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So first question, the "beta" wasn't really a beta because apart from the general story and the main character nothing was kept, right ?
Eyaura : Yes, apart from the main story idea and the main character everything was changed or broadened in scope. The off world situation was something I thought of before 2011 but I was unable to include more than hints to it in posters and announcements.
The air refinery pyramid also was something I couldn't add in 2011, it was added in a somewhat limited fashion in the "Day One" edition in 2013. Also the city got way more fleshed out with different sectors having different personalities and functions.
Technically the 2011 mod was renamed to beta in order to differentiate it from the final version once the decision to go retail was made.
I read in an old interview that you thought the mod was already too ambitious so how do you qualify this final version ?
Eyaura : It was even more ambitious and looking back I am not sure how I pulled it off. I just took it one day at a time and made peace with the fact that it will take many years and it might not even work out at all. It helped that there was not much else going on in my life at the time so I had free time. Then with the pandemic there was even more free time!
But yes, it was hard because I couldn't afford much and people were helping me and of course to the outsider it looks like I am just sitting at my PC for years not doing anything productive. Until very recently there was no way to show that actually I am trying to make something happen. That was the hardest to endure. The inability to show and demonstrate in my offline environment that I am not wasting my life.
You did not develop G String following a specific work plan, would you do the same now that you have acquired some technical skills that you lacked at the beginning of the development ?
Eyaura : No, I will have a more outlined plan but nothing too precise. Just a general outline. In the beginning that's fine and needed actually. As the project will advance things will become more concrete and there will be less wiggle room.
But yeah, having a clear plan would have saved me a lot of head aches and time. Of course since for many, many years this was a hobby basically I had to take all that baggage with me and deal with it. It was either that or ditch the project and start something else.
You said that there wasn't really a story behind the mod, why did you come to add one and how did its implementation go ?
Eyaura : I didn't want the maps to be just random bits that load up one after the other with no rhyme or reason. Once I had enough of them lying around I decided to sort of connect them up and tell a loose, vague story to add some kinda progression.
The project was called Slacker at this early stage and it was just about a guy wandering the ruins of this massive city where something bad happened like a nuclear explosion maybe, who knows... It was all very vague at first.
Then after a while, as I kept working on the maps, the story sort of evolved and I added the idea of the world being polluted and the air being bad. Then I fleshed out the main protagonist more and keep adding more concepts such as the off-world colonies and the air refinery pyramid. Then after release in 2011 as I worked even more on the project everything got developed further into what it is now.
Of course the question of motivation comes up, I know a lot about it since I've been maintaining my website for 15 years now without any real retribution except for a few encouraging emails, what's your secret apart from regularly changing activities (mapping, texturing, etc) ?
Eyaura : I've always wanted to work on a science fiction project of this sort.
I thought it would be a movie but it ended up being a game - against all odds I might add as I knew nothing about making games 15 years ago. But the drive in me was very strong to make this project a reality and it's been with me for a very long time. The spaceship designs date back to the mid nighties.
Pollution, space travel, the end times in general, where we are headed and so on... I always wanted to get all these ideas and mold them into some sort of a coherent project. This is what drove me. Of course the technical side of it almost made me quit many times but I've always had just enough help and encouragement to keep me going. And yes, I changed things up, one day I mapped, another I worked on the soundtrack, that helped keep things fresh.
The promotion of the game is difficult, the game being really niche and its dated graphic does not help. I tried to talk about it in different places on the Net without much success. Better results ? Any leads ?
Eyaura : I am hopeful.
I know it's not mainstream material and it doesn't push 5 million polygons in each frame but for what it is I think it's an interesting enough ride and it has an audience. It also seems to have staying power as some have patiently waited for it for like a decade, in fact they kept me going really, their encouragement and constant interest. Also the reception is very good so far.
The story illustrates well Mike Pondsmith's sentence "Cyberpunk isn't about saving humanity, it's about saving yourself" since in the end Myo Hyori doesn't really contribute to the events except by "accident". Was it on purpose ?
Eyaura : Yes, very much so. I did not want Myo to be superhero. She does the best she can like everyone else. The only one who thinks highly of her is Riley but even he does not put her on a pedestal.
The action takes place in the USA, not really known for treating "foreign" languages with respect, so why this mix of languages ? Because of the climate refugees ? A reference to Gunhed and Blade Runner ?
Eyaura : Yes, the refugees and it is a reference to Blade runner too.
Kind of made sense in the context where such an enormous number of foreigners relocate to the NAU. At that point it's just impossible to ignore their backgrounds and everyone's languages just coexist while English is still the "official" language.
For instance if in a factory or bar there is mostly a Chinese or German presence then their languages will be also used alongside English. And in space there is a greater Russian presence so that will get highlighted. It's a hyper-globalized situation where individual cultures don't matter, it's more like whatever gets the job done faster.
You seem to like megastructures, even if they're not as crazy as in Blame!, is that where the inspiration comes from ?
Eyaura : No, in fact I found out about Blame! only relatively recently and I like it quite a lot but the truth is I just love architecture.
In fact before the beta came to be I just made architectural study maps for Gmod. I am fascinated by architecture, the WTC twins were a favorite of mine. I was always sad they never got rebuilt but I can see why... Very large man-made structures are awesome and somehow scary to me at the same time. I wouldn't want to work or live in one but they're an amazing sight to behold.
The psychedelic ending is a tribute to 2001: A Space Odyssey ? Other Cyberpunk inspirations besides the classics Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell and Akira ?
Eyaura : Of course the ending was inspired by 2001, and other than all those classic cybperunk influences there is also Star Wars! The old trilogy is probably the main reason why there is an off world section in the game. And also the works of David Lynch played a role.
The game seems to criticize atheism as a religion of money, as an atheist myself, I feel a little insulted. For me religions are very much about power and therefore money. Am I mistaken about the intentions of the game ?
Eyaura : I am not pointing fingers at anyone. All groups, religious or not, do some pretty extreme things in the game such as blowing up the Gold Depot or hurling junk at the city from orbit. Martians are very violent in the game and Mars is in fact controlled by Christians.
I made an effort to not portray any one side as all good or all evil. The game shows a future where a lot of things went wrong, an extreme situation and that usually brings out the worst in people. Everyone is just trying to cope in a crazy world that seems to be falling apart. Kind of like today.
Do you know the French cyberpunk FPS E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy ? It takes a very different approch than G String... If yes, what do you think about it ?
Eyaura : I know a little bit about it but I have never played it.
I like the massive, foggy maps and the strange character designs. I also hear it doesn't hold the player's hands much and that you have to figure out stuff on your own. If so I like that a lot even though many find it frustrating and complain. I should actually give it a go sometime!
Cyberpunk 2077 is now coming out in less than a month, excited, curious, anxious ?
Eyaura : Excited and curious yes. Anxious? Nah...
Sadly I doubt I'll have time to play it soon. With GTA 5 I have never even watched any Youtube videos on it because I always say: one day I'll play it and I don't want spoilers! And it's been years! I hope this won't be the case with 2077 and eventually I'll get down to playing it!
If Cyberpunk 2077 answers to my expectations (I hope so !), I'm thinking of modding the game if it's not too complex, having a lot of experience in the field. This will be your case ?
Eyaura : What happens for me in the future depends on the reception of G String. As of now it looks like in the next few months I still won't have time to play or mod other games as I have to iron out some bugs, polish up things and then there is achievements and maybe a commentary to be added and so on.
Then if there is still interest I am thinking of adding a few more weapons and a water vehicle section but that's a larger commitment. After the whole G String thing blows over we'll see... I want to learn Unity at some point...
Hungary is slowly but surely sinking into a dictatorship, I guess that was also a source of "inspiration" ? What do you think of the current situation in the country ?
Eyaura : Yes, very sad what's going on there, and in many other parts of the world. This pandemic really showed the true colors of many governments. Very unsettling to see how easy it is to contain and intimidate large populations even if it's allegedly "for our safety".
You said in a 2012 interview that you think the future of G String is likely even if it's not distributed in the same way on the planet. I imagine that given the evolution of the world situation you still think the same, can you elaborate on the subject ? Is a future à la Cyberpunk 2020/2077 more probable ("less" dark than G String) ?
Eyaura : I have hope, yes.
If one sticks around all the way till the ending, even in the beta, one can sense that I believe in some kind of a positive outcome. I did not want to portray that outcome very specifically as no one really knows what the "transcendental object at the end of time" is but it's there and I also think it's very close.
The reason I portray the world in G-String in such a terrible shape where everything went wrong is to show that even in an absolute worst case scenario it will work out. It will not happen the way we think but the positive will prevail somehow. It will be all good in the end. How? No one knows. Really.
Mike Pondsmith said that "Cyberpunk was a warning, not an aspiration". Given the number of things that he and other Cyberpunk authors have "predicted" correctly, we can say that is a failure. No ?
Eyaura : Nah, cyberpunk should definitely be more a warning than an aspiration. Most portray all these cybernetic enhancements and neon lit, filthy, rain drenched alleys as cool, or at least it comes off that way. But are they really cool? I mean really...
I don't think anyone really aspires to live in a world where everyone has artificial limbs and chrome plated body enhancements, a world where our minds are constantly hooked into gadgets and networks. Just staring at our phones and monitors so much is already terrible.
Even if we predict certain things it doesn't mean we want them. I have shown everyone wearing masks due to pollution, now due to a pandemic it happened. But it wasn't something anyone wanted. So now we have designer breathing masks but are they really cool? Would you not prefer to breathe without them? So yeah, to me cyberpunk should be more a warning than anything. No one wants to live in the world of Blade Runner or G-String. It's cool as hell to visit but to be stuck there and make that reality. No. I hope not!
I think that sexual frustration is a serious problem in our modern societies and that we are strongly regressing at this level especially compared to the 60s and 70s. Is sexbots the solution (I absolutely don't think so!) ?
Eyaura : I don't think so too. Sexbots are actually horrible. I imagine one will feel very lonely and empty after a love making session with one. I am not sure what the solution is but we are indeed in many ways lonelier today than in decades before social media.
I think that social networks make people sad and lonely because others only show the positive sides of their lives or even invent them. Nothing for me replaces a discussion over a drink with friends. And I'm not even talking about mass surveillance. What do you think about it ?
Eyaura : Yes, a lot of what we put on social media is so fake.
People look at all this stuff, all these profiles, and end up thinking they're the only losers on the planet while everyone else has it together. Maybe honesty is the antidote? I don't know... Keeping it real... Yes that would be preferable and it is easier in the real world, it's harder to fake stuff in person... But yeah, social media just makes it too easy to edit our lives and make everything look cool, the temptation to do so is just too great. Maybe go out more instead! Hah...
What do you think of my website ?
Eyaura : The black background is a bit hard on the eyes sometimes but the content is top notch for any cyberpunk lover. I wish I had time more to read, I could spend days there, I like it! I'll visit regularily in the future I'm sure.