The first act of Cyberpunk 2077 concerns the story of a heist gone wrong. While that’s bad for the characters, it’s good for us in the audience. The setbacks and twists in the heist are what kick off the rest of this excellent story. But what if everything had gone to plan? What would happen to the characters next?
I originally wanted to make this article about how CR Projekt RED bungled the development and release of Cyberpunk 2077. Like, people criticize the company for releasing the game “too early”, which makes it sound like the leadership just made one mistake. But the reality is far worse than that. I could spend a few thousand words cataloging all of the foolish mistakes that management made long before they decided to release the game.
But the truth is that I’m just not feeling it. Maybe in a future article, but I’ve been raging at corporate foolishness for a long time now and I’m in the mood to do something fun. And by “fun” I mean speculative fan-wank story analysis.
I guess I should mention that we’re going to spoil the entire first half of the game here. I think that’s pretty obvious from the premise of the video but I just wanted to make that extra clear.
Anyway. The heist…
What if it Worked?
Now, in terms of story structure this wouldn’t make sense because the heist is the first act of the story so of course it has to go wrong. But let’s forget about that and just see what would happen.
To start with, I think we need to recap what happens in the game. I know some of you will be reading this without playing the game first. Also, the situation is pretty confusing from within the game because a lot of the backstory is presented out-of-order and you have to piece it together after the fact. Anyway, feel free to skip this next section if you think you’ve got a handle on what happened.
The Setup Goes Like This…
There’s this gang of reclusive and mysterious people called the Voodoo Boys. Their leader is this spooky lady named Brigitte. For reasons that aren’t worth getting into, she needs to steal this microchip that contains the personality construct of Johnny SilverhandImportant detail: This is the character played by Keanu Reeves.. This chip was developed by the Arasaka Corporation. Normally this thing would be stored in a supermax vault and guarded by an army of cyber-ninjas somewhere in Japan. However, Yorinobu Arasaka recently stole the chip from his father and brought it here to Night City where the game takes place.
Yorinobu is close to sex worker Evelyn Parker. It’s not totally clear if she’s his girlfriend or just his favorite prostitute, but I don’t think it matters. Yorinobu isn’t really the romantic type. When he comes to Night City, she’s the one that keeps him company.
So Brigitte hires Evelyn to gather information on Yorinobu, hoping to find out where the chip is kept.
Because Evelyn is a sex worker, the people around her tend to underestimate her. Everyone thinks she’s just a dumb piece of meat, but she’s actually ambitious, resourceful, and perceptive. She figures out what Brigitte is after. So Evelyn figures it would be a lot smarter to set up a heist and obtain the chip herself, and then sell it to Brigitte. The game never puts a firm price on the chip, but from the way people talk I think Evelyn expects to get a few million for it.
Evelyn is smart, but she doesn’t have the skills or professional contacts to set up a heist herself. So she calls up the fixer Dexter DeShawn. A fixer is like an agent for mercenaries. Dexter knows this job is incredibly dangerous. Rather than hiring someone experienced and expensive, he prefers to hire someone that’s young and cheap and not yet smart enough to realize when a job is too big for them. He hires Jackie Welles, a brute with a heart of gold, and Jackie’s best friend V, the player character. V can be male or female in this game. I’ve tried both. They’re both cool, but I’m going to assume male V from here on rather than switching pronouns.
Also Dexter hires T-Bug to do the hacking stuff, but T-Bug is dumb and pointless and we don’t care about her.
So now we have our ill-fated crew. Jackie and V will steal the chip, T-Bug will hack stuff for them, Evelyn will sell the chip when the job is over, and while that’s going on Dexter will sit around taking credit for everyone else’s hard work and personal risk.
V and Jackie infiltrate Konpeki Plaza, the hotel where Yourinobu is staying. They get by security and T-Bug hacks some stuff very very slowly.
Seriously, even though you obtain complete details on the security systems, and even though you do this quest to obtain a super hacking robot that you use to neutralize the building security, T-Bug still manages to run into security systems that she couldn’t see coming, and it takes her three and a half hours to hack through.
Anyway, Jackie and V eventually get into Yorinobu’s penthouse suite. They find the chip and then…
Things Go Wrong
So let’s imagine you’re doing a classic Ocean’s Eleven style heist. Like, maybe you snuck inside a casino after hours and you’re now trying to drill open the vault or whatever. And while you’re doing that, the President of the United States shows up for a visit you didn’t know about, and now the entire building is surrounded by the secret service. And then a couple of minutes after that, someone assassinates him. So now you’re doing this tricky robbery and you suddenly find yourself in the middle of the highest security crime scene on planet Earth.
That’s basically what happens in Cyberpunk 2077.
Yorinobu’s dad shows up, and he’s one of the most famous and powerful people on the planet. He’s mad at Yorinobu for stealing his chip with a copy of Johnny Mnemonic on it.
T-Bug sucks, so she loses track of Yorinobu and you almost get caught when he suddenly returns to his room for this meeting with his dad. The two men argue for a bit while you hide in the closet and T-Bug uses her super hacker skills to do absolutely nothing.
So Yorinobu kills his dad and then he puts the hotel on lockdown and tells everyone there’s an assassin on the loose. And this is where everything falls apart.
T-Bug gets discovered and killed like, right away.
V and Jackie shoot their way out of the hotel, but Jackie gets wounded along the way. He bleeds out in the getaway vehicle before you can get him help.
V makes it back to Dexter DeShawn, who’s gone into full-on backstabbing coward mode.
Dexter doesn’t want this mess traced back to him, so he decides to kill V.
During the escape, V had to plug the stolen microchip into his own cyberware. The chip somehow brings him back to life and he’s saved by the digital engram of Johnny Utah.
In the meantime, Arasaka catches up with Dexter anyway and kills him.
V needs to spend a couple of weeks recovering from his wounds. During that time, Brigitte hears about the heist and realizes that Evelyn was trying to steal the chip first. So Brigitte has the Voodoo boys brain-fry Evelyn. It would take too long to explain everything that happens to poor Evelyn and just how shitty everyone treats her, but the short version is that she suffers a fate worse than death, and then ends up dead later anyway. It’s gut-wrenching.
So yeah. This was definitely a…
Job Gone Wrong
Once the heist is over, four of the five conspirators are dead. The only person still standing is V, who is now being kept alive and yet slowly killed by the personality construct of Johnny Harker.
I think we can conclude that this wasn’t the most brilliant heist ever put together. Nobody had any allowances for things going wrong. Nobody knew about the upcoming visit from Daddy Arasaka. Sure, that was a secret, but nobody on the team even knew where Yorinobu was going to be at any given time. There were no alternate escape routes, fallback disguises, or contingency plans. The team just walked in the front door under the assumption that everything would go perfectly, and when it didn’t your only option was to shoot your way out.
Having said that, this all makes sense from a character standpoint. Dexter likes to act like he’s some kind of chessmaster, but he’s basically all style and no substance. The heist seems reasonable when you first play through it, and it’s not until you meet resourceful badasses like Rogue and Panam later in the game that you realize just how weak and unprepared your original crew was.
Having said that, the heist very nearly worked anyway.
So What if it Had Worked?
T-Bug spent more than three hours hacking the building security while V and Jackie sat around doing nothing. If T-Bug had finished just five minutes faster, then V and Jackie would have been able to grab the chip and make it out of the building before Yorinobu returned to his room. They were so close.
If V and Jackie had been able to walk out the front door, then the containment suitcase that held the chip wouldn’t have been damaged. Which means nobody would have needed to stick the ghost of Johnny Constantine into their head.
This means that V and Jackie could have delivered the chip to Dexter without incident, and Dexter could have passed it on to Evelyn. Or maybe you could have delivered the chip to Evelyn directly and cut Dexter out of the deal like she originally wanted. Either way, that’s mission accomplished.
According to the original briefing, you were going to lay low for a couple of weeks while Evelyn took the chip to her unknown buyer to get paid.
Sadly, here is where the plan breaks down, and why I think the heist was always doomed from the start. For one, I don’t think the Voodoo boys value the chip as highly as Evelyn suspects. The profits from this job were going to be split five ways. Not evenly, mind you. This is Night City after all. Still, everyone thought that this heist was The Big One and they were going to get to retire afterwards. This job was supposedly going to make enough for five people to retire. But then when you finally catch up with Brigitte she says…
“If it is functional, we offer you good price for it.”
From her line delivery, it doesn’t sound like she’s thrilled and offering you a life-changing fortune for the chip. It sounds like she’s offering “used car money”, not “mansion money”. But hey, maybe she’s just being a tough negotiator?
The second problem is that I don’t think the Voodoo boys HAVE millions of eurodollars. In fact, the only transaction we see anyone make is when Placide pays someone with a dead chicken, and they act like he’s giving them too much because everyone else is doing so much worse. These people come off as destitute, and I don’t see how this community could have the kind of money Evelyn is hoping to get for the chip.
The third problem is that even if the Voodoo boys are more wealthy than they let on, I don’t think they have access to spendable cash. Their community is very insular and they don’t seem to value Eurodollars the way the rest of Night City does. Most of their transactions seem to be the “favor for a favor” variety. At one point Mr. Hands even tells you:
“You want to sell something to the VDBs? Forget it. They don’t want it, they don’t need it. They’re isolated, insulted, got their own contracts, tech, networks.”
So they wouldn’t pay that much for the chip. And even if they were willing, they don’t HAVE that much. And even if they did, they wouldn’t have it in cash.
Sure, you could argue that with their legendary netrunning skills they could probably steal a bunch of money if they decided they needed some, but that brings me to the most serious flaw with Evelyn’s plan, which is that the Voodoo boys are bastards.
As we see in the game, they deal ruthlessly with Evelyn the moment they realize she’s betrayed them. Then later V approaches the Voodoo Boys looking for answers, and Placide sets V up on a job that is 100% designed to kill him at the end. V did this dangerous job for the Voodoo Boys, and all he wanted in return was a five-minute conversation with Brigitte. If they’re willing to backstab and murder a hired mercenary rather than grant him a simple conversation, then there is no way they would have given millions of eurodollars to a common sex worker, even if they could afford it. They are too proud and too ruthless.
My guess is that Evelyn would have approached them and they would have brain-fried her, taken the chip, and thrown her to some scavs outside of Pacifica. In the end, she probably would have met the same fate we saw in the game.
We could imagine an alternate story where Evelyn is killed like this by the Voodoo Boys. After a couple weeks of silence, Dexter would assume she took the money and ran, so he’d probably send Jackie and V to track her down. And maybe they would eventually find their way to Pacifica and figure out what went down. That sounds like a fun story. On one hand you’d never get paid for the job. On the other hand you might avenge Evelyn’s death, you’d learn some life lessons about taking on risky jobs, and you’d still have your choom Jackie Welles.
Man, I wish I could play through this version of the story. I really love Jackie. I think he’s my favorite companion since… I dunno. Garrus? Alyx Vance? Ciri? It’s been a while since I enjoyed a side character this much.
There are a couple more possibilities I want to explore here. The first one is…
What if Jackie Kept the Chip?
In the game, Jackie takes the chip out of his head and gives it to V just a few moments before he dies. But what if he hadn’t done that? Based on what the game shows us, it’s reasonable to think that the chip would have activated the moment he flatlined. It would have brought him back to life, and then Jackie would be the one haunted by the ghost of Johnny Wick.
I think this story wouldn’t be too far off from what we get in the shipped game. Instead of working alone, you’d be helping Jackie to reach Mikoshi in search of a cure. The story would be a little weird – and a lot less interesting – with Jackie constantly having side-conversations with a Johnny Silverhand that only he can see.
Based on the time we spend with Jackie, we can tell he’s kind of simple, optimistic, religious, and good-natured. He’s basically Night City’s version of Sam Gamgee. I imagine he would get along terribly with calculating, manipulative, cynical, callous, and nihilistic Johnny Silverhand. In the game proper, V and Johnny can become friends, but I can’t escape the notion that Jackie and Johnny would forever be at odds.
There’s one last possibility I want to explore before we wrap this up, which is…
What if Dexter Didn’t Betray You?
Let’s say the job goes wrong, but Dexter doesn’t try to murder you. Let’s say he decides to be a big boy and finish the job like a professional. What happens then?
At this point in the story, Jackie is dead and the containment case has been destroyed, which means you still wind up with the chip of Johnny Silverhand in your head. But since you haven’t flatlined, the chip hasn’t been activated. This presents an interesting situation where you have the chip in your head but it’s not doing anything and you’ve got no idea what it does or what it’s for.
I’m not totally sure if Arasaka would catch up with you here. The game isn’t totally clear on where Dexter went after murdering V. Did he try to leave town? Did he hide somewhere? How did Arasaka find him? From what we see in the game, you could sort of guess that he got caught after dumping V’s body in the landfill. Which suggests that if he hadn’t shot V, MAYBE he wouldn’t have gotten caught?
I don’t know. We don’t have enough information to work with here, so let’s just ignore the Arasaka angle for now and worry about what happens to the chip.
If we’re trying to finish the job, then the next step would be to take the chip back to Evelyn. However, I don’t think you’d want to keep passing it from person to person. During the heist, nobody wanted this thing in their head, so we have to assume that this attitude would continue. Which means that instead of approaching the Voodoo Boys alone, Evelyn would bring V with her because he’d be the one with the chip in his head.
This puts the Voodoo Boys in an interesting dilemma. They can’t kill Evelyn without starting a fight with V. And they don’t want to fight V because that might risk damaging the chip.
Maybe negotiations with the Voodoo Boys would turn into a standoff where they threaten to kill Evelyn if you don’t hand over the chip and the whole thing turns into a bloodbath. But maybe if Brigitte wants the chip bad enough, and if they actually have access to a lot of money, then V and Evelyn could get paid and get away. They’d probably need to flee Night City together, and they’d have the option of reconnecting with Dexter to give him his share if they want to be nice.
Which means this scenario is the best chance of having a successful heist. And the only reason things don’t work out this way is because Dexter tries to murder V. Despite everything else that went wrong, it was still maybe possible to get paid. Which means the weakest link in Dexter’s plan is Dexter himself.
While the technology in this game is a hot mess and we seem to be missing a lot of intended features, I love the care and attention to detail that went into the storytelling. You can’t do this kind of analysis on most videogame stories because usually characters don’t have enough of a personality or agenda for us to be able to extrapolate. Or they operate entirely on contrivances. Or the world itself is too nonsensical for analysis. Or the characters just make no damn sense.
But a well-written story is a story you can think about, and I love thinking about how the world of Cyberpunk works and what sorts of things could happen to V in his adventures. I just wish this sort of care and attention to detail could have been applied to the rest of the game.
 Important detail: This is the character played by Keanu Reeves.
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118 thoughts on “Cyberpunk 2077: What if the Heist Worked?”
A big problem for me was that the outcome of the heist was already spoiled in the trailers! Jackie’s death, Dexter’s betrayal, and Johnny’s role all would have had more impact if the marketing kept it all a secret.
I was going to say, “trailers always spoil the story” but…do they? I could have sworn there were trailers for films/games where they only set up a mystery, that the film/game would later reveal to you. But I have a terrible memory for this type of stuff. Is this a recent trend, that trailers have gotten more spoilery, or was it always just some proportion of them?
You definitely get a lot of spoiler-y film trailers out there. It’s luck of the dice with them (although complicated by the fact that modern trailers often use footage not in the final film).
I thought it was rarer for games. Maybe because a lot of game trailers with cinematics will use a cinematic that was basically designed for the trailer.
Quite the opposite actually, trailers have gotten more secretive as a response to “spoiler culture”, literally no one other than the people who read the leaks knew what Avengers Endgame was going to specifically be about from watching the trailers. Meanwhile back in the 2000s, Revenge of the Sith’s trailer literally spoiled the entire movie.
There are some exceptions to this though like Terminator Genisys.
I don’t think Revenge of the Sith is a good comparison point, since we already knew (more or less) what the end result would be: Anakin becomes Darth Vader, Sidious ends up in charge of the republic, the jedi are mostly wiped out and so on.
Spoiled 25 years before it was written. Probably not a record, but it’d have to be up there.
You’re right; perhaps a better example would be the decision to sell a soundtrack before the Phantom Menace came out, naming one of the tracks “Qui-Gonn’s Noble End”
And then the track was Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”.
It varies from movie to movie. I think more trailers ought to take a hint from the original Alien theatrical trailer, but you probably also only needed on trailer back then. Nowadays you have a series of trailers released leading up to a film’s (or game’s) release, some of which repeat material, others that have to show more and more new stuff.
Then you have the misleading trailer, which is intended to make it seem like one thing happens when it actually happens another way. I dunno any off the top of my head, though.
Don’t forget the recent trend of having teaser trailers for the trailers.
War of the Planet Of The Apes. They made it look like it’s going to be about an all-out war between apes and humans, and it was pretty much a prison break movie. It felt like they didn’t trust that people would watch the actuall movie… which is weird, as it’s really good.
Some things are simply too big to keep secret for long. The idea of sharing headspace with Johnny Silver hand is a central premise of the game, and people would be upset if that wasn’t revealed ahead of time.
But the assassination of Saburo Arasaka… CDPR must be giving their employees preem chocolate milk. I can’t imagine how they kept that a secret. Sometimes you have to let out some secrets to cover up the big ones.
Why would someone want to know about Johnny being a brain-ghost? I could see that being novel, to use in marketing, but can’t imagine why people would be upset if that was only revealed while playing the game. It’s a cyber-dystopia – cyber-ghosts and brain implants come with the territory.
Yeah, and that trailer stated (or at least strongly implied) that this was one of several possible outcomes for the heist. So it was spoiler-y, but I forgave it because it didn’t give the lead-up to the outcome, and also because I was under the impression this was just one possible branch. It’s worth noting that there are still differences in the game versus the trailer. In the promo material, V actually kills TBug and Dex after the betrayal.
I’m nearing the end of the game and enjoyed my time with it. But knowing now that Jackie’s fate is sealed no matter what, and that there are no choices or branching paths with the heist itself, CDPR’s marketing is just baffling in retrospect.
It’s highly possible that it was originally in the game before it got cut, presumably due to time. While I don’t think the game had branches as big as something like Jackie surviving, there were probably some variations in how a gig would play out like as we see in the trailer, T-Bug surviving the heist and betraying you along with Dex.
I like T-Bug more than Jackie, by quite a bit. Jackie is a wannabe. He’s contantly talking about how he’s going to get rich and become a legend. He dies in his fourth gunfight, if you count the cutscene. T-Bug may not be any more skilled, but at least she sticks to quoting the classics.
I see Jackie as less Sam Gamgee and more C3PO. Fine in small doses, but spending the whole game with him? God, that’d be terrible.
I’m not fond of Panam or Rogue either. My favourite NPC in the game is Judy. She gets annoyed at V, but still always calls for help with her latest scheme.
I agree that the Voodoo Boys don’t have much money. I think they spend all they have on netrunning gear. However, you missed why they want the chip. They want Johnny to contact Alt Cunningham, a ghost in the machine. They want to tell her that when the next conflict between humans and AIs comes, the VDBs will side with the AIs. I’m not entirely fond of all my fellow humans, but I’m not about to sell them all out. Not without a good reason. Maybe they want to acend in the singularity.
However, I think there’s one part of the backstory I’m missing. How did the VDBs learn about the chip, and it being in Night City? That’s the whole impetus for the plot. Surely there’s an answer somewhere.
Johnny Mnemonic isn’t the greatest movie, but it’s fun. Worth a watch. Also has a minute by minute podcast, would you believe. http://johnny60.libsyn.com/ .
And Shamus, do you want me to send this article to prominent fan MadQueen? https://www.youtube.com/c/MadqueenShowTV/videos She may pop in here, or do a response video. You might get a lot more traffic all of a sudden, not all of it great.
I’m not familiar with that creator, but the question of “Should I share this video with X?” always gets a big yes from me.
Done! She’s on a break right now, we’ll see if she pops back up later. :)
She replied! Several parts.
This person missed a good portion of what’s going on. By the way, Evelyn was selling the Relic to Netwatch, not the Voodoo Boys. “Their pockets are deeper”
He also missed the point that T-Bug takes “a lot to hack” because this time is spent in the game to introduce the subplot of Lucius Ryne and the Peralez, and backstory on Yorinobu Arasaka.
Not to mention, the timings on this type of hacking are explained in the pen and paper game, and are consistent with the video game.
It’s also explained later in the game that the Voodoo Boys were going to kill Evelyn no matter what, even if she wouldn’t have gone behind their back. Even when V does everything they say, they try to kill them as well. They probably didn’t intend to pay for the BD at all.
Dex operates on the same turf as Rogue, which means he doesn’t have access to high-quality mercs because they’re with the Queen of Fixers. They refer to her as “my fixer” because they give priority to her jobs. So Dex doesn’t have better mercs to hire for the job.
Added to the fact he disappeared for a while, most probably he lost a lot of contacts in that time as it usually happens in the streets. Some died, some are not that cheap anymore and want to work with higher-level fixers.
I’d like it if she popped in here, but many people don’t want to start hanging around yet another site. Not that I think you’re just another site, but I’m sure you understand.
I doubt this is something Shamus missed. Shamus is analyzing the game from a story standpoint, not from a scripting standpoint. We know the game is taking its time to do the hacking because it wants to introduce more story, it just so happens that doing so inadvertedly ends up making T-Bug bad at her job, since the story itself doesn’t bother justifying it.
I should not need to say this, but you should not need to experience a different kind of media to understand what’s going on in this one. The story should be able to stand on its own.
He might not have the best mercs, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have better ones. He can’t possibly have only two mercs at his disposal, otherwise he shouldn’t be calling himself a fixer.
I don’t know who this MadQueen person is, but frankly, nothing she writes here makes me want to seek her work.
Judging from Shamus’s video alone, without any extra knowledge of the game, the implication that T-Bug, or anyone else for that matter, should be able to hack into Konpeki Plaza quicker than in 3 hours, seems just as baseless as the implication that she shouldn’t. After the assassination scene, T-Bug manages to hack a door in a span of several seconds (even though Arasaka netrunners catch her and brainfry her at that moment), similar how, in the next story beat that is Johnny Silverhand’s first flashback, Spider Murphy takes about half a minute to hack a door, and the same amount of time to feed a bot into Arasaka’s subnet. It’s quite possible that Murph also took hours to break into Arasaka ‘net, except that she could do so from relative safety, in-between the scenes (after all, the whole assault on the tower is presented in a spontaneous manner, even though the rebels are clearly executing a well thought-out plan), whereas T-Bug needed the spider-bot physically implanted inside Konpeki Plaza, once again suggesting a lack of resources and weak planning, but not necessarily saying anything bad about T-Bug’s skills.
I haven’t played the game, but it sounds like a couple of lines of dialogue could have papered over this issue.
“This is taking too long. Things could go [insert CP2077 slang for ‘sideways’] any second!”
“Keep cool. We aren’t knocking over an O’Burgerz. Setting up hacks on megacorps takes prep.”
She’s a big fan of the TTG and the genre on the whole. Has been constantly talking about it for years now. Even interviewed Mike Pondsmith last year. If you want someone to get deep in the weeds on the story and universe, she’s your person. That’s how she approaches it.
The game isn’t totally clear on where Dexter went after murdering V. Did he try to leave town?
There’s a hint if you don’t go to the bathroom immediately after he tells you to wash up. You can see him making a call, and arranging for a flight out.
I was under the impression that Evelyn was planning to sell the chip to Netwatch, although I can’t remember what my evidence for that was.
Emails between her and NetWatch during the Placide Mission – Found on the Com right next to the NetWatch runner you off.
When Goro killed Dexter and found V in the junkyard, he contacts Yorinobu to let him know he found his father’s “killer”, implying he did this all on his own accord without Arakasa’s direct help as an attempt to make it up to Yorinobu for letting Saburo die.
Yorinobu wasn’t expecting this and probably panicking that V might have told him what really happened that night, sent the Arasaka terminators after them.
Not only that, but Takemura would torture you into confessing that you’re not actually a Militech agent. He’s ready to torture a former employee for information: what do you think he’s about to do to you? The problem is that this would ruin Yorinobu’s plans for a war with Militech.
Yorinobu wouldn’t have to panic. After deactivating Takemura’s corporate implants, Goro is alone and friendless in Night City. Yes, he kidnaps Hanako Arasaka from her parade… but it becomes obvious in retrospect that Yorinobu set the whole thing up to lure Takemura out of hiding and eliminate him.
I have no particular interest in Cyberpunk 2077, Shamus, but I really like the images you created for this post. The references to Keanu Reeves’ roles also amused me.
Do people in Night City, which I think I heard was in California, really use Eurodollars? Because Eurodollars are a real, actual thing. They’re just American dollars kept in banks outside the United States. A Eurodollar that gets spent in the United States or transferred to a bank in the United States instantly stops being a Eurodollar. I am left wondering whether the Eurodollar in Cyberpunk 2077 is supposed to be some kind of future-currency or everyone in the game simply conducts all their transactions through off-shore bank accounts for some reason.
Yes, everyone uses Eurodollars, which are abbreviated as ED and called “Eddies” by street-level people in Night City.
I THINK eddies are a leftover from when this setting was originally envisioned in the 1980s. Like, Mike Pondsmith thought it would be a good setting detail to have the US use Eurodollars. But then the European Union happened and now this setting detail is a weird mix of reality and fiction.
That’s my guess, anyway.
In retrospect, I should have expected the future-currency. I’m not the biggest cyberpunk fan, but future-currencies do seem to be a staple of the genre. I guess they go well with the dystopia. Shadowrun has nu-yen (or something like that) for what I suspect are similar reasons.
Money’s a nice small detail you can use, to indicate the power-dynamics in a fictional world. For example, the three different currencies in Fallout: New Vegas. (caps, NCR bucks, and Legion…whatevers :)
Aurei, denarii, and sestertii?
Fun fact: a sestertius was worth 4 copper asses at… some point during the early Roman Empire/late Republic.
Shadowrun has nuyen, and Neuromancer has the New Yen. Because back in the 80s when cyberpunk tropes were being codified, the Japanese economy was booming and everyone was expecting it to become the new economic superpower.
TVTropes link: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/JapanTakesOverTheWorld
So, shouldn’t Cyberpunk 2077 have some kind of ‘social’ currency? They’d have to come up with a different name, to be distinct from Death Stranding’s money, although depending on what they’re alluding to IRL, they might not even have to worry to much about that specific similarity. :)
They should use dogecoin
Too cheerful for a cyber-dystopia. Needs to be social credit… :E
Ah, yes. Back before the Tokyo real estate bubble popped, the stock market tanked, and the country’s long-term demographic and structural weaknesses became apparent. How wrong we were. It turns out that past performance does not guarantee future returns. How foolish we were to believe that any fast-growing Asian country would continue to grow quickly forever and then, I dunno, buy the world or something. Well, we sure did learn our lesson. Nobody could possibly make that mistake about any fast-growing Asian country today. Ha! Haha!
In Germany they still had Deutschmark (at least in the german Shadowrun novels from the 90s). I always justified this by saying, well, you never know what’s up in 2050. Maybe DM is back by then.
The New-Yen/ Nuyen/¥ is one of the main currencies in Shadowrun (it’s from the series of books of Neuromancer).
But every major corp also has corp-credits… basically, they only work for buying stuff from the corp (it’s how the corps pay their employees).
And I think there is also a market for old money, or non-digital nuyen…
In Cyberpunk, the USSR still exists (although as a loose federation of countries continuing the Soviet legacy with little ideological socialism left, having become a corporatist nation like the rest of the world).
Yeah. Eurodollars are the local equivalent of the Euro, a united currency for the European Economic Community, the local equivalent of the EU.
My read on Evelyn’s motive was that she knew she was being played by the VDB and figured out that they wanted her to steal a Relic chip. What she (and everyone else on the crew) didn’t know was that it wasn’t just a Relic chip but Silverhand’s Engram and that that is what made it valuable to the VDB. In Evelyn’s and Dexter’s mind they were heisting rare tech that would let you live forever and I always got the sense that Evelyn and DeShawn intended to pawn it off as that to some other buyer after the heist. The VDB would try to kill them anyway, but if they could hustle the Relic chip to another crime lord they could probably get millions upon millions of Eurodollars and walk away set for life.
Doesn’t Dex outright say at some point that they’ll try and sell it off to some rich Corpo? As far as he knew, he’d be the one tasked with fencing it, which is a big part of a Fixer’s job. Evelyn purposely never mentioned the Voodoo Boys, which is why V has to figure it out via braindances with Judy’s help later on. Although she drops some hints when she suggests cutting Dex out to V.
During the briefing Jackie asks when they get paid. To which Dexter replies, “All depends on how Ms. Parker avails herself of her role, but a week, two tops is my guess.”
In another line someone refers to “her buyer”, hinting that:
1) She already had a buyer lined up.
2) Only she knew who they were.
If you attack Mosley, you quickly find out that Evelyn didn’t have a plan, and was frantically trying to negotiate with NetWatch to sell the chip. Special Agent Brie Deal clearly has no idea about the arrangement Evelyn is talking about, and her questions read like she’s trying to wrap up Evelyn’s accomplices instead of negotiate for the chip.
Plus if you read Cyberpunk RED, you know that NetWatch was working with Alt Cunningham back in the 40’s. They would have zero interest in finding new ways to contact her, much less antagonize the world’s most powerful corporation.
So she could only sell it to the VDBs, who could never afford it and would never be willing to pay for it. Or she could sell it to NetWatch, who had no need of it.
Wow. So her entire heist was SUPER doomed, right from the start. There was no way this was going to work out for her.
It’s substantially worse than that. In the BD Judy recovers, Brigitte explicitly orders Evelyn NOT to do anything about the Relic. Her job was to make a virtu. Nothing more. Actually, Brigitte is alarmed that Evelyn knows anything about the Relic at all. Placide correctly believed that Evelyn was too smart to be trusted, as we see in a phone call between Brigitte and Placide that Evelyn intercepts.
Evelyn Parker is not a complete idiot. So the question becomes: why did she think she could sell the chip to NetWatch, when she was already aware that Yorinobu was ALLEGEDLY planning to sell them the chip even before he became CEO of the company?
IMO the most logical next step would have been for Dexter to keep a hold on the suitcase until Evelyn has arranged for a payoff/swap (assuming Dexter was not going to double cross the team). Perhaps Evelyn was fearing this, and realizing she would be unlike to get a multi-million payoff from Netwatch she tried to convince V to bypass Dexter.
Quickly approaching point where you have to choose between “a good writer would have meshed this into the story”, “a writer doesn’t have to explain every hidden detail” and “OMG the writer is incompetent”. I’ll go with option B for this part of the plot.
Likewise for having to wait 3 hours in the hotel. I’m willing to entertain the idea that T-bug spends 3 hours putting various hacks and overrides in place in order to be ready to take over control at the moment supreme, while also accepting that for gameplay reasons in-game hacks by the player are going to be instant.
Evelyn and Dex despise each other, and I’m sure Evelyn would have terminated Dex’s role if she wasn’t sure a pair of incompetent gonks could effortlessly get the chip out of Konpeki. The main question is WHY she is so confident. Because Dex has set Delamain’s return destination to No-Tell Motel even at the start of the mission, and Delamain may not alter that.
I would assume that Delamain’s contract looks something like “go to [Afterlife? Wherever they were planning to meet up on the happy path], unless everything goes pear-shaped, in which case go to No-Tell Motel”. If you have to shoot your way out of the parking garage and almost crash into Adam Smasher, it is clearly the case that everything is pear-shaped; so Del, per contract, has to drop Jackie, V and the chip at No-Tell, without Dex having assumed a priori that the heist would fail.
I thought that too. Someone suggested I look at the Delamain trip display before entering Konpeki Tower.
Your destination is still No-Tell Motel.
My understanding is that she wanted to sell to the buyers Yorinobu had lined up for himself, so maybe big players like Militech? I wonder if selling the chip fast enough would have gotten the VDB off her back, or if they would have fried/sold her anyway as revenge.
T-Bug is where character models end up standing in the default pose, right?
T-Bug is just a rip off of the immortal WWE wrestler T-Bar who forms the punk anarchist group RETRIBUTION along with his buddies Mace, Reckoning and Slapjack
No I remember now, T-Bug is that disease that turns people into zombies.
You’re thinking of the T-Virus. T-Bug is an actor in The A-Team.
Nah — that’s Mr. T. T-Bug is a rapper from Florida.
Isn’t that the main thug leader in The Crow who works for Top Dollar?
I thought it was that keyboard issue where you can only type one letter
I just wanted to say that this thread may be T-best in a while.
During my last session, I found a lady T-posed and stuck half way through a sofa on Jig-Jig street. When I walked up to her, she yelled “help me!”. I’m not even making this up.
Let me guess — you didn’t help her. You monster. :-)
I tried, but I hadn’t put enough points into Upholstery to pass the skill check.
From the title, I thought this post was going to be about CD Projekt Red having the source code for all their games stolen. Which is something that recently happened.
Twice now actually, I remember hearing that CD Projekt got hacked a few years back.
Maybe just someone who didn’t want to wait for official patches.
Same. (And my reaction was: “Well the heist *did* work, didn’t it?”) I had to search the comments to make sure I wasn’t the only one with this misapprehension, thanks for reassuring me! :-)
The optimist in me hopes the game will get a “Cyberpunk 2077: A Realm Reborn” treatment but my more grounded side is just expecting bug patches and DLC, that’s basically it.
For what it’s worth, the character of Johnny Silverhand goes pack to the earliest versions of the pen and paper version of the game. So, the naming of the character had nothing to do with Keanu Reeves’ past roles. So, the fact that he’s playing yet another “Johnny” is probably a happy coincidence, although it’s possible that CDPR hired Reeves at least in part because of his association with (in)famous film “Johnnys.”
I sort of assumed that he was cast at least partly because he played Johnny Mnemonic.
I also, without evidence, assumed that the original Johnny Silverhand was at least somewhat inspired by Mnemonic, possibly via the original books rather than the film.
If anyone has played Cyberpunk / read Neuromancer et al. / watched Johnny Mnemonic I’d be curious if there’s any truth in that.
Don’t forget Neo. The Matrix may or may not fit into the standard definition of cyberpunk, but it’s certainly been very influential on the aesthetics and modern interpretations of the genre.
Silverhand is a notable NPC in the TTG, dating from before the movie came out. Maybe the VG version takes inspiration from the movie, but personality-wise, they aren’t much alike.
He’s probably named for Johnny Mnemonic. Who is a character from a short story dating before Cyberpunk came out. (First published in 1981, collected in Burning Chrome in 1986)
(It is set in the same universe as the Sprawl trilogy and takes place before Neuromancer, Molly is the same character in both but Johnny does not appear in the Sprawl books.)
I’m sure the video’s going to be stellar. Unfortunately, I haven’t played Cyberpunk yet, so I’ll sit this one out. But I’ve left the muted video playing in the background, and I’ve liked and commented on it to drive up engagement :D
For the record, this is a situation where asking “what do they eat?” would be extremely useful. After the Avian Extermination Act, only the highest ranked corpos can eat real chicken anymore. Corpo V can reminisce about eating real sushi with Judy, and no one else can. The VDB are flagrantly defying the law by trading in chicken, and it’s a sign of how much we take this for granted that no one realizes how self-sufficient and above NC law the Voodoo Boys actually are.
To be fair, V can ask Placide if it is legal to be selling a real chicken (his reply is that he isn’t selling it) and there are data shards about the Avian Extermination Act scattered around the game. Recently killed chickens are also pretty symbolic in both Voodoo culture and in Haitian culture in general, if for different reasons, which kind of muddies that entire scene. Is Placide offering a traditional gift for someone recently dead? Is it a ritual gift? It shows the VDB’s autonomy and how lawless Pacifica is pretty well, but since Pacifica is so very undercooked as a neighborhood in game it is hard to tell exactly what more we are meant to learn from that interaction. In general, all the interactions with the VDB’s just feel as if you are left with the scraps of what was once a much larger questline or deeper interactions with them.
I doubt the VDBs would trust a foreigner enough to talk to you about it. This isn’t New Vegas: if you weren’t part of the Haitian diaspora, the Voodoo Boys have no interest in working with you beyond very specific circumstances. You would never get to Idolized with them.
Yeah, I get that. My point is rather that they spend an entire main mission on the player just taking in Pacifica. You get to meet Placide in a seedy meat shop and you then walk across Pacifica while he shows you the sights (including a gunship unleashing into the half-finished hotel) and REALLY sets up the vibe for Pacifica and the VDBs. It is an excellent introduction to both the VDBs and the neighborhood and all of it is then rendered moot when your total interactions with Pacifica is to go to the GIM and then see the VDBs hidden lair. The full extent of your interaction with the VDBs also amount to doing one job and then being let into their supersecret lair before leaving them alone forever.
They put a lot of effort into selling Pacifica and nothing ever comes of it. In trope terms: They set up a Chekov’s Location with Pacifica and hinted at all that’s going on there but then never fire it (do you fire a location?). Instead you spend somewhere around 1-2 hours doing the two quests in the VDB arc and you’re out of Pacifica for good, apart from a brief late game interaction that could have taken place anywhere on the map.
Another interesting direction this story could have taken is if T-Bug survived the heist. If you watch the E3 2019 cinematic trailer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LembwKDo1Dk), T-Bug is in the No-Tell with Dexter after the job goes south and remains loyal to him when he tries to kill you, forcing you to kill her. I wonder if the big heist originally had as many potential paths and outcomes as the job to the get the hacker bot from Maelstrom, but were sadly cut.
This is my third post within the first 40 comments. I understand if you tell me to cool it, but seriously- I’m out of my mind with how much well-written intrigue is in this game.
First of all, it is absolutely critical that you understand that Arasaka did everything in their power to make sure security was lax for you. Hajime Taki, the attache you were supposed to meet, is right there in the restaurant! He’s high-ranking Arasaka, and extremely insistent that his team find you and Jackie for negotiations. No way in hell he would let you fart about for minutes, much less hours. Meanwhile, the hotel staff is told to turn off the surveillance in your rooms, while only one netrunner is tasked with guarding the facility. Forget an elite hotel: with Yorinobu Arasaka on the premises, this is like Prince William being guarded by Paul Blart, mall cop.
In this context, you can start realizing that Arasaka wanted you where you were. Literally- it is possible that Adams Smasher was ordered to spare the two gonks in the pillar who he ABSOLUTELY sees (according to the threat detector), while he’ll happily kill you if you’re outside it. And T-Bug isn’t an idiot. She’s a traitor, ratting you out to Arasaka, possibly in exchange for her own life or a fresh start.
I think you’re engaging in some heavy rewriting of the narrative. If we assume it was all deliberately set up to allow you to steal the chip, what was the goal? If it was to resurrect Johnny Silverhand, then an awful lot was left to chance. Also, T-Bug’s dead. I want to say that’s confirmed within the game somewhere, but I’m not positive about that.
The planned goal was to get the chip to the Voodoo Boys. Who would want that? Yorinobu Arasaka himself. Why? I’ll get to that if you’re interested.
The secondary goal is so Modern Warfare 2 that I would laugh, except it went perfectly. Yorinobu has footage of two Militech agents walking into an elite Arasaka domain and using a Militech prototype to attack his security system. Under such circumstances, it is hilariously easy to blame the murder of his father and the theft of Relic 2.0 on Militech (which Yorinobu does in a broadcast) and instigate a new Corporate War. Yorinobu helps this along by funding false flag attacks against Arasaka. V can uncover evidence of these attacks. Your fixer’s reaction may surprise you.
I’m aware of the false flag operations.
But I’m interested in hearing your Voodoo Boy theory.
My theory is that Yorinobu is getting everyone he can find to attack Arasaka. Militech is only one example. He focuses on Dubai because there’s a major Arasaka facility there… right next to Old Dubai, a crime haven so notorious not even NetWatch messes with them. My guess is that Yorinobu would run a similar op, getting the crime lords to attack Arasaka and weaken the company. He might even be hiring them as mercenaries with Arasaka money!
In the same vein, he could persuade the Voodoo Boys to attack Arasaka in cyberspace. No one would ever dream of this while Saburo was still alive, but it would advance his life mission of bringing Arasaka to its knees.
I guess, though he screwed up his own plan in that case, seeing as every action from the moment he killed his father pretty much ensured the chip would never be sold. I’m not even arguing that they weren’t going for that in part of the story. I just don’t think the story is as good as a lot of people do. It’s full of holes.
Yorinobu wouldn’t want to sell the chip. At most it’s a bargaining tool with the Voodoo Boys, using an implied threat to give it to NetWatch if the VDB don’t act. The Relic’s ultimate fate isn’t relevant: Yorinobu wants Arasaka destroyed to a Catonian degree, and seeing the Relic lost forever would be no obstacle to that plan.
Until I realised that all the Johnny links were Keanu Reeves characters, I was disappointed that you missed out https://hyperioncantos.fandom.com/wiki/Johnny. He’s even stored in a chip at some point!
I really enjoyed Hyperion,(for the unfamiliar Canterbury Tails – IN SPACE) especially the priest. I should hunt down another copy at some point – I lent mine out to a coworker who moved away.
Glad to see another video! I remember that you hadn’t been happy with last year’s view counts, so I wasn’t sure if we would be getting more TDI videos.
Out of curiosity, is the Tuesday/Thursday content swap permanent? Maybe I missed an announcement or something.
I just needed a couple of extra days to get the video done, so I swapped the days rather than pushing the video to next week.
I totally get that. I have a hard enough time keeping my class videos up to date, and those are editing-free recordings of myself at a whiteboard!
Just a quick clarification – the caption under the pic of Evelyn says “she never wakes up again”. But she actually DOES wake up from her coma, and seems to be recovering until she commits suicide. You can visit her when Judy’s taking care of her.
I’m not sure if you didn’t find that out (maybe there are alternate paths in that storyline?) or if it’s just unclearly worded, or maybe I’m just interpreting the caption wrong, but figured I’d tell you just in case.
You mean you can speak to Ev? Man, I never saw an opportunity for that. I’ve played through it a few times, and it always seems like she kills herself a couple of days after the rescue, and there was never any indication that her condition had changed.
Do you just stop by and barge in uninvited?
Evelyn never does speak again to you, no. But then Judy is taking care of her, and JA’d probably shank you in the kidney if she thought you might blunder into Ev’s recovery time.
Sometimes I need to get spoiled to get really interested in a game. I’m definitely going to check it out once it’s patched up some more!
I used to play a lot of Cyberpunk 2020, and Mike Pondsmith’s writing was always really good. It was one of my favorite systems and settings.
I appreciate this article quite a bit.
NOTE: My personal experience with the game was incredibly good, played on a decently high end modern PC, occasional bug but nothing game breaking. One of the higher quality games at release that I have played in years. My experience apparently _vastly_ differs from the media presentation.
Based on some of your earlier posts and Diecasts, I was afraid you’d been one of the “unlucky” ones and had a poor gameplay experience, but this article makes me think it wasn’t _too_ bad.
After years of reading your wonderful reviews and commentaries of technologically amazing games with terrible stories, I really hope this becomes one of your favorites, it seems right up your alley as [finally] a game that focused on the story and less on all that other stuff :)
EDIT: I am (and have been since 1981) an avid tabletop RPG player. CP2013/2020 being one of my groups’ favorites back in the day, and CP2020 got a brief resurgence last year for hopefully obvious reasons. I wanted to add this note about the currency. In the tabletop game, the currency was properly named the EuroDollar, but was abbreviated Eb which was short for EuroBucks and most commonly just called Euros or EBucks. I think that fell out of favor when the Euro became an _actual_ thing, although in print it was still the Eb. CP2077 is the first I know of hearing them called Eddies, but I am unsure why they went with that instead of Eb.
Would it have been better if it were depicted hollywood style – 3 seconds of mashing random keys and then “I’m in”? Of course it is very plausible that this would take time, I was very pleased when the game depicted it the way it did.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but while I never played the Cyberpunk tabletop RPG, I played a fair amount of Shadowrun. Deckers hack fast in Shadowrun, due to a number of factors like direct brain interfaces, neurological enhancements, and programs they set up ahead of time. So three hours would be… I don’t know, she forgot to buy the right sleaze programs before the ‘run and was trying to write a new one in the middle of everything?
Different systems, sure, but enough other cyberpunk settings, like Ghost in the Shell, keep the idea of “hacking is fast!” that slower hacking speeds seem strange without explanation.
Three hours is TOTALLY REASONABLE for hacking in the real world. Heck, it’s probably still unrealistically fast. But by the standards of the genre it does indeed come off as comically slow. It would be one thing if this was accounted for in the briefing. If someone said, “Once you’re inside, T-Bug is going to need a few hours to do her thing.” But the long hack sort of came out of nowhere and took much longer than we expect hacking to take in cyberpunk stories. (In a story sense, I’m not sure what the three-hour time-cut was for. Yes, you have a conversation with Jackie. But T-Bug could have said she needed a “couple of minutes” while the conversation took place.)
By itself this is a very minor issue. But the T-Bug character has other problems. So let me drop the jokes about “T-Bug sucks” for a minute and answer this question seriously:
I think the REAL problem with T-Bug is that she never gets a proper “hero” moment. The moments of real hacking (piloting the Flathead) are performed by the player. Furthermore, you can hunt down all the details of the security system in Ev’s braindance, thus giving T-Bug critical intel. The game never uses this. T-Bug’s performance doesn’t improve if you’re really thorough about helping her out. I’m 100% sure this was a budget / time / scope issue, but from within the game it creates the unintended feeling that you’re doing her job for her, and she’s not pulling her weight.
Now, these moments make total sense from a game design standpoint. It is VASTLY preferable to have the player DO something than to have an NPC TELL you they did something. Yes, we end up doing T-Bug’s job for her, but in the end this makes for a far more engaging sequence than the player sitting around watching.
But the side-effect of this is that she never saves the day. We never have a moment where we think “Wow. Good thing T-Bug was here!”. Her one quasi-heroic action is when she opens the door in the penthouse. That’s nice, but it’s a glass door so within the story it didn’t feel like an insurmountable obstacle. I didn’t even notice that door at first, so I never had a moment where I felt, “Oh no! I’m trapped. How can I get this door open!” before she hacked it.
On top of that is the uncomfortable way it becomes clear she’s on Dexter’s side. Dex and T-Bug both know that Ev tried to cut him out of the deal. They exchange a look when you lie / reveal what Ev said in the briefing. She was clearly spying on you on behalf of Dex.
Also, T-Bug makes it clear that she doesn’t have any interest in keeping in touch once the job is over.
All of this is 100% fine from a character standpoint, but now we have all of these facts:
* T-Bug isn’t a friend, and comes off as cold and distant.
* She’s spying on you on behalf of the boss, who is later revealed to be a backstabbing coward.
* You end up doing a lot of her work.
* She never does anything heroic or badass to make us cheer for her.
* If you watched the 2019 E3 preview, you saw her help Dex attempt to murder V. That doesn’t happen in the final game, but the memory of that backstab colored all of my conversations with her.
Thus I don’t really like or trust T-Bug, and I was never upset about her death the way I mourned Ev and Jackie.
Of course, that’s too long and has too many digressions and too much speculation in it, so I shortened it to “T-Bug sucks” in the article. I knew some people would object, but it served its purpose of making the heist exposition more interesting and gave me a running joke to work with.
Have to say that, while I respect your view, I disagree with it.
I rather liked T-Bug’s professionalism. She isn’t, and never pretends to be, your buddy. But she provides high quality training software, improved utilities, does her job correctly and quietly, and sticks by you at the risk of her life – and then actually dies because of it. Her ambition is to get out of the merc life, which I can understand completely and is a lesson my V, at least, learned a little too late.
Bug is what many other characters in the game fail to be. It’s ok if we disagree on this, but I for one, like T-Bug unapologetically.
I sometimes am unsure as to whether or not it is worth taking more time to “Explain” in movies, games, etc. This is where high-quality scripts and editing come in, but there’s always a tension that should be respected. Nerd Culture in particular tends to be detail-obsessed (*not* accusing Shamus of anything here). When something isn’t well-explained, it bothers Geekdom a lot more than others in most contexts. For example, in Star Wars, people spent twenty years speculating what the “Clone Wars” were, even though there manifestly was no answer in the test. Or, say, in The Force Awakens, lots of people questioned how in the galaxy Maz got her hands on the lightsaber Luke lost at Bespin*. To most, these are simply not worth worrying about. Other people create 30-minute Youtube videos argueing over it.
Are these examples bad or good? Are they world-building or fanservice? Is it it even important enough to are about, let alone seek answers to? Well, there’s no simple explanation or one-size fits-all answer. Time & atention are always in conflict with good storytelling. Just look at the many people who avoid War and Peace like the plague or who find reading Tolkein like surviving a famine : deathly dull. I may not agree, but it’s hard to argue with taste in that regard.
CP77 left me uncertain of exactly how The Heist was intended to go, and it’s unclear whether that was a deliberate design choice or not. I wasn’t specifically worried that T-Bug was taking “too long” ; however, that might legitimately occur to other people. But I was worried, “Are *we* taking to too long?” because that moment’s strengths hooked me.
On the other hand, there’s the contrary case which should be examined. Would it have been better to explain everything, or would that have ended up being tedious and useless? I see a couple points where I would improve on the Heist mission, but it’s hard to say whether an outside viewer would agree on those points.
But your mileage may vary.
*Nobody knows, least of all the filmmakers.
Depends on the amount of separation from the real world, the detail needed to explain it, and the importance to the story. The Clone Wars has enough real-world separation to require a long explanation, but it has zero importance to the story so it shouldn’t get one*. The lightsaber was more important, but the inherent twenty-year gap means there’s plenty of effort-intense ways of finding it available. It’s a thing that could be believably done in the real world, and succinctly described. It could use one but doesn’t need one.
The hacking speed is a pretty important part of this scene, and future world settings need to explain the technology differences from the real world as often as it can. It doesn’t need to detail the process, all it needs is a sentence-length comment about how normal it is to take that long on a hack. It should have an explanation.
Then there’s a line from Avatar which sticks out to me; someone yells that they need a medical kit, and then we cut to a different character saying “the medical kit’s over there.” That explanation really isn’t necessary. It’s real-world believable that one is here, and utterly unimportant where exactly it’s kept. So even though it’s only one line, it’s too much explanation.
*(The Clone Wars themselves are a single-line explanation for how Obi-Wan knew Anakin, which gives us reason to trust Obi-Wan’s judgment, which is key to establishing the personal conflict of the movies. So it gets a good bit of explanation.)
The problem with the lightsaber isn’t the plausibility of it getting re-found by someone and making it back out into galactic circulation. That doesn’t need explaining.
The problem is that it finding it’s way specifically to Rey in the way that it does feels implausibly random. It’s a huge galaxy, and by that point in the movie, one-in-a-billion coincidences like that had already been stacking up*. Basically the only in-universe way to explain it all becomes “the will of the force” as a substitute for “fate”. From the outside though, it’s all just JJ’s seat-of-the-pants “Mystery Box” excuse for not being willing or able to write a functioning chain of causality. We’ve seen him use “fate” this way before.
You don’t want to hang more than one big event on coincidence or “fate”, or else it becomes obvious that the writer is that it as a crutch. If the plot itself starts to look like it has Domino/Teela Brown superpowers, that’s just plain bad writing.
It wouldn’t actually take much more than a line or two make it non-coincidental either. One could say that, for instance, Republic-era lightsabers are now rare collector’s items, and when this one reappeared on the galactic underground market, Maz sought it out because of her friendship with Han, but then gives it to Rey (or gives it to Han, who then later gives it to Rey) in the hope it’ll help get Luke’s attention when they find him (instead of because she can just magically sense that Rey’s the protagonist). There’s lots of other easy ways; that’s just one.
I suspect that JJ actively didn’t want that though, because he thinks that sort of thing is a feature instead of a bug (he doesn’t know the difference between “and then…” plot points and legit mystery boxes).
*At this point in the film, Rey has already found BB8, Finn, the Falcon, and Han, all via random coincidence. BB8 and Finn can be excused if you assume that the only settlements on the entire planet are clustered within a few dozen miles around that one ship graveyard, but that’s speculation at best, and is not said or implied by the movie. The Falcon is pure coincidence, and Han… is probably yet another case of JJ not understanding that that “outer space” is more than just a few miles across.
I remember almost nothing about The Force Awakens. I think Rey has to have the lightsaber for the Ren fight, so you can’t cut it completely, but if she meets Leia in TFA then Leia would have been the most natural person to give it to her.
That’s missing the point. I’m not in any way saying the lightsaber can’t or shouldn’t find it’s way to Rey in the film. I’m saying the way it does should feel organic, like it has in-story causality.
Lea giving it to her wouldn’t by itself solve this problem. Who gives it to her is a meta-textual theming issue, not a textual causality issue. The same story needs exist either way.
I don’t really mind that Maz had the lightsaber, or that she gave it to Rey (though I agree Lea would be the stronger choice for a variety of reasons). I mind that she has it, and gives it to Rey, for literally no reason or purpose other than “because JJ says so”. This would be the same no matter who you substitute for Maz.
I remember Leia sending Rey to find Luke. So Leia hands the lightsaber over and says “When you find Luke… give him this.” Quick and easy.
Also, Leia or Han giving it to her, even without explanation, can hint at some deeper knowledge they have that makes them give it to her specifically. That’s a lot harder to do with a completely new character that for all we know knows nothing about how things really are. We trust that Leia or Han knows intimate details about Luke and things in general that would get them to give it to Rey. We have no reason to trust that Maz knows that much yet.
You can give that to Maz by having Han or Leia make a reference to a secret they all share, granting that trust specifically. But the issue remains the same: we need someone the audience trusts to know what’s going on but also want to be secretive about it to pull off a seemingly strange because it’s secretive action to build towards a mystery to be explained later.
From watching and commenting on a lot of things, it isn’t really that simple, and does tie into the discussions of Primary World and trusting the writer that Shamus has talked about. While in Star Wars the Clone Wars were clearly an important event and interesting, we didn’t really need to know much more about them in Star Wars than we found out: there was a war, that’s how Obi-Wan became a general, and he knew Anakin during it. So it was an interesting piece of world building that could be followed up on later — and was — but we didn’t need to know more about it to understand what was going on and the relations of the characters to each other. One of the reasons why the situation with Maz is different is that the situation comes across as more contrived. That there would have been an event in the past that Obi-Wan and Luke’s father shared and that Obi-Wan would explicitly reference that event when talking to Luke makes perfect sense, and there could have been all sorts of other events in the past that Obi-Wan didn’t mention because it’s not relevant to Luke and his father. But with Maz she HAPPENS to be the person they are sent to to hook up with the Resistance, and she HAPPENS to have Luke’s old lightsaber and it HAPPENS to react to Rey who only HAPPENS to be there because she found the droid first. That’s an awful lot of coincidences for us to swallow. So an explanation for why she had the lightsaber isn’t really needed, but what we’re looking for is some reason why that chain of coincidences ends THERE. I would have rathered they leverage Han Solo more and have him know about the connection and deliberately take her there because of that potential connection. As it is, them coming across him comes across as yet another coincidence that really turns the whole think into one big contrivance.
The key ties into what you said about good scripts and editing, but the main rule of thumb is going to have to be that you explain enough to avoid the audience being confused (unless you want them to, which is a valid but risky approach) or feeling that things are just contrivances. I’ve been deliberately watching horror and other movies — right now it’s science fiction from some collections I bought cheap — to talk about on my own blog, and am finding that a lot of more recent movies are really bad at explaining things and the things that need to be explained. The horror movies tend to be aiming for mystery, but seem to think that in order to do a proper mystery they need to HIDE details from the audience, and so avoid explaining anything, but then as noted the audience ends up confused, which is bad for everything, but even worse for horror because you’re rarely really scared when you’re just confused. Abrams is noted for his mystery boxes, but those things only work if we care about the answer and are intrigued to see what it is, not confused and waiting for the answer only so that things make sense.
Another issue seems to be short runtimes and works that try to do too much in their runtimes. For science fiction, they need to build a world, introduce characters, run a plot and add actions scenes in about a half and hour, which is pretty short to do all of those things. For horror, they often need to build a horror villain, introduce characters, and also slow things down to build in tension and scares, but also tend to be really, really short. So complicated characters, complicated plot, complicated worlds and no time to develop all of them properly. For horror, say what you will about the slasher movies but they really simplified the horror elements and characters a lot so that they could focus on the elements they wanted to focus on.
I’m not sure about how much the heist needed to be explained in Cyberpunk 2077 (haven’t played it) but I think from reading Shamus’ comment the big issue is that once you get out in the world it doesn’t seem like any of the participants were going to get anything they wanted out of it. In that case, you either need to explain better what they were trying for or else explain how everyone was actually fooled. Otherwise, people will keep waiting for some great twist because things are puzzling and if that isn’t delivered it will leave a sour taste in their mouth.
I’m trying to be extra-polite to Shamus, as its his blog and I can’t criticize deeply.
Shamus looks as this as though The Heist is a problem to be solved; he is trying to break it all down and demand why the character don’t see the obvious flaws. But that’s because the game is showing him this as a player. Yes, the *player* is supposed to know this will go wrong and have the uneasy feeling or even foreknowledge this is doomed ; the characters do not because they are greedy and foolish and ambitious and failed to see the angles. The trick the game does pull is that The Heist doesn’t go wrong in any of the obvious ways, and which then drives the story in a new direction.
Skimming the post again, though, it looks like his main discussion point is not that the heist shouldn’t have gone wrong. It’s that it wouldn’t have been successful even HAD it gone right, and he expresses some puzzlement over what the characters who are supposed to know what’s going on were actually intending. I don’t think he’s as much bothered by it as curious about it. As he notes specifically, the questions he raises could have been used to drive another story that would have worked as well. So the big questions here are: why did the organizers of this heist think that stealing this thing was at all worth it and going to be a big payoff? And from what others have said, there are ways to explain it, but to tie it back to explaining things a writer might well want to explain some things like that (for example, the idea I’ve seen here that they all thought that it was a Relic which would provide a big payoff and it turns out that it actually wasn’t).
The relic legitimately is worth a fortune. They just didn’t realize how much trouble they’d be calling down on themselves in the process, and had no way of quickly monetizing it.
” I don’t think he’s as much bothered by it as curious about it. ”
Correct. The story is fine, I just enjoy probing the edges and speculating on alternate scenarios.
When she shows up in the tutorial without any previous acknowledgment I was like who the f*ck is this, should I know her? They could have introduced her better too
Nope, I dont think Jackie would have survived. He died from a gut wound.. Johnny Silverhand would have been like “I’m alive.. Oh, Im dying from a gut wound. *blergh*”. But V died from brain trauma and by luck (and DeShawn’s crappy gun which he named “Plan B”) it did just enough damage that the chip detected the host body as a relatively blank slate but not properly dead yet.
So I finally get around to playing this game, and I too was bothered by Act I. But my problem is a completely different one…
V has a fancy camera in his eye!!!
Do you mean to tell me that while he was a meter away from a murder, he didn’t think to push the record button?!? The later Arasaka plots hinge on V being “questioned”, but he should absolutely have still pictures if not video of the murder. T-Bug (who disappears completely) should at least have an audio recording in the servers next to her corpse. The second he sees Dexter, the message should have been “forget the chip, I have something a hell of a lot more valuable”.
Act 2 should have been finding out how much would the various factions of Arasaka (not to mention its enemies) pay for the recording and would V be killed before he gets the money?
It’s a big enough plot crater that I wonder if the initial ripperdoc introduction at Vic’s was initially supposed to come after the betrayal. Say you were shot in the eye and needed a new one. The gameplay problem that leads to is you spend the entire first act without a hud. That could be worked around (fancy glasses? combat contacts?), but artificially saying “you can’t buy this cyberware yet no matter what you do” might be trickier mechanically.
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