Cyberpunk 2077’s Art Design, Direction & Philosophy!
What’s going on Neon Nation and welcome
back to The Neon Arcade.
One of my favorite things when it comes to
movies, television and video games, is art
and art design and how it sets the foundation
for immersive storytelling.
The symbiosis between narrative and visual
artistry is what paints a cohesive picture
of a universe and allows you to not only wade
in the waters of it’s world , but to fully
dive in and take the plunge.
This coalescence gives you a reason to give
it your full attention and investment.
In a single player RPG, the art direction
is paramount in creating an authentic vision.
Throw in the fact that this is a game based
in a Cyberpunk universe with over 4700 pages
of stylized source material and you have all
the tools at your disposable to make the most
believable sci fi world in any medium to date.
CDPR has approached it’s art direction cautiously
and there are some very important reasons
Art Director Kasia Redesiuk attributes some
of this hesitance and time invested because
of the visual challenge of developing technology
and the world to reflect 50 years of progress
People need to be able to discern what time
period a certain piece of equipment comes
from instinctually and CD PROJEKT RED wants
the player to be able to identify whats old
and whats new, whats expensive and whats not
just by looking at it.
Concept artists draft up a variety of different
concept pieces and it allows the art department
to meet with the other departments to determine
which of these styles connect to the overarching
themes and ideas of the game as a whole.
We know by now that there is 6 distinct districts
in Cyberpunk 2077 with their own unique flare.
We’ve seen the Corporate centre and Watson
so far, with Pacifica being detailed by media
and influencers, and both areas offer styles
on opposite sides of Cyberpunk 2077’s spectrum.
Whilst Pacifica is a gang infested slum, riddled
throughout the skeletons of a once promising
coastal retreat, Watson and the city centre
is a Marketers wet dream with buzzing neon
billboards, the blur of public transport and
on the move street dwellers.
Quest Designer Pawel Sasko has recently highlighted
that the 4 distinct styles of the world referenced
in their Cyberpunk conceptual art series is
not only going to be tied to clothing and
our own personal style, but the buildings
and environments will also be tied to these
Sprawling and exotic mansions fit the bill
of the Style and Substance of Neokitsch, whilst
the cold concrete jungle of the corporate
buildings of Neomilitarism fit the bill of
the proclamation of power and authority of
substance over style.
High tech low life is evenly reflected over
these 4 distinct styles, but each approaches
this motif differently.
Now whilst CDPR has a majority of the freedom
in their adaptation of Cyberpunk 2077, Mike
Pondsmith is referenced as a walking encyclopedia
and the go to man for clarification on some
of the harder thematic and visual choices.
He’s been very vocal about Weapons in the
past and found that CDPR’s initial drafts
were overly Sci Fi and not big, ugly and threatening
Expect the natural evolutions of some of 2020’s
ideas to be sourced from him, especially in
areas where CDPR might struggle in their vision.
The UI design is something CD PROJEKT RED has
mentioned highly iterative.
CDPR mentions that it needs to be readable,
but at the same time it needs to be in universe
The goal when it comes to this design is that
it should be apparent on your HUD if for instance
you are getting hacked or fried.
Boisterous color is weaponized on your screen
by the Megacorporations.
The dichotomy between suffering, pain and
struggle with the vivid and overtly “out-there”
billboards and ads is a Cyberpunk trope that
CD PROJEKT RED has gone full force with.
Take one look on some of the more hectic streets
of night city and it’s almost suffocating
how much toxic brand allegiance seems to propagate
throughout the world.
If you don’t consume the latest drinks,
have the latest car, or the second version
of the Mr Studd sexual augment, you’re destined
to be sucking cement as lowly street scum.
The reality of the downtrodden and fragmented
areas that you will go to will remind you
that this is a façade created by the Megacorporations,
that life is not as colorful as their ads
will have you believe, and that Night City
is rotting from the inside out.
There is a whole department dedicated to in
game ads, and the direction for something
as simple as this, which only speaks to the
scope of Cyberpunk 2077s world in general.
According to CD PROJEKT RED ads will also
give a chance to show more of the universe
and the background locales in some of these
ads will show the state of the world outside
of Night City.
Good art allows you to extrapolate with some
direction along the way.
All in all, CD PROJEKT RED takes their in-game
advertising very seriously.
Cyberspace was also a big challenge although
CDPR have seemingly pinpointed their direction
when it comes to this.
From realistic to abstract, they’ve moved
towards creating a digital playground that
is surrounded in an air of mysticism.
While local subnets and access panels will
reflect more structure, the cordoned off Blackwall
and the Cyberspace beyond it will be more
abstract and Picasso in nature.
The subnets and cyberspace are not one in
the same, and thus they are not being treated
Culturally, the genre has many times shown
a melting pot future, which 2077 will align
From the Japanese Arasaka, to Kabayan foods
to Masala studios, to the sizzle of Pad Thai
in the streets, to Night City denizens wearing
Hijabs and cultural attire, this is the acceleration
of the merging of unique cultures.
From the Voodooboys, Haitian immigrants who
speak Creole, to the Maelstrom who speak Norweigan,
to the fact that a language translator is
an important piece of Cyberware for V, which
without would make it harder to unwravel the
citizens of Night Cities secrets, this is
a world that reaches all ends of the spectrum
and that will relate to an overwhelming amount
Your character can be sexually fluid and non-binary
only adding to this element.
That’s it for this video guys, as always thanks for watching and for more
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