I re-read James Clavell's masterpiece Noble House over Easter. (James Clavell is like Charles Dickens for the 1980s, except if Charles Dickens has been spliced with the genes of Hemingway and Dashiell Hammett and he's writing about Asia. If you haven't read Noble House, treat yourself. It won't sink in how good it is until page 200. It doesn't matter because there's still nearly 1000 to go at that stage.)
It's a brilliant book, but it's also the kind of thing I aim any Cyberpunk 2020 game to be. Everybody is on the make. Everybody is out for number one. Everybody is motivated. Everybody has a name, a past, a reason for being. Even characters who appear for only a page have depth, desires, passions: the NPCs aren't cardboard cutouts - they're real people to be interacted with, manipulated, bargained with, begged, intimidated, pleasured. They can all do something for you, but they all want something in return. And they all know other people, who know other people, who know other people, who know the first people but for different reasons. To play the game is to create a massive web of favours and enemies and allies and vengeance.
The fact that Noble House is set in 1960s Hong Kong is just the icing on the cake. I love the aesthetic of the original Cyberpunk 2020, but I love the aesthetic of 1960s Hong Kong even more: all the men wear suits, smoke cigarettes and say "I'll have a brandy and soda" when you offer them a drink at 11am, and "I'll have a whiskey and soda" when you offer them one at 11pm. People use the telephone to have important conversations. They leave messages for each other at hotel receptions. They bump into each other in bars and say, "Hello gentlemen, may I join you?"
Why bother with all the cyberware when you can have a noirish game of crime, business and style over substance? Or, a better question: why not an alternative reality in which it's the 1960s, but people have cybereyes, contraceptive implants and Kerenzikov boosterware?