Hello and welcome to the first in a series of blog posts where we look at the items on offer in the Cyberpunk 2020 and Cyberpunk Boost bundles over at Bundle of Holding! The Cyberpunk 2020 bundle has everything you need to start playing for only $14.95 but, for this post, we’re going to focus on the $12.95 Cyberpunk Boost bundle and how it forced us to remake a classic, the Cyberpunk 2020 Datascreen
The back of newly remastered GM screen. Players get the pretty side.
We’d been discussing bringing back the classic Cyberpunk 2020 Datascreen at the R. Talsorian Games office for some time now. For those not in the know, the Datascreen is a classic, three panel Gamemaster screen which came shrinkwrapped with an adventure, entitled When the Chips are Down, inside. Here’s the back cover text, which has some classic Mike Pondsmith flavor (even his back cover copy has his unique voice!):
When you’re getting down to the Meat and the Metal, you don’t have time to dig through stacks of hardcopy. That’s why you need to interface with the Data Screen. All the information you need, in one place and at your fingertips, including new tables to make FNFF combat and Netrunning even faster. Plus: WHEN THE CHIPS ARE DOWN; a 32 page Cyberpunk® adventure! Data Screen: your personal downlink to Cyberpunk® 2020.
The problem was, this screen was created decades ago, on a piece of software which will no longer run, on computers which have long since bit the dust. And while the scans of When the Chips are Down we had were serviceable enough, the quality of what we could scan off the GM Screen was lacking. We wanted GMs to be able to print this sucker out, pop the panels into their favorite generic GM screen, and wow their players with their retro-80s style! And that just wasn’t happening with what we had. So, the project lingered.
Then Bundle of Holding came to us, asking if we wanted to close out 2018 with two Cyberpunk bundles and make some money for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Of course we would! And it was the push we needed to finally go ahead and put the Datascreen out on the market. And that meant we needed to remaster the GM screen. In other words? We had to redo the whole thing.
Step 1: A Lot of Typing
That last sentence is a bit of an exaggeration. We didn’t need to recreate the content, just lay it all out again and get it ready for print. The first step was to sit down with a physical copy of the screen and retype all the text.
Each table on the GM screen needed its own Microsoft Word file.
Each section of the screen needed its own file, to make it easier to place in Adobe InDesign. That took a few hours of typing, checking, correcting, and typing again, all down in a specific format involving lots of tabs so the content would translate easier to tables later.
Step 2: Graphical Challenges
The Datascreen wasn’t just text, of course. There’s multiple graphic elements ranging from colorful lines and shapes to intricate art. The lines and shapes we could create directly in Adobe InDesign and some of the art was already available in a high resolution TIF format. A few pieces, though, we didn’t have available. Take, for instance, the Netrunner on the GM side of the screen.
An Edgerunner this chill deserves to look their very best!
Ironically, we didn’t have a digital version of this digital edgerunner! We had to make a new digital master by first photographing it, then opening the image file into Adobe Photoshop. Next, we used some tricks to get rid of the yellowing of the cardstock which came with age and a few stains which came with using the screen while having pizza late on a Friday night. That left the image washed out and sad looking, so we went through and touched up all the black to be nice, dark, and crisp again. Finally, the image was ready to set down on the page in Adobe InDesign.
Step 3: Onto Layout
We realized from the start that we wouldn’t be able to perfectly duplicate the original layout. Different computers, different software, different time… and we wanted to update a few things. Long story short, we knew we couldn’t make it identical but we wanted to get it as close as possible. For that, we needed a template.
This is the original, already tweaked a bit so the yellowing that comes with age won’t distract the layout artist.
We made image files of all six panels of the screen, then placed them each on their own page in an Adobe InDesign file. They were then dialed down to about 30% opacity and locked in place so we can create the new screen over top. Its pretty much like when you were a kid and you put tracing paper over a picture you wanted to copy.
Step 4: Graphic Elements
Adding the graphic elements was next. We used the template to guide where we’d put things. Here, we decided to make a few changes. For example, we made sure our current company logo is on the screen, not the classic one.
The headers, logos, and the netrunner have been added.
The netrunner graphic and the Interlock logo were added at this stage as well. We also extended some of the header bars to the full width of the underlying text and centered the headers.
Step 5: Adding the Text
Once the graphic elements were in place, it was time to insert all that text we typed out in Step 1.
Just think, once upon a time this was all done with glue sticks and razor blades!
In this image, you can see where we added the Netrunner Combat Formulas. If you look closely, you can see where the new text is compared to the original text underneath.
Step 6: Finishing Up
Eventually, all the text was added, fiddled with, adjusted, tweaked, and nudged in all four directions until it looked, more or less, like the original.
One panel down. Five more to go!
When we were sure we had it, we deleted the template images from the old GM screen, gave it another read through, and hit the PDF button.
Don’t worry! The file you download will have all 6 panels!
And voila! A fully remastered GM screen ready to be sold to Bundle of Holding customers as part of the Cyberpunk Boost bundle. The Cyberpunk 2020 Datascreen is currently exclusive to the bundle and not available for purchase anywhere else, so please pick it up today!