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Concerns for V Character development

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Dear CD Project Red Cyberpunk 2077 developers,

I, like many others, have been blown away by the spectacle of your latest trailer. Not only did we get a glimpse of the Cyberpunk 2077 world, but we also got to truly see the vision you had for the world. The world you've painted is beautiful but dangerous, ugly but elegant, full of life and death in each set piece you've created.

Now then, gameplay looks phenomenal, but gameplay encompasses multiple different areas. Guns, mods, and the UI look great and while I do have questions like if there will be options to change colors for the UI, I think my primary concern is the gameplay revolving the story.


First was the dialog options.

From what I saw with the Dialog options, most of the options were fairly dull. While I don't mean to compare a demo to a complete game, I still could not help but see inklings of "Mass Effect 3" when it came to your dialog. I saw "Yes" options, "No Options", and then inquire options, similar to how many of the dialog options in Mass Effect 3 ended up becoming. That being said, it has been known that Bioware was rushed so, knowing your patience when it comes to releasing games, the comparison is not fair. What is fair, however, is the comparison to your previous series, The Witcher.

In your Witcher series, Geralt was a man with little words, but a lot of personality. Geralt was great and the sparse dialog choices make sense for your game. Unfortunately, Cyberpunk 2077 is NOT about another Geralt. The dialog options seemed very limiting when in the thick of things and while there was choice in how to deal with missions (Such as with the option of taking guns out of people's hands or doing things while talking and the like), the dialog seemed to surround itself on a set idea of who V happens to be. From the dialog alone, I felt like I knew V. I felt like V already had a history. It was well written; simplicity is beauty.

But I don't want to play V. I want to MAKE my own V.

The dialog has set her down a path as a spunky and foul mouthed character. What if I wanted to play someone who was more soft spoken and cruel? What if I want to play a psycho that makes people feel jittered. What if I wanted to be a literal rockerboy with a more "I wanna live for the music"? There seem to be no dialog options for that.


Secondly, I had issues with the perception of choice.

Given the microcosm of what you had shown, there are definite options that lead to player choice. How one plays the game seems quite expansive, especially in how to deal with encounters. What seems to be troubling is the perception that seems to pervade this choice. Giving players option in choosing to shoot the man in the head vs talking the man down seems very scripted. Why do I need to interact with the man at all?

You provided the story bit where V needed to go through hoops and ladders to eventually grab a mila-tech robot. You provided quite a lot of deviations in the quest, but while the choices all seem interesting, they all seem to feel flat when it comes to providing actual choice. Sure, we can decide how I get the bot, or if I make friends with the gang, or if I make the corp-rat lady take a bullet, and all that, but does it really change anything?

In the end, it still seems like there's going to be the "main quest" of V's tale, a quest that I ultimately cannot change. Granted, this was a very extensive slice. I have never seen a demo that truly made me feel this giddy. Then again, cynicism reminds me of other games that promise me infinite possibilities. Like the ultimate story for V, is the choice just an illusion? What does it matter if I piss of Corpo's or the gangs. You mentioned depending on what happens in quests, we change the world, but does having a Corp security squad hunting me down any different from getting attacked by street gangs. Or, say, we go into a mission and someone doesn't like me or won't work with me due to a past choice I made. It's still not a change because I still have to play the mission. I have only been provided a deviation, a small twig that will inevitably still stem down the same path. No change has truly been made.



Ultimately, I love this gameplay trailer. I may have given a lot of options/ideas of characters, but ultimately, I already know I want to be someone that wants to rise high in the corporate ladder. My thoughts, however, keep me from truly buying the mention of choice and "changing the world of 2077" or "making your own V" are these little ticks that seem to indicate that all that's being done is surface level. I worry that Cyberpunk 2077 will fall short in the story department and the gameplay revolving around it.


Hopefully someone from the dev team will read this. I mean no harm, no hate or ill will. I love what you've done and I hope that my words will have something that may resonate and help you for the future.


Thank you
From,
A Concerned and Well Meaning Fan
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Addendum: I feel like I'm saying nonsense
 
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I'm not sure it's quite that simple but in essence that sounds about right.
My concerns still stand. If this is just a side mission, I hope that's the case. It would help explain why the progression was so cut and dry.

If this mission was a main quest story, my concern still stands. I do hope there are quests that help develop V. I'd love to make him or her different than how he or she starts out or start out in a different manner than was shown here.
 
I'm not sure it's quite that simple but in essence that sounds about right.
July 1/18 Vattier: "Your reputation will be measured by a general Street Cred - reflecting how you're seen by the street. You will be able to increase it through side missions and it will allow you to unlock access to additional content, such as new shops or new missions."
 
Though I agree with most of what you're saying, games mostly rely on starting from nothing and emerging victorious through trial and tribulation. It's the underdog winning bit that gets people's attention. Ultimately, the choice of how you do the mission is yours but the end result isn't determined by you. The mission is given to you with a specific requirement to complete successfully or fail miserably. Another option would be to opt out and decide to do neither or enlist/trick/pay/blackmail a third party to do your dirty work for you. All of these results would indeed have a scripted ending based on completion parameters which essentially is out of your control no matter what you choose. There are a limited number of results to a limited number of ending scenarios.

This being said, multiple endings to the "main quest" is the only answer to this situation. Your choices throughout the game will lead you to these results determining the resolution. I suspect your choices will lead you down the road to the favor of several different factions at play and based on this result your ending is determined.

Side quests and playing faction favor will be entirely in your control and being this is an open world I would presume there will be unscripted instance areas (random encounters if you will) for the factions that will bid you to make your decisions based on dialogue choices and hopefully these dialogue choices will be based on your affiliation with said faction whether you're sided with them, against, or neutral.

Regardless, the trailer is intriguing and being a PnP player of Shadowrun I think they're on the right road. I would like to see the hacking aspect take on a completely different appearance however. The table top explains hacking or "jacking in" akin to entering a completely digital world and leaving your body behind enabling you to complete tasks in a fraction of real world time since you are completely immersed. This would of course be an option only if you have the necessary skills or cyberware. It's still early so I guess we'll see about that.
 
You do realize that the whole demo was scripted and staged to showcase what is currently in development?

Nothing about what you viewed is currently representative of final gameplay. I don't think they could have stressed that any more than they did. What you're trying to push here is less constructive than it is helpful. There aren't many games where you can "change" the main story arc. You're playing that story the way you want but the story is not yours to decide.

Choice is how you go about accomplishing the given goals.

"Get to the meeting point."

A: Take the bus
B: Drive
C: Catch a cab

If you decided not to go then there is no story.

That demo showcased only one small portion of the game. You're putting criticism on things you have no clue about right now. None of us do! They can't show you the full ramification tree of deciding to call the Corp agent, that's absurd to think they could or even would.

They never told us what effects character creation will have on anything.
They never indicated whether or not the character's arrival into the city has anything to do with their growth in it.
They never said the dialogue choices were indicative of the final product. In fact they said the complete opposite.
The Witcher series of games all had Yes/No/Inquire dialogue options but it was all done much better than ME3 (which was from a totally different company as you pointed out). Not only does CDPR have a TOTALLY different approach to story telling they also have their own style which has been showcased in multiple games.

This was a demo about gameplay. That's why it says "Gameplay" as part of the description. We can only examine the game play mechanics such as shooting, driving, moving, a pre-selected set of skills and abilities. If the demo released was identified as "Character Interaction" then all we could examine would be the interactions of the characters, the user, and the world.

It was said that your choices have impact on the world and story. Give them time to explain what all of that means before you start saying things like "It fell flat" to your reaction at a linear demonstration of a game at its current state of build.
 
You do realize that the whole demo was scripted and staged to showcase what is currently in development?

Nothing about what you viewed is currently representative of final gameplay. I don't think they could have stressed that any more than they did. What you're trying to push here is less constructive than it is helpful. There aren't many games where you can "change" the main story arc. You're playing that story the way you want but the story is not yours to decide.

Choice is how you go about accomplishing the given goals.

"Get to the meeting point."

A: Take the bus
B: Drive
C: Catch a cab

If you decided not to go then there is no story.

That demo showcased only one small portion of the game. You're putting criticism on things you have no clue about right now. None of us do! They can't show you the full ramification tree of deciding to call the Corp agent, that's absurd to think they could or even would.

They never told us what effects character creation will have on anything.
They never indicated whether or not the character's arrival into the city has anything to do with their growth in it.
They never said the dialogue choices were indicative of the final product. In fact they said the complete opposite.
The Witcher series of games all had Yes/No/Inquire dialogue options but it was all done much better than ME3 (which was from a totally different company as you pointed out). Not only does CDPR have a TOTALLY different approach to story telling they also have their own style which has been showcased in multiple games.

This was a demo about gameplay. That's why it says "Gameplay" as part of the description. We can only examine the game play mechanics such as shooting, driving, moving, a pre-selected set of skills and abilities. If the demo released was identified as "Character Interaction" then all we could examine would be the interactions of the characters, the user, and the world.

It was said that your choices have impact on the world and story. Give them time to explain what all of that means before you start saying things like "It fell flat" to your reaction at a linear demonstration of a game at its current state of build.
I feel like your words come from the right place, but don't defend CD Project Red. I will see and observe. That is what I observed from this limited demo, this very beautiful vertical slice. Amidst the good, I still want to express concern that I hope does not happen. That was my intention and my want. If their gameplay doesn't align with my desire for this game, then I will look else where.

I do not understand sudden need to defend against my expressed concern. For the record, if they do provide a showing for story, then this concern is here for both me and others. We shall see where things go. Just because they did one game incredibly doesn't mean I will automatically think they will do the next game as well. (Though fingers crossed because this looks good)
 
I feel like your words come from the right place, but don't defend CD Project Red. I will see and observe. That is what I observed from this limited demo, this very beautiful vertical slice. Amidst the good, I still want to express concern that I hope does not happen. That was my intention and my want. If their gameplay doesn't align with my desire for this game, then I will look else where.

I do not understand sudden need to defend against my expressed concern. For the record, if they do provide a showing for story, then this concern is here for both me and others. We shall see where things go. Just because they did one game incredibly doesn't mean I will automatically think they will do the next game as well. (Though fingers crossed because this looks good)
Oh, of course. I'm not defending CDPR. I try not to defend things in general. The work speaks for its self. If it does indeed fall flat it does so because it lacks the structure needed to weather the storm; I won't hold it up.

Judging at the current moment, on the current information provided, feels immature. Even speculating is something I will caution people against.

Just because someone watched an example of how a bishop operates on a chess board doesn't mean they can draw any meaningful conclusions about the whole game of chess.

We were given only what they wanted us to see. From that we can reasonably talk about what was shown. Of that was a limited dialogue system that put more emphasis on the cyberpunk motto of "High-tech, low-life" than it did at giving us a glimpse of what it means to involve yourself in a face to face deal with a corporation. We weren't supposed to see any of the intricacies of dialogue or what value words and actions have. The message there was to just wait and see what they have to show, when they decided to show it. Getting concerned at this point is worry no one needs on their shoulders. Wait until we can make a more informed, less rhetorical, questionnaire of things to be addressed; when the final product is closer to what you will get than not.
 
Oh, of course. I'm not defending CDPR. I try not to defend things in general. The work speaks for its self. If it does indeed fall flat it does so because it lacks the structure needed to weather the storm; I won't hold it up.

Judging at the current moment, on the current information provided, feels immature. Even speculating is something I will caution people against.

Just because someone watched an example of how a bishop operates on a chess board doesn't mean they can draw any meaningful conclusions about the whole game of chess.

We were given only what they wanted us to see. From that we can reasonably talk about what was shown. Of that was a limited dialogue system that put more emphasis on the cyberpunk motto of "High-tech, low-life" than it did at giving us a glimpse of what it means to involve yourself in a face to face deal with a corporation. We weren't supposed to see any of the intricacies of dialogue or what value words and actions have. The message there was to just wait and see what they have to show, when they decided to show it. Getting concerned at this point is worry no one needs on their shoulders. Wait until we can make a more informed, less rhetorical, questionnaire of things to be addressed; when the final product is closer to what you will get than not.
Indeed. I was thinking the whole "High-tech, low-life" was pretty much shown. My hope is that the background truly changes how V acts (As stated earlier). They have a lot to do.
 
Indeed. I was thinking the whole "High-tech, low-life" was pretty much shown. My hope is that the background truly changes how V acts (As stated earlier). They have a lot to do.
In the Unofficial Q&A on this forum is a tid-bit about how character creation will shape how V sees the world. The classified portion played will ask abnormal questions to further create a history and how that will effect you and the world. I.E. "Who was your favorite superhero as a child?"

A lot to do is probably an understatement. The demo was polished to a point CDPR found acceptable for what they intended. The full game will be out when its ready. We have time, no reason to get worried here at the beginning.
 
While I can understand taking the point of view that this was a heavily scripted sequence meant to show off gameplay and not story and/or, characterization, /v/'s behavior and mannerisms are still worryingly set in stone. This is where a voiced protagonist is as much a bonus for some as a burden for others, but the unprompted quips, lack of vision over what exact words an option represent, and firmly established characterization permeating every picked option -not to mention the absence of multiple deliveries for the same choice- still restrict V to a mold.
 
A lot of the demo felt like it was from the very beginning of the game, designed to ease you in. The White Orchard area if you will. I would expect the world to open up more after the first few hours and the player to be given more choice in terms of what they want to do and where they want to go.

In regard to V's character, I think I feel the opposite to this thread's author in that I want CDPR to give V a more defined personality. I do like games where I get to create a character from scratch, who is essentially a blank slate that I get to fill with my own conception of who they are. But I love a developed character who is deep and compelling, who has been crafted by someone who knows what they are doing. Who has a history that impacts on the world and your interactions with other characters.

I assume that is the reason for the various back story options during the character creation process but Bioware tried something like that with Dragon Age Origins and it didn't really go anywhere special.
 
While I can understand taking the point of view that this was a heavily scripted sequence meant to show off gameplay and not story and/or, characterization, /v/'s behavior and mannerisms are still worryingly set in stone. This is where a voiced protagonist is as much a bonus for some as a burden for others, but the unprompted quips, lack of vision over what exact words an option represent, and firmly established characterization permeating every picked option -not to mention the absence of multiple deliveries for the same choice- still restrict V to a mold.

All valid points. All points I consider need a little more clarification from CDPR also.

Voiced dialogue that doesn't match the written option I chose is a bad thing in my book. At that point I would much rather have descriptive words that would characterize the response given; Rebel, passive, caution, business, anger, fear.

At E3 the version of the game shown had an option where you could tell the leader of the Malestrom gang that there was a virus on the chip and he would be thankful about it and the whole deal would go totally different. BUT because its a demo, CDPR wanted to showcase as many aspects of the progress so far without committing to anything.

I kinda get the feeling that each conversation path has a large, but still limited, number of ways it could play out. There is still the character creator too. That could be the place where you can decide if V is a passive person or a snarky brat.
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A lot of the demo felt like it was from the very beginning of the game, designed to ease you in. The White Orchard area if you will. I would expect the world to open up more after the first few hours and the player to be given more choice in terms of what they want to do and where they want to go.

In regard to V's character, I think I feel the opposite to this thread's author in that I want CDPR to give V a more defined personality. I do like games where I get to create a character from scratch, who is essentially a blank slate that I get to fill with my own conception of who they are. But I love a developed character who is deep and compelling, who has been crafted by someone who knows what they are doing. Who has a history that impacts on the world and your interactions with other characters.

I assume that is the reason for the various back story options during the character creation process but Bioware tried something like that with Dragon Age Origins and it didn't really go anywhere special.
For a long time I was a little off put that Geralt was as set in stone as he was in the games. I wanted to take him to new places in character development and turn him into the person I thought he should be. After a while I came around to the idea that I was helping Geralt get to the end of his story, not living it myself. That's when the character design really made an impact on me and I really fell in love with how I was involved with the game.

That, I think, would be a very bad way to do this game. In the demo there are a few lines between V and Jackie that hint at the possibility that V, if not the both of them, are newcomers to Night City. A new face in an established city with an established personality and everything else....that'd feel wrong. V should be a character I can create and grow on my own without much more than a good set of basic backstory building blocks.
 
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There are two things here I think.

One is the options in the tone of V's lines, delivery, and how they behave in general.
The other is the more long term/long lasting matter of the consequences of their previous actions.

Both, naturally, intertwine; but they're still not quite the same. This post isn't very clear, but hopefully it's still relevant.

tl;dr:

  • Voice acting implies the VA interpretates/is directed in how they present V. Their getting in-character may clash with the desire to have multiple available characterizations represented during dialogue.
  • On the other hand, it might align with backstories/chargen "changing" how V will be outwardly (loud-mouth low-life/somewhat more professional not-quite-low-life/eccentric third option). That is, if the VA has to stick with a consistent interpretation, chargen choices open the possibility that they would have multiple choices for the same line... However unlikely this might be. This may be considered more of a cosmetic option, but I for one would greatly appreciate any such "meaningless" option, although I'd prefer them not backstory bound.
  • For non-meaningless consequences quest-wise, I don't think chargen will lock V into a given "follow your backstory" path, but instead they will impart an initial drive to V's first quests, which would then tie into how they get drawn into the main plot(s). Since V seems like they start from not much in the city, I hope this translates into a rather wide breadth of possible paths and, more importantly, player-driven characterization through choices.
  • We know for sure that missions can give us Street Cred, and Street Cred is how "the street" sees us. What we don't know is what Street Cred actually takes into account, how individual choices in treating a given NPC can play out, or whether our style (Kill everyone/Be quiet/Negotiate a lot) will unlock/lock doors.
  • We know stats (possibly skills, almost certainly knowledge of a given fact) may unlock options that would otherwise be hidden.
The bottom line for me is that I don't want the player's choices to be restrained to "This is something V might do", where there's one character direction permeating the whole game like Geralt would stay Geralt. What I really hope for is that they let us make V their own character through a playthrough's choices and lines, and not always be just a punk with a foul-mouth.

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July 1/18 Vattier: "Your reputation will be measured by a general Street Cred - reflecting how you're seen by the street. You will be able to increase it through side missions and it will allow you to unlock access to additional content, such as new shops or new missions."
Something this phrasing doesn't say is whether Street Cred is unidimensional or not. What about the consequences of taking the hard-ass approach as opposed to talking things over or being discrete? The impact on your image of flipping your vest when a second, better paying offer is made to you? Is that represented by secret meters reflecting your style, professionalism vs idealism? Is it on a case by case basis in parts of the city? Is it something that's not represented in the game?

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Voiced dialogue that doesn't match the written option I chose is a bad thing in my book. At that point I would much rather have descriptive words that would characterize the response given; Rebel, passive, caution, business, anger, fear.
Well, on an optimistic note, this is possibly simply because the demo was not set in stone. They might not have wanted to re-record or touch up the lines for the exhibition.

Still, such options are rarely seen because they are difficult to implement. Alpha Protocol did something like that, but from the get go the dialogue system was built with the reputation counters Thornton had with the various NPCs in mind, utilizing their dossiers and temperaments to get a particular reaction out of them.

To the best of my knowledge, there was no announcement concerning how personal responsibility reputation will be handled concerning the various parties/factions. Since 'Street Cred' is uncountable, it doesn't seem like it refers to individual dialogue options and is more of a "general reputation", which as aforementioned doesn't even tell us whether it takes our character choices into account.
On the level of the big picture, we know there are factions, we know we won't be able formally join them, but we don't know how we'll manage our ties with them.
On the level of individual conversations, we don't know anything. We don't know if we can piss off individual NPCs or butter them up with our smooth tongue without being tied to stats. We don't know if they plan to give us options that are ultimately roleplaying veneer that do not create deviations in the quest flowchart.

The thing is that these kind of options are rarely seen in voiced games because, I believe, voice acting is naturally expensive. It's often said that it puts a rather strong restriction on characterization and word count, and I believe that, but there's also the matter of delivery. There are some that prefer to change from femshap to maleshep for renegade/paragon plays because of that, which shows that whether they're successful or not, the VA will imprint their interpretation on the character. This makes it all the more difficult to have multiple dialogue options in conversation, because it may seem inconsistent to play up different characterization of the same character to the VA... which takes the player further from being able to characterize V as they'd like.

I assume that is the reason for the various back story options during the character creation process but Bioware tried something like that with Dragon Age Origins and it didn't really go anywhere special.
I kinda get the feeling that each conversation path has a large, but still limited, number of ways it could play out. There is still the character creator too. That could be the place where you can decide if V is a passive person or a snarky brat.
Possibly. Backstories from chargen dictating a set of character mannerisms are a way to offer choice, although I doubt it a little bit, as if it is where the game chooses, so to speak, which set of voice lines get loaded into memory, that'd be like picking your flavor for the rest of the game- not really what I think of as RP in an RPG. Better than being "just" the same V, of course.
I think it's more likely V's backstory will tie in their (initial) character drive instead and affinity for some NPCs.
That is, if it comes up as characterization options it might be more akin to tagged dialogue options. (See: SR etiquettes, Divinity:OS tags, Bioware style origins). Backstory and drive would then integrate with the hooks that'll constitute the initial parts of the game and then result in V getting drawn into the main plot(s) and conflicts.

Personally, I have doubts that character generation will be too major a long-term crossroads in terms of what the available paths will be. A questline tied to it- likely. Select options and acquaintances which may be exclusive in the common parts of the the game- also likely. But I don't think it'll change V's entire character on such a fundamental level. They don't strike me as as set in stone as, say, picking your clan in VTMB- that is, V might have had held a given opinion in the past in high regards, but still change their mind once confronted with the reality.

And while we may dismiss that approach as reminiscent of DA:O "It's not a tree so much as all roads lead to Rome", well, that one only time will tell.

>no more than 10k characters
Pah!
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I'm not too concerned about this personally, but then I've also come to accept that in video game RPG where the protagonist is fully voiced, you're going to have a very limited number of responses to any given situation. The necessary constraints imposed by having a fully voiced protagonist means that a player is going to have less freedom than they would in a pen & paper RPG or even a video game where all dialogue is rendered in text.

I think people that go into a CRPG expecting a similar level of freedom of a pen and paper RPG are setting themselves up for disappointment. That's simply an unobtainable goal for a video game developer, and always will be. The moment your DMing includes hours upon hours of programmers slaving over code and professional actors being hired to voice content, the level of freedom given to a player must be limited compared to pen & paper, where the only limitations are the players' imaginations.

I also prefer a fully voiced protagonist than one who speaks only in text. A fully voiced protagonist makes the game world feel that much more immersive and alive, and when well-acted, potentially gives the story much greater emotional impact than text could ever deliver. I'll gladly take that immersive and emotional storytelling over a blank slate protagonist that has a bit more freedom in dialogue options.

On that note I've always preferred Bioware and CD Projekt Red's approach to storytelling over Bethesda's, whose games i find rather dull no matter how well made.
 
Voiced dialogue that doesn't match the written option I chose is a bad thing in my book. At that point I would much rather have descriptive words that would characterize the response given; Rebel, passive, caution, business, anger, fear.
It that is done in an Elcor fashion from Mass Effect, why not, but if it means choosing "How" instead of choosing "What" you say, then it's a clear "No!" from me.
 
I also prefer a fully voiced protagonist than one who speaks only in text. A fully voiced protagonist makes the game world feel that much more immersive and alive, and when well-acted, potentially gives the story much greater emotional impact than text could ever deliver.
Yeah, I think Alyx Vance would agree with you, when she said in Half Life 2: "You're a man of few words."