Hacking the planet in South African indie cyberpunk CCG System Crash

system crash cover

High tech low lives. Corporate sabotage. C-beams glittering in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. Or, you know, whatever’s left of the La Brea tar pits in the San Angeles sprawl in 2150. This is the grimy neon future of System Crash, a cyberpunk collectible card game (CCG) by South African indie team Rogue Moon Studios.

We hooked developer Gareth Fouche up to our Voight-Kampff machine and measured his heart rate, respiration, and eye movement in response to our most emotionally provocative questions. He’s (probably) not a replicant, but we managed to extract some important data about the game.

So, what’s System Crash all about?

GarethSystem Crash is a story-driven card game inspired by the dark, dystopian cyberpunk settings of works like Blade Runner, Neuromancer and Ghost in the Shell. It’s a world where the line between man and machine is growing ever more blurred. It’s a world where governance has been outsourced to corporations and everything and everyone is for sale. It’s a world of unchecked consumerism, where the environment is ruined and the only escape is in virtual reality dreamscapes and illicit chemicals. It’s a world where inequality is considered the natural order of things, and the rich keep the poor under control with armies of private security contractors. It’s a world where to be “free” is to be an outlaw, operating outside the corporate rules, surviving on your wits and daring.

Those outlaws are known as Runners in System Crash, and you play one of them.

You’ve been working on this game since 2012. How does your original plan for the project size up with what it is now?

Gareth: Yep. I’ve been working on this project for four years where I’d originally planned for the project to take one and a half, maximum. But I wasn’t as a far off, planning wise, as it seems. I simply ran out of money and had to take contracting work for a while in order to make ends meet. Unfortunately, that slowed down the development of System Crash dramatically. The lesson here is that I need to be even more conservative in my estimates with the next project. Unless, of course, System Crash makes a ton of money, in which case I can afford to hire some help to reduce development time.

This is the obligatory “plans for DLC” question.

Gareth: DLC is certainly part of the plan. I have no desire to gouge players with random booster packs or anything like that, but I want to grow the game with regular expansion content. New story campaigns, new mechanics and new card sets. These will follow the same pay-once payment model as the main game – buy the expansion/DLC and you get all the story and cards that come with that, unlocked through gameplay. I want to grow this world and these characters, and continue to support the game for years to come.

And what about a mobile version?

Gareth: Mobile is something I’ll be looking at in the months to come. I think System Crash is well-suited for mobile, particularly tablets, but it will require some reworking of the UI etc. It’ll take some time to get that right, but I think it could be a great experience.

There aren’t enough cyberpunk games. Discuss.

Gareth: There definitely aren’t enough cyberpunk games out there, agreed! I think the reason for that is that the industry in general is pretty conservative. It tends to stick to “safe” genres, known qualities. Cyberpunk is a niche genre within science-fiction and besides a few highly-regarded works in movies and fiction etc, it isn’t really a genre with established broad appeal. I think that causes investors to hesitate. But I’m hoping that the success of the newer Deus Ex games, and potentially CDProjekt’s upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 RPG, will set the stage for more games being made in the genre. I hope so! I certainly intend to do my own small part there.

System Crash is out now on PC. There’s also a free demo! We’ve got a review in the works, but in the meantime, click over to the official website for more.

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