Cyberpunk 2077 Dev Talks Multiplayer, Microtransactions, Next-Gen Consoles, Switch Port Possibility, And More
CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 is one of 2020’s most-anticipated games, and it came to PAX Australia this week in a big way for its first public showing in the country. On PAX Aus Day 1, CD Projekt Red filled the Melbourne Convention Centre’s biggest theatre with excited fans who got the special treat of seeing nearly an hour’s worth of gameplay footage that showed off more of Night City and a number of new abilities.
Also in Melbourne for PAX was CD Projekt Red’s John Mamais, the head of the company’s Krakow office. The studio is creating about one-third of the content for Cyberpunk 2077, while it also developed the game’s new cutscene technology and other aspects of the title. GameSpot spoke with Mamais–who has been with CDPR since 2011 when he was a producer on The Witcher 2–and he told us more about local issues like potential censorship from Australia’s Classification Board, mutiplayer support for Cyberpunk 2077, and the possibility of a Nintendo Switch port.
In terms of potential censorship of Cyberpunk 2077 in Australia, Mamais said he does not think the game will have any issues clearing the local Classification board like other titles, including South Park: The Stick of Truth, have in the past.
“I was [concerned about censorship] because I know Australia has issues with drugs and the other thing is sexualised violence–those are the two things that can kill your product [in Australia],” Mamais said. “But I’ve been looking into it [over] the last couple of days. It seems like we’re safe. You don’t get rewarded for [using] drugs as far as I know in the game. The player doesn’t do any kind of sexualised violence at all where it’s really tasteless; we wouldn’t do anything like that.”
On the subject of multiplayer in Cyberpunk 2077, Mamais teased that CD Projekt Red as a company is now finally expanding enough to be able to work on multiple AAA games simultaneously. One of these could be a multiplayer-focused Cyberpunk game, though it could also be a Witcher title, a new IP, a licensed game, or something else entirely.
“It’s public knowledge that we want to make multiple AAA titles at the same time in the company. We haven’t been able to but now we’re growing to a certain extent and we might be able to do that in the future; at least we hope so,” he said. “We’ll see how well Cyberpunk does. It’s not for me to say what they’ll be. I can tell you what I hope they’ll be. I like Cyberpunk, I’d like to keep making Cyberpunk games. I also like The Witcher, I’d like to keep making Witcher-type games. It could be anything. Some new IP or some licensed IP. Who knows? It’s not decided yet.
Cyberpunk 2077 is set to launch in April 2020, which is a few months before the PlayStation 5 (which is now officially confirmed!) and the next-generation Xbox are expected to release in Holiday 2020. Mamais didn’t confirm if Cyberpunk 2077 will be upgraded or improved for these consoles, but he said more powerful systems will afford CD Projekt Red a number of new and exciting opportunities.
“It’s going to be awesome,” Mamais said of the coming next-gen consoles. “It’s always cool to have new consoles coming out and I can’t wait to work on those things. We’ll see what we can do with those. It’s fun watching games evolve; they’re looking more and more realistic, which is–I like working on games like that. The more powerful the technology, or the consoles, the more it is [good] for me as a game developer.”
You can check out the biggest talking points from our interview with Mamais about Cyberpunk 2077 below. The game is slated for release across PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in April 2020.
PAX Aus runs October 11-13 in Melbourne, and GameSpot is on hand at the show all weekend to bring you news and further coverage. For more, check out a rundown of all the panels in the GameSpot Theatre.
On Potential Australia Censorship
I was [concerned] because I know Australia has issues with drugs and the other thing is sexualised violence–those are the two things that can kill your product. But I’ve been looking into it [over] the last couple of days. It seems like we’re safe. You don’t get rewarded for [using] drugs as far as I know in the game. The player doesn’t do any kind of sexualised violence at all where it’s really tasteless; we wouldn’t do anything like that.
On Multiplayer In Cyberpunk 2077
It’s public knowledge that we want to make multiple AAA titles at the same time in the company. We haven’t been able to but now we’re growing to a certain extent and we might be able to do that in the future; at least we hope so.
We’ll see how well Cyberpunk does. It’s not for me to say what they’ll be. I can tell you what I hope they’ll be. I like Cyberpunk, I’d like to keep making Cyberpunk games. I also like The Witcher, I’d like to keep making Witcher-type games. It could be anything. Some new IP or some licensed IP. Who knows? It’s not decided yet.
“I think it’s a bad idea to do microtransactions after you release a game. It seems like it’s very profitable, though.” — Mamais
I think it’s a bad idea to do microtransactions after you release a game. It seems like it’s very profitable, though. It’s probably a hard decision for the guy that runs the business to decide if we should do it or not. But if everyone hates it, why would we do something like that and lose the goodwill of our customers?
On Post-Release Plans For Cyberpunk 2077
[The Witcher 3’s free DLC with big paid expansions] was a good model for us; it worked pretty well for The Witcher 3. I don’t see why we wouldn’t try to replicate that model with Cyberpunk 2077. We’re not talking about that yet, but it seems like that would be the smart way to go.
On Confidence In Hitting April 2020 Release Date
A lot of people do [feel good about the April 2020 date and] some people are scared about the date. It’s a normal kind of mixture of feeling about that date in the studio. That’s the directive; we need to keep that date.
On The Vibe At CD Projekt Red Right Now
Everyone is working really hard right now because it’s a tight deadline for us; the game is really big and large-scope. We’re pushing it to the wall. I guess the vibe in the office is there’s always a level of excitement there based on results that we get from going to conferences like this [PAX Aus] and seeing people really excited about the game. So that keeps the hype up but it also puts some pressure on, so that’s kind of the vibe. You’re in a vice, in a way, which takes its toll on the team but there is … a healthy, extrinsic kind of pressure to make [the team] really excel.
“Everyone is working really hard right now because it’s a tight deadline for us; the game is really big and large-scope. We’re pushing it to the wall.” — Mamais
On CDPR Krakow’s Specific Contributions To Cyberpunk 2077
In terms of content, maybe it’s about a third of the game [developed by CDPR Krakow]. We’re doing some specific things. For Cyberpunk, for the narrative part, for the cinematic part, there is something new called a Scene System. It’s like our dialogue and cinematic system that occurs within the context of the gameplay of the game. It’s really important because one of the pillars of the development of the project is the idea of full immersion and this new Scene System is all about full immersion. You don’t break into a letterbox formula and see this cutscene taking place, you’re actually in the cutscene and you can control the character or the camera, there are different levels of control depending on the cutscene. It’s fully immersive; it doesn’t take you out of the experience at all. So we’re doing that and also other things too.
On The Power Of New Consoles
It’s going to be awesome. It’s always cool to have new consoles coming out and I can’t wait to work on those things. We’ll see what we can do with those. It’s fun watching games evolve; they’re looking more and more realistic, which is–I like working on games like that. The more powerful the technology, or the consoles, the more it is [good] for me as a game developer.
On What He’s Personally Learned From Working On Cyberpunk 2077
Something that we need to do better, from my perspective, is finish story sooner. Story is so important to the process for the games we make. We iterate on it quite a long time. Since everything else revolves around the narrative, the sooner it’s brushed up the better it is for the development of a game. It’s a catch-22, you don’t know [how good the story is] until you get it in the game and start playing quests and see how it feels. If something doesn’t feel right, you have to change it again. So it’s kind of a tug of war. The more you can get done up front, conceptually, and locked in, the better off you are.
On Feature Creep
It’s very controversial in a way, for game development in general, feature creep–how do you control it. Sometimes you can control it and sometimes you can’t. It depends on if a director thinks we should do something or whomever thinks we should do something and it doesn’t fit the schedule, it’s like, if it’s good enough you have to make it fit the schedule by pushing something else out or you have to confront the idea and say, ‘Okay we’re not going to do that, we can’t afford to do it.’ Unfortunately, it’s not so black and white. Sometimes you have to do everything, and it requires more work.
On A Possible Switch Port Of Cyberpunk 2077
Who would have thought a game like The Witcher 3 would be possible on Switch, so who knows? I guess we’ll see, if we `decide to put it on the Switch, if we can do it. Probably not.
On If There Will There Be Multiplayer Support For Cyberpunk 2077 At Launch
On The Netflix Witcher TV Show
We’re friends with those guys–it’s Platige, the guys who worked on a lot of cinematics for us in the past. We’re not involved with that series at all in any way as far as I know. Maybe some kind of personal connections in the studios, but not in any official capacity.
On The Reaction To Keanu Reeves In The Game
I think the deal is kind of locked down. We defined what his role was going to be and we’re sticking to that. But the reception has been huge. I didn’t expect it to be so huge. [The marketing team] are probably sitting around now thinking about what else can we do with Keanu because it was so well received.
On The Story Of Cyberpunk 2077
On the surface it’s a pretty simple story. I hope I’m not saying too much because the story is implied in the marketing material at PAX–it’s about this immortality chip that it’s like a quest of yours to find this technology. The whole story revolves around this tech, and I can’t give anything else away about this idea.
“It’s really important for the studio. We don’t want to fail at this. I don’t think that would be very healthy for the studio.” — Mamais
On The Stakes For Cyberpunk 2077
It’s really important for the studio. We don’t want to fail at this. I don’t think that would be very healthy for the studio. The studio is comprised of other kinds of companies as well but the majority of our people are working on Cyberpunk. There are a lot of internal financial expectations for it to do well.
Why He Loves Making Games
The stuff we’re working on is really cool. Technology is really interesting, to be part of the way things are evolving technically. As hardware grows, so does the software and the tech around it. To see this stuff come to life and to be part of that process is really interesting. It kind of becomes your life. You sign up for that when you get into this because, and I don’t mean to sound too arrogant, but it’s kind of like a higher art form in a way. So it’s cool to part of that process.
You sacrifice some things to do that and be part of that. There are a lot of people who come into the industry that are fresh; they don’t really understand what it takes to do it. So we get a lot of new guys coming in, and they go, ‘Oh god, this is like too much.’ But then we have other guys come in from Rockstar Games, and they’re like, ‘This is not even crunch!’ We’re doing the best we can to keep the work under control. But sometimes when you’re doing some big-ass game like this, it’s not always possible to do that. It takes really hard work to make it really awesome.
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