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Is this Cyberpunk? Need feedback on a story idea.

6 months ago

Hello friends! I am not very active on the site right now, so I was debating entering the Cyberpunk contest to motivate myself. I don't want to be the guy who only writes for contests, but I don't write unless I'm in one (apparently). The problem is that I don't know much about Cyberpunk.

 

Never the less, I have a story idea. There isn't much too it yet, but I want to know if it sounds interesting enough to enter the contest. Any thoughts or tips are appreciated and will be considered. Also, I have a feeling that this stupid post will get me forcibly dragged into the contest either way...


My idea has the working title "U-Cloud Human Could Computing: Unplugged." The setting is near future (2075?) San Francisco. The thought here is that in the future the U.S. reallocated nearly all of its resources and people to its main technological hub to form one giant city that takes up most of costal California. The government restructures to a more simplified form (more like a city government with a president, a council, and senators that each run a part of the city). 

 

My new San Francisco would be a cast system with the government at the top, then business owners and the ultra wealthy, followed by the police, working class, androids, and people too poor or removed from society to be in the system (all in that order of status). Everyone from the police down are implanted with a microchip that allows them to be a part of a cloud computing network. This means that their thoughts, memories, and actions are in the cloud like a computer. The government can access this information on everyone and even control them through the chip. I'm even thinking about having companies charge people to have/maintain their own chips so that they are indentured servants, but they do make some spending money and have some freedoms.

 

Our main character will be in the working class as a technician that modifies/fixes chips. He is able to modify his own to not be on the cloud. This makes it so he can not be controlled, and the government can't read this thoughts. Those powers enable him to start to fight the system or cheat the system to work up the cast.

 

A lot of what happens will be influenced by player choice. I want to have branches for killing off corrupt government officials in different ways to be a sort of vigilante hero that tries to bring the cloud down. Another branch will be trying to use your abilities to give unfair and impossible advantages to a company (like killing off their competitor in a world where the government can scan anyones memory to find the killer instantly) in exchange for a better position in society.

 

There are a lot of places to go, but I want to give some freedom to be an anti hero or a corrupt villain type character. I want to give stylistic choices in each branch as well. For example, you could kill someone with an old school weapon like a gun that would also be off the cloud and thus untraceable to the usual methods that the police in the story use to track killers, or you could hack into the cloud to make someone else kill your target for you (by forcibly taking over their microchip). My other thought is to add a branch where you join the police and enforce the laws in unusual ways that break the laws or use your unique situation to allow others to break the law where it is normally impossible to do so.

 

It's a work in progress that began today, but please share any tips or thoughts! Also, if this doesn't fit in the Cyberpunk genre warn me before I look stupid...

Is this Cyberpunk? Need feedback on a story idea.

6 months ago
!00% honest, that is a plot of many cyberpunk games and stories in the early 90s. Many Tex Murphy adventures could fit in it like a glove. So is cyberpunk.

Is it original, however? It all will depend on your execution and an actual plot.

If you ask me, I find it too mainstream. However, you are one of the best writers here. So I am sure you can transform this into a very original piece, maybe with hacking puzzles or something similar.

Is this Cyberpunk? Need feedback on a story idea.

6 months ago

Yeah, I was worried about this. The sad thing is that I don't even know what stories are similar to mine because I don't read a lot of Cyberpunk. 


I can try to make it original. There is a list of common plots and tropes in Cyberpunk that I can use to try to avoid making my plot a carbon copy of everything else in the genre... for example, the list says that the main character being a clone or android without realizing it is severely over used in this genre. Thank you for the confidence! However, I think you really over estimate my abilities... haha.

 

This seems like it is right up your alley though! I'm sure your game for this will be very original and clever.

Is this Cyberpunk? Need feedback on a story idea.

6 months ago
Don't worry about non-originality! If you write it, unless you're intentionally copying, it's original. Do you know how many times Romeo and Juliet have be re-written? If you're thinking about and developing the story on your own, it's yours and seriously, don't worry about it being too similar to anything else.

Is this Cyberpunk? Need feedback on a story idea.

6 months ago

I appreciate that! Being original does have appeal, but I should focus more on finishing a story than writing something that's never been done before if I'm going to do this...

 

I also saw your comment about 1,000 words a day as a goal. That's not a bad idea either. I can't binge write 10,000 words in a day right now. 500 to 1,000 words a day is doable though. It would lead to a roughly 30,000 word story if I keep at it as well. That wouldn't be too bad.

Is this Cyberpunk? Need feedback on a story idea.

6 months ago
Commended by mizal on 5/29/2021 10:45:59 AM
Short answer: definitely yes. You've got both the punk and the cybernetic. That's all there is to the formula.

Longer answer: Damn, that's an interesting setting. Even with just this short blurb, I've got so many questions (which you don't have to answer, just write the damn game).

For example, how aware is everyone that they could be controlled at will? Is the 'override' just motoric like the 2018 movie Upgrade, or does the subject become a total blank? If people are aware, how does everyone cope with being controlled at will?

Are there fringe anarchists that refuse the chip, and how common is the technician's knowledge on modifying the implant? With such a huge area, are there slums and dark places under the web where resistance against this blatant elitism grows?

With so much information available, is there an ongoing effort of mass manipulation into promoting consumerism/subservience/whatever weird big plan the president has? I bet this would be any propagandist/marketer's wet dream. To further this train of thought, is the control total, or can subconscious patterns be implanted?

To end it with the upper caste, I bet they'd see all chipped humans as cattle. How often is a disgraced CEO demoted towards the lower caste? If there is no social mobility, does that mean all positions become hereditary, almost feudal? Wouldn't they see the technician as an anomaly within the system, an unwanted upstart, which totally blows his cover?

To be honest, I think the biggest problem will be to fit all those incredibly distinct branches and ideas into the month and a half you've got.

Is this Cyberpunk? Need feedback on a story idea.

6 months ago

I won't try to answer them all, but I appreciate the list of things to think about while writing! My quick research on the genre tells me that Cyberpunk often doesn't explain everything and how the entire society works, so I can pick and choose which of these things I want to focus on. Some of the items you mentioned I have already been brainstorming, while some I didn't even think of. Thank you for jotting these down.

 

There are some computer quirks and issues that I think are often overlooked in stories like this that I want to incorporate. In my real life work, I've had to do more  programming and wiring than usual lately, so it gave me some ideas. Without saying everything, I'll just say that automated systems certainly have limits. They aren't all powerful. Even with how much they can do, there are some goofy things that can make the system not function properly that are more simple that some people realize. Particularly with something like data mining.

 

Unfortunately, the time limit  is what I'm also afraid of. It is what motivates me, but there is so much I would like to write. My current output is zero, so I'll have to go for zero to high speed writing to get anything decent.

Is this Cyberpunk? Need feedback on a story idea.

6 months ago
1,000 words a day? Some intermediate goals often work for me!

Is this Cyberpunk? Need feedback on a story idea.

6 months ago
Reminds me of Syndicate 1993.

Is this Cyberpunk? Need feedback on a story idea.

6 months ago

I'll look this up... my dear is that I'll retell the story without realizing it. Haha.

Is this Cyberpunk? Need feedback on a story idea.

6 months ago
Cyberpunk is based on such specific requirements of genre and theme I'm not sure if a truly original story is possible without making it no longer cyberpunk tbh. It's a little like zombie fiction in that way.

Is this Cyberpunk? Need feedback on a story idea.

6 months ago

This might be true, but I don't want to get accused of plagiarism unless I'm actually able to just copy something and not do any work! Haha.

 

Syndicate 1993 looks like an awesome game! It also doesn't seem to have an in depth enough story that my game will be exactly identical. The basic concept is identical though...

Is this Cyberpunk? Need feedback on a story idea.

6 months ago
It's already a narrowed sub genre of science fiction. What matters is how you explore the themes.

Is this Cyberpunk? Need feedback on a story idea.

6 months ago
If you're unsure, try adding more neon.

Is this Cyberpunk? Need feedback on a story idea.

6 months ago
I'm pretty sure that you're required to put the word "neon" at least on every page once, preferably more often.

Is this Cyberpunk? Need feedback on a story idea.

6 months ago

I'm going to write it in pig-Latin with "neon" added to every word.

Itneon ouldwneon oundsneon ikelneon isthneon.

Is this Cyberpunk? Need feedback on a story idea.

6 months ago
I like this story idea. It sounds fun. It does, however, sound quite expansive and aggressive. I like to look at options and story structure when it comes to cyoas, and this already sounds very wide. That's not a bad thing, but it is something that authors have to realize: the wider your story, the more of it that people won't see.

For example, if your first page has two options and they never join back together again, when a person reads the story, they only get to see one branch. You have to write twice as much for the stories to be the same length. Then if each second page has two options without rejoining, now you have to write four times as much! Yes, this continues so that very quickly you can end up writing massive stories, but people only see a small portion of them. For an extreme example of this, see The Adventures of Rory Thorn. There's 16,000 words, but with the choices the reader only sees fewer than 3,000 in any given read-through. I'm not trying to discourage you to write something with wide branches, just be prepared to write more and know that readers will not see most of what you write (on one read through).

But I do like stories that have branches that go wide like this. It really does give the reader a chance to see how their options clearly affect the world around them. When authors force readers into tight spirals, it's a completely different experience for me. I like the options you've listed here and would love to read this story if you're able to get it going!

Is this Cyberpunk? Need feedback on a story idea.

6 months ago

Thank you for the reminder. I'm a bit familiar with how these can spiral out of control, but my previous stories have been more restricted with 2 main branches and some logic puzzle choices that have one answer. This would be a bit of a change/ challenge in that respect.

 

My past stories have suffered from lack of choices and being too short. This one will likely also end up shorter than people like, but maybe the more choices/branches will make up for it? I'm going to make each branch as long as I can, but there isn't a finished plan yet...

Is this Cyberpunk? Need feedback on a story idea.

6 months ago

A couple potential plot holes that you might want to keep an eye on:

1) You say that the protagonist is in a "unique situation", but he was able to disable his own chip despite merely being a regular low-level chip technician. What is preventing other technicians from doing the same thing? What makes our protagonist different and "unique"? Did he have to undergo some inner struggle to free himself from the chip's influence first? (That's also a common cliche in this genre, but it's more or less unavoidable with mind control chips)

2) You mentioned the idea that the protagonist could kill the enemies of some corporate entity, and the police wouldn't be able to find him because he isn't constantly broadcasting "I am the killer" through his chip. However, the CEO or whoever is giving him orders is still going to be uploading the memory of giving our protag the order to go murder unless that person is also unchipped. Do corporate and political leaders subject themselves to the chip in this world?

As for checking for originality, I would recommend doing that after you've finished writing a rough draft. That way, you can know for certain that any ideas you come up with are actually your own. Then, you can remove any ideas that are overly similar to existing works if you want to.

Is this Cyberpunk? Need feedback on a story idea.

6 months ago

I appreciate the thoughts! It's true that if I look at cyberpunk stories now I am likely to borrow a few ideas...

 

I have thought of the two items that you listed. There are already plans to address those in the works, but I'll keep a close eye out for these holes. It would be bad if hacking chips is too easy, haha.

 

If I'm happy with my plan at the end of the long weekend I'll enter the contest, but we will see. I don't know where I want the story to go yet. I have an idea of what themes I want to cover and my general concept. There are almost no specific details filled in though.