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Android: Netrunner» Forums » General

Subject: Netrunner losing its edginess? rss

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Samuel Hancock
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When I started playing android: netrunner with the core set, the android universe played a big part in getting me interested in the game. The core set did a great job of showing a world of duplicitous mega corps who had no problem bending (or breaking) both the law and moral decency in making money.

HB was replacing humans with questionably sentient robots. Jinteki had dark secrets out the wazoo. NBN was always watching and influencing the public. And Weyland were happy to use any method (murder, blackmail, stand over tactics, etc) to get what they wanted.

The runners too had their dark sides. Gabe was more interested in making a buck than saving the world. Noise was cynical and nihilistic. Stimhack showed us that runners too had less than legal methods of achieving their goals. Shaper didn't really have much to say regarding how they fit into the universe, but that was ok.

I think that core set and the first few expansions did a great job of creating a unique cyberpunk world that full of excitement, technological marvels, edge and cynicism. I think its easy to sympathise with the runner when you see how corrupt and morally bankrupt the mega corps are.

But with the announcement of the second data pack in the SanSan, Breaker Bay, we see a very different side to the android universe. Beach parties and game days are all too common in this world. And when I see a world where the average citizen is free to enjoy these events, it makes me wonder if perhaps life for that citizen in the android universe really isn't that bad.

It makes the exciting android universe feel a little too close to home, and instead of being a dystopian future where players could feel the vindication and rebellion of the runners, and delicious evil of the megacorps, where get a world where people are free to crack open a cold can of diesel and kick back watching the game at the beach.

Obviously, these cards have a small tinge of cynicism too them—a culture of college conformity where distractions such as these take the public's eye off the actions of the megacorps. But still, a runner with enough time for a beach party makes their plight a lot less dramatic and exciting.

So what do you think? Do you like this side of the exploration of the netrunner universe? Or do you think netrunner is losing its edginess?

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There's many types of dystopia. They're not all dark and gloomy where everyone is obviously enslaved. There's the other kind where you're meant to be happy, a kind of invisible handcuffs situation (Brave New World, The Island, etc.). Just because you're having a beach party doesn't mean you aren't being harvested for organs...
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Jeremy Fredin
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DrTall wrote:
Just because you're having a beach party doesn't mean you aren't being harvested for organs...


One of the best sentences ever!
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Roberta Yang
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The proles need their bread and circuses.
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Martin Presley
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So you're upset not all runners are Anarchs?
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David Boeren
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Netrunner has edginess?
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Andrew
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In the grim darkness of the far future...
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Oot TheMonk
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Would it be edgier if we renamed it the "Bioshock Cycle"?
 
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DrTall wrote:
There's many types of dystopia. They're not all dark and gloomy where everyone is obviously enslaved. There's the other kind where you're meant to be happy, a kind of invisible handcuffs situation (Brave New World, The Island, etc.). Just because you're having a beach party doesn't mean you aren't being harvested for organs...


I'm glad for some levity in my dystopia. I find that the hyper-grim settings (like Warhammer 40k) not only to be a little immature, but that it distracts from the 'edginess' of the setting. There needs to be contrast for things to stand out.
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Casey Lent
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choux wrote:
DrTall wrote:
There's many types of dystopia. They're not all dark and gloomy where everyone is obviously enslaved. There's the other kind where you're meant to be happy, a kind of invisible handcuffs situation (Brave New World, The Island, etc.). Just because you're having a beach party doesn't mean you aren't being harvested for organs...


I'm glad for some levity in my dystopia. I find that the hyper-grim settings (like Warhammer 40k) not only to be a little immature, but that it distracts from the 'edginess' of the setting. There needs to be contrast for things to stand out.


Not only is a varied aesthetic important - since these are independent universes and all - but real life is far from humorless.

In any case, this is the same fiction where a multinational corporation will bomb the shit out of a prepubescent girl after fumbling attempts into their security, any individual (except The Professor) can get possession of a black market pistol to kill problematic detectives, and a champion of humanity is an admittedly xenophobic terrorist. In light of some American ongoings, I feel the stories in Netrunner are plenty edgy.
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Rus
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There is no such thing as "Netrunner universe". There is a "Android universe" however, predating ANR by 3 years. Thematically Netrunner covers only a small part of it. Netrunner fans often ignore anything outside Netrunner and lose sight of that fact. Here is the philosophy of the Android universe:

Kevin Wilson, primary designer of the Android Universe wrote:
Android, while gritty and grim at times, depicts a hopeful future. One in which we’ve colonized the inner planets of the Solar System and have avoided polluting or overpopulating ourselves to death. There are still wars, the divide between rich and poor, and a fresh ethical dilemma in the form of the androids, but it is a future that I feel is worth working towards. It’s not perfect, but then, nothing is. It’s a future like the one that the men and women of NASA work towards every day, and I dedicate Android to them and others like them, who have given their labor and their lives towards a brighter future. Hopefully someday, we’ll all get our flying cars, our sleek spaceships, and our robot butlers.


Source: http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/ffg_content/Android/androi..., page 40.
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Jacob Morris
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Haven't Damon and Lukas talked about how they're not necessarily trying to paint a dystopia? I thought part of the point of the Android universe was a lot of good that's come out of the information age. They bring it up whenever the race and gender discussion comes up.

Edit: all the ninja
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Steven Tu
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Diversity is good When I saw Hayley running Comet having a Beach Party then going to Game Day I fell over with joy
 
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Benjamin Heitmann
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I think the new cards from the SanSan cycle are still a very good fit to the cyberpunk theme. Sure, your runner can prepare for a week of hacking by going to a beach party on the weekend, but in the end, he/she still needs to expose themselves to net/meat/brain-damage on the net. And just because the corps sponsor some student internships, they wont stop producing sentient robots, or cloned humans for slave labour, or data mining the general populace.

From a literary stand point, you need to remember that yes, cyperpunk was very dark and noir in the 80s. However, writers then developed the same themes into "Post-cyberpunk" which usually shows the benefits for society. The best example is probably Neal Stephenson's "The Diamond Age", which describes how a young girl comes of age in a world filled with nanotech and cybernetics. Its actually a very positive book. More here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyberpunk_derivatives#Postcyber...

All in all, I think the SanSan cycle just really shows how much the Netrunner designers are in tune with the source material from a flavour perspective.
 
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Bob Howard
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Honestly, I think the whole Science Is Evil and Dystopia tropes had been done to death, as Princess Space Kitten could testify. These days an evil scientist or robot hardly counts as a plot twist anymore, and dystopians are less social commentary and more a backdrop for romantic actions. I, for one, actually applaud any attempt to paint technology as good and the future as bright, just like what the Android universe had been doing all along.
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Rodrigo Oliveira
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I do believe SanSan cycle will also have some low places too. And I find thecontrast so cooler than eternal darkness and hopelesness.
 
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Ony Moose
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Yeah, I think that the SanSan area is incredibly prosperous compared to the rest of the world. So it stands to reason that cards about events there are more upbeat than the Upstalk ones in space, or the New Angeles ones near the Root.

Clone Retirement and Fall Guy are pretty bleak cards!
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Brad Gravett
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The beach theme of SanSan reminds me of part of Neuromancer, before they start the run on Straylight Villa and the Turing cops come to harass Case about hanging out with Wintermute. They were in a beachside resort, but the "beach" was in a Bernal Sphere in orbit around the Earth-Moon L5 Lagrangian point.

ANYWAY.

I recommend reading the designer's notes found in the Android board game's manual (not Netrunner, the original Android). Kevin Wilson initially thought of the Android setting as essentially positivist. Sure, we still have murders and terrorists and revolutions and out-of-control corporations, but this is all on a backdrop of human progress. There's a freaking space elevator! We colonized the Moon and we're colonizing Mars! Just like real life, not everything is perfect, but we're still getting better with each generation.
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Jeff Gum
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Judging by Drive-By and Los Muertas Gang Member in Pack 4, not all neighborhoods in SanSan are as ritzy as Breaker Beach...
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Mike Romeo
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Yeah the humans in the Matrix really seem unhappy! Still...
 
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Clyde W
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I'd say Breaker Bay makes the game more edgy, actually.
 
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Brodie
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One thing I really like about cards like Beach Party and Game Day (and Quality Time, come to think of it) is that it brings a humanist element to A:NR. Downtime, time spent jacked out and with other people, is a way to recharge and recuperate. Even in this digital future, life isn't necessarily all virtual. I think the narrative is stronger with that element in it, rather than if it were ALL THE NETS, ALL THE GRIMDARK, ALL THE TIME.
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Captain Frisk
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Man, if beach party and game day are a problem, people are going to be really pissed about the 3rd datapack, "Band Camp"
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Steven
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Agent Archer wrote:
One thing I really like about cards like Beach Party and Game Day (and Quality Time, come to think of it) is that it brings a humanist element to A:NR. Downtime, time spent jacked out and with other people, is a way to recharge and recuperate. Even in this digital future, life isn't necessarily all virtual. I think the narrative is stronger with that element in it, rather than if it were ALL THE NETS, ALL THE GRIMDARK, ALL THE TIME.


Maybe I'm a sick person, but I actually assumed hacking in the middle of a party makes it really... costly/ messy for the Corp to blow up a beach (especially if there are a bunch of rich San San College kids around) and hacking a football tailgate is really easy with all the PADs or cell phones.

EDIT: Mixed up the beach party and tailgate cards.
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Kim Choy
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Captain_Frisk wrote:
Man, if beach party and game day are a problem, people are going to be really pissed about the 3rd datapack, "Band Camp"

Only if they don't include a card called "One Time"
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