All posts by Stargazer

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

Cyberpunk 2077 – Is it Worth It?

Usually I don’t write about video games here on Stargazer’s World. But Cyberpunk 2077 is an exceptional game and I am sure it might appeal to many fans of tabletop roleplaying games like Shadowrun or Cyberpunk 2020 (which Cyberpunk 2077 is based on). CD Projekt Red which is mostly known for The Witcher 3 turned Mike Pondsmith’s rich setting into a compelling video game, which unfortunately has also its slew of problems. By the way, all the screenshots included with this post have been taken by me using Photo Mode. This is also NOT a review and I highly recommend that you check out one of the many reviews which are available online.

Let’s start by getting a few things out of the way. Yes, Cyberpunk 2077 is extremely buggy and unpolished at this point. The number of glitches I experienced in my about 30 hours of playtime so far was staggering. Luckily most of the bugs are pretty minor like graphical issues and a few UI bugs. Things are especially bad on last-gen consoles. A friend of mine plays on PS4 and even though he loves a lot about the game, he almost quit several times because of how bad it looks and runs on the console. I am playing on PC. I have a pretty old i7-4790k CPU, 32 GB of DDR3 RAM, and a RTX 3070 GPU which I acquired recently. To my surprise the game runs actually pretty well on a 5120×1440 resolution on Ultra (Raytracing) settings. I get some slowdowns especially at the beginning and shortly after cinematic dialogues, but aside from that things have been running rather smoothly so far.

Night City by night

So, what kind of game is Cyberpunk 2077? From the trailer videos you might get the impression that its some kind of GTA V-like game set in a cyberpunk future. But it’s actually a full-blown roleplaying game with stats, skill trees, meaningful choices, and a – at times – pretty slow-burning story. If you think you get non-stop action, this might not the game for you. Don’t get me wrong, I have spent quite some time of my 30 hours playing this game so far, and shooting people, hacking their cyberware, sneaking around them, or cutting them to pieces using my katana are pretty common occurences. But talking to characters (on the phone or face-to-face) and exploring the city are definitely equally important.

This car might be trash but it’s MY trash

The highlight of Cyberpunk 2077 is its stories. The main story quests so far have been excellently written and very enjoyable to play. Most if not all of the side missions are equally compelling, sometimes even more so. Characters are not just flat and clichéd cardboard cutouts but often feel like real people, you quickly begin to care for.

Overall there’s a lot to do in this game. Even though you can rush through the main story in about 20 to 25 hours, this would mean missing a lot of what Cyberpunk 2077 has to offer. Doing side missions not just helps you to make money and getting street cred, but sometimes even opens up new options for the main story. Aside from the main and side missions there are also countless “gigs” which include simpler activities like fighting against a cyberpsycho or a group of gangers. Sometimes even these small gigs manage to tell interesting stories which help to add more depth to the world.

Yes, I am playing a blue-haired woman.

Personally I love the game and even when I am not playing I am thinking about it. Even though it has a lot of bug and some questionable design decisions it is still a very enjoyable experience, if you enjoy roleplaying games on console or PC. But I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with a last-gen console or a PC with an older GPU yet. I am confident that CD Projekt Red will get the game into proper working order in the future, but at the moment it just doesn’t run that great on these systems.

By the way, if you haven’t had the chance to check out Cyberpunk 2020 yet, each copy of the game comes with several digital extras including a PDF copy of the tabletop roleplaying game from the 1990s. Hopefully a lot of people who are now playing Cyperpunk 2077 will check it out and eventually get into the tabletop roleplaying hobby!

Keanu Reeves as Johnny Silverhand, famous rockerboy and terrorist

What are your thoughts on Cyberpunk 2077 so far? Have you already purchased and played it or are you waiting for further patches? Please share your comments below.

I Don’t Feel Like Writing

Ok, I guess it’s ironic to start a new blog post with a title like this, but I wanted to keep you folks informed about what’s brewing behind the scenes at Stargazer’s World.

To be honest there’s not much happening at the moment. The whole situation with the pandemic is probably taking its toll. I am still playing irregularly but some of my gaming groups are on hold until we can meet in person again. I have acquired a couple of new and exciting games, and backed a few Kickstarters, but I haven’t had the time to give everything a closer look.

I had some plans for running a new campaign, but they haven’t really materialized since I either couldn’t make up my mind what I really want to run, or the opportunity hasn’t presented itself yet. During these times getting a group of players together has become harder especially if you’re not willing to recruit random people from the internet.

I also had some bouts of depression during the last months which really didn’t make things easier. Luckily I feel pretty fine right now. I’ll also be able to take a few days off later this month which I’ll probably spend either reading or playing some video games.

I’m pretty sure the writing itch will come back sooner than later, but at the moment I really don’t feel like writing. I know I don’t owe anyone an explanation, but I still wanted to give my dear readers an update. Take care and stay healthy!

The Crux With Established Settings From Movies, Games And Novels

Who doesn’t know this? You’ve just played through a video game, watched a movie or read a novel thinking this might make great source material for a roleplaying game. In fact some of the most beloved tabletop roleplaying games are based on established franchises like Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, just to name a few. But they are definitely some issues when trying to bring these settings to the game table.

I recently played the critically-acclaimed Horizon: Zero Dawn. Aside from the exciting story, the gorgeous graphics and the impressive soundtrack, I fell in love with the world building. I immediately thought this might make a great setting for a tabletop game. There’s actually enough depth to make this work, BUT there’s one elephant in the room that needs to be addressed.

In the game you play as Aloy who is eventually on a mission to save the world. As with many of these stories, Aloy is basically “the Chosen One” and only she can unearth what happened in the past and prevent that history repeats itself. If you try to come up with cool adventures for a party of adventurers in a tabletop RPG version of the setting, you immediately have to struggle with the fact, that you’ll probably never match the experience of the video game.

There have been several cool Lord of the Rings roleplaying games, but whatever you can come up with, your party of characters will never rival the deeds performed by the Fellowship of the Ring. Sure, you can run successful games in the Middle Earth setting, but you have to be content with either ignoring canon or running adventures which don’t interfere with the established history.

I fully understand that a GM can truly make a world their own. You can ignore canon, let a party of characters take Aloy’s place, have someone else carry the One Ring to Mt. Doom, and who says it was Luke Skywalker who destroyed the first Death Star? But that’s not what many people want or even enjoy. Personally I always have to struggle with myself when I plan to ignore canon in a roleplaying game.

Star Wars and Star Trek actually fare a little bit better than many other settings because even though the protagonists in the movies and TV series have quite some impact on the setting at large, there are eras and many places who have never been explored in detail. But even then there are many people who don’t want to play second fiddle to Han Solo or Jean-Luc Picard.

In my opinion good roleplaying game settings don’t have larger-than-life heroes aside from the player characters themselves. They should be the ones whose deeds change the world for better or for worse. They should be the focus of their own stories, not some NPC in control of the GM. That’s actually one of the reasons why I am not too fond of the Forgotten Realms. It’s one example of a roleplaying game setting with far too many extremely powerful NPCs running around and taking the limelight away from the player characters.

Will all this make me stop thinking about converting established settings? Probably not. Even though I know it usually doesn’t work that well, it’s just too tempting. Especially since there’s always hope that someone who likes the source material might get interested in the roleplaying games hobby. But in the future I’ll probably think twice before putting too much work into such an endeavor.

What is your stance on the subject? Do you think I am totally in the wrong here, or do my arguments have some merit? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!