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Hardsuit Labs and Paradox Interactive's World of Darkness-based RPG Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 will be launching sometime in 2020. And seeing how the original Bloodlines is such a beloved game, producing a worthy successor is high up on the developers' list of priorities. And if you'd like to hear what Bloodlines 2's narrative director Brian Mitsoda has to say about this, you should check out this recent PC Gamer interview. An excerpt:
"Generally when you're working on a game, and all those pieces start to come together, it's then when you realise that there might be aspects that you want to spend more time on, or that you could complete the game but it might be at the expense of some polish, or you might have to make some deep cuts. With the kind of reaction we got to the announcement of it, we wanted to spend more time polishing the game and really just delivering the best experience that we can."
The demos we've seen so far have been a good showcase of Bloodlines 2's writing and introduced us to some colourful characters in Seattle's undead underground, but there's still something a bit awkward about the animation, especially in combat, where you flail at enemies while they just stand there and take a beating. Most of these fights pit a supernatural killing machine against puny humans, so they're not meant to be challenging, but they could probably try a bit harder to survive.
"Everything goes in stages, and especially with combat animation it's a process," Mitsoda explains. "We control a large percentage of the animations for dialogue through a disposition system where we assign an emotion to that character, and then we use stock animation and footage that makes them seem like they're sad, for example. When you're dealing with a character face to face and you're staring at them for long periods of time, you start to run into things where you immediately notice when something's off with the characters, especially in this game, where they look more realistic than they did in the previous one."
Then, you might also want to read this follow-up interview with Bloodlines 2's senior narrative designer Cara Ellison that focuses on the game's horror elements and general atmosphere. A sample:
"We try to make your vampire existence seem precarious all the time," Ellison says. "That you could do one thing and screw it all up. Accidentally kill someone, and then forces bigger than you will come for you. And that actually ties into the basis of [Bloodlines 2], which is neo-noir fiction. The neo-noir protagonist is always co-opted into an existing world that’s already hostile. I feel like Phillip Marlowe always gets beaten up in a back alley. You’re always vulnerable to something that’s more powerful or a narrative that you get swept up in. Violence that isn’t your fault. So what we tried to do with [Bloodlines 2] is make you feel like you’re always looking out for something, and there are horrors beyond your imagination."
At the same time, neo-noir protagonists often have a habit of making trouble for these larger forces around them. Ellison loves to include these types of options, and even compares their presence in Bloodlines 2 to a recent game about pesky waterfowl.
"I like the quests in which you’re making someone miserable," she says. "I’m currently playing Untitled Goose Game. We made some jokes about this, like, it would be very easy to turn our game into Goose Game in a way. With the vampire goose that’s annoying people. And that’s basically what you do as a vampire. You’re this Thin-blood who goes around irritating people and screwing up their day, making situations worse all the time."