Tuesday, September 28, 2010

World of Darkness Announced

The big news this weekend, MMO-wise, was World of Darkness. Ever since CCP (developers of EVE Online) and White Wolf (creators of the various World of Darkness tabletop roleplaying games and such) merged it was pretty much known that CCP was working on a World of Darkness MMO. And that was pretty much all everyone knew. But this weekend during The Grand Masquerade, which is as I understand White Wolf's official conference, CCP officially announced their next MMO: World of Darkness (though some sources report it as "World of Darkness Online").

Here's an off-screen, low quality (I'm guessing taken with a camera phone) video of the teaser trailer shown during the event:

I was actually holding off on posting this news in the hopes that CCP would release a decent quality version of the video. They might do that later still, but until then this is all that we've got.

Details on the MMO are still sparse, but a few notable points have been revealed so far:

  • Released 2012 at the earliest.
    We'll start off with the bad news; they've revealed that the MMO will be released in 2012 at the earliest (and it wouldn't surprise me at all if it released later). Though two years wait from an official release isn't that strange (we've been waiting for SWTOR almost as long already and still have at least six more months to go), but it does still feel as a long time away. Luckily 2011 looks like it'll be packed with MMOs, so that should tie us over until then.

  • Based on Vampire: The Masquerade.
    In case you're not aware there are two version of the World of Darkness tabletop game; on old edition and a new edition (think of it perhaps as D&D 3E versus D&D 4E). Each edition has a set of related games (a Vampire game, a Werewolf game, a Mage game, etc). "Vampire: The Masquerade" is the vampire game for the old edition and "Vampire: The Requiem" is the vampire game for the new edition. People tend to be pretty divided on the two editions, some like The masquerade a lot better and others like The Requiem a lot better. But considering that the two single player computer RPGs, "Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption" and "Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines" (as well as the trading card game "Vampire: The Eternal Struggle", which I played when it was still called Jyhad, and even the short-lived television series "Kindred: The Embraced"), are based on the older setting it is much better known. Since I never really played any of the Pen and Paper versions of the game I've only really experienced The Masquerade and as such am glad that the MMO is going with that version. Hope in the community is though, particularly among those who liked The Requiem better, that they'll take lessons from both. Which does indeed seem likely.

  • Will have a focus on player politics and social interaction.
    Based on EVE Online, as well as the nature of Vampire in particular, this shouldn't really be surprising. But it is still nice to hear this confirmed. Of course the question remains exactly how they're going to do this.

  • Will be vampire-only to start.
    I know that this is going to be a disappointment to those that prefer the Werewolf, Mage or Changeling games and such. But they've confirmed that the only supernatural beings that we'll be able to play at launch are going to be vampires. Though there was also some mention of playable human characters in one place. And it's looking quite likely that they might add the other supernatural beings as playable characters in expansions (and either way they'll likely be represented by NPCs and such in the game from the start as well).

  • Three inter-connected playstyles: “Sandbox,” “Themepark,” and “Coffee Shop.”
    Apparently these three playstyles will all exist and connect to each other. "Sandbox" tends to refer to open-ended and non-linear games where players provide content for each other (general examples are Ultima Online, Star Wars Galaxies and EVE Online). "Themepark" games tend to be a lot more linear and guided experiences, named because a lot of players (particularly those who prefer sandbox games) tend to consider the content a bunch of 'rides'. Thempark games tend to revolve around quests and dungeons and such (general examples are World of Warcraft and pretty much most of the modern MMOs). I had no idea what a "Coffee Shop" game is, but according to one source it's a Second Life-type chatroom game, which I guess makes sense. "From what they said, these three spheres should be closely tied and interconnected together, essentially running the economy of blood in the game."

  • In development for 3 years (plus 1.5 years planning
    Just to say that they've been workign on it for a long time already. With at least two more years to go that's a fairly normal development time for an MMO.

  • Advanced character customization
    Apparently they're developing a 'carbon technology' framework that should provide state-of-the-art character customizations. Yeah, I have no idea what 'carbon technology' is either. It also seems that they've hired a fashion consultant to help make the system more realistic and stylish. Which seems as good a time as any to point to the Cloth Simulation Video they released a while back again. Though that is supposedly for EVE's Incarna ("walking in stations") expansion, World of Darkness is very likely to use the same technology. I know I'm sold.

  • As accessible as possible.
    Apparently they want to get women involved in the game, as well as be friendly to the LGBT community (they've confirmed gay and lesbian bars in the game). They want to maximize the amount of human interaction and the game will not be combat intensive (unless you choose it to be) where knowing and influencing the correct people is arguably more important. And though they don't want immaturity in the game they prefer for the community to police this.

  • One server world.
    Though not 100% confirmed it seems almost certain that, just like EVE Online, World of Darkness will be a one server world. Though I can see how one could do that with space (as emptiness is easy to generate), I'm really wondering how they're going to pull that off in a land based avatar game as it would require a huge amount of land. Particularly if this is going to be a lot more successful than EVE (which, let's face it, is still a very niche game). I seriously hope that they'll not underestimate the popularity this game could have.

  • Full PvP
    Again just like EVE the game will be a full PvP game with no flagging or such. Though there might be (relatively) safe areas (I expect something similar to high-sec and low-sec areas in EVE), it'll be a full PvP game. I'm really wondering how they'll fit this together with being more accessible. And I must admit that this is one thing that scares me as I'm in no way, shape or form a PvP player. Though my experiences with PvP are limited to games like Age of Conan (which might not be the best example for PvP) I fear that people who are more into the PvP combat part of the game will be able to dominate my play experience. Some of the stories that come out of EVE are truly frightening and I'm not sure if I could be able to stand playing a game under those circumstances (such as Hulkageddon and groups of players with ill intent ruining the hard work of others by stealing their stuff and destroying their corporations due to long-term infiltration and such). I do fear that such a game might breed that kind of anti-social behavior; players who like that kind of stuff are more likely to seek it out while those who don't like that kind of stuff are more likely to avoid it, skewing the overall playerbase in favor of the harshest playstyle. but I know that it's unfair of me to judge without giving it a try and though space isn't really my cup of tea, I'm willing to give World of Darkness a shot. Will have to see how they do it.
There's probably a lot more to say on this game (even despite knowing still so little about it). For one I dug up my Vampire (both The Masquerade and The Requiem) books again to have a reread of certain bits of background lore. And despite wanting to know everything about the game now, considering how far away the release is I'm actually kind of hoping that we don't hear much more of the game (beyond seeing a decent quality version of the teaser video) for at least another year or so. They should probably wait out the storm of MMOs being released in 2011 and start hyping World of Darkness after that. Until then I think I'll go into Torpor for a year or two and wait for this game. (Okay, not really, I still have at least SWTOR and GW2 to play as well.)

[link] to World of Darkness Online news at Ardwulf's Lair (via Massively).
[link] to World of Darkness blog post at Kill Ten Rats.
[link] to The Grand Masquerade Q&A info at RPGnet Forums.
[link] to Russell Bailey (White Wolf developer) post at White Wolf forums.

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