would make sense to boycott this one as well.
        But destroying CDPR over bugs in a 1.0 version of a game ,but giving EA and Ubisoft a pass for the same type and amount of bugs is inconsistent and unfair.

        I agree that I’d prefer a bugfree launch, and that the whole industry should move back towards more Q&A and less crap being shoveled out – but I don’t think attacking CDPR, which isn’t really an AAA publisher, isn’t American, isn’t part of the Silicon Valley crew, etc, is the right way to go about it.
        On the contrary – I’m of the opinion CDPR is being attacked precisely *because* it isn’t American or Japanese. All the big game media seem to be relishing the opportunity to slam CDPR and/or CP77, ofte nfor things far less egregious than some of the things bigger American companies have done.

        Reminder: by all accounts including the staff, what passed for “crunch” with CDPR is “regular non-crunch hours” for developers in California. Which isn’t to say it’s great, and it’s disappointing to see this much crunch from a company who wanted to stay away from it, and still release a product this buggy.

        1. John says:

          Nothing disingenuous here on my part, friend. CDPR did a bad thing and got slammed for it, as is right and proper. If the problem is that other people did bad things and didn’t get slammed for it then the reasonable thing to do is not to stop slamming CDPR but to start slamming those other people too. The sentiment I’ve seen some people–not necessarily you, of course–espouse, i.e., “you didn’t complain enough before about some other game, so you’re not allowed to complain at all about Cyberpunk now”, strikes me as a–dare I say it–rather disingenuous attempt to shut down criticism of CDPR. Similarly, if the problem is not that people are complaining, but that they are using hyperbole or intemperate language in their complaints, then the remedy not to tell them to stop complaining but to tell them to modify their language appropriately.

  13. Javier says:

    All the Witcher games were released in some state of borked, that’s why they all got ‘enhanced editions’ a year later that were effectively 1.0 releases. CDPR has always been like this. They wasted all the profits of Witcher 1 trying to port it to console, failed, went into debt to make Witcher 2 for console, failed, released it unfinished and broken on PC. Etc. etc.

    Witcher 3 was released at the right time, with just the right kind of gameplay for what was hot at the time, and was just polished enough to escape overly bad coverage. They lucked out.

    You’re only as good as your last game.

  14. djw says:

    Funny thing about Devotion… it does not appeal to me at all, since I am not a fan of horror, but if somebody were to finally have the balls to sell it I would buy, just to stick my middle finger up to Chinese censors, who have no damn business interfering in my entertainment decisions.

    1. RFS-81 says:

      I just bought their previous game “Detention” so they get something out of all the drama. I’ll probably get around to playing it during my vacation.

      1. djw says:

        Good idea. I bought it too. There is a good chance I’ll never play it, but I can say that about a lot of games I bought for lesser reasons.

        1. Synapse says:

          Here in Australia at-least the has been able to sell physical copies but even those are in limited stock. The game itself is pretty neat not necessarily scary but far more tragedy (it does have its moments of visceral scares and gore however).

          1. RFS-81 says:

            Oh nice, I heard they were selling boxed copies in Taiwan, I didn’t know they were selling them elsewhere.

  15. RamblePak64 says:

    A friend of mine has actually been playing Cyberpunk 2077 on a slim-model PS4, but he has been having an “alright” time of it. I put that in quotes because he basically disabled every graphic “feature” he could (I do not consider motion blur a feature), which led to it performing fine. He then also began to manually close out of the application every three to four hours, because clearly CD Projekt Red didn’t handle memory management with console players putting the system to sleep rather than powering off in mind.

    So for him, the game’s been running alright. That a console player has to manually turn settings off/down (and not even on a Pro, on a base-level model) and then make sure they close your game since you couldn’t be bothered to take sleepy consoles into account for managing memory, that’s a problem.

    I’m still waiting it out, and will get it on PC in time.

    As for the Game Awards, I did a big stream with some friends, and it really is a mixed bag for me. There’s actually a lot of AA games that get promoted rather than your standard AAA, and allows for those more modest titles to get noticed. The problem is that Brie Larson and Christopher Nolan have no business announcing award winners, and no one wants to hear an acoustic Pearl Jam song live on stage just because it was a part of The Last of Us Part II.

    Which then gets into other territories of great risk. Needless to say, I think this year’s VGAs became a hot bed of the Games Press vs. Gamers war, and regardless of your own personal stance on matters, it certainly indicated that the former just do not understand or represent the latter. To that end, while I enjoy watching game reveal events with friends, I’m not sure I want to further support the VGAs. They have the gaming community vote on games, but the games press are 90% of the vote. A games press that continues to become increasingly irrelevant by their own choice as players seek alternative, independent content creators for advice.

    The truth is, award shows in general are just an opportunity for an industry to clap itself on the back. Are we really so insecure as to need that sort of validation in a medium as expansive as video games? Not really, and I especially don’t need members of Hollywood introducing awards in order to make me feel like games are “legit” now.

    1. parkenf says:

      I’m pretty sure my wife has bought me Cyberpunk 2077 for my standard (early, 1TB) PS4 for Christmas. I *could* return it, but that would upset her. It’ll run on a pretty old TV which isn’t even full HD (when I upgrade my TV I’ll get a PS5), and I don’t tend to play for hours at a time. I guess your friend’s experience means I can get a good time out of it?

      Given the blanket return policy, is there a possibility that this version for PS4 will be abandoned and not patched in future? Or are we expecting patches to continue until the game is adequate?

      1. RamblePak64 says:

        Keep in mind my friend’s experience may not be yours, but I’d give it a try and see what happens.

        If she bought you a physical copy, though, then the return policy is that of the store’s, not Sony’s. As for patches, I imagine CD Projekt Red isn’t so far gone as to ditch the current generation consoles. How much those patches will fix, however, is another question.

  16. Olivier FAURE says:

    Gonna go with the tide here, I think Shamus exaggerates how bad CDPR mishandled the situation.

    Like, there’s an internet perception that corporations mathematically *have* to be evil, and CDPR has dodged that perception by having an image of a big family of video game enthusiasts (same as Valve 10 years ago and maybe Valve in a few years).

    They’ve lost a bit of that image, but, much like Valve, they still make decisions with an eye to long-term reputation and consumer trust. They’re probably not going to stay at the post-Witcher-3 level of popularity, but they still have a decent fanbase that will buy any AAA game they put out just because their name is on the box.

    1. Cubic says:

      Seems like amateur hour in management, including scope, release dates and communication with the customers.

      Also, the backlash seems excessive. Didn’t things start with a lot of hooting about the leading edge transsexual characters being insufficiently transsexual? That was the first I saw of it, anyway. Like here:

      https://www.polygon.com/2020/12/10/22167349/cyberpunk-2077-penis-glitch-breasts
      https://www.thegamer.com/cyberpunk-2077-trans-transgender-lgbtq-representation/
      https://www.cbr.com/cyberpunk-2077-transphobia/
      http://nerdreactor.com/2020/12/14/cyberpunk-2077-meaningful-trans-character/

      Not sure if this led to the other, and it might be manufactured outrage by the usual media morons. (I for one could in fact live entirely without that feature set.) But it gives me the sense that people just were spoiling for a big old online tantrum.

  17. Dreadjaws says:

    I refuse to give CDPR crap for a buggy release. If people acted like this towards every buggy release, then fine, but they don’t. They never do. Hell, Fallout 76 had way more issues and people even paid for a goddamn subscription to it (a subscription that, mind you, came with its own set of ridiculous issues). People forgive this kind of thing from other developers all the time, so they have no business complaining about it here.

    Same with the whole refund deal. Yes, CDPR mishandled this quite a bit, but Sony and Microsoft have abysmal, disgusting refund policies that have no business existing and people should stop putting all the blame on CDPR when this is a problem that has persisted for years and, for better or worse, the situation with Cyberpunk might finally do something to shake up. Furthermore, people are praising Sony for “sticking it to CDPR” and offering refunds while removing the game. Do not do this. Sony isn’t giving refunds out of the kindness of their hearts. They’re doing it because the backlash they received for refusing them was reaching dangerous levels. They simply never had to deal with so many refund requests at the same time, so people could simply shrug their policy off, but now, with people already on edge and Sony refusing so many, and getting such bad publicity, this was literally the only thing they could do before the anger shifted fully towards them. Sony is trying to sell a fully-digital console. They know that can’t survive this kind of backlash. They’re saving their own ass with this move. They don’t deserve any praise.

    On the flip side, the whole forced deadlines fiasco can’t be excused. And while I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt about the way they chose to handle reviews, it’s becoming harder and harder to think this wasn’t done out of malice.

    The entire deal with Devotion is what kills this for me. Refusing a game’s release to please China’s censorship is already a disgusting thing to do, but trying to pretend this is something gamers asked for is 100% unforgivable and such a transparent, inexcusable and unprovable lie that it’s shocking that they could think even for a second that they could get away with it.

    That aside, Devotion actually looks like an interesting game, and I’m sad I can’t play it. If you haven’t played the developer’s other horror game, Detention, I recommend it. It’s a point-and-click adventure game, but it’s quite atmospheric and effective. Hopefully some other store wises up and picks it up. Hey, it’s a good time as any for Epic to prove they actually have the devs’ best interests in mind and… oh, wait. They’re already half owned by a Chinese company. Never mind.

    1. John says:

      So because not enough people were sufficiently mad before, nobody can be mad now? Is that how this works? I would have thought you’d be glad that people are finally sufficiently mad in sufficient numbers to cross your arbitrary madness threshold.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        I was actually thinking along these lines. The broad demographic that CDPR is targeting with this game is probably pretty slow to change their collective opinions, since they’re not going to be reading reviews, seriously vetting games, or reading up on the behavior of other companies before purchasing some game. I believe Shamus has made the point somewhere on this site, that most people buy a sequel, or a new game from a known company, based on the previous games they’ve purchased, or what they’ve heard from friends. Given how CDPR has had a lot of praise for the later Witcher games, I don’t blame people for being disappointed with this game. :)

    2. Chad Miller says:

      If people acted like this towards every buggy release, then fine, but they don’t. They never do. Hell, Fallout 76 had way more issues and people even paid for a goddamn subscription to it (a subscription that, mind you, came with its own set of ridiculous issues).

      Plenty of people were mad about Fallout 76, including those who asked for refunds (many of whom were inadvertently doxxed because of it)

      Yes, not everyone ever was mad. Not everyone ever is mad at Cyberpunk either. Consumers aren’t a monolith.

  18. Ruined says:

    I don’t want to offend people, but I want to say my opinion:
    I don’t want Keanu Reeves in this game. People who read this may think I’m joking, but it’s true: my interest toward this game is far weaker than it would have been without Keanu Reeves in it.

    1. Mephane says:

      The good news for you is that you have the option to actively defy his character, since Johnny Silverhand is kind of an asshole and a terrorist anyway.

    2. Liessa says:

      I don’t care much either way about Keanu Reeves, but it would upset me if the rumours are true and the main story was basically rewritten at a late stage to incorporate his character (thus contributing to the general lack of polish, cut content etc.)

      1. Rho says:

        I think that rumor close to impossible based on the game we’ve seen. The universe as such doesn’t revolve around Johnny Silverhand, who by this point is mostly a half-forgotten rocker/rebel/firebrand. But your character’s journey, and a lot of the people they interact with, most definitely do involve Silverhand in some way or another.

        1. djw says:

          Here’s another totally unsubstantiated rumor… but I heard that they originally wanted David Bowie for that role.

          If true then it indicates that they had something like this in mind for a while.

          1. Rho says:

            I can’t say whether or not it’s true, but this rumor is more plausible. Many people say the game has been “in production” for ten years, but that’s mostly incorrect. It was in pre-production for a long time, but apparently development didn’t really begin until after The Blood and Wine expansion for The Witcher 3. However, that’s more than enough time for the initial team to have thought about using David Bowie to bring Silverhand to life. (Bowie passed away in 2016.)

            1. djw says:

              Its definitely plausible…

              I think David Bowie would have been good in that role, but I really like Keanu’s Silverhand too.

          2. Syal says:

            Omikron 2: Cyberpunk 2077.

  19. EOW says:

    Really, the only thing i can hope for is that at least the game itself can redeem itself.
    I’m really enjoying it, it has been a long time since i could lose myself in a finely crafted world where people cared about the narrative and cohesion.
    And it’s hard to enjoy a game when you can’t open social media without seeing denigratory memes all over the place. Really, the worst cdpr did was fucking up this badly that they’re moving from one pr nightmare to the next, so the discussion is going to be lively for a long time.
    I’ve just about had it enough of this endless negativity in a time where i really wanted some peace and relax (and i fully know this is a “me” thing, don’t worry, i just wanted to vent).

    1. Syal says:

      I’ve just about had it enough of this endless negativity

      If you want the opposite, look no further than Bugsnax, where it has apparently become a meme to give it a perfect score.

      1. MerryWeathers says:

        It’s unironically a pretty solid game.

        1. Syal says:

          Watched Pat Stare At it and it was intriguing, I want to see how it ends. I’m a fan of kid-friendly psychological horror.

          But the first four 10.0 user reviews on that site are ridiculous lies. “The next Dark Souls”, it is not.

          1. MerryWeathers says:

            People did freak out when they realized Gamespot gave Bugsnax a higher score than Cyberpunk 2077.

  20. Mephane says:

    Strangely enough, I’m one of the lucky ones. Cyberpunk 2077 is running pretty well for me. I’ve run into lots of visual problems, but very few issues that impact gameplay. I’m usually the cursed player, fighting my way through a sea of bugs and crashes while the masses chant, “But it works fine on MY machine!” at me. It’s nice to be on the other side of that for once. Although it would be even better if the game was working for everyone.

    Same situation for me. On my admittedly beefy PC, it plays fairly well, looks extremely good, and the amount of general bugfs and janks is easily on the tolerable side (most hilarious bug i had is when you call your car, sometimes it spawns inside another vehicle, heavily damaging both in the process).

    The biggest issue I experienced is three side quests that cannot be completed, one because I am supposed to wait for an NPC to call me but they never do, another because I am sent to visit a ripperdoc but the door remains closed, and the third is a building for a side gig where none of the doors can be interacted with, either.

    In general, I got my money’s worth and are extremely satisfied with the game, my biggest worry was the combat because it was rather meh in Witcher 3, but Cyberpunk 2077 manages to deliver very competent and fun FPS combat.

    Speaking of which, I 100% agree with the decision to make the game in a first person perspective. Coupled with V being a way more of a stand-in for the player than Geralt naturally ever could, the overall immersive graphics and characters and animations, this is the most I ever felt like actually being in the game.

    For me, this is also the first game to reach the far end of the uncanney valley, where for example facial expressions feel natural enough that I cannot help but smile back when Judy smiles at me every time she sees me, now that we are a couple. This is the first game that gave me an honest to goodness crush on an ingame character. (P.S.: the romances in Witcher 3 always made me feel a bit awkward, like a voyeur secretly watching Geralt and Yennefer in their most private moments, but in Cyberpunk 2077 it all just clicks and feels right.)

    But this is not just about graphics and and animation. I haven’t completed the game yet, but so far it has been an emotional rollercoaster, where V’s feelings seem to be equally my own (for example, I never felt the kind of existential dread in a game like when I learnt that Johnny’s engram is slowly overwriting my mind). YMMV, of course, but the world, the story, the characters and most importantly my protagonist herself resonate with me far more than in any game I have ever played, to the point where I find it weird to speak of V in third person, because while playing it feels so much like this is me and not just some character I chose to play.

    1. Rho says:

      This is another aspect I’ve really been annoying. Contra “The Witcher” series, this game is very much a personal exploration. The premise is given a sci-fi setting and twist, of course, but many of the side stories are basically about how V, and you through V, connect with people, face up to feelings like loneliness, loss, and death. To break it down a bit further, In The Witcher you, the player, often had choices about what Geralt would do, but they were some a considerable degree *Geralt* ‘s reactions and relationships. In Cyberpunk 2007, V is a specific character, but the choices are much more about the connections that you make, and what you think or feel – which is probably why you sometimes have more options, and why the game is exclusively 1st-person view (driving excepted).

      There have been times when I wanted to do Option A, but I was looking at somebody’s face, and had to pick Option B in the moment. Because it’s sometimes harder to look a things abstractly when you’re looking at someone and seeing the promise you made and worrying, “What the hell would Option A do to this person, right now? Can I risk doing that? Is it really worth it?”

      1. Geebs says:

        I’m not personally that bothered about playing in first- versus third-person, but I think the decision to go first-person might have been CDPR’s biggest mistake. If you’re going for even stylised photorealism, a first person perspective requires far more attention to detail, and a bigger rendering budget, just because the player is that much closer to the assets at all times. That one decision might even explain a fair amount of the missed deadlines and lack of polish in the game at release, as well as CDPR’s failure to scale the game to run properly on the base PS4 and XBox.

        1. djw says:

          Possibly. But I would reframe that by saying that the big mistake was trying to release on last gen consoles in the first place. When the game works its really good the way it is (IMHO at least).

          1. Thomas says:

            I’m dubious that they’re going to get Cyberpunk running properly on last-gen consoles. They wanted to make a game that was bigger than last-gen consoles but also didn’t want to lose all those sales from people who had last gen consoles.

            If this wasn’t a last-gen release, I wouldn’t be on the side of the anti-Cyberpunk crowd. I pretty much expect the ambition of open world games to be beyond the reach of most QA practices (although the crashing on PS5 is beyond the pale).

            But trying to sell people a game knowing that it’s going to frequently drop below 20 FPS? Even though you’ve already removed so many NPCs the city looks like a ghost town, and the resolution looks like the world has been covered in cellophane? That’s just a greedy decision.

            Even if it came out in 2022 when lots of people have next-gen consoles, it wouldn’t be so bad because it would be clear the PS4 / Xbox One isn’t the intended way to play. But right now a huge portion of their sales are coming from those consoles, and they know it.

            1. Mephane says:

              CDPR put themselves in a corner there. They intended to release way before the new consoles would be out, announced the last gen console version before anyone even knew when a new generation would be made. It would have been less bad publicity had they just cancelled the old gen console release altogether, but I the management made the wrong call assuming that the backlash from that would be worse than what they now got – perhaps they assumed that the devs could pull of enough optimization to make it acceptably playable, when in reality this might simply not possible at all.

              1. Thomas says:

                I assume it’s more the loss of sales than the backlash they feared.

                Also they kept insisting that the last gen experience would be ‘just as good’ – in fact they said something like that in the last week. Either the management are out of touch or that’s just a lie. And why say it? It’s fine to admit that the last gen consoles will struggle to keep up.

      2. Syal says:

        Contra “The Witcher” series

        …man, now I want a Contra/Witcher crossover game.

        I wonder if that’s a Witcher 3 mod. Keep all the dialogue but then replace all the combat with Contra combat.

  21. Smosh says:

    I bought Cyberpunk sight unseen because I really enjoyed The Witcher 3.

    It ran well enough for me, though it was far from perfect, which really sums up the game: Lots of good ideas, some brilliant pieces, but also quite a few rough corners and a lot of jank if you looked too closely. The city looks and sounds great at first, but the NPCs are very stiff and stupid. Many implied RPG-choices, but only very few actually matter. An interesting setting, but nothing of depth gets actually said. Cool characters, but they go nowhere. Awesome gang rivalry and multiple important quest givers, but nothing ties into that at all. Hacking and sneaking and fighting and driving, but the balance is all over the place. An open world, but zero open world game mechanics.

    The bugs are the most excusable thing. Every Bethesda game is much worse, and barely anyone bats an eye. I put 70 hours into Cyberpunk and it worked better than Skyrim ever did.

    My biggest gripe is that my 1070 couldn’t give me good performance, and it’s impossible to buy a GPU right now. Waiting six months would have solved that as well as the bugs. What a shame.

    CDPR’s management team has made a ton of questionable moves over the last couple years, and this is the iron bar that broke the camel’s back.

  22. Jokerman says:

    I’m glad after all the times where your on the other side, experiencing the buggy side of many games ?

  23. Liam says:

    There are very few ways to infuriate an audience than telling them a lazy and implausible lie.

    Insert accidentally a word meme here…

  24. RFS-81 says:

    Those blog posts by Kiva were really interesting. If I had a few spare millions, I’d hire her to make a space mercenary game based on Lois McMaster Bujold’s novels.

    1. RFS-81 says:

      Botched the link. There we go.

  25. Steve C says:

    In the Battletech blog, that designer lost that battle completely. After that meeting every single vignette had to be from the commander’s perspective. Which not only torpedoed her plans, it also meant they had to rewrite work they had previously done to fit it into that context.

    Battletech is one of my favorite games. Definitely my ‘Game of the Year’. This system was one of my favorite parts. So a favorite part of a favorite game. However I remember playing it at the time and thinking it felt lame that it was always from the commander’s perspective. It felt like a missed opportunity then. Now with the context of this article, wow, what a boneheaded decision! She was so right! I can’t believe someone else used it as their own hill to possibly fire her over.

    However event system had a much bigger flaw based on its mechanics. One she missed;

    Mechanically, it worked like this: first, the game determined that an event would happen. Then, an event would be randomly chosen from all the available events that the current game state qualified for. That means that if an event requires that you be in orbit around a planet, and you’re not, we’d ignore that event.

    She was upset that it wasn’t big enough to work properly and players would keep seeing the same events. I agree that was a major problem (seeing the same events) but not with the identified cause (too few events). I found the event system interesting enough to deep dive and read the event source code back when I was playing it. It could be bigger but was big enough to work. The problem was that last sentence above; “That means that if an event requires that you be in orbit around a planet, and you’re not, we’d ignore that event.” It was a major mistake to simply ignore events like that.

    The problem is that most of the game time that passes (days, weeks, months, — not play) occurs in deep space. NOT around planets. It might take a month to travel between point A and point B. While you might only spend 3 days around a planet and those ‘space’ events were a valid event at a planet too. Therefore one category of events was easily 10x more likely to occur. So of course you were going to see certain events (like poker) all the time. The proportions players experienced were wrong. THAT was the core flaw with the system. Additionally many of the events required tags. Which was a double edged sword. Tags made it interesting, but rare. Where if an event required three tags or something then it just wasn’t going to come up. Which made the other events repeat more. However the events that had multiple tags to fire were the most interesting ones! I wanted them to fire more often. A larger pool of events would not have solved either of these problems.

    To me the flaw were the mechanics of the event system. Instead of one system trying to do too much, they should have had two or three systems working concurrently. To make common repeatable events fire, but not too much. Make uncommon events fire then get removed, and rare ones fire all the time, but only if they meet lots of prereqs. Where certain events had cooldowns, flags for maximum number of times they could fire per game, and most importantly interesting places needed to keep firing until it hit something interesting from their multi-tag interesting pool. Then making sure it couldn’t repeat. Some of this was implemented, but not well enough to work. IE: They should have put more effort into properly tuning the proportions players saw, not increasing the total size. (Well except for space which needed 10x more.)

    If an event randomly fired, but failed due to a missing tag, at minimum it should have been saved for later. Not ignored. Then when a tag was added that could allow it to fire, it should have been rechecked for validity then. All this felt really easy to notice and solve. I fully expected it to be a major component of the first DLC they released. It wasn’t. Instead it was the ‘Flashpoint’ mechanics. Which I found extremely disappointing. I quickly stopped playing after the first one. ‘Flashpoint’ was easily my ‘Disappointment of the Year.’

    1. John says:

      By sheer coincidence, I started playing Battletech again just last week. I like the events well enough, but, frankly, if they stopped happening I’m not sure I’d notice. They’re nice to have, but not they’re not what I come to the game for. I have yet to read the blog entries so I don’t known the full story, but arguing so hard for a specific version of events that one’s job is in danger is difficult for me to imagine.

      1. Steve C says:

        Well you not noticing if they stopped is part of the problem with events- they are too rare. Her intention were there to be a lot more. So I believe as a consequence of fewer than intended they reduced the frequency they fire. They really do need to be more frequent though. I was save scumming to ensure I got at least one event every time I traveled. I really *really* wish there had been a settings slider for events.

        They weren’t what I came to the game for either. Problem was the game was really thin on personality without them. The big story stuff was fine. It was good enough and didn’t get in the way. I liked that I was not a protagonist in it. I would not have enjoyed it if I was. However it not being a player’s story also meant I wasn’t particularly emotionally involved in it. The general mission (not story) text was lame. Plus it was inaccurate enough times that it was best to just ignore it. The Argo was my story. Which means there really wasn’t anything in the game left to care about on an emotional level *except* the events.

        I’m right with Shamus with what he says in the Diecast @1hour mark. I really liked Battletech but I was Battleteched out by the time I reached the end of the game. Without the events as spice I also would never have finished the game. While not important, the game would have been too bland without them. So consequently they were important. It is a bit like “Death From Above.” Not an important mechanic. I would not have noticed if it wasn’t there. However the times I did notice, it was a make or break narrative element to my game.

        1. John says:

          I think that you and I are coming at Battletech from very different angles. I’ve long since given up the narrative-driven Campaign mode for the narrative-less, time-limited Career mode and its 100% randomized missions. The Campaign narrative is fine, more or less, but it’s not interesting enough for me to have ever actually finished it. I play Battletech for the tactics, the mech-collecting, the mech-designing, and the sense of progression I get as I go from lights to mediums to heavies to assaults, not for the narrative. The gameplay is its own reward. The narrative’s job in mechanically-driven games like Battletech is to provide some stakes, motivate the action, and then get out of the way. Unobtrusive narrative is good narrative.

          I do not want more frequent events. The writing in Battletech’s events is just fine, but the apparently random minor bonuses and maluses irk me a little. I suppose I wouldn’t mind more events if either they were pure flavor text or they were more consequential and the choices involved didn’t amount to little better than guessing games, though that might be a better fit for the Career mode than for the fixed-narrative Campaign. I can imagine a game in which randomized events were the narrative, but, while that sounds potentially interesting, I wouldn’t want to trade the game that I got and liked for one that exists almost entirely as a vague notion in my head.

          And I guess if I have time to type all this then I have time to go read those blog articles, so I’ll just go do that now.

          1. Steve C says:

            Well ya. The tactics, the mech-collecting, the mech-designing, and the sense of progression is the meat and potatoes of the game. It is the core. If that is all it was, it would be enough to be a good game. And I completely agree that an unobtrusive narrative is good narrative. (That is a major reason why I hate AAA games so much.) The events are the spice. The icing on the cake to me. No matter how good the cake though, I couldn’t keep eating if it was bland or if it was always exactly the same cake. I feel the same way about games.

            If that is all it was, it would be enough to be a good game… but I wouldn’t finish it.

    2. GoStu says:

      Good catch about the ‘in orbit’ events versus ‘in transit’ events. With really optimal Career play, you pass zero days in orbit, so those events may never really come up at all! With a fixed time limit, any time spent in orbit waiting for repairs or pilots to heal is expensive downtime.

      There’s probably a double handful of events I’ve never seen thanks to not idling around a planet for long.

  26. MerryWeathers says:

    I’m really curious to know what Bob’s opinion on all this is, considering his respect for CD Projekt Red. Too bad he’s probably on the lam after making a series admitting to his crimes in Eve Online.

  27. Steve C says:

    I just wanted to shout out how good the mailbag was this week. Terrific questions Darek and GoStu. Seriously.

  28. GoStu says:

    Cyberpunk in general
    I fear for my poor PC, I am morally certain it would not handle this game. I dare not purchase it lest I be heartbroken that my spending was in vain.

    Mailbag: Roll20 and limiting creativity
    I feel this one right to my bones. I run Dungeons and Dragons over Discord for one group and over Google Hangouts for another, and I shun a lot of “digital tabletop” and other automation solutions for more-or-less this exact reason. I find the automation makes the easy stuff trivial while making the unique and creative stuff obnoxious or impossible.

    For example, my last session – a cornered wizard decided to take a big risk and swing her magical quarterstaff at a creature that backed her up against a wall. She hit and rolled maximum damage. Exactly as-written the monster would have survived with two HP left and it would have attacked. I decided to fudge for the more fun story and just give her the kill. A bot or digital tabletop would have immediately reported that the creature was “critical” but still up, robbing me of my DM agency to bend situations (behind the scenes) to make the most fun and interesting outcome.

    I eschew most automation.

    Now I respect Shamus’s counter-argument; sometimes a visual or a picture or a handout or a prop IS worth a thousand words of description, but I’m not always certain that’s a great thing; I’ve had a lot of happy improvisational moments that came from a player assuming a detail into a scene and myself (and other players) taking them and running with them.

    Mailbag: The Hill
    Thanks for taking my question!

  29. jurgenaut says:

    Chalk me up in the “I don’t have any (serious) issues, I think Cyberpunk is great” crowd. Game has crashed to desktop twice in the 45 hours game time, and I haven’t been stopped from progressing a quest ever.

    The problem, I think, was expectations (“HYPE”). When I heard about cyberpunk the first time, I thought – “Neat” and then not following the development at all over the years. And you have to understand – I love Cyberpunk as a fiction genre (Sprawl trilogy, Altered Carbon). I just don’t want to simp over product years before release. I noticed the Keanu Reeves reveal event, and then continued to not pay attention. Two months ago, it actually looked like the game was being released, so I figured it was time to upgrade my machine to run it. And my new machine runs it well enough.

    I have specifically NOT been sitting on reddit or youtube following each leaked detail. CDPred may have said “there will be feature X and Y” at some point, but I wasn’t paying attention – meaning that I have no investment in feature Y and will not be twitter-raging if Y isn’t included in the game at launch.

    That’s the secret to enjoy things. No (or few) expectations. I am free to enjoy Cyberpunk 2077 for what it is rather than hating it for what it is not. Hype is the destroyer of fun. Nothing has ever been made better by hype.

  30. Grimwear says:

    Reading that Battletech story was a real oof from me. It reminded me of my time playing the new Xcoms where I’m the commander. Xcom 1 did it perfectly where they address me as “Commander” when I make choices but ultimately I don’t do anything. I’m just there making decisions I’m not an active participant. I always found it offputting when I started Xcom 2 and the first mission is to rescue “you” the commander. Sorry no, to me the commander is an ephemeral thing that’s not really there. It’s the equivalent to when I play an rts. Yes I make all the decisions and move the units but I’m not really there.

    I agree with her entirely where she says that the Mercenary Company is the focus. Yeah, just like with Xcom the base was the focus, never the commander. This isn’t an rpg where I need to be the center of attention. I just like the management. Honestly if all games acted this way I’d be put off them entirely. Like if after every match of Bloodbowl all the players and coaches congratulated me for being amazing. It’s unfortunate the devs decided that there’s no life in this simulation anywhere the commander isn’t.

  31. Sean says:

    On the topic of “I make a living via a Western audience, and that’s good enough, given the alternative”: were that only so! CDPR is a public company, and for most countries that generally means its top management has a legal duty to maximize the company’s value. If there’s a ton of money to be made in a Chinese market, and they turn that down because of non-financial stipulations, they could likely be held liable by their investors. There can’t really be a “this is enough money” for public companies, and that’s why they almost universally bend the knee here.

    I’ve actually heard rumors of some investors considering a suit against CDPR because of the cluster that has been the Cyberpunk launch, and the way that’s tanked the stock price. I have little doubt that those very same people were likely complaining how long the game had taken, and urged a Christmas release.

    That said, an outright lie for doing so like “gamer outrage” is tremendous bullshit, and quite worthy of diminishing trust in them.

  32. Alberek says:

    Long time DM, but this year I had to step up using Roll20. I used it several times before (I play with people that aren’t from my country) but never had we such a long campaign before.
    I get the anxiety of “Darek”, with a totaly digitial medium, you can do things that aren’t so easily reproduce in “pen & paper”. But you don’t NEED to only depend on the Roll20 to make an amazing session.
    I don’t make character sheets for every NPC the players run into, if the NPC is sort of important, I would make a Handout and make a quick google image search for something that works. You don’t need a detailed map of everywhere the players go, if the system you are playing is heavy on combat you can do a quick google image search and get a map for combat… but if they are in “a generic tabern” or “the woods” just use an image as background to set the mood.
    Same with music (we use discord, instead of Roll20 for this… also for comms) just find one of those 3 hour long soundtracks with generic “Traveling music” and let it fade into the background… you can have a 3 hour long soundtrack for combats… even better leave the music to one of the players!
    The last advice it has more to do with GMing in general, just because you are the GM doesn’t mean you have to do all the work. There is a lot of stuff you can make the players do to ease your work.

  33. DHW says:

    Regarding Devotion: anyone who thought that censorship would stop with boob armor and mildly off-color jokes was fooling themselves. We’re already used to censoring ourselves at the drop of a Tweet, so what’s one more thing we’re not allowed to say, right?

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