When I started writing CyberFunk, the fans were both the most fun and most intimidating characters I’d had to write. Unlike D-Kline or the bouncers or even the Funkers themselves, I’d never had to write a true mob of people before. These were a group I had to write both as a unified mass and as a collection of individuals, and getting the balance and build up right so that the player could see them from either perspective.
Without doubt it was that initial introduction to them before you began to fight them that made it possible. The combination of the descriptions of individual speakers with the multiple colours and fonts to indicate different fans was, I think, what made it work. The descriptions gave a clear insight into how they looked as an individual, while the minor variances in the fonts/colours showed at once that they were different yet all very similar.
This similarity, the unity brought by their unwavering dedication to their cult of the celebrity, is something I’ve been fascinated by for a long time. The idea that an artist or celebrity is so important to you that you revere them as a central figure to your life or personality is interesting in so many ways. I remember reading the comments on Scroobius Pip’s song ‘Thou shalt always kill‘, referring to the section where he lists popular and influential bands and follows each name with “[they’re] just a band.” People insisted in comments on the very video itself that the Beatles/Rolling Stones/Sex Pistols/Decemberists etc etc were not just a band, they were so much more. They were offended by the very notion that an artist that was so important to them might be considered as ‘just a band’, and this fixation on an artist as more than simply a musician is definitely something I wanted to touch on. DJ D-Kline is love, DJ D-Kline is life.
I was asked by one of my bug testing posse why there was no means of getting through the fans by deception or peaceful means like many other routes, I explained through one simple example. At a concert or club artist, have you ever managed to persuade your way to the front? The people who’ve made it so close to their beloved artist have done so through proving their higher desire to be close to them. Some of them turn up early to get there before others, some use force or subtle crowd maneuvering to get through, while others attempt crowd surfing or similar displays to get themselves closer when the show has already begun. In the bid to be as close as possible to the stage, the crowd, despite their unity, turns against itself. The struggle for that extra row forward or those few inches closer goes on throughout the show, a silent but constant battle of elbows and unyielding stances. And when someone tries to force their way through, when they shove and kick and try to take people’s front row spot through blatant aggression, the fans once more unite to push them back. And the CyberFunkers are those aggressive row stealers. And no fan takes kindly to that.
The last element I wanted the fans to represent were the scenesters, the people who find the cool or popular thing and jump in on it, insisting they were there all along and, just like the super fans, are constantly desperate to prove it. You’ll find these at any gig, often covered in merchandise and quick to tell you how many tours they’ve seen. For the scenesters their interest is to be cool through proxy, to be respected through their commitment to the artist regardless of how long they’ve actually known them, and will often put other fans down in order to make themselves seem superior. It’s an odd dynamic, and something I thought meshed perfectly with D-Kline’s commercialised, stardom-over-creativity attitude. The commercial world actively encourages this mindset, the idea that more the t-shirts, CDs and tickets you’ve bought shows how big a fan you are extending far beyond music and into any brand. What’s interesting is that among the scenesters it creates a competitiveness with people who they otherwise simply have something in common with. Definitely something that would only become more prevalent in the dystopic Cyberpunk future.
While I could probably write an essay on the subject, let’s instead talk about the fabled Backstage!