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Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 Dev Diary #8: Explore the World of Darkness

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Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 Dev Diary #8: Explore the World of Darkness

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Wed 7 February 2024, 19:47:53

Tags: Paradox Interactive; The Chinese Room; Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2


Hello again,

This is my 3rd dev diary, and I have used the last two to talk about the 1st and 2nd pillars of the game: Feel Like a Vampire, which covered the player fantasy; Visceral Immersive combat, which covers the action gameplay. Today I want to tell you about our 3rd and final game pillar: "Explore The World of Darkness," which covers the setting, society, characters, story, and RPG elements of the game. We'll be talking in-depth about RPG elements at a later date, so today I am going to focus mainly on the setting, society, and characters.

The World of Darkness is the larger umbrella for the Vampire The Masquerade IP and the related games. It handles the supernatural in a mature and grounded way, basing it on the premise that vampires, werewolves, and ghosts are actually real, but are hidden from our contemporary human society. Video games offer a unique perspective on this world that other mediums don't, being able to walk around it and explore it. Our goal with this pillar was to create a version of Seattle that is authentic to The World of Darkness IP and makes you believe that this hidden side of Seattle, where vampires are in control, could be real and that in contrast the human world feels more alien to you and potentially unreal. To that end, we didn't set about making an exact replica of Seattle, as our priority wasn't to represent the human world, but the vampire one. The Seattle you experience in Bloodlines 2 is a kind of "best-of" Seattle where we've taken key landmarks and brought them in closer together. For example, Pioneer Square is a key location, and it speaks to us of the old city and its founders (some of which were vampires that you will meet), but we also have volunteer park, which in reality is on the outskirts of the city but we loved the idea of doing a creepy mission there that reveals something sinister beneath this iconic conservatory.

We want you to feel like you are seeing Seattle through the eyes of a vampire, so we have also made buildings taller, lights brighter, and alleyways darker to give an overall heightened feeling to what you are seeing as if you are looking through the eyes of an apex predator. For a better explanation of this, I suggest you read Ben Matthews dev diary on our neo-noir art style.

In Bloodlines 1 you were a new vampire in a city with a large Anarch presence where the Camarilla don’t have complete dominance. For Bloodlines 2 we have flipped this on its head. You play Phyre, an Elder vampire (~400 years old) in a city where Camarilla has been dominant for decades, and any hint of Anarch sympathy is squashed. Phyre's number 1 loyalty is to herself, but she is wise enough to respect the power of the Camarilla and, more importantly, the Masquerade. Within the story Phyre earns a seat at the top-table of the Camarilla as the court's Sheriff, giving her the court's protection but also a powerful authority within Seattle's vampire society. This is an RPG, of course, so you can roleplay Sheriff in multiple ways, maybe you are a loyal Sheriff of the Camarilla, or an Anarch sympathiser working from within to undermine the court, or maybe you're a self-centred Elder vampire playing the different factions off each other to your advantage.

Phyre's motivation in the story is driven (at least initially) by regaining her power - she has awoken after 100 years in torpor (vampire hibernation) 6000 miles from home with markings all over her body which are limiting her powers. This sets up the narrative context of the ability tree (which we will show in due course) which instead of being about adding new powers to Phyre, like levelling up in the pen-and-paper RPG, you are unlocking her existing powers. Over her 300 years roaming the old world, Phyre had gained many powers, not only those from the disciplines of her clan.

An important part of the Masquerade is that vampires are hidden in plain sight in our society. There are several vampire hangouts in the city which, to a passerby appear innocent, but to those in the know, are important places in vampire society. For example, the little old lady who runs the all-night coffee shop may not be as sweet and defenceless as she seems at first glance. A key location the player often returns to, is Weaver Tower, a Seattle corporate HQ that is actually the front for the Camarilla, inspired by the downtown skyscrapers in Seattle and giving the city's Prince a skyline view over their domain.

Lastly, there can be no World of Darkness without light - the world of humans. The city is populated with "civilians," unaware that you are a vampire walking among them. Whilst this may seem great to a vampire - free-ranged food on every street - it also comes with risk, as using your vampiric powers or feeding in front of witnesses can trigger a Masquerade breach, and while you are Sheriff, even you are not above the law and could have the court's Scourge sent to deal with you if you are reckless on the streets of the emerald city. So make sure to hunt like a vampire: stalking from rooftops, hunting in alleyways, isolating your prey and if you are observed, deal with witnesses swiftly.

I hope you enjoyed hearing more about the setting and world of Bloodlines 2. We look forward to sharing more information with you in future dev diaries.

Good night!
Alex Skidmore, Project Creative Director​

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