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Development Info Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 Dev Diary #13: What are we up to?


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Jan 28, 2011
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Tags: Paradox Interactive; The Chinese Room; Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2


Summer’s here so we figured it’d be a good time to pull back the curtain a bit and show you how a game like Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 is made. This month we’ll give you a couple of glimpses into how the magic becomes a game. In this post we’re focusing on the atmosphere of the game: Concept Art, Level Design, Lighting and Audio.

Level Design
As a Level Designer, I love working on spaces that evoke a range of powerful emotional experiences for the player. I've been exploring how we can best achieve this, while collaborating with our other departments. I am very excited to see your reactions!

Recently I’ve been working on an early level in the game, where I focussed on how we can encourage player learning, and how we can help you to feel confident when playing our game. We also want to build levels that support a variety of playstyles, to make sure that you can play as your chosen Clan.

As a Vampire, we want you to be able to embrace your supernatural movement options. Our levels have been carefully crafted in a way that will allow you to experiment and have fun with our traversal system, and in some places, be challenged.I can’t wait for you all to play!”

- Level Designer Amy Lee

In Bloodlines 2 my main focus is to guide you through the cold and looming backdrop that our Design and Environment Art teams have meticulously crafted over the past few years. These quests, set in our nocturnal version of Seattle, allow you to delve into the lives of its many Kindred inhabitants.

Taking place after pivotal moments in the main questline, these adventures will offer you the chance to explore Seattle at your own pace. You will be visiting its Clan leaders, keeping the competition at bay and making decisions that will affect the outcome of your journey as Phyre. These are stuffed with Narrative and lore and I'll be taking you from the depths of the underground to the snow-capped high-rise rooftops.

Having so many great moments of Bloodlines 2's story under my care has always felt like a big responsibility. I am happy to report however, that working with the Narrative team has been wonderful, and bouncing ideas off of them has been some of the most fun I've had here at TCR. I look forward to heading into the night with all of you all, but for now I have more public spaces to deface.”

- Junior Level Designer Jack Goddard

It is simply a tad too early to reveal what I’m working on right this minute, but I figured perhaps you’d enjoy hearing about how we as Writers create Ambience in games. Something perhaps players don’t think of much (means we did our job right!), but that is still a big part of the overall experience. “Ambients” are the sounds you hear in the game outside of roleplay conversations; this can range from short lines you might hear from a passing NPC to situation-specific enemy dialogue. They're a vital part of developing the game's soundscape to help it feel like a fully fleshed-out world.

It's a process that involves close communication between Level Design and Narrative Design. Getting the ambients right requires understanding every fight, every location, every NPC, and writing unique dialogue to fit. How many enemies are there in this fight? Do they all appear at once or do they come in waves? Why is that NPC here? If you lurk before approaching, can you learn their motivation? Does eavesdropping on them give you a hint for where to go next? What can you learn about the wider world by listening to them?

Ambients are a perfect opportunity for world building, we give each NPC their own personality and a brief look into their life, no matter how minor a part they play. So while it's fun for the player to get a glimpse into their world, ambients really reinforce just that: this is their world. So Phyre (and by extension, the player) is just a small part of it.

Our team mould these around the traversal of the world while accounting for various playstyles; a player who favours stealth might overhear an entire enemy conversation, while a player who prefers to brawl might jump right into the fray and cut off all but the first line. We then move on to implementing every piece just so, to ensure it triggers at exactly the right moment, giving the player an immersive experience that feels alive and natural. Thanks a lot for reading about this part of game development!”

- Games Writer Cherish Goldstraw

See you in two weeks for another sneak peek like this, before we break for summer holidays. In the meantime, do be sure to join our Discord or follow us on socials! Bloodlines 2 Twitter, Bloodlines 2 Facebook & Instagram.​

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