World of Darkness was officially announced years ago, but ever since, little has been revealed about the game or the progress of its development. EVE Vegas may be all about EVE, but that didn’t stop me from cornering David Reid, CCP's Chief Marketing Officer, in the press room and drilling him with questions about what we can expect from World of Darkness. Fortunately, he was a good sport and only flinched slightly when I dragged out a blindingly bright spotlight and metal chair for him to sit in. At the time, I didn’t realize David had been in the Army, so that explains how he held up to my interrogation so well.
Gamers that haven’t been following the project closely will be happy to know that it’s been confirmed that World of Darkness will initially be set in the Vampire: The Masquerade timeline. Fans of the World of Darkness universe will have to wait and see if other White Wolf projects such as Mage, Exalted, Werewolf, etc. make their way into the game later. David didn’t rule anything out, but thoughts like this are so far off in the future that aside from some possible thought put to potential future technical capabilities, those other settings are not a focus.
Since it’s been so long since we’ve heard any real news about the game, I had to ask what’s up with the project and why has the team remained so silent. David was quick to let the development team off the hook for their silence and took all the blame himself. As David explains, there is a fine line to walk in the art of creating excitement about a game’s launch so for the most part, fans are going to have to wait a while longer before he’ll let the World of Darkness development team off the proverbial leash.
The moment you reveal a significant amount of information about a game, it automatically creates an unspoken promise to continue revealing information. If this reveal is too early, it’s next to impossible to keep everyone interested for an extended period of time. We’ve all been there and seen development teams start the hype train over a year before the release of their game. That kind of intense excitement and anticipation can only be upheld for so long before potential players begin to lose interest.
With that out of the way, I immediately began asking about what type of game we can expect World of Darkness to be. At this, David quickly lit up (and not just because of the aforementioned spotlight) and explained that “it is absolutely [leaning towards] the sandbox side.” At the same time, a lot of the PvE in the game is going to be much different than what players of standard MMO games are used to. He goes on to explain, “World of Darkness is a scary place.” “There are things out there you just shouldn’t be messing with no matter how bad ass you think you are.” This leads him to talk about how some of the PvE content in World of Darkness may revolve around avoidance, rather than straight combat. You may need to get an item from a scary mob that you quickly realize isn’t going to be taken down by you, “no matter how many of your friends you bring along”. You’re going to need to explore different avenues of attacking the situation rather than strictly combat. Expect to see a number of things done differently in World of Darkness when compared to other MMOs.
This sets up a number of new gameplay elements players can expect to see. As a fan of the pen and paper version of Vampire: The Masquerade, I can see why this fits into the spirit of the game perfectly. The campaigns I used to play in involved very little combat, but there was tons of intrigue, politics, betrayal, and more. Bringing this to an MMO would certainly set World of Darkness apart from its competitors.
Before I let David out from under the Spotlight of Truth, I asked him about player created content. It may be all the rage right now in multiple games, but both Vampire: The Masquerade PC games (Redemption and Bloodlines) had a massive following of fans that used the storyteller mode for years. To me, World of Darkness is the first game that some form of player created content is mandatory, not an option. David couldn’t go into details, but he did give us a couple tidbits. Number one, there will not be a toolset like that provided in Bloodlines, or BioWare’s Neverwinter Nights. The player-created missions in City of Heroes is also something it’s not going to be.
Second, “There are things we are doing that will reward players for creating content as it is consumed by other players.” “It’s something that we think can happen not just in the game itself, but [also] on the web, on mobile devices, and things like that. How you as a participant in the World of Darkness universe are creating things that other people are consuming. Whether it’s items in the game, whether it’s stories that they’re reading, tips, and things like that.”
As they say, talk is cheap, but there is one massive reason I’m willing to give CCP the benefit of the doubt, not the least of which is this – EVE Online is the only MMORPG (ever) to have 10 years of consecutive player growth. Companies out there are more than welcome to argue with me, but trust me… if they had steady growth in their game’s population year after year for a decade, they’d be as public with their subscription numbers as CCP is in regards to EVE Online. That tells me that the company knows how to create a complex and genuinely engaging game that won’t appeal to everyone, but will appeal to some. And those it does spark a fire in will be there for the long haul, not gone in a month to see what shiny new game has shipped that they’ll also quit in a month. That is exactly the types of game players need. Personally, I can’t wait.