A consensual hallucination
June 30, 2017 9:18 AM   Subscribe

The Cyberspace we Forgot - the Neuromancer computer game.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (40 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Also notable for a soundtrack by DEVO based around their 1988 song "Some Things Never Change". Though the original plan was for something a bit more dynamic and interactive, as shown in this interview with Timothy Leary and DEVO from Beyond 2000.
posted by SansPoint at 9:30 AM on June 30 [6 favorites]


The game’s developers were challenged with portraying this futuristic nonspace while still creating an accessible and interesting game, and all with computers that were barely a step up from a calculator and a potent imagination

Um, this was 1988. Not 1978.

I thought I had played Neuromancer, but reading the article and seeing the screenshots, I don't think I did. Must have been some other late-80s-early-90s cyberpunk game.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:38 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]




This game was my first introduction to "cyberpunk" as a concept.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:59 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


If only that wasn't probably DEVO's worst era.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:08 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


I *loved* that game. I even cribbed one of my early online handles, Anonymous Bosch, from one on the in-game "message boards" that provided exposition, back story, and clues.

Sadly, for some reason, I never actually finished it. I should dig up my old DOS box and run it again.
posted by Gelatin at 10:09 AM on June 30 [5 favorites]


About the music, I was jazzed when I saw the sticker on the box (which I still have, by the way) that said the game music was by DEVO. Of course, for a game run off floppy discs, the music only played over the title screen, and, if memory serves me correctly, as an audio cue every time the in-game clock turned over to midnight.
posted by Gelatin at 10:12 AM on June 30


I loooooved this game. I can still hum the theme song. Never finished it, though. Wish someone would port it to a system I have access to (knowing full well it won't hold up to modern standards, I'd still like to experience the end!).
posted by praemunire at 10:15 AM on June 30


While trying to figure out what game uncleozzy played I found a list of Top 10 retro cyberpunk games covering 1985-1994. And struck by how I've only ever heard of two of them. And only even played one, the original System Shock. It's a shame this genre hasn't aged better but maybe it's not a surprise. The book Neuromancer still reads well because it leaves so much up to the reader's imagination. These games are saddled with specific visuals and game structures made concrete and they don't look like the cool mirrorshade future, they just look dated.

It's weird that Shadowrun isn't on that retro list. A couple of other great cyberpunkish games not on that list. Origin Systems' underappreciated 2400 AD, an Ultima IV-ish spinoff. And Suspended, a really clever Infocom game where you are in suspended animation and can only explore the world by controlling robots with different capabilities.

In other Timothy Leary software apocrypha, Mind Mirror was deeply weird. Someone's still bashing away on the idea but it doesn't work and looks pretty smake oil.
posted by Nelson at 10:16 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


The Sky was the color of MS-DOS, tuned to a Boot Selector.
posted by Artw at 10:18 AM on June 30 [18 favorites]


These games are saddled with specific visuals and game structures made concrete and they don't look like the cool mirrorshade future, they just look dated.

Although it will be interesting to see how long it takes before they look gloriously retrofuturistic.
posted by howfar at 10:20 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


Wish someone would port it to a system I have access to

I don't know whether/how well it works as I'm on a phone right now, but possibly you have access to a modern browser?
posted by juv3nal at 10:22 AM on June 30 [5 favorites]


For half a second I had this confused with Agrippa, another effort of Gibson's that appeared on a 3.5" floppy.
posted by phooky at 10:30 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


how many of your organs did you sell for that nice deck ?

(I had a bbs handle, emperor norton, from the game as well)
posted by k5.user at 10:31 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


Was just hanging out online with two of my buddies from after school computer lab days when we'd play with DoS 1.0 and Basic. I think there was one game that came from outside - Galaxian? - the rest were written by Klaus while we waited for him to finish writing it. Later, one sent me Myst. I'm a girl so Doom made me pukey.

This game's narrative reminds me of one about corporations and industrial espionage, with the game play being halfway between text based and yet engaging enough interaction. Syndicate - I loved playing it
posted by infini at 10:38 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


As the world of today slipped into the future, multinational corporations grew in size and profit. They came into positions to own small countries and to exercise direct influence over the world's governments. They practically became the world 's governments, undemocratically controlling the lives of people through commerce. These corporations became known as Megacorps. One of the Megacorps, a European one, invented the CHIP. A device that is inserted into the neck and stimulates the brain stem to alter a persons perception of the outside world. The CHIP numbs a person's senses to the misery and squalor around them better than any drug and sold millions around the world. It could convince a user that the sun shone when it was raining and that they were more beautiful than they really were. The CHIP, like some drugs, also made the user open to auto-suggestion, allowing them to be manipulated by the Megacorps. The CHIP became a perfect tool for the Megacorps to manipulating the populace and to gain power with. It didn't take long before the Megacorps were corrupted and became crime Syndicates, fighting amongst each other for monopoly over CHIP manufacturing and control over the world.
posted by infini at 10:40 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


While trying to figure out what game uncleozzy played I found a list of Top 10 retro cyberpunk games covering 1985-1994

Ah, I'm pretty sure it was Bloodnet, for anybody keeping score.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:48 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


The combat in Bloodnet was TERRIBLE, but it did a lot of interesting things, from cribbing the choose-your-own-adventure style character generation from Ultima to having an NPC inspired by Umberto Eco who speaks to you only using quotations (which was absolute catnip to my particular brand of nerdling at the time).
posted by juv3nal at 11:03 AM on June 30 [3 favorites]


It's weird that Shadowrun isn't on that retro list.

Shadowrun is such a weird hybrid, though: It's arguably cyberpunk, but with the hack-and-slash fantasy aspects, not all that much like the literature that birthed the genre. The addition of orcs and magic and such always struck me as a compromise made to bring in the stodgy old fantasy gamers. I always found Cyberpunk 2020 to be a much better approximation of the Gibson/Sterling/Blade Runner/Akira aesthetic.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:03 AM on June 30 [3 favorites]


I never forgot, and, if someone ever Kickstartered a reboot, they would definitely have my attention. I love games like Hacknet and Uplink, but I want the sleek sliding through cyberspace, decking for my life against black ICE, but I want it from my perspective.
posted by Samizdata at 11:04 AM on June 30


Sadly, I played all the games on that retro list at one point or another.

(And, given a couple of the games, I do mean sadly.)
posted by Samizdata at 11:07 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


I don't think really think Beneath a Steel Sky was cyberpunk. It felt more post-apocalyptic to me. Specifically it reminded me of the Rifts™ world. Bit surprised Siembieda didn't sue them...

And I remember System Shock as being much more cyber than punk, in feel. I think that Corporation felt a lot more cyberpunk than SS.
posted by howfar at 11:23 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


Wait..from Wikipedia.."Corporation (released as Cyber-Cop in North America)"... fucking seriously? "Cyber-Cop"...

I mean I know no-one ever went broke underestimating the American public and all that...but "Cyber-Cop"?
posted by howfar at 11:27 AM on June 30


Billy Potter and the Wizard's Rock
posted by uncleozzy at 11:30 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


I always found Cyberpunk 2020 to be a much better approximation of the Gibson/Sterling/Blade Runner/Akira aesthetic.

The combat is basically the dying-in-a-dumpster simulator where you spend twenty dice rolls figuring out how you bleed to death though. I can see how "you can be an elf!" won out.
posted by Artw at 11:31 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


I tried to play this game when I was ten or eleven, and terrible at games. I don't think I managed to do much more than sell all my organs.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 11:34 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


Ugh. I played this. The upthread mentioned Shadowrun was a way better Neuromancer game than Neuromancer.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:51 AM on June 30


a really clever Infocom game

In the vast majority of cases, this was redundant.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 11:59 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


I never forgot, and, if someone ever Kickstartered a reboot, they would definitely have my attention. I love games like Hacknet and Uplink, but I want the sleek sliding through cyberspace, decking for my life against black ICE, but I want it from my perspective.

Projekt Red (of The Witcher fame) are currently making Cyberpunk 2077, and have been involved in some bizarrely cyberpunky news themselves lately (altho that seems at best wildly overblown, and at worst a marketing gimmick)
posted by FatherDagon at 12:02 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]



Ugh. I played this. The upthread mentioned Shadowrun was a way better Neuromancer game than Neuromancer.


That''s not saying much seeing that Shadowrun came out 5 years after Neuromancer. And, as we know, 5 years is virtually no time at all in early PC development or game development during any era, right?
posted by Samizdata at 12:04 PM on June 30


Projekt Red (of The Witcher fame) are currently making Cyberpunk 2077 yt , and have been involved in some bizarrely cyberpunky news themselves lately (altho that seems at best wildly overblown, and at worst a marketing gimmick)

I know. I just haven't seen any footage about the decking, so I am reserving judgement (although, my best guess is that it will be exactly the same as the game, but with different window dressing like the HBS Shadowrun stuff).
posted by Samizdata at 12:06 PM on June 30


Not that long ago I made a throw-away remark about the Shadowrun London supplement on Facebook and ended up chatting to one of the co-writers (turns out he's a friend of a friend). Which, back in the day, would have blown my mind.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:10 PM on June 30


Corporation certainly hit the cyberpunk sweet spot for me - a good middle ground between Gibsonian grimness and Neal Stephenson's absurdity. I remember asking the DM if I could make a character like the antagonist in Johnny Mnemonic, but with monofilament in every finger - it went extremely poorly for me.
posted by sagc at 12:26 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


I love the reference to "synth-spaghetti", which presumably one washes down with synthehol.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:10 PM on June 30


Oh! Oh! Remember that time in 1990 when the US Secret Service raided Steve Jackson Games? They said the GURPS Cyberpunk RPG somehow was a secret hacker toolkit or... it's hard to be clear, since it made no sense now or at the time. Steve Jackson sued the government and won. That case was part of what gave rise to the creation of the EFF.
posted by Nelson at 1:41 PM on June 30 [8 favorites]


Shadowrun is such a weird hybrid, though: It's arguably cyberpunk, but with the hack-and-slash fantasy aspects, not all that much like the literature that birthed the genre. The addition of orcs and magic and such always struck me as a compromise made to bring in the stodgy old fantasy gamers. I always found Cyberpunk 2020 to be a much better approximation of the Gibson/Sterling/Blade Runner/Akira aesthetic.

Shadowrun is at its best when it's cyberpunk with fantasy elements sprinkled in and some thought has been given to what those fantasy elements would do to society. It's at its worst when it's being written as D&D with guns.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:45 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


Also, the two most recent Shadowrun games, Hong Kong and Dragonfall, are both absolutely outstanding isometric RPGs with XCOM-style combat.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:47 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


I never forgot this game. This game and Circuit's Edge (also an adaptation, this one of George Alec Effinger's When Gravity Fails) are still my favorite cyberpunk computer games.
posted by linux at 1:53 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


Lots of hours on this on the Apple ][e. In a pile with A Mind Forever Voyaging, Wizardry, Ultima IV, and The Mist.
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:03 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


God, I loved this game so much.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 11:38 PM on June 30


« Older Kelan Phil Cohran has died.   |   Exeunt, pursued by an elk Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments