Home Forums Sci Fi General Sci-Fi Where are you getting cyberpunk inspiration right now?

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  • #135761
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    I’ve been in a cyberpunk mood for the last few weeks. Now where to get my next fix of inspiration for the genre?

    I bought Reality’s Edge on PDF during the Osprey sale. Slightly disappointed that it has no photos of miniatures and scenery (I always love seeing “studio quality” miniatures gaming set-ups) but OTOH, the artwork in it is par excellence, and there’s more of it than you tend to see in other Osprey rulesets.

    I watched S2 of Altered Carbon when it premiered. It felt less cyberpunky than I had hoped. What I enjoyed about S1 was how unreservedly committed it was to being a trope-filled cyberpunk genre romp. S2 went in a different direction. Maybe I’ll watch S1 again. Or the animated spin-off film, haven’t seen that one yet.

    I’m watching the latest Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex series (the Netflix original one) right now, and expect to have finished it by tomorrow, if not tonight. I’m not really on board with the way anime in general is pivoting from hand-drawn frames to full CGI nowadays, but still, this is a good anime series in line with the previous GITS: SAC productions in terms of general vibe. The SAC timeline might actually be my favourite GITS timeline, now I think about it.

    Of course I’m eagerly awaiting Cyberpunk 2077 like most other people with the slightest interest in role-playing video games right now. It looks set to be a contender for Game Of The Year… assuming they still manage to release it this year.

    And no, I’ve never read any of the “original” or “defining” books of the genre, aside from an abortive attempt at Neuromancer. I’m not really looking for books right now anyway. There’s already a backlog of both classic space opera novels and military sci-fi novels I need to get through.

    And while writing this post I went ahead and bought Cyberpunk Red (the latest version of the Cyberpunk tabletop RPG) on DriveThru, just to take in the lore and artwork.

    Really feeling the cyberpunk right now! Need more!

    #135763
    Thomaston
    Participant

    There’s a season 2 of Altered Carbon?

    Tired is enough.

    #135765
    irishserb
    Participant

    Hey Rhoderic, thanks for mentioning Ghost int he Shell, I need to take a look at that.

    I really enjoyed the first Altered Carbon, but the second series just didn’t capture me, unfortunately.

    #135798
    Jason Smith
    Participant

    I made a new cyberpunk minis game (“Chrome Hammer”). I don’t know if it would inspire so much, but it is itself inspired by the computer game “Satellite Reign”, which is a cool cyberpunk game.

    And yeah, I liked Altered Carbon S2 well enough, but it seemed more “trans-human” than “cyberpunk” (even though there’s plenty of room for overlap).

    #135813
    Thorsten Frank
    Participant

    From the optics and style certainly computer games. Jason mentioned Satellite Reign which was a really good one. There exists a special edition with an introductionary novel as PDF. Another nice example is RUINER. But beware it´s an action game and for guys like me, nearing the half century, it is sometimes a bit to  … demanding.  But the scenery is simply great. Also nice is DEX, a platformer/RPG-mix.
    A few other examples, which I haven´t played (yet) are Observer, NeoCab and Gemini Rue.
    What I´ve played is the classic Blade Runner game by Westwood from the mid-90s and it was really good. As far as I know some of the classic publishers has brought it again either or both to Steam and/or GOG.  And I think both movies are very high on the list.
    Then there are the Deus Ex games. The first one and DX: Human Revolution are really excellent.

    Luckily for all the games are YT videos online either playthroughs or the respective intros which give often enough inspiration.

    I noticed the lack of photos in Reality´s Edge too. I haven´t played it yet and can´t say much if it fits or not. Either way there are some interesting rule mechanics.
    I wonder why some of the authors not follow Robey Jenkins example in Horizon Wars and give some examples of suitable manufacturers for minis.

    "In strange grammar this one writes" - Master Yoda

    #135816
    Jason Smith
    Participant

    Ooh, RUINER is very stylish! And now I have to go find NeoCab!

    [Thorsten, RUINER vexed me until I went all melee and just spammed the crap out of things! :)]

    #135848
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    Well, I watched Johnny Mnemonic last night, for the first time since the mid-90s. I generally remembered it being bad, but despite being aware of its terrible reputation I had forgotten just how awful it truly is. I almost feel the urge to start up an “intentionally crap cyberpunk” project in 28mm or 15mm, separate from my other cyberpunk projects, in honour of this piece of cinematic malware that’s now back in my brain

    Thanks for the video game tips, everyone. Satellite Reign has come up in discussions here on TWW in the past and I’ve been meaning to check it out. I have the most recent Deus Ex game on console (bought in a digital sale) but I’ve been buying too many old games on sale and they all take a very long time to play through, so I haven’t gotten to that one yet. I really should make time for it soon, because it’ll probably be less exciting to play once Cyberpunk 2077 is out. The other games mentioned in this thread are new to me. Any that are too action-oriented for my tastes (or that require a high-performance PC) I can check out on YouTube or Twitch. It’s mainly the visual/narrative/worldbuilding inspiration I crave, rather than the gameplay itself. Another new cyberpunk indie video game that popped up on my radar just a few days ago is Cloudpunk. This is a non-action-oriented one about city exploration in a flying car, Blade Runner-style.

     

    There’s a season 2 of Altered Carbon?

    Yes, and a stand-alone anime film. Where S1 of the series is set on a heavily urbanised, cyberpunk-vibing Earth and only brings up the non-cyberpunk elements of the setting (extinct aliens and the mysterious technology they left behind) in passing, S2 is set on another planet with more of an “outer colony” vibe and focuses more heavily on the legacy of the aliens. It’s still “sorta kinda” cyberpunk, but in a more diluted way. Joel Kinnaman isn’t in it anymore, BTW.

    I also got around to watching the anime film last night. On the whole I liked it (despite it being another full-CGI production), but then I’m a long-time anime aficionado and quite inured to the occasional weirdness of the genre. It’s also set on another planet, but even so, unlike S2 of the series, this film feels superlatively cyberpunk. That’s all I wanted from it, really, so I’m content. I don’t even mind that some scenes are shameless Ghost In The Shell rip-offs. Being an anime it doesn’t try very hard to be stylistically consistent with the American live-action series it’s meant to share a universe with, but never mind that – just enjoy it for the tropey genre romp that it is.

     

    Hey Rhoderic, thanks for mentioning Ghost int he Shell, I need to take a look at that.

    You’re welcs. Just in case it needs pointing out more directly, the new Netflix series (Ghost In The Shell: SAC_2045) isn’t the first installment in the Stand Alone Complex continuity. There are two previous series and a film (all of which I thoroughly enjoyed) from some 15 years back. Still, any one of these installments can be watched as a stand-alone (go figure) as long as you have a basic knowledge of the classic GITS premise and characters in general.

    All this is reminding me that there are a couple of other films and series in the grand, multi-continuity GITS franchise I haven’t watched or finished yet. How many different continuities is it up to by now? I count five or six, and that’s looking only at the films and TV/net/OVA series.

     

    I made a new cyberpunk minis game (“Chrome Hammer”).

    Purchased! I’ve not read it yet, but I already appreciate the effort you put in to decorate the ruleset with inspirational “in-world” photos of miniatures and terrain. There are good terrain-building ideas in there.

    #135850
    Thorsten Frank
    Participant

    Uh, I just watched a let´s play of Cloudpunk and this looks really interesting especially from it´s design. Thx for this tip.

    "In strange grammar this one writes" - Master Yoda

    #135851
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    Uh, I just watched a let´s play of Cloudpunk and this looks really interesting especially from it´s design. Thx for this tip.

    I’ve only just now realised that Cloudpunk partially uses voxel-based graphics. That’s made it less interesting to me 😐

    #135852
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    I’ll 2nd or 3rd Satellite Reign, it’s a great game and has some great environments.

    There’s also Frozen Synapse, though more for the Big Brother Is Watching/Vive Le Revolution than the graphics.  I’ve been playing Cloudpunk, and it’s very chill.  Nothing really but fetch quests (so far) but despite the environment being voxel based and having that 8-bit look it is quite enchanting (whoever programmed the camera angles is a genius, there are some magnificent vistas).  There are a lot of areas that would be perfect for table top gaming.

    Haven’t gotten to Ruiner yet, though it’s on my wish list.  Deus Ex as said above is fantastic!

    There are several renditions of the Appleseed movie out there, some are good, some are meh, and they’re more “edenpunk” than gritty cyberpunk, but still some cool stuff in them.

    Battle Angel Alita can be considered a little cyberpunky, as can Elysium, Repo Men, Akira, Paris 2054: Renaissance, Nemesis (the 1992 movie, not good) and Liquid Sky (the most 80’s CP movie ever, just horrible, but very in the spirit of CP2013 when it was written).

    To be honest, I don’t think there has ever been a movie that has been more Cyberpunk (as in the game) than Blade Runner and 2049.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #135853
    Mike
    Keymaster

    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0470752/

    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1971325/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_22

    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1823672/

     

     

    Not sure if these are true cyberpunk in terms of style, but they do make you question what it is to be human, which is surely cyberpunk in nature?

    #135854
    Mike
    Keymaster

    For giggles, Lawnmower Man?

    😐

    #135878
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    Chappie for sure is CP, in a big way.

    It’s been so long I can’t remember much about Lawnmower Man.  Though the movie Sneakers (with Robert Redford) would be excellent cyberpunk if they just put it in a future setting.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #135888
    Thaddeus Blanchette
    Participant

    Looking out my window, to tell the truth.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #135900
    Mike
    Keymaster

    This had me thinking, what is cyberpunk.

    For me there needs to be at least tech that questions what it is to be human.
    But many films have this that I would not class as cyberpunk.
    Terminator, In Time, and 2001 for example?

    Is it the setting then, or maybe the punk.
    Does there need to be ‘The Man’ in some form that people are rebelling against, be that the traditional government or corporations?

    I am not sure.

    Oh this is not a terrible film either:

    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0986263/

    #135903
    Thuseld
    Participant

    This might be slightly different, but there is a YouTuber named “Astral Throb” who puts together Synthwave/Chillwave/Darksynthwave music mixes. They are excellent for getting into the Cyberpunk mood. Some are very “this is someone escaping from the Man to avoid cyborg organ harvesting” while others are “this is someone living off in the wilderness, trying to survive in what remains”. I cannot get enough of them. When I play any Starport Scum games I put these on. When painting Sci fi miniatures, I put these on. They are very Bladerunner in my opinion.

    #135904
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    This had me thinking, what is cyberpunk. For me there needs to be at least tech that questions what it is to be human. But many films have this that I would not class as cyberpunk. Terminator, In Time, and 2001 for example? Is it the setting then, or maybe the punk. Does there need to be ‘The Man’ in some form that people are rebelling against, be that the traditional government or corporations? I am not sure.

    I might define cyberpunk in different ways in different contexts, but in the context of miniatures/tabletop gaming, it’s mainly just a certain look and a certain mood. “High tech and low life”, as they say. The more tropes, the better. I want it to be a genre romp the same way I want swords-and-sorcery, gothic horror or spaghetti westerns to be genre romps.

    To communicate my idea of “what’s cyberpunk” in this context, I would point to the trailers for Cyberpunk 2077, and the artwork in Reality’s Edge and Cyberpunk Red (much of which can be viewed with a Google image search, as the publishers have been using their respective artwork for promotional purposes). All of these have in common that they harvest ideas from other, more original sources of the genre (a bit of GITS, a bit of Blade Runner, a bit of William Gibson, etc.) and condense them all in a very trope-affirming way. Which to me is a good thing.

     

    This might be slightly different, but there is a YouTuber named “Astral Throb” who puts together Synthwave/Chillwave/Darksynthwave music mixes. They are excellent for getting into the Cyberpunk mood. Some are very “this is someone escaping from the Man to avoid cyborg organ harvesting” while others are “this is someone living off in the wilderness, trying to survive in what remains”. I cannot get enough of them. When I play any Starport Scum games I put these on. When painting Sci fi miniatures, I put these on. They are very Bladerunner in my opinion.

    Checking it out now. Normally I’m more of a lofi/chillhop/jazzhop person when it comes to YouTube-sourced background music, but said genre is not terribly cyberpunk-conducive.

    #135910
    Thorsten Frank
    Participant
    “High tech and low life”, as they say. The more tropes, the better. I want it to be a genre romp the same way I want swords-and-sorcery, gothic horror or spaghetti westerns to be genre romps. To communicate my idea of “what’s cyberpunk” in this context, I would point to the trailers for Cyberpunk 2077, and the artwork in Reality’s Edge and Cyberpunk Red (much of which can be viewed with a Google image search, as the publishers have been using their respective artwork for promotional purposes). All of these have in common that they harvest ideas from other, more original sources of the genre (a bit of GITS, a bit of Blade Runner, a bit of William Gibson, etc.) and condense them all in a very trope-affirming way. Which to me is a good thing.

    This! The high-tech low-life aspect is the most defining aspect of the genre. The protagonists aren´t the shining heroes saving the world – they are people on the edge of society striving for survival in an increasingly inhuman world. Some people here, in a way, are living this right now. Again, in a way. This is the “punk” aspect of it.
    Bruce Sterling´s Islands in the Net is an example of a world very close to our current one (it is set in the year 2023) and made a lot of correct predictions of our current world.
    The borders to other science-fiction genres are blurry. One could say that the Traveller RPG fits in the same model. Or to take another and closer example the GURPS Transhuman Space  series which is very close to the Cyberpunk genre with most of the technology but not as gritty and dark (well, mostly). The closest TV-Show to ThS is surely The Expanse.

    @Mike: BTW, I would love to see a similar flood of source material for Burning Sands/sword and sorcery….

    Rhoderic, I don´t know if you´ve checked out the various short films that are on YT – some are really good.
    And speaking of music, the YT musician Antti Martikainen made a whole series of dedicated Cyberpunk music a few years ago. He seems to be an sci-fi/fantasy/RPG fan too if you take a look on his works.

    "In strange grammar this one writes" - Master Yoda

    #135924
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    Does anyone know of any inspirational cyberpunk comics? I know there’s some manga (the works of Masamune Shirow first and foremost), but what about western comics? I’ve Googled it, and some titles have come up, but these include Judge Dredd which suggests to me that some of the recommendations are based on a rather fuzzy definition of cyberpunk.

     

    “High tech and low life”, as they say. The more tropes, the better. I want it to be a genre romp the same way I want swords-and-sorcery, gothic horror or spaghetti westerns to be genre romps. To communicate my idea of “what’s cyberpunk” in this context, I would point to the trailers for Cyberpunk 2077, and the artwork in Reality’s Edge and Cyberpunk Red (much of which can be viewed with a Google image search, as the publishers have been using their respective artwork for promotional purposes). All of these have in common that they harvest ideas from other, more original sources of the genre (a bit of GITS, a bit of Blade Runner, a bit of William Gibson, etc.) and condense them all in a very trope-affirming way. Which to me is a good thing.

    This! The high-tech low-life aspect is the most defining aspect of the genre. The protagonists aren´t the shining heroes saving the world – they are people on the edge of society striving for survival in an increasingly inhuman world. Some people here, in a way, are living this right now. Again, in a way. This is the “punk” aspect of it.

    This reminds me of another cyberpunk TTRPG I bought some years back. I don’t recall its name and I might have lost the PDFs by now, but it was an indie title. Anyway, a central element of the game design was that the player characters are meant to be “taking knocks” constantly. If they’re regularly able to walk away without bloody noses, the whole thing is being GM’ed wrong. This, according to the game designer, is one of the defining aspects of cyberpunk in general. It’s meant to be a rough, hardscrabble life. You have to grit your teeth through the pain or it ain’t cyberpunk. Now, I’m not entirely sure that I agree with this philosophy in its most absolute form, but it’s an interesting one to contemplate, and it does suggest at least something nebulous about the heart and soul of the genre.

     

    Rhoderic, I don´t know if you´ve checked out the various short films that are on YT – some are really good.

    I’ve seen a few of the DUST ones, including one or two that were cyberpunk-themed. A quick YouTube search for “cyberpunk short” brings up a bunch of other, non-DUST ones. Seems to be a mixed bag, but even the more corny ones have some interesting ideas and inspiration for tabletop gaming. And really, I suspect that most sessions of cyberpunk tabletop gaming would translate into very corny films at best. (“Look at me, I’ve got a trenchcoat and a katana and a pair of sunglasses that go bleep bloop! Aren’t I cool?”) 😀

    Thanks for the suggestion.

    #135927
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    And really, I suspect that most sessions of cyberpunk tabletop gaming would translate into very corny films at best. (“Look at me, I’ve got a trenchcoat and a katana and a pair of sunglasses that go bleep bloop! Aren’t I cool?”)

      I can tell you that in almost every CP game I have ever run a PC has tried to carry a 20mm anti-material sniper rifle around town like it was something completely normal or invisible to everyone else…

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #137171
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    So, regarding indie video games that have been mentioned in this thread…

    Playing Ruiner. Set it on Easy mode because I’m just a sightseer, and (having played a lot of Streets of Rage 4 lately) not interested in another intense arcade-action experience right now. I love the atmosphere and ambience of it, entirely in line with my ideal for a trope-loving, tabletop gaming-conducive cyberpunk setting with an up-to-date, youthful edge to it. The gameplay is not very deep, and it plays a bit derpy on a console (it was definitely made for mouse-and-keyboard controls) but I can’t get enough of how slick and stylish it is in regard to art direction. Getting a lot of inspiration from this one.

    Playing Neo Cab. To be honest there doesn’t seem to be much miniatures gaming inspiration in it (except maybe some of the character art), but I still like it for other reasons. Definitely “my type” of game in regard to the culture it comes from and its general design philosophy (I’m one of those people that loved Tacoma). It seems to be a fairly mellow take on cyberpunk, overall.

    Playing Gemini Rue. Reminds me more than a little bit of Beneath a Steel Sky, which I have strong childhood memories of. As cyberpunk settings go, this seems to be a very noir, deliberately drab and dumpy, “low-cyber” sort of cyberpunk, clearly channelling Blade Runner more than anything else. It’s a sharp contrast to the setting in Ruiner – very much a case of opposite ends of the spectrum that the genre encompasses. Not sure about this game’s usefulness as a source of miniatures gaming inspiration yet, but it’s nice to just immerse myself in the atmosphere, and to play a retro-style point-and-click adventure again.

    I still do want to play Cloudpunk, but will have to wait for it to come out on console. Turns out my cheap laptop PC can’t even handle a voxel-based game 🙁

    For similar reasons, Satellite Reign seems like a game I’ll only get to experience through YT videos, at least until I buy my next PC. But I can work with that.

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