Cyberpunk 2020 Creator Discusses Changes to Netrunning

While many gamers are getting excited about CD Projekt Red's upcoming Cyberpunk 2077, there are likely plenty of people still playing the original tabletop game. Cyberpunk 2020 was originally released nearly 30 years ago by creator Mike Pondsmith, who is playing a large role in the development of the upcoming video game. What some of you may not know, however, is the fact that he is also working on a new edition of the Cyberpunk tabletop RPG called Cyberpunk Red. During a recent interview with Eurogamer, Pondsmith discussed many topics set in the Cyberpunk universe, including how Netrunning will be receiving a bit of an update in the upcoming version.

For those who have played the original tabletop game, Netrunning was typically a boring part of the process, which involved going into cyberspace and doing random things. However, Pondsmith will be changing that in Cyberpunk Red in hopes that it will be more of an active mechanic.

"The biggest problem with Netrunning right now [in Cyberpunk 2020], is oddly enough the Gibson-esque worldview of Netrunning, which is you go out into a vast cyberspace, you fly around and you do things," Pondsmith said. "Case [the protagonist in Gibson’s famous novel Neuromancer] works doing that because that’s pretty much what everybody does. But if you do that in the context of a game, everybody goes, ‘okay I’m gonna go get a beer, Netrunner’s going in, anybody need pizza?’ and they’re gone.

"So one of the biggest things for us when we went into it was we needed to get the net back into a box that was usable. To that, and you’ll see this extremely well done in Red, is we needed to force the Netrunner to be with the group. He can’t sit back in his comfy chair with his keyboard and say ‘go to the fifth level and open the door’. No, he has to go in there. You have to be under risk."

Pondsmith then went on to discuss how he plans to change that in the upcoming edition of Cyberpunk. "So I spent a lot of time studying computer architectures and I have two friends who specialise in computer security systems, so I said, ‘okay, so tell me how I can screw myself and give me some goal plans here,’ and they helped me design stuff that forced the Netrunner to be there, better toward how it works and that sort of thing," he said.

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"It’s not super realistic but it’s realistic enough. And that informed a lot of what goes on in what you saw today, in that people are doing hacks very close to the runner, they’re doing hacks of stuff, they’re not flying through cyberspace. When our hero goes to one particular area and they go to the wider net, that is rare. That is insanely rare. That’s like saying, ‘okay, by the way we’re going to now get on the jet plane and we’re going to fly to the moon.’ It is very much right there, it’s gonna come and bite you in the face."

What do you think about all of this? Have you played the original Cyberpunk tabletop RPG? Do you plan on doing so before Cyberpunk 2077 arrives next April? Sound off in the comment section below, or feel free to hit me up over on Twitter @anarkE7!

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