How SimCity Influenced Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077's Night City can trace its roots to SimCity.

Mike Pondsmith, the designer who created the tabletop roleplaying game Cyberpunk 2020, revealed that he designed Night City (the city featured in Cyberpunk 2077) with the help of a classic PC title. 

“I built [Night City] in the early versions of SimCity and then I screwed it up deliberately to be the most difficult place to travel around,” said Pondsmith at PAX West (as reported on by VG24/7). “Night City is a place where the Cyberpunk world comes together. It has a life of its own.”

Pondsmith make have taken some glee in making Night City an inhospitable SimCity urban landscape (don’t we all enjoy doing that?) but the game also gave him a chance to establish the basic design principles of the environment.

“Night City evolved because I wanted to have a city where people who didn’t know anything about Cyberpunk could really grasp what the world was like,” said Pondsmith. “It’s designed on what I call the Disneyland Principle. If you look at it there’s a China Land, a Japan Land, a Mafia Land, a Corporate Land. It is also fairly well researched.”

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Considering that Pondsmith has been assisting CD Projekt Red with the development of Cyberpunk 2077 for quite a while now, it’s not much of a stretch to suggest that some of the things he gleaned from designing Night City within SimCity have been carried over to the upcoming RPG. However, Pondsmith says that Cyberpunk 2077‘s vision of Night City goes beyond even his own original design. 

“One reason Night City is interesting in 2077 is it’s so insanely detailed,” says Pondsmith. “You know what’s going on, not just where you are, but when you are; what groups of gangs are running around, what’s the news like, who’s running the politics, who’re the important people…When you hand a team like CDPR that much information they’re going to use it. While we’ve made changes in it [for Cyberpunk 2077] Night City is a hell of a fun place.”

Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014