Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines Interview

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Eschalon: Book II

Developer:Troika Games
Release Date:2004-11-18
  • Action,Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • First-Person,Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
With Half Life 2 shipping soon, we felt it was a perfect time to track down the team at Troika to find out the latest details about their Source Engine powered RPG, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines. Answering our questions is Leonard Boyarsky, Joint CEO/Producer/Art Director at Troika Games:

GB: First of all, how is development coming along on Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines? Have you recently reached any milestones or ran into any unforseen obstacles?

Leonard: Development is coming along great. We're pushing full steam ahead towards beta and the game is really starting to come together.

GB: How much contact have you had with White Wolf during the development of Bloodlines? Have there been any conflicts between White Wolf and Troika in terms of implementing any of the the V:tM rules into a computer game?

Leonard: The relationship between White Wolf and us has been great. They've been really supportive of this game, and we've not had any real conflicts with them over rule implementation or anything for that matter. Early on we were running our story ideas past them and they had some critiques about certain aspects of the story in terms of how it related to their universe, but these were relatively small and they never really objected to some of the bigger things we were doing in the game.

GB: When Troika was first approached from Activision, was there any discussion of Nihilistic's Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption playing a part in the storyline for Bloodlines? Did the original RPG have any influence on development decisions in Bloodlines whatsoever?

Leonard: When we first spoke with Activision about this project, there was actually never any thought of incorporating anything from the first game's storyline into Bloodlines. We were all much more focused on creating an entirely new story and giving the player the opportunity to create their character instead of being given one. I think Redemption was great for what it was, but we were setting out to make a totally different style of game than it had been.

GB: V:tM - Bloodlines will take place in four different "hubs" of a dark Los Angeles. Please detail each of these hubs and how the mood and/or environment will change from one to another.

Leonard: The four hubs are Santa Monica, Los Angeles (also known as Downtown), Hollywood and Chinatown.

Santa Monica is a sleepy little seaside town, not a lot of huge buildings, it is right on the beach, and the pier contains the colorful Ferris Wheel that can be seen from your haven window.

Los Angeles is a city of skyscrapers and feels like much more of an urban setting than any of the other hubs. It's also fairly imposing in that large buildings always surround you. LA definitely has an industrial, gothic feel to it.

Hollywood is basically our version of the Sunset Strip, with the famous Hollywood Hills overlooking it. Because it's Hollywood, there's a strip club as well as a smut shop, as well as a few upper crust dance clubs.

Our version of Chinatown probably has the moodiest feel of all the hubs, as it feels completely foreign with its fog shrouded skyline and its unique architecture.

Of course, since this is the world of darkness, each of these areas, while possessing its own distinct feel, also has an overarching feel of decay and death (and bums and prostitutes for good measure).

GB: Does each of the four Los Angeles hubs contain certain necessities for the player, such as a haven, a nightclub, and/or a merchant to peruse? Also, other than purchasing equipment from merchants, does money have any other purpose in the game?

Leonard: The player starts out with a run down haven in Santa Monica, and, if they play their cards right, can get upgraded to a nicer place in Los Angeles. The player ends up frequenting Los Angeles a lot, so it's a handy place to have your swinging vampiric pad. Every hub has at least one merchant and one night club. As far as money goes, you can use it to buy blood packs or to frequent the prostitutes as well as buying weapons, ammo, and armor with it.

GB: How many different pieces of equipment will players be able to acquire/choose from in Bloodlines, and how important will gear be to the character? Will there be any unique or artifact items to be found in the game? If so, can you give us an example or two, along with their stats?

Leonard: As far as equipment and item collecting go, this isn't a game based around the finding of a lot of items or armor types (and neither is the PnP, really). It's much more about the story and the character interaction (whether combat or social). You can get a total of four armors in the game, a ton of firearms and melee weapons, and some really cool Occult items as well. Here's two examples of really cool Occult items you can get in the game:

The Odious Chalice
A Tzimisce-created abomination, this is a pathetic organ-like creature that you can feed from which never dies. The Odious Chalice continually refills with blood over time.

The Saulocept is actually the remains of some ancient, much larger item, and contains the souls of unknown beings. Every time you are awarded three or more experience, you gain one extra experience point when this is in your possession.

GB: Will we be seeing a lot of mini-boss type enemies in the game, or will the game be based around a handful of major battles? We were able to see the Stone Gargoyle during our E3 presentation, but can you give us an example or two of other enemies the player will face?

Leonard: There are all types of battles in Bloodlines, from an early battle with you squaring off against a psychopathic killer, to much later in the game when you face a whole mess of Society of Leopold Hunters (I won't give away the context of either of these wouldn't want to spoil the surprise).

GB: Can you describe how the multiplayer aspect of Bloodlines will work, and what types of play modes multiplayer will offer (deathmatch, co-op, etc)?

Leonard: We're still not discussing multiplayer yet.

GB: Tell us about some of the changes and enhancements you've had to make to Valve's Source engine in order to gear it toward Bloodlines instead of Half-Life 2. Are there any limitations whatsoever with such a powerful engine?

Leonard: We've added our own lighting system (because our game takes place all at night we felt this was a necessity), our own version of the existing particle system (we needed a wide range of effects for the disciplines), and a cloth system (what's a vampire without his long coat?). Not to mention implementing the RPG system, the interactive dialogs, etc.

GB: Once Bloodlines has shipped, what is next on Troika's plate? Do you intend on expanding the game if it does well commercially, or do you think you'll move on to other titles? And I have to ask - what were those post-apocalyptic game screenshots all about that recently surfaced on the web?

Leonard: We have a lot of different ideas for what we'd like to pursue next, but right now we're pretty focused on Bloodlines. As for the post apocalyptic screens that have surfaced, those were from a tech demo for another project we've been showing to publishers, which we're keeping pretty quiet about right now.

Thanks Leonard!