Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines Retrospective

There's an interesting retrospective article for Troika's flawed gem Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines at Eurogamer, with contributions from lead writer Brian Mitsoda (currently hard at work on the zombie turn-based RPG Dead State) and Wesp5, the man responsible for the Unofficial Patch mod. Here's a snip:
"It broke my game!" Spahl says. "So I contacted him and asked for a fix, to which he replied he was finished with the patch and that I should do it myself. He then explained me how, and after fixing the problem, I asked him if I could continue the patch to which he agreed."

Spahl took over the patching duties from version 1.2 onwards. Despite two official patches from Troika and two unofficial patches from Upright, there remained a vast amount which needed to be fixed. Indeed, Spahl didn't actually have time to playtest the game himself, instead relying upon the Bloodlines community to report bugs and other issues. Sometimes the community would assist with fixing the game too. "There are people who helped more, like spell-checking dialogues, adding Python scripts, fixing specific .dll code problems, correcting models or even creating maps."

Even with the support of the community behind him, fixing Bloodlines' many problems wasn't easy. Alongside the sheer size of the game, its complexity meant that fixing one element of the game often resulted in breaking another. Furthermore, while fixing a scripting bug here and there was relatively straightforward, delving deeper into the game's DNA offered up challenges of its own. "Everything connected to the basic level geometry or the models is very hard to fix, because there is no real SDK. You can only do so much by changing level entities, and for errors regarding models I often had to get outside help."

As time went on, and Spahl became more confident working with the Bloodlines' code, the unofficial patches went beyond simply fixing obvious problems, and began to restore cut content and finishing unfinished content. In patch version 8.0 Spahl restored a guard character to the game after finding his dialogue file. He used a script in the game's map to locate the guard's position and asked a member of the community to record the voiceover. The most substantial addition came in version 8.4, when with the help of the community Spahl restored an entire level to the game. "Our biggest achievement is the recreation of the cut library map which we basically had to build from scratch while using all the models and textures belonging into it, which Troika left us in the game files."

In fact, Spahl's patches have altered the game so much from its original state as to result in some criticism from the community, so now there are two versions of the patch, a basic one that performs straightforward bug-fixes, and an advanced version that restores content and tweaks many aspects of the gameplay.

Thanks, RPG Codex.