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Why did World of Darkness die? New sources tell all

Thursday, 5th June 2014 12:22 GMT By Dave Cook

World of Darkness was cancelled by EVE Online’s CCP Games this year, but its almost-decade long transition from an intriguing idea to doomed project is shrouded in mystery. New sources have come forward to give their account of what happened during the MMO’s slow death.

world of darkness
Image credit: Idiocracy.

The last we heard of World of Darkness was this leaked manual and screen selection from CCP’s final play-test in March.

Sources speaking with The Guardian have depicted a troubled and volatile atmosphere surrounding the project, along with the revelation that the MMO entered alpha phase on three separate occasions, following big changes.

CCP purchased tabletop gaming firm White Wolf in 2006 ad immediately put it to work on World of Darkness, a game that was said to feature the same open sandbox hallmarks of EVE. However, former CCP employee Nick Blood said, “On many different occasions throughout the years I was there, CCP would often ‘poach’ WoD staff for expansion projects,”

“There were plenty of developers who would get redirected to create Eve content for three to six month cycles… During these times, World of Darkness development was significantly slowed down. I remember the upper management often exasperatedly trying to figure out what to do with the remaining staff for a six-month period while their artists and programmers were busy elsewhere.”

This shifting of resources caused World of Darkness development to stutter many times over the years, which led to revisions and those three separate alpha versions.

Blood said of the tests, “I tested it myself, on two different occasions out of those three. With the first playtest, I was amazed at how little of the core game was there – at this point the game had been in development for over half a decade. I mean, there was just nothing, literally nothing, for someone like me, a complete outsider to the WOD IP, to appreciate.

“Other testers who were familiar with it thought it was great that they could finally see their avatars ‘diablerise’ – or consume – other player’s corpses, for health, or something. I just kind of shook my head and wondered how this would ever draw in anything other than die-hard fans.

“On the second play test, quite some time later, I was struck by how much had changed – and yet remained unfinished. The flagship achievement was a new movement system, made after scrapping the old one, which was similar to the Assassin’s Creed gameplay – with mantling walls, etc. But it was very basic in comparison. CCP was quite self-congratulatory on achieving this much, and the internal propaganda was that this kind of movement system would revolutionise MMO gaming.”

The Guardian’s report goes on like this, covering everything from coders having to discard reams of work, developers being unable to answer basic gameplay questions and more.

Have a read and share your thoughts with us below.

Via Eurogamer.

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6 Comments

  1. YoungZer0

    Jesus that really sounds bloody awful.

    #1 7 months ago
  2. Tormenter

    This is tragic.

    Eve holds absolutely no draw for me at all, this I would probably have played. Ah well, looks like CCP don’t get any of my munnees

    #2 7 months ago
  3. Sylrissa

    @2
    My thoughts exactly, this is a real shame to happen to some I likely would of spend a good amount of time with.

    #3 7 months ago
  4. Darkfield

    They scrapped a project with wide appeal around the gaming community to focus on EVE Online that in it finest moments never had more than 500k active subs which a lot of them are dual or multi accounts. Now this is the moment I should rage quit and slam the door behind me so hard that entire building collapses behind me.

    #4 7 months ago
  5. TheWulf

    They were basically just trying to make something to challenge The Secret World by the sounds of it, but failing badly. What they didn’t get is that Vampire, the part they focused on, is both popularly and nichely considered to be the most boring part.

    Vampire has a tiny cult following, yes, but everything does. White Wolf players will tell you that the more interesting settings are very different from Vampire, they’d cite Changeling, Promethean, Geist, Mage, and even Werewolf. All of those had genuinely interesting things going on for them, Vampire just felt like an afterthought, it was almost too Twilight for my tastes. No, I’m not joking, you should have read some of the White Wolf books.

    And vampires aren’t just that popular, either. And the people they are popular with wouldn’t be interested in playing a game like this, anyway. If they’d created a Promethean MMO, or one of any of the others, it would have been something to actually look forward to. But they did a dumb.

    And the end result is that management had a floundering project, one which they likely knew wasn’t popular, but they wanted to see if anything could come of it due to all the money they’d already wasted on the project. If it were me, I’d have been merciful and put it down in the earliest stages of its conception, so that the people toiling with it wouldn’t have to suffer.

    Another element is that, honestly, unless you’re going to embrace the Malks, there’s not much you can do with Vampire that’s imaginative. And I can’t see an MMO having an entire dialogue tree for the Malks in the way that, say, Bloodlines did. If you weren’t playing a Malk in Bloodlines, you were doing it wrong. Very wrong.

    Also, if you weren’t using a Malk’s seduction power with the intent to fail the rolls, you were doing it wrong.

    So a lot of what made Bloodlines so fantastic was contextual to the humour, and a lot of that humour really didn’t exist within the setting itself. That’s something that was brought to it by Bloodlines. If you play the earlier Vampire game for comparison, you’ll understand. The earlier one is quite dry, serious, and stereotypical. Bloodlines revelled in a sort of goofiness that wasn’t Vampire.

    That’s what made Bloodlines so great, it wasn’t Vampire. It was Vampire: The Malkavian Sitcom. It’s similar to how The Wolf Among Us just isn’t Fables.

    But Bloodlines is singular, and for an MMO, it’s just not an interesting setting. The lore is enough to induce sleep in insomniacs, the canon characters are flat and uninteresting, and the so-called ‘burdens’ they have and their nemeses are dreadfully uninspired. I guess that’s why some of the books went with an overly dramatic Twilight approach, because they had to do something to make Vampire interesting.

    I think they should have gone with how Bloodlines approached it, just being comical and goofy. That was great. In fact, when Bloodlines got serious, everyone disliked it! Go figure. Toward the end of the game, there was a lot of combat and seriousness (at least, before the entirely goofy, silly ending), and what I hear all the time is is that that’s the worst part of the game. No one wants to play that part of the game. They want to play the Malkavian Sitcom part of the game.

    Bloodlines was exemplified by its stealth, puzzle, and talky moments. And people seem to hate that in MMOs, despite those elements being strong in one of my favourite MMOs (The Secret World, which I still can’t believe became one of my favourites after the horrible marketing made me so leery, but it did).

    So, basically, this would be dry and serious, and an overly simplistic parkour action game. With the drivel that passes for lore in the Vampire setting sprinkled on top.

    ABORT! ABORT! ABORT!

    It’s funny, I mean, the only way I hear of people really having fun with Vampire is by playing a Malkavian, and playing him in a way that’s goofy insane, rather than evil insane. I’ve heard of so many instances of friends cancelling a Vampire game to ‘just play Changeling instead, or something.

    I just… I guess I don’t know why people would want that as an MMO?

    It’d get a month, maybe, with some Twilight/Bloodlines fans poking it out of curiosity, then it would die. It’d be too much action for the Twilight fans, and not enough amusing and clever for the Bloodlines fans.

    Why didn’t you go with Promethean or something, CCP? Gah.

    It still bugs me. Of course, if they had been making Vampire: The Malkavian Sitcom, I would have been so on board with that, but it seemed like the drivel that Bloodlines was based off of but wasn’t at all faithful to.

    Sigh.

    I actually feel genuinely bad for the people who were forced to work on that, they should have quietly had it put down as an act of kindness for everyone involved. I’m glad, though. I actually like White Wolf ending on a gaming high note with Bloodlines.

    It occurs to me that CCP probably just didn’t understand why Bloodlines was so popular, and erroneously believed ‘because vampires.

    I think they could have been space aliens with that writing and people would have still eaten it up. I miss Troika because of their goofy and spectacularly good writing. They made oWoD a little less dark, and it benefited from it.

    #5 7 months ago
  6. Kenri

    TheWulf, you mixed everything up, you’re talking about Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem like both games were the same, but they’re not. In the new WoD, other games are more popular than Vampire: The Requiem, but that’s a different crowd, some classic WoD players moved to the new WoD and the new one brought more people. You’re just one of those preaching the new WoD is better, but both settings are different, classic WoD has a deep and extensive lore, where you can get immersed, while new WoD is a sandbox game, where you don’t need background stories, just RPG tools to create your own, both things are great. For those who enjoy to create their own things, new WoD fits them well, those who loves reading and being part of a great story, then classic WoD is for them.

    Those who don’t like the endings in VTM Bloodlines, it’s because they don’t understand why it had such conclusions, VTM is mostly about politics, moral decisions, manipulation, backstabbing and deception, with that ending you get all of that. Most games are about winning at the end, VTM, it’s not, what it’s important is the story, in the tabletop game your character can get the Final Death, but you still feel good about it, because of the things your character did and contributed to the chronicle.

    A lot of people says their chronicles hardly have combat on them, they’re mostly about politics and player interaction, that’s why in VTM Bloodlines they say the final part of the game feels different, because, there’s no more politics and the game turns more action centred, in the rest of the game, you can play in a stealth mode, you don’t need to kill every NPC. VTM Redemption, the other PC game based on VTM, has an epic vampire chronicle from dark ages to modern nights, unlike Bloodlines which lets you being part of the vampire politics, its gameplay is centred in doing dungeons and combats, even if you can see the vampire politics and manipulation through the story, you can’t be part of it, it’s linear, just some moral decisions change your ending, that’s the reason VTM Redemption didn’t achieve the same cult following than VTM Bloodlines, which also is an excellent RPG
    .
    If the Clan Malkavian was all that Bloodlines had to offer, there weren’t a lot people playing the game several times and doing different things, choosing different paths and Clans. Now, what about newcomers? Those Bloodlines fans who don’t even know the tabletop game, they bought a vampire game, they wanted to play an RPG about vampires.

    Your comment is just a compilation of your own frustrations and nothing else, You don’t like Vampire: The Masquerade, good, you wanted a Promethean: The Created MMO, good, you prefer the new WoD, not the classic one, that’s okay, just say that. You just were overreacting, because they weren’t making a game you wanted, that’s why you’re bashing all the things you don’t like.

    Finally, whether you like it or not, Vampire: The Masquerade influenced the vampire genre and revolutionized the gaming industry, there’s a lot of people and articles which’ll give you the reasons, also, if it wasn’t for it, you wouldn’t have Promethean: The Created and the new WoD.

    #6 7 months ago

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