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Sci-Fi Entertainment Games

Blade Runner's Influence on Videogames 74

Posted by Zonk
from the i-knew-the-nintendo-characters-weren't-human dept.
A 1up feature looks at the influence that Ridley Scott's amazing cyberpunk film Blade Runner has had on gaming. In addition to outlining the (underappreciated) late 90's direct game adaptation, the article discusses the film's subtler touch on tone, music, and content in other titles. "Try as William Gibson might to distance himself from Blade Runner's influence, the game adaptation of his seminal novel ironically takes a lot of its visual cues from Blade Runner, particularly in its realization of the urban sprawl. Even better, we got a little proto-cyberpunk musical influence in the soundtrack. Neuromancer boasted a technically impressive, if scratchy, Commodore-synth rendition of Devo's "Some Things Never Change" playing over the title. Truth be told, the song is actually much improved by the necessary excision of all the lyrics except for the chorus."
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Blade Runner's Influence on Videogames

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  • Poor William Gibson! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alzheimers (467217) on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:16AM (#21839260)
    Try as William Gibson might to distance himself from Blade Runner's influence, the game adaptation of his seminal novel

    I'm sure Phillip K. Dick will be glad to know that Gibson's now taking the heat for Blade Runner's influence! It must be a huge weight off his shoulders to know that some other Sci-Fi author gets to deal with his burdeon.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I read that too, but it's a poor editor to blame for the lack of clarity rather than misattributing the work. If you read the article in context, the "game adaptation of his seminal novel" is referring to Neuromancer.

    • D'oh! (Score:3, Informative)

      by Simon Brooke (45012)

      Try as William Gibson might to distance himself from Blade Runner's influence, the game adaptation of his seminal novel

      I'm sure Phillip K. Dick will be glad to know that Gibson's now taking the heat for Blade Runner's influence! It must be a huge weight off his shoulders to know that some other Sci-Fi author gets to deal with his burdeon.

      English comprehension was never your strong suite, was it? Neuromancer [wikipedia.org] was, as advertised, written by... William Gibson (and, incidentally, won the Phillip K. Dick Award [wikipedia.org]).

      Phillip K. Dick wrote Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? [wikipedia.org], on which Blade Runner was based, and which Gibson claimed not to have read. OK?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by snarfies (115214)
        I know it wasn't mine. My strong suite was the Presidential Suite at the Hyatt Regency in Baltimore. Had a big party there at Otakon back in 2000. Two of the dealers got in a drunken fistfight in the hall, security was called, they found me passed out in a puddle of strawberry daiquiri.

        I'm not allowed to stay at the Hyatt anymore. True story.

        Good times.
        • by Darkfred (245270)
          I appreciate your candidness snarfies. This comment will be dealt with in a clear and efficient matter which hopefully satisfies all parties. I am tentatively scheduling a get together for next thursday.
      • by iocat (572367)
        I've read both Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and Gibson's early (good) cyberpunk stuff, and I can say that for me, there's no question Gibson didn't read DADOES -- which is really a poorly written POS compared to Gibson's briliant Neuromancer series. It's hard to believe Blade Runner is even based on Dick's book, since exactly none of what makes Blade Runner cool (the world, basically) is present at all in the book, which to my mind is classic Dick -- a cool idea, executed poorly.
        • Re:D'oh! (Score:5, Informative)

          by Ian Lamont (1116549) on Friday December 28, 2007 @12:52PM (#21840414) Homepage
          I read an interview with Gibson some years ago in which he said his reaction to seeing Blade Runner (before Neuromancer came out) was disappointment that Scott et al were the first to create this dark future world. The interview (or a similar one) is referenced here [cs.uu.nl] and apparently came from a 1992 issue of Details:

          Gibson, in an interview by Lance Loud in an article on the 10th anniversary of "Blade Runner" for the magazine "Details" (October 1992 issue), had the following to say:

          "About ten minutes into Blade Runner, I reeled out of the theater in complete despair over its visual brilliance and its similarity to the "look" of Neuromancer, my [then] largely unwritten first novel. Not only had I been beaten to the semiotic punch, but this damned movie looked better than the images in my head! With time, as I got over that, I started to take a certain delight in the way the film began to affect the way the world looked. Club fashions, at first, then rock videos, finally even architecture. Amazing! A science fiction movie affecting reality!"
          The same reference says Heavy Metal actually influenced both Scott and Gibson:

          "Years later, I was having lunch with Ridley, and when the conversation turned to inspiration, we were both very clear about our debt to the Métal Hurlant [the original Heavy Metal magazine] school of the '70s--Moebius and the others. But it was also obvious that Scott understood the importance of information density to perceptual overload. When Blade Runner works best, it induces a lyrical sort of information sickness, that quintessentially postmodern cocktail of ecstasy and dread. It was what cyberpunk was supposed to be all about."
          There is also a connection to Escape from New York, according to the reference.
        • by fwarren (579763)
          which to my mind is classic Dick -- a cool idea, executed poorly

          Mod parent up.

          That is my summary of every book I have ever read by Dick. You read the back cover, you are introduced to some amazing concept. The story starts out with promise. Then just takes a left turn and goes nowhere.

          Although in DADOES the idea of Rachel and Pris being the same model thus twins was cool. After all, when fighting someone who is already faster than you, being at the disadvantage of even slower reflexes because they loo

          • by Creepy (93888)
            I read DADOES before I saw Blade Runner (wanted to go but mom made me see something like ET instead - I was a bit young for that one, though I did catch the director's cut in theaters many years later) and the movie is vastly different in setting than the book - a fallout devastated, half-populated San Fransisco vs a overpopulated mega-city. On the other hand, both are cities in decay, just a different sort. Dick's book is essentially a reference to the Holocaust and World War II and Blade Runner more a p
            • by fwarren (579763)
              I was only 15 when Blade Runner hit the theaters. I was a little hooligan.

              At the Safeway store I read DADOES.
              At the 7-11 I read the Marvel Blade Runner comic book.
              At the theater, me and a friend paid for ONE movie and then snuck into several other movies. The last of which was Blade Runner. They caught us and we got "ejected" from the theater about half way through the movie.

              Those were the good ol' days. Good times to be had by all.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:32AM (#21839426)
    When famed director Stanley Kubrick directed "The Shining," an adaptation of the Steven King novel, he imbibed the original with much more depth than the original and new clever little elements of his own vision thrown in. His movie, in fact, ended up surpassing the novel in many ways and becoming an icon that's inescapable in any discussion of the book. Now, when people think of the Shining novel, they think of the hedge maze, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," the creepy twins, the axe, the western-style resort look, etc. Yet none of these elements was in the novel--they all came from the superior film version (in an episode of "Friends" I got a particular kick out of Joey talking about the novel that he had only recently discovered, with everything he described coming from the movie not the novel--an obvious result of the ignorance, not of Joey, but the "Friends" writers).

    When King himself (who was never happy with the Kubrick version) tried to do a TV miniseries with Mick Garris many years later, the result was not only laughably silly but also drew heavily from the Kubrick film version (literally from the very opening of wide shots of the car on the road to the Overlook, clearly influenced by the opening shots of Kubrick's version). And the elements restored from the novel all fall flat in comparison to the original film. What is a New England style hotel doing in Colorado? Why did they show these goofy ghosts? Is a croquet mallet supposed to be menacing?

    Sometimes a more powerful adaptation can become more iconic than its original source material. And it's impossible to treat that material in the future without acknowledging it and/or being compared to it.

    • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is a pretty good book, though, and I'm not sure Blade Runner overshadows it so much because of its undeniably high quality as because of its more popular medium. Both are fairly deep pieces of art, but their underlying themes are so different that the iconic moments specific to the film wouldn't even make sense in the book.
      • I might be stretching it, but I think Ridley Scott's genius was in approaching the same theme (what does it mean to be human?) from the opposite direction than PKD. An Androids, the distinguishing quality is empathy (for animals, specifically), which the androids do not have. In Bladerunner (at least the director's cut), it is the androids that show human emotions while the Rick Deckard character is almost psychopathically emotionless.

        I think Scott did an honest treatment of the original material and stayed
    • Interestingly enough, some months back I talked to an old lady who said the film version of The Shining couldn't hold a candle to the novel. Never read the book myself though.
    • Err, let's try this again, more intelligably:

      When King himself (who was never happy with the Kubrick version) tried to do a TV miniseries with Mick Garris many years later, the result was not only laughably silly but also drew heavily from the Kubrick film version (literally from the very opening of wide shots of the car on the road to the Overlook, clearly influenced by the opening shots of Kubrick's version). And the elements restored from the novel all fall flat in comparison to the original film. What i
    • "Sometimes a more powerful adaptation can become more iconic than its original source material." That may well apply to the Arbus imagery and Bartok 'percussion' piece used in the film as well.
    • Well, I have to say, in many respects I liked book version of The Shining better than the movie version, though they are both exceptional. I think of it more like the movie version of Dune...An excellent attempt to make a book that is nearly impossible to convey on the screen into something that, while not to the letter true to the original, is still awesome in it's own right and carries forward something of the spirit of the piece. King's attempt to re-vision it fell flat because he doesn't understand how
    • This reminds me of Clarke's preface to 2010 where he discussed the influence of Kubrick adaptation of his previous work on the sequels he was writing. It was rather impressive to see an author not only acknowledging the superiority of an adaptation of his own work, but to admit that the adaptation had changed the way he imagined all ensuing work.

      Pity King who can't defer to those who reinterpret his work with a deft hand.

    • he imbibed the original with much more depth
      I had heard he was a drinker, but that's ridiculous.



      [Hint: "imbued"]
    • Despite its undenied visual brilliance, Kubrick's film misses a key element that is responsible for much of the novel's power. In the book, there is considerable suspense as to whether or not the father will succumb to the influence of the hotel. In Kubrick's version, Jack Nicolson is directed as so nearly crazed from the outset that there is never any doubt how things will go.

      I agree that the more faithful TV miniseries is not as strong a film as Kubrick's version, but few directors have the visual power o
      • by Raenex (947668)

        Kubrick's film misses a key element that is responsible for much of the novel's power. In the book, there is considerable suspense as to whether or not the father will succumb to the influence of the hotel. In Kubrick's version, Jack Nicolson is directed as so nearly crazed from the outset that there is never any doubt how things will go.

        Good point. In addition, one of the odder ways the movie differs from the book is what happens to the old black guy. He goes on this epic journey to save the boy, and *wham*, gets it as soon as he walks in the door. I actually laughed from being so surprised. Kind of a downer, though.

    • by naoursla (99850)
      Orson Scott Card wrote a book adaptation of the movie The Abyss. He created motivating backgrounds for many of the characters. I read the book first and was disappointed by the movie which had very little of the character development. It was one of the rare times when a book based on a movie was really good.
  • by BigHungryJoe (737554) on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:33AM (#21839434) Homepage
    dey say you bwade runnah
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      Tell him I'm eating.
      • Well... well, like to get this job. I mean, did... did you do, or... or were you asked to do anything lewd... or unsavory, or... or, otherwise repulsive to your... your person, huh?
    • by ischorr (657205) on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:57AM (#21839724)
      Wait, are you playing "What if Elmer Fudd played the old chinese guy in Blade Runner"?
      • that's some funny shit right there...

        yeah I realized after I'd hit submit that it should've been brade runnah
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by ischorr (657205)
          No, it's brilliant. I'd pay real money for a Blade Runner Ultra-Super-Final Edition with Elmer Fudd as the chinese guy (and maybe some of the guys from Dragon Ball Z as the replicants, etc)
    • by mcsqueak (1043736)

      I just do eyes, juh, juh... just eyes... just genetic design, just eyes. You Nexus, huh? I design your eyes.

      S-s-s-s-o so cold...

    • My reply to this post:

      I want more life, fucker!

      My director's cut reply to this post:

      I want more life, fucker! *gouge*

      My final cut reply to this post:

      I want more life, father! *gouge* (dialogue performed by my son and CG'd in later)
  • Okay, so they do look the same. I'm not so sure that means people are looking directly to Blade Runner. There's mention of 'Alien,' too, and while I love that movie, I think some of the later aliens might owe a little to HP Lovecraft. Similarly, it could be that Blade Runner and the games supposedly inspired by it happened to draw inspiration from the same source, and it might not be too far off the mark to say that source was, perhaps, William Gibson or Philip K. Dick.
    • by biovoid (785377)

      The alien in Alien was designed by H. R. Giger. Not sure about the others.

      Blade Runner is a film adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep".

      Blade Runner was released before William Gibson's novel "Neuromancer".

  • I don't know such things. I just do eyes. Only eyes.

    • by sammy baby (14909)
      <response type="obligatory">
      If only you could see the things I've seen with your eyes.....
      </response>
  • Great Game (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chaymus (697182) on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:56AM (#21839710)
    I was really happy to see a shout-out to Westwood's version of the game. I remember getting the game returned multiple times since the box of CD's always had one or two scratched, eventually we opened like 4 and I picked ones that weren't.

    For me, the game provided a bizarre element of spectatorship. You felt like you were playing a movie, rather than being the lead role in a game. Very Myst-like if you've never played it.

  • I can't really play shadowrun without thinking of a blade runner type setting for the campaign. Sometimes we would have the movie on in the background to kind of help keep us in the setting for the game.
  • Martian Memorandum (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ischorr (657205) on Friday December 28, 2007 @12:27PM (#21840126)
    It's not so much a "how it influenced video gameS", but "how it influenced A video game", but Blade Runner definitely influenced a game called Martian Memorandum. In fact, it pretty blatently ripped off elements of a number of differend Philip K. Dick-related properties, including plot elements of Blade Runner and Total Recall, and most directly, the visuals of Blade Runner (right down to Tyrell's giant Pyramid office and windows).

    Martian Memorandum is one of those weird games that no one ever discusses and there's virtually no information about on the 'net, despite the fact that it was part of a 5-game series spanning 10 years. It was fairly leading-edge game at the time (1990). It was a Sierra Adventure-type game with mouse/keyboard interface, but it had a much grittier look and storyline than anything Sierra or Lucasfilm were putting out (Virgin would start to come close with "Beneath a Steel Sky" 4 years later, though Memorandum was more cyberpunk-noir with less goofy humor). It was visually well done, taking full advantage of VGA (still a rarity at the time). It even had a little full motion video and one of the only games to do speech - even through the *PC speaker*. But it had a good storyline and was a pretty good game overall.

    I don't know why it's turned out to be one of those largely forgotten games. I suppose some of the sequels, like "Under a Killing Moon" and "The Pandora Directive" got some mainstream attention, but Memorandum is worth checking out.
    • All these games are probably played by handful of dedicated collectors,but they can't compete now and they missed their chance to fame.Like e.g. Flying Saucer.
    • by gmezero (4448)
      Can't forget one of the most important Blade Runner inspired games to have been forgotten by and large by the masses. If you haven't played it, it's a toss up between the Japanese PCEngine and US/EU SegaCD releases as to which is best. So depending on your language skills, pick your poison.
      • I know there's a translated version of the one that was released for the MSX2 floating around the internet. Definitely an excellent game though, it's my favorite above everything else.
    • Wow, I hadn't thought of that game since it came out. It was pretty good, though a bit short IIRC.
    • MM is a sequal to Under a Killing Moon, which I believe was remade into a game who's name escapes me. There were about four or five entries in the Tex Murphy series.

      Under a Killing Moon was also notable for being in VGA and for using what I think they called Real Sound to play digitised audio (mainly speech and some music) through the standard PC speaker.

      • by ischorr (657205)
        Under a Killing Moon was the sequel to Memorandum, not the other way around. And there were 5 entries in the series total. Under a Killing Moon was a 4-CD game and used a LOT of motion video (1994 game) with semi-big name actors (Brian Keith, voice of James Earl Jones, Margot Kidder), though I'm not sure if it did the PC speaker sound (I don't think it did).

        Mean Streets was the prequel to MM, first game in the series, and also used Real Sound. That game was loosely remade into Overseer, the fifth game in
        • Argh, that's the one. Mean Streets. With Sylvia Linsky and the TV that played Star Trek.

          Quite right, quite right. I sit corrected.

  • Does anyone remember this game [wikipedia.org]?

    Now this is a game I'd say was directly inspired by Blade runner. As if the theme wasn't obvious enough the main character's alias was "Blade". The store could have had a bit more substance, but I recall really enjoying the game. It could have also done without those arcade sequences.
    • The best part of Rise of the Dragon is when security guards charge after your character through Star Trek-esque sliding doors. Depending on whether or not you were intelligent enough to lock the doors, they either face planted into them or blew you away. I always wanted to see Kirk, in full stride, eating a door. The game was the next best thing.
    • BloodNet, Beneath a Steel Sky, Rise of the Dragon, Syndicate ...those were the days, we really were spoiled with great cyberpunk games back then.

      Now get off my lawn and let me listen to the Quarantine OST.
  • I'm surprised no one has mentioned the influence that Blade Runner's soundtrack had on Mass Effect's soundtrack...The two could be cousins.

    The architectural structures in Blade Runner VERY heavily influenced those in a movie called Death Machine as well.
  • The game theme reminds me of Syndicate's dark city. Big flashy billboards, dark, etc.
  • Phantasy Star Online (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Saffaya (702234)
    Pioneer 2, the colony ship city from where you teleport to the planet below, has several elements directly influenced from blade runner.
    The background music is inspired from the movie score, several flying vessels pass above you regularly, and if you know where to look, you can even notice a sign on a nearby building that is very similar to the ATARI symbol.

    (The latter has been removed in ulterior versions of the game).

    • by ral8158 (947954)
      Ironically enough, PSO explores similar themes in different ways. In episode one, the storyline is very much focused on ethical questions (although in a very facile fashion) with Elenoir, Mags, Dark Falz, Flowen, etcetera. I do believe the sign you speak of is in Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst, but it is very difficult to see on any lower texture levels.
      • That's interesting. I loved PSO's sense of mood. (The same is true of the Phantasy Star series, in general).

        I think of it as less cyberpunk and more "future perfect, with dark, moody undertones." It has a very clean sci-fi feel, but still manages to convey a sense of edginess.

        And yes, the soundtrack is brilliant.
  • The synthesised soundtrack in Mass Effect is brilliant, and really stirs up a Blade Runner "feel".
  • The linked article goes into exactly one single detail that somehow magically links the videogame Neuromancer with the Blade Runner movie: "its realisation of the urban sprawl[.]"

    Gimme a break. Urban frigging sprawl means the Neuromancer videogame somehow took its cues from Blade Runner? There IS no urban sprawl in the videogame! It's one of the most sterile, perfect-looking, and primarily *EMPTY* "sprawls" ever conceived!

    It's crystal clear neither Scott Sharkey nor Jenn Frank (the authors of the linked art

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