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CD Projekt Blog on Implementing Pen and Paper Mechanics in Computer Game

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CD Projekt Blog on Implementing Pen and Paper Mechanics in Computer Game

Editorial - posted by Crooked Bee on Fri 19 October 2012, 09:14:37

Tags: CD Projekt; Cyberpunk 2077

In other CD Projekt RED news, the company's blog has a new entry related to the newly announced Cyberpunk 2027 RPG, based on the Cyberpunk PnP system. The entry is entitled "Implementing Pen & Paper Mechanisms Into a Computer Game." It's pretty short so I'll quote it in full here:

At first glance it may seem that there’s nothing easier than creating a video game based on an existing RPG system like Cyberpunk® 2020. After all, we already have all the mechanics prepared and ready to use in the game. As simple as it sounds, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

The pen & paper game rules are designed to give players as much flexibility as possible. They are more like a set of guidelines which players are at liberty to bend to their liking. Improvisation, dropping rules or adding new ones is a common practice for pen & paper games. This principle applies not only to gameplay rules, like combat or skill tests, but also to character customization. Players are limited only by common sense, the agreement of the group and their imagination.

Video games, on the other hand, do not have that much flexibility. Every element has to be accounted for and carefully designed. Of course, modern AAA RPG games, like The Witcher 2 or the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077, can give the Player lots of freedom. But the underlying mechanics are adhering to very strict rules and if an action or option wasn’t implemented in the code, then the player will not be able to do it. The same principle applies to character customization – the player can do only as much as game allows him to. So if game designers decide that it is not possible to play as an ugly midget you will not be able to play one. Sorry Tyrion Lannister fans.

This is why adapting pen & paper rules to video game is not as easy as it can appear at first glance. The flexibility of an in-person RPG has to be replaced with a strict set of rules. Every skill, attribute and game mechanic has to have a clear definition and place in the game. For example, the Cyberpunk® 2020 “Wardrobe & Style” skill governs the knowledge about the right clothes to wear, when to wear them and how to look cool even in a spacesuit. As you can see, this skill covers quite a big area of lore and can be interpreted differently, depending on the situation and the players. In Cyberpunk 2077 this skill has to be tied to a specific gameplay mechanic. And all of these mechanics have to be clearly defined so they can work well with other elements of the game and, at the same time, be easy to understand for the player. After all, we don’t have a referee or game master to explain or interpret the rules as you go. And, to accommodate your curiosity, yes, we have some really cool ideas on how to present aforementioned skill in the game. Regrettably, we’re not quite yet ready to spill the beans.

For hardcore Cyberpunk 2020 fans out there, twiddling with rules in such a way may seem like blasphemy. But rest assured that we are working very closely with Mike Pondsmith to ensure that the unique feel of the original, paper game is preserved intact. Of course we may need to change some things, add new elements or even drop the ones that simply do not work in a video game (“Geology” skill anyone?).

Of course, the topic raised today is only the tip of an iceberg and you probably have tons of questions. Unfortunately, we are not ready to reveal more details at the moment. Nevertheless, we’ll be more than happy to read your comments so feel free to drop them below and stay tuned. When we’re ready, we will surely share more information with you. Be patient and remember: Attitude is Everything!​

In short, just like The Witcher 2, Cyberpunk 2077 will give the player a lot of freedom. CD Projekt: setting players free since 2007.

There are 12 comments on CD Projekt Blog on Implementing Pen and Paper Mechanics in Computer Game

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