At this year’s E3 Cyberpunk 2077 was shown at a booth, which looked like it was directly taken from a shady bar in the game, blurring the lines between today’s Los Angeles and the Night City of 2077. It opened the door to a cyberpunk universe for any visitor, featuring lots of little touches from the game world.
CD Projekt Red achieved this goal with the help of the Visionary Group and today we take an exclusive look behind the scenes of the Cyberpunk 2077 booth.
Dies ist die englische Version des Artikels - die deutsche Version findet ihr hier.
The Crafters: The Visionary Group
I have reached out to Adam Buchalter, Marketing Manager at the Visionary Group, who told me more about the whole project.
While a regular gamer might not know the name of the agency very well, you surely have seen their work for the games industry in the last years.
„We’ve produced a bunch of game-related projects including Battlefield Hardline’s game launch on a helipad at E3, a guerilla-style stunt promoting Saint’s Row IV at Comic-Con, a press event for The Witcher III, and an Assassin’s Creed II & Assassin’s Creed III launch event for Ubisoft and Maxim.
All of these projects provided us with opportunities to immerse ourselves in the worlds of gaming properties – a skillset that was crucial for our work on Cyberpunk 2077. We had never gone quite as immersive as we did here, but it was all great background experience that led us up to this very exciting project.“
The Visionary Group crafts physical, digital, and social experiences to ensure that consumers connect with brands on an emotional, intellectual, and material level. The company has its HQ in Los Angeles and is one of the leading agencies in the field since a decade now.
At E3 2018 The Visionary Group also hosted the Gamespot party and supported the PC Game Show. Since the agency works for all kinds of industries, I asked if gaming audiences differ from others.
„Gaming audiences are uniquely passionate and knowledgeable about everything going on in the industry. Authenticity is important when throwing any event, but it’s absolutely essential when catering to gamers. If your event is supposed to reflect branding or messaging associated with a type of game (or a specific title) it’s crucial that you get it right. They will be able to tell if you’re phoning it in.“
„We’ve got a few gamers here at TVG, and the Event Producer for the Cyberpunk 2077 project – Kristin Wilson - is one of them, which made for a perfect client-agency partnership.“
The agency must have planned many booths over the years, so you would expect a certain number one rule to follow when designing them.
„Experience first! The experience we strive to deliver to visitors of the booth is always front of mind when we are developing a project.“
Letting two worlds collide: The design process
The Visionary Group began to design and concept the E3 booth back in January 2018. Since then they worked with CDPR throughout the planning process and have made adjustments along the way as they’ve adjusted things in the game.
CD Projekt Red did not just sign a contract and let TVG do all the rest of the work alone. They were interested in a close collaboration with the agency and provided a clear direction on the aesthetic and personality they wanted to showcase in the space.
„CDPR's goal was to transport E3 visitors 50 years into an alternate version of the future, as if they stepped into the world of the game.
The short-throw projectors used for the vista wall was a special feature that was important to include to really bring the outside world of 2077 to life for visitors.“
The Visionary Group took inspiration from the assets and sneak-peeks CD Project Red shared and worked to build spaces reminiscent of their work. Further into the planning process they had consistent creative meetings as they worked closely with the development teams to complete the project.
Knowing that the game developer was heavily involved in the booth design you begin to wonder how many of the visual details were taken straight from the game or just invented for the booth. If you take a closer look at the posters for example, you can spot songstress Lizzy Wizzy and the Below Deck club, both being featured in the E3 trailer. Even the name of the bar at the booth - The Atlantis - was taken directly from the Cyberpunk 2077 game, so look forward to visit the place in Night City, someday.
On social media I discovered photos of the NiCola soft drinks at the Cyberpunk 2077 booth. They looked quite flashy and I wondered if it was just a brand I haven’t seen yet or actually taken from the game. I searched the web and found no results.
„All of these items and brands came directly from CDPR as part of the Cyberpunk 2077 world. Getting to bring the range of beverages seen in the game trailer and key art to life was super fun!“
As with the game world, the look of the booth for CD Projekt Red features a mix of different styles. Slick LED strips and indirect lighting meet threatening graffitis on the wall, loose cables or an old Dayton Electronic time switch.
„Our visual inspirations come from everywhere – it’s never the same for any two projects. For this project, it was so important that we immersed attendees into the world of Night City, that the game itself was our biggest influence first and foremost. Aside from that, we certainly immersed ourselves into all sorts of futuristic and dystopian pop culture/media to further get into the “Night City” mindset.
As we worked through the project with CDPR we keyed in on the idea of layering the old with the new. We envisioned a patchwork of materials and finishes that made the space feel like it was a real bar many decades old that was the setting for fights, shoot-outs, and different gang affiliations over the years. With that, and taking direct reference from the city around us, we felt that much of the infrastructure in the future will actually be from the present, and more likely relics from the past that were still in use out of necessity.“
Bringing Night City to Los Angeles: Building the booth
You can have many nice ideas and pretty pre-production images, but you always have to consider local restrictions being set by the E3 administration before you can start to actually build your booth.
„There are definitely restrictions at the convention center, and a lot of our design and build concepts/decisions stemmed from that. These restrictions ranged from not being able to attach anything to the walls or ceiling (all structures had to be self-supported), to only being allowed to have a blow-through mesh fire-rated fabric as a ceiling, but only covering up to 60% of the room. There are lists of other policies and restrictions, but these were some of the larger ones.“
You can imagine that a booth design is pure team work. From The Visionary Group, there was a team of 3D and 2D designers, and 15+ members of the production/fabrication/tech team involved onsite.
„For elements within our space that were printed, we worked with two of our local printing partners, however, all of our physical builds were brought to life by our in-house fabrication shop, White Walls Fabrication.
For events like E3 we have compressed installation times and venue restrictions, we tried to pre-build as much as possible in our fabrication warehouse. On-site, we had 5 build/test days before we went live for E3.“
Five months after the start of the project all parts finally came together at E3 2018. Does TVG still remember when the developers visited the Cyberpunk 2077 booth for the first time?
They had more insight into the game than we had, so I asked them what they look forward to most in Cyberpunk 2077.
„Getting to explore the massive world CDPR has been building for this ground-breaking game. The amount and level of detail they have put into this game is astounding and we can’t wait to see the final product!“
Thanks to The Visionary Group and CD Projekt Red for offering these insights and all the photos for this article.