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The Guardian has published a detailed story on the World of Darkness' cancellation, with plenty of sourced quotes from former employees and playtesters, which paints a pretty grim picture of CCP's management practices and the game's development. The team was apparently pulled from the project often to help on EVE's expansions:
Repeatedly, staff were shifted over from the former to work on expansion projects for the latter. At times, our sources say, the entire WoD staff was put onto Eve, particularly during the development of 2009 add-on Apocrypha.
(On many different occasions throughout the years I was there, CCP would often '˜poach' WoD staff for expansion projects,) recalls Nick Blood, a former developer and game master at CCP.
(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.)
But even without these shifts it sounds like development wouldn't have been a smooth ride. Reportedly, the project reached alpha in three different occasions, and features were repeatedly scrapped, redesigned and reimplemented:
This constant yo-yo effect contributed to a development cycle in which planned features were partially completed and then dumped numerous times over. There seemed to be no clear vision on how the various parts would create a cohesive end product.
Sources report that, over the nine-year period, the game effectively reached alpha the stage at which all the major features have been implemented - three times, only for each version to be scrapped.
(I tested it myself, on two different occasions out of those three,) says Blood. (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.
For the coders there was a constant state of flux. (Almost every system in the game was designed, built and tested at least once, most of them multiple times,) says one gameplay programmer. (Some of the systems were reportedly pretty cool; they had never been seen in MMOs before. The problem was that, without a cogent vision, none of it gelled. There was no clear path towards '˜done'.
"So the team just ended up building stuff and throwing it away, over and over again. It's something I saw on Eve and Dust as well - the teams would build a feature, then be told by management to make '˜small changes' which necessitated a full, back-to-square-one rewrite.)
I genuinely recommend you take the time to read the full feature, as it's one of the best game journalism pieces I've seen this year and the most detailed account on the game's development to surface so far.